A weekly dose of Five Tasty Tidbits from five individuals from the motocross world.
Josh Gray – Shades of Gray Custom Helmet Painting
Vurbmoto: Can you explain how you got into painting and how your skills/techniques have evolved?
Josh Gray: I used to draw and sketch all the time when I was younger, a family friend and former teacher of my parents took notice and had me fly out to LA to work with a graffiti artist for a week learning the basics of airbrushing, that’s pretty much where it all started. Everything other than the basic techniques of airbrushing I have taught myself through lots of trial and error over the years. Every time I think I’m getting close to mastering my techniques there is always something more to learn and try with every helmet I paint.
When you do a fully custom paint job, do you prefer to have a ton of specific details about what the rider wants or is it more fun to get a few concepts and just let your creative juices flow?
I considered myself an old school painter/artist. The true artists of the helmet painting world can take a blank helmet and ideas and then run with it. To me this guaranties not only an original piece but a one-of-a-kind custom paint job. The best part about not really having a proof or print to look of is that you can really get creative. The best paint jobs come from getting to know the rider/racer/client and taking their personality and incorporating that into a one-of-a-kind paint scheme for them. All the fun happens when a rider says, “just do your thing.”
Where might readers have seen your work in the past? Who are some of the most notable athletes you’ve done helmets for?
I really came on the scene about 12-13 years ago with a very fast group of local guys here from Missouri who all had a ton of success from amateur nationals, arenacross and supercross. Every time they would win something they would be so pumped on their custom helmets it just started to build up @shadesofgraymx with every race they entered. I’m forever thankful to the Hussey and Gulley families for taking me aboard for supercross and giving me the chance to meet people in the industry. The opportunities that created have honestly been mind blowing. I have worked with so many riders over the years that have all had success in the MX/SX world it’s hard to list them all, but I would say getting to paint for Kevin Windham, Brett Cue, Trey Canard, Phil Smage, skate pro Beaver Fleming, country singer Craig Morgan, and Team Solitaire are all next level fun.
Have you been able to work on any paint jobs that were for a bit of a tribute helmet or have a neat story behind it?
Tribute helmets or theme helmets are my absolute favorite style to work on. When BQ and I started the Road 2 X Games, we would be driving across the country and come up with the craziest themes to paint his helmets. Like he crashes a lot so a caution tape wrapped around the helmet made perfect sense! Recently Team Solitaire/Heartbeat Hot Sauce allowed me to do a tribute to my dad. Everyone knows the military appreciation round every year and my dad served 21 years in the US Air Force. I unfortunately lost my dad in 1998 so he never got the chance to see my dream of becoming a helmet painter in the industry come to life. Being able to do the tribute on the team helmets/bike graphics has been a goal of mine for many years and I am super thankful this was the year to make it happen at Tampa SX to honor him and share that experience with my family.
What would you say are features or techniques that make your work recognizable as a Shades of Gray paint job? How can people get in touch if they’re interested?
When I started painting, I always wanted to stand out. I used lots of neon and bright colors that were highly noticeable at the tracks. I would have camera/video guys capturing my helmets and riders because they would tell me that when the bright helmet went by, they could easily pick it out on camera and stay with the rider. This turned into parents at Loretta’s wanting to spot their kids out there with 40 other riders on the track.
I would have to say loud and bold styles are what my work tends turn out. I like challenges of different designs, but my roots are graffiti/cartoonish style and I still like to keep those roots firmly planted in my work! I paint part time these days after my day job of drywall finisher/interior painter and still occasionally jump on social media:
Facebook: Shades of Gray Custom Paint
Colt Nichols – Factory Honda HRC
Vurbmoto: Colt, you obviously know World Mini IS BACK this year, so I need your best memory or story from World Mini. I assume if you weren’t busy with being a factory Honda HRC 450 rider.
Colt Nichols: Yeah, I’m pumped the World Mini is back. That was a cool race and the spot where I won my first amateur title so I always loved that race.
What’s the dynamic of your friendship with Justin Bogle? You both seem super tight and have been for years.
Yeah, me and Justin are about as close as you get to brothers without being brothers. We have competed against each other since we were like 5 and genuine friends that want the best for each other in life.
What motocross video did you watch way too many times as a kid? When was the last time you watched one?
I watched all the Terrafirma movies, Steel Roots, the Guy Cooper story I wore those films out bad. I watched Terrafirma just a few months ago actually.
