Interview with Brandon Ray

January 3, 2022

Interview and Audio file from Phillip Lamb @blacksheep356 on Instagram

Check out the first interview from Phillip Lamb on Norcalmotocross. He reached out to Brandon and got some insight into his background and his future. Give it a read or give it a listen.

Hey, how are you? I’m Phillip lamb. I’m with NorCalmotocross.com, Thanks for doing this. So tell me a little bit about you, your backstory, how you got started and when you kind of started taking this [racing] serious.

So I grew up in Fremont, California and in the Bay Area, you know there’s not really many places to the ride. The day before I turned three years old, my dad put me on a PW 50. And I rode it in my front yard and I live in my you know, it’s kind of a quiet neighborhood too. But my dad tied a tie down around my exhaust bracket on my bike So I wouldn’t whiskey throttle it. When I first got on, I just wanted to pin it. And I’ll just go in circles and I just keep doing it over and over again. And I you know, he took me to places like Carnegie Hill, Hollister hills, Club Moto and Argyll Mx, that’s my closest track and I love Mike Sexton and everything.

So my first race was when I was 5, it was actually my idea but my dad; He never pushed me to race. I used to watch videos and tapes. I used to put into my little TV when I was growing up. Me and my dad were walking across the lawn and I looked up at him like, ‘Hey, I want to race.’ Later on, he told me that when I said that, it was like music to his ears because my dad, he used to race and he was actually an expert and he was pretty fast; He rode with guys like, Ricky Ryan and Eric Mashbir. [But with me racing] he knew not to push his son to go racing.

Yeah, that’s important, that’s what my dad did with me. I did BMX and moto growing up, and he always left it to me, let me take it as far as I want. So that always helped because when he did try to push me we just fought. 

So at what point did you get serious with racing, at what point did you know this [racing] is what you want to do?

I mean, honestly it’s really been all I wanted to do since I was younger. I played baseball and I was actually really good at baseball. I also played basketball in school, but nothing stuck out to me like racing did. As I got older, I’ve learned that I like I like motocross because when you play [team sports like] baseball and basketball, you have to rely on other people so much.

-Yeah I did the same thing. I did baseball all the way up to high school and it was always rough when you knew you did your hardest but then you had to rely on others, you could see everyone else that either wasnt trying or made mistakes. And that was one thing I loved about it [motocross] too. Is it whatever you get out on the track; It’s you know, barring other people running into you or something like that. It’s all on you.

-Yeah, that’s why I knew this is what I always wanted to do. And at home, it’s just me and him. my dad is my sole sponsor, and we don’t really have money and money was always very tight. So I’ve always had to be serious with it; I wasn’t going to parties, I didn’t go to my school dances because I was always out racing and riding; doing something you know, to help my racing.

So I first noticed from a post on VitalMX regarding you leaving JMC. How did you end up with them, how long were you with them and how did it all work out?

JMC, yeah I landed it right before Loretta’s Lynn’s National two years ago; it was my first my first race with the team and on the bike. They called me up because they knew I needed help and everything and I signed a contract with him for like a year and a half. And, it just kind of came to a point where we disagreed on certain things. So I left the team and you know that all last year [2021] I was on my own doing the privateer thing, but the local moto community around here teamed up and supported me so well that I was able to attend some big pretty big Nationals last year. I had some really good results and some not so good but it helped me get some good recognition.

Loretta Lynn’s didn’t go well this year but what were some of the other events you did?

This last year I didn’t win anything in class; it was so much pressure and stress which played a big part. We didn’t really have money so my Yeah. You know, like, my bikes were, you know, we didn’t have money and to make the four strokes fast you need money. Whereas with a two stroke you can do just a pipe and ignition and your good.

Were you just riding 250fs? When I saw you race at MMX you were on a bunch of bikes

Yeah, so when I left JMC, we had a 125 here and we sold that. Then some other local people, came out and helped me get a 450. Me and my dad’s decided like hey, like we should get a 450; I’ll go to practice on it, I can put some more hours on it and race 450Pro and Open pro. And that’s what we did and then then we got to 250. My first big high race was actually Daytona [RCMX] amateurs. I did pretty good there. I actually drove out there with another local kid who’s 13. His mom who owns Norcal Cobra and Norcal TM let us use her Sprinter van. I drove solo from here [Norcal] all the way to Florida to do that race and his parents flew out there; We picked them up from the airport. [At the race] I placed 6th in Supercross Futures and 3rd in 450 A. In the Futures class I got a bad start and worked up to 6th and fell. And In the 450A class I got a bad start and had to come through the pack to 3rd.

