ICYMI | Catching Up with Cheyenne Harmon | Yamaha Motor Canada
By Billy Rainford
One of my favourite parts of the job is meeting riders and families involved in our sport. But nothing beats finding out a rider has risked everything and made the trip to Canada on his or her own to roll the dice and race our series. We’ve seen it a few times over the years, and it’s just as cool every time.
Cheyenne did just that a few years back when he came up here in his van by himself and hit the Triple Crown Series. He had some bad luck and actually tucked his tail and was headed back home when he decided he didn’t want to give up and went out and bought himself another brand new bike and got back on the line. You have to appreciate and respect that kind of determination and tenacity.
He sort of did the same thing on his own again this past winter for the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season. We got in touch with him this week to talk about how things have been going. Check it out:
Direct Motocross: Hey, Cheyenne. I know you’re busy heading into the final weekend of Supercross, so thanks for taking some time with us for Week #17. Some people up here may not know your story so let’s back it up to the beginning. How did you get your start in motocross?
Cheyenne Harmon: Hey, no problem, I always enjoy chatting with you! I got my first dirt bike when I was 4. I raced BMX where I won the Grand National Championship in the 5-year-old Expert class. I also raced Quarter Midget race cars at a young age, too, and had a little success in that. I always rode my motorcycle. We got to a point where I had to choose which one, so here we are. Lol.
What was your first race number and why did you pick it?
333. I don’t really know the reasoning behind it, but I ran 33 or 333 till I got my Pro license when I was 16.
We know you came up to Canada by yourself in your van a couple years ago, and that’s when I met you, so let’s go back before that. Can you sum up your amateur racing career for us?
I didn’t really race much Motocross growing up. I mainly raced Cross Country (Off-Road). I moved to the Pro class in that when I was 13 and started winning races and won the Texas Off Road National Championship that year. I was 14 at the final race.
You raced the 250 West class this year…at first. Can you first tell us about your cheyenneharmon.com / Parker McCollum deal?
Two weeks before round 1 me and the team I was with mutually agreed to part ways. It was not ideal by any means whatsoever. The next day I went and bought a Gas Gas and started putting together my racing program. I’m a very proud Texan and love country music. Parker (McCollum) is one my favorite artists, and he just so happens to be a fan of Supercross. I reached out to him with an idea, he liked it and we started our partnership.
How did it go for you? Can you take us through the highs and lows?
As one of Parker’s hit songs goes, “it’s been a hell of a year.” The last 6-8 months have been tough for me, starting with battling some personal things in my life, to having a deal to go racing and things going well, to going back to doing my own program.
At Orlando 1, I had a motor lock up off the face of the triple in practice (fortunate to walk away from that) and another team (AJE Gas Gas) loaned us a motor. During the heat race we were running in a transfer spot and then had a big crash.
Fast forward a few weeks, the Gas Gas was not working out for me and the Saturday night before Daytona I went and picked up a YZ 250F from Maxim Yamaha. Press Day was the second time I had ridden it, and first time with my parts on it.
I raced it for the last 6 west coast rounds with a stock motor, pipe, clutch and suspension. I didn’t achieve the results I wanted, but we made it in the main through the heat race and finished 18th in the main at my hometown race at Arlington 3.
It’s been tough racing on really no budget and one bike. I never gave up and went out and did my best. I actually feel my riding has been pretty good, we just haven’t put it all together.
Then you got a new deal to race the 450 class for the last 2 rounds. Can you tell us how that came up?
Yeah, I’m filling in on the BWR Engines Honda team. I’ve known Brian White for a while and have worked with him before. When we were in Atlanta I stopped at the rig and was visiting with him and he asked if I was gonna ride 450 at Salt Lake. I then told him no but I wanted to, and my good buddy Logan Karnow was trying to talk me into it.
Fast forward to that night, he called me then we were at a track in Georgia following Tuesday’s race on Wednesday and Thursday testing. His equipment is top notch and I’m excited for the opportunity on the big bike.
At SLC1 you qualified 29th, were 14th in Heat 2, and then you were 10th in the LCQ. How did that go for you?
The day started slow for me, getting back on a 450 and adjusting to the power and handling difference, also the elevation threw things off a bit. We made some changes and I got better each time on the bike throughout the day. I am dissatisfied in the results on paper, but I am looking forward to this weekend.
Can you tell us the biggest difference you notice between the 250 and 450 classes?
Really, it’s just how you ride a 450 on Supercross. I was having to constantly slow myself down to go faster throughout the day. I’m not intimidated by the top guys by any means, but it is a different ballgame when you are lined up next to Eli Tomac and those guys.
We’ve got one more round to go this weekend. What will you do differently and what are you and your team hoping for?
One of the biggest things for me is I have just been letting my body recover and rest. I’m hoping to feel more rejuvenated come race day. Also, I’m gonna be more comfortable on the bike, and know the things I need to do after some studying from Saturday’s footage.
What will you do when the season ends? Holiday? And what about this summer for racing?
I don’t have any real plans for the summer, currently. I love racing and would love to do so. I probably will be racing local races, doing some riding lessons/schools and maybe try and hit a National or two. Until then, I will continue to work, better myself and be ready for what’s next!
Will we see you up here in Canada in the future when things at the border lighten up?
I would love to come back up there if the opportunity arises. I’ve had a rough last few years I’ve come up there, so I’d love to come and get some redemption and see all my Canadian friends!
OK, thanks for talking with us. Good luck this weekend and we’ll talk to you soon.
Thank you, sir. Coffee cheers!