#ICYMI | Catching Up with…#525 Daniel Mills
By Billy Rainford
Daniel Mills came north to race the Canadian series in 2016 and ended up earning #51 for the 2017 season. Unfortunately, we never saw him run it and we’re about to find out why.
Here’s our conversation with the rider who hails from Reno, Nevada, but now calls Southern California home:
Direct Motocross: Hello, Daniel. You were #51 in Canada last season but we never got to see you race it. But before we get to all that, let’s back it up and give people a chance to get to know you a little. Can you tell us where you’re from and how you got in to Motocross in the first place?
Daniel Mills: I’m originally from Reno, Nevada, but I’ve been living in Southern California since 2013 to pursue racing. I originally got into racing because my dad raced while I was growing up. On my fourth birthday he ended up getting me a PW50 and it was all over from there.
I always like to ask this question: How did you choose your first racing number?
My first racing number was actually 45, and I picked it because it was the same as my dad’s number when I was growing up.
I have to admit that I don’t know a whole lot about you. Can you take us through your amateur career? Did you hit any of the big Amateur Nationals? How did you do? What was your best memory from those days?
Yeah, absolutely! My amateur career actually started late. My first amateur national was the GNC Oak Hill Amateur Championship in Texas in 2012 as a Novice rider. I’ve raced just about every amateur national across the country with the exception of Mini O’s, and my favorite national definitely being Oak Hill.
As a B rider I actually did decent with a couple championships here and there. I wasn’t always the best amateur, but I felt like I held my own. My best memory would be from Loretta Lynn’s in 2014 in the two stroke class. My last moto I was sitting 5th overall after going down every moto. The first lap I went down twice in the mud, and ended up just pushing my way back into a top 10 finish from 40th. It wasn’t my best result or anything, but it was the best I’ve ever felt like I’ve ridden, even to this day.
What year did you turn Pro and what did you race that season?
I turned Pro in at the end of 2015 and just did a few amateur nationals, and Pro-Am races.
You came up to Canada in 2016. How did that decision come about?
Honestly, it was kind of more of a spur of the moment decision. We were burnt out on amateur nationals, and wanted a change of pace. Everyone had been talking about how fun the Canadian national series was so we made plans to give it a shot!
What did you think of our series? Did it differ from what you were used to?
Honestly, it was the most fun I’ve ever had racing. Up there I noticed everyone is friendly. Although it’s still competitive and everyone is there to race, it isn’t as clouded by big egos. Sitting in staging everyone is talking and having a good time. Guys will come up to you after motos and tell you, “Good job.” It just was such a more relaxed atmosphere. I would love to come back up and race it again.
You traveled across Canada. What part of the country stood out for you? What did you like best?
I think the further east we got the more different it got. Nova Scotia was crazy for me. Flying in the fog was so thick I didn’t even know the plane was landing when we touched ground. I would say I liked Calgary the best, but mainly because I thought the fact that the track overlooked the city was so cool.
How did that series go for you? What was your best finish?
It went all right. My preparation went really well coming in, but personal life issues got in the way of my performance. My head just wasn’t in it, and looking back on it I’m pretty bummed about that. My best finish ended up being a 10th in Regina, I believe.
Did you find yourself battling with any of our riders on a consistent basis? Who was it and how was the rivalry?
Honestly, I found myself in the track with McCoy Brough like every week by some stroke of luck or another. I wish I could say it was some heated rivalry, but he and I would talk before every moto and laugh about how we couldn’t get away from each other.
What track did you like the most?
My favorite was definitely Ulverton. The elevation and different dirt types just made for the most fun track conditions I’ve ever experienced not only in Canada, but anywhere.
How about least favourite?
I wasn’t a fan of Nova Scotia. The dirt was extremely slick and hard packed. It wasn’t a bad track, by any means, and it was as good as it could be, but it just wasn’t my style.
You ended up with #51 for this season. Were you happy with your results?
I was and I wasn’t. I wish I could’ve made it through the entire season, but I was happy with making it to each round I did and doing my best. I wish I could’ve had some better finishes though!
What did you do last fall and winter after our season ended?
I actually went home and got two shoulder surgeries. I had been dealing with an existing injury for quite a while, and finally couldn’t handle it anymore. I ended up getting a full reconstruction of my left shoulder.
You didn’t come back this summer? Why not? What did you get up to last summer?
I was sitting on my couch in a sling, unfortunately! I wish I could’ve come up. I was actually planning on it before my first season even ended.
Do you have a 9-5 job on top of racing?
I don’t currently, but if I did I’d probably be working construction for my dad.
What are your winter plans?
I’m going to be getting ready for Arenacross.
How about next summer?
I’m not quite sure yet. I’m trying to decide between doing the US outdoors or coming back to Canada in the MX1 class.
OK, I’ve avoided this question long enough. What is up with your Twitter account (@danalwanal525)? It seems a little…”edgy,” for lack of a better word. What’s the deal? And yes, we saw it before you cleaned it up a little!
(Laughs) I knew this was coming. So, my roommate just got a kick out of all the nonsense that came out of my mouth. He finally just got tired of me not having a Twitter and made me one. I try to keep my Instagram as professional as possible, but I really only have most of my close friends on Twitter so I’ve just made a huge joke out of the whole thing.
Sorry, that was more questions than I meant to ask you. Thanks for taking the time to help us get to know you a little better. Good luck, and is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Not a problem! Thank you so much for the interview. Yeah, I’d just like to thank my parents and my girlfriend for being so supportive, EVS Sports, Chad and Leah at XPR Motorsports, Randy Lawrence, and Tagger Designs.