Disse seeing more 'green' in his MotoCross future
Local motocross racer Max Disse's future is looking greener these days.
In addition to securing a much coveted factory ride from Kawasaki's Team Green, Disse and brother Neil are venturing to greener venues to train over the winter for motocross.
After riding since the ages of 4 and 8, respectively, Max and Neil Disse are living their dream right now: Moving to Florida to stay with an uncle, the duo is attempting to hone their riding skills over the winter.
"A lot of riders from southern, warmer climates get to ride all year and keep their edge," noted dad Gary. "It's a little harder to do that up north. That's why we rode at the recent Motokazie's Indoor Motocross event at Red Horse Ranch in January, and why they are going to Florida now."
For Max, a junior in high school, that means also attending school in Florida, riding in the afternoon and going to races on the weekends.
"This is all very new to us. We were approached by Kawasaki at Branson Nationals last year. One of their reps simply came up to me and asked if I was Max's dad: I said yes and the next thing we knew, he got a factory ride," explained Gary Disse.
From starting out on the small bikes, over the years the amateur rider has ridden everything and every brand from a Yamaha PW50 to his recent acquisition, his shiny new KX450F.
As a factory rider, though, Disse now has access to bikes, parts, and maintenance via his new Kawasaki sponsor.
"I am riding a KX250F and a KX450F now," noted Max Disse. "And I am in Florida to train for Nationals this spring and summer."
Brother Neil also purchased similar bikes and is hoping to secure a factory ride as well.
"We have had number of sponsors over the years, but this is a whole new world for us," said Gary Disse.
Traveling to races from Texas to Missouri; Tennessee to Minnesota, Gary Disse noted a variety of local people and businesses that have helped out the pro motocross hopefuls through the years, providing everything from bikes to gas money: Foltz Building, Wheels Incorporated, University Motors, as well as Ron Offutt and Keith McGovern at RDO are just some of the sponsors that have invested in brothers Max and Neil's racing potential, commented Gary Disse.
"Our goal is to turn pro," said Max, something that is in their sights with the support from a big bike company.
Some of their new sponsors include Fiberwise Pasta, EVS, Decal Works and of course, Kawasaki.
"We could not have gotten this far without the support of a lot of different people and especially our mom, dad and whole family really," added Max.
Now perched on a pair of green Kawasakis: a KX250F and a KX450F, just like current American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Supercross points leader Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart, the Disses want to make their way to the pros by placing well at top national amateur competitions, moving up through the amateur circuit just as Villopoto and Stewart have.
"We got the new bikes and the boys rode at Motokazie's Indoor Motocross at the Red Horse Ranch Arena a few weeks ago. We had some great racing, but didn't get to try out the KX450F because of suspension issues," Disse said, explaining that the new bikes were not set up for that kind of track.
"The suspension guys were there and worked on his 250 all day and had it ready by race time, but we ended up just leaving the 450 alone for that race. We didn't want Max bottoming out or getting hurt."
At Red Horse, Max and Neil raced in the 125b class, taking second and third respectively.
"They were flying around the track," said Gary Disse. "The new bikes really have some power. Max is excited to be able to ride the new 450 some more down in Florida."
With the factory ride comes a new level of support and an expectation to do well at national amateur events such as the Grand Nationals at Ponca City, Okla., MX Nationals at Branson, Mo., and the grand daddy of all amateur motocross competitions, Loretta Lynn's, where the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships are held amongst the country singing icon's ranch in Hurricane Hills, Tenn.
"We did well at Ponca City and Branson last year, and are looking to place in the top 10 or top five at Loretta Lynn's this year," said Max Disse.
Loretta Lynn's, home to the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, is set to take place July 30 through August of this year. To qualify for national amateur competition, riders need to place in the top five in a regional championship race. The Disses will attempt to qualify for Loretta Lynn's at home, during a North Central Area Qualifier to be held at the Little Falls Raceway on April 14-15.
"I told the boys to take their shot and try to make the pros. I gave them two years to try to make it happen," said Gary Disse. "After that, Max has expressed interest in the Military."
Brother Neil is also hoping to make it to the pros, but spent most of last year recovering from an injury, said Gary Disse. He's just now getting back into racing top form.
"Neil broke a bone in his wrist last year, one of the hardest bones in your body," explained Gary Disse. "So he missed most of last year.
"He is hoping for the shot at pro career as well and is now ready to race," Gary added.
With five boys and two girls, dirtbike racing has been truly a family affair, with the family spending many an afternoon together at races and in the garage maintaining their fleet of bikes.
"All my boys have ridden over the years; now the oldest ones do it more for fun than competitively, but it is just the greatest family activity," explained Gary Disse. "We got into riding when our oldest was about 16, and our girls when they are home from college still come to races to cheer their brothers on."
Like with most families that frequent these races, he added, the Disses keep racing, even though it can be expensive at times, because it is a great family activity.
"It is a very fun sport to watch and participate in," he continued.
"It keeps kids out of trouble and we always knew where our kids were and what they were doing. The families that go to these events are great too," said Gary.
Now with the boys stationed in Florida and on their own, training down south, the Disses are entering untested waters in their racing careers, as Kawasaki begins to pick up more of their bike, parts and maintenance expenses. But as an amateur, Max can't yet be paid for his riding efforts. That comes when and if he turns pro.
"I will go to school in the morning and ride in the afternoon," Max said. "I've been on bike since I was 4. Turning pro has always been my dream, and what we are working for this winter in Florida."