Features 22 May 2024

Industry: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Nathan Ramsey

Team manager on 250SX West title victory with RJ Hampshire.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna landed back in the winner’s circle at the conclusion on Monster Energy Supercross 2024, where RJ Hampshire clinched the 250SX West crown in Salt Lake City almost two weeks ago now. Hear from team manager Nathan Ramsey in recollecting the season, Hampshire’s influence on the program, and more, in our latest Industry interview.

Image: Align Media.

Nate, I feel like that this whole championship was a big team effort. Also, RJ always mentions his team and the people around him, but how were you feeling when the gate dropped last weekend? And especially, how happy were you and also for the whole team when you finally won the championship?

Yeah, you know, I think you nailed it. This team and this program has came a long way, and I think that the right people are in the right places – I had complete confidence in everyone and the positions that they were in along the way. Any time we had a hiccup or anything to discuss or try to overcome as far as a team and a program, especially with RJ, he’s the type of guy you can sit down and talk clearly with and go through. The situations and the options – we make our best choices – so, that part, I’m more happy for everybody than anything, really, because everybody poured themselves into this. And we’ve had some pretty low lows over the last couple years, a lot of injuries that surrounded the team, especially on the 450 side. So, I was trying my best to keep the guys motivated, which, to be honest, they’re such a good group and they stay pretty motivated. I just try to remind them, like, ‘Hey, we lose as a team, we win as a team.’ It’s all of us here together and I just couldn’t be more happy with the people that we have on this team and the program. Everybody that plays their part is just key in the role in this whole thing with coming home with the championship, so I couldn’t be happier with this program right now.

You won the western regional championship yourself in 1999, which is a long time ago now, but, one, was there anything that you were able to share with RJ in that experience? And, two, how would you compare the feeling? Your journey since that point has been really fascinating in itself to get to this position you’re in today.

I did my best to, you know, share any wisdom that I had with RJ based off of the races that I had won in the championship ultimately back in 1999. I think we’ve said it plenty of times now, RJ and I have some very similar journey and similar characteristics as far as sending it and going for it when we were both driven very, you know, very hard, just kind of rode with our hearts. So, I think, for me, I think the advice started way before this year, is just trying to plant that seed of, like, knowing when to go and when not to. San Diego was a pivotal point, that particular race didn’t work out the way we wanted, but the good thing about RJ is he’s always going to think he has a chance to go there and win it, even if there’s only two turns left. I believe that was pivotal because I think he learned to hold back in certain situations – that was kind of the message after that race, was like, ‘Hey, if you can learn from this, then it’s okay.’ That becomes a win, if you learn from it and then ultimately get the championship because of it. And I think that he showed that in the end. Back to the feeling, kind of comparing, you know, it has been a long time, and you’re testing my memory here… but, honestly, this felt just as good or better. I have to be honest about that, because I was definitely pumped to win back in my day and bring home my championship, but it’s weird because as a rider, you don’t quite know how much everybody’s put into it. You feel like you do, and I always feel like I thought I knew what a team manager did, but being on this side of the fence, you realize there’s so much more to it, so you’re so grateful and so happy for the whole team. I think this one actually felt a little bit better, to be honest.

Image: Align Media.

You began in your current role at the beginning of 2022. What has your tactic been in terms of managing riders and understanding how to get the most out of them?

Transitioning into this side and dealing with riders, everyone’s different. You know, you’ve got to really learn the rider and learn how to communicate with them and get the best out of them and try to… some riders, it takes them a while to trust you or the team. You’ve got to tear down that wall and some guys are easier than others, but ultimately when I ended up transitioning to this position, the funny thing with RJ is that I knew him and I’m sure he knew me, but I knew him the least out of everybody on the team because I had worked with the other guys more recently and just more in general. I made a phone call to all the riders, said ‘Hey, you know, I’m going to be the new team manager,’ and I think me and RJ kind of linked up pretty quick. I think the trust, although it wasn’t like complete trust right away, I think it happened pretty quickly. And I think he knows I have his best interest or we have his best interest, and he feels the same way about the team.

In the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team, there’s obviously some, some very young riders – Casey Cochran and Guillem Farres on the 250 program – while RJ has been around now for some time. How critical is having a rider of his experience to help with the direction of the bike, just setting the standard, and giving the feedback that the team needs to keep progressing and ultimately get these results?

Yeah, I think it’s very critical. I mean, you know, in a perfect world, you always have a veteran that you can trust and use his knowledge and his testing skills – he knows how to set up a bike for the younger ones. I mean, that’s the ultimate situation to have that and that’s not always possible, but for sure, RJ has been a big help. I mean, like pretty quickly when he jumps on a bike, whether it’s a 250 or 450, he has some pretty quick diagnosis of like, ‘Oh, we need to do this and this and this.’ And, and the cool thing is he doesn’t typically waver… You know, a lot of riders will make a decision and then second guess it and not want to change because they’re not quite sure. RJ is pretty good about getting excited about it and knowing it’s better and sticking with it for the most part. I mean, there’s always situations where it doesn’t work out, but ultimately with our young guys, that’s, that’s what we’ve done is like, alright, if this kind of works for RJ, even though everyone’s different and you have to keep that in mind, it definitely puts us in the window, the sweet spot, and then we can kind of make the small adjustments. And then on top of that, we also have Josh Hansen as a test rider, and that’s also been a big, a big help to kind of work through a lot of this stuff and get it, instead of showing up to test with RJ and having 10 to 15 choices, we narrow it down to four or five, and then he can kind of peel through those. There’s been times when Hansen’s come up with a setting and it’s been plug and play with RJ even, so I think that’s another detail that our program has that they haven’t had in the past. I think it’s a detail that was necessary and it’s been very beneficial for us.