Moto XXX: The Complete Oral History
By:
Steve

From its inception in 1997 to the end of the line in 2008, team Moto XXX has stood for everything that was dirt bike riding, heck maybe even motorcycle riding in general. A little bit rebellious, a little bit of outlaw and some desire to be different were the general rifts of the team. Started by three guys that just loved the sport, the Moto XXX brand helped a lot of riders over the years and spawned a career in the industry that can still be felt today. Nine riders that rode for the team had factory rides before or after being on the team and seven former mechanics went on to be factory wrenches (this author included).

The team lasted for eleven years in various incarnations, through different managers, different bike brands and different ways of getting to the races and it’s hard to tell the whole story of the team unless it’s through the words of the people that lived it.

So without further adieu, here is the good, bad and the ugly of Team Moto XXX over the years through the words of the people that were there and lived it.

PART ONE

THE DEBUT—1997

Riders--Brian Deegan and Brian Swink

Jordan Burns (Owner, Moto XXX and drummer for band Strung Out)-“The whole Moto XXX thing started as a hobby from my filming. I would just film everything all the time. I had been a fan of the skateboard videos, they were awesome and kind of risky stuff. We were watching moto videos made back then that were embarrassing for the sport. So we just wanted to do stuff that made our sport look cool. I was filming at the supercrosses and just having fun with it. We came to the conclusion that although we really didn’t know what we were doing, we thought we could make a cool video.”

Erik Sandin (Owner Moto XXX and drummer for punk band NOFX) - “The very first time I met Kurt (Haller), Jordan and I were trying to make a riding video like the snowboard videos that we had seen with the punk rock, chicks and the fighting which all seemed cool to us. We were trying to do this video but had no idea. Jordan already knew Kurt and suggested we use him to film us riding. I don’t know how it all happened but somehow we became the subjects of Kurt’s first video. His first introduction of motocross was Jordan and I trying to do doubles and tabletops for him. Just a complete couple of dorks.”

Burns—“I knew Kurt from mutual friends in high school out here in Simi Valley. He was using our bands music in his snowboard videos. I had known him for a long time and he was all into the snowboarding stuff. So I told him we were making a motocross video and he came out one time. This was over a two-year span that we were filming guys and it eventually became Moto XXX the first video.”

Kenny Watson, Team Manager Moto XXX- “I was living with Jordan Burns, the drummer for Strung Out and the first time I met Kurt Haller and Erik Sandin was when they showed up at Jordan’s to go riding and Kurt was going to film them. They were all beginner riders and when Jordan said that Kurt was going to go film them, I said to Kurt “Why would you film those guys? What for?” They said they were doing a video so I said why don’t you film some good riders?”

Burns—“Yeah, Watson did say that to us but we did bring Kurt out to LACR to film us riding anyways. Erik and I were being filmed doing whatever and Watson was out there just bagging on him for filming and our riding. We put on a fake crash and then we started fake fighting on the track and stuff. It would be funny to see these now, it was corny and stupid and I’m sure Kurt was wondering why he was filming this shit.”

Burns—“I’ve known Kenny for so long, I can’t even remember when or where we met. Maybe through some mutual friends in the punk rock scene. We’ve been friends for thirty years now, through some ups and downs. He was full of shit back then just like he is today (laughs).”

Sandin--“I’m sure he (Kurt) was all bummed so then we took him to see Damon Huffman and his mind was blown with a real motocross racer and not a couple of idiots.”

Brian Deegan was Moto XXX's first ever rider in 1997.

Burns--“We had just met Huffman out at the track and saw him at the races. I had a connection through living with Kenny, he knew all the people at the races. Our house was motocross central back in the day, everyone stayed here at one point or another.

One thing led to another and we somehow got a video made. And it was very successful. We were part of this new movement and it was out there for the time. The Crusty Demons of Dirt video had just come out then and it was brand new and fresh for the public. You could tell that people were really digging that kind of stuff and we had no idea how big it was going to get. When we had our own video premiere for Moto XXX Volume 1- the people were blown away. We had it up at Mammoth Mountain motocross race and the reaction was amazing. It was very rewarding to see how well it sold.”

Sandin—“So the Moto XXX video was already out and doing well when Brian Deegan came to me to start the team. Deegan was at my house and Jordan was there. Brian told us he couldn’t get a ride that next year and said we should start a team and sponsor him. He said that some of the reasons (why he couldn’t get a ride) were because of stuff he did in the video.”

Frank Kashare, President-O’Neal clothing —“We were distributing the Moto XXX videos at the time.  The video market was hot and the sales were strong.  These guys were energetic, excited and eager to push the marketing with a race team and we were happy to be involved.”

Deegan's ghost ride win will go down in SX history.

Watson--“In 1996 I was working for Scott Sheak as his mechanic and I recall that Brian Deegan who I had worked for before came to me when he had nothing going on and neither did I. So I was going to be his mechanic for team Nothing-Going-On. But Jordan and Kurt had this Moto XXX video so we went to them and said they should get a team together. They asked how much and then they asked who was going to do it. I said I would do everything.”

Sandin—“I had known Watson for a while and I knew he was a talker and motivated. I also knew that he was a big talker! So he could have either gotten it done or just said he got it done and you wouldn’t know what actually had gotten done.”

Brian Deegan, rider—“That’s basically how it all went down. The year before I was at Chaparral, I said I was going to be straight-laced and Larry Brooks was the manager. I walked away from the crazy stuff in ’95 but it didn’t work in ’96 at Chaparral, my bike sucked and all the typical political crap went on. At the end of the year the Moto XXX guys were hanging out and I just told them we should do our own thing. We should stir it up, I was frustrated with the politics of racing. So that was the beginning of it all.”

Sandin—“I don’t remember how much we all put into the team but I think we just put all of our profits from the video. We had put money into filming the initial video though. Kurt, Jordan and I were equal partners in the video and the race team.”

Burns—“At some point we had to put some more money into the team also, in its first or second year I believe. If we didn’t do that, the thing would have folded. It was really difficult at the time because none of us had a lot of money except Erik- he was rich. But we made it happen to keep it going and alive.”

Watson—“I think it was $150,000 that first year to go racing, salaries included. Erik, Kurt and Jordan didn’t have much to do with the building of the team infrastructure-it was all my contacts. We had Deegan and needed another rider. I called Brian Swink, he had nothing going on and I explained the whole deal to him. All he really wanted to know who was building the bikes and when I said Pro Circuit, he said ‘Eff it, let’s go’.”

Sandin—“Swink was the greatest guy. He was humble, nice and mellow- he didn’t fit in with other motocross racers. That wasn’t his world, he wasn’t a party guy, he was a working class guy that was great on a motorcycle. This was in the era where a lot of the top guys had egos and were partying a lot, acting like rockstars and banging chicks all the time. Brian wasn’t like that, he didn’t care a lot about that but then again, he didn’t seem to care about much either.”

Brian Swink joined Deegan on the team for that '97 season.

Burns—“Getting Swink was huge, Brian was a big name and I remember while it was happening I was blown away that we could get this guy, a two-time 125SX champion, riding for us! He was such a perfect fit for what we were doing because even during his career on the big teams, when he was riding for Peak Pro Circuit and such, he was kind of a rebel type of guy. He had that attitude you know? A little cocky mother effer-which was bitching for us. He was a hate him or love him type of guy and I just felt like it was so awesome for what we were. Together with Deegan it was a team that everyone was down with and the way that we were going to do it. It was the only way that we knew how to do things.”

Watson—“People were pretty responsive to us in the industry. We had Swink and Deegan, two pretty good riders. Deegan was all clean cut back then, he started to come out of shell shortly after joining the team. I think both riders made $20,000 in salaries that year.”

Deegan—“No way, I might have made around 20K for the whole year including race wins! O’Neal didn’t pay me anything-it went to the team. Having Swink was cool, I always respected him because he was fast and naturally talented. He was a badass on the 125 and it always goes back to the old story- if he only trained. But that was the way he was and he was a cool guy to hang out with.”

Brian Swink, rider—“I still wanted to race but I just kept getting hurt.  I mean, it was one injury after another for a few years for me and a lot of people go, “Well it’s because you’re not in shape.” But when I fall in the first turn at a muddy race, it’s not that you’re not in shape.  But I agree that my mind wasn’t fully focused that year.”

Watson—“We rode for a dealership out of Ocala, Florida called HSKS and they carried every brand of bike. Swink wanted to ride a Kawi and Deegan wanted to ride a Suzuki so it didn’t matter. The dealership didn’t care. Yeah it was weird but it was also a little like Moto XXX you know?”

Deegan—“The way I feel is that if you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better walk it. I figured I’d better back this thing up with some results. That’s the bottom line and I now had to actually ride my ass off.”

Sandin—“The first race I got there at eight in the morning and we were in the weird area of the pits. I was so stoked to be there, I’m a fan of moto since I was a kid and I couldn’t believe that I was now the owner of a team racing at the LA Coliseum. It was like a dream come true for me. I was rubbing elbows with Roger DeCoster! It was my entire fantasy coming to life right there before my eyes!

You have to remember my struggle: When I was a kid growing up, I was really into it.  But my parents didn’t have the money to support me.  I mean, I had a little Honda QA50 and stuff. But I would go to the store and literally steal copies of Motocross Action, just shoplift it, and just stare at the pictures for hours of guys like Danny Chandler or Jeff Ward.  And I would pretend I was them. But when the band started making money and I started making a living, I bought my first bike in 1992 — a CR125 and I started racing right away.  I was never really any good at it, but real quickly, I began meeting all the factory riders and became friends with everybody.  It was really cool because, instead of being on the outside looking in, I was on the inside.“

From left to right is Burns, Sandin and Haller...the original owners of Moto XXX.

Burns—“That first weekend, it was crazy. We rolled in with this box van that had the giant flaming eyeball on the side-people were tripping. No one had ever showed up with a van that looked like ours did. It was a very original look. All the press was over there taking pictures and we got a good buzz going on about the team. We started throwing out free stuff that day and as people caught on to that, our crowds got bigger and bigger. The AMA and Clear Channel SX people were not too pleased, they were hating on us. I always tripped out on it because I thought we were bringing something awesome to the table and we’d be accepted with open arms but it was actually the opposite of that. They hated us for everything we stood for.”

Watson—“I remember at the first race, it was at the LA Coliseum and we had this wild paint scheme on the box van and it was mayhem. Right out of the gate, Jordan started throwing out CD’s and people went bonkers. It was the first time that fans could just come and hang out. They were sitting on the bikes and we were chucking out CD’s and DVD’s like crazy. It’s like we were the Beatles or something. It was a free for all.”

Sandin—“We started giving away cd’s and stuff, Jordan was the king of building the hype and it was dam-near riots at the first one and many others. I was kind of nervous that we were going to get shut down and banned and in a way, that kind of did happen to us. We needed to calm people down or it was going to be kids with broken arms and chicks with no shirts on.”

Eric Johnson, journalist-Racer X Magazine—“I loved it all. When I was in my late teens and in college I was very, very much into punk rock. The real punk rock. We would drive to places like Minneapolis and Chicago to see shows. I mean I saw it all... The Dead Kennedys, the Circle Jerks, the Descendants, Flipper, the Adolescents, X, the Ramones (saw those dudes five times)... I'd go to those shows and wake up black and blue all over. It only got worse when I moved to Los Angeles. I mean, I really bought into it all.

Where I'm going with all this is when I showed up at the Coliseum in '97, I was keenly aware of what they were doing. I knew Kenny Watson - who was running the deal - pretty well by then and he knew I was a big punk rock fan. Kenny and those guys also knew I loved what they were doing. I think the sport sort of needed something like what they were doing. The surf/snow/skate kids all love punk - at least this "newer iteration" of it - and I really wanted those kids to embrace motocross.”

