What began as a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for a handful of lucky motocross fans has taken flight to become the fully fledged Ricky Carmichael University. Riders of all ages and skill levels now have an opportunity to learn from the “GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time) as the legendary motocross/supercross racer Ricky Carmichael has become known. Obviously graduates stand to gain the most from RCU, however dealers, sponsors and others in the industry can gain tangible benefits.
RC took time out of his incredibly hectic schedule to explain more about RCU. In addition to being the “dean” of RCU, he is still actively involved in “Ricky Carmichael’s Road To Supercross” as the Arenacross series has become known; preparing for the 2-day Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross held at Daytona International Speedway during Bike Week; heading the RCH Soaring Eagle Supercross team of Josh Hill and Broc Tickle; working in the broadcast booth every weekend for Fox Sports; making countless personal appearances… and the list goes on. So why would somebody with so much on his plate want to dish out riding tips to a bunch of amateurs?
“I do this because it’s something I enjoy and it is also a way to develop something cool within the sport. It is a way to give something back to the sport that has given me so much,” he explains. “I believe things like RCU are programs this sport needs – our fans and competitors deserve options and opportunities. I genuinely want to see our sport grow and earn the respect that it and its riders deserve.”
It wasn’t something as simple as slapping his name on an existing program, he and manager JH Leale spent a considerable amount of time creating the concept, designing the curriculum and making sure that RCU was legit long before it was ever announced back in 2010. “When we first discussed the idea, we looked at other sports and saw how they helped develop their future talent.
We set out to do the same thing in moto.” They also looked at the backend opportunities for the industry. “Not only do we work hard to make it great experience for the students, we try to make it worth everyone’s while in many different ways. It brings positive attention to our sponsors and allows the participants to get closer to those brands as well.”
Of course the initial focus is on the students. “We believe a rider can get so much out of RCU. First being a great experience and being exposed to the depth of knowledge we have from the instruction staff to help these riders reach their true potential.” The riders are divided by age and ability level so everyone has a chance to learn and improve from their personal level. From up-and-comers on 85s to Vet riders, RCU caters to each group.
“By keeping the class sizes small it allows us to spend more one-on-one time with each rider. We believe that we have put together a trend-setting program with RCU,” claims the GOAT. “We can give some insight to not only the riders but their parents and guardians, mechanics and others — it is truly a great experience all around.
For the parents and mechanics we also have classroom time for them as well with seminars from companies such as Cometic, Dunlop, Hookit and others.” Dealership personnel take note: “We also have a factory mechanic on hand to help answer any set up questions they may have. We have learned a lot and tried to implement ideas from those big camps athletes from other popular sports (stick and ball) in America attend.”
So how does the average dealer get involved? “Whether it’s a dealer or potential sponsor, there are many different options with how they can be involved — from a scholarship side for individual riders to the advertising/partnership programs that the RCU provides,” says RC. “It is really up to them what they want do. We try to accommodate dealers and sponsors alike. We give them the option as to what way they feel is best to promote their brand. “
The Ricky Carmichael University Faculty
Who is on the RCU faculty? “The staff of the RCU programs are myself,
Jeff Emig and Jeff Stanton,” notes the head instructor, Ricky
Carmichael. “These two guys have been a permanent fixture on the
instructors side since day one.” Care to guess how many national, world
and Motocross des Nations championships this team has between them? We
can’t count that high!
There have also been some supporting instructors. “It really just
depends on their schedules and what country or region we are in, but
normally we try to have the best “guest” instructors we can get. In the
past we have had Johnny O’Mara, Jeff Ward, Damon Bradshaw, Ivan Tedesco
and Grant Langston among others.”
This year RCU will be working with Jamie Dobb in Europe and some other
surprise instructors to be announced later, including 10x World GP champ
The knowledgeable and experienced panel of instructors
are all more than qualified to teach students everything from proper
body positioning to utilizing organized drills focusing on flat turns,
riding rhythm sections and improving braking techniques.
Long-time fans may remember Carmichael’s own training started with his
mother. She definitely knows what she is doing since she helped create
the legend of the GOAT. “My mom helped out with the first couple we did,
but she isn’t really involved in the RCUs anymore. She is busy helping
with the riders we have at my track,” he says. “My dad and her run
things at my track in Florida and keep things going up there for the few
riders that use it.”
How about that JH Leale guy? Where does he fit into the RCU picture? “JH
is a huge part of the RCU,” claims Carmichael. “Honestly it’s his
program and he spends a majority of the time on it and the growth of it
and always trying to make it better. I do share my ideas and things that
I think we should do, but he is the boss.”
Carmichael cites Fox Racing and Rocky Mountain ATV as two prime examples. “Fox has been involved from the beginning and they work with their reps and dealers to provide ‘scholarships’ to deserving local riders by building it into some of their sales programs.
It’s a great way to reward their dealers and reps.” Rocky Mountain ATV/MC came on last year and did an online essay contest on why they should pick you to attend. We love new and fun ideas like that and are always open to hearing ideas on how people can get involved with the program.”
Time constraints being what they are for Carmichael, RCU is the best way to spend time with the champ these days. “I don’t do private lessons any more,” he says regretfully. “With all the programs we have going on and the RCH Soaring Eagle race team responsibilities, it keeps my time totally locked up.
I still do the Suzuki Camp Carmichael, which is exclusive to Suzuki riders. Suzuki rewards 24 riders with a private RCU at my track in November and the racers earn points throughout the year via Suzuki’s contingency program. It’s a really cool program that they do.”
Look for an updated schedule of RCU classes including the addition of Red Bud and for the first time ever, expanding into Europe with 2-day stops in Sweden and Belgium. RCU is supported by Ricky’s personal sponsors including Monster Energy, Fox Racing, Oakley, Cometic Gaskets and Suzuki as well as RCU-specific supporters such as Mechanix Wear, Hookit and Trek.
For more details, click on www.rickycarmichael.com or www.rickycarmichaeluniversity.com.
Photos by Josh Rud, Shift One Photography