Darrin Sorenson, better known as “Rookie” among industry folk, has been struttin’ his stuff as a professional motocross mechanic for eight years now. Working for the likes of Larry Brooks, Pro Circuit, Primal Impulse Suzuki, FMF Honda, Fast By Ferracci Husqvarna, and Factory Connection Honda, “Rookie” has worked with the best satellite teams in the business. Now in his first year with Team Yamaha proper, “Rookie” has been paid the ultimate compliment by being set up with the best that Supercross has to offer: Chad Reed. Here’s what Darrin has to say about Chad, and his new role as a factory wrench.
Having spent your entire career to date with satellite racing teams, what’s the biggest difference for you now that you’ve graduated into a factory rig?
No middleman! If I need a works part that’s hard to get, I am the first guy that gets it. Whereas with Factory Connection, they’d (Honda) make sure that their guys were covered, and then we’d get the leftovers. I am at the top of the food chain now.
What type of pressure did you feel walking into your new position, knowing full well that Chad Reed is the favorite to win the 2004 Supercross series?
Actually, it was cool because Yamaha sort of played me on that deal. When they interviewed me they wouldn’t tell me what rider I’d be working for. I didn’t actually find out until after they hired me. I originally thought that I’d probably be working for DV.
What was your reaction when you finally did get your assignment?
Pumped! I was pumped! I worked with Byrner last year, so I’d already met Chad. All the Aussies I’ve ever met have been super cool, and Chad’s no different. He’s laid back, good people.
Laid back? Does that apply to his bike set up too?
No, no… Chad knows what he likes, so he knows exactly what direction he wants to go. Some riders will get off the bike and say everything’s cool, and just run it. Chad’s not that way. If it’s not right we’ll stay at the track until it is. Some of the younger kids in the sport are hard to work with because they really don’t have an understanding of what’s good yet. Working with somebody like Chad actually makes my life easier because I know we’ve got the bike set up perfectly for him.
What’s the most stressful thing about being a professional mechanic?
(Laughs) Exactly the scenario that happened last weekend at Anaheim 1. Chad rode by me while in the lead during the main, and he was pointing at the bike. I was a mess for 10 laps, not knowing what the problem was. I didn’t even get that excited initially about the win because I was just stoked the bike made it. When the win finally hit me I was pumped, though!
So the Aussies love their Vegemite. Does Chad make you eat some before each race?
No way! I tried that stuff a few years ago and it’s awful! I signed a Vegemite-free contract with Yamaha (Laughs).
You don’t use it to seal air filters or anything?
No, but that’s about all that stuff’s good for (Laughs).
Speaking of food… How many times a week do you guys go to the Outback Steakhouse?
Not enough…(Laughs) I work at Yamaha, so I am here from dawn till dusk. Seriously though, I don’t think Chad’s a big Outback fan. Byrner loved that joint, but Reedy’s a little stricter with his diet.
Now that Chad’s passed his shoulder injury, are you in charge of keeping fresh tips on his pool cues?
Laughs… Yeah, got to keep the tip fresh, no slipperiness around the floor, and I always make sure that sucker’s level so it doesn’t teeter just as he’s shooting.