Greg Schnell is one rider that we didn’t see much of during the ’05 season. After winning the 250F class at the 2004 U.S. Open, Schnell raced a few Supercross races before sitting out the rest of the season. Most recently Greg showed up at the U.S. Open, aboard a new bike, wanting to defend his title from the previous year. As it turned out, though, Schnell crashed hard in practice and was unable to race.
With help from American Suzuki, Rockstar and Pro Circuit Greg is planning on making a full assault on the AMA National Arenacross series. Growing up he raced Arenacross on a regular basis, but says that he hasn’t raced a National event in quite some time. Now, after only getting back on the bike a few times since crashing at the Open, Schnell is ready to go for this weekend’s National Arenacross in Albany, New York. We gave Greg a call yesterday to see how everything was going.
What team are you riding for?
I will be riding for the Rockstar/American Suzuki team, but it’s kind of my own program, and I get to use my own sponsors. I’m not actually riding on their team—the Bill’s Pipes/Rockstar team—it’s going to be my own Rockstar/Suzuki/Pro Circuit team.
How did you put that deal together?
Well I had already signed my Suzuki deal in late summer, and that was the first contract I signed. Then everything kind of fell into place after that; Cole Gress was already working with the Rockstar people, and he just threw me in there. That’s how it all came about; Cole Gress was the one who put everything together—as far as the Rockstar and Suzuki deal.
How is everything shaping up out in New York?
Good so far. I just flew in about two hours ago, and I’m just kind of getting settled in the hotel and everything. I’m very excited to race the AMA National Arenacross series, and hopefully I can do pretty well at it.
What made you decide to go to Arenacross from Supercross?
One of the main things was that I didn’t want to race anymore Nationals—I’m kind of burnt on the National motocross scene right now. There’s really not a lot of money if you’re not on a really good team, and getting on the podium every weekend. That was pretty much my main reason for going to Arenacross. I want my summers off now, I just want to race in the wintertime. I kind of grew up racing Arenacross on the west coast, and I enjoy Arenacross. I will be doing the 125 East Coast Supercross Series, and I still may do a couple Nationals but maybe just local ones like Glen Helen or Washougal.
So will you be doing your own deal when you race the East Coast Series, or will it be for the Bill’s Pipes/Rockstar/Suzuki team?
It’s going to be my own deal, but I will be running the gear that they run and the Rockstar graphics that they run. Mine will be just a little bit different because I have my own sponsors. Both of us share pretty similar sponsors but there’s a few that are different. I use Pro Circuit motors and pipes; and I use Bridgestone tires, they use Dunlop tires. So there are a few things that are a little bit different.
So what happened at the U.S. Open?
Oh yeah, that was a nasty get-off. It was a weird deal. It was probably the smallest jump on the track, but it was one of the more high-speed jumps. I don’t know who watered the track, but it was really slippery and I just got wheel spin over this little kicker going outside the stadium. It tossed me over the bars, and I took the brunt of the bike hitting the ground. The bike didn’t have a scratch on it; it just pounded me into the ground. I’m still hurting from that. I just started riding a couple of days ago and I’m starting to ride decent, but I’ve only ridden twice since the U.S. Open. Hopefully I’ll be okay for the weekend.
What did you do to yourself in the crash?
I separated two of my ribs from the ribcage—the cartilage itself. I compressed the T-7 vertebrae in my back by 16 or 17 percent, which isn’t that big of a deal.. The Doctor cleared me to ride—he just said to wear a chest protector if I can. I also got a huge hematoma on my femur from my knee brace, but other than that I was good. I can ride pretty good, and I feel good. I just need to try to stay off the ground.
Who do you see as your main competition in the Arenacross series?
Arenacross is a little bit different. It just depends on who gets a good start. Brock Sellards is going to be in there, and there will be a lot of good guys in there. Jeff Northrop, Chad Johnson and Sellards—those three guys there are going to be pretty tough to beat I think. Arenacross is quite small, so I think there is going to be a lot of bike banging and stuff like that, but I think those three guys are definitely going to be good.
Do you have any expectations of yourself for this next season?
I actually grew up racing Arenacross on the west coast. I used to do the Jim Holley races that he used to put on in San Francisco, Reno, and Fresno… like every year I’d do them and they used to be right before Supercross. But I have only ridden one of the actual National Arenacross races and that was like five years ago when Buddy Antunez was racing. I really enjoyed them and hopefully I can win, that’s definitely my goal. That’s pretty much why Suzuki hired me, to try to win an Arenacross title. So I’m just going to do my best to try to do that.