Interview: Chad Wienen on AMA ATV National Championship Season

Sep. 26, 2013 By Seth Fargher, Photos courtesy of Yamaha and Wienen Motorsports
Chad Wienen earned another championship in 2013.

Putting together a winning ATV race program is not for the faint of heart. Back in the late 2000s most of the top pros were on factory race teams, which meant the logistics of running a team were taken care of so they could focus on what they do best… racing.

Chad Wienen is one professional ATV racer who has enjoyed the support of a factory race team for several years over the course of his career.  In recent years, the struggling economy has forced most of the OEMs to pull out of ATV racing, and while some still offer support, there are very few “factory rides” up for grabs. That has left many top professionals, like Wienen, scrambling to put together a program of their own to be able to continue doing what they love to do.

Following a challenging 2011 season in which he was poised to win his first AMA ATV National Championship, Wienen suffered a broken back while practicing at his home in Galena, Illinois. Unsure of how well he would recover, Wienen’s factory racing team decided not to renew his contract for 2012, leaving Wienen to come up with a different plan. Enter Wienen Motorsports.

With the help of several friends, sponsors and a different OEM, Wienen began assembling a team of supporters with whom he thought he could put together a championship-caliber program. When the first gate dropped in 2012, Wienen was aboard a completely new machine and looking for redemption.

Chad Wienen (right) and Thomas Brown (left) had a solid year for Wienen Motorsports.

As it turns out, the new program was a success and Wienen claimed the 2012 AMA ATV National Championship. For 2013, Wienen made a few minor adjustments to his program, one of which included bringing on friend and fellow Yamaha teammate Thomas Brown. Together, in 2013 the Wienen Motorsports duo claimed nine of ten overall wins as well as the number one and number two positions in the season point standings.

To say Wienen Motorsports has a winning combination is an understatement. We had a chance to talk to Chad recently about his program and what it’s like trying to put together a championship-caliber racing program. First off, congrats on your second championship and an incredibly successful season for Wienen Motorsports. We spoke at the beginning of the year about goals and expectations for the season. Did you at all expect to have two riders on almost every pro podium all year and to have Wienen Motorsports claim nine out of ten overalls for the year? 
Chad Wienen: Thank you, I did not expect to have so many great races from our team but I did know that we have the program to do so.  I was more pumped to win eight out of the ten rounds myself, and then Thomas taking the last round we couldn't be happier! 

ORC: Before the 2012 season, you branched out and started your own team in Wienen Motorsports. Who are some of the major players in your program?
CW: Yes it was going out on a limb, but it was one of the best decisions I have made. Some key players are Ian from SSI Decals. He’s a huge part of our program and keeps us looking fresh! Also the guys from Yamaha really came up big by backing us on a great YFZ450R. The guys from Walsh Race Craft are key to getting our machine handling great! Plus the guys from Maxxis Tires hooking up all year long in any condition, and Fox Shox soaking up any bump that was in the road we may encounter. FMF are keeping it real, and the guys from FLY racing are keeping our gear fresh. Team Vollmer, Ryan Cox and Malaska Motorsports of course creating a powerplant of an engine! Others helping us are Scott Goggles, Hinson Clutch Components, Shoei, Alpinstars, Renthal, Quadtech, Vortex ignitions, Fuel Customs, VP Racing fuels, K&N, precision, Lone Star, EVS, Maxima Racing Oils, Web Cams, NGK, CP Carrillo, WPC, Tire Balls, DID Chains, GYTR, Yamaha Generators, Four Werx, Gold Speed Wheels, Beringer Brakes, Works Connection, Acerbis, Streamline Brakes and Rath Racing. 

ORC: What was your plan as you were approaching companies to help you form this new team? 
CW: I was only out to run the best products that were in the industry! Many knew the drive that I have to win and it takes every bit to win races and most of all championships!

ORC: Did you know who specifically you wanted to involve or were there some companies that came on board unexpectedly? 
CW: I really did. Some didn't want to jump in head over heals, but after the first one they knew we had a great program to be apart of.

ORC: What is one product you use that you absolutely cannot be without?
CW: So hard to say just one, but Walsh Race Craft builds so much for our machine front to back on our Yamaha.

ORC: What's the biggest difference between being a factory riders vs. running your own team?
CW: Being on a factory team there is less effort you need to put into the program to make it work. Running my own team there is not just riding I do. I work on the machines, order parts, wash the rig, drive the rig. You name it, it's done in house. But the satisfaction you feel when you do big things with your own team is magical.

Chad Wiene (1) and Thomas Brown (84) finished first and second in the point standings in 2013.

ORC: Do you spend a lot more time wrenching on the vehicle than you have in the past?
CW: Way more but I actually feel best when I do my own work.

ORC: What day-to-day operations do you do now that you didn't before?
CW: Lol, way more ordering parts, working on race/practice machines, not to mention my duties for training.

ORC: How many people make the wheels of the Wienen Motorsports team turn?
CW: There are about four of us that make it all go around in house.

ORC: What advice would you give to privateers looking to get sponsors to help support their race efforts?
CW: Have a good attitude and work effort – nothing better than that. Along with some God-given talent.

ORC: On race day, do you have any pre-race rituals or routines?
CW: We usually eat the same diner before every race.

2013 AMA Mountain Dew ATV Motocross National Champion Chad Wienen

ORC: Without giving away any of your secrets, is there anything unique about your race vehicle setup that you can share with us?
CW: I like a machine that has great lowend power and a suspension that stays flat to the ground with very little transfer.

ORC: What is the most unique off-season training you do?
CW: Swimming or cycling.

ORC: What does the future of Wienen Motorsports look like?
CW: Expanding and growing into a name that strives to be the best.

Machine: Yamaha YFZ 450R

Suspension: Walsh Racing

Shocks: Fox Shox

Tires: Maxxis

Wheels: Goldspeed Racing Products

Exhaust: FMF

Engine Builder: Malaska Motorsports

Mechanic: Paul Turner

Handle Bars: Renthal

Steering Stem: Walsh Race Craft

Clutch: Hinson

Air Filter: K&N

Clutch Lever/Perch: Works Connection

Brakes: Beringer Brakes

Axle: Lone Star Racing

Oils: Maxima

Graphics: SSI Decals

Nerfs/Bumper: Rath Racing

Body: Fourwerx Carbon

Intake: Fuel Customs

Ignition: Vortex

Cams: Webcams

Brake Lines: Streamline

Steering Dampener: Precision

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