Joining the off-road racing world in a big way is Team Valli Motorsports. They held an introduction party at their new facility in San Jose with a tour of the race shop and a look into their new WORCS based off-road team. Team VMS will be Honda CRF450R mounted and their riders are all upper echelon racers. The headliners are 2008 WORCS Champion Bobby Bonds, WORCS contenders Bobby Garrison and Kyle Summers. We sat down with VP Charles Halcomb to get some insight into the Privateer team and just how they pulled this off when everyone else is just treading water.
Whose idea was it to put together a WORCS effort?
Chad Lanza is an avid off road enthusiast with over 20 years of off road riding experience. †He is a very successful businessman that has a passion for off road racing. †He has sponsored Brian Garrahan for the last several years and decided to step up his support for off-road and assemble a WORCS team.
Why did he pick you to run it?
Chad was talking to Brian Garrahan about his idea and who to assemble a team and Brian recommended me due to my experience with assembling a team from scratch. At Suzuki we started from square one, without even a motorcycle as we had to build it first and went on to win 6 National Enduro Championships, several Hare Scramble Championships and countless ISDE gold medals with Randy Hawkins, Steve Hatch, Rodney Smith and myself. †My being only 20 miles from Chad’s office only helped his decision.
What have you been doing since you left Suzuki?
After being with Suzuki for almost 8 years and being promoted to race team manager, my travel schedule was out of control. †My wife and I just had our first child and the last year at Suzuki I was gone 44 weekends. My wife has a pretty good sense of humor as one could only imagine but this was too much. †We moved back to our hometown of Santa Cruz and started back into tile/stone contracting and was contacted by Bruce Ogilvey of American Honda not long after. †Bruce wanted me to ride high visibility events like the Acerbis Rally and Baja 1000 to help associate my name with Honda after being linked to Suzuki for so long. †I had limited success racing but thoroughly enjoyed my teammates Chuck Miller, Johnny Campbell & Jeff Capt during my tenure with Honda. †In 1994, racing the Baja 1000 I hit a booby trap and went to sleep for several weeks, needless to say I pushed my wife’s sense of humor to its boundaries. †As much as I enjoy off road riding, I was forced to retire from riding due to any head impact might lead to a permanent coma. †I still followed the sport religiously and kept in contact with lifelong friends that were associated with racing, these contacts have really assisted me in assembling sponsors for Valli.
Who picked the riders and why?
Chad had a pretty good idea of whom he wanted and Craig Hartsell our shop manager and Dennis Stapleton only confirmed his selections.
What is the game plan for the team?
Our priority series is the WORCS series defending the number one plate Bobby Bonds acquired this year. †We will be competing in several of the Endurocross events along with the four west coast AMA MX nationals.
In the current economic climate you are one of the few emerging teams, how do you pull this off?
As mentioned earlier, our owner Chad is a very successful businessman venturing in land development, hotel construction and all types of high-end construction. †His rationale for assembling this effort is very simple. In his mind, he has several homes that he has not visited in the last couple of years. †He feels that he can purchase another home that he won’t necessarily visit or take the same amount of money and assemble a competitive off road effort where he has a great passion. †In this economic climate he is very fortunate to be able to do what and where he wants.
Where is your race shop?
Our race shop is located in San Jose, California in a new facility that focuses on car condominiums called Club Auto Sport. †Club Auto is basically empty sections where an individual can purchase and then cater the building to their needs; we are the first motorcycle racing effort based here. †There is a workout facility, showers, race gas, dumping stations for the transports all catered to the needs of a racing team. †Chad actually built the facility for owners Ralph Borelli and john Davis.
You’ve watched Bondo and Kyle ride, what is your assessment of their abilities and how do you think they’ll do?
Both riders have competed in local district 36 hare scrambles the last few weeks and I am very favorably impressed with them. †Bondo right now is without a doubt in my mind the fastest off road rider in the United States. Riding the new CRF450R Honda he looks like he’s been on one for years as he has adapted much quicker than I thought he would. †The last race at Marysville he lapped all the way up to fourth place. †District 36 has a very competitive base of AA riders and I feel that this is a very good indicator of his ability. †Kyle has also surprised me with his tenacity in working out this year and his speed on the new bike is very good. †I expect great results from him this year and sincerely believe he will podium at several events if not all of them. Bobby Garrison has just been released to ride after breaking his upper arm five months ago and he has been on a rigorous training program the whole time. We had him evaluated with our trainer Steve Hatch who uses Jurgen Mertz, Wayne Gretzky’s trainer of 20 years and Jurgen does not impress easily.
Jurgen came away visibly impressed with Bobby’s cardiovascular and I expect phenomenal results come the first WORCS event January 15 as he is really on a mission.
What have you done to make the new CRF450R Honda off-road competitive?
We have been testing numerous items on the new Honda, as there is no data to go on since this is the first year of this model. †Factory Connection has given us competitive suspension already, as all the riders feel very comfortable after modifying the stock components. † MDK and FMF have motor modifications in the works and we will dyno the first setting in just a couple of days, come January 15 we will be ready.
Who will be your competition this year?
Just looking at the final WORCS races last year, Bondo was clearly the fastest. †At Honey Lake he came from almost 1 1/2 minutes down from the leader Nathan Woods and pulled almost the same in just a few laps only to crash and break a lever. †At Taft he came from further back and then pulled 1 1/2 minutes to clearly dominate the final event and win the championship. I see our team as the ones to beat and we will create our own competition!!