BRANDON HAAS ON MAKING THE CLUBMX TRAINING FACILITY A SUCCESS

Brandon Haas is the owner and main trainer at the ClubMX Training Facility. He also owns and operates the ClubMX Yamaha race team.

BY JOSH MOSIMAN

Nestled in the hills of Chesterfield, South Carolina, just 60 miles southeast of Charlotte, North Carolina, is the ClubMX Training Facility. Equipped with four motocross tracks, four Supercross tracks, a race shop, club house, gym, two campgrounds, and multiple houses and cabins, ClubMX is a year-round motocross training facility built to help amateur and Pro riders improve their craft. Since the facility first opened in 2010, it has continued to expand. In 2018, the ClubMX Pro Supercross team was formed, and it, too, has been evolving over the years. MXA’s Josh Mosiman talked with ClubMX owner Brandon Haas about the inception of his training facility and his exciting 2022 Supercross team roster. 

HOW DID CLUBMX GET STARTED? The roots of ClubMX started in Minnesota. I put together a club with sponsorships and, if you joined the club, you got a discount to come ride at my track. I was doing riding schools while I was racing, and I’d have open practice on Thursday nights. Eventually, the track got shut down by the county. I bounced around a little bit and came down to South Carolina to ride for an Arenacross team out of Rock Hill. After Arenacross was done, I was racing at Sandhill, which is actually an old track near ClubMX, and I had heard some kids who were riding pit bikes down the sand road nearby say that it was Zach Osborne’s place. I was always looking for new places to ride, and I ended up getting in contact with Zach and came out to ride. It was 2009, and Zach was in Europe racing the MXGP series. 

HOW DID THE TRAINING FACILITY COME TOGETHER? I ended up tearing my ACL and MCL at Red Bud, so I kind of knew at that point I needed to do something else. I started pouring concrete, but I didn’t want to do that, so I kept going with the motocross training. I kept in contact with Zach and told him I wanted to find some land down South to have a training facility. Zach said, “I would love to do it, and my dad would want to help, too.” Skipping forward, Zach had a spot in his heart to give back to the kids transitioning from amateur to Pro. In Zach’s situation, he had missed an opportunity when he was young by being out of shape, not eating right and not training. He recognized his mistake and wanted to help the next guys coming up. But also, I think for him it was a little bit like if his own racing didn’t work out, that was his fall back. 

HOW DID YOU LAND IN SOUTH CAROLINA? We were shopping around in Florida and Georgia at first. I didn’t have any money. I was just a grunt man, but I knew how to work hard, and I knew Zach was going to help with the fitness and nutrition side. I knew I had to get the right people around us, too. I ended up coming to terms with Zach. He had this property and decided this was the best place for us.

“THE ROOTS OF CLUBMX STARTED IN MINNESOTA. I PUT TOGETHER A CLUB WITH SPONSORSHIPS AND, IF YOU JOINED THE CLUB, YOU GOT A DISCOUNT TO COME RIDE AT MY TRACK.” 

IS ZACH OSBORNE STILL A PART OWNER? Once Zach got his Geico Honda ride, that convinced him that racing was now his top priority. Not to say it wasn’t before, but he didn’t want the distractions of owning ClubMX, so he sold out his share. It didn’t change much for us; Zach would help out on weekends and the same with his dad. But it was kind of my deal from the beginning; they were investors. Zach had good ideas, and he had the same vision I had. We really fell in line perfectly, but we also knew he needed to get his racing going and get back to America, because once he did some team would pick him up. We supported Zach and worked with him for a lot of years, and we ended up buying his dad’s share after a while, too. If it weren’t for the Osbornes, I definitely would not have ClubMX today. They saw the vision, and they knew I was willing to go all in on it.

The Supercross training group doing a quick pre-moto brief before the training begins.

WHO RUNS CLUBMX NOW? I run the day-to-day operations for the Supercross team and the Supercross training group. Ben Graves is the general manager, and he runs the day-to-day operations for the training side of things. We’re constantly trying to elevate what we’re doing, and Ben has helped free up a lot of my time. Miguel is our track builder, and Brandon Scharer has come on with us as a riding coach. He’s taking control of that and has done an awesome job. Hayden is our coach in the gym, and Deborah is our cook. Mike Bonacci has been running the practice track for us this past year, and we’ve actually been pulling him away from that and given him a management role on our race team. He’s been helping a lot with the growth of ClubMX. For me, it’s like a dream team. Now that I’ve got good people, it’s allowing us to expand our reach to give back and help as many people as we can. 