Watson—“The AMA did not care for me or the team one little bit. That was back in the day before it was sort of acceptable to cause a scene. We got in trouble because some fan got a CD we were throwing away and it had some bad language. This fan contacted the supercross promoters and she wasn’t happy. So they tried to shut us down right after that.”

Burns—“Yes, I would agree that I was a troublemaker and it’s funny that they all call me out on that. I take it as a compliment.  They’d tell us to stop and then as soon as they left, I’d start throwing things out. It was awesome, I was like ‘f**k you’ we’re here and this little team putting all this effort in and you’re going to try and shut us down? There’s no harm involved, they just wanted their own rules and didn’t like what we were doing.

We had to come in with a bang and competed with all these big teams in our little box van. They were tripping on us for no reason. I loved it and would use a bullhorn every now and then and people would start getting nuts. And if it wasn’t getting nuts, it was boring to me. I needed excitement and needed it to thrive. It was my job to stir the shit up and those guys knew that.”

Kashare—“At the time the structure of the race teams and for the most part the riders was conservative and carried a standard corporate persona.  These guys were the exact opposite and I think people were alarmed by it at first.”

Deegan—“So the first race at the Coliseum, I had been training so hard with Mark Smith that year, he was a cage fighter guy and slept on the floor of an apartment I was renting for $300 a month. I was barely making it but I was training my ass off. I was ready. But in the main I landed on (Jason) Partridge over the triple and compressed two vertebrae in my back.”

The first ever Moto XXX box van

Sandin—“There I am, I’m sitting in the stands and on the first lap of the main event Deegan landed on some kid and just crushed him. He fell off the back of his bike and just laid there and didn’t move. I looked at Kurt and seeing as how we had 50K into the thing, I said- ‘There goes 50,000 bucks.’”

Watson—“At the first race, Swink’s mechanic Dave Dye has a seizure right there at the race and he was out. So we had to pull double duty to help him out and in the main he got a flat. For some reason he tried to jump down the peristyle with this flat and when he landed he just crashed and knocked himself out.”

Sandin—“That day I went from highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows just like that. So much for our grand entrance into the sport and I didn’t have high hopes going into the second race-Deegan was hurt and so was Swink. The whole thing kind of had a pall over it, Shit was crumbling quick.”

Deegan—“I wasn’t even sure I could race (the second one).  I didn’t ride all week but I had to try so I rode down my street, around a field and figured I’d go for it even though my back was sore. Adrenaline just took over I guess.”

Sandin—“So the race starts and Deegan was in fourth and I was freaking out. Then he was in third, then second and Robbie Reynard was fading badly. Deegan got him with a couple of laps left.”

Deegan—“I’ll never forget it, I came off pretty decent off the start and I knew my conditioning was good. Reynard was fading pretty bad and when I passed him over the air in the triple, the crowd went nuts and I thought “Wow, I’m leading a supercross right now” and then I thought about how all those days I did doing sprints and running five miles and if I blew this, I was an idiot. I think luck is preparation meeting opportunity and that was what this was.”

Watson—“I remember that Davey Coombs was doing the pit reporting that night for ESPN and he kept interviewing Tom Wallace who was Robbie Reynard’s mechanic. And Robbie was leading by a lot but Deegan was coming. I kept yelling to Coombs that he was interviewing the wrong guy, that he needed to talk to me but he just ignored me.”

Deegan—“I didn’t know what to do on the last lap, I knew I was going to win and my whole thing the last few years was about doing crazy stuff. If I knew how to do a backflip back then, I would’ve done that. So I just ghost rode my bike and it was funny because it was so unexpected. I stood up and dudes were jumping over my head still racing. I was acting like I was the only guy on the track. The AMA took half of my purse money and I got a lecture from Duke Finch of the AMA but every race I was getting into it with Duke so I was like, whatever.”

Watson—“So then when Brian did win and Coombs wanted to interview me, I blew him off!”

Moto XXX artwork.

Sandin—“He won it! I could not believe it. On the last lap, when I knew he was going to win, I ran down the stairs, jumped over the wall and over security and onto the field. I didn’t care what happened to me. Right as the bike was flying through the air over the finish, I had the feeling like I had won the race. I was never good at racing but always wanted to be. I can’t explain the feeling and to this day I feel like I won the race.”

Burns—“Deegan winning was so amazing. In our second race ever too! It was mind-boggling and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there. We were touring in Germany and I had to be there. I remember looking up the race results on-line and I had to do a double take when I saw Brian up on top. I was feeling it emotionally man, I might have started crying even.”

Watson—“After Deegan’s ghost ride Robbie Reynard’s dad was running around saying he was going to protest us for not crossing the finish line and all this other shit. AMA fined us for endangerment to other people as I guess the bike could’ve hit someone.”

Sandin—“The AMA did fine Deegan half his purse money for ghost riding his bike, I think it was $2500 and we got one or two fans to cover the fine. We actually got a couple of checks with notes on how that was bullshit and they were happy we won. We went from the first race and having the world fall on us to the second race and winning. That put us on the map.”

Burns—“Deegan gave Moto XXX a long lasting memory and it was a historic moment in supercross.”

Sandin—“Quick story- the year before he rode for us, I flew with Brian to a race in Minneapolis, he was so polite and a nice guy the whole time. Then a year and a half later, he’s running around with his pecker out. That team, for better or for worse, gave him some confidence and some ego.”

Burns—“It was such a bummer that I wasn’t able to be there. We had won a 125 supercross race and then to have Brian ghost ride it over the finish. It was the most badass thing ever to do that. That was the best thing he could have ever done- it made his win very memorable to this very day. There were so many other badass guys that won supercross races over the year but they’re not remembered, Deegan letting his bike go will always be.”

Watson—“After the race Deegan started getting a little nuts, he told me that he reached his goal. He just wanted to win one supercross race and he did.”

 

Brian Deegan on some starting line somewhere in America.

And after Deegan’s win, the team continued on thrilling fans and pissing off the powers that be with their unique marketing approach…

Watson—“At Dallas, there were probably a hundred people around the truck as we were throwing stuff out and an official asked us to stop doing that. So some lady started yelling at him that he couldn’t stop us, it was motocross! After things started settling down one of the officials told us we had to stop doing product tosses and giving everything away. He said if we’re still doing it when he comes back he’s going to have us arrested and charged with trespassing. I was scared because I knew he was serious, but Deegan asked me if I really thought he was going to do that. I said yes, I think he would do it. 

So Deegan started teasing me and calling me names and all that, so I just started throwing stuff out again.  An hour later a cop car pulls up, they handcuff me and throw me in the back. They drove me out of the pits and the same official was waiting. He said he really didn’t want to do this and asked me again if I would stop. I said I would and that pretty much ended it.”

Jeremy Albrecht, factory Kawasaki mechanic—“Our sport, more so back then, is a very corporate sport and we need more people like those guys. Back then if you weren’t a factory team then you shouldn’t have even been there. That was the attitude from a lot of people. That whole program would work really well now I think but back then, a lot of the industry weren’t having it. Those guys were my friends, it was funny to sit back and watch them get in trouble every week.”

Watson and Burns, buddies for a long time, had their differences here and there and the entire team definitely noticed.

Deegan—“Jordan was always the talker of the group and stirring the pot. Him and Kenny would fight like brothers and I remember that Kenny actually hit him one time in anger and then they argued about how hard the punch was. There were some moments with those two for sure.”

Burns—“You have to remember that Watson and I lived together and there were a lot of stupid moments. We’d have card games or whatever going on and we’d start fighting. I don’t really remember fighting over Moto XXX but there definitely some big arguments between us over the years.”

Sandin—“As much as I love the guy (Watson), he’s a great guy but he could be a pain in the ass sometimes.”

Burns—“We’ve had a love/hate relationship over the years and I think that a lot of people who have experience with Kenny Watson can relate. He’s gnarly at what he does and when you’ve known him for so long you can see he’s set in his ways. Kenny’s got this very serious job now, a kid and maybe he’s changing a little bit but I can’t say for sure. Kenny’s very good at what he does and he’s had a great career in the motocross industry.”

Deegan on the glitter bike at Washougal later that summer. 

Later that summer, Team Moto XXX showed up at Washougal with both riders bikes and gear pasted with gold (Deegan) and silver (Swink) glitter. It is believed that it was and is the first time a team has ever done that…

Watson—“It was Kurt and I’s idea, we did the test to see how it worked. We did it with surfboard resins; the fenders weighed five pounds each! It was resin and glitter from the hobby store. It was Elmer’s glue with glitter for some stuff and for the boots and helmets we just spray-painted them. They were heavy as shit…we had a lot of glitter and glue, probably more of that than we had parts in the box van! I think Deegan got a top ten with a bike pasted with glitter! (Laughs)”

Deegan—“Overall it was a big moment, we did the glitter bike at Washougal and I was battling with (Michel) Pichon and (Stephane) Roncada the whole moto and I was on a glitter bike! Some guys nowadays think they’re cool but we were against the grain. We were the total opposite of everyone else. I think we were the start of FMX and I don’t think that Moto XXX gets enough credit for what they did. It’s all about the Crusty guys, Crusty this and Crusty that but Moto XXX was there at the start.”

Brian Deegan had a pretty good year that first Moto XXX year but his teammate, Brian Swink, struggled pretty badly and would retire at the season’s end.

Watson—“Swink struggled all year. It was one thing after another for him that year. He ran #13 and at one point he switched to #103 because his luck was so bad. Wasn’t a good year for him at all and he retired after that season.”

Swink—“I was never superstitious to begin with! That’s why I took the number 13 like a number ain’t going to get you hurt. But then I continued to get one injury after another and I thought, “Maybe there is something to it…”

Burns—“We were bummed that he (Swink) was having so many different issues on and off the track. Riding for Moto XXX, especially at that time, it was so low pressure. We were never yelling at our guys to do better. There weren’t any expectations for anyone but you could tell he was beating himself up over his results. You could see him with his inner struggles with how he was riding but we didn’t care.”

Original team manager Kenny Watson (left) and Deegan at Washougal.

Sandin—“I gave the team my personal credit card at times to fly people to the races. I lost a lot of money over the years doing that. I got a $6000 bill one month for flights! We were committed though to Deegan and Swink and we were doing it. All three of us spent money out of our pockets and never made a penny the whole time we owned the team.”

Watson—“Things were so tight and we rolled the dice so much that I don’t believe the box van had insurance or was registered that entire first year. I’m serious.”

Kashare—“The entire XXX crew was like a group of outlaws.  Lets face it, the XXX culture was really about conforming to nobody.  The music, the promotion, the marketing and the drive from these guys was truly amazing.  I think all of us at O’Neal loved it.  These were local boys, they were into the sport and, in my opinion, they represented, in many ways, what the target market was all about.”

Stay tuned for part two and the rest of the complete oral history of Team Moto XXX right here on Racerxonline.com (WHEN???)

(Ed note: Despite repeated requests Kurt Haller refused to be interviewed for this story)


PART TWO

YEAR TWO—1998

 

Riders Brian Deegan, Paul Currie, James Eickel and Michael Brandes

 

Kenny Watson, Team Manager—“The second year Deegan came back and we also hired Paul Currie and James Eickel. We didn’t have any more money than the first year, in fact we probably had less! We had more record labels come on and they gave us a bit but not much.”

Brian Deegan, rider—“To be honest we switched to Kawasaki’s and they were horrible. They were slow and we were sponsored by Pro Circuit but just on the privateer program. It got frustrating as I would get out there, battle with good guys and they’d pull me so bad.”

Watson—“People were getting pretty responsive to us in the industry. We had Deegan and other pretty good riders. Brian was all clean cut back then, he started to come out of shell shortly after winning the previous year. I think Deegan made $20,000 in salaries that year.”

