Kyle Chisholm has had an outstanding 2022 season in both the 450 and 250 classes in arguably one of the most competitive Supercross seasons in years. And at the age of 34, he just keeps learning, getting faster, often beating factory riders and many of the young guns in the sport. We recently caught up with Kyle to ask him about his 2022 Supercross season and what's next for Team Chiz.
EVS Sports: Kyle, what a Supercross season you've had this year, both 450 and 250. Congrats on that! Tell us about how the year has been from your perspective.
Kyle Chisholm: Yeah, thank you. It's been good. It's been busy, that's for sure. But all good things. This is my third year doing my own team and my own program with some support from Yamaha, so that's what we started with. I was pitting and going to the races with the Rock River team. They would take my bikes, and I was part of the team but still on my own. I know Mike DuClos, the owner of Rock River, pretty well, so we wanted to work together even though I was doing my own thing. We decided, 'hey, let's join together.' He had a couple of 250 guys on his program, but he said to me, 'hey, come with us, you can pit out of our truck, and we can work together a little bit.' So that was the plan going into the start of the season. It started off a little rough, around New Year's, just before Anaheim 1. I got—I like to say—an elbow injury, but I really woke up one morning with my elbow bugging me. Long story short, tennis elbow, which sounds stupid, but it's just another term for the top of your elbow and outside of your elbow, like tendonitis and inflammation of the tendons. My grip strength on my left side was super weak, so I wasn't able to ride for a couple of weeks going into Anaheim.
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So at Anaheim 1, it was tough to ride, and I was just getting over being sick, which took a toll on me. I was tired and drained on top of dealing with my elbow and being off the bike for a few weeks. So Anaheim 1 was rough. I just missed out on making the Main, and it was really a bummer because I had a good offseason. I was on the Yamaha again for the third year in a row with basically the same bike, which was nice. I was able to put in a lot of training and not have to spend too much time getting the bike dialed in; it was pretty much good to go. So it was a bummer, the very first race starting like that. I got a cortisone injection in my elbow that helped quite a bit, and I was able to start riding during the week after a few weeks.
But yeah, aside from Anaheim 1 being a little rough, coming in there a little banged up and sick, within a week or two, I got back to where I felt in the offseason. I've just been working my way up, closer and closer in the Mains, top 20, top 15, top 12, and then just recently a top 10 with an 8th at Atlanta on my 450. So it's been good. My whole program's been good. All my sponsors, I call them my 'Team Chiz sponsors,' have been awesome to work with.
EVS: Tell us about the Star Yamaha 250 fill-in ride. That has really gone well for you, with the high point being St. Louis, where you finished 4th with 4-4-3 Mains, almost on the podium—at 34 years old!
KC: Unfortunately, all the factory Star Racing Yamaha 250 East Coast guys got hurt at the second round. I've known Bobby Reagan a long time, and he called me up and was like, 'Kyle, I need a rider. I really want you to come and ride our bike and do the rest of the East Coast 250 races for me.' I think everyone wants to ride a Star Yamaha 250, which is arguably the best 250 out there. So when I got that phone call, I immediately jumped on the phone with all my personal sponsors, and they were all super gracious and understanding to let me take that opportunity for the East Coast 250 races.
For me, it was not about leaving all my sponsors and taking this opportunity, but more of a temporary hold on some of my sponsors while I do these 250 races. When those weren't going on, when it's West Coast or beyond Supercross, I'm still with all my personal sponsors, so they were all super awesome to work with and supportive. I'm really thankful to all of them for allowing me to take that opportunity without jeopardizing or ruining any of those relationships. They're all great companies I work with and choose to work with when doing my own program. They were all great about it, and it's been amazing.
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The bike is probably better than everybody thinks. It's an amazing bike to ride. It was definitely tough at first, hopping on a 250, but I almost had a podium at St. Louis after a week or two. I've been getting better and better on it. To be battling for a podium overall, finishing 4th with a podium in one of the Mains where I went 4-4-3 with it being the Triple Crown, battling upfront for a podium every race was just awesome. And to have that support of that team and the opportunity on that bike, with the work I put in, putting those things together was really awesome to see.
We have another one coming up in Foxboro, and I will be trying to get up on the podium and battle up front again. So yeah, it's been steadily a great season, a lot of work, a lot of preparation met with opportunity and blessing to show what I'm capable of doing on the 450 with my own program and on the 250 with the Star Yamaha Team. I've been feeling good, working hard, and really enjoying what I'm doing.
EVS: You're one of those riders that everyone in the sport seems genuinely happy for you when you do well. Having that opportunity with Star Yamaha at 34 years old and almost getting a podium in a 250 class filled with young talent had to be a great feeling.
