Troy Dog spent the weekend in Indy with the Twisted Tea/Progressive Insurance/ECSTAR HEP Motorsports Suzuki team. Then the team went out and won its first 450 main event EVER as Ken Roczen captured a dramatic victory over Justin Barcia. Coincidence? We think not.
This is HEP Suzuki’s sixth season as a professional team and they end up as winners! The team proved all of the naysayers wrong on how “outdated the bike is,” kept working hard and delivered. Ken Roczen brought another Suzuki team their first win. To be honest I haven’t seen a rider get congratulated after a win like that since Justin Brayton at Daytona. Almost half of the field stopped to give him a hug and the crowd was going absolutely insane. I haven’t seen the crowd that loud at Indy in over ten years. It was a cool moment for the sport. Kenny taking his kickstarter up on the podium and Barcia joking about putting one on his bike was the icing on the cake. This is one of the coolest stories in a long time. The team that was counted out are now well deserved winners.
I’ve written this before and I’ll have a deeper dive later this week about it (sorry not sorry, it’s HEP WEEK!), but a quick bit of praise for the HEP team owner Dustin Pipes. Obviously HEP is a group of owners with George Holland and another who prefers to be more behind the scenes. Yet, Pipes has been the backbone of getting sponsors, riders, and building the team up every year. His dad Aaron has been there every step of the way too. Pipes has been loyal to the Suzuki brand since he was an amateur and he delivered them a win with Ken Roczen. You can’t take that away from him!
One of the things I really enjoyed watching this weekend was the unity on this team. Everyone was in a great mood, making jokes here and there, and just bringing positive energy. The team has two trucks. The Twisted Tea side that has Chisholm, McElrath, and Brandon Hartranft (get well soon, we’re still thinking about you). The other side is the Progressive side, which houses Roczen, Dilan Schwartz, and Marshal Weltin. No matter what semi you are at, the team is in unison and helping one another out. I noticed that the riders were happy to give one another a hard time and for the most part were having a great time. They all said they wished that they were riding better in practice, but despite the frustrations, everyone ended up having a pretty great night.
This weekend was the first time that I had the chance to get to meet and talk to Shane McElrath. To be honest, you’re going to hear more from him because he and I got along great. He wasn’t afraid to go along with my ideas and played along flawlessly. At one point he had Weltin and I confused because we weren’t sure if he even knew who I was or what I was doing there for the team. Weltin brought up whether or not he was going to make the Vurb Power Rankings this week and Shane was confused, but also gave us this weird smile where he was joking. Sugar Shane is legit.
The Importance of Chiz
My longtime buddy Kyle Chisholm has been racing Supercross since 2006 and he’s found a good home with the HEP team here. He’s the team’s biggest source for testing and this win was big for him as well. Without him putting in motos until nightfall and putting in the laps all offseason until now, does this win happen this soon? Maybe, maybe not. Chiz talked the team into hiring on his longtime suspension guy Matt Andruk of Active Ride Suspension and that has proven a big difference for the team. Everyone was chanting “MATT” after the race at the semi. It was a big night for the team all around. I still think that it’s so cool that Kyle’s dad Gary was still at the race helping out his boy. How cool is that?
Main image: Suzuki
Thats so unreal im happy 4 all the Twisted Tea team members and riders