Deegan—“No way, I might have made around 20K for the whole year! O’Neal didn’t pay me anything-it went to the team. Having Swink on the team the year before was cool, I always respected him because he was fast and naturally talented. He was a badass on the 125 and it always goes back to the old story- if he only trained. But that was the way he was and he was a cool guy to hang out with.”

Paul Currie, rider—“I have a million stories about my time there. It seemed that there was always some drama or something around the team. Jordan, Kurt and Erik were pretty awesome, they were spending money on the team because they loved it.”

Owner Erik Sandin at his day job, drumming for the punk band NOFX.

 

Jordan Burns (drummer, Strung Out, owner)—“Currie was awesome, he was such a character and a lot of fun. And he was serious about training and all that; he had a lot of passion for motocross. He was also a fashion queen…my nickname for him was “Sculpty” as he was always looking good off the track.”

Currie—“Somehow Watson always got us what we needed considering the tiny budget and not great results- he always pulled through. I distinctly remember him telling some dude over the phone that if the team didn’t have its graphics in time he was going to go down to the dudes work and smash his head through his desk.”

Watson—“There were so many funny times with Currie and Eickel. I don’t even remember how they did to be honest. It was just pure laughter all the time. I remember at Indianapolis I couldn’t find any of the three riders- Deegan was riding a 250 on the east that year- and the heat race was coming up. The mechanics said they thought that all of them were in the front of the van. I go up there and all three guys are getting massages from these girls. Eickel stands up and he had these underwear on that he called his good luck underwear- he had them since high school and they had these chili dogs all over them. Just then Brian ripped them off of him and he about started crying. Just started crying and saying that none of us understood how much these chili dog underwear meant to him.”

Deegan had some run in's with ownership in '98.

Watson and Burns, buddies for a long time, had their differences here and there and the entire team definitely noticed.

Deegan—“Jordan was always the talker of the group and stirring the pot. Him and Kenny would fight like brothers and I remember that Kenny actually hit him one time in anger and then they argued about how hard the punch was. There were some moments with those two for sure.”

Burns—“ You have to remember that Watson and I lived together and there were a lot of stupid moments. We’d have card games or whatever going on and we’d start fighting. I don’t really remember fighting over Moto XXX but there definitely some big arguments between us over the years.”

Watson—“Sometimes Jordan drove me crazy, he still does today actually.”

Burns—“Yes, I would agree that I was a troublemaker and it’s funny that they all call me out on that. I take it as a compliment.  They’d tell us to stop and then as soon as they left, I’d start throwing things out. It was awesome, I was like ‘Screw you’ we’re here and this little team putting all this effort in and you’re going to try and shut us down? There’s no harm involved, they just wanted their own rules and didn’t like what we were doing.

We had to come in with a bang and competed with all these big teams in our little box van. They were tripping on us for no reason. I loved it and would use a bullhorn every now and then and people would start getting nuts. And if it wasn’t getting nuts, it was boring to me. I needed excitement and needed it to thrive. It was my job to stir the shit up and those guys knew that.”

Erik Sandin (drummer NOFX, team owner)—“As much as I love the guy (Watson), he could be a pain in the ass sometimes.”

Burns—“We’ve had a love/hate relationship over the years and I think that a lot of people who have experience with Kenny Watson can relate. He’s gnarly at what he does and when you’ve known him for so long you can see he’s set in his ways. Kenny’s got this very serious job now, a kid and maybe he’s changing a little bit but I can’t say for sure. Kenny’s very good at what he does and he’s had a great career in the motocross industry.”

Soon, cracks started showing up in the Deegan/Moto XXX union…

Deegan—“In ’98 I cut the track at Budds Creek, I was so pissed. I was in the top ten and my clutch lever came lose, I pulled in and Kenny had to tighten it. I was angry, I was back in around 15th and I just cut off a downhill to get back to where I was. I remember Duke coming over and saying I cut the track. I asked him if he saw it and he said no so I said there it is, I must not have (laughs).”

Watson—“The next week Duke Finch comes up to us with a video that shows Brian cutting the track badly and he just starts yelling at Finch like it’s his fault that Brian cut the track!”

Deegan—“Kenny had a lot of little secrets with the bike, things that went wrong that he never fessed up to. He was sneaky like that.”

Currie—“James Eickel, he was definitely a funny guy and I had some awesome times staying with him on “the west side of Columbus” as he liked to say. He was a bookie and taking action all the time on games and other crap like that. He told me his goal was to be in the top three in Columbus and I assumed that he meant illegal activity.”

Burns—“Eickel was out of his mind. He was the self-proclaimed Youngstown gangster. His whole thing was weird, he had this ten year lucky underwear with these hot dogs on it. We were always laughing with these guys, they provided a lot of laughs. They stayed at my house a lot back then. I still talk to Currie as he sees us play whenever we’re in Florida.”

Gothic” Jay Haines, mechanic—“I worked for Paul Currie and probably the highlight of the year was that I met Jimmy Eickel. I remember he used to beat his mechanic up with a broom.”

Deegan would quit the team and jump to Team Stiffie later on in the summer of '98.

Later on the team’s star would get in a dispute and quit the team…

Watson—“Brian quit the team somewhere in the beginning of the nationals. At High Point his bike blew up in the first moto and while pushing his bike back to the truck, he shot gunned a beer that a fan had given him. But I wasn’t really that mad at that. We had a fire drill (with the motor) so I drained the antifreeze out preparing to swap motors but in the meantime Deegan’s mechanic Shawn Ulikowski figured out it was just a broken reed so he swapped that out and we both forgot to put coolant back in. So second moto his bike seized again and he just chucked his helmet into the crowd. Which might have been cool except none of the fans were facing him, they were all looking at the action on the other side of them. “

Deegan—“I was so pissed that my bike seized that I just threw my helmet. It didn’t hit anyone that I know of and actually someone got a cool present. That would be pretty sweet to come home with a helmet right? I am lucky it didn’t hit anyone though.”

Watson—“So it could’ve been really bad but someone still wrote a letter or called a sponsor of ours- I don’t remember who- and complained because they probably got that helmet upside the head. So Kurt asked me to ask Brian to write this fan an apology letter and that would be that. Deegan said he’d quit before he wrote any letter and that was it, so he actually did quit.”

Deegan—“What was that shit about? I was like, are you serious? I was over it anyways at this point, it wasn’t going well and I wasn’t going to write a letter.”

Sandin—“Yeah, we were pissed that Brian did that. Our sponsors were not happy that he did that and he was caught cutting the track one race as well. It wasn’t cool, because his behavior was costing us sponsor money. We didn’t want to be all corporate and we weren’t but we wanted our guys to try and it was affecting the money that our sponsors were going to pay us. Once he started being an asshole, it started hurting us and he quit.”

Burns—“I look back at Deegan leaving the team as such a bummer moment. I think that there are certain times and points within the team where things started going a different turn and I think if we had just stuck behind him and said eff everyone it would’ve worked out. Because if you look at how things turned in the industry, it was almost like what he developed into and became was started at Moto XXX.”

Deegan—“They were trying to not let me race, that was the way I remember it. They said I had to sit out and I was like ‘F*@ you, I’m racing’ and the guy from Stiffie said he’d get me on Suzuki’s and on the team. At that point we’re all scrubbing the bottom of the barrel anyways and I don’t think I made the best decisions in the world back then.”

Watson—“Then two weeks later he showed up as a member of Team Stiffie. And going to Stiffie was like a pie in our face, they were from Simi Valley also and tried to be like us.”

Burns—“At one point we made a shirt that said “Moto XXX: We aren’t playing by the rules” but then we kicked Brian out because he wouldn’t follow the rules.”

Michael Brandes, rider—“I was riding for Stiffie and lots of promises never came through. I spoke with Watson and I made the transition over there when Deegan left. I got something different and I was happy, I rode a Suzuki and at the end of the year I got an offer from Primal Impulse and I went there. Those Primal bikes were great.”

Haines—“I left halfway through the year to go to Stiffie right around the same time as Deegan but it didn’t cause the same stir as when Deegan switched!”

Sandin—“I gave the team my personal credit card at times to fly people to the races. I lost a lot of money over the years doing that. I got a $6000 bill one month for flights! We were committed though to the team and we were doing it. All three of us spent money out of our pockets and never made a penny the whole time we owned the team.”

Watson—“Things were so tight and we rolled the dice so much that I don’t believe the box van had insurance or was registered that entire first year. I’m serious.”

Frank Kashare, President, O’Neal USA—“The entire XXX crew was like a group of outlaws.  Lets face it, the XXX culture was really about conforming to nobody.  The music, the promotion, the marketing and the drive from these guys was truly amazing.  I think all of us at O’Neal loved it.  These were local boys, they were into the sport and, in my opinion, they represented, in many ways, what the target market was all about.”

Sandin—“Our second year was pretty miserable. Currie couldn’t keep it on two wheels and Eickel went from making main events prior to having a hard time making the night program. We over extended ourselves that second year I think with a lot of different guys coming and going through the program. But we showed up and did what we had to do.”

Currie—“I remember that my results weren’t equal to the amount of fun I had, that’s for sure.

Team owner Jordan Burns at his real job, drumming for punk band Strung Out.

 

YEAR THREE—1999

Riders Travis Preston and Phil Lawrence

Eric Johnson, journalist-Racer X Magazine—“I loved Moto XXX. When I was in my late teens and in college I was very, very much into punk rock. The real punk rock. We would drive to places like Minneapolis and Chicago to see shows. I mean I saw it all... The Dead Kennedys, the Circle Jerks, the Descendants, Flipper, the Adolescents, X, the Ramones (saw those dudes five times)... I'd go to those shows and wake up black and blue all over. It only got worse when I moved to Los Angeles. I mean, I really bought into it all.”

Watson—“In 1999 we had Travis Preston riding a 125 on the west coast and Phil Lawrence riding 250 SX only. So it was just going to be a supercross-only team until Preston decided to do outdoors. He took the box van himself and went out to do those.”

Sandin—“The team was self-sustaining itself through the videos and it was costing us a little bit of money but if we kept the giveaways going, if we kept the hype going, we’d be popular in the pits.”

Travis Preston, rider—“I was coming off Chaparral in ’97 and then Moto XXX was my first real deal, no salary but they took care of everything. Kenny Watson was a lot of help, I had some issues with my mechanic the first couple of races and Kenny found Shawn. Once he came onboard, things went great.

Sandin—“Preston and Lawrence were great guys, no egos at all and we would just sit in the truck laughing the whole time. It was like the first year, there were no lap times and no pressure at all.”

Preston—“In supercross, my teammate was Phil Lawrence, we were in the same box van and we had a blast. Then nationals came, Shawn and I took the box van and did it ourselves. It was a credit card and him and I driving everywhere.”

Phil Lawrence, rider—“When you go from almost winning heat races and having no problem getting into the main event to all of a sudden having to try very hard to get into the main event, it’s a big difference. No top tens for me at this point and I was on the way down. People are beating you that you’d never even think about before, so that gets discouraging. You’re, like, -this is not fun. That was me in 1999 on Moto XXX.”

Travis Preston on the team in '99.

Sandin—“That was a good year, Phil didn’t do a whole lot but he was a cool guy. Great to have him on the team but he rode pretty tentative once he got into the mains. Preston was top ten indoors and outdoors for us, he really came on strong. He got fourth in Minneapolis, he was in third place until the last lap when he let Shae Bentley by because he wanted a ride on Pro Circuit that next year!”

Burns—“I was blown away that we had “Factory” Phil Lawrence on the team and then Preston also. I remember so many good times with his family over the years. His family and Currie’s family were so appreciative and awesome to work with. I still have a letter from Travis’s mom that she wrote to “Dear Moto XXX” after Preston wasn’t with us and how they’re missing being around us, thanks for all that we did and all that.”

