Just when and where did Motoworks come from? We never heard of them until just a few years ago, and now they're a major force in ATV racing on both sides of the country, and on top of that, they're a highly effective performance shop that is encroaching on the turf of all the well-established giants in the field.
I just got a company history and a tour of the Motoworks facility in Elsinore, California. It turns out that Motoworks is a rare convergence of talent and resources. There are two different entities; the Can-Am backed racing team and the performance shop. But it all started in 2005 when Darrell and Derrick Contreras of DC Sports (an automotive exhaust company) met Johnny Leach of West Coast Lighting and Energy. The Contreras bothers (identical twins, actually) were hard-core motorcycle and ATV enthusiasts and after dabbling on the fringes of the industry, they wanted to get into performance and racing full time. Leach had a successful electrics business doing maintenance for large companies like Home Depot, but he, too, wanted to pursue the ATV business. They joined forces to form Motoworks. After that, Can-Am got on board, so they started the independent race team. The company also expanded into the street bike market by taking over the struggling Road House brand.
Somehow it all worked. In a period of economic contraction, Motoworks grew. Johnny Leach showed me how it all comes together. The building's overhead is shared with the electric company. The Contreras brothers were already experts on manufacturing, so it was easy to set up an efficient factory. Then the race team paid off a big dividend in name exposure. With big tractor/semi trucks on both coasts, it was hard to miss the Motoworks logo. And BRP, Can-Am's parent company, loved it all. Can-Am already had one team on the AMA National circuit and racing GNCCs, and actually wanted the Motoworks teams to be separate, so it could more or less double the R&D effort going into the DS450. The results is that the DS went from an unknown quantity to a highly developed race machine quickly. But it took hard work. "We had to discover everything ourselves, by trial and error," says Johnny. "We would fix one problem and discover something else. The kind of issues we had weren't a problem for the average rider, just someone going National speed."
As an example, he showed us a clutch that his team had designed and manufactured. "The stock clutch is fine for most riders, but our guys were having trouble. Hinson built a basket, but it didn't sell for them and they didn't want to build anything lese for the Can-Am. It turned out the problem was in the hub. We designed one with different oil passages and it solved the problem. Now we sell them." That kind of on-the-track development also led them to build a gearbox for the DS, which they now sell. There are also items like battery boxed and disc guards available. None of these items are big money makers by themselves, but if you race a Can-Am, you have to come to Motoworks for something eventually.
The guys on the race team are very proud of the motor the Jeremie Warnia and Jeremy Lawson are running. It's fast and it has a great finishing record. Most of the development was done by Dallas Baker at Pro Tec. The full race motor is a little highly strung and too secretive for the general public, but Motoworks will sell most of it to anyone. You can check out the website at www.motoworks.com
The future looks good. The race team is solid for next year. Can-Am is on board again and the budget might actually increase. The riders aren't finalized, yet, but it looks good for some very fast man to ride on the team. There's also a good chance that Motoworks will field an additional team on something other than Can-Am. Most of the company's sales are actually for Japanese machines despite the strong name association with BRP. It's good to hear a success story in these times. And it will be especially fun to see what happens in racing next year.