By Donn Maeda
We’ve heard from several fans in the stands that following the Jacksonville Supercross main event – in which James Stewart and Chad Reed had the crowd on its feet – the defending Supercross Champion rode up beside Stewart as he saluted the crowd and grabbed him by the neck and proceeded to shout into his helmet. Having seen the two riders exchanging words on the Speed TV coverage but not the “neck grabbing” incident, we attempted to follow up with James and Chad. Calls and text messages made proved fruitless, so we decided to check in with L&M Racing/San Manuel/Yamaha Team Manager Larry Brooks. As always, LB was a pleasure to chat with, and he had plenty to say…
Larry, we’ve heard from a few people that things got heated this weekend, and from a few fans that a lot more than words were exchanged after the race between James and Chad…
Yeah, after the close racing that happened, with them going back and forth, James sat back and pressured Chad. They battled for a few laps, James made the pass stick and got the win. He stopped like he always does to catch his breath and wave to the fans, and some riders, like usual, came up to congratulate him. Chad came up from behind and grabbed him by the back of the neck, put pressure on it, and told him basically “I want to kill you; I’m going to take you out!” It was crazy. John Gallagher from the FIM brought over the tape – footage they didn’t show on TV for good reasons – and it’s clear to see what happened and it’s a bad deal to see it, almost amateur stuff. Chad is flustered with things and the season winding down, but it’s no excuse.
So it wasn’t a choke, per se…It was how you’d grab your kid to get them to stop acting up, right?
Yeah, exactly, but way more intense than that would be. I wish they’d have showed it on TV so everyone could have seen it. He grabbed him and just clamped down and went off.
What did James say about it?
He said that if he had retaliated, it would have been just as immature. He kept his cool, and just said “what are you doing?!” James knew not to do anything because it would have looked like he started it in the first place. He played it off and came to me so we could discuss it with the right officials and other people. This is all in Chad’s lap now.
So from what I understand, the Lites class is run by the AMA, and the 450s are overseen by the FIM, is that correct? So the FIM is in charge of this? Was a formal process or complaint filed?
Yes, the FIM governs the 450s. I didn’t protest, I just showed John and told him what happened. He went to the TV crew and got a tape, and they had zoomed in on it. He brought it by and showed us, and it’s plain as day. Chad’s reason for it from what we heard is “I did that because James was battling with me on the track.” And Chad’s been at this long enough to know that you leave the battle on the track, you don’t make it violent afterwards. The rules say you don’t touch another rider, and the FIM has a copy to see and make a judgment. We have no idea what it’ll be; I have no say so in the matter right now. It might be money, and if so, that’s cheesy, because these guys make so much money. So all it will do is let other riders say, “Oh, I have X amount of money, I’ll pay it off.”
On TV they showed them talking over and over on the podium. What was being said up there?
I don’t know exactly, but I know James saw that Chad knew he messed up and was back pedaling. But the better person to talk to is Chad, have him give his side so it doesn’t look one-sided. He might have a reason, but none the less he touched another rider and that is against the rules, but the FIM is in charge. For as good as this season has been, it is coming down to Chad losing his cool.
I heard some comments from Chad that they had made contact in the air, and that he was surprised they rode it off. Did they touch?
I thought they did at first from my angle at least in the tower, but after seeing it on TV; they didn’t come really close until the next turn. Chad over jumped the jump and James set up to go to the inside, so they bumped coming in. It’s just a racing incident, they were battling, and it wasn’t like it was an attack move.
You’ve been the team manager for both of these riders, how do they each handle the stress of this championship?
James has done really well, is trying to make points up from A1, and he’s handling it good. With the lead Chad had, James has closed it up and it’s a battle all the way. Each guy has their own personality, and Chad looks to be cracking with this whole thing. And he should be, because in a straight up race, he cannot beat James. James just pulls away and it’s easy to be frustrated.
I know they are both professionals, and they’ve raced each other time and time again, but do you have any insight to share with him after working with Chad so he gets a slight edge?
I work with him and as far as it goes, he knows what he is going to do. They know what the other will do, but I’m surprised that hasn’t come into play as much. I can’t help James by being in his ear, giving away Chad’s secrets, we haven’t had to. Besides, I don’t really have all that many, I just help James get things done, and work with the track.
Any chance you guys are running outdoors?
Yeah, there is a chance, but we’d have to have been testing by now. Right now, we are getting this wrapped up, and then set our sights on the other bike set up. If things go well testing, we will hit a bunch, but if we don’t have time or aren’t comfortable, we will hold back. It just depends how he feels and how this ends.
When you say a bunch, do you mean three, four, seven, or more?
I’m not sure at all, because if you do six, you might as well stick it out and do the whole season. It really just depends on the next few weeks, and they two week break between Las Vegas and Glen Helen.
What are the chances?
What have you guys done bike wise over the years to make them handle better? We’ve seen some things come up that we knew weren’t stock, like that huge addition to the swing arm a while back when Reedy raced Budds Creek in preparation for the MXoN…
We took some flex out of the swing arm, like they do in road racing. It takes the twist out and makes it track better. It was this huge crafted metal brace and it let you dive into turns. You could feel it in the corners. The bike wanted to stand up, so we reinforced it and then basically flat tracked it into corners. It’s pretty damn good.
Have you worked on your MXA column for this week yet?
Nah, I’ve been busy so I haven’t had the chance. I got up at 4am to get home Sunday, and after last week and the Broc Tickle thing, I’m going to have to figure out what I am gonna write before I work on it.
What happened with that? The message boards really blew up about the dog!
(Laughs) I don’t know. Are people that ignorant that they don’t see what the sponsors do? I don’t know, but I just meant it has a wake up.
You should have told James to thank Mac and Little Man this weekend on the podium!
(Laughs) I know, right? But he didn’t even get a chance to thank San Manuel or Yamaha; he just got a short, single question to answer. He always thanks his sponsors in the second answer, but he one got one question. So I’m sure it’ll light up the message boards once they all realize it. “See! His own guy doesn’t even thank his sponsors!” (Laughs)