Preston—“Phil was great, he’s probably only six or seven years older than me but at the time he seemed to be this crusty old veteran guy. He would guide me here and there and tell me what to expect. Plus it was Phil Lawrence so there were always attractive ladies coming to the van all day long.”

Lawrence—“Every time I get a chance to, I make sure I tell people that I feel sorry for Watson. I was just partying and not being a racer. He was giving it an effort and I wasn’t. I feel like I cheated him, really.”

Watson—“I worked for Lawrence but he was at the end of his career. He was just riding it out but I had high expectations going into it. He was Factory Phil after all and I thought he was going to kill it. But after a while I could see he had basically quit so I threw in the towel also. He was getting beat by Heath Voss and I couldn’t believe that so I started writing “Voss is your boss” on the board all the time. I just wasn't going to bust my ass driving all over the country for him. Years later, Phil said that he was an idiot in 1999.”

Lawrence—“Truthfully, grips and graphics is all I deserved from him (Watson).”

Preston—“I did well that year, in motocross it was the best I had ever done, I got privateer of the year in the 125 class and it got me a good ride with De Marini Suzuki the next year.”

Shawn Ulikowski, Preston’s mechanic—“That year (1999) was pretty much Preston and Ulo racing. It was pretty much me and Travis on our own full privateers. I drove the box van, worked on the box van, washed the box van. Worked on the practice and race bike, built my own engines, went grocery shopping, set up the tent- all of that. Travis would stay on the road with me during the summer so we could ride back in NJ and he and my then-girlfriend, now-wife Davi girlfriend would even help me drive and wash the box van. Although Watson was the team manager, I think all he did was order the graphics for me. It actually was one of the best years I have ever had as a mechanic! We did well and had lots of fun.”

Burns—“Preston was just another guy that came through our program and went on to big things. He won a 125SX title and then became a factory Honda rider. There were a lot of riders and mechanic’s come through our program to go on to great things.”

Ulikowski—“Everyone at Moto XXX was awesome Kenny, Kurt, Jordan and Erik were all fun to work with and I think that Moto XXX got me where I am today. I’m serious.”

Preston—“I look back at my time at Moto XXX with fondness, it was the best thing ever and we had so much flexibility with whatever we wanted to do. If company X wasn’t working, we went with company Y. The credit card never got declined either!”

Jeremy Albrecht, factory Kawasaki mechanic—“Our sport, more so back then, is a very corporate sport and we need more people like those guys. Back then if you weren’t a factory team then you shouldn’t have even been there. That was the attitude from a lot of people. That whole program would work really well now I think but back then, a lot of the industry weren’t having it. Those guys were my friends, it was funny to sit back and watch them get in trouble every week.”

But soon, a founding member and backbone of Moto XXX would find himself ready to leave the team…

Watson—“I had an opportunity to work at Plano Honda as a manager, they were starting a team from scratch for 2000. I didn’t see the XXX thing going in the direction I wanted to go so I thought this was a better program for me. Financially this was way better for me as well.”

Sandin—“As much as I love the guy, he could be a pain in the ass sometimes. It was scary when he left and it bummed me out but I knew that we would be ok as long as that box van was out there. Kenny was very crucial part of getting us going and he got the wheels off the ground but at the same time we reached a spot where we now had the connections to keep things going. It is what it is.”

Watson—Kurt was always on me about spending money and I’m like, yeah, racing is expensive. Kurt thought I spent too much money but trust me, it wasn’t anywhere near what I could’ve spent.”

Burns—“There was so much tension between everyone near the end that it was probably time for him to go. He was driving Kurt insane and those two would have some huge battles. Everyone was battling with him actually. It sucked because I do feel that he was very integral part of the development and creation of Moto XXX team but it was just time for him to leave.”

Watson—“I got to work with my friends and I had so much fun doing it. It was awesome to be a part of it and even when I left, I still felt like I was a part of it. We had great times filming, racing and I had no hard feelings towards any of those guys. It was my first time building a program and taught me a lot.”

Burns—“It was weird; all of a sudden he was “I’m going over to this team” and was going to be a manager. We were laughing thinking that Plano didn’t know what they were in for. He’d be at the races, all in his Plano stuff, and rubbing it in that he’s so much better now and trying to put us down. He really wanted to make sure that we knew he had it so much better now. But then look at how long Plano lasted-not very long.”

Sandin—“Watson did a lot for us in those first few years.” 


PART THREE

 

Kyle Lewis, shown here in 2001, was Moto XXX's longest lasting rider.

YEAR FOUR—2000

Rider: Kyle Lewis

Kyle Lewis, rider—“I got on Moto XXX because of Kenny Watson- he’s how I ended up on the team. He asked me what I was doing after I got done racing in Japan and I didn’t know. I had Suzuki support from my years over in Japan and he asked me if I wanted to be on the team. I had a meeting with Kurt and we started talking about it. He had wanted to sort of revive the team as it had bogged down a bit. I wasn’t edgy like they wanted but whatever, we put the deal together, got a box van and myself and Kiwi ( mechanic Ross Miles) went around the country in 2000.”

Burns—“I had met Kyle years ago through Watson and I remember when we had the big earthquake here in California, 1994, Watson and I were living together and I wanted to get out of there. Those guys were going to Houston and Dallas supercross and when we were driving back in the box van, I hadn’t showered in a while so I rubbed my fingers in my crotch and was asking if Kyle smelled anything. He said he didn’t smell anything and I kept asking him what that was. So then I rubbed my fingers on my carpet and then said it was the carpet and to smell my fingers. He freaked out at the smell of my fingers and he was so pissed. That’s what I remember about first hanging out with Kyle Lewis.”

Sandin—“I was just happy to be at the track when we had Lewis, he hadn’t raced supercross in a number of years and it was a survival year for us. We had to get him to the outdoors because that was where he was much better. We were just trying to keep it together, we didn’t have much money to get any riders.”

Lewis—“Kiwi and I butted heads, he wouldn’t do what I asked. We had this huge parts budget from Suzuki and he wouldn’t change anything. Eventually I got to a point where I told him that he was going to change the parts for me and that I wanted to old parts back so I knew I had new stuff on my bike. He always said he changed things but would throw them away. He was a good guy I just didn’t want him as my mechanic. Nothing personal, it just didn’t work and that was some frustration for me.”

A classic Moto XXX poster.

Scott Roegner, Moto XXX employee—“I started at Moto XXX when I was 17, it would’ve been around 2000 or so. It was still a big company, we had the videos going out and I was in the office. I lived up in Santa Barbara and was part-time during the summer and then it became a full-time deal. Videos, graphics and clothes were really selling, I think it was right around the third video. It was getting popular and was still growing.”

Lewis—“The Suzuki’s weren’t that good that year and it didn’t work out very well for me. The guys at Suzuki were great to me, they gave me plenty of parts but it wasn’t a very good bike.”

Roegner—“When I started we just had Kyle Lewis in one box van, it was a really small operation. In 2002 when we had Lewis, Wey and Ward things started to pick up again on the racing end of things.  We’d ship ten thousand pre-sells or so every time a video came out. And I’d bet we’d sell 25,000 or so each video or DVD. The Moto XXX brand was solid and people loved it back then.”

Burns—“We went through tough times with sponsors, us not getting paid and then we had to pay people along the way. There were different scenarios where if we weren’t getting paid by our sponsors, we couldn’t pay people. It wasn’t that we were pocketing the money and getting rich, we wanted to pay but the money just wasn’t always there.”

Roegner—“In the office, we never saw Jordan or Erik except for the video premieres or at the races. But Kurt was in there every day and a guy named Jay Schweitzer was there doing some videos and sales stuff. There were handfuls of other people that came and went in that time as well.

The business was good man, the videos were the ones driving the sales but graphics and clothing were also doing well. We had some distributors and of course we’d sell to the public on-line as well. I don’t know the exact numbers but the stuff was selling. As soon as the videos came out we’d pull an all-nighter to get them all boxed up and sent out. It was a cool place to work and a lot of fun.”

Lewis—“When it comes to Erik, Jordan and Kurt, they were great and easy to get along with. They were normal dudes, things got heated here and there but Erik was always a mellow guy. He didn’t want to be the voice but Jordan wanted to stand up for what was right. We weren’t getting the correct parking and we getting shut down a lot. It was kind of disgusting that they wouldn’t let teams promote themselves. We’re working our asses off to get to the races and just trying to make money to live.”

 

YEAR FIVE—2001

Riders Kyle Lewis, Larry Ward and Michael Brandes

Moto XXX was now becoming a real race team and the owners thought that maybe the original team name was now hurting it instead of helping. So Team X3 was now born.

Burns—“I think we were getting to a point where we thought we were trying to be more accepted as a real race team. We were trying to fit in and develop this team into something real. Kurt had it in mind that we needed to mellow out a bit and fit in a little better. He thought if we didn’t, no one would want to sponsor us or ride for us. So with Brian (Deegan) doing what he did, we were quickly becoming the black sheep in the sport. I still wonder what would have happened if Brian wouldn’t have left?”

Roegner—“When we went to X3, it was a re-brand that went bad in my opinion. There were some new people that came in and I think the thought was that if we can create some sort of branding where people wouldn’t think of porn, then we’d be able to get some more outside sponsors. But it didn’t work, it was away from the roots of the company and the brand itself. It was also an ugly logo.”

Sandin—“That was dumb, that was a bad move and it was Kurt Haller who did that I think. We were turning our back on what made us who we were. When we went to X3, we kind of faded into just another team in the pits. We lost some edginess. That was when the AMA was on our ass and we slowed down on the giveaways and the riots and shit. We forgot what our brand was.”

Roegner—“I think that was Kurt’s idea. Looking back on it, and hindsight is always 20/20; it wasn’t a smart move by any of us. I was in the office and although the thought process behind it made sense-you’ve got to take a risk-but it didn’t work.”

Lewis—“In 2001 we got hooked up with DGY and I went to Yamaha and the program got a little bigger from the year before. I rode the two-stroke indoors but the four-stroke outdoors and we needed some set-up help on the thumper. The bike was still new back then and Yoshimura were helping me out a little bit. They were awesome.

We also had Jamie Grosser on board and got his rig for that season. We had Michael Brandes and then Larry Ward for the nationals. It was complete comedy whenever Larry was around.”

The team got a big boost in '01 when Larry Ward signed up.

Larry Ward, rider—“At the time, I was coming off a bad year at Kawasaki and even though (Ricky) Carmichael did ok, it wasn’t the best years for those green guys. And I was warned by (Jeff) Emig and (Damon) Huffman about the Kawi bikes but you always think that you can make a difference y’know? After two good years at Suzuki, I thought I was going to change the world at Kawasaki but all I did was crash and break. Kyle Lewis was the one who called me, about riding for XXX, we were always friends even though he’s a different dude.”

Lewis—“Larry and I had known each other forever, we rode together on Team Green in 1981 or something and then we were teammates on Noleen Yamaha. We didn’t get along in ’81 but after that we were fine. Larry didn’t like a lot of people, you’re either with him or against him. We battled all the time and we didn’t see eye to eye until we were at Noleen. On XXX, we got along great and had a ton of laughs.”

Michael Brandes, rider—“Kyle Lewis called me in November of 2000 for a ride and we worked out the details for me to come back to the team. When I signed my contract, I went to the office, then out for dinner and I watched the band rehearse later that night. Jordan was an enthusiast, he was always stoked and having a good time no matter what. He was my boss but he was cool as shit.”

Ward—“I skipped supercross that next year for the first time in 12 years. At some point I had ridden the new four-stroke Yamaha and knew that it was good. I always rode the little bike well but I was too big for a 125. They let me race the four-stroke 250F and I thought I could get top fives with that bike. They offered me a bike, mechanic, all expenses paid and I took it. I wasn’t ready to quit yet. I may have gotten a salary from O’Neal or somebody like that to wear the gear.”

