For 10 years now, Wayne Lumgair has made a successful career for himself by being a wrench in the motocross industry. With tremendous knowledge and years of experience, he helped Rattray win the MX2 World Championship in 2008. Now, the successful duo is making their presence known here in the United States. We caught up with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki mechanic, and this is what he had to say...
What was the whole experience like coming from South Africa to the United States? Was the transition hard?
When I first left South Africa, I spent eight years in Europe competing at the Gran Prix as a mechanic. After I started getting some experience doing that, I started to work on some engines, too. Once I came over to America, though, that transition was a lot easier than Europe because South Africa is a lot similar to America. So, it’s has been pretty easy because of that.
A lot of people always say that the riders from Europe are fast, but there have been a few top riders that have come out of South Africa, too. Is the motocross scene pretty big down there?
It’s crazy how small the motocross scene is down in South Africa. If you saw it, you wouldn’t even believe that you could get some good riders from there. For instance, at a National, you’ll be lucky if you have like 12 guys on the starting line. And that’s at a National! You’ll probably get about 12 riders in the 250 class, and maybe about 10 in the 450 class. It’s pretty crazy for sure. It’s pretty crazy how they can produce such good riders because of the size. I don’t really get it. Literally, the tracks are so beat up, and they are so small. There’s not a lot of anything over there.
So, do a lot of the riders from South Africa head up to Europe to race the Grand Prix over there?
Umm, a lot of them try. First, Greg Albertyn set the record by becoming successful over there. After him, Grant Langston had some success, then Tyla Rattray, and now guys are trying to somewhat follow in their footsteps. So, it almost seems like it’s a lot easier for South African riders to go up to Europe first than to come straight over to America. A lot of the riders do try, but not everyone is able to make it.
After you spent some time over in Europe, you finally made the move to the States. Has that been hard being so far away from your family and friends?
Well, when I first went to Europe, that was when it was really hard for me because that was the first time that I had been away from my family. So, when I came over to America from Europe, I was kind of already used to being away from home. So, it wasn’t that bad, I guess. Plus, when I first came over here, everyone spoke English, and that made it really easy for me. The weather over here is also like South Africa, so there are definitely a lot of similarities between the two.
How has it been working with Tyla?
It’s cool. I don’t know what to say. He’s really easy to work with, that’s for sure. When we go out, he just gets on the bike and rides, and he doesn’t complain a lot. He’s not too fussy about things. As long as everything is straight and works, he’s pretty much happy.
Now, did you guys live pretty close to each other in South Africa?
Actually, we lived together in South Africa. When we went up to Europe, we lived together for two years, but as he got older, he got his own place and I got mine. Everything just moved on from there.
For you, that has probably made your job a lot easier, wouldn’t you think? I mean, you’ve probably got to know him really well over the years by living with him, and you probably know what it takes to get him motivated to win.
Yeah, pretty much because I was right with him from the time he left South Africa to now. I think he was 14 or 15 then. Whatever it was, I’ve been pretty much involved with him in some shape or form. Whether it was working on his bike, or whatever else, I was there. So, I pretty much know what works for him, and what doesn’t work for him. I can pick up on how he is feeling, and how he’s going to do. So, it’s pretty cool.
How has it been wrenching for such an elite team like Pro Circuit?
It’s really cool, and I enjoy it a lot. You’re proud to be here, and you feel like you can’t do things any better because they have the best. After my job, it’s all up to the rider. So, it’s quite a bit of everything.
How long have you been wrenching for now?
Well, I did it for eight years in Europe, and I’ve done it for two years over here. So, I’ve been a mechanic for 10 years altogether.
Has it been a pretty good experience?
I love it, and it’s my life. I love the industry, I love the racing, and I just, I love it.