KC: Yeah, it's definitely awesome, and as I said, I'm just thankful for the opportunity. Growing up, I didn't spend a lot of time on 250. I moved up pretty early in my career. I never really had a shot on a factory 250, and not a lot on a 450 either. I've done this a long time now at this point in my career. I know just about everyone in the pits, and it comes naturally. I mean, I love racing. I love being at the races and putting in the work during the week.
Being around for as long as I have and at my age, I think maybe naturally some respect comes with that, at least I hope, and honestly, I'd rather be respected by my peers than liked by them or whatever. To be respected and for people to just genuinely be happy for me for that opportunity it's awesome, and I don't take that for granted by any means, and I'm thankful for that.
I think that comes with a lot of hard work over the years, sticking it out, and persevering when it would have been easy to give up a lot of times in my career. But for me, it's always been 'I love what I do,' and I believe in myself and want to work hard and enjoy it. With that comes opportunity, and as I said, this opportunity was given to me, and I'm trying to make the most of it and enjoy it.
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EVS: As you said, you're in your third year of running your own race team and your third year on a Yamaha. How has the team management been going for you? Are you racing Supercross-only again this year, or will you be doing some outdoor nationals, and what are the chances of adding a couple more riders to your team roster at some point?
KC: I've done my own team program with support from Yamaha for three years now with great personal sponsors that have had my back for a long time. I haven't changed many sponsors for a while, and everybody that knows and follows me, I hope, can see that they are all great sponsors. That's the enjoyable thing to me with doing my own program. Yes, it's a lot more work for me. I have to wear many hats and deal with a lot of stuff other than just riding and training. But the benefit to that is working with and choosing which companies I want to work with. Building those relationships has been great. Like I said, three years of pretty much 99% of all the same sponsors.
Looking towards the future a little bit further, I'm working to build it into more of a real team. I'd love to race as long as I want to and turn it into my own race team. I'm going to own it, manage it, be a coach for the riders, whatever kind of avenue it leads to. I'd love to have a couple of other riders on the team with me, and with that, try to get a little bit of funding and some more sponsor stuff in the works to support a couple more riders.
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I've been working on building my program, and we're working on trying to bring in a couple of big sponsors. There are definitely a lot of irons in the fire right now. I'm working on stuff for next year, and we're hoping that some of those things will work out and expand to a few more riders and keep upping the support and making the program better. I'd love to be the owner or part-owner of the team and get out there coaching and helping and mentoring some of the younger riders, helping with my experience and knowledge. It's something I would like to do.
So we're working on that and trying to build it into next year and the future. Even week to week, we're trying to make it better and better and continue to build relationships and start new relationships with outside sponsors and inside sponsors in the industry.
As far as the outdoors goes, nothing is set in stone. I'm sure you'll see me at a few. I can't sit at home for that long. I love racing too much and would miss it. But it's tough to do outdoors right. I lacked a little bit of the budget this year to do it right, like how I would want to do it. So that makes it tough. But I do enjoy it, and after I watch a couple of races, I'll be like, 'alright, which one am I going to race?' So I'm sure I'll be at a few like I've done the last few years. In the meantime, I'll just work on everything for next year to build the program bigger and better.
EVS: A few riders have started to bring up the idea of racing the new World Supercross Championship. With that series starting soon, it will be a way for riders like you to extend their careers. Any thoughts about racing that series in the future?
KC: Yeah, I've actually submitted a team. The way they're doing it is, they're taking ten teams, and that's all they're going to take. I've heard they've had over 50 potential teams submit, so they're in the elimination process to narrow it down to ten, is what we were told. I've submitted my own team for the World Supercross stuff, hoping that comes through. It would be awesome to get the ball rolling earlier than originally planned. But yeah, that's actually in the works, and I hope that comes through. If not, I've reached out to a couple of other submitting teams to let them know if my team is not approved, I'd love to be a part of that series. So yeah, I'm trying to be a part of it one way or another.
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EVS: One last question before we let you go. This year has been a special season for you, with great finishes, the Star Yamaha fill-in ride, and overall good vibes. Would you say that's been the case?
Yeah, for sure, it's been really enjoyable. I just have been having a lot of fun. I'm enjoying where I'm at in life and my career. Racing and getting older obviously sucks, but it happens to everybody, and it really puts it into perspective for me what I get to do and helps me appreciate it more and not take it for granted. I know it's not going to last forever, so getting older and seeing it from that perspective allows me to enjoy it more. Even the stressful times, the days I'm not feeling that great or things aren't going that well, I think to myself, 'it's still awesome, look what I'm doing, I'm still able to enjoy the good times and the tough days.' Since about 2019, when I was on the HEP Suzuki Team, and since I've been back on the Yamaha, building my own program has probably been some of my best years in recent memory. I've been on a steady progression the last three to four years, and I'm thankful for that. I enjoy putting in the work. I enjoy racing. I enjoy every aspect of what I get to do. That's where I'm at.