Lewis—“The AMA was still getting on us and trying to make our lives miserable but then some of them would come up after the races and ask us for VIP passes to our after parties!”

Brandes—“ At Anaheim, the first round I shattered my ankle, collapsed my lung and went for rehab for all that. So I forgot about SX and focused on outdoors.”

Michael Brandes was also a member of the team in 2001.

Ward—“That first year the team was fine, I never had any expectations and never had a picture of what I thought it was going to be like before I got there. I showed up, they had a nice rig, my mechanic’s name was Doug, Kyle was there and there was a guy named Chet hanging out.”

Sandin—“It was awesome to have him (Ward) on the team. He was kind of intimidating. I was beyond pumped to have him and I looked up to him over the years. He was a phenomenal rider and I remember at Glen Helen, in the first moto, he got fourth place, I was like, ‘Whoa, this guy just got off the couch and did this, we are contenders here’!”

Ward—“I was competitive right from the start. I showed up at Glen Helen, no one has seen me for eight months and I get a fourth behind Langston, Brown and Pastrana. And people can say what they want about the advantage of a four-stroke in the class but I promise you that Brown’s Kawasaki and Langston’s KTM would pull my goggles off as they passed me. They were that good. The first moto I was in third at one point and thought this was sweet and then in the second moto I stalled and couldn’t start my bike. I then thought that this sucked and I should’ve stayed home!”

Brandes—“I got a call from Kurt saying our sponsors are unhappy with you for not riding supercross and they’d have to let me go! I said that I knew the sponsors and went out for dinner with them and did he know what a dick he sounded like? Basically they wanted Larry Ward and they got him but they wanted to can me to add him! So I threatened to sue him, he backed down and he gave me a credit card, a box van and I raced the rest of the year by myself. I had my own program with Moto XXX graphics.”

As the season went on Ward started to heat up in the 125 nationals. The #10 X3 rider went 2-2 for second overall at Budds Creek and at the very next race, Moto XXX would make history again when Ward won the overall at Red Bud with another 2-2 score. In doing so he became the first rider in AMA history to win on a 250 four-stroke.

Lewis—“I looked forward to going to the races that year because of Larry and how much fun we were having.  I wasn’t surprised that Larry won a race to be honest. If you know Larry Ward and he’s having fun and is on, he does well. He could probably still go out and kill it right now. It’s just a matter of if Larry wants to do something. Very few people could beat him when he was on. And if he wasn’t having fun and didn’t like his set-up, the whole pits would hear about it!”

Sandin—“When he won Red Bud, I was so stoked for him but at the same time I was a little freaked out by him. I would go up and say hi and ask how he was and all he would say was “Hey, how are you” and there seemed to be a sense that I was bugging him. He was Larry Ward though and I was a nobody.”

Burns—“When Larry won that national, I wasn’t there but I was paying attention to the results. It was the best I could in the pre-internet era. Before Larry won, he had made the podium in a moto so we knew he was on it. I was blown away that we won one race, never mind two! And he was the first 250F national winner, the beginning of an era. So we had that and then the historic ghost riding moment from Deegan. There’s been a lot of teams come and go and never win a thing. And we’re this little team that is having all this success with different riders.”

Ward made history later that summer as the first rider to win a national on a 250F.

Lewis—“I didn’t care for some of the stuff like we’re trying to get ready for the race and there’s all these people around the van partying and stuff. But that was the Moto XXX way. We were out in the field racing and repping XXX and they were back in the office selling.”

Ward—“I was fortunate that they let me kind of do what I wanted with my program. There wasn’t any pressure at all, they were all “Dude, you were ripping, too bad you crashed!” and that was it, any pressure on me was all put on by myself.”

Sandin—“Larry went on to win another moto at Washougal later on and tied for the overall win on the day, man he was awesome that year.”

Ward—“I was 31 years old and at that point, Moto XXX was the best fit for me. “


PART FOUR

YEAR SIX-2002

Riders Kyle Lewis, Larry Ward, Nick Wey and Kelly Smith

Sandin—“To be honest, when the team first started I was hands on at the office a lot and making some decisions. But as the team became more successful and my band started doing more, I became just a fan, I didn’t want it to be work. It took away some of the attachment dealing with some of the idiots in the industry. People who say they were going to pay us X and then when they didn’t; just say “Take us to court.” Or sponsors back-dooring your product and selling it when they weren’t supposed to also sucked.”

Roegner—“Almost every other day Jordan would call in to bench race with us or he’d want some clothes and stuff. Kurt would shut him down but we’d end up sending it out in the end. Between Kurt, Smelly (Erik) and Jordan it was always an interesting dynamic on the phones.”

Bill Savino, Director of Marketing for Honda—“I became friends with Kyle Lewis when I moved out to California and one time out at the track, and this was when the new CRF450 had just come out, we were riding when I asked him to try my bike. So he goes out for a bit, comes back in with a smile and says it’s better than his full-on Moto XXX Yamaha 426. So that was how it started.”

Lewis—“Getting on the Honda four-stroke for ’02 was a big thing for me. My Yamaha’s were down getting modified for the new year when I rode that bike. After I got off I was “You’re shitting me, I have to race against people riding this thing?” and I remember begging Savino to give me anything he could. I knew I had to get on the Honda and it was unfortunate that right before supercross I weeded on it going like 100mph. So that set me back a bit before the year.”

Nick Wey, rider—“I was a super big fan of NOFX, Strung Out and Moto XXX and all that. Swink rode for them and I looked up to him when I was younger so it was cool for me. Watson used to give me stickers to ride in the pro practices when I was an amateur so he was cool. I had also been to a lot of punk rock concerts back then.”

Kyle Lewis made a late switch to Honda for 2002 season and it paid of big time.

Alan Brown, Lewis’ mechanic—“In 2002 my buddy Steve Matthes said I should call Kyle Lewis, he was looking for a mechanic. I was working at Factory Connection and came home from the MXDN and found out I didn’t have a job. I was on the couch and not sure what I wanted to do next. I called up Kyle and it went from there.”

Savino—“Everyone else on XXX was supposed to be on a Yamaha but I was able to use my powers at amateur and dealer support to get Lewis and Ward some bikes and parts to promote the brand new bike. I think it was something like 14 bikes and parts back then. And it was all done through the sales and dealer support side, nothing through the official factory team. We were helping out Moto XXX, Subway Honda, Solitaire and a few other teams. The whole starting line was red and that was cool because it showed the consumer that the bike we sell can be raced at the highest levels.”

Brown—“At first I didn’t know Kurt that well but the more I got to know him, I realized that he was a smart guy. Jordan was a super-fan, not very grounded and realistic about things. He had the bullhorn and all that. Erik was just a quiet behind the scenes guy, he just wanted to hangout and wasn’t looking for the spotlight. He was a fan of the sport and always into it.”

Wey—“I was on Yamaha of Troy and they approached me at the end of the nationals- I think it was Erik who talked to me but it could have been Kurt- I don’t remember. And although it wasn’t where I wanted to go I respect anyone who wants to hire me to ride for them to listen to them anyways.”

Lewis—“I would get off the bike and make phone calls to our sponsors-we all pitched in to make the team go from day to day-and then I would get back on the bike and finish my motos. It was unlike any other deal I had ever had.”

Wey—“I was supposed to ride for the (Jeremy) McGrath team that was sponsored by Bud Light. I had a letter of intent and all that, they were first going to be sponsored by Sobe but when that fell through they got Bud Light. Maybe I wasn’t old enough or something but I was left hanging without anything. I did have some reservations about going there because I was taking my racing dead seriously and I wasn’t sure if they did also.”

Steve Matthes, mechanic for Wey—“I was all set to work with Larry Brooks at McGrath’s team for Ryan Hughes. I wasn’t getting along with Harry Nolte, the lead motor guy at KTM, at the team I was at so when Larry told me I had the job, I told KTM that I was out. That very weekend Hughes KO’s himself on the works Honda 450 and has to retire! So Brooks started to backpedal, I went back to KTM to try and get my old job back and they were like ‘Uh no, you’re out.”

Wey—“I was making 40K at Yamaha of Troy and then despite my deal with the McGrath team falling apart, I still ended up making 60K from O’Neal to wear the gear so I had all this drama in finding a ride and then I ended up making 20G more which was sweet. And then on top of that HJC paid me some cash to wear their helmet- I was doing pretty good!”

Here's Nick Wey at a pre-season race in 2002. 

Matthes—“So at some point Brooks hires Wey and tells me I’m back in. But soon after that deal falls apart once again, I needed a job and Nick needed a mechanic. We were neither guys first choice but we needed each other. And that’s how I started at Moto XXX making $500 a week with no expenses paid.”

Ward—“No one from the team really bothered me at all, there were no autograph sessions to go to but in supercross that year, Jordan would show up and things would get out of hand. He had a loud speaker, there was a wet t-shirt contest and all that, it was a little nuts.”

Burns—“All I ever wanted to do was give shit away and get in trouble.”

Wey—“Matthes was my mechanic and I didn’t really know him, he would let on that he didn’t know what he was doing which made me nervous but I think he actually did know what he was doing. He drove the box van around the country for me that year and we formed a little team within a team.”

Matthes—“Nick’s mom took care of the bonus program, it was 10% of purse and Yamaha money. I did ok because Wey was really good that year.”

Wey—“I think that was the most I ever paid a mechanic that year. This was my Moto XXX experience, paying a lot for my mechanic that I wasn’t sure if he knew what he was doing and then riding for guys that I thought were cool.”

Lewis—“I crashed early in the year, hit my sternum and ribs and it hurt to breathe at times so that was tough. At first I ran a bone stock Honda with just a pipe, I didn’t know the bike yet and didn’t know what I wanted to do. The last race in Vegas we finally got a set-up that I liked. I rode it and I knew that I was going to kill it. I loved the motor. I got every start in Vegas and really, the rest of the season my starts were so good.”

Matthes—“One thing that there was a problem with real early was the tires that the team had signed with. The issue being that Nick really didn’t like them.”

Nick Wey and Matthes on the starting line in '02.

Lewis—“I rode the tires and they had good initial bite. They weren’t that bad but they had money for the team and they made promises that anything that we wanted we could have in two weeks. And the ones I rode weren’t bad but I stressed to them we had Larry Ward who could be a nut-bag about set-up and that we would need constant evolvement with the tires.”

Wey—“There was an issue with the tires that we were contracted to use. They didn’t work very well and Lewis had set the deal up. He thought they worked great and he didn’t seem too concerned with the performance of these things in supercross because he would just get into the main and ride around. I wanted to try and get into the top five. I would bet that he got a cut of the tire money and that’s why we went with them, that’s just what I thought anyways. I don’t know for sure.”

Lewis—“They are a huge tire manufacturer and they had the money to do it so it seemed promising but in the end, they over promised and undelivered. Testing with the guys in Georgia and I can remember Larry Ward getting off the bike and saying “Wow, that’s a bad tire” and pointing at it.

Soon we realized that the tire thing wasn’t going to work. Brian Fleck at Dunlop saved us, he was great to give us product when he didn’t have to. I think he took pity on us, he was and is a great guy. If he’s reading this, thanks Brian!”

Wey—“At the beginning of the year we would race back to the van and switch the Dunlops off and put on the other brand was pretty funny until the tire guy got wise and started going down to the starting line. That was not very funny for him.”

Matthes—“It was ridiculous. It was like a NASCAR pit change with Nick still in his helmet from the main and us changing the wheels with the other tires on so it looked like we just raced with them. Then we got caught and my only response was to shrug my shoulders and blame Nick”

Larry Ward had another strong season in '02 on the Yamaha.

