Fox Racing Friday | Catching Up With Carey Hart
Fox Racing Friday | Catching Up With Carey Hart
Presented by Fox Racing
Carey Hart is known for many things in motocross, whether it be his days as a Supercross privateer in baggy freestyle gear, as the first rider to pull off a backflip on a motorcycle, or even as his days of the 450 National Championship-winning RCH Suzuki team. These days, Hart spends his days away from the professional freestyle and racing scenes, but he continues to love motorcycles as much as he ever has. Living a reasonably quiet life in Central California with his rockstar wife, Pink, the days, Hart continues to have his hands in a few different business ventures that keep him busy. We were stoked to run into Carey a couple of weeks ago at the Dunlop MX53 tire launch at Perris Raceway and as always, it was great to catch up!
Carey, it’s good to see you down south at a motocross track. Perris Raceway for the first time in over a decade?
Yeah, it’s been a long time. Probably closer to 15 years!
And the last time you were here on a two-stroke, we imagine?
Yeah, I was on a two-stroke and that was my main ride.
We’ve seen you riding nothing but Husqvarnas for a few years now. Do you have an official ambassador deal, or do you just prefer them?
I have a great relationship with Pit Beirer over at KTM and when we shut the RCH team down, I wanted to make a switch, personally. I really just like the offering Husqvarna has. They have a great 450, a great two-stroke 250, and a great dual sport 501. So Husky kind of checked all of the boxes for me. They helped me out a little bit, but I’m kind of at that point in my life where I just buy the bike I like the most.
Then there are no commitments?
You’re retired from racing, from freestyle, and from team ownership, but life has not slowed down for you one bit it seems…
Yeah, I’ve shut the door on a few chapters with freestyle motocross and the race team with RCH. I mean, I still ride quite a bit of motocross and do some stuff with Fox on the motocross freestyle side, but I still love motocross riding and racing and riding freestyle. That’ll never go away. I’m gonna stick with that as long as I can, but since shutting the team down I stumbled upon custom bike building, specifically on the Indian platform. I’ve just been having a lot of fun being an ambassador for Indian motorcycles, customizing bikes, doing the motorcycle competition circuit, going to rallies, and doing my charity events. The thing that has been great for me with V-Twin is it’s definitely fulfilled the motocross itch. No one can ride at the level they did when they were younger – I definitely can’t – so it definitely scratches that itch with going to events and getting in competition with building bikes and road trips with me and my buddies. So, it’s been a great replacement for what the heyday of my motocross career was.
Is the customization of the Indian motorcycles actually a business?
No, I’m not doing any customer builds. Basically the model I’ve tried to kind of built through V-Twin is kind of what my motocross career was. I’m an ambassador for Indian and a handful of other companies. Really the model is I sort of do a couple of special build products each year. They’re usually my personal bikes or I’ll build one for my wife or whatever, but primarily I do like two to three builds per year and they will go to some competitions. I built a road race bike out of an Indian bagger and that went to the One Moto Show, then Indian takes that bike on the circuit all year long. The building is sort of part of my ambassador role, but definitely no customer stuff. It just gives me a good opportunity to create content through social media and go to events on behalf of Indian, Drag Specialties, and other sponsors. As I said, it scratches that same itch without having to put my neck on the line.
What do you miss most about having the RCH Suzuki race team?
Probably the morning of the races. One of my favorite aspects of RCH – and specifically RCH because of the program Ricky came on and built – was that first morning walking into the pits with a cup of coffee, strolling into the truck with all the banter and shit-talking that happens kind of in the morning as we’re getting ready for the day. That part always stood out to me with Kyle Bentley, Mark Johnson, Kaipo Chung, and the whole crew that was over there was just such a great group of dudes, it was just so much fun getting to the track.
Is it kind of trippy to think back, “I won a National Championship?”
It is a trip man. It is unfortunate, but it is kind of hard to enjoy stuff at the moment and I think we are all kind of guilty of that. Now stepping away from the race team for a couple of years and looking back like wow, I actually did that for 10 years, you know? We actually won a championship with Ken Roczen and we were a contender for the Supercross championship. From what we started with – you remember, it was go-go dancers, smoke machines, and DJs – to actually winning a championship. For the bad news bears, there is a pretty good check in the box.
