By: Robert Janis
A Q&A with Jimmy White Director of the Kawasaki ATV Racing Team
Jimmy White, director of the Kawasaki
ATV Racing Team
Jimmy White is the head of the Monster Energy
Kawasaki Racing Team. A racing enthusiast, White
was first associated with Kawasaki when he raced
for them during the 1980s.
ATVSource: What is your background in ATV
White: I raced three wheelers and four wheelers
for Kawasaki in the 1980s.
ATVSource: So you were one of the first to race
ATVSource: How many were racing at the time?
White: There were 500 to 700 entries at every
national event back then just as there is now.
Then it just kind of went south in 1987 for
quite a few years then picked up again
gradually. And now with all the factories back
involved again it has picked up tremendously,
but it is still the same amount of entries as
Redalins in 1986 -- about 600 or so. They had a
little bit over that this year.
ATVSource: Did you race for anyone else?
ATVSource: What series did you race?
White: We had the Mickey Thompson Stadium Series
back then and also before the ATVA was formed
AMA had a series that turned into the AMA
National Motocross Series a few years ago.
ATVSource: How did you become head of the
Kawasaki racing team?
White: When it first introduced the new TFX450
in 2007, Kawasaki asked Reid Nordein, who is the
head of Team Green, to put together a racing
team. Reid and I go way back to when I raced for
Kawasaki. He was my mechanic. He took the head
of Team Green,one thing led to another, and he
called me and asked me if I had any interest in
helping to put a team together. It has been a
joint venture between the two of us. Itís been a
real good mix.
ATVSource: How long has Kawasaki been racing
White: The current model that we are racing is a
2008 KFX 450 that was first introduced as a
brand new model in February 2007. So 2007 and
2008 are the first two years we have been
ATVSource: When you raced for Kawasaki in the
1980s, did they drop it?
White: In 1987 60 Minutes did a segment on all
the lawsuits on three wheelers and at the end of
Ď86 Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha quit racing and
dropped all their support for racing by Ď87.
ATVSource: And Kawasaki came back in 2007?
White: Yes. I donít know when Yamaha came back.
Honda is now half-heartedly back into it. They
are giving guys bikes, parts, and a little bit
of money. However, they donít have a factory
team at the races. Kawasaki came back in 2007.
ATVSource: How do you create and develop a team?
White: Iíve been involved with the industry with
different tire companies who sponsor racers ever
since I quit racing. So I guess itís just
knowing who is young and who can be developed
into a champion and just trying to bring
together all the top and right sponsors to help
us out and build from there.
ATVSource: So you have the advantage with
sponsors because youíve raced before and they
White: Yes. Most of them do. With most of them
Iíve had over 20 years of a relationship with
them. Not all of them, but a lot of them.
ATVSource: And that helps you get sponsors you
have not had a relationship with?
ATVSource: In terms of the racers, how do you
identify them as the ones you want on your team?
White: Iíve been involved with sponsoring
different racers when I was with tire companies.
I was with Kenda Tires for five years sponsoring
top level professionals and amateur riders. I
stayed involved and kind of knew who was up and
coming and thatís why we signed Josh Creamer the
first year, and heís signed for next year, which
will mark his third year with us. He was a first
year pro. I think he broke the top 10 a few
times, but not consistently, and we helped
ATVSource: Do you have an amateur program that
helps develop racers?
White: Yes, we do. The same as what we have in
the Team Green motorcycle division. We have in
the ATV Motocross two different levels. Direct
support from us where we help racers out with a
discounted bike or free bike and parts--thatís
the amateur and pro/am level. And we have our
Team Green Program/Dealer Support Program that
comes through the Kawasaki dealers. If you are
interested, you apply with your neighborhood
dealer; they send the application into Team
Green, and we approve it or we donít. We have a
certain number of discounted bikes that we use
to help the dealers sell and they go to these
ATVSource: The amateurs are racing for you or
White: We want them to promote through the
dealer network. If it is through the Team
Green/Dealer Support program, itís for the
dealers. The factory helps the dealer support
local talent or other amateur talent.
ATVSource: And if these guys are good, they
graduate to your team?
ATVSource: How long have you been doing the
White: Everything started in 2007. Now when
Kawasaki quit racing in Ď87 they had a support
program for GNCC for a few years. And they still
do through the dealer support program. I donít
know how long it has been going on, but it has
been going on for awhile. And thatís more for
utility vehicle racing.
ATVSource: In what events will the Kawasaki Team
race in 2009?
White: At the AMA Nationals.
ATVSource: No GNCC or anything like that?
White: No, we donít have a GNCC team. We support
that through either our dealersí network or
through direct contact supporting different
people different ways. But we donít have a
Kawasaki team at GNCC.
ATVSource: What about desert racing? Do you get
involved with that?
ATVSource: Why did you choose the AMA Nationals
Motocross to get involved in?
White: It gets the highest participation. But
the main reason why is because of the notable
recognition the Motocross Series gets. It seems
to get the most press, the most mystic, and it
is the most competitive. It is just something
that leads right up our alley as far as racing
against the other manufacturers is concerned.
ATVSource: What model ATVs are you racing?
White: We are using the 2009 KFX 450.
ATVSource: Why that model?
White: We are racing to sell that model. It is a
competitive sport vehicle. Itís not race ready
out of the box. But itís a recreational sport
vehicle thatís as close to an out-of-the-box
race bike that we have.
ATVSource: Do you use racers in the Kawasaki R&D
White: We will bring them in for certain
ATVSource: Do racers go to other events to
White: Yes, of course. They go to dealer
openings. Our sponsors will use them for the
Indy Show in February. Just different things
that help promote Kawasaki and our sponsors.
ATVSource: So you send them to trade shows and
that type of thing?
ATVSource: And you send them to dealerships?
White: We try to. We try to work it around the
schedule in whatever town weíre in if it helps
to promote the race, Kawasaki, and the racer.
ATVSource: How can a dealer request a racer
appear at his dealership?
White: Through their Kawasaki dealer rep.
Thereís paperwork they need to fill out, and
that gets sent to us, and we try to work it out
in accordance to our schedule.
ATVSource: You said that some of the racing is
done through the dealers. If they want to
support a race, would you supply racers to do
that days in advance of the race?
White: If the dealers request properly through
the Kawasaki reps, yes. Weíll send our racers
out, at least we try to. As far as what the
dealer does with the riders he supports, thatís
ATVSource: What features exist now on Kawasaki
ATVs thatís due to the racing program?
White: We have an accessories catalog that is
sent to the dealers that pretty much offers what
we run on our quads. So you can get an accessory
from our dealers or from our sponsors.
ATVSource: If I were a racer and you didnít know
about me, is there a way I can alert you about
me and get into the process of being chosen for
the Kawasaki Team?
White: The best thing is that Iím at every race.
I watch the amateurs. I watch every National and
I watch all the other classes. So I am aware of
anyone who stands out. But the best thing to do
is to get a relationship going with your dealer
because the dealers have a strong relationship
with our bosses. And if they are at the
Nationals and they want to race Kawasakis, they
just need to come up and talk to me.