Josh Coppins and Craig Dack
Both were riders at the highest level. Both have managed race teams to great success. Both have been in racing for over 30 years. One is JCR, the other is CDR. Coppins and Dack. Between them there are countless championships around the world, years of experience and a shared passion of dirt bikes.
They worked together as rider and manager, now they have a close association on running race teams. Let’s get their thoughts on racing, managing and motocross in general.
The moment you knew you were done in racing as a rider?
JC: “I know the exact moment. I was back in the UK visiting my family early in 2012 between some rounds of the MX Nationals. I was doing some riding at Fat Cat Moto Park and it was cold, wet, raining and just a miserable day and sitting there between rides looking out over the track and I knew that I didn’t want to do this anymore. I returned back to Australia and announced my retirement for the end of the 2012 season while at the Appin MX Nationals. I was fortunate enough to win the championship in my final year, but I had done enough. I had no more motivation to race at that level again.”
CD: “It was the winter of 1992 and I had just returned from two broken wrists. I entered a local race at Monza Park, Ballarat to get myself back in to race shape and it was the coldest, windiest, muddiest day and I recall I fell off and drove my hand into the ground and broke my wrist again. As I was getting back to the pits, I made up my mind that this was the end. I finished out the year and never raced again.”
Josh Coppins retired in 2012 and won the Australian MX Championship that year by 11-points over a young Todd Waters – Image by Shayne Rice
What’s easier, a racer or a team manager?
JC: “A racer is far easier. It’s only about you as a racer, your life is selfish in that you can control how you prepare, how fit you are and for the most part, your result in the race. As a manager, I sit on the side lines and hope that the rider has all that under control.”
CD: “A racer for sure, but in saying that, during my time in racing, the riders were the ones that did the majority of the deals with the sponsors anyway, so there wasn’t a lot of difference. For me, it wasn’t until I returned from Europe in 1991 that I had someone take care of a lot of those things for me. But I think a racer has a lot less to be concerned about and they are generally younger and more carefree in life anyway.”
Craig Dack post race in 1988
Your most memorable moment as a racer?
JC: “For me, the Spanish GP in 2007. I went 1-1 on the day and was leading the world championships. It was a long time coming but a great feeling and something I will always remember.”
CD: “The year 1986 stands out to me the most and the event that always comes to mind is the MXoN in Italy where I finished second in class. It was a day as a rider you rarely get, and everything clicked. I felt amazing and there was 60,000 people there watching. I was racing with the likes of David Bailey, Rick Johnson and all the European riders and to be in the group was something I won’t forget.”
Josh Coppins went 1-1 in the second round of the Motocross World Championship in Spain in 2007
Your greatest achievement as a team manager?
JC: “2020. Compared to Craig, I’m fairly new to this management game so to win the MX1 and MX2 championships as well as the NZSBK in the one season is a huge reward for myself, Amy and everyone at Yamaha New Zealand who have worked so hard to get this season in place.”
CD: “The first thing I think of when you say that is that fact that this time has been around for 28 years and built long term relationships with people like Yamaha, Fox and Dunlop. It’s a good innings in the racing business and in that time we have been able to run a tight ship, pay our bills and to have continued success.”
Best rider you have had to work with?
JC: “I have a soft spot for Jay Wilson. He listens and you know every time he is on the track he gives you all he has. He doesn’t win every time, but he is 100% a racer and is coachable.”
Jay Wilson with mentor Josh Coppins pictured here in 2015
CD: “We have had a lot of riders come though the doors at CDR and naming just one of them is extremely difficult. Jay Marmont has been our most successful rider over the time, and I liked many of the attributes Jay had. He was an old school, tough, determined rider and he worked hard to extract every ounce of talent from his mind and body. But when I look back over the years, there have been plenty of guys I liked working with. Josh Coppins was great to deal with, same goes for Darryl Hurley. Even going back to Lee Hogan who won our first championship or Daniel Milner when we ran the off-road program.”
The respect went both ways between Craig Dack and Jay Marmont – “I have enormous respect for team owner Craig Dack and the way his team go about running a race team. It bought the best out of me when I raced for them.”
Best team manager you have had to work with?
JC: “Carlo Rinaldi. He was sympathetic, passionate, understanding and professional. But more importantly, he understood me and got me. He knew what made me tick and how to get the best from me.”
CD: “John Collins was the guy who probably helped me the most during my career and if I had a mentor, then he was it. He was my first sponsor, was involved in getting me back from Europe in 1991 and was there to help or guide me through my racing days.”
Craig Dack, Brian Collins team launch, hosted by Neil Crompton, 1988
Greatest challenge facing our sport?
JC: “As mentioned above, I have only really done this for a short time as a manager, but I think the sport and the world in general has never faced anything like COVID- 19. The unpredictability of it makes it so tough as none of us have any idea of the effects it will have physically or financially going forward.”
CD: “My goal for this sport is to get unity between all the invested parties. That means having the manufacturers, team, riders, importers, promoters and governing body all pushing in the one direction and show casing the sport for how good it can be. It’s the biggest challenge facing us and our biggest hurdle to overcome.”