Funded by Passion: Sweden's Privateer Fredrik Noren
When you hold the title of rider, mechanic, team manager, and financial backer, battling against the fastest guys in the world is just the beginning of your job. It's not an ideal situation, but Fredrik Noren proudly fills the positions, all with a smile.
The Swedish Champion is the kind of privateer that is redefining the term "jack of all trades" as he travels back and forth from Sweden to America, typically using the off season to work at home instead of riding in order to save money and fund his career. Everything he earns throughout the year goes straight back into racing.
"At the end of the season all the money is gone, I'm just having fun. I wish I could make money, but as it is right now that's not really happening."
The 21-year-old is soft spoken, but extremely passionate about the sport. While growing up riding was more of a hobby for him and his family, but he progressed quickly and started taking it more serious. At the age of 16 he attended a motocross school that allowed him to train while studying, and a year later he was a strong podium contender. But his breakout season came in 2010 when he became the Swedish Champion. Having finally attained the highest achievement in Swedish racing, Noren decided to take on America in the hopes of turning his love into his profession.
Although Noren hasn't received much media attention, he has had some standout rides since joining the series. Before breaking his wrist in the midst of outdoors, Noren had a handful of top 20 finishes and last year he had his best moto so far when he finished 8th at Washougal. The experience of getting mixed in with the top guys reinforced his confidence in racing in America.
"I knew that I could be a fast guy," Noren said. "I knew I could be inside the top 10, so when I was actually able to do it, I was so pumped."
Besides the talent on the track, he has faced plenty of other obstacles at the races. Without a mechanic, he has called in help from his girlfriend and friends, including supporter Bryan Oliphant of Novik Gloves. His girlfriend was his mechanic at the beginning of the series in Hangtown, but because she doesn't know much about working on bikes, she was mainly there for support. Often he has to take on the role of being his own mechanic, which can be exhausting if something goes wrong.
"You kind of have to hope that nothing happens to the bike because then you will have no time to rest," Noren said about going solo. "You just have to work on the bike, get it fixed and go out for the next moto. It's pretty tough but it's doable. I can't afford having a mechanic so that's what I have to do."
While he maintains a positive attitude, the journey hasn't been an easy one. From adjusting to a different climate, scrambling for sponsors, dealing with being away from family, and working out the kinks that come with having only a limited visa, he's had his work cut out for him both on and off the track.
In the past, Noren has stayed in the country on a tourist visa, which only allows him to be in the states for six months at a time. He is currently waiting to be approved for a visa that will extend his trips to two years. For the past couple of years, he had to take six month breaks where he is unable to train (he sold his bikes in Sweden to fund his first season in America), and the break has also robbed him of the opportunity to race Supercross. But he looks at the bright side while he waits for the opportunity to train and ride at his full potential.
"It's mentally hard because I know the guys I'm going to race are training for Supercross and getting faster while I'm back at home working. But the passion for the sport motivates me and gives me something to look forward to when I get to come back," he said.
Noren headed home to Sweden on Monday (the last day of his visa stay was Tuesday) where he will prepare for his first ever season of Supercross - from more than 5,000 miles away from the location of the first round. At the moment, he hasn't had any team offers for Supercross or Outdoors, so he will spend his down time calling sponsors for support, creating a budget, and formulating his plans for 2014. The privateer grind is a full time job that doesn't pay overtime, but Noren is determined to continue chasing down his dreams.
"I can work a regular job for 40 years, but I can only ride a dirtbike on this level for so long. I'd rather try riding as much as I can while I still can. If it doesn't work out… well I guess I don't really think like that."
Fredrik would like to thank: Malcolm Smith Motorsports, Silkolene, öhlins, Troy Lee Designs, Pro Circuit, Ride Engineering, Novik Gloves, EKS Brand, Sunstar, Rekluse, Excel, Ridestore.com, Absolent, Schaaf Photography and all of his Swedish sponsors and all the fans.
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