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!
Nuclear Blast/Team Solitaire is one of the coolest teams in the sport. We’ve written about them a lot over the past couple of years, but they keep doing cool things that need to be written about. Their rider, Robbie Wageman (#69 for two consecutive seasons by the way), absolutely crushed it this season in the 250SX West Region. Well, instead of tooting their own horn about this, Team Solitaire went about it in a different way. They decided to call out the factory teams and shame them into not talking to Wageman for the 2023 season. I’m here for this.
Chris Elliott and Ryan Clark co-operate the team and both take on the role of Team owner/manager, but as Elliott said about job titles, “We aren’t that fancy.” They are partners (he guesses), but as it stands Elliott said, “Fun fact about smaller teams, all you own is a bank account that goes empty every May.” This truly puts the team in their own hierarchy of coolness for me anyway and it should for you too. It’s a passion project and the team enjoys taking riders and giving them a great bike to take that next step in their career.
Now the boys are heckling the factory teams in hopes that Wageman gets that chance. The results were great this season, He finished ninth overall in the 250SX West behind five factory riders and four others who’s teams had a larger budget. Wageman had seven top ten finishes this season including a season high of 7th, 8th (twice), 9th (twice), 10th (twice). It was Wageman’s best season of his young career and a great building block for 2023.
I’ve never actually seen a team try to push their rider to another team so openly. Usually they want to keep the rider with the great results to themselves, but Team Solitaire is built differently. “Either he goes to a factory team or we keep the party going,” Elliott said. So, either way Wageman is back with his former team for a third season even if he doesn’t get the chance with factory equipment.
Results are great and all, but Robbie brings much more to the table. Elliott said that a couple of his favorite qualities of Wageman are that he has an incredible vibe and that his family is rad to deal with. Both of these qualities are always important to a team, so take notes youngsters because if your vibe is trash or your family or girlfriend is psycho, no team will want that around. So, be cool ya’ know?
Anyway, I just felt that we should take time and relish in how differently Team Solitaire does things. They want FACTORY teams to take their riders to another level and they aren’t afraid to troll them on social media about that. What would make the sport a lot better is if the factory teams started to troll them back like big corporations on Twitter/Instagram have been doing. The fans dig the comradery and it’s a win-win for both brands even if the Factory team doesn’t have that rider in their plan. I think more teams should take on Team Solitaire’s marketing mindset, but they won’t. After all, there can be only one Team Solitaire and they are amazing at what they do.
Main image: Nuclear Blast/Team Solitaire