How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
Lets be honest you aren’t going to be a professional racer and chances of you being a mechanic aren’t that good either. Butt there are several other jobs in moto that you could possible slip into and make a career out of. I’m going to get in touch with some of these industry insiders for short features. What are the ins and outs of these moto industry jobs and how did they get there?
Moto is basically a traveling circus and to get the circus all over the country you need truck drivers. I got in touch with the truck driver for the Butler Brothers David Rhine aka @bigwavedave_ and the truck driver for the JGR team John Shelburne aka @bigrigjohn to get the inside scoop. What’s it take to be a team truck driver? Well for starters you better love driving.
If someone told you they wanted to be a truck driver for a motocross team and asked how to get a job what wood your advice be?
Dave: My advice would be to network and meet as many people as possible to get your name and face out there. From my experience a lot of the job opportunities in this industry are based on who you know most of the time. And once you’re “in”, you’re in, but most the time the problem is getting to that point!
John: Do you have driving experience? Have you ever been a janitor, cook, bouncer, automotive detailer, repairman, builder, ass kisser and babysitter? Then send your resume to the race teams. Or make friends with someone in the industry. That’s what I did.
Did you have a background in moto before becoming a truck driver?
Dave: I grew up racing District 6 Hare Scrambles in Pennsylvania and then the Mid-East series in North Carolina once my family moved down here, and some GNCC stuff. Before my first gig driving for a team I worked with John Ayers Jr. and MX Sports as part of the track crew, which sets up all the tents, arches, and banners at the outdoor races. I did that for 3 years.
John: I cum from the quad racing side. Raced a little, I was a mechanic for a while, and then drove the truck for the Suzuki ATV race team.
Would you recommend a truck driving school to get a CDL or just taking the test?
Dave: If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a truck that will let you use it to take the driving portion of the test, I would study for the written exam and then use their truck to take the test. That’s how I did it and it’ll save you tons of money!
John: Yes please go to a school, we have enough bad drivers on the road already.
How did you get your current job?
Dave: At the end of 2015 I knew I wasn’t going to continue with the team I was on so I walked around the pits and handed out handmade business cards (since I didn’t have any printed ones, haha!). I handed one out to every team manager I could get ahold of in the pits and Forrest Butler got in touch with me and the rest is history.
John: The last driver for JGR moved on to better things. One of the mechanics on the team recommended me for the job. Jeremy Albrecht called me and I said ok.
Double clutch or no clutch?
Dave: No Clutch. It’s all about the feel.
John: I only use the clutch when I’m doing smoky burnouts.
Who taught you the most you know about driving?
Dave: There are really so many people that I have learned from, and continue to learn from. My dad had me driving a lawnmower at 3yrs old and would let me drive his pickup on back roads when I was still super young so I’d have to credit him with a solid foundation. As far as driving a semi, all the drivers in the paddock have each other’s backs and it’s like a family. Mike Chynoweth, Tom Poage, Dirk from Troy Lee, Mike and Donnie from HRC, Marine Don from KTM, Big John from JGR, Kyle Stone, Scott and DC from Husky, John from Star, Rabbit from RCH; honestly I can say that I have gotten help or advice from each and every driver in the pro paddock before. If you’re willing to learn then there is always someone willing to help!
John: Billy Felts who works for JGR. @bereell on Instagram.
Help me fill in the blanks on al the responsibilities the truck driver has.
a. Driving the truck to all the races.
b. Washing the truck and trailer.
c. Setting up the tent.
d. Grocery shopping.
e. Cooking on race day.
f. Keeping superfans at bay and out of the tent.
Dave: It’s an adventure, very satisfying once it’s done, it’s a team effort, gets very monotonous, can be stressful, you want people to be full and satisfied, it’s usually not too bad, but some of those Shorty fans are a spicy crowd haha.
John: Yes all of the above and we can do it in less then a 14 hour day.
Most difficult roadside repair you’ve had to make?
Dave: You know, I’ve been fortunate with not having many issues on the road. I’ve had a handful of blowouts over the years, but I mean you just call roadside assistance for something like that. I guess I can either attribute my luck to preventative maintenance, or just not being as seasoned as some of these OG’s out here.
John: Tire repair. When I was with Dunlop I had a co driver and he lost a set of wheels and hub off the trailer. Had to strap up the axle and drive to the next exit to get it fixed.
How many days are you on the road a year?
Dave: I’ve never counted or kept track, I could tell you if I went through my logs, but we’re on the road from January until the end of August, when outdoors is over. Then there are the one off events like GP’s, Monster Cup, Straight Rhythm, Etc. It’s a lot I do know that.
John: I’ve never counted. Last season I left for A1 on Dec 26 and the Charlotte GP was Sept 3. I have no idea how many days I was home in between; I just never thought to count.
Do you honk for kids when they do the universal trucker air horn motion?
John: Yes. Love honking at kids. I even honk at adults with their heads up theirs ass.
