Published on Sun, Oct 25, 2009
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
(Miller Motorsports Park/Jeremy Henrie photo)
By Ashley Van Dyke
By Ashley Van DykeIt's a race on two wheels - both on the pavement and the dirt. Supermoto is known as the test of all skill sets to find the best overall motorcycle racer. The long road to winning a national championship has been paved with patience and persistence. It has been a dream of Roger Hensley's for more than 20 years. That dream finally became reality when French rider, Sylvain Bidart, clinched the XTRM/AMA 450 National Championship aboard a Championship Horsepower Motorsports (CHM) built bike at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah. Roger Hensley is the CHM Supermoto Team owner, manager, driver, and mechanic. Winning this title is a huge, personal accomplishment for Roger. Going head-to-head with teams that had factory-backed Hondas and Yamahas and budgets that were definitely bigger was a huge obstacle. The majority of the team's budget comes out of Roger's pocket and has been dwindling down. It's a picture perfect story of David beating Goliath. Roger got to this point like most other owners start out - racing. Remembering back to wanting a motorcycle ever since he was a little kid, and saving money from paper routes and buying his first bike from a friend for $94, Roger would spend days riding with guys like Bob Hannah, David Baily, and Jeff Hicks. By the time he was 13, he started racing the local motocross circuit. Roger was racing with kids that would become some of the best racers of all time. Roger competed against Jeff Ward in the Mini-cycle Nationals, the infamous Doug Dubach at Saddleback, and in 1981 riding the amateur nationals with Ron Lechien. As 1982 rolled around, he was in the west coast AMA 125 nationals and Supercross at Los Angeles and Anaheim. Roger also won the No. 1 plate in the California Racing Club 125 Pro class in 1982 and then repeated that title win in 1983. By the end of the '83 season, Roger was feeling a little burnt out and had a health problem that needed to get under control. He turned his focus to getting healthy. Once the health issue was taken care of, the burnt-out feeling went away and he was right back at it. In 1995, he rode a few local CRC races and was having fun again. Eventually, the ugly realities of life caught up and it was time to get a real job. But as luck would have it, Roger wouldn't have to leave the racing completely behind. Instead, he started hauling other people's race teams from track-to-track. In 2004, the regular driver for the CHM team happened to be on another trip, and Roger was asked by then owner Dana Tutt to transport the team to a race in Colorado. Having not seen a supermoto track before, he was immediately attracted by the fact that it was like motocross without so many bumps. Roger thought that maybe he could actually do this. By the time the 2005 season started, he was not only driving for the team, but also had become a racing member riding aboard a 250. Roger won the AMA Supermoto Sport National Championship that same year. At the end of the '05 season, Tutt had decided that he would not field a team for 2006. Roger gave the idea a little thought and figured he could do that, too. Roger had enough racing experience but more importantly, had more than 20 years to think about how this could be done right. Before you know it Roger had gladly took over the team.
(Miller Motorsports Park/Jeremy Henrie photo) For the first couple of years after taking over as owner, he started out small. Roger was doing most of the racing at the local supermoto events where he was doing really well. The team also helped Franky Garcia at the X Games and fielding a rider or two for the AMA rounds. As we got things started to more organized, we turned it up a notch. With sponsorship from CHM Exhaust, Pro Honda Oils, Sunoco race fuel, Works Connection, Supermoto Engineering, Hammer Head designs and Dunlop, the team was able to put together a four-rider team for 2009. In addition to Sylvain, he had Micky Dymond and Jason Conlon riding the 450/Premier Class and Dustin Hoffman riding the 250/Lites. Each one of these guys brings different experiences and style to the track. Bidart, 29, is a French national supermoto champion who came to the team under recommendation by previous team member Alex Thiebault. Sylvain initially became interested in riding for CHM a few years back when the team lent him a bike to ride in a couple of races in the states, but because he rode different brands in France, it wasn't possible for him to ride a Honda in the U.S. That all changed in '09 when he started riding a Honda in both countries. Dymond, 44, holds two 125 motocross championship titles, an AMA Unlimited Supermoto title, a Baja 1000 win in class 21, and a record breaking time at Pikes Peak. He called up at the first of the year about riding a bike for CHM. Micky made arrangements to met out at a local track so he could test ride the bikes we had. After riding a while, he decided that he wanted to ride for the team. One of the main reasons, he said, was because the bikes never broke down - truly a compliment. Conlon, 35, was introduced to Roger through team friend Les at Dunlop. Jason rode a couple of races on one of the bikes in '07 and became a full-time rider in '08. That season he became the top placing privateer in the 450/Premier class by finishing 6th overall. Hoffman, 17, started out racing motocross and made a smooth transition over to supermoto. He was offered a ride after he beat Roger in a race out at Willow Springs Raceway. That was all before he was 16. Roger told him once he turned 16 (the age at which you can obtain a professional racing license), they would get him a bike. He pulled off a 3rd place overall finish in his first full season. A few weeks ago when the XTRM/AMA Supermoto national series was at the final stop, the top contenders were within only a few points of each other. Bidart trailed Ward by three points and it was anyone's race. But by the time it was all over, Sylvain Bidart had ridden to third- and second-place finishes in the double-header and had pulled off the big upset by relieving Jeff Ward of the championship title he had won the year before. Roger and the CHM team couldn't be happier. "It's a lot more meaningful because I put so much of myself into the entire team and I'm very happy that this is how it finally turned out. Hopefully, I can keep it all going" Roger Hensley exclaims.
Sylvain Bidart (Miller Motorsports Park/Jeremy Henrie photo)