In some ways, it seems like it was just yesterday that Dean Wilson was in a very similar position to the one he’s in now. Yet, it was exactly two years ago that Wilson was left without a contract after racing for Red Bull KTM and suffering multiple injuries throughout his time there. However, Wilson came out swinging as a privateer in the early Supercross rounds of 2017 and proved he deserved a spot somewhere, and his opportunity came as a fill-in at Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing. Soon, that fill-in ride turned into a contract, which Wilson delivered on with consistent results near the front. Sadly, his second year with the team in 2018 was riddled with injuries which ultimately cost him the chance to prove to his team, or any other for that matter, that he was worthy of another contract in an offseason with few rides available. Now, Wilson is ready to prove once again that he ought to have a spot somewhere. This time will be different, though, as Wilson has more support and is taking full advantage of his social media reach to make an impact.
I know it's been talked about a lot, but the one thing I have to wonder about with Grandpa Earl is how hard was it to ride with all of that stuff on.
Obviously, with my body it was fine, but with the face makeup and all of that, it was tough because the helmet wasn't fitting on my head right and I didn't have cheek pads in it. It was pretty hard honestly. Plus, I couldn't warm up and practice. I just went cold turkey and battled with these guys [laughs]. It was pretty good and we had a lot of fun doing it.
It's crazy that there aren't a lot of racers who have taken full advantage of their social media following in the way that you have. Where'd you get the idea to start making this content?
I'd say the idea was a little bit from Bad Grandpa, but also Carrie Irving did it with Uncle Drew and I thought that was so funny. Plus, he had his hype man who kept calling him Uncle Drew, like, "Pass the ball Uncle Drew!" That's why I had the little kid, kind of like Bad Grandpa, so when they start to second guess you then they're thinking he's got his actual grandson with him so that has to be real. It was pretty funny.
Switching gears, what's it like to be in a similar position to where you were at two years ago at this time?
It's crazy for sure. It's just a tough pill to swallow if you were to put it into words. It's not a position you want to be in and it's tough. I just feel like I'm a good enough rider to be up front and I've just been unlucky with my injuries. When you're healthy, that's when you get signed, and I wasn't healthy. It's easy to be bitter and mad, but the best thing for me is to stay positive, work hard, and good things will happen.
It's got to be tough putting everything together to be a privateer. Have you reached out to any other riders who've had to go out and do it on their own?
No, not really. I've got a little experience from a couple of years ago. It's really about handling sponsors, getting parts, trying to make deals for next year, and so much else that goes into it. The good thing is that I've got some really great friends, family, and supporters who are behind me 100-percent. It helps me and it's very appreciated, but it's definitely been tough being busy nonstop. I really believe that good things happen to those who work hard and I've just been working my butt off trying to make this happen. I believe that it'll happen.
What do the next few months look like for you in preparation for Anaheim One?
I'll be racing some Aus-X and then I'll also be racing in Auckland, New Zealand. I've got those two races and I'm really excited for that. I'll be down there for three weeks, so once I get back from that I'll be hoping that my race bike is close to being built. There's so much that goes into it, it's crazy [laughs]. I'm trying to organize that stuff, but at the same time be in the best shape and be the best rider I can be by mid-December. The other races I won't take to heart, I'll use those as training races. It's tough for sure though.
This time around, you've got Rockstar Energy behind you. I know you've worked with them at the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team, tell me a little more about the relationship you've worked out with them.
I only came on with Rockstar a couple of years ago and I really had a great relationship with them. They really wanted me to be on the factory team and it didn't end up happening, so they said they'd help me with my privateer program. I thought that was super cool and I'm really stoked on my relationship with them.
Your dad is also going to be helping you out again with your privateer program and he's going to be driving your rig from race to race. It's got to be a good feeling having him behind you.
Yeah, my dad's actually in Florida right now and he's just chomping at the bit to help me at this moment because we're still waiting on a few things at the moment. Family has always got your back and is number one, so it's a true example of what a dad should be doing. I hope to be the same type of dad one day and to always be there for my kids and that's what he and my mom do. It's a team effort. I've got them and my girlfriend and great friends and sponsors and fans. It's going to be fun, I really think this is going to be good.