Benny Bloss | Privateer Effort For Summer 2020
It’s been a bumpy year for Benny Bloss. Bypassed for a full-time contract in 2020 by Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM in favor of Justin Bogle, a close friend that Bloss recommended the team hire as a fill-in for 2019, Bloss put together a deal to run the Monster Energy Supercross season with the Rock River Yamaha team. When Bogle was sidelined for an extended period of time with a concussion (an injury that nearly made Bogle quit racing all together), Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM brought Bloss back to finish out the 2020 season, a deal that was to include the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Big Ben put in career-best results during the Utah rounds of the Supercross season, something we talked about during an in-person interview at our SLC Airbnb, and was expected to be a front-runner during the Nationals.
But while Bloss raced in Utah, Bogle was working in Oklahoma on a return to racing. Cleared to ride by his doctors and with a contract-confirmed position, Bogle is set to on the gate at the opening round at Loretta Lynn’s in August. While it’s great news for Bogle, it meant that Bloss was once again out of a job and with little time to prepare.
Bloss has spent the last week putting together a plan to race the Nationals as a privateer aboard Husqvarna motorcycles he purchased from a Donnell’s, a Kansas City area dealership. Benny’s first race on the white bike will actually be this weekend at Grain Valley MX, a track that his family and other KC MX families recently took over, and Sunday’s motos will serve as a shakedown test of sorts.
We called Bloss during his drive to the races on Friday night and discussed his departure from the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM, how things are between him and Bogle, the confidence he got from his Supercross results, and how close he came to getting a ride at Yamaha (not very).
You posted the message that said you are not a part of the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM team last week. During the pandemic, they announced you would be with them for the full summer, so while it sucks to see, it’s understandable with Justin Bogle coming back and because he has a full-time contract with them. There are a lot of details about this, so can you explain it to us?
No one really thought that Justin was going to come back to racing, or if he was, that it wouldn’t be until later in the season. The team told me that I was good and I didn’t actually have a contract or anything through any of it, but he decided he wanted to come back to racing and it is his spot. I can’t be made at that. It’s his job and I was just a fill-in guy.
Now I’m doing my own thing. It’s weird coming back to this and figuring things out like, ‘Do I take a van? What should I take to the races? What do I ride?’ The last week has been a process but it’s a little bit fun.
Has this been easier than it was earlier this year when you were trying to put things together for the Supercross season? The outdoors isn’t as gnarly as Supercross is in some ways.
Yeah, I think so. In Supercross I had more time, but I felt like there was a lot more to figure out. Now we have nine races instead of 17, so it’s less to figure out. I was really happy with the KTM, so we decided to go with Husqvarna bikes. A friend of mine owns the shop in Kansas City that sells Husky, Donnell’s, so we went that route, and we’re going to keep it close to the KTM that I was riding. That will make it a lot less stressful and a lot easier, because I know the setup that I want already and I know what’s good, rather than changing to a new bike and trying to figure out everything that is new. We have a better plan this time, given the week we had to come up with it.
Have you figured out what you want to do, as far as sourcing parts and getting the engine and suspension work done?
Yeah, kind of. Some engines got to my dad’s house today and I’m not sure if I’m going to ride with them this weekend, but we’re working on getting suspension that is as close as I can get to what I was running with the Rocky Mountain team.
With everything going on right now, you have some time to prepare. What do these next few weeks look like as we wait for the start of the season?
In the weeks after Supercross, I was riding the KTM. Thankfully the team let me ride the bike and since Supercross it’s been full gas training. I think we have three weeks until we start racing, so I’ll probably do one more hard week and then back it down. I kept training like I still had a ride and it’s been really intense. I’m excited to see what it’s like to go into an outdoor season like this because we’ve never had a “boot camp” before it like we do with Supercross.
With how your Supercross season ended, especially those last few races, is it a little rattling to be in the position you are in? Or is it not a big deal because you know that you have the speed?
Honestly, it’s good mentally for me. I knew going into Salt Lake that if Justin did come back, I would be out of a ride again. Doing moderately good there, I think it helped a lot in terms of people wanting to support me if I had to be a privateer, rather than in Supercross when I didn’t have a ride and people had to go off my word like, “Yeah, I can ride fast and will do alright.” Now people have seen that I can go fast and maybe they will want to help me a little bit. I’m trying to take the positives of everything I do. If it’s a bad race, I try to look at the positives and push the bad out. That has helped me a lot, mentally.
Robbie Reynard has been a big part of your career and he was a guy that wasn’t afraid to get in the van with his dad and race on his own. Has he helped you in a completely than before with this?
