THE RIDER: ALEX MARTIN
Alex Martin was destined to race professional motocross. His father, John, was a National Hare Scrambles Champion. John became the owner of the famed Millville motocross track in 1987, which has become a staple of the AMA National circuit. Alex and his younger brother, Jeremy, the new 250 AMA National Champion, literally grew up on the Millville track. The family’s house overlooks the treacherous sand-whoop section that the circuit is known for.
Now 24 years old, Alex has learned the ropes of racing at the highest level. Turning Pro in 2008, Martin has steadily improved his overall ranking each year, and with results have come increased support, first from Chad Sanner’s Eleven10 Mods team and currently from the CycleTrader.comRock River Yamaha team. This year, Alex finished eighth in the 250 East Supercross series in what is his second season with the Rock River Yamaha program.
Alex Martin has had several outstanding accomplishments in his career thus far. He has been a member of the Puerto Rican Motocross des Nations team. His best AMA National moto finish was a third in the second moto at Southwick in 2011. What the results don’t show is Alex’s personality. He is a down-to-earth guy with a nice demeanor. Alex is marketable, which is a trait sponsors look for.
We can’t talk about Alex without bringing up the white elephant in the room—his stature. At 5-foot-4 and 135 pounds, Alex isn’t exactly imposing; however, what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in heart. A predator on the track, Martin rides with a raw aggression that sets him apart. There’s a reason Alex has found success in racing, and it all stems from the beating muscle in his chest.
THE MECHANIC: BILLY HARTLE
In Billy’s words, “I met Alex Martin in 2012 when I started working at Eleven10 Mods. We became good friends rather quickly. Back then, the whole Eleven10 crew lived together, so I’m sure that sped up the process [laughter]. From then on, I have been working with Alex, and it’s always a good time, even through the ups and downs. I think that a good and positive relationship between rider and mechanic is key to having success, and I think we have that. Alex is pretty easygoing and almost always tries to make the best out of any situation. He is a very hard worker, maybe one of the toughest that I’ve worked with.
“Alex isn’t one of the pickier guys I have dealt with, but week to week, regardless if the front end of the bike was touched, he always has to move his controls around. He’s constantly wanting to check his bars and levers, as well as the clickers and sag on his suspension. Other than that, he isn’t too picky.
“One thing about Alex is that he lacks a little bit in the leg department. Something unique to our bike is that we run an adjustable subframe and slightly taller footpegs. The guys over at JGR have developed solutions to compensate for Alex’s height. It’s really cool that they can do those things for us, and it helps Alex a lot by allowing him to really dial in his setup. All in all, the 2014 Yamaha YZ250F is a great bike, and we are looking for some really good results this outdoor season.”
THE TEAM: ROCK RIVER RACING
It’s not uncommon for a motorcycle dealership mogul to get the racing bug. There’s a laundry list of dealerships that have followed the racing marketing strategy to boost notoriety, though few have attained championship success. Chaparral Motorsports and Pro Circuit helped write the history books, thanks to their unflinching commitment to racing. Rock River Power Sports owner Mike Duclos has aspirations of summiting the Mt. Everest of motocross—winning an AMA number-one plate. Win on Saturday; sell on Monday.
Duclos has a strong support team, beginning with MX Sports’ 2011 Team Manager of the Year, Christina Denney. In a short period of time, the Rock River Yamaha team has been able to secure a major sponsor (CycleTrader.com), and the funding needed to land several top riders. Their 2014 lineup is Ben Lamay, Kyle Chisholm (Supercross only), Greg Gehrer (injured during the Supercross series) and Alex Martin. Although the team hasn’t reached the podium, they have a solid program that has grown by leaps and bounds since entering the high-stakes game of pro racing in 2009.
The CycleTrader.comRock River team is one of four teams that receive support from Yamaha. Joe Gibbs Racing is the blue crew’s A-level squad, followed by Star Racing, Valli Motorsports and Rock River. Thanks to their commitment to Yamaha, Rock River is given free bikes and discounted parts. Alex Martin’s bike is peppered with GYTR accessories and other performance items, thanks to a collaborative effort between Yamaha and several aftermarket companies. It’s great that the Rock River program is getting rewarded for its efforts.
TEST RIDE: THE MAIDEN VOYAGE
Getting to test Alex Martin’s CycleTrader.comRock River Yamaha YZ250F had been in the works for months. MXA initially proposed the idea during the Supercross series with the caveat that we were most interested in testing Martin’s outdoor setup. The logistics proved challenging, with the team located in Georgia and MXA in SoCal, but eventually we both cleared a window.
We feel compelled to address the stipulations placed on the test by both parties. There were three rules we couldn’t break during our time on Martin’s YZ250F. (1) Rock River didn’t want any big MXA test riders to ride the bike. Alex Martin tips the scales at 135 pounds soaking wet. Denney wanted to make sure that the MXA testers weren’t heavier than Martin, because she feared that it would jeopardize suspension performance and skew our opinion. We benched the mesomorphs and sent our lightweight riders to the test. (2) MXA didn’t want Alex’s practice bike or some gussied-up stock YZ250F in team graphics. We wanted the real deal. (3) Given that JGR rebuilds Martin’s engine after every three Nationals, there was an imaginary clock ticking down until the powerplant needed servicing. Granting MXA a test of the bike would shorten the engine’s life span by one full race—if we spent all day pounding out laps. We agreed to an engine time limit that was sufficient for our purposes.
As for our impression of Alex’s bike? They are in the photo captions.