Catching Up with…Mechanic, Steve Simms
By Jeff McConkey
Foreword by Billy Rainford
In the category of ‘been there, done that,’ Steve Simms sits up near the top with just about anyone else you can think of. He’s actually got some skills on the bike, but has found his niche working on them instead. He runs his own race shop, Steve Simms Racing, won an MX1 championship with Matt Goerke in 2015, wrenches for a snowcross team, and is expecting a baby. He’s busy. Jeff caught up with Steve to get a little insight on what it takes to do 30 hours of work in a 24-hour day.
Direct Motocross: Hi Steve, how’s it going?
Steve Simms: Hey Jeff, things have been great. I’ve been super busy between snowcross for Huber Motorsports and getting the house ready for our new addition in mid-March.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I currently live in the small town of Amaranth, Ontario, just outside of Shelburne. I run my business from my shop at the house. When I’m not working at the race shops or at Steve Simms Racing, you can usually find me at a local track riding with my wife Katerina and friends. During the winter I enjoy getting out to play hockey.
How did you get started in motocross?
I got into motocross with a few neighbours that always had dirt bikes and raced. I always showed interest in them so my Dad had mentioned something to the guys he works with and one of them said he had an old Chaparral sitting in his shed that hadn’t moved in many years. So my Dad went and dug it out and brought it home. I spent the next month working on it with him getting it cleaned up and running again. From there, we just kept upgrading bikes working on getting to a more modern bike. So, working on bikes was always a necessity.
As a youngster growing up, was it a dream of yours to be a championship-winning Factory mechanic?
I didn’t realize it was a passion of mine until I turned 16 and did a co-op in high school with Bill Burr at B-Tec. I was doing the co-op with him and then going back after school and working for him. He was helping Joel Saarits heavily at the time, so I was always looking over Bill’s shoulder learning. Then one day Joel pulled me to the side and asked if I would help him at the nationals, and I’ve been hooked pretty much since then either working on a team or helping guys through my shop.
How did you go from a rider to a Factory Mechanic?
I realized while working with Joel the level of commitment needed to get to the top, physically and financially. I started to realize I would be able to make more money working on the bikes than I was ever going to make racing them.
You aren’t only successful as a factory wrench, you also own and operate your own shop. Can you tell us a little about it?
Steve Simms Racing has been operating since 2006. The reputation as a factory mechanic helped establish my shop over time. But also being at the tracks riding and helping guys out on regular ride days helped grow my business as well. I kind of feel like I’m starting over again after moving two years ago up to the Shelburne area, but it’s nice to see loyal customers that still make the trek from all over and the new customer base that I have built since moving.
How do you manage both gigs?
Managing both gigs can be tricky during the pre-season as bikes are usually rolling in at my shop and the bike builds are in full force at the race shop, while snowcross is slowly wrapping up. During this time I work a lot and am thankful for a wife that understands and puts up with it.
You have been very successful over the years. You’ve won a Canadian Championship, you’ve also been a member of Team Canada Motocross of Nations Team. Can you list a few of your most memorable moments?
This is a hard question to answer as I have so many memorable moments on different levels. Working with Colton (Facciotti) and winning the Supercross LCQ lites in San Francisco in 2006 and making it into the main event. In 2006, helping Jay Burke in St Julie while running in the top 5 in the MX 1 class. Working with Tyler Medaglia brought lots of memorable moments but the two that stand out the most would be winning the overall at Gopher Dunes National in 2008 and winning a Snap-On tool Chest, and winning Montreal Supercross Lites class two years in a row. And most recently, my biggest achievement is winning the Canadian MX 1 Championship with Matt Goerke in 2015.
Over the years you have worked for a pretty impressive list of riders. Can you name a few?
A list of national riders I have either spun wrenches for or helped throughout the national season include:
The Allison Brothers
And I’m sure there are some I have missed.
I’m sure you have a lot over the years. I’m going to give you a word, and I want you to give me a rider’s name and a quick explanation:
Most talented– Tyler Medaglia, because of his ability to ride motocross, freestyle jumping, freestyle riding, cross country, supercross, arenacross.
Most heart – Matt Goerke. I have never worked with a guy that wanted to win so badly and never gave up no matter what happened.
Best fitness – Matt Goerke. He was just willing to suffer training during the week to be ready for the race weekends.
Easiest on bikes – Rob McCullough. I did lots of regular maintenance on his bikes but usually nothing disastrous.
Hardest on bikes – I have two for this one: Jason Burke from 2006-2009 didn’t always keep up on regular maintenance so I saw anything from engines full of sand to no oil in them. On the racing side I’d say Colton Facciotti. We were forever putting clutches in his bikes. MXDN Matterley Basin quote from Colton, “We only have two spare clutches?!”
Like you mentioned, in 2015, you captured the MX1 Championship with Matt Goerke. What is it going to take to repeat?
I think to repeat as Champ in 2016 it won’t be much different than 2015. Matt will put in the work he needs to so he is ready for Round 1 and I will do my best to supply him with a solid bike each weekend with the help of the team.
Off the tack, you and your wife are expecting a child. Are you planning on being a moto dad?
Yes, Katerina and I are expecting a baby around March 19. Considering Katerina rides and races also, I’d say we will probably be a moto family.
Alright, thanks for your time Steve, who would you like to thank?
Thanks for reaching out to me for this interview. I’d like to thank Bill Burr for everything he has taught me from all points of the industry. Without him I most likely wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. Also, I’d like to thank all the riders that have allowed me to work on their bikes and give me the valuable experiences that have helped win the championship last year. And of course my wife and family for always supporting me in my journey.