Craziest thing you’ve witnessed while driving?
Dave: I was in a bad windstorm in Kansas one year driving a Moto Tees rig and the wind was so strong that it lifted my passenger side trailer tires a foot off the ground. I immediately pulled over to stop for the night and change my undies!
John: I once saw a hell of a driver keep from wrecking after he blew a steel tire. It pulled him into the medium, then across two lanes of oncoming traffic and he stopped on the shoulder of the opposite lane.
Most boring state to drive across?
Dave: West Texas.
John: Cali. 55MPH
What other drivers or teams do you like to caravan with?
Dave: It changes all the time. Lots of the time ill drive solo, but I’ve rolled out with Star, Motorcycle Super Store, TLD, Husky, KTM, Team Tedder, Rock River, HRC, and K1 Speed to name a few. Convoying like that is cool cause you have a support system in case something goes wrong, and when the driving is over everyone drinks cold beer together.
John: Because our shop is in North Carolina, I drive back there a lot and don’t get to drive with the other guys much. Butt when I do it’s with Scott and DC from Husky, Derk from TLD or James for PC. Or whoever wants to keep up.
Who has the nicest truck and trailer in the pits?
Dave: I’ve always thought the Geico Rig was immaculate, as well as the newly painted HRC rigs this year, but when you know how much work each driver puts into keeping his rig looking and running good, they are all badass!
John: I like the TLD setup. Derk does a good job over there.
What is the best type of bottle to pee in while driving?
Dave: I’ll pee in anything with a wide mouth.
John: I use Tito’s, there’s normally a couple of them rolling around. (I don’t really do that. I just pull off at a ramp and use the bathroom in the trailer)
Safest meal to order at a truck stop?
Dave: I’m usually a grilled chicken and veggies kind of guy.
John: Tornado’s at, the Flying hook.
How long does it take to wash the truck and trailer inside and out?
Dave: There are many variables there. How dirty the truck is, the quality of water you are using, the temperature, wind, how many other members of the team are also working out of the trailer at that time. Washing the truck takes 2-3 hours, polishing wheels another hour. Keeping the insides clean is a never-ending job!
John: Two to three hours on the outside, maybe longer if someone has silver bullets. Another three or four on the inside depends how muddy the boots are. Then another couple to wash the stuff that’s on the inside, rugs, golf cart, coolers…
Who tracks the most dirt and mud into the trailer?
Dave: Any rider who can’t read the “No boots in the trailer” signs.
John: My guys don’t do that. After ever practice and moto the riders wash there boots and take them off before they go in the trailer and the rest of the crew used the boot brushes and rugs to get all the mud off there shoes. I also have some ocean front property to sell.
What is your best lot lizard story?
Dave: I’ve seen a ton of them and it’s always entertaining, but I’ve never ridden that ride!
John: I stay away from those.
Longest time you driven non stop?
Dave: The legal limit is 8 hours before you need to take a break. I keep it legal, bro 😉
John: 11 hours. That makes a long day. Sometimes I might just get 9 or 10. I don’t have to get in a rush. We have 5 days to get from New Jersey to Las Vegas. Oh and still get all your cleaning done and the mechanics also need to build bikes or if your lucky enough your guys in the top 3 and you have to do press day on Thursday.
Have you ever scratched or tented the truck or trailer?
Dave: I mean yeah, but don’t tell any of my past or present bosses! These trucks get a lot of miles put on them and some of the places we have to bring them are pretty sketchy, but everyone makes mistakes at one point or another and it’s just something that you learn from and you try to never make the same mistake twice.
Best and worst part about your job?
Dave: Best: I’ve gotten to experience more places in the United States than most people will ever have the chance to, all the people I’ve met and friends I’ve made, and all the beautiful and badass places I’ve been able to ride my bicycles is mental! Worst: I live like a vagabond, which doesn’t bother me, but I don’t get to see my dog, Rocky, when I’m on the road. That’s a huge bummer.
John: Best part is watching the guys doing autographs with the kids that truly look up to them. It so cool when a kid looks at our riders like they are super heroes. Worst part is trying to get riders to do autographs.
What meal are you best known for making at the races?
Dave: BUBBA BURGERS!
John: Breakfast burritos.
Best way to pass the time while driving?
Dave: Spotify Premium and satellite radio are huge. I listen to lots of talk shows because music will put me to sleep no matter what it is after a while, where talk shows keep me engaged.
John: Books on tape. I love Jack Reacher.
What is your call name on the CB radio?
Dave: Thunder chicken.
John: Big Rig John same as my Instagram handle.
Thanks to both Dave and John for their time and for giving us a peak behind the curtain and a look into what their jobs entail on a week-to-week basis. If you have a request for interviews on a specific career field in the moto industry email it to firstname.lastname@example.org mention Moser or PulpMX and he will make sure to forward it along.
Thanks for reading Moser.