Robert Reynard, his father, as probably helped more [Laughs]. With Robbie, I don’t know the word to use, but he is pretty emotionless with everything. He just says, “Keep riding and keep training. It will work out. Once you go racing, you’ll be good.” Robert tries to hype you up a little more and is more excited. He basically said, “If we can do this in a van, you can do it.” I have a lot of good people behind me and those two are big for my program. With Robbie, we haven’t really talked about if I have to go in a van thing, because I know he’s not the person I need to talk to about stuff like that.
Did you keep the same sponsors or is there a change coming?
We’re still working on sponsors. We’re two days into this “Do Your Own” program thing because I was waiting on Yamaha to see if I had a chance. We’re still really early in the sponsor process, so some stuff will stay the same and some stuff will be a change. You’ll have to look at my Instagram for updates.
Good social plug, I like that. On the Yamaha thing, just so it’s publicly known after people were speculating, did you have a serious or in-depth conversation with them? Was there a plan to go to California to test the bike?
As soon as I found out that Aaron had gotten hurt, I called them. I guess I called somebody that had very recently been let go (Jim Perry, the longtime Team Manager of the MX program, was given notice his position was eliminated amid internal changes at Yamaha). It took like a day or two to find that out, so then I got in touch with the right person and told them I was available. They seemed happy to talk to me but that was it and I never heard anything else from them. I don’t know if they talked about me or if I was really an option or not. No in-depth conversations, that’s for sure.
I’m sure you saw on the Internet how many people said how great you would be for the spot. And that has to be cool to have fans support you in that way and to recognize your talent.
When I posted that I wasn’t with the team anymore there were so many positive comments, and it’s the same with this. I’ve seen so many people have my back a bit and that’s a really awesome feeling.
This has been a very up and down year between you and Justin Bogle, as far as the ride going back and forth a few times. Are you guys still good or is it starting to get a little stressful?
We’re good. He came in my shop the other day when it was confirmed that I wasn’t on the team and was like, ‘How is everything going? I just want to make sure that we’re good and I don’t want it to be weird between us.’ But it’s not weird at all. I came in as the fill-in guy like he did last year, with full expectations that if he wants to race, it’s his choice. It was the same with me last year. Him and I are good. If I wanted the job, I should have gone faster. It’s my fault, if anything.
During those Utah races, Crutcher and I had a discussion and agreed that you were riding really well because you knew that you needed to get a ride. When you’re thinking, “Shit, I have to perform right now,” what is that motivation like?
It’s very motivating. I feel like I train just as hard when I do have a ride as when I don’t; I don’t want to be one of those people that’s only good when it’s contract time. I think for Salt Lake, I was comfortable during the break and had a lot of time to prepare, I used it to my advantage. But it’s really motivating when you don’t have a ride and you are kind of fighting someone for it. Honestly, I think right now is the most motivation that I’ve ever had and there have been opportunities where maybe I could have been picked but wasn’t. I want to prove to these people that they made a mistake and that I should have been the decision. That’s what I’m doing every day out here and I think it’s going to show.
Fast-forwarding to Loretta’s, how excited are you to get down there? Last time you were there you were the talk of the town.
[Laughs] I’m pretty excited. It’s going to be weird and I haven’t heard if they’re going to make any changes. I would think that they need to change it a bit, make it a little longer or add some jumps, but I liked that track and won the last time I was there. I was telling Derek (Rankin, mechanic) that the other day and he said, ‘That’s cool and all, but so did most of the people you’re racing against. They also won the last time they were there.’ And I didn’t think of that. He’s always looking at the negatives and I’m looking at the positives. I think that track is my style with the ruts and how rough it gets. I think it will be fun and weird.
This weekend’s race at Grain Valley MX is big because your dad and a couple of other Kansas City moto families bought it. It’s a respected track that you guys want to get back to its old status. I had a great time a few weeks ago riding at a track I grew up at, so for you as a guy that has raced all over the country at some of the best tracks and inside stadiums, how is it to go back and ride at your home track?
It’s absolutely awesome. My parents still live three miles from there. I went back there two weeks ago and rode with a couple of friends that used to ride there as well back in the day. We were all sitting in our chairs talking and it felt like we took a time machine back to 2005. That track was one of my favorite tracks growing up and it was the closest one to me, so I rode it a lot growing up. It really went downhill when some people took it over and I think everyone figured it was done. For it to be coming back now, honestly, it’s really good, good enough that I can do outdoor testing there. I’m excited to go back for their first race and see how it turns out. They had practice this past Monday night, the night after a Missouri State double-header, and it had 100 riders. It’s good for Missouri motocross to have another good track around.