Spanner: Oscar Wirdeman

Our man Grant Langston has a new wrench this year and he’s a newcomer to the U.S. motocross scene, so we figured what better way to introduce him to his new colleagues than trough Spanner? Although a rookie on U.S. soil, Swedish-born Oscar Wirdeman has a solid resume behind him. Having worked for Factory Kawasaki in the World Championship Motocross GP series, as well as for Ducati as a suspension specialist on Europe’s elite road racing circuit, Grant assured us that he was in great hands. Just to be sure though, we sat down with Oscar to see for ourselves. Here’s a peek inside the head of Cool G’s right-hand-man.

How would you compare the motocross racing in Europe versus that in the U.S.? Are rider attitudes and personalities similar, or are they quite a bit different?

I think it’s the same kind of deal everywhere. You have your really nice guys, and then you’ve got the ones that are not so nice. European motocross has a lot more privateer guys because there’s less money involved. There are a few really professional teams, but the rest are on a lower level. In America there are way more big teams and a lot more money involved.

You started working with Grant in November, so was the mud race in Seville, Spain, your first race together?

Yeah…well… I think before that we did a Super Moto race, but Seville was my first Supercross.

That must have been a mechanics nightmare with all of the mud, huh?

Oh… It was terrible! It was so bad! We were pretty lucky though, because KTM is based in Europe, so we had a truck and spare parts. The American guys that came over had it much worse. That was an ugly race. The bikes were destroyed after that.

We refer to Grant as LL Cool G because he’s always been a pretty laid-back, “cool” type of guy. What’s your take?

Yeah… He’s definitely on the laid-back side. He’s always got some funny stories to tell, so it’s fun to be around him. He’s cool! In fact, I gave the bike a nickname today and put it on the handlebar pad. You guys are always calling him Cool G, so I am calling the bike “The G Ride!” But when it comes to racing he’s got a really big heart. He wants to be the best!

With Grant now taken, have you been able to step in and hook your line into some of his castaway women?

(Laughs) I haven’t seen them yet, but I am hoping he’ll put the good word in somewhere.

Grant tells us that a bunch of you try to get together one evening per week to grab some take-out and play ATV Furry. He claims to kick everybody’s butt… Is this true?

Not every time. He’s a really dirty rider! If you pass him he’ll purposely land on you.

What type of hours do you usually work on a normal weekday?

I usually get into the race shop by about 8:30 or so. I load up the bike and then drive out to the test track. Monday through Wednesday we usually stay out there until at least 2:00, and then I head back to the race shop and work on the bikes. If his practice bike needs attention I usually get that done first, but then the rest of my evening is dedicated to the race bike. That’s the most important thing. So I end up working well into the evenings on many days.

Is Grant a picky rider compared to other guys you’ve worked for in the past?

No, not really. Once we get the bike set up he’s pretty good to go. He doesn’t screw around adjusting the clutch lever up 1mm or anything like that. He knows how he likes it and we get it done. Funny story though… I realized the other day that he actually has one short leg, so I made him a higher foot peg for one side. I didn’t tell him when he went riding, but at the end of the day I asked him how his back felt–normally he gets a lot of force in the back because he’s twisted. And he was like, “Yeah… My bback is pretty good, actually.” I told him to have a look at his peg and we had a good laugh. But it works!

If you could only take one tool to the track with you, what would it be?

(Laughs) It would be my truck driver because he’ll bring my complete toolbox!