It’s time we gave Derek Kelley some love on this very cool dirt bike website that I CEO. To be honest this column is overdue because the guy has been crushing it all 2022. In the past couple of weeks he’s been given some love on Racer X and the MotoXpod Show as well, but now it’s time for me to Salt Bae this kid’s story. I’m serving up this column in my style, which is totally different from any other media outlets in the sport, that’s for sure.
I reached out to D Kelley last week in between Thunder Valley and High Point and got some great insight and I broke it down for you below. Did you know that he’s originally from Idaho, but moved to California when he was 11? Yeah, you’re welcome. That’s ELITE journalism. They moved for his father’s job and the racing benefit just came with it.
Here are some other insights on Kelley and his breakout season.
His Improvement in 2022
Kelley has taken a leap this season in regards to his overall finishes as well as his qualifying times. He told me that it has a lot to do with putting together the whole package this year with his really good AEO Powersports KTM and the solid people on his team. While that sounds like a cliche answer, Kelley isn’t messing around. He also has a bike coach, Jay Whipple, and a mental performance coach that he’s been working with this season. He uses Moti/Mindset Development to, “Work out the kinks mentally to get over mistakes and really look at what I need to get to the next level.”
On Racing Offroad
Kelley said that he had a pretty serious injury while riding supercross in 2016 and that he took eight months off from riding. When he did come back he did a couple of off-road races and the SLR Honda team offered him a ride. “It was definitely a great learning experience and fun to mix it up after years of amateur moto. It just ended up not being a good fit for me at the time and I always wanted to race pro MX/SX, so I went that direction,” Kelley said.
His First MX Top Ten
Like a true racer, Kelley said it felt pretty awesome to run with the top ten, but he’s also not satisfied yet. “I feel like I still have a long way to go before I’m where I can be,” Kelley said.
Racing for AEO Powersports KTM
“The team is brand new this year,” Kelley said. “We don’t have a ton of testing that we can do, but they work really hard on getting the bike to a point where I’m able to be comfortable and ride to my potential. The owner of the team Jeremy (Scism), also owns AEO Powersports, as well as REP suspension, which is probably the best suspension available to the public.” The team is IN for the entire outdoor season.
Fast Laps and How to Put in the Heaters
I have really been impressed by Kelley’s practice laps. He is consistently up in the top ten and the speed is very obvious. Kelley has put in the work with his bike coach, Jay Whipple, with a lot of sprints during the week before the Supercross season. He said it really helped him feel comfortable pushing the envelope. “It’s something that I struggled with last year, not being able to go super fast without any mistakes,” Kelley said. “If I could give one pointer it would probably be to try and stay as relaxed as you can as well as not rushing stuff.” There you have it folks, now you TOO can put in top ten practice times thanks to Mr. Derek Kelley.
Thanks for reading my column. If you have a question or want to chat, hit me up at [email protected] or @troydogvurb on Instagram/Twitter.
Main image: @j_reedphotos