During a brief retirement from professional racing a few years ago, Dan Reardon realized that his true desire was to be back on the starting line. He had a successful return to the sport, as he claimed a championship in the Australian Supercross series, but Reardon made it clear that the United States was his ultimate goal. It seemed like options in the US were limited until a recent injury to Colt Nichols paired Reardon with Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha for the 2017 250 West Coast SX season. Older, wiser, and more motivated than before, the veteran feels he could be a title threat during short series.
Coming back to the United States has been the plan for the last few years. After a run in the Australian SX series and with Colt Nichols being injured, it worked out for you. How actively were you pursuing teams here or did this happen to just line up?
I've been pretty active over the last few years about wanting to be back here. Everyone has a story and I retired for like three years. And when I retired, I properly retired because I got a normal job and didn't ride a bike for a long time. But since coming back, I have that fire again and one of my major goals was to be back here and racing again. I tried very hard to get to this point right now and it hasn't just fallen in my lap. Yes, a guy got injured but that's a part of the sport and I was definitely knocking on some big doors.
Had Colt not of gotten hurt, would you have a ride here now?
I'm not too sure. I would still be trying, put it that way. I wanted to come over and say, "Hey I can ride Supercross, so give me that shot." That's what it was at the start and everything worked out for me from there.
What prompted you to retire a few years ago?
I was just burnt out of the sport, mentally and physically. Sometimes you go through that and instead of wasting other people's time and thinking I could drag it out a few more years, I didn't want to do that. Our sport is too dangerous to be out there half-heartedly and if your heart isn't in it the results will never be there. Making the call to retire was the best thing that I could have done. It really fueled the fire again and I missed the sport, riding the bike, and I think that has been the biggest thing in being able to come back and do really well.
How was this last season for you down under? It seemed like it went well but had some highs and lows.
We had a bunch of American riders come down this year and it challenged the series, which I think is great. The more riders we get and the more attention we get back to Australia will be good for the sport and the industry. I think it was a positive thing. During the motocross season in June I tore an ACL and only had three weeks of prep for Supercross, so I was a little unprepared and that was it. The whole time that I was racing that series I used it to prepare for coming over here. I'm grateful that I'm able to make that happen because guys in America don't understand that if you're not born here or race here all the time, to come from another country and do it professionally with the best in the world is not an easy task. Not many people get one shot, let alone two. I want to make the most of this.
How much have you changed since the first time that you came to the United States with GEICO Honda?
Well, mentally you get a lot stronger. I was twenty years old when I turned up in America and while I was fit, young, and ready to go, my mental strength was nowhere near what it is now. You get wiser as you get older, you figure out what works and can build the small team around you to make the job easier. I've got to be one of the oldest guys in the Lites class, if not the oldest. I'll be thirty-one when Anaheim comes around, so this goes a little bit against the grain. But no one is saying that it can't be done.
That's true. And look at Chad for an example. Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath both retired fairly young, but there's nothing say that a rider can't keep going in their career.
You don't feel old at all. Your mentality and mindset, you still feel like you're twenty. You still want to go fast and be the first guy to jump a big jump, so the mentality is all the same.
Has it been difficult to go from riding a 450 earlier in the year to this smaller 250?
No, I don't think it has been difficult. The bikes continue to improve year after year, and the last time that I rode a 250 was back in 2009. The progression that the motorcycles have made since then is huge and the bikes are making a lot of power, so the transition between 250 to 450 isn't that big of a deal.
The Star Racing bike is probably one of the fastest 250s on the starting line, no matter where it is at.
Yeah, it's a great bike. Straight away I had a big smile on my face when I jumped on it. The things that I missed or had forgotten about with a 250, with the weight and the transitions with directional changes, you can make them so much faster on the little bike than you can on a 450. There are some really good attributes to the 250.How much did your personal program change? Star Racing is known for putting everyone with Gareth Swanepoel, so are you doing that or will you train on your own?
I want to do what the team does and be part of the program. Regardless of what I know about training or my experiences, it doesn't matter because a trainer isn't always about knowledge but about motivation. It doesn't matter how motivated you already are, there are days when you don't feel like getting out of bed. Having a trainer is a massive part of having that with the program. I said to the guys that I don't want to "think," I just want to "do." Tell me what to do and I'll do it.
Have you had a lot of input on the bike with the team? Or is the platform so good already?
The platform is really, really good. When I first jumped on I just had to change things like bars to get comfortable or the levers. When the guys from KYB came out and they want to try things, they put it in and it's already better. That made my job fairly easy.
The plan is to do the West Coast, which is good for you and the team because everything is nearby. Do you have expectations already set? You've raced here in the past and have to have an idea of where you stand competitively.
I think I'm well and truly capable of sitting on the podium. And I would love to win the championship because of everything like the retirement, my age, and the situations. I'll put my best foot forward to put myself in that position.
Your deal is unique now because you'll race Supercross in the United States through the first part of the year, will have some time off early in the summer, and then will line up for the Australian series again later on.
Yeah, there will be a break. When Supercross finishes here in May, Supercross in Australia doesn't start until the middle of September. That'll be my small offseason.
But that's good because it'll give you some time to refresh and work on a deal for the 2018 season.
I only want to do Supercross in both countries. It allows me to stay active and keep racing, and I'm doing something that I totally love.
How is the relationship between you, Yamaha in the United States, and Yamaha in Australia?
Since I came back to racing I've been with Yamaha and everything seems to be pretty good. I've made it easy on myself and the people involved by keeping the major parts of the program the same. It's never easy and if it doesn't work like that, then so be it. But I've tried to stay on Yamaha because I don't want to switch from brand to brand or sponsor to sponsor. If I can stay the same, I become more marketable and earn the relationships. The plan is to stay on Yamaha for the remainder.
During your retirement, what did you do? Weren't you a fashion model for Maxim magazine?
That was actually when I came back racing! I have a weird view about that [laughs]. We live in a little bubble with the motocross industry, but the average person doesn't really know what we do. That was my way of stepping out. I had a manager that said I should do some modeling and I felt kind of uncomfortable at first, and still do when they do shoots, but I target a completely different audience and the response has been awesome. There are bigger companies and sponsors, and the ones that bring money into the sport are the ones that aren't already in the sport. That's my little piece of trying to do something that is outside of our sport and isn't distracting to what I do.
At thirty years old, how much longer do you see yourself racing?
As long as my body allows. If I wake up, want to go riding, and my body is in shape, then I'll do this for as long as I can.