His team ravaged by injuries, Roger DeCoster of Factory Suzuki was looking for a fill-in during supercross and Wey was picked by “The Man” to ride the factory bike. That is, if Moto XXX would let it happen…

Sandin—“I remember being on the phone with the Suzuki higher-ups and I was trying to sort things out because I didn’t want to take an opportunity away from Nick.  And that was what our team was first, we’re friends and we don’t want to hold anybody back.  But at that point we had about 60 grand invested in Nick.  And Roger was up our asses about releasing him.  And he wouldn’t pay a penny.  He wouldn’t pay and I thought that was such an insult to Nick and us.  Like, here’s the big powerhouse thinking they can come in and pull a rider away and not have any repercussions.”

Matthes—“It was the week before 2002 Houston supercross. I thought he was gone and there was no way XXX guys were going to pay me. I was already trying to line up another job when he showed up for the race that weekend.”

Wey—“Moto XXX was not happy to let me go (to Suzuki) unless they were paid a lot. I was pretty close to doing it. I rode the bike and everything. But I also didn’t want to burn any bridges and at the time I was bummed it didn’t work out but looking back now, it all worked out. And Matthes got to keep his job.”

In the end the Suzuki deal didn’t work out for Wey but he did end up top privateer in the supercross series that year. All in all, not a bad year for a rookie in the class…

Wey—“My results that year were a bit of a letdown because of what I had done on a 250 for YOT but at the same time, it was all right. I thought my YOT rides from 2001 were good enough to get a factory Honda ride, then the MC ride, but in the end-I had a box van. I think we did pretty good for what we had, if I had more support maybe I’d have done a bit better but what are you going to do?”

Matthes—“I’m not sure how Wey says his results were a bit of a let down. We were in a box van, he was seventh place in the SX series and top privateer that year with me sleeping in truck stops and showering with a hose by a ditch.”

Nick Wey almost jumped to factory Suzuki but in the end, the deal didn't work out. 

Soon the outdoors came and now it was Lewis’s turn to shine. Ward was still putting in good finishes in the 125 class and the #23 Honda veteran was really riding well in the 450MX series…

Savino—“Kyle was killing it that year, he was always pulling starts on his Alan Brown motor and running in the top five in outdoors. It was a great thing for us to be associated with Moto XXX and it was an arms length deal with them and real turnkey. We gave them all the stuff we promised and they never came back to us over the years.”

Lewis—“ I had a great outdoors. My bike was smooth but fast, you could ride it for hours and it wouldn’t tire you out.”

Wey—“It was the first year of the Honda 450 and Kyle rode great outdoors and getting associated with Yoshimura on the four-strokes was a great move. Those bikes were pretty good for those guys. The team seemed to be on the upswing and was moving into a semi and all that.”

Matthes—“Nick hurt his knee and had to miss the first four or so rounds of the outdoors (he had gotten hurt at that guys track who also filmed the pornos out there) and Kurt called me saying that he couldn’t pay me and I was let go! I was not happy about this and would’ve fought it except I had never signed a contract with the team and had no leverage. So I just didn’t get paid for a month until Nick was back.”

Lewis—“My success was a combination of everything, I was feeling good and the bike was great. It wasn’t any one thing, the team helped out by letting me do my thing. I was happy with Alan being my mechanic, the bikes were awesome and everything was good.”

Brown—“We had a really good year, supercross went ok for Lewis and outdoors, he was on the new CRF450 and he killed it. He earned his permanent number that year which meant he was top ten overall. That was pretty good I thought.”

Wey—“The guys weren’t involved that much with the racing end of things, Erik and Jordan wanted to high five and just be there. I spoke with Kurt a lot though, there were three of us on the team and we were all kind of high profile.”

Burns—“Our results blew my mind. I’d get so pissed because we never got recognized at the Supercross banquets as team of the year. They never gave us any credit at all. And I felt disrespected. We did this year after year and getting zero recognition, what was up with that? That stuff made me mad but on the flip side of that I was blown away at how we had the top privateers indoors and out year after year.”

Wey—“I got a ride with Mach-1 Yamaha for the 2003 year and it was basically a Yamaha factory “B” team and I took it. I would’ve thought about staying at XXX another year but this was too good to turn down.”


PART FIVE

YEAR SEVEN- 2003

Riders Kyle Lewis, Larry Ward, Damon Huffman, Clark Stiles and Troy Adams

 

Clark Stiles provided the team with some solid results.

After the 2002 season the team would end up ditching the “X3” logo and return to their roots- Moto XXX was back!

Scott Roegner mechanic/inside sales—“Looking back on the name change, and hindsight is always 20/20, it wasn’t a smart move by any of us. I was in the office and although the thought process behind it made sense-you’ve got to take a risk but it didn’t work.”

Alan Brown, mechanic—“Moving into my second year (2003) it became a full Honda program and I started working with Yoshimura on the motors and what was going on there. I was still a mechanic for Kyle but doing more and more on the organizational side. Bill Savino at Honda was friends with Kyle and Honda had put out the 450 so it was a natural fit but it was so a last minute deal the year before to get Kyle on the Honda off the Yamaha.”

Kyle Lewis, rider—“I went testing in 2003, three weeks before Anaheim and I broke my wrist. It was a bad deal, I missed the entire supercross season and we got Huffman to fill-in. I was bummed because I was matching Ward’s times at the track. At first he was three seconds faster but I got it to where we were equal. I stepped off the bike, went to the ground and got a pin in my wrist.”

Brown—“ In 2003, Huffman went to Anaheim in a pick-up truck and did pretty well. He had nothing and then we picked him up on the team with Lewis out. I don’t remember how it went, if we went to him or he came to us but it happened. Maybe Savino hooked that up.”

Damon Huffman, rider—“I started riding for Moto XXX after Lewis came to me. It wasn’t any money but expenses were paid.”

Moto XXX lost Wey but gained Damon Huffman for 2003 and he almost brought them a World Supercross Title

Larry Ward, rider—“I know in the Southeast everyone remembers the Atlanta Supercross when I had to ride the last chance because my bike blew up in the semi race. I holeshotted the last chance but that was because the clutch wasn’t broken in and I was going whether the gate dropped or not!”

Bill Savino, Honda marketing—“Between Lewis, Larry Ward and Damon Huffman, Moto XXX helped those guys be some of the very best privateers and always on a Honda so for us, it was great.”

 

YEAR EIGHT—2004

Riders Kyle Lewis, Damon Huffman and Larry Ward

Erik Sandin, owner—“Alan was working for Kyle in ’02 and started running things more in ’04 for us. He started filling in as a manager cause we never had anyone. Alan got us a shop, started working with Yoshimura, doing the motors and it was a natural progression into Alan starting to get more responsibilities.”

Lewis—“By the end of ’03, I was doing well again and then in Portugal I punctured my lung and jacked my shoulder all up. So I started off ’04 behind the eight ball again and struggled again that year but at the end of the year, I got 4th at Glen Helen to end the season off pretty good. I had a three-bike lead after the first turn, my motor setup was new and I loved it.”

Huffman—“ Alan got me a mechanic down from Canada named Ray Johnson and Alan said he was going to be at my house in a day or two. So this guy shows up at my door at ten at night in a white Astrovan. He had nowhere to live or anything, he just drove straight down. He was a good guy. He ended up staying at my house and he maintained my bike. He would run around my track section to section waving me on. It was bizarre but it also got me re-motivated. He had followed my career and gave me pep talks about getting up front and having people talk about me.”

Ward—“The biggest mistake I ever made at Moto XXX was after 2003 when I finished 8th in the 450 series, I decided to race 250SX in 2004 and that was me thinking I could be a podium guy. I don’t know what I was thinking. The 250 class on a basically stock bike wasn’t ideal!”

Huffman—“In 2004 I led the World Rounds for most of the season. But I tweaked my foot bad. The ankle was the main thing, standing up and cornering was the worst. I thought it was broke. Then my chain broke at some race in the rhythm section and I tore up my hand. I was barely holding on at that point.”

Burns posing under his team truck in '04.

Brown—“Huffman was in the running for the World Supercross title the whole year. That year was really me running a race team. It was like ‘Holy cow’ and Kurt just let me go with it. He still had all the contracts and he still had the checkbook. But he gave me a budget to go racing and told me if I needed more money to go and find it.”

Huffman—“I raced Dallas SX that year by taking 1000MG Ibuprofen, I went to the hospital and got some sort of horse tranquilizer and wasn’t feeling that helping so I took a Vicodin. I got interviewed for opening ceremonies and Terry Boyd asked me if I was ok- I was so looped out. I still raced though and those last few rounds were tough.”

Sandin—“Damon should have been the World Supercross Champion, no doubt about it! All he had to do was make the main events and roll around and he would’ve had it.”

Huffman—“Looking back on it now, I was so close to winning it. It was amazing I lost that points lead. (Heath) Voss was really coming on back then.”

Sandin—“Three years in a row, Moto XXX had the top privateer in the supercross series and that was cool. Nick Wey started it out for us in 2002, then Larry Ward in ’03 and Damon Huffman in ’04. Take that Honda!”

Larry Ward hung up his boots at the end of '04.

At the end of that year, Larry Ward, one of the teams most successful riders, called it a career…

Ward—“I’m glad you included me in this because the guys were Southern California dudes and I’m not sure they know how much fun I did have and how much I appreciated the rides the last couple of years. I always put more pressure on myself than anyone else and those guys never said a word and every weekend I was giving the team the best results they’ve ever had. I was pretty proud of putting in that call to Kurt Haller that I won a national. I was happy for myself but also for those guys also.”

Jordan Burns, owner—“Larry was always really nice, he always seemed appreciative and he didn’t seem like a big complainer. At least that’s my perspective on things. He was focused but enjoying the end of his career. When riders came on the team, it was a no-pressure type of situation and they weren’t there to perform for anyone but themselves. I think Larry enjoyed it.”

Ward—“My overall picture of the team itself, and this is all the owner guys, they wanted to more be on the computer and say they had a race team but as far as being involved, they didn’t have anything to do with that. It was Alan, Kyle and I but having said that I had two of the funnest years’ I’ve ever had racing. I had no hassles, my mechanic Doug “E- Fresh” Stone was great and all in all it was cool.”

Alan Brown morphed from mechanic to team manager to eventually owner of Moto XXX.

And despite the team’s best efforts to keep Huffman, he left after two years…

Huffman—“Team ECC made me a real good offer, it was a total money thing- I had a three year deal with Blackfoot up in Canada for outdoors up there and I figured that the equipment was similar and I could do sx only. They paid me very well, I had no choice but to do it. Moto XXX gave me a check here and there for $1500. But in 2004 I made a lot of money in bonuses so that was good. Alan said if I stayed I could make as much if I did well but I wanted the guaranteed money.”

Brown—“I put a lot of effort into the Huffman deal and he went to ECC for a little more money but hey, it’s competition-that’s the way it goes. I thought we helped him when he had nothing and did a good job. He made a lot of money, nothing through salary, but through his results. To lose that 30-pont lead in the world supercross series was a huge bummer.”

Huffman—“In the end, the ECC thing wasn’t very good, little things went wrong, I switched mechanics and all that. They tried hard but it didn’t work out. Alan had those XXX bikes dialed-they ran great. They were basically rocket ships with ok suspension”


PART SIX

YEAR NINE- 2005

Riders Kyle Lewis, Justin Bucklew, Juss Lansoo & Nick Evennou

 

Justin Buckelew joined the team for the 2005 season and had some good results.

Alan Brown, manager—“In 2005 it was Kurt losing some interest, the team was turning into something bigger than people could imagine. I became the manager of the team. We got a semi, a shop and started turning the corner into a more legitimate team. It really took off after this for a little bit.”

Kyle Lewis, rider—“I think Alan would be a real asset to a team that had resources. I think he needs to stop dealing with the day-to-day stuff and be a crew chief or something. Just pay him enough and let him work on the bikes, some team would get a real steal.”