Since we’re already out there we hit up the two Texas nationals: Spring-a-ding-ding and then they had the JS7 at Freestone. Honestly I did not do that good there. I got top 10 at Spring-a-ding-ding in a moto. I was running pretty well but I got a DNF due to a broken chain. I also scored a 5th in another moto. [Brandon would finish 11th 250A O/A and 22nd Open Pro]. At Freestone I got and 8th O/A in Open Pro eight [He would also score 14th O/A in 250 A]; and like those are pretty good results but I wasn’t really that happy with them, like I want to know I want to win every time I go out.

For sure, And when you’re trying to get somewhere [pros] In amateurs, unless you’re in that first second third position; no one really seems to notice. It’s easy to get looked over. There are so many guys who did not make it to pros because of that but there are many who did, but they had to kind of dig themselves out of that hole to get noticed.

Exactly. That’s why the JMC Deal was good for me; even though it might not ended on a good note, it was good because I mean it showed people that when I was on the team I was able to show that I can win. I won something like 13 B class titles with JMC.

After Loretta’s did you end up going to any Pro Motocross Nationals?

So Loretta’s sucked; I ended up getting hurt, I fractured… while at Riverfront MX; I went down pretty hard at the area qualifier. So I went to LL’s I went there with not much time on the bike. And the plan was I if I did good, we were going to do Pala and Hangtown, but LL’s just didn’t go that well. So we were deciding what was the next best thing to do? Should we just not race Hangtown at all, should we just not race any of them? But decided, we should just still go out to Hangtown as its close since its only two hours away and just go ride it without no expectations; not anything, just go out there and have fun.

So I did race Hangtown, We came there and Brandon Reyes helped me out big time. Travis McCray helped me as well; They got me a bike [250f] and they  got it built like two days before; I placed 22nd In my first moto, I came from the back of the pack, the whole thing almost lost going into the first corner and I came through for 22nd. But I end up getting these really bad blister on my hand. We we couldn’t figure out like why because I ride every week. But I started working construction just make some money but I’m wearing gloves a lot and sweating so my hands ended up being really soft. So for the second moto, I think was battling around top 20, but I just couldn’t hold on any more, my hand kept coming off the bar and it was burning really bad. And I end up pulling into the mechanics area. And I was talking to my mechanic, Sean Wooten, telling him ‘I just can’t hold on anymore’ and he’s told me, ‘Come on, dude, just ride it out and finish the Moto’. I didn’t have that much longer to go I think so I just rode around last couple laps and I think I got 28 overall.

Overall it was definitely a fun time. And like, it was crazy because when I came off the track in both motos, you ride past the front stands. And everyone was screaming [for me] all my friends are there and they’re just screaming my name even though I was just coming in the back of the pack. It was just it was such an awesome experience, and it was good that we did that because I feel more confident coming to the upcoming season

Oh, man. Cool. So how did the How did PRMX come into the picture? Were you talking to teams before? Or did they just reach out to you randomly?

So After Hangtown, we had Brandon Reyes calling me. He’s like hey, like you want to come out to race Top Gun (at Washougal). So I went out there and I had my 450 that we bought, and I think I only had like 30 Something hours on it, you know, the also found me a 250 two stroke to race. And we to a track on the way up there just to test the 250, and I ended up blowing blown it up. Then on practice day my 450 blew as well, it sent the rod through the cases. It was pretty crazy. So I was racing to borrowing two bike; some guy let me borrow his KX450 and I never a KX before, and I just hopped out their very first moto with open Pro and they had Benny Bloss and Justin Hill and I pulled away from them. Afterwards I go up to them, to Justin and Benny and I’m like “I love you guys like I’m such a big fan of you guys”. But that race, opened up a lot of people’s eyes to because I was on borrowed bikes and they’re pretty big names [Bloss and Hill].

(Brandon Ray would win the 450A class with a 1-2 score beating out Benny Bloss who went 3-1, as well as Justin Hill, Noah Mcconahy and Cheyanne Harmon. In the Open Pro class he would finish 2nd with 2-2 behind Bloss. In the 250A class, he would go 1-1 over notable riders Martin Castelo and Chris Howell)

Yeah. And Benny’s no slouch outdoors; it was just a year or two ago when he was on the [RM/ATV] KTM team he was putting down top fives.

