"I've been riding dirt bikes since I was three and started racing at age four," said Mike Alessi as he sat down for lunch. "It's been my whole life. It's all I've ever done." Now 30 years old, Alessi was jittery and a bit nervous about the race he was poised to line up for in a few days' time at the TransWorld SLAM Festival.
It ended up going remarkably well for a racer who, truth being told, contemporary motocross fans may not know a tremendous amount about in 2018. A mere three days after the actual running of the SLAM, Alessi was hanging out at the Monster Energy offices and effervescent with the winning result he pulled down at the TransWorld Motocross-promoted event.
"It doesn't matter if it's the biggest race in the world or the smallest local race in the world; a win is a win," said Alessi. "It feels good. It gives me a little confidence, especially since I'm now getting ready for the four Canadian Supercross races I'll do starting with Montreal. It's always nice to come in with a little bit of confidence and a nice little win. And it didn't hurt to get a 5,000-dollar check and a title belt from TransWorld Motocross, either."
By winning both motos on what was an excruciatingly hot afternoon in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, Alessi was the standout rider of the event. Understandably, he was excited to speak about it all.
"Here's how I kind of viewed it: I haven't raced since June when I got hurt, so for me, I needed to get at least a couple of gate drops in," Alessi said. "The SLAM was the perfect opportunity for a couple of gate drops and to feel some intensity – which I needed. At the same time, I wasn't going there for the money, or for the SLAM belt. I went there because I wanted it for myself to win and that's what I did.
"When it was time to go to the starting gate, I knew I had two five-lap races in front of me," said Alessi. "I qualified first, which was sweet because I got the first gate pick. I went right by the box where it was nice and safe for the start. In the first moto I got the holeshot and lead every lap. In the second moto, I didn't get the holeshot. I kind of got slammed in the first turn, which is ironic because it was the TransWorld SLAM. Right at the apex of the corner, Chris Johnson just sent it. He didn't even turn. He just used me as the berm. Hey, if you're going to promote the SLAM, whatever it takes, right? In the second turn I just went to the inside of him and took the lead and was able to win. It felt good. Tyler Bowers was second, just behind me by about a second. We shook hands and went to the podium and I got my belt."
Downshifting a gear and looking back in the day, Alessi was arguably the best amateur racer this nation has ever conjured up. An 11-time Loretta Lynn's Amateur National Champion, Mike—along with Team Alessi, which was comprised of his brother Jeff and Father Tony—started looking at a full-on factory program. They would find the opportunity courtesy of Team Honda in 2004. Notorious and, in the eyes of some industry players, blasphemous, the "Believe the Hype" campaign coined by Tony lit the fuse to one of the most controversial racing careers in the history of the sport. A five-time National overall winner during his 13-year career, Alessi could be astonishingly quick on his good days. His bad days? We'll leave that to history. But that was then and this is now, and Alessi is the MX1 ace for Team PR-MX.ca Strikt Pelletier Kawasaki racer.
"Now, during the next few months, I will have four races in Canada with Montreal in Olympic Stadium, Delaware Speedway in London, Ontario, Videotron Centre in Quebec City, and FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton. From there, I'll finish out the rest of my contract as far as the Canadian stuff that I have to do," said Alessi. "Next year is still up in the air. I'm trying to put a few things together. I would like to continue racing up in Canada. I really enjoy it. It's a good group of people. The fans are awesome. And the weather, I mean you can't beat racing in 65- to 70-degree temperatures. At the same time, you get to go to a different country and go to different places and you meet different people and all of it is sweet. For me, racing in Canada in 2019 would be more ideal than racing in America. If there is an opportunity to race in America, I would definitely think about it and maybe pursue it, but as of right now, it's Canada. That's where I get paid to race.
"And looking to 2019, I'd love to do something with Mike Genova of Smartop/MotoConcepts and maybe try to make an angle work up in Canada as soon as next year," Alessi said. "It would just take a few different pieces of the puzzle to put together to make it work, but it's definitely possible. You know, anything is possible, especially with my mind right and being fit and 100-percent focused. I should be winning and on the podium in these approaching four races in Canada."
Alessi has been at it as a professional racer the world over for well over a decade. Certainly in the twilight of his career as far as world class racing goes, Alessi really has no regrets.
"Not to be negative or anything like that because I don't want to be, but a lot of people say that I've had a failure of a career. If they say that a failure of a career is being second place and vice-champion in 2006, 2007 and 2012, I guess I'll take that all day long. I'm happy with my career.
"I still want to race another two or three years. That's what's important to me right now. That's a big thing," he stated. "Then, once I know that my daughter is of the age of talking and walking and kind of understanding life and what's going on, that's when it will be, 'Okay, now I'm ready to be done and I want to be home.'"
And with that, Mike Alessi got up from his chair and began moving towards the exit of the six-story Monster Energy building in heat-stricken Corona, California. His dad Tony was out in the parking lot with the Sprinter van running. It was time to load up and head to the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec and line up once again. Mike Alessi wouldn't have it any other way.
**Editors Note: This interview took place around the time of our TWMX SLAM, and Mike’s 2019 have yet to be announced.