As a journeyman motocross racer, Kyle Chisholm works hard to balance his career and livelihood as a professional motocross racer and team manager with day-to-day life as a husband and father supporting his family. After completing the 2021 Supercross Series, we asked Kyle for his take on his SX season, how he balances racing and family obligations, and what’s in store for Team Chiz in the future.
EVS: Kyle, congrats on your Supercross season. Despite one of the deepest fields in recent history, you made 14 of the 17 Main Events in the 2021 series in the 450 class. From our perspective, it seems like a successful season. What are your thoughts on your season?
Kyle Chisholm: Thank you! I was definitely pleased with the season I had, especially considering the level and depth of the 450 class. Of course, I always want to do better and always be improving, but I felt like where I was week in and week out was pretty good. Each week I was up in the battle and beating guys on factory-supported teams, which was awesome.
“… I felt like where I was week in and week out was pretty good. Each week I was up in the battle and beating guys on factory-supported teams, which was awesome.” – Kyle Chisholm
And if it wasn’t for a shoulder injury you picked up at round 14 for Atlanta 2, you probably would have qualified for every main event! Despite the late-season injury, you still came back for the final round and finished out the season 19th overall in the 450 standings.
Yes, it was a bummer when I crashed at the Atlanta 2 race and injured my shoulder. I ended up with an AC separation in my shoulder along with bone bruising and just a bad sprain. While it was a bummer, I was thankful it wasn’t anything worse, and everything else on my body was fine. I landed on a patch of concrete which I think is what made the injury worse than it would have been. But again, I was thankful it wasn’t too serious. I did as much therapy and rehab as possible all day, every day, and while I was not 100% and hadn’t ridden at all, I was still able to go out and race the last round in Salt Lake City. That was really nice to at least finish out the season strong with another top 15, even riding at less than 100%. A big thanks to my shoulder brace from EVS. That brace has saved me and helped me multiple times in my career, and I always keep all of my EVS braces in my bags in case I ever need them. I really wanted to be in every main event this season because, with it being so stacked, that alone would’ve been a great accomplishment. So it was a bummer to miss those couple races but being able to put in a good result at the last round was a cool way to cap off the season.
Now it’s on to the great outdoors and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. What are your goals and expectations for the outdoor series this summer?
I love the motocross championship. It really brings you back to the roots of the sport, especially after riding supercross for the last 7–8 months. As of right now, the Team Chiz program only really had the proper budget for the entire SX season, so I’m not 100% certain of my motocross plans yet. I would love to get out to a few of them, though, so I’m looking at the schedule and trying to make plans to get to a few of the races and go have some fun. If I had to guess, it would be any of the Red Bud, Southwick, Millville, Budd’s Creek, or Ironman rounds. So we will see, but I always plan to do my best when I go to a race. I’d love to go get some top 10s at those. Once I have a plan made, I give myself ample time to prepare as best as possible to go out there and do my best. So hopefully, you’ll see me out there soon. I will announce plans as I know them.
Being a professional motocross racer demands so much from the rider to compete at the highest level, yet you continue to do so year after year. How is it that you balance the demands of being a professional racer with being a husband and a father?
Racing professionally definitely takes a ton of commitment! But as you said, I’m also a husband and a father first. My experience in what it takes to race at the highest level allows me to balance racing and home life. I know what it takes to do the job, so I’m able to make my time count when it’s time to put in the work, and I also am able to turn it off when possible and be a dad and a husband. It’s very tough, but I love what I do, and I try to show a good example of hard work, chasing your dreams, and having a passion for what you do to my kids and my family. I hope they see that, and it instills that character for my kids. I want it to show them that they can do anything they want to do in life as long as they are willing to have the work ethic and passion for whatever they choose. It’s tough sometimes, but I do my best with it all, and I’m thankful I get to wear all of those hats.
“It’s very tough, but I love what I do, and I try to show a good example of hard work, chasing your dreams, and having a passion for what you do to my kids and my family.” – Kyle Chisholm
On top of all that, you manage your own race program, which means you organize everything from team sponsors to travel arrangements to expenses and bike maintenance. How do you find enough time in a day?
