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 HEP Motorsports team accomplished one of the biggest feats in motorsports on Saturday night in Indianapolis. Ken Roczen pulled the holeshot and led wire to wire with a hard charging Justin Barcia on his heels. “Kickstart Kenny” had done it. He checked off his 21st Supercross main event win and HEP’s first ever win as a team. This was a huge accomplishment for everyone who has been involved in this team’s journey since its inception in 2018. It was also a dream come true for team owner Dustin Pipes.
I first met Dustin in 2010 at the Oak Hill Amatuer National in Texas. He was riding the A/Pro Sport classes that week, but at that time we really didn’t even talk about racing. It was my second amateur race that I had covered for this website. I actually met him through Tyler Bereman, who I had befriended earlier that week. They were on their way to eat dinner at Jessy Nelson’s RV and invited me along. We all had a great time that night and we were just a bunch of kids at the time. I have stayed in contact with Pipes since. I was there when he turned professional at Unadilla in 2010. I saw him make his first main event at Indy in 2015. And through it all I’ve always made sure to get him some press. For those of you that don’t know him, he has a great sense of humor, but he’s also very calculated. You never know what he’s going to do next.
I remember he got my wife and I passes for St. Louis in 2012. It was last minute and he made it happen for us. I also remember at Indy in 2012 that he was parked in the back of the pits with his mechanic and his father Aaron. It was freezing that day. They had the van on to stay warm and he would make jokes about how weird I was for living in the Midwest. He’s a Cali kid, so at the time he wasn’t used to it, but he’s better about it now with two plush and heated semi’s.
That’s the story with Pipes. He’s come from the privateer in a van to a 450SX winning team owner. Yes, he’s had plenty of help over the years getting this operation here, but he was there every step of the way hiring the personnel and riders. His father Aaron deserves every bit of this as well. He’s a great guy and despite all of my hijinks over at their semi over the years he hasn’t said a word to me about any of it. Seeing them all taking photos with that trophy on Saturday night was very special and I’m just an outsider looking in. Yes, I’ve checked in (maybe a little too much at times) with the team over the years, but these guys live this every day. I can joke all I want that I’m the team’s good luck charm, but these guys didn’t luck into anything. It’s like a big chess board with every move being a big decision on the team’s future.
Getting the most globally known athlete in the sport in Ken Roczen was a huge step to bring their program to another level this season. However, the team didn’t stop there. They signed Kyle Chisholm to a two-year deal and is leading the charge on bike development/testing. Then to put a cherry on top of the sundae they hired Larry Brooks as team manager. HEP also invested in another semi this year. It’s also interesting to note that HEP/Pipes Motorsports Group is one of the few teams competing in SuperMotocross and the World Supercross Championship. The team is on a rapid rise of growth and with all of their investments, this is only the beginning of their success.
Hats off to the team on all of their success. It’s rare that this sort of underdog story happens, but the team is now officially here and ready for the next goal.
Main image: Chase Lennemann/HEP Suzuki
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