The racers of the sport deservedly catch the attention of the media and fans, but behind every rider on the line are the brands that give them the latest products. These companies work to establish a strong following from the grassroots of the sport to the top tier by various means of support. At the helm of DRD’s Rider Support program is Casey Huntley, who we recently sat down with to learn more about his role at the exhaust manufacturer.
Casey, you are a former racer but are now the Rider Support and Media Coordinator at Dubach Racing. How did you happen upon the job?
I grew up racing but basically I had arm pump times a thousand, and it lead to nerve damage and carpal tunnel in my forearms. I also did testing for White Brothers and Vance & Hines, so I had a history in the pipe industry. My brother is a DRD support rider, so that led into me getting to know everyone here. My buddy Mark Tilley was the rider support manager here before he moved on to Dirt Bike Magazine, and he put in a good word for me to fill his spot.
What does your job here entail?
I oversee all of our amateur and professional riders and make sure that they are taken care of. I also help with product testing and development, and then make sure our advertisements and media relationships are taken care of.
When a rider is sponsored by DRD and you say you take care of them, what kinds of support do that get? Is it one pipe a year or is it full maintenance?
It is all year, but it depends on their level of sponsorship. We have some they get 25 or 35 percent off of products, but then we have our elite guys that may get four or five pipes a year and services when needed.
How many riders does DRD support and sponsor?
It’s hard to say, but it is a couple hundred. Of course all of those guys are not getting free product, but there is always a chance to better yourself here. If you get good results and do a good job marketing the company, you can gain more support.
Because of Doug’s relationship with Yamaha, DRD has been known in the past as more of a Yamaha exhaust company. Is it still like that?
Yamaha sales are good and Kawasaki sales are strong. Sometimes people like to think we are exceptionally good on a Yamaha but question our other stuff, but we have had quite a few riders come back and tell us how much better our pipes work when compared to other companies. I know everything is ridden by Doug firsthand and we don’t go on dynos. Doug’s history as a test rider is known from his time at Yamaha and Dunlop.
The experience we have with the products are good, usable power, and are not gnarly because Doug rides them and wants to make improvements that can be put to good use, not just a giant hit.
Exactly. It needs to be something that will work for both the beginners and professionals. Just because it makes three more horsepower on the dyno doesn’t mean it will be good “in the seat of the pants” and on the track.
Do you sometimes have to explain that to customers that are only looking for a gigantic hit?
Actually, I just had a customer call and ask to see a dyno chart for a bike. They said they would not purchase the pipe unless they saw a chart. Riding with your product is so much more important than the dyno. People in the sport that know Doug and the brand know we won’t put something out that does not perform.
How much time does he spend in the office? Is he usually out riding and testing? For instance, he is not here now.
(Laughs) Doug’s riding has cut back a lot over the last few years. He hard to work extremely hard to win both championships at Loretta’s this year because his riding time is cut back. He is here a lot. He comes in at 5:30 in the morning and a lot of times doesn’t leave until six or seven at night. He spends his share of time in the shop.
Has he started to make two-stroke mini pipes now that his son is racing?
We actually have done some two-stroke stuff and we made them up, but we do not available yet. It is something we can launch at any time, but it is hard to find someone to do the stamping and help us get the balling rolling in the US. It is something we are working on and if it is up to me, you will see it happen in the next few months.
What else is new from DRD?
We have our new products coming out in about a month. It is called the NS4 and we have changed a few things with it. We now have a one-piece end cap that is riveted on so that it is nice and secure. We changed a few small things like the pip stickers and our perf-core inside the can will run all the way from the beginning to the end of the cap. Now you will have packing in the end cap, which is something we did not have before. It will help with performance and lower the sound, as well.
Do you do as much test riding yourself now as before?
Not as much as I used to, because when I do ride there is so much pain that comes along in my arm. It is something that I have been doing a little bit of lately and surprisingly I don’t feel like too big of a spode for not doing it as much anymore. I am going to get back into more because it fits my position so well.
And now it sounds like your younger brother will be going pro…
Yeah, he is going pro. He is working hard, so we will see where it goes. There are a lot of fast guys and a life outside motocross, so I want him to do his best at school and riding and see where it takes him.