Like most of the top mechanics in the professional motocross scene, Illinois native Dan Rambert got his start by wrenching for some hometown friends as a hobby. Having enjoyed riding and working on bikes from a very young age, Dan got sidetracked in the automotive industry for a few years before realizing his passion for motocross. After working his way up the ladder on the local level, Dan moved on to a stint with the Tuff Racing Arena Cross team before finally hooking up with Mitch Payton and Pro Circuit Kawasaki to kick off the 2002 season. He spent his first three years on the team with Eric Sorby, but was left without a bike and rider when Sorby left the team in 2005. When the dust settled and the ’05 team was formed, however, Dan was reassigned to take care of the KX250Fs of former 125cc World and National Champion Grant Langston. The two hit it off, and after only seven races as a team; they took home their first title together and became the 2005 125cc East Coast Supercross champions.
You and Grant put it all together and had success right out of the gate. How much easier does that make your job?
It makes it really nice, for sure. Grant and I have a very good relationship. We get along really well, so it’s made it much easier to communicate when it comes down to working on the bike and life at the races. My family and I have hung out with him and his family away from the track, and we all get along great. They’re all really nice people, and very supportive, so things have gone pretty smoothly for us.
Having paid your dues and dedicating so much of yourself to the sport, how fulfilling is your first championship?
It’s awesome! It felt so great just to be a part of it all. It was a little rough during that main event that night in Pontiac, but he knew where he was and what he had to do, and it all worked out. I couldn’t be happier.
As the championship started winding itself down to the point that you could almost taste it, did the pressure increase, or was it just business as usual?It was pretty much business as usual. Whether winning or losing, we always keep our bikes up extremely well here. We always make sure our riders have the best equipment possible, so it was pretty much like normal. There were definitely a few more nerves pumping going into that main, but it didn’t really change the program at all.
Knowing what he responds to, did you signal Grant with anything special that night on the pitboard?
No, I don’t think we did anything too out of the ordinary. He’s pretty good about looking at the pitboard, so I just communicate everything he needs to know. I always give him his lap times. He likes to know that he’s being consistent, or if he makes a mistake he wants to know how much it affected that lap. If he has the lead, he likes to know by how much so that he can maintain or extend his cushion, and he always likes to know what lap he’s on. In Pontiac I just made sure he knew exactly where he was.
Backing up a bit… How did you become interested in mechanics and working on bikes to begin with?
Well, my father passed away when I was really young. When I started riding motorcycles, my mom wasn’t able to help out that much, so I kind of just naturally took to it. I was splitting cases when I was on 80s. I’ve always been pretty mechanically inclined, and it just rolled on. I worked in the automotive field for years, and helped out some of the local kids back home as a hobby. Eventually I got really bad Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in my hands, so to avoid surgery I decided to get away from the automotive stuff because it was far more abusive. After that, motocross progressed into a fulltime deal.
Grant mentioned to us that you’ve got a few tattoos, but that you keep them pretty well covered at the races. Is that to try to uphold a more professional look?
More so just to keep it low key. That’s a personal part of my life, and I think with the kids coming up with tattoos-not that I have a prooblem with them showing them-but I just think it looks more professional. I grew up when they weren’t as accepted. They’re more “correct” now because more people have them, but I just keep them personal.
Which do you prefer, Supercross or outdoor motocross?
I probably like them both about the same. They both have their pluses and minuses. Outdoors require more work because you are always going, but the Supercross day is so long that it takes its toll, as well. But I really enjoy them both for different reasons.
What’s your favorite tool?
My favorite tool would be Mitch.
(Laughs) Are you saying that Mitch is a tool?
(Laughs) No, not at all… Without Mitch, though, we wouldn’t have what we have. His knowledge, his work ethic and even his presence… Without him we wouldn’t be successful.