By Ryan Cooley
In motocross racing, it is crucial for a rider to have a good relationship with his mechanic. Likewise, a mechanic must have a solid relationship with his rider in order to best communicate with him. For some mechanic/rider teams, this step can be rather difficult. But for Carlos Rivera and Davi Millsaps, teamwork is a snap! After working as Davi’s mechanic for several years, Carlos made the move with him right on up to the pro ranks, where he now has a bench in the Factory Suzuki race shop. With several years of experience as a mechanic under his belt, Carlos is now putting his teamwork to the test…and the results are speaking for themselves.
How did you become a factory mechanic?
After I graduated from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, I moved to Orlando and started working at a Honda dealer, and then I moved on from there to work at a Suzuki shop. At the same time, I was involved with a lot of amateur racers, and through one of those teams I got hooked up with Davi. I have been working with him since he was 11, so we have been together throughout his whole amateur career. He asked me to live with him when he turned pro, and everything worked out from there.
Has your working with Davi for so long helped him as a rider?
Definitely. I think that it is a huge help to him, because it has given him a lot fewer things to worry about. When Davi first turned pro, the whole task of getting to know a new mechanic-and for that new mechanic to have to learn about him-was something that he didn’t need to worry about. He’s comfortable around me, and he likes the work that we do together. We both respect each other a lot, so it’s a pretty good relationship, and I think that it has definitely helped him.
How much time do you spend at the Suzuki race shop in California versus Millsaps’s training facility on the East Coast?
I basically work all the time in California, but I will go to MTF once in a while to take care of Davi’s practice bikes. The week after Daytona, I spent two days over there working on his bikes and setting them up. We actually refresh his bikes quite often. When we send him a new one, he sends the old one back, so we keep the rotation going pretty fast.
What changes do you see with Davi this year compared to his rookie season?
This year, he is a lot more mature, and knows what to expect. Last year, he was a little nervous, because it is a big deal for a sixteen-year-old to race Supercross! It is also a big transition to go from being a dominant amateur rider to a place where there is a lot more competition, especially with 15 laps of non-stop pressure. People expect a lot from Davi, but I think he did really well. Last year was kind of our learning year. This year, we are still learning, but I think that he is doing outstanding to be getting these results so quickly. There are a lot of guys who have been racing a long time, but Davi is really getting the job done!
Being so close to Davi, have you managed to stay out of the whole Millsaps/Alessi rivalry?
Yeah, I have been involved with that before, but I think that whole deal will be a lot better now. AMA Pro Racing is so much different than amateur racing, and I think everyone is good and fair about everything. Davi and Mike are just two riders who are going to race each other, and I hope that we see and show good results. We are looking forward to it…or not!
Do you prefer working on the two-stroke to the four-stoke race bikes?
Honestly, it works out fine for me either way. I like the two-strokes, but I have worked on four-strokes previously, so I don’t mind them so much. It was a bit new and interesting for me when I first started working on the thumper, but now that I am used to it, there are no problems at all.
As a factory mechanic, we know that you have a lot of tools, but is there any one in particular that is your favorite?
I have a lot of favorite tools! Out of them all, though, I wwould have to say that my favorite is my 3/8″ cordless impact tool from Makita. I like it because it is very fast, and it works really well for taking the bike apart. That thing is definitely the best tool of them all.