What’s been the biggest challenge of moving into the 450 class and what’s the best part about racing for Factory Honda aside from working with Shane Drew?
Biggest challenge is just the class and level of guys it’s a deep field. Getting the bike set up dialed is important and you got to be on point every single weekend to compete but my man Shane has been on it along with the whole team they are top tier and it’s been a dream to be here.
Talon Hawkins – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna
Vurbmoto: Growing up this sport, you must put “turning pro” as the ultimate goal. So now that you’ve arrived, was it all worth it?
Talon Hawkins: Yeah, I’d definitely say the constant grind has been worth it. My parents have sacrificed so much for me in the pursuit of this dream, and it’s so awesome to see it pay off. And while turning pro was my ultimate goal while I was growing up, I’ve learned that I have whole new set of goals now.
What has been the biggest adjustment transitioning into pro supercross?
I think the biggest adjustment I’ve had to get used to the supercross tracks in general. I was supposed to do the Supercross Futures races last year to get my feet wet, but unfortunately tore my ACL just before I was going to start supercross training. Therefore, my first time actually training on a supercross track was this season.
Of all the amateur races you won’t return to until your professional career is done, is there one event you’ll miss the most or one you wish you had another crack at?
I will miss the Moto Playground Spring a Ding race the most. While I only raced it a couple of times, I have to say that race has the perfect mix of serious and fun.
You’ve got some rad teammates. Who’s the class clown, who is captain serious? who is low key really fit?
The class clown award hands-down goes to Jalek Swoll. He never ceases to unleash the mom jokes. Honestly, I don’t think any one person is captain serious on the team. Me and Christian [Craig] have been throwing a football around in between races recently. We all mess around but when the helmet goes on, it’s all business.
What has been your “Rookie Move” moment so far in the pros?
Hands-down my biggest rookie move was crashing twice in the sand in the main event at Tampa. I’ve never ridden sand like that in my life. There’s still sand in my pants from there to this day haha.
Devin Harriman – Supercross Privateer
Vurbmoto: What’s the biggest misconception fans have about being a privateer?
Devin Harriman: Oh man, probably they either assume we make the same amount of money as guys on good teams or that our sponsors pay for everything like our fuel, entry fees and hotels.
Who was your first ever sponsor?
It was a gear company I believe called Wolf Sport haha. I think they were vending at Redmond Arenacross back in the day and my mom asked them if they gave us like 35% off or something.
Who did you race against growing up that was fast but didn’t make it to the bros.
Oh man that’s a tough one because my local races I feel had some heavy hitters that all pretty much made it like Brad Frace, Justin Hill, Chris Alldredge, Matt Bisceglia, along with Landon Currier. That was kind our every weekend crew that was there and I feel like we all have gone pro there’s a couple like Hunter Evans and Bradly Kruger that was with us and they ended up being done before actually going pro and racing and outdoors or SX. Alyas Wardius is another dude that was quick as an amateur and ended up doing a couple outdoor nationals but never ended up chasing it. All those dudes were guys that could have done good in SX/AX/MX.
Bubba Pauli – Supercross team manager and racer
Vurbmoto: What was your amateur career like? At what point did you feel you could go pro?
Bubba Pauli: It was nothing special by any means. I went to Loretta Lynn’s in 2007 in the C class. After that made my way through the B and A classes before turning pro. There was really no point when I felt like I could go pro, it was more of a thing I always wanted to do.
What were some of the hardest lessons to learn as you started your own team?
Post problem probably solving and hard discussions are some of the hardest things that you must learn only from experience. At the end of the day, I’m responsible for everything, and when there’s bad news it can be tough.
Can you give an example? Like firing Karnow or something…
Haha Karnow left us. Firing anyone is hard. Also ending a working relationship with any of our partners is always difficult too. Everything is well thought out and done for a real reason but I definitely lose sleep over those types of things
Did you ever race World Mini? Are you bummed you’re not racing it this year? Vurbmoto is bringing it back.
I never did World Mini as an amateur I never traveled west. We only did the East Coast nationals. That is pretty cool there’s a Vegas race coming back.
Do you foresee yourself going back to race Loretta’s when you’re done with Supercross?
Right now, I don’t have any plans on going back to Loretta’s but that could change once I’m actually done.
What’s your gnarliest story from travelling the series?
Being broke down in Minnesota at -30-degree weather in the middle of the night was probably the scariest.
Main image: Honda HRC