Traveling well over 3,000 miles in a sprinter van, Kele Russell is as privateer as it gets. Like many others, he puts in some serious hours behind the wheel to get to each and every race. It’s no easy feat, but the passion for racing drives them to do whatever it takes. In particular, the 2018 Tampa Supercross was about as far away from where Russell calls home as it gets without leaving the lower 48. We were curious what his experience has been like covering so much ground, so we caught up with Russell to get the scoop on his journey.
As far as a privateers journey goes, you really can’t make a longer drive than from the Northwest corner of the continental United States to the Southeast corner. What has the experience been like?
It’s awesome, this is what we live for. I think the factory guys don’t have it as good in that way because we get to see the country and drive. You get to have a few more adventures [laughs]. We get to camp out of the van and all that. It’s pretty good. There’s a lot of quality time in it and you really see the world.
When you get to travel like this, where do you end up staying most nights?
I’ve got a bed in my van, so we can sleep two people in there and make it work. I’ve got a buddy who lives in Alabama so we have a place to stay whenever we’re in this area. He has a track at his place and we get to ride whenever we stay at his house. If we’re just traveling to the races though, we try to find a gym to go workout and shower. It’s pretty good sleeping in the van.
The Southeast has been quite a bit more hot and humid than anywhere so far this year and the winter temperatures have actually been setting records. how do you feel riding in that?
I got to come out here last summer to race the MXGP of the USA, so I had an idea of how it is supposed to feel, but going from 80 degrees on a hot day with zero humidity to 85 with really high humidity, it’s a little tough.
Going from Tampa to Atlanta, what are your plans for traveling there?
We’ll probably go back to Alabama and stay there, we might try to squeeze in a day or two somewhere else. I’d rather not spend money at the practice tracks. When we ride in Alabama we can do it for free and we can hop on the skid steer and move some dirt, so it’s nice.
The series has been wild this year and the field is stacked with talent, what’s the approach from the perspective of a privateer?
For the 450 class, I’ve only tried like twice. I’m just happy if I can make the night show. I really don’t have expectations for making a 450 main event. That’s a far reach. Plus, honestly, I’m such a superfan of the sport that I get pumped to watch the race. When we get done with the heats and LCQ, I run to get changed real fast and try to catch the main events. It’s pretty cool to see how these last eight weeks have gone and it’s fun to watch.
Do you like the 250 or 450 better in Supercross?
I like the 250 by far. I rode a friends 450 at St. Louis last year and it had outdoor gearing so you couldn’t even hear it idling when you hit the triples. This is like, “Alright, second gear, three-quarter throttle,” and you know you’re going to do it. With the 450, you blip the throttle and you’re going to end up in the grandstands or something. For me, a 350 would probably be ideal because it has the same characteristics as the 250. I’m happy with the 250. This little stocker is going to treat me well this year [laughs].