Garage Finds | Justin Brayton Australian SX Championship Shirt
In the United States, Justin Brayton is an established top-five contender with a spot on Team Honda HRC and a 450 Main Event win to his record. In Australia, Brayton is the four-time and defending champion in the country’s Supercross series with Penrite Honda, a record that’s unmatched by anyone. International events have become an important part of Brayton’s program, as the October-December portion of each year allows him to test his fitness in race conditions, adds a few dollars to the bank account, and bolster his resume by being the “King” of the Geneva/Sofia/Bercy races, but the decision to race the Australian series might be one of the best things he’s done for his career.
The pairing of Brayton and Penrite Honda team owner Yarrive Konsky started like any modern relationship: a personal message sent through Instagram. At the end of his contract with the BTO Sports/WPS/KTM team, Brayton was quick and confident in Supercross, yet struggled to match the pace outdoors and was openly frustrated with himself. As the motocross season wrapped, Brayton realized that he’d rather put all of his efforts into a Supercross-only schedule and looked at the available options to make it happen. Konsky’s message was left unread for quite a while, something Brayton chalked up to his inexperience on the social media app, but was found by Brayton and his wife just in time for them to make calls to executives at American Honda and get supported lined up for the season down under. A very successful season, which saw Brayton claim a slew of wins and on the podium more often than not, he claimed the SX1 title and solidified his working relationship with Konsky in Australia. From there, the two agreed that they would pair up each year and pursue a run for more titles, a deal that has seen increased support from Honda to both parties.
I was introduced to Konsky during a trip to the Montreal Supercross in Canada last year, on a day trip through the city with Brayton and his longtime friend Mark. During the walk through the cobblestone streets and over coffee, the group discussed what needed to be organized for Brayton’s months-long move to the Gold Coast and all of the parts that Team Honda HRC would ship down to make his CRF450R identical to what he’d race in the 2020 season. Eventually, Konsky extended an invitation for me to visit for the AUS-X Open in Melbourne and we spent the next few months on the phone figuring out my trip, buying the ticket about two weeks before the Qantas flight left LAX.
The time in Australia will forever be one of my favorite work trips, as some of my friends were already part of the Penrite Honda squad (Nate, Lillis, Duffe, Brayton, Oldenburg, Blose, Metcalfe, Gilmour) and I got to know the rest of the crew (Jason, Nick, Sarah, plus all of the supporting sponsors) during our days at the shop, motos at the test track, coffee along the coast, an excellent dinner and accommodations at the Crowne casino, and on race day at Marvel Stadium.
There was talk of a practice crash earlier in the season had kept Brayton from his full strength, something he and Konsky confirmed to me just before the race weekend, but it was a matter they publically kept quiet until after the AUS-X Open was over. As the two talked about JB’s overnight stay in a hospital for some internal injuries, it became clear how important that race and the 2019 season were to both. Brayton knew he needed to post solid results over CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Luke Clout to clinch championship number four, while Konsky had Blose and Oldenburg in contention for the SX2 title. If any of the three could win, it would be another mark of confidence that Konsky’s program worked as he laid the groundwork for a Honda-backed 250 team in the United States.
By now you know the outcome of the event: Brayton rode steady and smooth as Clout, despite being one of the fastest riders of the SX1 class, crashed while trying to make passes in the early laps of the races. An eventful final race saw Brayton do exactly what he needed and he celebrated with a massive whip and fist pump at the finish line. The celebration, which included Blose’s big SX2 championship, started before bikes were off the track and soon Sarah emerged with a box full of T-shirts that the entire team put on for a photo. Although I’m usually an “impartial” member of the press, I was considered part of Penrite Honda for the weekend and Sarah made sure a medium shirt was in my hands as we got everyone together for the shot.
Brayton isn’t a “let’s go out and get wild” kind of guy, so he bypassed the unorganized afterparty that all of us had through the bars and dance clubs at Crowne. I can’t say I blame him, because the morning after the race he had his wife, two kids, and mechanic Duffe had to pack about a dozen OGIO 9800 gear bags (that is not an exaggeration, the group lived in Australia for more than two months) and get to the Melbourne airport for their trip back to the US for Team Honda HRC’s preseason photoshoot and media event. The rest of us weren’t on such a tight schedule, thankfully, and by the time I made it back to the hotel room I shared with Duffe at 4 AM, he and all of his bags were long gone. The only thing left by Duffe was a Penrite Honda team hat, which I snagged and stuffed into my suitcase to go with the championship shirt (Duffe, let me know if you want the cap back haha).
I consider Yarrive to be a great friend and it’s been awesome to see his dream of having a race team in America come to life this year. A deep and emotional guy (among the many things we have in common), he sees potential in people and does what he can to give them an opportunity, like what he’s doing for fellow Aussie Luke Clout. Konsky knew Clout wanted to get another shot at racing in the United States, so he signed him to a deal as soon as the AUS-X Open was over. Through the first few 250 West Coast races of the 2020 season, they’ve battled for top-five finishes against a very accomplished field of riders and teams, which confirms Clout’s belief that he could be one of the best in the class. With Brayton and Clout both on board, this team could rack up accomplishments in Australia, and maybe the US, for years to come.
Backyard Design was founded in 2010 by two privateer Supercross racers: Jared Hicks from Alabama and Philipp Klakow from Germany. What started as a project to fund their Supercross racing efforts has now grown into a worldwide graphics manufacturer, with dual headquarters in the United States and Germany. Backyard Design is known for being one of the first custom graphics makers to have a completely interactive website, where customers can design their own kits with a few clicks on a computer mouse.
Another week, another sick kit by the guys at Backyard Design. We know many of you want your bikes to look like the factory machines that fill the pit area, but with your personal touch or sponsors. Why rep the companies that don’t support you? That’s where the Design Configurator at backyarddesignusa.com comes in, as the easy to use program allows you to take the base designs offered by the company and put your spin on the scheme. This setup looks sweet with its use of three shades of green and is ready for some small refinements that’ll make it a representation of you. Head to backyarddesignusa.com and get creative with the templates offered for nearly every OEM.