WHAT WERE THE FIRST STEPS FOR BUILDING CLUBMX? ClubMX started originally on a 42-acre piece of property. We had one Supercross track, our main front track, which is now our training track, and then we had the GP sand track, which was Zach Osborne’s original track. We put in a campground and a bunkhouse right away. I learned the hard way about business. For example, we ran our dozers into the ground and didn’t realize that it cost $24,000 to put on a new undercarriage. We were on the novice side of operating, but I just kept doubling down. Every time we made money, I’d build another building. We built the gym, then we built some cabins and ended up building a clubhouse for the meal program. Then came new offices, bathrooms, and we built the shop with garages. 

Justin Brayton is one of the many top Pros training at ClubMX.

YOU HAVE LOTS OF INDIVIDUAL GARAGES, TOO. We felt like people wanted their private space. As Justin Brayton and more high-level guys continued to come here, we wanted to meet their needs. We started building more garages with bigger bays and setting it up nicer. Same thing with the campgrounds; we got better when building the second one. We keep building more cabins, and we’ve had opportunities along the way to start purchasing properties around us. I wouldn’t say I’m a great planner, but I’m definitely not scared to get going.

NOW CLUBMX IS A MASSIVE MOTOCROSS PLAYGROUND. At the end of day, I like to stand back and look at a piece of property and think‚ “If I were a little kid, what would I do?” I’d want tracks everywhere. So, my vision was to wrap the whole property with tracks. Now we’re on 200 acres. We have four motocross tracks, all on completely different dirt. For Supercross tracks, we have the same idea but with different soils. They are kind of scattered across the property. The one side of the property is more clay, and the other side is more sand, so that’s what gives us opportunities. 

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE TRAINING AT CLUBMX AT A TIME? We’re set up to handle 30 full-time training guys. For training groups, our demand is a lot higher than that, and in our busy seasons, like wintertime, a lot of people want to do more short-term training, so we get extra help, and we’ll create another group. But, we try to focus on being really good with the 30 spots we have available. We really don’t want more people here than that. It’s the same with Supercross. We’ve got a full group now, and I really can’t handle anymore guys. You need a certain number of guys to get the tracks rough and realistic. So, having more guys is definitely an advantage, but you’ve got to find that happy medium. In the wintertime, we can have 100 to 200 riders come through on the weekend to our public practice track. We also do two-day camps on the weekends. We have military appreciation camps, 50cc camps and Vet camps. Those are usually once or twice a month when we have a camp going. 

“IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE OSBORNES, I DEFINITELY WOULD NOT HAVE CLUBMX TODAY. THEY SAW THE VISION, AND THEY KNEW I WAS WILLING TO GO ALL IN ON IT.”

HOW DID THE CLUBMX PRO RACE TEAM START? To be honest, it started when Kyle Peters and Josh Osby were training here in 2018. They were doing really well, but they didn’t have any deals. Greg Chidgey runs our Pro shop, and at that time it was just a public bike shop here at the facility. I knew that he could really be valuable, and we could put something together to help a couple guys in need. We knew what to do and what companies to work with to build a good bike, because we saw it every day. We’ve got 30 pretty fast guys here between professionals and amateurs, and we see what works. We see whose suspension is working well, what engines are blowing up and which bikes have electrical problems. You really find out pretty quick. For us, the mindset was, “Let’s just build some commonsense bikes and help Josh and Kyle.” I really felt bad, because they were good and they got left hanging. Kyle ended up getting a ride from JGR and, of course, we said to take that. Joey Crown filled his spot, but he ended up getting hurt, so it turned to Zach Williams. 

ClubMX has four motocross tracks and four Supercross tracks, each with different types of dirt.

YOU STARTED ON KTMS, RIGHT? We bought four KTMs and a local dealership helped us out with them. Twisted Development built the engines, and we got good suspension. Scott Jeffrey ran the Redemption Racing team out of Canada, and we’re always training their guys here, so I knew that their truck sat empty in the winter. Scott and I always got along really well, and he wanted to give back to the up-and-coming kids, the hard workers and the strong Christians. For Scott, it was about teaming up to race in Canada and do Supercross in the U.S. That’s what really kick-started it.

