IF YOU GO
■ What: The Washougal MX National, the eighth round of the AMA U.S. Motocross Championships.
■ When: 1 p.m. today. Gates open at 7 a.m.
■ Where: Washougal MX Park, 40205 NE Borin Rd. Washougal. (See Story on Page C1 about traffic concerns.)
■ Cost: $40 adults (without pit access); $50 adults (with pit access); $30 children ages 7-11 (without pit); $40 children 7-11 (with pit); 6-under free.
WASHOUGAL — Mike Alessi needed a fresh start.
MotoConcepts Racing needed a new face.
Both parties are happy with the arrangement as Alessi and MotoConcepts prepare for the Washougal MX National. Today's event is the eighth round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Alessi, who made a name for himself as one of the best amateur motocross riders in history, has had an up-and-down career since he turned pro in 2004, competing for factory teams. But after last summer, the factory ride was gone.
"When you're not getting results, people sometimes lose faith," Alessi said.
MotoConcepts, based out of Spokane, is one of the higher echelon "privateer" organizations. It does not have the backing of a factory, but it does have the backing of businessman and team owner Mike Genova. In the racing game since 2009, there were some in the industry wondering if it was time for Genova to step up or step away from the sport.
Genova and Alessi teamed up last fall. Seven rounds into the outdoor season, Alessi is second in the points race in the 450 class. MotoConcepts is listed right there along Alessi's name on the official standings, one spot below factory rider Ryan Dungey and Red Bull/KTM.
"Nobody believed in our crew, our team, our bikes, our management," Genova said.
"Nobody wanted to take a chance on me. Nobody wanted to take a chance on him," Alessi added. "We believed in each other. We believed we could get some great results this season, and we're doing that."
The term privateer is a bit of a misnomer, according to Genova. MotoConcepts is not factory-backed, but it also is not a team driving from tour stop to tour stop in a pick-up truck and a van.
The team has two bus drivers, four mechanics, and four riders -- two on the 450s, one 250, and another on the Women's Motocross circuit. And because it is not factory-backed, it has some freedom. Alessi rides a Suzuki, for example, while Jake Canada is on a Honda for the 250 races.
"Privateer always seems B-grade. Our effort is not B-grade," Genova said. "There's nothing B-grade about it."
"Our travel is just as good as any team," Canada said. "We fly the same planes, stay in the same hotels."
Instead of relying on a factory to provide parts, MotoConcepts does what anybody else who is working on a vehicle does when needing a part.
"We pretty much get stuff off the shelf and get the job done," Alessi said.
Genova always hoped that one day his team could compete with the factory guys. Signing Alessi was the step toward realizing that goal.
"You have the dreams, the vision, when you put it all together," Genova said. "This isn't a surprise to us. We felt we had a premiere guy with Mike Alessi."
It probably was not Alessi's dream years ago to be on the outside looking in regarding factory rides. No matter, he has already agreed to return to MotoConcepts next year.
"I'm happy with the team and with the success," said Alessi, who has finished on the podium in five of seven events this summer, including two second-place finishes. "This team is for real. They've proven they can compete with the factory boys at the highest level."
"We knew Mike had it in him," Genova said. "It's been such a fun year because we're such underdogs."