Only a few short days ago, Wil Hahn announced his retirement from professional racing. After a tour through Australia for the country’s own Supercross Championship, Hahn announced that he would be returning to the United States and taking on an advisory role with the GEICO Honda team. Though the title is still unclear, the former East Coast 250 Supercross Champion will help the GEICO Honda pro team with bike set up and testing, and be the amateur AMSOIL Honda team advisor. We caught up with our buddy Wilbur today out at the GEICO Honda Supercross track…
So Wil, you are two days into your new career with Geico Honda, what is your role exactly?
I am the amateur team coordinator along with a test rider for the pros.
How long has this deal been in the works? I know you first mentioned it to me well before your trip to Australia…
These guys made it available to me quite a while ago while I was injured, but at that time in my career, I didn’t feel ready to go ahead with the deal. This time around, I felt there was a limited time a position like this would be available, so for me to embark this opportunity was something I felt I needed to do.
It's nice that you’ve been able to maintain such great relationships throughout your career, so that you have places like this to come back to…
Yeah! I tried to leave each team or sponsor with the same kind of feeling in which they enjoyed working with me. I never wanted to leave the GEICO Honda team; they are like family to me. So It was something special when they made this type of deal available to me and gave me the chance to give back to them and repay them for all they have done for me over the years. It’s something I'm grateful for.
It's been said that you almost had this position last year, but then Kawasaki made a ride available for you…
Well, it’s something that has been on the table for a while. At that time I wasn’t sure what I was doing for the next season, and I don’t believe Kawasaki really knew either. Obviously, I ended up honoring the deal with Kawasaki and really wanted to deliver for them as well, but it just didn’t work out that way.
So how was Australia?
It was a great time. Australia has great food, great coffee, and really polite people. I'm glad I got to end my career on such a positive trip.
Was it lonely being there for so long without your friends and family?
Yeah. It’s a change of pace when you aren’t home and aren’t able to do the regular things you do. I'm lucky the food was awesome and I had a great group around me with the team I rode for. It was awesome getting to hang out with Dan Reardon and having a friend like him around.
What was the coolest thing you got to do down there?
Well, chicks weren’t on that list… (Laughs) We did a lot of cool stuff, though. I got to go to another country and experience all different parts of it while I was there racing, that has to be the coolest thing to me.
All kinds of different emotions. It was hard not to second guess my decision, but at the same time it was really exciting and I knew this is what my heart told me I need to be doing. I felt that this was the right way to retire and right decision. And now that it's here, I'm sitting on the sidelines trying to help those guys on the track, not myself. It’s definitely different but I'm excited for the challenge it holds.
Were there ever times in Australia you found yourself mellowing out due to the new job awaiting you back at home?
Yeah, not only the job waiting at home but in general. I didn’t want to deal with another injury. There were a couple times I got thrown off the bike and had to remind myself to look at the bigger picture and not get hurt.
What's your role at the track during the days the GEICO Honda team is testing?
I'm here to hopefully benefit the riders with the experience I have from racing and testing. I am also trying to absorb information and be aware of what the racers are wanting out of their bikes to possibly shorten the process of testing for the team.
So you are the only guy here not in GEICO Honda team attire. Did Carson Mumford take all the little stuff?
That's not very nice Donn (laughs). It's only day two on the job, I have to get my work attire when I get back to the shop today, so I don't look like an outsider.
Were you still on the team when they got the new race shop? That place is amazing!
No, I had just left the team, but the shop is unreal. Thanks to the good relationship I have with the team, I've gone down to the shop a couple times over the years, and to watch the progress of it and where it is now is pretty unreal.
What are your plans with the amateur riders?
I plan on making the transition from amateurs to pros a lot easier and less of a shock for them, so when they get to the pro ranks they know what to expect and are prepared. I'll be at the races to not only help prepare the riders but also pick the future of the team.
So are you going to be involved in choosing the next GEICO amateur racers?
I think I'll have a say in it, but I doubt I'll be the guy saying yes or no. I'll be at all the races watching the guys though, so I think I'll have a lot of say in it
How about Carson Mumford, are you going to help him with his CRF150R set up?
Yeah. I think I can ride a 150 still. First, I need to lose a couple pounds, I gained some weight in Australia, but yeah, I don't see why I couldn’t help him (laughs).
Looking back at your career, You accomplished way more than 90% of the guys that turn pro ever do. You have a championship, race wins, tons of fans, a great persona that make industry people – like myself – really like you. You have to be happy with what you've done…
Yeah, I really am. I mean there are always going to be shoulda-coulda-wouldas or wishing I could have done a little more, but without being greedy in looking back, I’m grateful for what I was able to do. Not only that, but I am thankful for the relationships I have built.
What was the most legit kit you had throughout your career?
I really liked my Kawi kit in 2015 from my posters with my Answer gear and the Shoei helmet, but it's really hard to beat the kits Geico Honda had in 2011 with all Fox gear.
Where does your TransWorld Slam championship rank among your career highlights?
It is in a glass frame on the wall in my trophy room, so if anyone wants to take it, they'll have to break the glass.
Congrats on a great career Wil, It has always been fun to deal with you as a rider and I am sure we will have a great time with you in your new role as well…
I wish I could say the same… (Laughs)