HOW WAS THE FIRST YEAR? I think we had some decent bikes power-wise but not chassis-wise. They were your typical privateer bikes, but we ended up getting two sixth places and a bunch of top 10s. Greg and I had a blast traveling. We learned a lot and said, “Imagine if we got to do it all over again. We could do a lot of things better.” In 2018, we did East Coast only and went up to Canada and raced up there. Josh Osby and Joey Crown both were on the podium. We won a lot of races. Crown took the Canadian Championship all the way to the last race where Jess Pettis ended up beating him, but we were in it. I wasn’t that involved with the Canada side of the team at that time, because I didn’t have as much help with the facility. 

The ClubMX Yamaha team is small but mighty.

THEN YOU MERGED WITH TRADERS RACING, RIGHT? Traders got a podium in 2018 with Luke Renzland, and we felt like, “Man they would boost us to the next level really quick.” As for them, they were looking at us like, “How did these guys come out and do this so fast?” Josh caught some attention with his sixth-place finishes. We ended up merging for 2019, but it didn’t end up working that well. I needed things to be done my way. I have good visions, and I really need to just pursue them. That taught me not to take a backseat. I knew right from wrong, and I was letting it go. We ended up separating after the 2019 season. In 2020, we went back on our own with support from “ATVs and More” helping us with more bikes and a parts budget. That really elevated us, because now Club wasn’t paying for literally everything. 

HOW WAS 2020? Sponsorships went up. We had a goal to double our budget every year. We started at $50,000 to $60,000 the first year. Then we merged with Traders and our budget went up. They had some deals and we had some deals. Then in 2020, our budget doubled again. We went racing with better engines, better suspension and more equipment. Enzo Lopes did really well that year, and Joey Crown came out swinging right off the bat. Josh Hill had a lot of potential, but he got hurt. I think we showed some flashes, and for me it was like, “What’s next? How do we get better?” Sponsorship funding doubled  again, so that put us in a much better position for 2021. 

HOW DID YOU SIGN MARCHBANKS? Garrett trained here during his 85 and Supermini years. We had spent quite a bit of time working together. After he got hurt at the Salt Lake Supercross in 2020, we were talking about his recovery and his plans for the 2021 season. I started getting concerned over his answers. He was telling me who he was talking to and I said, “You can’t go right to MotoConcepts on a 450; that’s not a good move. I know these guys are giving you the opportunity, but there’s something better than jumping right to the 450 class just because you’re big.” He was 18 years old, and he had some growing up to do and life lessons to learn. I just felt like he had to pay his dues. I kept calling back every week, and it seemed like it was getting worse. People were kind of dragging him on, and unfortunately the industry can work like that. They kind of hang you out to dry if you let them. They don’t want to lose competition to any team if they can help it, and so he was getting beat around the bush. 

The ClubMX facility started as Zach Osborne’s sandy GP training track and has evolved into a 200-acre motocross playground.

HOW WAS IT TO HAVE GARRETT MARCHBANKS LAST SEASON? We got a podium with Garrett, and we were competitive in outdoors and Supercross with the biggest kid on the track. We feel that we are close enough to really close the gap on the factory teams. Not only that, but we beat them just as much as they beat us—almost. Now, we feel like we’ve just got to fine tune and take that step again. Going into 2022, we have doubled our budget again and added more staff and upped the standards on everything. We got a new truck, and we’re building a new race shop. It’s becoming a bigger deal now, and it’s cool for me to see the Club guys take pride in it, even Ben and all the guys that just work at Club. It’s a pride thing for them, too, so it makes me feel good. This is my way of giving back. 

WHAT HAPPENED TO GARRETT AT PRO CIRCUIT? I stayed out of it. I only cared to the point that he needs to learn from it. “Why are you losing this ride? You’re way too good to lose that,” I told him. At that time, I said straight up, “We’re not deserving enough to have you, but I am confident I can build you a good bike.” I said, “If I can get you signed, I believe I can raise funding and get a crew together and up our ante.” I knew we’d have to shave weight. I knew we’d have to update chassis stuff and suspension and make the engines a little bit better. I knew there was a lot of work, but I was like, “Man, Garrett is so good. What is going on?” Part of me just wanted to help him; the other part of me wanted to capitalize on him, so it really went both ways.