Brown—“Yoshimura was preparing for the new Suzuki RMZ450 and Suzuki had hired Ricky Carmichael to ride for them. The plan for them was he was going to promote their pipes and take them to a new level so they dropped us but in the end, Carmichael didn’t run their stuff. But Yosh did put me onto Akrapovic exhausts which helped out a lot over the years.”

Jordan Burns, owner—“There was always tension there throughout the years between Kyle and Kurt and what he thought he deserved being on the team. Those guys had battles for bikes, parts and money over there years. I’d always grow tired of these guys talking about not getting paid while they had a huge house and all that and I was driving a 1986 Toyota truck. Maybe I didn’t know the ins and outs of the things that were being discussed but it would make me frustrated. I’d go over to his house and it was huge with this fat pool set-up and seemed like he was doing fine!”

Lewis—“The whole Moto XXX deal, people thought it was bigger than it was. People had no idea how we were doing it behind the scenes, it was a lot of sacrifice by everyone in the office and on the team. No one was getting rich off it and everyone worked hard. And somehow, someway, we ended up coming off looking pretty good.”

Brown—“Somewhere around this time, Joe Murphy, became more involved than he already did. He financed Brad Williams whose truck we used in 2002, then the next two years we used the Yosh truck and Joe was more behind the scenes. Joe had been brought into the Moto XXX team circle because he’s just a mover and a shaker. Joe started Atomic 22 before Moto XXX and has been in the sport for a long time. When Yosh dropped us, they took the semi and one of my biggest moves in getting control of the team was getting Joe involved in a bigger scale behind the scenes. We needed a lot of money with Yosh out- they didn't give us cash but they gave us truck, a driver, fuel and a workshop- that was huge. When they dropped us, it was a big deal. It was close to being done. Yosh cut our cord and we had to stand on our own two feet.”

Year after year, Kyle Lewis was one of the sports top privateers indoors and out on the Moto XXX machine.

Kyle Bentley, mechanic—“I worked there all of 2005 and half of 2006. Before Moto XXX my rider that year was Jimmy Wilson and he got hurt in Phoenix. I wasn’t planning on doing anything but my buddy Eddie Ray called me and put me in touch with Alan Brown. Alan called me and everything worked out from there.”

But Moto XXX stopped making their video series due to flagging sales of the video genre and it was a move that some associated with the team think was a bad idea…

Burns—“We didn’t make a seventh Moto XXX video because we just weren’t seeing a return from the last videos. There were so many people jumping on the video bandwagon it was ridiculous. Everyone was a videographer. When we were doing it, it was hard as you had to find locations, line up the riders and it was a different scene. By the time we put out XXX 6, Gravity Games and X Games were out and everyone had seen it all. No one got motivated to do it.”

Brown—“Once the last video came out, Kurt’s life was changing with having kids and all that. He was moving in a different direction and the big thing with him, I think, was he was an artist and when anyone could make a video with the digital filmmaking, he was over it.”

Scott Roegner, mechanic, inside sales—“Jay Schweitzer was a video guy mostly. He did some sales but he wanted to push the video side of things and be a producer and filmmaker not a sales guy. He’d work on the XXX videos but when they died off he left to start his own deal and has become pretty successful.”

Burns—“Kurt didn’t want to pay Jay to make another XXX video and Jay went out on his own to make some great films. I think, even we made no money and we would’ve, it would have been in Moto XXX best interests to make another video to just let people know we were still alive. Jay and I talk about that a lot, Kurt blew it. Jay had success and is exceling making movies and instead of him making On the Pipe or Crush, it would have been Moto XXX and I think Jay would have kept us in the game with his videos.”

Roegner—“I think it was a mistake to let him leave, Jay is incredibly talented behind the camera and has done some great work. He had a stench-foot issue that we didn’t like to deal with but he was great.”

Brown—“The three guys didn’t put money into it after the initial investment of their video sales. The team was supporting itself through the sponsors. The team was a legitimate business and not a charity case where those guys just poured money into it. So we didn’t need the videos to sell anymore to run a successful team.”

Estonian Juss Laansoo joined the team late in '05 and was on it full-time in 2006.

So no videos but even without them, Moto XXX the race team carried on with some moderate success that year…

Brown—“Jimmy Holley was buddies with Juss Lansoo, this rider from Estonia, and O’Neal was still a big sponsor of ours back then. Holley probably got into the ears of O’Neal and they wanted us to hire Lanssoo so we did but it was a struggle for Juss indoors.”

Lewis—“At times Alan and I butted heads, I said I couldn’t ride the bike and that I was uncomfortable. He just thought I wasn’t training or was getting old. We got into it pretty gnarly. I had another guy do my suspension and I qualified better than I had all season. And he took it off and did some of his own stuff. It was a grey area where I owned some of the team and he was team manager so I was wondering why I had to listen to him!”

Brown—“We had Justin Buckelew that year, he did pretty well for us. He pulled a couple of unbelievable holeshots at Unadilla. Both motos also, it was like he cheated on the gate drop or something. It looks like a photoshop of a guy just dropped in. I was doing the motors back then.”

Bentley—“ I worked for Nick Evennou but he got hurt for supercross so we just did outdoors that year. Nick was an extremely fast kid who was either on the bike going fast or on the ground crashed.  At some point I worked for Kyle Lewis. He was very meticulous and very picky. We got along but he was one of the most detailed oriented guys I’ve ever seen.”

 

YEAR TEN---2006

Riders Kyle Lewis, Tim Ferry, Josh Summey and Juss Lannsoo

Brown—“In 2006 we got Unbound Energy drink and Josh Summey who came along with the drink money. Scott Sepkovic made the deal happen, he had the money from Unbound and told me he could give me the cash for certain things that I had to do, like take Summey, and the deal was done. They wanted us to have 250’s and 450’s and Josh had potential so it was all fine.”

Roegner—“Right around 2006 when I stopped racing myself, I was in the XXX office, I was getting ready to graduate. Over time when Alan got in there I got to know him well and Josh Summey was on the team. They needed a mechanic and although I’d never worked on anything but my own bike, I got the job as a mechanic with Summey for 2006 250SX east coast. I had come from the kid hanging out to video sales guy to now a mechanic.”

Burns—“Summey was awesome but the thing about him was he was so quiet. I would try to fire him up, I would do anything I could to get him in trouble. That’s all I wanted to do, get him in trouble. He was all tatted out, looks punk rock and then he just sat there all mellow. I wanted him to run his visor backwards and go out there. I really asked him to do that but he seemed scared that he would get in trouble with Alan or something. I thought it would have been awesome.”

Tim Ferry, rider—“I was talking to some different teams for 2006, with Motoworld Yamaha being one of them and I could have gone over there with some Yamaha support. Yamaha didn’t want to get rid of me but couldn’t rely on me because I had been hurt for two years. They also wanted me to ride the two-stroke but I didn’t want to. At some point I had ridden Jason Thomas’s 2005 Honda CRF450 and it was awesome. It blew me away and I knew I had to get on that thing. I would ride one of those today, they were that good. This was the 2005 and I have to say in 2006 the chassis wasn’t as good, they changed something on it.”

Brown—“Getting Tim Ferry to ride for us was huge. I thought he was packing it in and retiring to be honest. He had a few bad years with his wrist and Yamaha had given up on him. I always liked Timmy and went after him hard. He was hesitant at first. After all, we were Moto XXX and there was always a question of our professionalism and desire. But I showed him we did well with Huffy and Lewis and I thought it was a cool chance for him to do something. Even though I had known him since he turned pro, it took a couple of months to convince him.”

In 2006 the team signed former factory rider Tim Ferry.

Ferry—“So I wanted to ride a Honda, it was stuck in my mind and Alan was calling me to ride for XXX. The Motoworld deal was three or four times more money but I was worried about getting paid and I didn’t want to ride the two-stroke. Alan was super honest and laid it out there. He said he couldn't offer a lot but that he would get me the best bike they could, he promised I would get starts and $1000 a race for expenses.”

Roegner—“I didn’t interact with Ferry much this year. He was Tim Ferry and I thought he was kind of a big deal. Lewis the same way, we got along but there wasn’t any bro-down stuff going on. Josh and I stuck together.”

Ferry—“I went from making over a million dollars a year and a factory bike to expenses, thirty thousand dollars and a privateer bike but I really wanted that Honda!”

Brown—“We had all our contracts done with O’Neal when Ferry decided to come on the team. We asked for more money and they said no so I said, ok, he’ll wear another brand of gear. They said that couldn’t happen either so it worked out Ferry did his own gear deal and it happened to be with O’Neal so that we all looked the same.”

Ferry—“I could do my own gear deal so I got 30K from O’Neal that year. I ended up staying with O’Neal for the rest of my career so that worked out pretty good for me.”

Burns—“I just always wanted Tim Ferry to stand in our pits, take his shirt off and yell “F**K EVERYONE!” (laughs) but you can’t change these guys I guess.”

Brown—“We still had Lansoo butJuss still wasn’t very good at supercross. I always believe that no matter how good you are at motocross, you should start supercross on a smaller bike. I don’t care how big you are, you need to learn on a small bike or the big bike is going to hurt you. And that’s what happened to Juss. He would get a little caught up in a moment and pin it. At some point he quaded a triple and broke his wrist. He never got any better after that. Awesome guy though.”

Ferry—“I remember Juss had a bad wrist and he just dealt with that all year. He would say the funniest stuff and I never wanted to make him mad. He was like the Hulk where I thought he would smash stuff. He was super scary in supercross, he struggled with that stuff but he was a cool guy.”

Brown—“Ferry’s first race, at Anaheim, he got a holeshot in the heat race and I think he might have panicked because he hadn’t gone through the whoops that good all day. Now he knew he had to go for it, he blitzed about halfway, his front end dropped and he ate crap. That was scary right there, he hadn’t crashed yet on the team. He was done for the night but afterwards it was onto Phoenix where he did better. He got better as the season went on.”

Ferry—“I had wrist and knee surgery that past July and didn’t start riding until December of 2005. So when I crashed out of the first race in 2006, I thought I would be fine to go there and just kind of ride around but that didn’t work out. It was just a slow progression until my wrist started healing a bit.”

Lewis—“Ferry would always smash me for some reason! We would be in qualifying position and he would try to take me out. I about broke my hand on the trailer one night when Alan told me that I needed to race nice with him because we were teammates. I was pissed. I told Alan to tell Ferry to not come near me for a while, I think this was at San Diego. It was partly Alan’s fault for not sort of figuring it out early on and talking to him. Off the track we’d be cool and he was a nice guy but on the track, he liked to smash me.”

Brown—“Going into the outdoors, he (Ferry) got hurt testing and missed the first few races. But near the end of the nationals he got a lot better and was putting in top fives. His finishes were back up to where we used to be as a team and we needed that.”

Ferry had a solid year on Moto XXX and used it to get back on a factory bike.

Ferry—“I made a big suspension change, around mid-season of the outdoors. I had known Mike Batista at MB1 for a long time and I was using his stuff but man, something just wasn’t right with the bike. He does great work but for whatever reason the bike wasn’t working that well. So I had Bones at Pro Circuit do some stuff for me and I instantly moved up two spots at my first race, then I started getting into the top five. I never, ever changed a clicker or anything. Anytime I tried to move a clicker, the stuff got worse so I would put it back to where it was.”

Lewis—“I was frustrated at times at the end of the deal with my suspension, we had Race Tech and they’re awesome but I just couldn’t get comfortable. And Alan was forcing it on me but Ferry was using Pro Circuit stuff. Alan eventually let me use Ferry’s spare stuff. The stuff was so good, I even led Ferry for a while but he took his forks back.”

