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 this summer! Thank you to Yamaha for believing in my ELITE columns on this dirtbike website enough to sponsor me. What a dream come true!
If you aren’t familiar with Twisted Tea/HEP Suzuki’s team co-owner/manager/once privateer hero Dustin Pipes, then you need to do some research. This man once saved me from FOR SURE starvation at an amateur national back in the day. Then later on through his career, I made sure to give him so much exposure to make up for it. Well, it turns out, he gives me the scoops now before anyone else and we talk quite a bit. For this week’s Takes column I gave him a few topics and let him give me his opinion on some things. The Twisted Tea/HEP team is hitting some milestones this season and it’s been cool to watch the team grow since their inaugural season in 2018.
On 2022 Progression
“We go into every year trying to figure out how we can have continued growth. For Justin [Bogle] and Brandon [Hartranft] that was investing in the parts that we have with the team, our partnerships, as well as our staff too. We’re constantly trying to find the right formula that gets us to the next level. We’ve brought in some very good guys, staffwise, and that’s improved our base package of the dirt bike as well as improved the rider’s confidence out on the track. The main thing for us is just, how can we tweak it enough to where we are going to see that progression. We’re always trying to fine tune what we’re doing and I think that’s why you’re seeing what you see this year. Suzuki has stepped up a lot too and they are revved up to get going again. I feel like they are a little forgotten still and not many people know that they won MotoGP a few years ago. They are still really big into racing, it’s in their DNA, and I think there are some pretty cool things getting ready to be ramped up for the future.”
On Team Milestones
“As a team owner, I believe [the top ten] that’s where we belong now. That’s where the expectation is now. It was a big thing for us to get both riders into the top ten. Now it’s like, well, how do we do it again? At Indy the guys rode great, but we had a guy fall in the main and we didn’t get the results that we wanted. Then this week we worked with the guys and found parts that they liked and improved going into Seattle. As a team, as much as you want to sit back and relish in the progress that you made, this is racing and everyone fights for every inch. We want to one day compete for wins and get to that level. We’re just trying to improve to get there. We don’t really look back on those nights, other than having a few Twisted Teas. It’s really awesome that we have a title sponsor that lets us have a little fun. It’s a good time in our pits.”
On Both Riders in Opening Ceremonies
“For me, it was a little different, because I probably haven’t seen opening ceremonies in five years or so. I don’t ever watch that. It was a little different going into the stadium at six, rather than just for the heats. I thought it was pretty cool that the first time that the team was in it was with Brandon. Just to see the progression that he has made this year, compared to last year. I mean this year he’s competing for the top ten in points, which is something that at the end of SX last year we thought we would never be in that position. To see his growth and maturity in the class, and his belonging, it’s been pretty awesome to see. For him to be in this position, it shows how hard he has been working, and he’s just a really good kid. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. He’s going to be here for a few more years and we’re pumped on Brandon. It’s awesome.”
On the Future of HEP
“We’re not going to be happy until we win a championship. I don’t know if that is next year or ten years from now, but I know that that’s our continued goal. We know that we have a long way to go, but we think we’re a lot closer than people realize. There is definitely a hunger and drive there for us. We have more long term goals rather than short term goals, so we don’t look at it as a season to season basis, we look at it as in 3-5 year blocks at what we want to accomplish. I know that the end result that we want to get to is to be a race winning team. We’re going to do that on and off of the track. Whether it’s how we represent our sponsors, to how we go about things, everything that we’re doing now is to hopefully get to that place. That’s how I see the potential of this team and that’s what we’re going to strive for.”
Main image: Suzuki