AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team's Brad Benesch
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Years Wrenching: 10
Rider: Justin Hill
Past Riders: Dakota Alix, Chase Bell, Joey Savatgy, Phil Nicoletti, Matt Bisceglia, Kyle Peters, Kyle Cunningham
With roots in Spokane, Washington, and later San Diego, California, it's no surprise that AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team's Brad Benesch found his way onto a motocross bike. At age 10 his father bought his first motorcycle and brought him to Ocotillo Wells SVRA to learn how to ride. Brad was immediately hooked and continued to ride both off-road and motocross into his high school years. After realizing how much he liked tinkering with the mechanical side of his motorcycles, he decided that relocating to Arizona to enroll in MMI would be a great start to his dream of becoming a successful race mechanic.
Fresh out of MMI, a job at Pro Circuit in Southern California was just the start he needed to get his feet wet in the industry. In his five years with Mitch Payton, he worked on the customer and amateur team side with riders like the yet-to-be-pro Adam Cianciarulo. "Pro Circuit was a big stepping stone for me on my résumé and for making a name for myself," Benesch said. He left when a job opportunity as a race mechanic came about with the J-Star/JDR/KTM team for a few months before joining KTM's newly formed Orange Brigade team, turning wrenches for Dakota Alix, Joey Savatgy, and more. His next move was to relocate to North Carolina to work as a practice and test bike mechanic with JGR's new 250 race team in 2017. "I love it out here—it's just more laid-back. And the whole JGR team is great to work with; they take care of everyone, and having the NASCAR side and those resources is huge as well," Benesch said. When Factory Suzuki fully joined forces with JGR in 2018, Benesch became Justin Hill's race mechanic. Benesch was nice enough to let us in on all of the information he could on the number-46 machine for us.
Engine and Power Delivery: Our engine department team consistently works on both developing and building our race engines. They've done an incredible job getting us to where we're at now, and those guys are on the dyno pretty much every day looking to get as much power out of these engines as we can. They're fully built the same across the board for each rider, and nothing is overlooked. We add a second fuel injector that GET developed, and then we'll also play with the mapping from race to race depending on track conditions, weather, elevation, et cetera. Justin is kind of a heavier kid, so he likes as much snap off the bottom-end as possible and the most possible power to carry him through. Exhaust fumes run through titanium Yoshimura system with a carbon fiber end cap. The clutch is a full Hinson clutch setup with factory Suzuki clutch plates, and I've never seen or worked with a rider that was easier on the clutch than Justin. The clutch and stator covers are both made by Hinson, and the inner clutch cover is treated with Cerakote. The sprockets are ProTaper, and driven by a D.I.D chain.
Suspension and Cockpit: We run factory Showa A-Kit suspension, which is built and assembled by Rob Hendrickson at RG3. Rob does most of our chassis setup and suspension settings. Jonny Oler also steps in and helps out as well, on top of doing all of the 450-team suspension. The whole team is on Showa A-Kit spring forks, and the rear shock is a Showa A-Kit unit. Justin likes the bike as stiff as it can possibly be, so he prefers a brand-new frame, swingarm, and subframe to provide him the feel that he likes. The triple clamps and bar mounts are made by factory Suzuki. Justin runs ProTaper Windham SX bend handlebars, soft compound ProTaper grips, and ARC brake and clutch levers. His seat base is stock, with a GUTS Racing lightweight seat foam that's also lower in height. The pegs are titanium and made in-house here at JGR.
Data Acquisition: We use GET data systems on our bike, and our ECU is a factory Suzuki unit. We run a small switch located in the air inlet on the left side of the bike that controls the GET data system via a small external battery. We run the data system through this battery so there is no chance of over-drawing power from the stator system. So the engine has its own electrical system, and the battery runs the data system.
Brakes, Wheels, and Tires: The brakes are all factory Suzuki, with the front brake caliper being one of the nicest-looking pieces on the bike. It's a works Suzuki billet aluminum caliper that we shine up to an almost mirrored finish. The front rotor is an oversized 270mm disc, and we use factory Suzuki brake pads in the front and rear. The rear brake pedal is stock, with an added titanium tip. The wheels are D.I.D Excel rims, laced to factory Suzuki hubs via factory Suzuki spokes. The tires are spec Dunlops.
Additional Bling: The gas tank that we run for the outdoors is a CRM carbon fiber tank, which is a little bigger and has more volume. The skid plate and disc guard are carbon fiber as well and made by factory Suzuki in Japan. Cycra makes the front number plate, and everything else is stock Suzuki plastic. Armored Graphix makes all of our graphics, and they always look great. Justin likes to run griptape on the frame as well so he can better grip the bike. Pretty much all of our bolts are either titanium or aluminum depending on the application, and they are all made by factory Suzuki. The radiators on our 250 race bikes are bigger RM-Z450 radiators that are modified to fit the bikes, and we even add external fans for the hotter race days. The radiator hoses are made by CV4, and they're a little bit thicker to provide more durability.