Rebuild: Team Valli Yamaha 2013, Todd Brown Interview
Team re-formed for 2013
Rebuild: Team Valli Yamaha 2013
In 2012 Valli Motorsports and Star Racing joined forces and created a very large team with both 250 and 450 riders along with sponsor Rockstar. The teams parted ways for 2013 and Valli is now once again a solo project. We spoke to Todd Brown, the team’s manager and suspension tuner about 2013. At the time they were developing a race bike for rider Travis Baker. Here is an update on the team and the 2013 program.
Todd Brown, Team Valli Yamaha, or is it Team Rockstar?
Right now I know Chad Lanza, the owner of Valli Motorsports, has been talking to Rockstar a little bit. At this point they’re still in negotiation so as to what level Rockstar is going to help us out with the ’13 season, I don’t know yet. I know it’s something we’re working on right now.
What is your affiliation with the team?
I’ve been with Chad Lanza Valli Motorsports since the 2010 season. I was a suspension tech for the 2010-2012 seasons, but for 2013 I will be suspension tech/team manager.
The team was almost nonexistent and then you popped up with smaller program. What is going on now?
For the ’13 season what we have planned is we’re going to have Travis Baker on the team. He’ll be riding a Yamaha 250F for the West Coast Supercross and 250 Nationals. For the 450 class, I know Chad right now is talking to Brett Metcalfe. I think that deal is almost a done deal. So it’s looking like it will be a 2-rider team, possibly 3 riders, but right now Travis Baker is the only rider signed on this team. Hopefully the deal with Metcalfe for 450 Nationals will happen. I believe that will happen.
How difficult is it right now to run a race team? It seems like more and more teams are having to find more creative ways to keep their team going, to pay the bills, to pay their riders, and get a presence out there.
Yeah, right now for this upcoming season it looks like the Valli Motorsports race team is getting support from Yamaha. We’re getting some bikes, some parts money, but most of the bill is going to be footed by Chad Lanza.
So it’s almost a team built out of passion or an enthusiast’s team.
Yeah, Chad Lanza is a big-time motorcycle enthusiast. He’s a big fan of Motocross and Supercross racing. We are working on getting more sponsors, but with the way the economy is right now it’s tough to bring sponsors in this time of the year because most of the sponsors are already committed to other teams. So it looks like for the upcoming season Chad Lanza is going to be paying for most of it.
This team was kind of a combination last year with Star, but you’ve parted ways and now it’s kind of your own team. How hard is it to get something going after shrinking down and having to revamp the program?
Well, at first talking with the sponsors we had to tell them that Valli Motorsports and Star Racing obviously split ways so it was almost like starting from scratch. However, Chad Lanza has been running the team since 2010. Our relationship with Yamaha is very good. Thank God they came onboard to help us out with bikes and some parts money and we can’t thank them enough. It’s been really hard with the way the economy is, but every day I’m working on sponsors so hopefully Rockstar will step up and we’ll just continue to work on other sponsors.
Based on the experience you’ve had working with some other teams and seeing what it takes to run a team, what kind of budgets do you have to have to run a full 4- or 5-rider team?
Well in ’05-’09 I worked with Factory Connection and I know Geico was the main title sponsor there at that time and to do a 4-rider team you’re probably looking at at least a $2 million budget to do the full year, minimum. At least $2-4 million to do it right.
A lot people think that when they see all these parts on a motorcycle that they’re free because you have sponsors, but there are a lot of parts on these motorcycles you have to pay for. Even Factory teams have to pay. Suspension is expensive, motors, parts, pistons, most of this stuff you don’t get for free.
Yeah, it all adds up. For example just our Pro Circuit Showa A Kit Suspension cost us around like $6,500 and then on motor work so far to date we’ve probably dropped about $5,000 into that motor and we’ll probably continue to develop it more. So once we get the bike completed, it’s probably going to be a $15,000 bike, at least.
So when fans come to A1 with their ticket, they don’t realize the millions of dollars that sit on the bikes in the pits. It’s not an $8,000 motorcycle going around the track, it’s probably a $25,000-$30,000, if not more expensive, motorcycle racing around the track.
I would say on the bike that we have for Travis Baker for this upcoming year, where it’s at right now with all of the modifications that we’ve done to it, your average kid probably could purchase anything that we’ve got for our bike to this point. Basically everything that we’ve done to the bike, the average kid could go get done to his bike. Whereas on a Factory bike, those bikes are probably a minimum of at least $50,000, probably more than that, and the average kid wouldn’t have access to anything like that.
How do you think the sport is doing today?
I’ve been doing this since 1993. I’ve been around a long time and I’ve seen the sport grow. Where it’s at right now, I think we’re headed in the right direction. Back in the day when I first started, you had to wait probably 2 weeks to a month just to watch a race, but now you can watch them live so the sport has come a long way in the last 20 years.
Are you an ex-racer or rider?
I raced a little bit growing up. I’m from Eureka up in Northern California so I didn’t have any tracks close to me. The closest tracks that I went to were in the Sacramento area like Marysville, so it was tough, but motorcycle racing is a big passion of mine. I enjoy it.
What are the overall expectations of the team? Have you set any goals yet or do you just want go racing at this point?
Well of course you want to set realistic goals. I believe Travis Baker has a lot of potential and our expectations for this upcoming year is to just make it through the first rounds healthy and at least shoot for top 10. But really we want to get top 5s and we really want to shoot for the podium, but I know that is going to be tough depending on who decides to ride the West Coast say Tomac or Wilson, but as far as goals go, I plan on Travis Baker being top 5.
What are the difficulties to run a team with currently one rider? All your eggs are in one basket. There’s not even a backup rider right now. You’ve got one rider and knowing how last season went with some of the teams that may not make for a long season.
Yeah, as we all know, this Motocross/Supercross racing is a dangerous sport. These riders can get hurt at any time racing or even during practice. Last year after the first few rounds of Supercross there were riders going down so it’s tough right now just having one rider, Travis Baker. However, we are working on getting a second rider so if something were to happen to Travis, we’ll have a backup rider.
Come A1 are we going to see the Valli Motorsports semi out in the pits?
Right now what our plans are for the ’13 season is to run a Freightliner that Chad had been using for his WORCs riders. What we’ll do is probably do the West Coast rounds with the Freightliner and then when Outdoors comes around and when Metty comes onboard, we’ll probably put the semi back out on the road.
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