What was the switch that flicked that saw you guys go from having fun disrupting the pits to being a serious race team with championship goals?
You know I think we kind of stumbled upon that indirectly. Our goal as a team used to be if we weren’t gonna win on the track we were gonna win in the pits. You know at that time motocross had a very kind of stand-behind-the-barrier, stand-in-line-to-get-your-poster-and-move-on kind-of tone. As we were being the idiots in the pits and creating all this hype, we were able to chase the money and get really well-funded so we could then go get the rider. We kind of did it in reverse; a lot of teams try to go out and build results and try to get the next good guy to get money and results, but we actually did it backward. So it was kind of fun and exciting to be at the forefront of what was happening. We had Nascar programs coming to watch us in the pits, race teams from Europe coming seeing what we were doing, Japanese brands spying on us to see what we were doing to create all of this hype. It was really fun to be the front runner watching the evolution of what motocross used to be and now it’s about getting content and partying in the pits with all the festivities of it.
What was it like partnering with Ricky Carmichael? Even though you were successful in your own right, to think back to when you were a struggling privateer and then think about the career Ricky had, was quite a contrast. Then, you were team owners with Ricky Carmichael.
That was the fun part. There’s no ego in this, but I hit the ceiling of what I could personally do with the program. I wasn’t knowledgable enough on the technical side, probably wasn’t taken seriously enough on the manufacturer side, and Ricky was kind of quietly looking from the outside, in. For a couple of years, he wanted to get involved with the race team. Long story short, it was just so fun teaming up with him because I kind of took it to one level and then he took the ball and ran with it, taking it to a completely different level. For me, being able to sit back and learn like the aspect of the development and the testing, the data collecting on the bike and everything that he and the crew that he built brought to the table was wild! If anyone really knows Ricky there is no other person better to talk shit with. There’s no better person to just stir the pot. We’ve been buddies for a long time, but we’ve remained close friends ever since the race team. We still talk a couple of times a week which is rad.
So we asked you what your favorite thing was, but what was the most frustrating thing about owning a team?
Oh man, this is gonna be a long one. You know the most stressful aspect was having to chase the money. I’m not knowledgable enough about a lot of sports, I probably know just enough to be dangerous, but the fact that there is no way for a team to generate revenue other than the money that you raise before January 1 really sucks. It’s a huge roll of the dice. I don’t think it’s fair, I don’t think it should really work that way, and that was extremely frustrating for me trying to shift that model. But realistically, it probably won’t change during my lifetime, unfortunately. That was really the tricky part and then there’s the endurance race that’s motocross and Supercross. You come in fresh, the bikes are dialed, you have a great preseason and then its hold on for the rollercoaster. It’s a long 36 races or whatever the hell it is over the course of the year. It’s an endurance race and it would have been nice to have some breaks built-in there for everybody to kind of regroup, for the team to regroup, the riders to regroup, it’s an extremely stressful business, but it’s extremely fun and exciting.
Tell me about Hart Luck CBD, I think of anyone in motorsports that needs CBD to relieve their aches and pains, you’re one of them.
Yeah, I’ve put my body through it all! (Laughs) I got turned onto CBD about three to four years ago. Initially, it did a lot for me for mental clarity, anxiety, stress, and depression. It really started from the mental state and then I saw the residual effects I was getting on my body with aches and pains. About two years ago, I really started itching to do a passion project when it was all very new at that point. I’m very anal about what I put in my body after all the years of drinking out of plastic and breathing gas fumes, all the dumb shit that motocross riders do. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become really conscious about what I put into my body. Really this was a passion project for me, I wanted to see what this does. From a company standpoint as well, at least I know what I’m putting into my body, I know I’m putting good quality products in my body. I think there is going to be so much research, development, and science that is going to come out of cannabis and that whole strain of natural holistic medicines. I had an opportunity with a company called Next Dream Wave and we jumped on board. It was a slow process initially, but now we are at the market and it is just a really fun passion project.
