Photos and Words By Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna's Dave Feeney
Hometown: Newcastle, Australia
Years Wrenching: 23
Rider: Zach Osborne
Past Riders: Tony Amaradio, Phil Lawrence, Chad Pederson, Casey Johnson, Nick Wey, Stephane Roncada, Michael Byrne, Brian Grey, Broc Tickle, Martin Davalos
How far would you go to pursue a dream? For Dave Feeney of Newcastle, Australia, quitting his nine-to-five gig as a welder and fabricator and flying halfway around the world was just the first step to becoming a championship-winning race mechanic for multiple riders. Feeney described his decision for the move quite simply: "I hated going to work every day, and motocross was always my passion. I was lucky enough to turn an exciting hobby into a career." However, luck doesn't come to those who don't work hard for it, and the subsequent years after his move would be defining in his success. Dave is a real journeyman mechanic, one who has been through multiple gigs within the industry and has just about seen it all. Before his move to the States, though, he worked on honing his mechanical skills in a dealership service department until he was ready and armed with the initial skills to take the leap.
It all started in Southern California with a friend named Andrew Reynolds—who worked at Pro Circuit at the time—and gave Feeney a place to stay. He quickly became friends with many of the employees at Pro Circuit, including Steve Butler, who was Jeff Emig's mechanic at the same time. "I was lucky enough to get in with the right people in the beginning, but it's only your work ethic that keeps you there," he said. A gig as Tony Amaradio's race mechanic came first, and at the end of that year he joined forces with Phil Lawrence during his first year out of his factory Kawasaki gig. The deal was lined up by none other than industry legend Mitch Payton. Not surprisingly, a year later Dave would find a job at Pro Circuit as a mechanic for Chad Pederson inside one of the most highly regarded race shops in the industry.
After about three years at Pro Circuit, Feeney's work would take him to multiple different gigs like Yamaha of Troy, Factory Connection, factory Suzuki, Star Racing Yamaha, and an eventual return home to Pro Circuit in hopes of winning a championship. After reaching that goal with a young Broc Tickle during another four-year stint at Pro Circuit, Dave was approached by Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna to join their new team as race mechanic for Zach Osborne. He took the job and the rest is history. After what has been a perfect year for the duo, we asked Dave to break down the details of Osborne's FC 250 for us.
Power and Mapping: Husqvarna Factory Services builds our engines, and a lot of our development is done in Austria. We have the capabilities of doing more development here to come up with settings we'll tweak for the US series. Most guys who ride 250s want as much power as they can get, and Zach is the same. He used to be a revver, but he's gotten a lot better than what he was. He has a way of loading the engine where it gets up the RPMs very quickly. He likes the power to be delivered up in the midrange, so when the clutch gets popped the bike will be going forward. The Husqvarna is a little restricted with airflow into the intake, so we make some modifications to get more air into it, and we also run a titanium FMF Factory 4.1 system.
Custom Tailored Everything: Paul Perebijnos from Pro Taper developed a special handlebar that has smaller-diameter bar ends for riders with smaller hands and asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to try them. I said Zach because Zach has small hands—he wears a size small glove—and he ended up liking the feel it gave him. The grips then had to be custom made to fit the bar, and they were expensive. The throttle tube was also custom made to fit. His pegs are titanium and 5 mm taller, made by Raptor. GUTS made us a seat that is lower in height, and he runs a bump on it that basically keeps him centrally located on the bike.
Suspension: We run the WP 52 mm Cone Valve forks, and his fork settings are usually pretty stiff. There are a few other guys who have tried his suspension, and most of them struggle with it because of the stiff setting. The shock is WP's Trax Shock, and it's pretty neutral. Zach likes the bike to be low in the rear, and his fork settings are stiff in both Supercross and outdoors.
Fine Details: We run a Hinson clutch assembly, with Pro Taper Sprockets and an RK chain. He likes his gearing at 14/53 because of where it puts the rear wheel position; we run that everywhere. The wheels are Talon, and the rims are Excel A60s, built by Dubya, with spec tires from Dunlop. He's the only one on the team who runs grip tape on the side panels because of his stature—he likes to grip the bike with his legs. He runs factory Husqvarna levers that are billet aluminum, and the blade of the lever is a little narrower and feels better in his hands. We also have a mount welded to the frame for a steering stabilizer. It gives the riders a little bit of security, and we run it outdoors but not in Supercross.
A Responsive Rider: He can be hard on the clutch, and he'll use the clutch a lot more if he's not where he wants to be, which is out front. But if I tell him on the pit board it registers and he eases back on it. This season at Budds Creek the bike started smoking really bad and that was clutch smoke, and I put on the pit board "easy clutch." A lap later the smoke went away. To win a championship you have to be smart about what you do, because if you're not, you'll find yourself on the side of the track. Zach is smart, and our worst finish all summer was an eighth through any mechanical problems.