DILAN SCHWARTZ INTERVIEW: THE IMPRESSIVE SUZUKI 250 RIDER SCORING TOP-10 FINISHES
One of the riders that we have enjoyed watching in the 2021 Pro Motocross series this summer is Dilan Schwartz. The California native is the lone Suzuki rider out there in the 250 class, often finishing well inside the talented top ten. Although the Suzuki RM-Z250 has been neglected over the past few years and, even when it was updated, it didn’t receive the updates it needed, Dilan is still making it work. Of course, Dilan has the backing of long time factory Team Manager, Larry Brooks who has also guided racers like Jeremy McGrath, Chad Reed, and James Stewart. Aboard the Bar-X/Chaparral/Ecstar Suzuki, Dilan now sits fourteenth in the 250 Naitonal class Championship and is coming into Unadilla hot off his 13-6 moto scores from Round 7 at Washougal.
By Jim Kimball
DILAN, LET’S BEGIN WITH YOUR PRO CAREER; IT BEGAN LAST YEAR AT THE LORETTA LYNN’S NATIONAL RIGHT? I raced the first Loretta’s race which was right after the Amateur National and then I raced Thunder Valley and Pala, the last two, so I raced only three Pro Outdoors Nationals in 2020.
THEN YOU RACED 250 WEST IN SUPERCROSS, RIGHT? Yes, Supercross was tough. The first round was just getting experience, and I made it to the Main. The second round was Daytona where I crashed. I got hurt, and the next weekend was one of the Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday rounds, so I ended up missing three races. That was like a quarter of the season. I came back for the Atlanta rounds. I missed one main event, got a ninth, and then a fifteenth or something. Then at Salt Lake I crashed in the first turn. I came back and I was maybe in twelfth, but then I crashed and did not finish. So, in Supercross, I had some ups and downs, but I just wanted to get experience, get more comfortable, and not try to get hurt which is what I did. I got the experience and I have a better idea now. Next year should be good.
RETURNING TO MOTOCROSS, WHAT WAS THE BIG TAKEAWAY THAT YOU FELT AFTER YOUR FIRST NATIONALS LAST YEAR? I would say the pace is a lot different. In amateurs, you go fast for a couple of laps and then it dies down. Whereas in the Pro’s, I really got to see it like as fast as you can go for thirty-five minutes, and I think that is why I struggled that first one. It was just bad for me, but the second one I did was good because knew that I got like tenth place my first moto, so it wasn’t bad. That is when I started to realize that I’m at the next level up there and I’m not an amateur anymore.
YOU HAVE DONE WELL OUTDOORS, BUT YOU HAVE HAD A COUPLE REALLY STANDOUT RIDES. Yes, Colorado, High Point and Washougal were obviously pretty good with moto finishes of eighth, twelfth, sixth, and thirteenth. Right now, we were on a little bit of a struggle bus for a couple rounds, but I think we will get it figured out. It is the rookie season and things happen. I have been working hard with my trainer Randy Lawrence at the practice track. We are just going to keep working. Some bad things come out in the rookie season, and it is not going to be perfect, but I am excited. I am not getting too down on myself about it.
A SIXTH PLACE MOTO FINISH IN THE 250 CLASS IS IMPRESSIVE. I did not know that I was really in sixth until my mechanic wrote it on the pit board. I think Justin Cooper was in front of me halfway through the moto. Joe Shimoda was originally in front of me and then he got around Justin and I was behind Cooper. I thought “Okay, I just need to try to stay with these guys.” I didn’t feel like was too fast of a pace for me, but they ended up pulling a little bit away.
WAS IT TOUGH TO STAY IN SIXTH? We had already gathered a big enough gap to Forkner. I knew I could finish in front of him. I was just smart with it. Honestly, I think now that I know that I can run up there, I just need to get a start like I did that day, a top ten start and then just get with those guys in the first few opening laps, and then just run their pace. I don’t have a problem with running up there in the top ten, I have never been to these tracks, so that is one thing that has been tough, especially Southwick, as I have never even ridden in any sort of sand like that, so it is about learning. But yeah, I don’t see a problem with top ten.
OBVIOUSLY, YOU GET SUPPORT FROM SUZUKI, BUT ARE YOU ON A FACTORY BIKE? I believe they call Twisted Tea HEP Suzuki the factory 450 and then us the factory 250 for what they have. That is what I know, but I am not worrying about what is going on there. I just take what I have and then do the best that I can.
