Cory Flewellen | Life on the Road is a Dream Come True
At 25, Cory Flewellen could likely be the youngest truck driver in the Monster Energy Supercross pits, but the native Hawaiian is living out his lifelong dream of being a driver for one of the premier teams in the sport. While most kids would someday aspire to being one of the racers or even mechanics, Cory knew from a young age that he wanted to drive a semi full of factory race bikes. Here is his story!
Most truck drivers a much older than 25…how did you end up becoming responsible for the entire Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha team transporter getting to each Supercross and National?
I was determined. (Laughs) I started off coming to the races with my dad when I was only eight- or nine-years-old. And ever since then, I’ve always looked at these trucks and said, “I want to drive one of those trucks.” Both my parents were kind of like, “Oh, that’s never going to happen.” But I set my sights on that, and as soon as I graduated high school, I started reaching out to race teams saying, “Hey, can I drive for you guys?” And a couple of them actually talked to me. The Motorcycle Superstore Suzuki team a couple of years back said, “Hey, are you available to drive?” I was like, “Absolutely.” But then they asked if I had a Class A license and I had to say no. I asked, “Do I need that?” But after a couple more teas spoke to me and found out that I didn’t have a Class A license I said to myself, “I’ve got to get my class A.”
So I went to school, got my Class A license, and got every endorsement that they offer. Then one night I was up late and I was scrolling through Craigslist and I searched job listings for “Supercross Team Driver.” The first thing that popped up was a Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing team, so I applied and worked for two years with a Pro Four truck team on the Lucas Oil series. I just left that job about six months ago and I walked my resume one block over to the Star Racing shop. At the time they said they had a driver, but then a week later I got a call from Wil Hahn, and he said, “Hey, are you still looking for a job?” And it’s history from there.
How tough is truck-driving school? Was it tough? Because there’s a lot more that goes into driving than people realize, right? There’s the mileage logs, all the time limits and the regulations and all that…
Absolutely. The school I went to runs a three-month program. It was every single day. In the mornings, we were in the classroom and then in the afternoons we would drive over to a lot and practice all the driving maneuvers and stuff. I would say I was pretty proficient in all of that because we had boats and trailers since I was a kid. And my dad always let me drive those around and back those around, and I also had RC cars that I put trailers on. So I got those motions down pretty easily.
The principals or towing and backing up with a trailer…
Absolutely. And so, when I got into the big truck, it was just a little bit bigger, but it came easy to me. I graduated at the top of my class, but yeah, I learned how to shift a semi tractor. I’d never driven a semi-truck before. So anyway, I went to school and learned how to shift a 13-speed and then graduated the class. Bt then I actually went about a year without a job. And so, I just kind of had that plastic license in my back pocket, just waiting for the right day. And then it happened.
So you came to the races and saw the trucks and you were enamored with the big rigs and stuff. Did you ride yourself? Do you have a motorcross background?
I don’t have a motocross background, but when I was about eight, my dad bought me a quad. One of my best friends in school, he raced and I was like, “I want to do that. I want to do that.” And of course, I asked for a dirt bike, but the first thing I got was a quad.
That’s like child abuse.
(Laughs) Absolutely! So I rode that for a few years. And then, of course, my brother was jealous and asked for a bike, but this time my dad got him a motorcycle and not a quad! (Laughs)He kind of grew out of it, though, and didn’t really like it that much. So I hopped on his dirt bike and started riding that. I’ve done a lot of desert riding over the years. I’ve never really taken to the track. I enjoy going out to Glamis, out to Ocotillo, Superstition and doing all that kind of riding.
This is your first season with Star, correct?
Yes, Back in 2015, I worked for a privateer and drove his RV to the MX Nationals, but yes, this is my first gig with a semi in moto.
How hard was it to learn all of this stuff? There’s a lot more involved than just driving to each race: you have to set up the pits, the flooring, the big awning… Did Wil have to get in there and teach you everything?
I think I surprised him quite a bit because the two years prior that I worked for had a big semi and I helped them transition from a small trailer to the full-size big rig.So I learned over those two years, and then when I got into the Star truck it wasn’t that tough of a learning curve. This team basically took it up 10 notches and elevated the whole experience, and it’s just more professional.
Being a truck driver for a motocross race team is so more than just driving…
Absolutely. It’s always funny when people ask every truck driver in this pit, they say, “Oh, that’s so great. All you do is just drive the rig to race the race.” But there’s so much that goes into it. There’s the prep that happens even before we leave to go to a race. And then all the logistics that come into account when getting from point A to point B. We can drive 11 hours a day and we’ve got to make sure that that rig, at the end of those 11 hours, is at a safe spot that we can park for the night. And then we got to wake up first thing in the morning, keep driving, get to our location.
I think this year when we ended up in Tampa, I had driven from the San Diego Supercross. I left Monday morning and got to Tampa Thursday afternoon. Immediately parked the semi, unhooked it, filled the water tanks, and got the show side washed because I knew the team was going to be arriving within like 30 minutes from when I arrived there. And by the time I had the show side washed, they’re already setting up the pit area. And before I had the backside of the trailer finished washing, we had the pit set up and we were ready to go for the next race. There’s really no break.
How frustrating is it for you as a driver to see the scheduling sometimes where it goes from West Coast to East Coast on consecutive weekends?
We just talked about that yesterday. It’s one of those things I don’t really know if they have a choice in it, but it’s kind of crazy how this year we went from Anaheim One, straight to St. Louis, and right back to Anaheim Two. It’s just one of those things where it doesn’t make sense to the drivers. And I’m sure a lot of us would enjoy it if it was more of a circuit where we made a circle around the United States, but maybe those are the only venues they can get at those times. So, it works out. But it does definitely put a lot of stress on the drivers getting coast to coast. But a great thing with Star Racing, is we do have a secondary team driver if we need him. So, if we have to… When we went from Anaheim One to St. Louis, we brought our team driver in and we left Temecula Monday morning and we were in St. Louis Tuesday evening. So definitely takes some of the pressure off with that second driver.
Thus far into your year, do you have any crazy stories about on the road?
We had a crazy mishap with our engine on our tractor in Texas. I drove to the Arlington race, prepped the trailer for two days, washed it, shined it up, made it the best it’s ever looked, and then went to go start it up to take it into the pits and the thing just started puffing blue smoke on me. So we actually lost a head gasket and the seals and oil were getting into the engine. I took it straight from the pit over to a repair shop. We dropped it there, they said they could have it fixed before I needed to leave for Atlanta. That didn’t end up happening. So the amateur Cycle Trader team loaned us their tractor. I took our trailer and drove it to Atlanta. Then I bob-tailed the tractor back from Atlanta, back to Arlington, stayed an extra night in Arlington, got my tractor once it was fixed, and drove it straight back to Atlanta. And I got to Atlanta Friday night and we raced Saturday morning. And before you know it, I was headed back down to Daytona for the next race.
It certainly seems like you’re living out your dream job right now.
Absolutely. This is one of those things you dream about… When I got the call from Brad and Wil, it was one of those things that I had imagined doing for years and I never thought it would happen. And when I got that call, I had tears in my eyes. The first thing I did was call my parents and say, “I made it,” and was stoked.