Are you selling through a website? I know you’ve got social media channels.
Yeah right now, we are direct-to-consumer through our website which is HartluckCBD.com and much like everybody, it is a foot race. Everyone is kind of taking meetings with bigger pharmacies and bigger distribution channels. Hopefully, our 1-3-5 year plan is right now is direct to the consumer, we are started to roll out through mom and pop dispensaries and then hopefully the big push will be getting into the big pharmacy chains as well. We are really trying to set our sights up to if and when CBD becomes legal in Australia.
Every CBD product I’ve used is dosed in milligrams, and some are higher than others. Is a higher dose better, or can you overdose on CBD?
I mean from the scientist and the people I work with through my brand, I think its probably a little too new. I’m sure there are probably conversations on both sides, I mean I use it probably like the average Joe does. A little bit of oral in the morning, a little bit at night, maybe one or two throughout the course of the day. I don’t really know, everyone on my team says no, you can’t take too much. I’m sure there are people on the other side of the fence that’ll say yes, but I think for what it has done for people that I have turned it on to, it is amazing. My mother-in-law was taking Ambien to sleep at night and now she is off Ambien because she is just taking CBD to sleep and calm her brain from the stuff that you take for aches and pains. There are a lot of people like my father-in-law who endured a lot of injuries in Vietnam and was on heavy doses of pain pills, and is completely off that and working with CBD. If nothing else, I think that getting people off of pharmaceuticals and off of pain meds to a more holistic route is a win.
Okay…Dualigans. We’ve seen Dave Castillo’s rainbow helmet, we’ve seen Frankie Garcia running it everywhere. What is Dualigans?
The funny thing is it started as a shit-talking Instagram page. My partners in it are Chris from AirTrix and a friend of mine, Keith Sardos, who were are all close with. When I moved to Central Coast I figured out that in motocross, with age comes dual-sport riding. Dual-sport riding is all the rage up there. I started riding dual-sport. It was sort of like a guilty pleasure, I enjoyed it, but the thing that I saw in dual sport riding – and sorry if I’m about to offend anybody – it’s just the gear and the kits are so lame and straight out of the 80s. All the reflective tape and oranges… (Laughs) Long story short, the Dualigan’s page is a shit-talking page on dual sport riders. Chris made the logo and a couple of t-shirts and hats, it just started getting some interest. Then we just kind of ran with it and have been having fun with it. Slowly over time, we’ve been making hats, t-shirts, hoodies, different things, and people want them! Early next year we are actually doing a collaboration line with Fox and we’re what I call “fashion meets function” so we are doing over-the-boot riding pant, some sort-of jacket/flannel riding tops, and old school cotton jerseys. We’re just having fun with it and just taking the piss out of what dual sporting is. Our tagline is “Eat shit and ride,” and our line is for the losers, not for the winners.
We know people probably always ask you about your wife, Pink, but this popped into our head while we are talking. You are retired from your main profession, but you’ve got your hands in all of these other things to keep you busy. At what point does a musician retire? Does Alicia she ever talk about that?
You know it’s not so much about retirement, in reality, she is very comparable to a motocross rider. You take women in pop music, unfortunately, and it is not really fair…women in pop music tend to have an expiration date much as motocross riders do. So for her, she just takes it album cycle by album cycle, and she doesn’t have an expectation that it is going to last forever. But like a motocross racer; you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot. For her, it’s like me: as long as the phone keeps ringing and people still want me to come out, ride, and shoot like today, I’ll show up. I think she is in the same boat. As long as people want to buy the album and buy a ticket, she’ll keep touring. Yeah, we just came off a two-and-a-half-year tour, and now she’ll take a couple of years off and then look at the cards in a couple of years and keep cranking.
Do you think there is a better term than the general media could use for you rather than “Motocross Champion Carey Hart”?
(Laughs) Oh man, there are so many dimensions. I get BMX Champion, Road racer…I don’t know. Maybe “Jack of all trades, master of none” probably makes a lot more sense. Half the time if they even get my name spelled correctly, I am happy.(Laughs)
Fox Racing Product of the Week
Fox V3 Helmet featuring Fluid Inside (As worn by 2019 MX1 World Champion Tim Gajser!)