ARE YOU GETTING ANY CALLS FROM DIFFERENT TEAMS FOR 2022? No, but, my agent, Jimmy Button, he does that stuff. You would have thought that someone would have come up with something for 2022, but nothing has really come around. My goal right now is to keep doing the best I can and if something comes up, something comes up. If not, I know these guys have my back, so I am just going to do the best I can and that is all that I can do.
SUZUKI’S 250 GETS A BAD RAP BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T CHANGED IN A WHILE, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE BIKE? I think it just gets bashed because it has a kick starter, but I don’t know what that has to do with the whole bike. Obviously, I have put it up there in the top 10 twice. And I was close to the top five and I am a rookie. So, it can get up there, and I did it at high elevation in Colorado. You just have to let the people talk and you do you. That is just what I do. None of the guys that talk about Suzuki have been on this bike or anything close to this bike. They probably rode a stock Suzuki and were like, dang, this thing is a turd, but I am not riding stock Suzuki’s.
ALEX MARTIN DID LARACCO’S LEAP WHEN HE WAS ON JGR. Exactly, JGR Suzuki had a great bike. Alex did good on it, and I know he has a couple of podiums on it. He pulled a bunch of holeshots on them, so I don’t have a problem with the bike. I just have to kick start it—it’s not that big of a deal. I really don’t care about any negativity. People want to keyboard warrior it up, go for it, it does not phase me.
BAR X SUZUKI TEAM MANAGER LARRY BROOKS HAS BEEN IN THIS BUSINESS FOREVER; AS A PRO RIDER AND TEAM MANAGER. HOW IS IT WORKING WITH LARRY? This team is where it is at and has gotten this far because of him. Just from what he knows, like still to this day, I have been with him for three years now and he will pull something out that I have never even heard of, and I am just like “Wow, that is cool” like I never really knew that. I think having him and having his knowledge and just being around for that long, has really helped this team and obviously especially like with this bike. I think having him around is good.
YOU ARE NOW THE SOLE RIDER WITH DEREK DRAKE OUT. DOES THIS CREATE ANYMORE PRESSURE FOR YOU? You can say that, and obviously I want to do good for the brand. I want to put the only Suzuki in the 250 class up as far as I can, but at the same time, I am doing this for me. I don’t want to get results just for them. I want to be up there for me. That is what I am doing. I would do the same if I were riding a Honda or Kawasaki. I am still going to do the best I can no matter what color bike I am on. Once, I take off, I can’t see the color of the bike. I am not looking at the fender.
YOU ARE FROM CALIFORNIA, IS THAT WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN SINCE OUTDOORS STARTED THIS SUMMER? I am working from home in Southern California right now, just staying on Randy’s program, so I can stay on top of fitness to make sure that is there. I have tried going back East before, like before Loretta’s and Amateur Nationals, and I have never really felt it to help me dirt wise or track wise. Maybe humidity wise it was good, just getting used to that kind like heat. Being in the Southeast is good, but I don’t really think it changes anything unless you like are staying out there for like a whole summer or riding just complete sand to get ready for Southwick. I like the California program just because I like staying with Randy on his program.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TEAMED UP WITH BAR-X SUZUKI? I joined the team in 2018 and they were already around for a few years. I believe they started the team somewhere around 2016.
THEIR FOCUS WAS PRIMARILY AS AN AMATEUR TEAM, RIGHT? They started as an amateur team, and last year wanted to do a couple of Pro rounds and so they took us to do those. Then this year, Derek Drake came on and then we moved it more towards a Pro team. We still have our amateur guys, but we did the Supercross series. Then Derek and I were supposed to do the outdoors as well, but he had some health issues that he needed to take care of. So, it’s just me as of right now, but I think the team still plans on doing amateur and pro.
THAT’S GREAT TO SEE THEY SORT OF TURNED PRO WITH YOU. When I signed, that was not really the plan, because this was an amateur team. I did not think, “I’m going to go Pro with this team.” That is what I signed up for though. They stepped up and they said they could do it and that is all I really had at the time so they have been behind me and they are obviously doing everything they can for me which I am really thankful for. I’m really happy with what is going on right now, it should be a good season.
LET’S KIND OF WRAP UP WITH YOUR RESULTS TO DATE THIS SUMMER. ARE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE? Right now, I am a little farther back than I feel I should be. Obviously, I would love to be in the top ten in points, but that is a big goal as a rookie. I would say I need to be near the top ten – and top fifteen. Close to the top ten is my goal for the season and if I could get into the top ten and put it in there every race for now on, that would be amazing.