Chad Reed has had a long road
in every sense of the word to get where he is today. A native of Australia, he
cut his teeth in the amateur ranks winning almost every major title there was
to win before heading off to Europe in 2001. That year he raced the FIM World
250 Motocross Championship and finished 2
nd overall behind veteran
Mickael Pichon. The very next year, Yamaha of Troy gave him the opportunity he
had been waiting for his entire life and he finally landed on US soil in 2002.

As they say…the rest is
history. Since then, he has become known as a champion, family man, team owner and
one of the greatest motocross riders of all time. Now 31, Chad juggles the massive responsibilities of being a
full time racer and team owner. He started TwoTwo Motorsports in 2010 investing
his own money right alongside his biggest sponsors to continue a passion that began
back in 1985 when he was just three years old.

This past Saturday night in
Anaheim at the Monster Energy Supercross Series, Chad was busy fulfilling his
responsibilities. Ironically it was the 40
th anniversary of
supercross where he started the evening in opening ceremonies standing
alongside the greatest riders of all time. He then went back to the rig to
ready for his first heat of the night.

Later in the evening during
one of the best races of all time, Chad took home an emotional 42
nd
main event win silencing the critics and proving that passion always prevails.
Chad is #4 on the all time supercross win list with 42 wins behind Stewart
(44), Carmichael (48) and McGrath (72).

The timing couldn’t have
been more perfect to share his story and advice for the future generations of
riders. Congrats Chad!

Take us back to the beginning.  When did you start
riding and when was your first race?

I first started riding when
I was just 3 ½ when my dad was really into horses and I just wanted a
motorcycle. My cousin was five years old than me and rode, which helped get my
dad into letting me get on a bike. We went to a flat track race just before my
fourth birthday when I could barely even ride a dirtbike. I was too young to
race at the time and had to wait until I was four to race and I finally got out
there and I think I finished somewhere mid-pack from what I remember. I was
totally drawn and committed to it before I knew it and the rest is history.

Who was your first sponsor as an amateur and how did
it all come about? 
We worked at it for a while and my first actual sponsor was Alpinestars. It’s
kind of funny because even though I don’t wear their product anymore as a
motocross racer, I am still affiliated with them after all these years. When I
get in a racecar or kart I wear an Alpinestars suit and still appreciate the
relationship to this day. At the time I was only 9 years old and wasn’t working
with the big dogs here, but met with the head guys in Australia who gave me my
initial support that I needed at the time.

What things did/do you do to go about
finding sponsors? 
I still look back at my early years (as early as when I was only 9) and I was
always the guy. My dad was pretty quiet, wasn’t really interested in talking with
people and didn’t like asking for things. I learned early how important it was
to go out and ask for what you want. From then on as a ten, eleven and twelve
year-old I would be making my own calls to the higher ups telling them what I
was doing and getting my own deals done. I got comfortable at a young age
talking to the top people at the companies so I didn’t have to deal with anyone
in the middle who couldn’t make the final decision about my deal. If someone is
going to tell me ‘NO’, I want to hear it from the person ultimately making that
call. I’ve love motocross, but learned the business side at a really young age
and always treated it that way to this day.

What’s the most important thing you know
now that you wish you knew then?  
My family wasn’t really good at the business side of racing early on so we
didn’t look at it that way. It’s really tough to see all these parents giving
up their careers to pursue a pro career for their kid. It’s not how I grew up,
but it’s interesting to watch and it seems like it always ends so ugly for
those families. It just seems so wrong to go that far into it. For me, I tried
to enjoy both the racing and business. I remember signing my first professional
contract at 15 years old and the pressure and excitement of signing a three page
contract. These days I wish my contracts were only three pages! Best advice I
have is to make sure you go into good deals that protect yourself and protect
your sponsor so it’s fair all around.

What do you do to take care of your sponsors and
partners? 
First and foremost I always
make sure I know what’s expected of me and do everything I’m supposed to do
from my contracts. Beyond that I try to make sure I have a personal
relationship with my sponsors and I try to be creative. Just as an example, I
go into Shift/Fox regularly and work with them on my gear to make it unique.
For the most part the color designs are chosen 100% by me, which makes me feel
really connected to the brand. I work on all my own bike designs giving each
sponsor something unique that came from me.

What advice do you have for the next generation of
riders? 
I see a lot of kids now who have talent but feel entitled to a sponsorship.
Some only worry about signing on the dotted line and forget about being
creative to build the partnerships on the business side. I’ve always been
really interested in that part and you could even say it’s been one of my
downfalls because I try and do so much more than what I’m actually told to do.
I had to this to make it from racing in Australia to a pro career in
America, which was always my dream. I was always focused on the business side
and even got travel deals written into my original pro contracts in Australia
so I could race two or three supercross and outdoor races. Those opportunities helped
get me the attention I needed to get my first ride with Yamaha of Troy. I
worked my butt off and did pretty well here in my first season with a bunch of
podiums and that launched my career here. I’ve had some great partnerships ever
since and have taken that into running my own team, which is a whole new end of
the business I’m really interested in and learning a lot about.

Follow Chad Reed on Hookit: prod.hookit.com/chadreed

Intro Photo Credit: Joe Lawwill


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