CATCHING UP WITH DEAN WILSON
By Donn Maeda
Photos courtesy Dean Wilson’s iPhone
One of this off-season’s worst-kept secrets was Dean Wilson signing with Jeff Ward Racing to start his 450-class racing career. After pulling out at the Hangtown National, Wilson underwent surgery to repair the shoulder he injured a few weeks earlier in Supercross. Several weeks after that, he had a second surgery to tighten up his other shoulder, which he had injured years earlier. Deano has been back on a bike for two weeks now, and is excited about his new opportunity and team. We phoned him while he was at Dade City Raceway in Florida, watching his dad Andy rip it up at an evening practice session.
How long have you been back on a bike now?
It’s been about a week and a half, maybe two weeks, and it feels really good. It’s been a bit over five months since I’ve ridden, and it feels amazing to be riding instead of doing therapy on my shoulder every single day. (Laughs) So it’s good!
How are your shoulders? Would you say that they are both 100%?
Yes, both of them are strong and at 100%. I was doing therapy every day with Eddie Cassillas when I was in California and that helped a lot. I had both of my shoulders completely reconstructed and it was a lot of hard work to get them back to full strength, but the pain and effort paid off and I am quite happy with the results now.
So you repaired the shoulder that you injured in your crash with Eli Tomac, but a few weeks after that you had a second surgery to fix an old injury, correct?
Yeah. The other one was injured in 2011 and it always bothered me. I separated it and it looked terrible, but it also hurt a bit at times. I figured that since I was taking the summer off to heal, I might as well get that one fixed too and bee 100% ready for 2013.
Talk about your new team, Jeff Ward Racing. How is the team dynamic, working with a whole new set of folks?
I signed with Jeff Ward Racing. Some people have been shocked about my decision, but I am quite confident in it and I am very excited to get back into the swing of things and get back to racing. I am very happy with everything and I can’t wait to get back onto a Supercross track.
What influenced your decision?
Obviously, I wanted to stay on a Kawasaki because of my long history on them. The factory team already had Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer, so there was no room for me there. When Jeff Ward talked to me, it just seemed like a perfect opportunity. I could stay on Kawasakis and it seemed like the best fit. Plus, Jeff Ward is an absolute legend. I’m paired up with Oscar Wirdeman who has two Supercross championships under his belt already, so I know my bike will be perfect.
What are you riding now? I know you’re out in Florida, and the race shop is in California…
I have been riding on a brand new 2013 KX450F team bike. It’s awesome.
How do you feel on the bike? Where is your speed right now?
I just got back on the bike so I am not pushing myself very hard. I am just taking it slow and not rushing things…I’m not even trying to go really fast yet. Just building up my strength, because no matter how much therapy or working out you do, actual riding always takes different muscles. But I am happy with how I feel on the bike, and just to be riding again makes me quite happy. I have over two and a half months until I have to race, so there is plenty of time. The speed will come.
You’re staying out at Chad Reed’s Compound 22 in your motor coach, correct?
Yeah, I bought a second home in Florida and we are just waiting for escrow to close on it. Chad has been nice enough to let me and my parents stay at his track in the motorhome, and I am excited to become a Florida resident on Monday when my house closes!
Anaheim 1 will mark your first professional race aboard a 450, as you didn’t ever dabble in East Coast Supercross when you were racing West Coast Lites. What are you expecting and what kind of goals have you set for yourself?
I’m really excited about the 450 class. I’ve always felt that through my whole amateur career, that I rode the 450 better. I am a bigger guy and I am heavy because I’m so tall, so I always felt at a bit of a disadvantage racing against little guys. I think the 450 suits me quite well. I really want to have a solid year, and I want to run up front. I look at how Trey Canard transitioned into the 450 class and how he won some races in his first year. I’d like to do the same.
You’ve moved to Florida and you’ll be training and practicing with Chad Reed at his amazing facility. Is it going to get weird when your speed begins to match his?
(Laughs) No, come on. Chad is actually going to be in Australia racing that Supercross series through the whole month of November. But Chad is a pretty fair guy and it will be all cool. If that happens – if I get as fast as him – we will just have to wait and see what happens. (Laughs)
Moving from SoCal to the Dade City area of Florida has to have been a radical culture shock. I mean, the Temecula Mall and the Dade City Shopping Center are radically different. Does your pickupkit even work there?
(Laughs) You know what, I haven’t even tried out my pickupkit out here yet! I’m going to have to bust that out this weekend maybe. (Laughs) I love it out here. I think it’s way better for my career. I can be more focused out here with less distractions. I love California, too, though. Both places have their ups and downs, but for me racing, I think this is a good fit.
Have you sorted out all of your personal sponsors yet?
No, not just yet. I’m still working on all of that! I do still have my sweet Tundra from the Toyota of Escondido Action Sports Team, though. For now, I’m just so happy to be riding again…all of that other stuff will work itself out.