MPG / DAILY BREAD / JANUARY 16, 2017
Words / Image: Lake Kilpatrick
Gared Steinke, affectionately known by his fans and two-stroke enthusiasts alike as ‘Stank Dog’, really made a name for himself when he ran the entire Pro Motocross series last year on a Husqvarna TC125. Although the MotoSport Hillsboro supported, leopard printed two-smoker helped put him in the spotlight, he has been putting in work under the bright lights of AX for multiple years on end. Steinke has finished just inside the top ten in the championship since 2014, even winning a race in the final round of the series in Las Vegas. The California native is looking to pad his resume this year and show everyone that he’s not only a contender for race victories, but he’s also a potential championship contender. We caught up with ‘Stank Dog’ in the doldrums of the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI during the second round of the AMSOIL AX series and talked about what he has planned for the 2017 outdoor season, what sort of privateer pro tips he has for aspiring racers, and his preferred gas station snack.
So, you’ve got quite a bit of experience in AX now. You’ve been on Kawi, KTM, and Husqvarna the past couple years, but you made the decision to hop back on the Kawi for this year. Could you talk a little bit about the switch?
Yeah, y’know, I had the Rockstar Husqvarna ride last year which was great for my career. It definitely helped me to gain sponsors and publicity, for sure. Jumpin’ back on the Kawi feels way better. I’m more comfortable on the Kawi; it’s more of a bike that I like to ride due to the aluminium frame, I believe, versus the steel frame that I was riding last year. But, uhh yeah...just the Kawi feels and rides better on the AX track.
You’re one of the only riders putting together your own program as a rider and a team owner, what’s it like running the show and racing for the MotoSport Hillsboro team?
Yeah, Scott Russell from MotoSport Hillsboro called up Team Green for me and got me two 250fs and two 450s. Me and Scott just put together a program with bikes, he’s been in my corner since I was on 50s, so he’s been a great guy and a great sponsor for my career. We just got it goin’ for AX and he got me the bikes, and I got some other personal sponsors such as Smokebuddy, Truemx, Fly Racing, Motooption, and of course Stuk Graphics...everyone behind me has all helped me out tremendously. Everyone is a big part of the program, for sure.
You’ve finished just inside the top ten in the points in the AX class for three years successively now, what’re your goals for the 2017 season?
I definitely find myself finishing in the top five overall. I’d like to land on the podium and start winning some races here comin’ up quick just to get out there and let everyone know that I’m potentially able to win the championship.
It’s obviously a ways away and your main focus is on the AX series, but do you know what your plans are for outdoors yet? Will you be hopping back on the TC125?
We’re workin’ on the TC125 deal again, for sure. Y’know, that’s kinda what everyone wants to see now, so I pretty much have to do it - whether I want to do it or not, I have to do it now, haha. I enjoy it a lot, ridin’ the TC125 outdoors. I think I could get inside the top ten for sure if I had a 250f - especially a good one - I could for sure do better than I do on the 125. But, I enjoy riding it and it’s a bike that I grew up riding and enjoy riding a lot.
Last year there was a lot of talk about how much of a disadvantage it was racing the two-stroke outdoors, especially throughout the first couple rounds of the season. Where did you feel it gave you advantages over the four-strokes if any?
Yeah, just havin’ the fans behind you is the advantage. Y’know, if you listen to anyone’s interview that ask about the nationals and they’re questioning ‘Stank Dog’ or whatever, they say they’re going around the track on the parade lap, and they hear fans screaming for ‘em thinking it’s for them, and they look over and they see the 125 comin’ by, haha. Austin Forkner mentioned something about it and Justin Hill did, too. So, it’s pretty funny hearing that from the other riders.
Did those same fans screaming their heads off on the sideline really help you kind of push through the pain late in those thirty minute motos?
Yeah, y’know, exactly. They’re just as crazy from lap one to lap fifteen and it definitely supports me mentally and helps the cardio a bit, too. I’m like ‘They’re cheerin’ for me! I gotta pick it up here or go faster here!’
You obviously got lots of love from the motocross purists last year for running the two-smoker. I know you had tons of people come up to your rig at every round, were there any bizarre fan interactions that stuck out?
Ummm, yeah. One time - I believe we were at Budd’s Creek - and some dude was bein’ cool, y’know, just drinkin’ a beer and I was chillin’ for a minute ‘cause I had motos comin’ up, and uh...he came over and he had a little sticker...I collect number plates, or whatever type of sticker someone has; I have a wall in my van that’s covered in stickers. So, I let whoever wants to put a sticker in there put a sticker in there. So, he put a sticker on the wall in the van and I went and moto’d. When I came back from the moto, I got the AC goin’ in the van, and I come in and pull my helmet off, go to sit in the van, and the dude is sitting in my van with no one else in there...nothin’ going on, the guy is just sitting my van. I’m like “Dude, what’re you doing!?” and he’s like “Awhhh, I thought we were cool.” and I’m like “Nah, you can’t just come in my van when I’m not here and enjoy yourself like it’s your house. This ain’t mi casa su casa.” Haha!
What sort of privateer pro tips do you have for anyone living the privateer lifestyle?
Y’know, I learned this from Gus Decker - he used to run Team Gus and Team Supercross in outdoors - he said if you don’t do the six P’s in motocross, supercross, and arenacross you’ll always fail. The six P’s are ‘proper preparation prevents piss poor performance.’ That’s my privateer tip, remember the six P’s and you’ll be alright.
What’s one thing that you can’t travel without?
Ummm, I got a fishing pole and a skim board that never leave my van - they always go with me.
What’s your favorite gas station snack?
Ooooh, man. Strawberry mentos and Pure Leaf unsweetened tea.
Who would you like to thank that’s helping you out?
MotoSport Hillsboro, Fly Racing, Motooption, Stuk Graphics, Smokebuddy, Ankle Savers, Truemx, Haeseker Racing, DC Cams, CWI, No Toil, Bill’s Pipes, Novik, Matrix, MainEvent Moto, MX Tech, Alpine Star, Mike Vizer Photography