One of the many garages available for rent at ClubMX.

HOW ABOUT THE OTHER TEAM RIDERS? The story with all the team guys is similar. They almost all have done time here, with the exception of Enzo Lopes. With Phil Nicoletti, Garrett Marchbanks, Alex Martin and Jace Owen, they paid me before. They paid me when Club was growing; they helped the growth of Club. So, when Garrett was available, or Phil didn’t have anything or even Alex Martin, I feel like it’s my burden to make sure that I at least reach out to them. 

WHAT WAS THE STORY WITH ALEX MARTIN MOVING TO THE 450 CLASS? Alex has been here for a handful of years. I watched him come from nothing on the Eleven10 Mods privateer team to eventually getting second at Supercross on the Rock River bike and moving to the Star Racing team. With Alex I said‚ “What are you doing next year? We’ve got a good 250.” I knew he had problems last year with bike issues and wasn’t given a fair shot. We didn’t really have a spot for him by any means, but we wanted to help him. Alex said, “I want to race a 450.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t know about that. I was calling you because I think we have a really good 250. I think it’s just as good, if not better, than some of the factory bikes.” And he’s like, “Well, to be honest, if I have to race the 250 again, I think I’m just going to retire. I want to race the guys that I used to race and the guys I’ve beaten in the past. I’ve won a lot of races. I’ve gotten runner-up in the series. I’ve got nothing left but to win a championship, and when is that going to happen?” If I put myself in his shoes, I get it. If changing classes gives him motivation, I’ll stand behind that. So, now we’re going down this 450 path. We’re definitely going to have a learning curve, and I’m in for that. 

Brandon Scharer is one of the newest trainers on staff. He also does testing for the ClubMX race team and has filled in on the team at select rounds.

WHO HAS HELPED THE TEAM GROW? FXR has been a major player in our growth. Our first year we started off with just a small deal with them, and we’ve continued to earn more support each year. I think we work together well. For just a B-level privateer program, we deliver strongly on our social media presence, and we are a little bit unique, running the white plastics and just doing things different. We want to stand out, and FXR likes that. If you ever look at any FXR gear or helmets, their logos are bold. They don’t hide it, so I think we kind of have the same vision for that. Our deal has doubled again with them, and they’ve grown with us. They see the vision, and they want the premier guys.

“THE STORY WITH ALL THE TEAM GUYS IS SIMILAR. THEY ALMOST ALL HAVE DONE TIME HERE, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ENZO LOPES.”

YOU HAVE SUPPORT FROM YAMAHA NOW, PLUS MUC-OFF AND MOTORSPORT HAVE JOINED FOR 2022 AS WELL, RIGHT? We did a two-year deal with Yamaha, and that’s given us resources. Now we have equipment, bikes and parts—whatever we need. Muc-Off was a very last-minute deal with us in 2022. ClubMX was holding the title sponsor with FXR, and Muc-Off was looking for something new. One thing led to the next, and I said, “All right, I’ll move ClubMX back a spot, no problem.” It happened really fast, but honestly, Muc-Off is a product with lubrication and cleaners, and we have a facility that’s getting dirty every day. It was a perfect fit for us.  We’re actually using the product, so it ties in well with what we’re doing. We have a race team and a facility to back it up. Beyond racing, we’re giving our sponsors a lot in return, just with the facility.

Motorsport likes a lot of video, and we felt we could deliver it on our social media and we could give them content, too. With IAMACOMEBACK, Mark is one of the best at what he does with the mental coaching side of things, and he fits us really well. He wants to help these riders turn into men. “ATVs and More” had been providing us with bikes, so when Yamaha relieved them of their duties, Charlie Pennington basically asked, “How can we help?” They helped us get a new truck and trailer for 2022.

alex martinatvs and morebrandon haasben gravesbrandon scharercharlie penningtonclubmxclubmx training facilityFXRgarrett marchbanksgreg chidgeyiamacomebackJace Owenjoey crownjosh osbykyle petersmike bonacciMuc-Offzach osborne