The privateer lifestyle isn’t for the faint of heart, as this career path comes with miles of adversity and constant obstacles and issues. So much is put on the line for so little in return for these athletes, and one racer that’s accustomed to the privateer lifestyle is Noah McConahy. McConahy hails from Washington, but has since made the trek to California to pursue his dreams of becoming a factory rider, and with some impressive results from last year’s Supercross season the number 59 may be well on his way after gaining a bit of momentum from racing in Canada. We checked in with the local privateer rider to hear about his time in Canada and to get his expectations for next season.
Noah, what’s been going on? It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with you.
I’ve just been down here working with my trainer Kevin Urquhart preparing for next season, and today we’re getting in some suspension testing with WP. I’ve been up in Canada racing and making some money since it gets tough during the off-season as a privateer. If you’re not racing, you’re not making money. Luckily the Future West Moto series is a good money maker for me. I just got back here to California, and it’s pretty much crunch time right now with less than a month till Anaheim. I’ll be doing Supercross with JNC Motorsports again this year with Chris Howell. It’s a privateer effort, but we are combining our resources to construct a team. They bought a hauler this year, so traveling will be a lot easier even though everything will still be out of our own pockets. Fortunately, WP has been a tremendous help in my program; especially through outdoors. Husqvarna has also helped out with contingency, as well. Again, we are just dialing everything in for Supercross today. The sun is out, the track is good and we’re having fun.
Talk about your time up in Canada. It has to be a completely different world of motocross racing, right?
It is probably the funnest kind of racing I’ve ever experienced. You hear the word “Arenacross” and you expect just that, but the first round was in a little barn; about the size of a hockey rink. Considering the venues that they have to work with they do a really great job, and they always put up a lot of money for us racers. Jess Pettis actually won the championship over me, and he rode really well. He and I finished first and second every weekend, and even though I didn’t win the championship I still had a lot of fun and I was able to make some money. The last round of the series was in Chilliwack and it was held in two different barns with lap times around a minute long; that’s actually the best round of the series. I really hate to leave the states to make money, but their season lines up perfectly with our off-season. We go there long enough to make some money and then we come back with plenty of time to get ready for Supercross. When I was racing in Canada, I was putting up my own money to fly back and forth between each round to prepare for Supercross, and I’m feeling really good heading into this season.
Your entering your third year as a privateer. Are you finding it’s easier to piece together your program now that you have a few years under your belt?
I’m actually getting more support now for the 2017 season then I ever have in the past. I’ve built somewhat of a name for myself so, it’s a lot easier to get people to come on board with my program. However, it’s a completely different story when it comes to the actual bike; I have to purchase my own bikes. I’ve been having a lot of issues with my bikes because they have so many hours on them and all of the parts are beginning to time out. Just a few days ago I had my bike down to the frame to have something welded. I don’t think obtaining a bike will ever get easier being a privateer, but I’ve received a ton of support otherwise. Integrity Electric’s Mike Cobb actually just contacted me on Facebook saying that he wants to help me out this year. He’s stepped up tremendously and he’s probably one of my biggest sponsors. K1 Speed is also on board now, so that’s going to be a big help, as well. I’ve put everything I have into being a privateer, so it’s nice to finally see something in return. It’s really hard when you’re always having to look at your bank account, though. I’m sure Kevin would love for me to get a ride so he could finally get paid! I think as a privateer I’ve learned that if you can find a small group of people that believe in you, then you’re going to succeed. My trainer Kevin was a professional racer, so he understands that we’re not going to have the funds sometimes. If you can find that group of people that are in it for your best interests then stick with them no matter what direction you go. I actually had a few different opportunities for Supercross next year, but in this case it works out better if I remain a privateer. I’m still going to encounter struggles no matter what, but that’s the name of the game.
Like you said, you’ve built a name for yourself and you’ve almost become a face of the privateers. Talk about that and the benefit of growing your popularity…
I think the biggest thing that’s happened to me is racing in the MXoN for Puerto Rico. To be selected to represent another country was a huge confidence booster, for me. From seeing myself as one of the many faces of the privateer crowd to representing a country was amazing. Fredrik Noren is a well known rider that’s built a name for himself from being a successful privateer, and after MXoN I felt that I was doing the same. That confidence has made its way into my riding, as well, and I get so much enjoyment out of beating the factory guys. That’s the kind of thing that keeps me going because I want their bikes and I want that job. More than anything I just want the opportunity, but I know that everyone has to put in their time. Noren undoubtedly put in his time before he got that opportunity at Honda. I’ve only been a privateer for three years, and as bad as that sounds it’s not that long. I feel like I’ve built somewhat of a name for myself, so it’s time for me to deliver this year to prove that I am worthy of a factory ride. I don’t want to be looked at as just another privateer that’ll never amount. I look up to those guys like Weston Peick and Alex Martin that cut their teeth as privateers to ultimately get factory rides. A lot of it has to do with your mental strength, as well, and that’s what my trainer Kevin and I are working on. I just turned 23, so it’s go time, right now. Either I’ll be a privateer for the rest of my life or I will be under a factory rig one day. With the right support and people in my corner though, I think something good is bound to happen. Fox has also been a huge supporter of my program, and just recently I went to their headquarters where everyone took really good care of me. If sometime in the future I sign with a team that doesn’t allow me to wear Fox anymore, I want them to know that I am forever thankful for their support, and the same goes for everyone of my sponsors.