SHEHEEN: Chad Reed Still Has The Motivation

Chad Reed sails through the air during Monster Energy AMA Supercross competition.
Ralph Sheheen

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Every racer has to find the proper motivation to drive them to compete at the highest level.

For two-time Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion Chad Reed it’s the challenge of lining up in the gate every Saturday night and proving he belongs with the best in the world.

Although racing in front of huge crowds in packed stadiums is exciting, that’s not the No. 1 driving force for the Australian. “I’m driven by the desire to win and beat the best,” said Reed.

Reed, who turns 35 this month, is considered an old man in what is unquestionably a young man’s form of racing. Mike LaRocco holds the record for the oldest rider to win a Supercross race at 33 years, 1 month and 8 days. It’s a record Reed hopes to break.

The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha rider has won 44 races in his career, placing him fourth on the list of all-time winners. He’s four victories behind the great Ricky Carmichael. Reed’s best finish so far this season was second at Phoenix. At this writing, there were still 10 races remaining on the schedule.
A veteran of 15 seasons on the grueling Supercross trail, Reed knows his body and what it needs better than anyone. But he still searches for that little extra something that might help him reach the top step of the podium one more time.

Reed has spent considerable time talking to and training with another aging superstar — Valentino Rossi. The 38-year-old Moto GP legend has accumulated 88 wins and seven titles in the premier category and has shown no signs of losing speed. Rossi just missed out on another title in 2016 when he won two races and finished second in the points to Marc Marquez.

Reed realizes his ability to race at the highest level of the sport won’t last forever, but he has no idea where the finish line to his career lies. However, he says his wife, Ellie, has left the decision entirely up to him.

– After his nasty crash at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., during the third round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, Team Honda HRC rider Ken Roczen has undergone eight surgeries to repair his shattered left arm and has more to go.

Honda has no plans at this stage to put another rider on top of Roczen’s CRF450, even though it appears there is no chance of the young German star returning to competition this year.

Team Honda HRC team manager Dan Betley told us the team is fully committed to Roczen and is anxious for him to begin the rehab process and start working toward the 2018 Supercross title fight.

Roczen’s brutal impact and resultant injuries may have scared point leader Ryan Dungey as well. The two were embroiled in a highly competitive title fight when the disastrous turn of events took place.

Conversations with some well inside the Dungey camp indicate the three-time champion took the 22-year-old Roczen’s injuries hard. The two riders were pushing each other aggressively for the win when Roczen tumbled out of the sky and slammed into the California dirt.

Even though Dungey ended up winning that night and currently holds the points lead, he has not been as razor sharp since that night in Angel Stadium. Overcoming the mental challenges of watching what his chief rival went through has been difficult. Can Dungey push through to win his fourth Supercross title? This could become the toughest challenge the future Hall of Famer has ever faced.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that this is a contract year for Dungey. He is 27 years old and is sixth on the all-time list of Supercross winners. The Red Bull KTM rider has said he will make a decision on his future when this season is over.

One has to wonder if Roczen’s crash has taken some of the fun out of racing dirt bikes for Dungey, or if the level of intensity of the battles between the two will be enticing enough to get him to sign up for more.

One thing we do know, Dungey has said he will be a part of the KTM family for life.