Over the years Steve Simms has worn many hats as he’s navigated his way through this industry. He’s been a mechanic, a team manager, a rider with multiple Walton TransCan Championships, and last year he became a team owner with his new TLD/GASGAS/SSR Team. Yes, Steve has done it all in this sport and his drive and determination come from a deep love and passion for motocross. In recent weeks Steve’s been not only getting his team ready for 2022 but he’s also been moonlighting as Phil Nicoletti’s trusted mechanic in the 250SX East Series. We caught up with Steve as he was just returning from a successful weekend in St Louis.
MXP: Hey Steve, how are things?
SS: Things are good. I flew back from St Louis on Sunday and today I’m just trying to get some things done around the shop. Unfortunately, I just found out the Sam [Gaynor] crashed and got injured so I’m having to deal with that. I don’t have too many details yet so hopefully he’s okay.
You’ve been helping Phil Nicoletti out a little in the 250SX East Series. How have things been going with your return to being a mechanic?
Overall things have been going well with Phil and the team. Some days it feels like I’m more than just a mechanic as the ClubMX team is a big one with a lot of moving parts. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of different things concerning organizing team stuff so I feel like I bring some experience to the ClubMX team. Because of this, they lean on me a little for things other than just helping Phil so it’s been interesting for sure. I’ve enjoyed it though, the team is good and the entire ClubMX crew are good people!
I would suspect that would a team as large as the ClubMX team there would be a lot of moving parts and it wouldn’t just be about you and your rider. I’m sure they appreciate your expertise in different areas. Apart from that though how is Phil doing and are you both happy with how his 250SX East Series has been going?
Coming into the series I think we both knew that finding consistency was going to be challenging. Phil obviously has a lot of experience so he knows what you need to do to be consistent, but as you see every weekend it’s difficult in that class. The riders are just unpredictable and one bad start or one rider getting sideways at the wrong time can cost you a good finish. Just look at a few weeks ago, Phil had a heat race crash and then a bad start in the LCQ, and before he knew he didn’t make the main event. And then this past weekend he comes back and finishes second in the final main event of the night.
I was going to ask you about both of those results. Going back to when he missed the main event in Indy, how mad with Phil after the LCQ?
I have to admit that Phil really impressed me that night in Indy with how he handled the disappointment of not qualifying. After the LCQ he wasn’t freaking out or blaming everything and everyone he just simply owned it. He knew what went wrong and how he got to that spot so he just accepted it and moved on. After the race, he went in the truck and cooled down a bit, and then he came out and helped us to clean up, and then he left for the hotel. Two days later he was at ClubMX early and had one of his best days of riding. Then he comes out last weekend and has his best race of 2022. So it just goes to show that even at Phil’s age and experience level you never stop learning.
Phil most certainly wears his heart on his sleeve so it was great to see him bounce back on Saturday night and finish so well. To be honest, he wasn’t far off winning that third main event. One error by Hampshire and the win was Phil’s. You must have been pumped?
Well, it takes a lot to get me ‘pumped’ so I wouldn’t go that far (laughs). I was just happy because everyone finally saw the Phil that I see during the week in practice. Hopefully he can carry this momentum into Atlanta this weekend and have another good race. He’s been working hard and it was good to see him get rewarded for it.
Okay, onto your TLD/ GASGAS/ SSR Team and the fast-approaching 2022 race season. Your two riders, Sam Gaynor and Tyler Gibbs are currently down training at ClubMX and have been for some time. How are they both doing?
Sam is doing well and progressing nicely I think. His race fitness is slowly coming around as he’s back on a 450 this year. His speed is good and if everything goes well this summer I believe he can be a consistent 5th place rider. As for Tyler, he’s been having some good days at ClubMX and at times his speed is unreal. We’re working on some things to improve his consistency on the track and if he’s able to limit his mistakes I think he’s going to have a great summer. One of the challenging parts of training at a facility like ClubMX is that you’re always surrounded by other riders, including some of your top competitors. For instance, Tyler is riding every day with Piccolo so it’s hard, especially for a young rider to just worry about themselves. It’s easy to get down on yourself because you have an off day and your rival is having a great day. But that’s life as a professional athlete and you have to learn to deal with it.
I guess that would be a challenging environment to ride in everyday. There is just no place to hide. Overall though is the ClubMX training going well for your riders?
I think so for this time of the year anyway. I’m sure they could find places to ride here but it just wouldn’t be the same. Down there they’re always riding and training with others and they’re always riding rough tracks. ClubMX has multiple tracks that vary in soil and layouts so as a rider you’re learning how to ride in all types of conditions. The tracks are prepped for each day with water so while the morning might be somewhat smooth, by the afternoon it’s rough and rutted and these days it’s starting to get warm there also. If they were here they would have to ride in the cold and none of the tracks get rough enough so for right now ClubMX is the place to be. I’ll bring both riders home in early May and they can do a race or two before the opening round of the Triple Crown Series in June.
Since you just brought it up let’s chat about the upcoming Triple Crown Series. This is a big year for the series as they’re not only headed back out west for three rounds, but also for the first time since 2017 all rounds will take place on Sundays.
Yes, and for the first time in two years, there will be no restrictions as far as fans being able to attend. It’s exciting to be headed west again as well as out east to Riverglade later in the summer. Unfortunately, we’re experiencing record-high gas prices so it’s going to cost the riders and teams a small fortune to travel out west and back. In this sport, if it’s not one thing it’s another as we try and go racing each year. I think the opening round in Kamloops will be exciting as the WCAN is also the same week, I don’t know much about the second and third rounds as they’re new tracks. It seems like there is still a lot of logistics to figure out as far as the series is concerned, but hopefully, it all gets done soon. I know all the teams and riders are busy preparing for June 5th in Kamloops as the opening round is coming fast.
Coming into this summer I believe there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the series. As I said, Sunday races for the first time in five years as well as no fan restrictions. Also, both classes should provide some intense and exciting racing so when the fans do come out they’re most certainly going to be entertained?
It’s definitely an important year for the series and Canadian motocross!
So what does the next month look like for you?
I’ll just be busy trying to get ready for the 2022 season. We’re not that far off from the opening round so there is a lot of things that need to be done before we head out west. As I said earlier, I hope Sam is doing okay and hopefully his injuries will heal up quick.
Yes for sure. For the people that don’t know you and I are neighbours as we live about five minutes apart. I guess with our multiple TransCan titles as well as Devin Train’s 30B title from last summer, our Township is perhaps the most successful Township in Canada (laughs)?
Yes, you might be right. Amaranth Township, the place where old champions are made (laughs).
It must be our ultra-competitive Wednesday night rides. Anyway Steve, good luck this weekend in Atlanta and continued good luck this summer at the Nationals. Thanks again for doing this!
No problem and thank you!
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