Brown—“The whole thing started when Kyle had a vision when he came back from Japan to ride for the guys and he was still a rider. Which meant that he grew up in a world where it was all about him. And that’s not good for a team atmosphere. It got really hard when he wasn’t the top dog and I wasn’t doing stuff that wasn’t in his best interest. He disagreed with stuff I was doing, sponsors that we got and the fact I was putting an effort into other guys. He definitely deserved some effort but he wasn’t the marquee guy that he once was. I totally get it and understand how tough that would be for him.”

Ferry—“Kyle was cool to me when I was there. I never fed into any of the drama on the team that was there from time to time. He was towards the end of his career and was the star of the team so I didn’t make anything into more than it was. I just showed up and did my best. Alan was buddies with him and I had my wife and kid there so we didn’t hang out much.”

Burns—“My band was travelling quite a bit and Erik’s band was so busy with what they had going on and we tried to be involved the best we could but it was tough. I was always the mouth of the team. I was always talking about Moto XXX, in any interview I did with music magazines or whatever- I pumped the team up. But yeah, I couldn’t devote that much of my time to the team.”

The team also picked up Josh Summey as part of its Unbound Energy drink deal.

Brown—“Jordan was always saying he was Moto XXX forever, to the death and around this time there were three pictures of him in Racer X with nothing Moto XXX on whatsoever. I was pissed about that because he was the first person to talk about how we weren’t getting the press we deserved.”

Ferry—“At some point Kawasaki came to talk to me. I thought my agent was messing with me about that but he said “No, they want you and you can have the ride” but I was like “I don’t have a contract so I don’t believe it! But it ended up working out. Moto XXX got me a factory Kawasaki ride and another chance on a team at that level.”

Bentley—“It was funny that year because (Kenny) Watson now worked for Utopia goggles and was our goggle guy. He based himself out of the Moto XXX truck and it was like a reunion there. He used to tell us how he ran the team and he was the reason the truck was there. He was always yelling about this or that.”

Ferry—“Honestly, the team was pretty good. It was so different than being at Yamaha. There wasn’t any pressure on me like over there. They didn’t favor anyone over there as by the time I left Yamaha they were starting to favor Chad (Reed) a little bit. I remember that the team had no bathroom in the truck, that was the worst thing about them.”

Bentley—“Jordan and Erik were around and they were awesome guys. They loved the sport and would do anything they could for the team. Jordan caused trouble by wanting to play under the awning and piss the SX people off. Alan was the first team manager in my career, we’re still friends to this day and he taught me a lot.”

Ferry—“I don’t remember Erik being around much, those guys would just pop in from time to time. I knew Jordan already from being in one of the first videos that Moto XXX had so we went back a ways. It’s funny, those guys would just pop in and out whenever you lest expected it. They were just enthusiast’s man, they were just stoked to be at the races. I see Jordan every now and then, he’s the same guy he was back then.”

Lewis was a fixture on the team for many years, here he is leading Carmichael at Phoenix '06. He would retire from the sport at the end of the next year.

At the end of this year, a founding sponsor and the team would split ways after ten memorable years of sponsorship…

Brown—“Frank at O’Neal was a very good businessman and still is, but he worked it hard. Our licensing agreement ended with O’Neal at the end of 2006 and they weren’t renewing it. We always had to beat on their desk to get paid and they always paid in full but they wouldn’t pay you unless you pounded on their desk…but they did pay unlike some other sponsors!”

Frank Kashare, O’Neal—“We loved being a part of XXX.  I think the team never got the sponsorship from outside the industry that they deserved.  Maybe it was the name, the overall image or just the timing of it all.  You have to respect a crew that could keep things going for such a long period of time.  In truth, they helped change the pits to a party atmosphere and in a number of ways created a bit of a segment in the sport that is here to this day.”

Brown—“They (O’Neal) lowballed us for gear but Moose Gear wanted to join up with us also and the power of Parts Unlimited, who own Moose and was distributing our clothing, was a good thing. We gave O’Neal an opportunity to match but they didn’t and we moved on. O’Neal had been with Moto XXX since it started so it was a big moment.”

Lewis—“By the way, look at all the mechanics that have worked at XXX and went on to become factory guys and all the riders that went on to great things either before or after Moto XXX. Guys like Jay Haines, Dave Dye, Shawn Ulikowski, Steve Matthes, Sean Irwin, Kyle Bentley all worked here and became factory mechanics. I think that says something about our program.”

Brown—“At the end of 2006, Kurt said he was done- completely done and right out of it. If the team was going to continue, it was 100% my responsibility and it was ‘Here you go, good luck’ and I was off.”


PART SEVEN

YEAR ELEVEN—2007

Riders Kyle Lewis, Josh Summey, Mitch Dougherty & Yoshide Fukodome

Alan Brown, owner—“I made a big financial investment in the team at the end of 2006, I remortgaged my house and gave Joe a chunk of his money back and we were partners on this team. Kurt just let it go, I think he was happy to let it go to be honest.”

Jordan Burns, owner—“I think Alan tried to do what he thought would be best for the team but in the end, in my personal outside perspective that doesn’t know that much, I don’t think he had the business side down very well.”

Kyle Lewis, rider—“Alan then said he wanted to buy some of Kurt’s portion of Moto XXX and I’m not sure what happened there. There were bikes that were supposed to be given to me for salary and then I sold the bikes and Alan was pissed at me. I always thought that whatever Honda gave me was mine but Alan thought it was for the team. So there was some of that where we both needed to communicate better with each other.”

Brown—“Chuck Miller was handling all of Honda’s racing back then and he just suggested that if we had room, it would be cool to put (Yoshidi) Fukodome on the team. He was an HRC guy in Japan and if we could give him a chance it would be good for us.”

Kyle Bentley, mechanic—“In 2006 I worked for Kyle Lewis for the first seven rounds of supercross and then I got a job at Pro Circuit. Moto XXX helped me a lot and I learned the ropes over there under Alan. Nothing but great memories for me.”

Brown—“Yoshidi rode a 250, he was the Japanese national champion I think and we didn’t do that much for him. It was explained to me that we just needed to give him a home, some parts and let him do his thing. This wasn’t a Honda HRC thing, it was all his own personal doing to race in America. His mechanic emailed me a few times and then they came over and his mechanic’s English was ok, Fukodome’s english wasn’t very good- he actually couldn’t speak it at all.”

Scott Roegner, mechanic—“Working for Summey that year was great, he was a lot of fun to work for. We have similar personalities and we got along well. He showed signs here and there of really being able to finish well and we were encouraged by his riding. But he just never could find any consistency. We were either top ten or he crashed out and it was frustrating at times. But it was an amazing experience to work for him and for Alan as well.”

Brown—“I had a lot of fun working with Summey, he was a good guy. We had a great relationship and we could talk about a lot of things. He would tell me what his problems were and we’d work on them together. He was doing really well and improving each race. Supercross started out rough for him, he struggled to make main events. We were considering going back to the 250 for the east coast but then it started clicking for him. By round five, he figured it out and rode well on the 450.”

It was at the end of this year that Moto XXX said goodbye to a rider that was it’s longest tenured and put his heart and soul into the team since 2000…

Brown—“Kyle’s last year was 2007 and we didn’t see eye to eye. It got tough for both of us, the team was going in one direction and he was going in another. He was getting older and it happens to all riders at some point or another. He had been hurt a lot and missed time.”

Burns—“Kyle was a big part of the team, especially in the early days. He was the main guy, brought attention to our team and he was another rider that used our team to help himself out. Sure he was a Japanese champion but no one was looking to hire him.”

Lewis—“I had a blast at Moto XXX, there’s no doubt that racing in Japan was awesome and Clark Jones at Noleen is still a friend to me but XXX was special. I can’t complain at all about the time there. I had some good fans that really dug me. I worked hard at what I did, I wasn’t the fastest guy but I wasn’t the slowest either!”

THE FAREWELL—2008

Riders Eric Sorby, Antonio Balbi and Mitchell Dougherty

Brown—“In 2008 Kurt and I struck up a deal for me to take over the clothing company also and I moved everything to Riverside from Santa Barbara and Kurt had 100% walked away. This was now me trying to learn about clothing and it was tough. I tried again to get Kurt to make a new video but he wasn’t into it. We didn’t have the money to front to make a new one and neither one of us could make it happen. We had Parts Unlimited as a distributor but they dropped us for clothing and that was not a fun deal.”

Burns—“Sometimes getting money from your sponsors is like pulling teeth. It happens with a lot of teams over the years and it happened to us.”

Brown—“So I met Kevin Maret this year who had some sponsors and I had the infrastructure so we teamed up. The sponsorships were bleak, we had Honda support and a few other deals but it was tough. Joe put Kevin and I in touch with each other and Kevin had been running a team also. He brought a Hooters deal and I had Honda support. We got Antonio Balbi on the team as I had met him when I helped out Team Brazil at the MXDN. Balbi worked hard and wanted to race, he was perfect. Kevin brought Sorby over to the deal and Honda was happy with everything but it was a rough year.”

And that’s it…fade to black. The Moto XXX team lasted a hell of a lot longer than anyone thought it would have. Three different people got together with a fast-talking mechanic and actually did the impossible- they won a supercross. From there the little team that could went up, it went down but from Brian Deegan and Larry Ward winning races to Nick Wey, Kyle Lewis, Tim Ferry and Damon Huffman being top privateers the little team that created controversy back at the 1997 LA Coliseum rolled on a lot farther and longer than most thought. All hail Moto XXX…

Eric Johnson, Racer X—“People may think I'm somewhat clean-cut and whatever, but down deep, I have a dark streak in me. It all came from motorcycles, my dad and punk rock. Moto XXX brought all that into MX/SX and I loved them for it. I always loved that team. And what a lot of people may forget is that they all truly loved the sport. They were at it a very long time and spent a lot of money. They were different and off the wall, and quirky to some, but I loved them for it. I certainly think they get their own chapter in the U.S. MX history books.”

Brian Deegan used Moto XXX as a springboard for his Metal Mulisha brand.

Brian Deegan, original team rider—“The sport needs that fan love once again, because they did love us. I see the professional side now and I would never shun that side of the pits that hold the teams like Moto XXX, it’s needed. I do feel that my days at XXX started what I have now with the Metal Mulisha. Before then we had some stuff going on but I had Metal Mulisha on my helmet when I won that supercross. It was rolling and XXX had a huge part in getting Mulisha going.”

Erik Sandin, owner—“I’m incredibly proud of all the people that came through the doors of Moto XXX, proud is actually an understatement, it’s actually love I have for the team. Davey Coombs called us the most successful independent team to ever happen in the sport and for him to say that, I’m honored. Someone of that caliber to say that was awesome or the fact you’re calling me up for this article is cool.”

Kenny Watson, original team manager—“We weren’t playing by the rules, we were doing something different than anyone else and there weren’t any rules to be broken. But we started breaking the rules that no one else ever broke because there weren’t rules to break. Then we started to make our own rules and they didn’t like our rules.”

Brown—“Moto XXX was a big part of my life, seven years I either worked for them or I owned the team outright. I’m really proud of what I did and learned. It was a high profile privateer team and the first of its kind. If you were a privateer, wanted to do well in the 450 class but couldn’t get a factory ride, you wanted to ride for Moto XXX.”

Burns—“I had this whole dream that I wanted to go out with rolling into the pits with a semi truck and then while we’re partying in the pits, we dump gas everywhere, light a match and we catch the rig on fire. And it burns down in the pits and that’s how we’d go out. That would be the Moto XXX way, everyone would remember that.”

Sandin—“If we hadn’t started the team, I would have another million dollars in my bank. That’s probably what I would’ve made from video sales over the years. But I don’t care, it was all worth it.”

Burns—“Yeah, Smelly says that because he’s got another five million in the bank!”

Thank you for reading Moto XXX: A Complete Oral History, we hope you enjoyed it and we thank all the people that gave us some time to complete this story. If you’re interested in picking up some Moto XXX apparel, go HERE