Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/Honda's Jason "Rango" Montoya
Hometown: Duncan, AZ
Years Wrenching: 6 years
Rider: Malcolm Stewart
Past Riders: Cole Barbieri
For many motocross fans, it would be a dream come true to make a career out of your passion for two wheels. For Duncan, Arizona's Jason "Rango" Montoya, his current role as Malcolm Stewart's mechanic is just that. Growing up racing at an amateur level, Montoya realized early on that he had mechanical skills. "My grandfather was a mechanic, and I always felt mechanically inclined, so I went to MMI right after I graduated high school and that was it," Montoya said. Upon graduating, he landed a dealership job that helped lay the foundation of skills needed for his next chapter.
After landing his first race team job wrenching for Horton Yamaha's Cole Barbieri, Montoya realized a dream of sorts when he was connected with Malcolm Stewart to fill a practice mechanic position. A self-proclaimed James Stewart super fan, Montoya met with the Stewart family in 2015 and was ultimately invited to join the team.
"The first time I met James I was starstruck," Montoya said. "I was stuttering and calling him "Bubba," but then I found out no one even really calls him that [laughs]. It was always a dream just to be out there. I mean, my friend and I even dressed up like James and Chad Reed for Halloween one year. I just used to be the biggest fan, and now Malcolm and I have become really close and are more like friends. It's like having a younger brother, and his family has taken me in as part of their family. It's basically like a dream come true, and we've definitely had some good times."
The two have been working together ever since, and with Malcolm's latest off-season trial ride with the Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/Honda team, he brought Montoya on as his mechanic, as they plan to partake in multiple races and potentially ink a deal for the 2019 season. We asked Rango and Team Manager Tony Alessi to break down the details of Malcolm's current Monster Energy Cup-ready Honda CRF450R.
Engine Package and Drivetrain: This current setup is a 2019 chassis with a 2018 race engine. The reasoning is that we have race engines from 2018, and our 2019 engines and our ECUs aren't ready yet. So the interim, we're running our 2018 race engines. Internally we run a completely redesigned crankshaft and custom camshaft, with our own custom piston that has over 150 hours of development into it. Chad Braun of XPR does the porting, and it has a custom flywheel as well. Electronics are key with the Vortex ignition, and Chad programs the mapping to work with the VP PRO6 fuel and the Yoshimura RS-9 exhaust. In the air box we're running Maxima's ProFilter. The Rekluse TorqDrive clutch is a key component of the bike—the Honda CRF450 needs this clutch. We're using a D.I.D ERV3 O-ring chain, which is actually a road race chain. You have to press the master link on, and that chain works best with this bike. Sunstar makes the sprockets, front and rear.
Cockpit and Suspension: Malcolm runs the Renthal 996 bars with Renthal half waffle grips, with custom ARC levers. Malcolm likes GUTS' gripper seat cover, and that works really well. The foot pegs are titanium and made by Pro Pegs. We run our own triple clamp design and are currently on KYB works suspension. The front forks are KYB air forks, and the shock is basically the same KYB shock that the factory team runs and has an 18 millimeter shaft with custom designed internals and check valves. We use Race Tech with the set up and service of all of our suspension. Malcolm likes his suspension stiff, like rock hard, and the guys who go fast in the whoops and the rhythm lanes tend to ride a firm setting like this!
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes: We run D.I.D STX rims, with a Talon Ultralite rear hub laced with Bulldog spokes, and up front is a polished standard front hub laced up with standard spokes. The tires are spec Dunlops, and it's interesting but both Malcolm and Brayton prefer the 110 rear tire as opposed to the 120. It just seems to work better on the Honda CRF450R, and it's a lighter tire. For brakes we run a Motostuff 270 millimeter front rotor setup, and the 2019 production front brake caliper which is a cast version of last year's factory caliper with bigger pistons. The master cylinder is a custom modified part with a different piston, and the front carbon fiber guard is a part that is made by Danica Patrick's father. The rear brakes are completely stock, down to the brake lever. Malcolm likes them as sensitive as they can be, so when he touches the lever it wants to stop.
Bits and Pieces: UFO makes all of the plastics on the bike, and Moto Graphics makes the graphics, which is an in-house brand of Moto Concepts. We use Works Connection's holeshot device. Malcolm also prefers one millimeter longer pull rods in the rear linkage, which lower the rear of the bike. He also chooses to run a -10 millimeter subframe, which basically lowers the back of the. ICW welds up the radiators, and they are super strong to where they can take a crash and you won't end up with a DNF. We run CV4 hoses, and Maxima's Coolanol. We keep track of hours with the Works Connection hour meter.