Introduced earlier this year, the all-new Fox V3 Helmet boasts a wealth of new design and safety features that make it stand out from other premium off-road motorcycle helmets. At the heart of the new helmet is an all-new MCT (multi-composite technology) shell that comes in four shell sizes, and is paired with a Varizorb EPS liner, which features multi-density foam to help disperse impact energy more efficiently thanks to its cone-shaped injected design. To address the dangers of rotational impacts, Fluid Inside technology is incorporated into the inside of the helmet, between the EPS and comfort liner. The fluid pods are designed to mimic the cerebral fluid that protects your brain from coming into contact with the inside of your skull, offering both linear and rotational impact dampening. In total, seven Fluid Inside pods are spread throughout the helmet to help disperse impacts in a crash. Another unique feature of the new V3 helmet is its two-piece construction. While the main shell is traditional in design, the entire eyeport and chinbar is a separate piece, dubbed The Cage. Made of composite materials, the piece is designed to offer impact energy management than a traditional one-piece design. The entire helmet is extensively vented, with massive ports that are protected by injected mesh screens. Finally, Fox’s patented MVRS magnetic visor system is incorporated. Designed to detach on impact in the event of a crash, the system helps guard against snagging on the ground and mitigate external rotational forces.
The all-new V3 definitely looks unlike any other motocross helmet. In fact, it looks much like the Rampage Pro Carbon mountain bike helmet we’ve come to love. What do we think of the new moto helmet, though? Having given it a thorough and complete test (unfortunately?) by suffering a massive crash in it on our first day of riding in it, we can confidently give it a two thumbs up review.
But let’s get to our pre-crash impressions, first! The new V3 fits very well, and we encountered none of the pressure points that we initially suspected that we might from the Fluid Inside pods. Instead, the helmet slips on nicely and has a soft, luxurious feel inside against your head and face. Unlike the previous V3, the new helmet has a deeper fit, and the chin bar offers plenty of clearance for your face. The previous V3’s chinbar felt close to our face and had a much different feel. We love the fit of the new helmet, and it offers a great field of vision and accepts all goggles well, even the current trend of oversized goggles from other manufacturers.
Ventilation is amazing in the V3, as air flows through the massive vents and cools your head. On cold days, we found ourselves actually cold inside the V3! As one might expect, more sound reaches your ears due to the generous venting, but that is something that only takes a few laps to grow accustomed to.
The MVRS visor is not adjustable, but the height of the visor seems just right for the majority of riders who will race in it. Trail riders might wish for a lower setting, but the standard location is proper! The MVRS is more sturdy than it was on earlier helmets, and it takes quite an impact to dislodge the visor. But, we can state from experience that it does indeed detach on impact.
The crash we had in the new V3 was pretty significant. (Switch to a first-person account, here.) An overdose of throttle in a dry, slick corner sent me into a violent high-side, and I slapped my head onto the hard-packed SoCal dirt with such force, that it rendered me kookoo for the better part of an hour. A trip to the ER for a CT scan revealed no bruising, bleeding, or swelling of my brain, and I was released with a clean bill of health and a prescription for pain killers. Initially, I was bummed out about suffering a mild concussion in the new helmet, but a few days later I connected with Mark Finley from Fox Racing and got to take a look at my crash-damaged lid. The damage done to the helmet made it obvious that the impact it protected me from was pretty damned big. Having more helmet-smashing experience than I’d like to admit, I can honestly say that the V3 likely saved my life, and I would have suffered a mild concussion at best in any helmet I could have been wearing. The brunt of the impact was in the right forehead area, and the EPS was compressed to the point that it cracked. The Cage eyeport and chinbar was completely intact, proving that the two-piece design is indeed sturdy enough to protect against big impacts.
Would I ride and race in the new Fox Racing V3 again? Absolutely. Learn more about the helmet in the video below, and see my crash-damaged V3 in the video beneath it.