Yes, this is probably the toughest part of all. Running and managing my entire program is very time-consuming. I wouldn’t say it’s super hard work, but just time-consuming work. Which if you had plenty of time, it isn’t a problem (laughs). But when you do wear all of those hats, it’s tough to fit it all in. I love the management aspect of running the team. I love the coordinating and managing and decision-making part of it. It makes it very sweet when you have success. So while it’s a lot of work and is basically non-stop, it’s also rewarding at times too. A typical day for me is helping get the kids up and ready for their day with my wife, send whatever emails need to be sent that day, plan any calls I need to make for the day, and then I’m off to go ride. I’ll make any phone calls I can on the way, or I’ll do some self-development on my drive listening to podcasts and things like that. Once I’m at the track, I try to concentrate on my riding since it takes your full attention. On my way home, I’m again on the phone or trying to better myself listening to podcasts. Once home, I hang out with the kids for a bit before cleaning my stuff up and getting whatever workout in for that day. Dinner and bed with the kids, and then follow up on emails from the day.
Changing directions a little, you have one of the most unique personal sponsors: pro golfer Rickie Fowler. You even had a picture of his face on your radiator shrouds this year! Tell us more about your relationship with Rickie and how he supports you and your team.
Yes, I’ve had Rickie’s face on my bike all season (laughs). So I’ve been friends with Rickie and his whole family for about 10 years now. The whole Fowler family are great people. Rickie’s dad still rides frequently and loves our sport. Rickie wanted to help me a little bit for a while now, and it’s very appreciated. Any time I’ve run my own program, he’s always wanted to help me out. As I said, they are huge fans of our sport. Being friends, I think it’s a way to help a friend out with doing my own racing team and a way for him to give a little back to a sport he grew up doing and loves. So he doesn’t really have a product to sell or advertise, and usually, we put his website on my bike. But this year, he was jokingly saying it would be funny to put his face on my bike. I thought so too, and my graphic guys over at Backyard Designs made it happen. Rickie was surprised when I actually did it at first (laughs) since it started as a joke. But I think it was cool and different, and why wouldn’t you put a PGA golfer’s face on your bike (laughs)!
Beyond this season, what are the long-term goals of Team Chiz? Any plans to expand your presence in the pits with a few more riders under the Team Chiz tent in 2022 or beyond? Where do you see yourself in 2-3 years?
Great question! In 2020 I also did my own team program, and this year in 2021, it grew a little bit again. I teamed up with a guy named Mike, who’s been around the pro pits for a few years now. He has a really nice semi, and he and his family made the trips around the series. His boys also race, but they’re younger at the amateur level right now. So it was a good match for us. His goal was to start a race team, and with his position and what I needed to go racing, it was a perfect match for both of us. We just went into the year with the goal of working together to create a successful program, look good, and build from there. I feel like we definitely accomplished that with some good results, beating a few of the other well-supported teams and looking the part in the pit area. So now we’re focused on building on that momentum and getting more support from an OEM and sponsors. We also would like to add at least another rider to the team for 2022. So we are currently working on the program for next year and actively looking for a title sponsor. We’re excited about it and have had some really good conversations with people so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can put together for next year!
“… we’re focused on building on that momentum and getting more support from an OEM and sponsors. We also would like to add at least another rider to the team for 2022.” – Kyle Chisholm
You’ve experienced a lot in your career. What are a few of your favorite moments that stand out as career achievements or highlights that you will always cherish?
I’ve seen a lot in my career. Lots of ups and downs and everything in between. Winning the Paris (Bercy) SX back a while ago and winning championships and races in Canada are always great moments to remember. I really enjoyed my childhood traveling and racing with my family. Having my dad by my side these last couple of years has been great memories that I know I’ll cherish forever! Of course, all of the good finishes and top 5s and multiple near podiums that I’ve had are all great days that I still remember well. But more recently, just seeing where I stack up on the all-time starts list is something I never thought to even care about but now looking at it all is really something to be happy about! The fact that I’ve raced at this level for this long and I’m on a list next to some legends of this sport is incredible! I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to do this for so long!
Kyle, thank you for your time and for being a positive role model for aspiring racers. Everyone at EVS Sports wishes you nothing but the best.
No problem! I love doing these and letting the fans hopefully get to know me a little bit more! Of course, all of you guys at EVS Sports are so great to work with and make so many great products that help me be out there every week and do it safely — even when dealing with injuries like I had in Atlanta this year. You guys keep me out there! So thank you guys very much! I love working with a great company like EVS, and more importantly, great people and the best products!
Interview by Dale Spangler