Chris Onstott – or “Beeker,” as he’s known by his friends – has been working in the motocross industry for over two decades and is one of the most likable characters in the sport. Personally, my favorite memory of Beeker was when he lost a bet with James Stewart and had to sport cornrows at one of the Hangtown National after Stew won the Supercross Championship. My worst memory was helping scrape him off the track at Lake Elsinore motocross park when he overjumped a big double and destroyed both of his ankles. Recently, Beeks has made a return to the motocross track aboard a Kawasaki KX125 that he restored, and it was awesome to see him competing at this year’s TransWorld Motocross Industry Cup…
I first met you around 1994 at Jeremy McGrath's house, I believe. Give me the rundown on how you got started in motocross…
Back in the day, mid-to-late 90s, I was really good friends with Jeremy McGrath and his roommate. So, I was always hanging out with them and got to meet a lot of the other racers. Jeremy used to have these big parties after the Las Vegas SX, and one year he needed someone to drive out there to take some stuff, so I had volunteered to drive. At the party, I was actually complaining about having to drive home the next morning, and that's where Davey Coombs stepped in and volunteered to drive with me. I had never met Davey before this night. We partied all night and got up mid-day to drive back to California, and Davey rode shotgun and we talked pretty much the whole way. We got to my house, get inside, and Davey offered me a job. I immediately asked what the job was because I wasn’t a photographer, journalist, or anything. Anyways, long story short that's how I got started in the industry.
So what did you do at Racer X?
Initially, I didn’t really have a job (laughs). I think he just wanted to hire me because I was so close to the racers and based in Southern California. At the time, they were just starting their magazine so he just wanted someone that knew the guys. When the magazine first dropped I got to go around and meet all the advertisers, and at that point, I had really met the whole industry. Things pretty much took off from there.
And from Racer X you went to Thor?
Actually, I went to Alpinestars for a little bit. I was living in Canyon Lake, and Alpinestars is in Torrance, so I was getting up and leaving at around 4:00 a.m. to get there by 8:00 a.m. And then I was getting home at 8:30 at night, so I only did that for about six-months before I was over it. I remember telling Gabriele before leaving that I could be driving to Vegas every day with how much time I was sitting in the car (laughs). I ended up leaving Alpinestars and that's when I went over to Thor.
What was your position at Thor?
It was basically a team manager position. There was a guy doing it when I first arrived at Thor but he ended up leaving, and I took over the position when he left. Man, back then we had three 125cc teams, four 250cc guys, Canada racers, and freestyle guys. So, it's safe to say I was kept busy during that time.
Were you there for the "Braap" commercial?
Yes, I was there for the "Braap" commercial. We filmed that in Menifee or Lake Elsinore, and it was a good time. That one, the Glamis commercial with MC and Big B in the truck (laughs). Those were some good times. I didn’t realize it back then, but now that I look back on it – that was the most fun period of my career in the industry.
What year did you go to Fox?
I left Thor at the end of 2004, and I started at Fox in November of 2004, where I began working for James Stewart. At the time, Scott Taylor was handling both James and Ricky, but Fox felt the need for each rider to have their personal camp and they approached me to work with James. At the time, it was a difficult decision to leave Thor because of how close I was with everyone there. I was really tight with Chad Reed and Mitch Payton, so it was really hard to leave Thor. Fox was always so special to me as a kid, so I felt like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for them.
And, you were with James Stewart through the golden years…
Yeah, 2005 wasn’t so much fun, but 2006-2008 was amazing. We'd go to the track to watch him practice, and every time we would be in shock of just his pure speed and talent. He was incredible.
So, you left Fox to have a go as an agent. Industry experience aside, what qualifications did you have to have to be and agent?
I think it was a combination of having the good relationships within the industry, which I had, and being able to deal out contracts with the big companies like Fox. I feel like I’ve worked with every top athlete since the early 2000s, where I’ve been really close with most of them and pretty involved in their careers. I have seen what's worked out and what has not, so I feel like I still have a lot of knowledge about the industry that I can pass on to the younger racers.
Ultimately, the agent life wasn’t for you…
I think what I struggled with the most was not being prepared for being the agent guy. While I was at Fox, I was Santa in a way and always supplying people with things they wanted. Whereas when I was an agent, no one wanted to return my phone calls. That was really hard on me because people treated me so differently than they had only six-months prior.
Now, you are back at Fox and resurrecting your racing career…
The last time we rode together, I think you picked me up off the ground (laughs).
What is your position now at Fox?
I'm the sports marketing director, so I oversee moto both in the U.S and overseas.
Number one memory through the years…
I have so many (laughs).
There is probably a lot that you can’t talk about (laughs)…
Yeah, I really feel that I am insanely blessed and lucky to have experienced some of the things I have. Some of the special moments for me, while working at both Thor and Fox, was being a part of Team USA in those mid-2000s and working with Roger DeCoster and Mitch Payton. Those are my fondest memories because I was working with people I didn’t normally work with, we went to the races with a common goal, and we got to represent our country. It was just so rad. I almost have to pinch myself when I think about that time period because it feels so unreal that I was able to do that. I think it was 2007 when the AMA gave me one of the FIM number one plates from MXON, and that is probably the object that I cherish most out of what I've received from this sport.
It's hard to believe that hanging out with Jeremy in Canyon Lake resulted in this…
Yeah, we spent a lot of time in the lake, we did a lot of partying and had a lot of late nights. Being friends with Jeremy opened a lot of doors for me, but I also believe I worked my ass off and made a lot of personal sacrifices. I put my career and work before everything else, and I love this sport. Man, it's been a blast.