Notice that this column now has a sponsor? That’s right! Troy Dog joined the Blu Cru and you should too! I have one in my garage right now and I can’t wait to go shred it! Thank you to Yamaha for believing in my ELITE columns on this dirt bike website enough to sponsor me. What a dream come true! BTW: Have you seen the all-new YZ450F? OH. MY. GOODNESS. I can’t wait to test that bad boy.
The Troy Dog Squad is growing. I wake up every morning trying to fine tune what we are going to look like in 2023 and beyond. My goal is to create a program that privateers strive to be a part of. A program that goes above and beyond to help the privateer reach that next step. Whether that means giving them publicity to help fans get to know them or something as simple as building them a resume to get more sponsors. Troy Dog is here for you and will help you with whatever you need. In return, my athletes have to become my social media influencers to promote my merchandise that the public will be able to buy soon. However, this Squad is more than just t-shirts, hats, and social media. The team is a family. I will go to bat for you to help you in any way that I can.
The team roster is changing a bit in 2023. Around two weeks ago I locked in my first new addition to the team. This man rides for the AEO Powersports KTM Racing team, received the Privateer Power Award at Spring Creek, and has finished the last three rounds 11-12-12 in the 250MX overall standings. Everyone, please welcome Derek Kelley to the Troy Dog Squad! Below I have listed five reasons why I chose him to be an ELITE Athlete. I have 99 more reasons why, but Slaw Dog said that 5 was the magic number so here we are.
I Believe in Him
Plain and simple, if you’re chosen to be on my team, then I believe in your abilities one hundred percent. I see talent. I know who has speed and I know who has skill. All of my handpicked athletes fit this mold. In our talks, Kelley told me that he hired a mental coach this season and that has truly helped turn his program around. He believes in his ability and I do too. Ever since supercross, his results have stood out, however it was his lap times in practice that truly put him on the map for me. He’s got his sprint laps down and now that is turning into consistency in his results. I’m looking forward to watching how far in the results he can climb because I have a feeling this is only the beginning.
On the Rise
If you take a look at Kelley’s past results, you’ll see a steady climb from when he turned pro at Hangtown in 2019 to Unadilla this past weekend. He spent five rounds that 2019 Summer on the 450 and then started 2020 in the 250 class. He had top twenty speed on a JMC Husqvarna that Summer finishing in the top 15 twice in SX and he really put it together at the season finale at Pala that Summer with a 15th overall. In 2021 he was on an AJE GASGAS ride in supercross with his best finish 11th at Atlanta 3. That Summer he pitted out of the TPJ rig on a GASGAS and had some standout rides including four 14th place moto finishes and a 12-14 day at Hangtown for 13th overall as his best ride. He was building. He signed with AEO Powersports KTM Racing for this season and he’s been on a new level. Kelley finished 13th overall in the 250SX West Region that included three top ten finishes and an eighth being his best. This Summer he’s sitting fourteenth in points and he’s also the top privateer in a very stacked class. Kelley was able to grab his first top ten Moto finish at Thunder Valley And I know he will break into the top ten overall before this season is over.
He Let’s the Results Talk
I don’t know Kelley too well yet, but so far it seems like he’s a laid back personality with his head into the game at all times. He mentioned when we talked that he was excited to get some help with photos and content for social media. He stays busy on the track, so I can try to build up his hype train. If he keeps killing it and putting in these incredible rides then we are going to have a great run together.
Indoor and Outdoor Skills
I noticed that we needed to fill a void on our team. With Starling our 450SX guy and Harlan doing 450MX, we don’t have anyone to run our brand in the 250 class. I understand the 250 class is harder for privateers to break into the front of the pack with the 70 factory bikes out there. However, I feel like I hit this out of the ballpark with Kelley. He can do well in supercross and motocross and carry the flag for us in the 250 division. Also, he’s knocking on the door of his first ever top ten overall, and in the 250 class. That’s no easy task!
He’s Excited to Run My Brand
I want people that are going to be excited to run my brand, just as much as I’m excited for them to run my brand. Hey, Troy Dog, say excited again. Excited. The plan was to have Kelley’s Squad starter pack out to him by Unadilla, but we run a loose program here and I’m still waiting on his shirt to get here. We will get there when it’s time. He told me he couldn’t wait to get the shipment in the mail, so I’ll take that as a W. I’m excited to see how this story unfolds with Kelley and I’m here to help him out however I can. Now, if we could just come up with a cool dog name for him…