I was not expecting that at all you know but I do have to say I ride Washougal pretty well because when I rode for JMC we went there a lot. So After the Moto we were talking; he told me what I need to work on, you and all this stuff. And, he end up giving me his phone number. He’s really cool, and he is such a down to earth guy and you would think, pros as big as him, don’t need to talk to me; I mean  I’m just a kid racing. He said, “Well, you know, we’ll keep talking and stuff and let him know if I ever need help. So one day he texted me “ hey man, how would a ride out of out of the east coast be?” and I’m like dude, that would be awesome.

 I had started following them [PRMX] on Instagram because these guys kept talking about them at Washougal saying” they’re a good team, they’re good guys and we’re going to talk to them and all this stuff”. So I follow the team on Instagram and they follow me back, and I was talking to one of my friends on the phone “oh my gosh, this team is following me, this is pretty sick, right?” Even just for them following me back I was freaking out about it. So, I hang up the phone, and then like an hour later, the kid calls me back. And he says “Dude, I just called him [team owner] and he answered. I was like, ‘Bro, did you actually call the team?’ And he said yes. I kind of got a little bit pissed about it because I didn’t know what he said, and I was worried he ruined any shot at the team. So I told him ‘That’s not cool.’ He reassured me saying, “No, it’s alright. I said really good things and he’s been watching you.” 

So the next morning, I get a DM from the owner, and he says, “Hey, who’s that kid that called me yesterday?” That’s all he said. And I’m going through my head wondering if he said something stupid so I called my friend back. I said “hey man, what did you say?” and he told me all he said were good things and that he was my friend and was trying to help me out.

So I talk to the owner, and told me my friend just had a lot of good things to say, and we just got to talk more and more. He ends up invited me out to South of the Border MX to try out the bikes. He told it wasn’t a tryout and he just wanted to get know me. So after trying out the bikes he offered me a 1 year contract for this upcoming season. That was so cool because I’ve always dreamed about racing Supercross and motocross professionally.

So how has the off season prep been going?

Honestly Its all new to me; I mean, I’ve done the Supercross futures before and I’ve done well there,  but I never really trained for it.  Brian Dominguez is another local pro who raced too and he has a track I rode a bit, but I never really trained for it. So, coming out here [SOBMX] it’s all legit level stuff. And at first I struggled; I went down in the whoops a couple times already, but I’m starting to get it down. Having Justin hill there too on the team has been great. Because he’s been there, he’s done it, and he will take the time out of his own day to help me out and give me pointers and its helped me out so much. All the stuff he’ll tell me, it eventually clicks and I’m feeling really confident.

Yeah, it’s got to be really good to have him [Justin] there, to have a veteran who’s won races and titles to be behind you, that’s a big advantage having that knowledge to tap into. 

Do you know what Coast you will be racing?

So I’ll be on the West Coast because I’m from here so it will be way easier for me. And I’ll have my teammate Hunter Sayles with me as well and we will have Justin Hill on 450 also.

Is PRMX a supercross only team or will they be doing nationals? They seem fairly new.

Actually PRMX has been around for a couple years (10) now. You know, they just got their title sponsor Partszilla. The owner guy his name’s Julian, and I’m gonna try to pronounce his last name. But he’s actually he’s from Canada. So the team is actually based out of Canada. On my contract, I’m with them for a year, so I’m going to be going wherever they’re going and I know they have the Motocross races [Canadian Triplecrown series] in Canada and stuff, but right now whats in front of us which is supercross.

So where do you hope to be? What are you’re goals for Sx ’22?

I have stepping stones, you know, my first goal is to make a main event. After that work on top 15, but I’m very nervous and I don’t want to say make big of a goal and not able reach it, I mean, I don’t want to get bummed out about not reaching them. And, the owner, he’s very understanding; he knows I’m a rookie. So, really, he expects a lot of course, but he knows I’m a rookie, so he knows I might not make it some night. Really for ‘22 I just want to make means and open people’s eyes to what I can do.

Who do you want to go ahead and thank?

I mean, you know, first of all, you know, our Heavenly Father for us being here, you know, and, you know, my dad, of course, I mean, I definitely would not be here. If it wasn’t for my dad. And I mean, man, I give like they i i Just so many people that like helped me out along the way. And of course the Partszilla/PRMX Team