Chris Douglas has forged his own path to becoming a professional offroad motorcycle racer. Through hard work and determination, he’s climbed his way up the ladder to the pinnacle of cross country racing: the XC1 class in the GNCC series; while at the same time earning a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. After a season-and-a-half in XC2 Chris decided to move up to XC1. Some would say this is an honorable move, as the XC1 class often lacks competitors with anywhere from 11 to 19 riders at any given GNCC round. Chris could have stayed in the XC2 class, but instead he chose to move up to the XC1 class. Look for good things to come from Chris Douglas in 2016, as his hard work and determination come to fruition.
Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. How are things going with your off-season preparation?
Man, it sure doesn’t feel like any off-season! I’d like to be on the beach holding a drink with an umbrella, that sounds like an off-season. But this is definitely the most prepared I’ve been coming into a new season. I took maybe a week off after Ironman [GNCC] and I’ve just been staying really busy with riding, testing and gym work.
Last year about halfway through the season you acquired a new sponsor to ride a new machine. Tell us about how this came about and how you like riding the new bike.
So during the summer break last year I was trying to put something together for ‘16 and somehow I got in touch with Keith Obermeyer, owner of Obermeyer Honda/Yamaha/Suzuki, about some Suzuki support for the following year. Everything just came together super quick, and I really didn’t have any ties to my previous ride so luckily they were able to get me on a bike to finish out the year, which really makes me feel like I’m ahead of the game, getting those last four races in on the Suzuki really taught me a lot about the bike and how much better the suspension was than anything I’ve ever had!
It looks like things have really come together with the support of Keith Obermeyer and Suzuki. In fact, this year the team has taken another step by teaming up with Rod Marshall of MCS Racing as well as hiring Ricky Russell as your new XC1 teammate. You must be really excited for all the support and for the 2016 season to start?
Keith and Rod have been awesome. I’m never without parts, all I have to concentrate on is my own riding and training. It’s great. If I need a part, I call up Keith at Obermeyer and I have it the next day. It’s awesome.
You rode KTM machines for quite a few years. How was the transition to the Suzuki RM-Z450? Was there a big adjustment or was it an easy move?
Honestly it was super easy, which isn’t to say that I wasn’t a little nervous at first. But the bike continues to blow me away. You literally just point it in the direction you want to go and pin it, I love it. And it starts good too, I got the holeshot at Mountain Ridge.
So it’s the off-season. What have you been up to over the winter break? Have you made any big changes to your program that you feel will help you in 2016?
I don’t think I’ve necessarily made any massive changes. My diet is much cleaner, and I’m just doing more, and doing it more often. Let’s just say that it’s not rare for me to go to bed at 8 pm.
You took a unique route to the Pro class in that you only rode the XC2 class for a year and a half then went right to the XC1 class. What made you decide to jump to XC1?
Yeah, so I spent one whole season in XC2, then did the next half season; and then finished out the second half in XC1. 2016 will be my second full season in XC1. I enjoy riding the 450s more than the little bikes, so that was the main reason I did it. I don’t like riding 250Fs, and I don’t like racing two-strokes at GNCCs.
I bet a lot of people don’t know that along the way you also graduated from the University of Cincinnati with an Engineering degree. That’s an impressive accomplishment. Tell us about what that was like, and what you plan to use the degree for in the future?
I started riding super late, when I was 15, that’s kind of why it was so hard. I won 200B when I was 20, so I feel like I’ve just been playing catch up to get to where everyone else is. College was a lot of work for sure, and trying to ride as much as possible and train was so much to juggle, but I’ll say that I put school as the 2nd priority more than once (laughs). Although I still landed on the Dean’s list almost every quarter!
This will be your second year in the GNCC XC1 class, what can we expect from Chris Douglas this year? What is your goal for the season?
My number one goal is to just be in the mix, everything else will come.
Chris, thank you for talking with us. Any last words you’d like to share or people you’d like to thank?
Thanks for giving me the time! Just want to say thanks to Dirt Buzz for giving us exposure and giving us some cool stuff to read, as well as all my sponsors!
Obermeyer Suzuki, Suzuki, FMF, MCS Racing, Jason Fitzgerald Racing, Kenda, G2 Ergo, Fly Racing, YNS Designs, GPR, Unabiker, Fasst Co., 100%, EBC, Seat Concepts, ARC, Rekluse, Motion Pro, Sunstar, IMS, V3 Offroad, Belray and Tomboy Barbie Photography. Also gotta thank Mitch Brown, Rod Marshall, my Dad, and Larry Silvia for everything!