Interview – Bruce Morris LUXBMX (Australia)
It seems there’s a lot going on Down Under this off-season with some of the big names in racing you support. Give everyone the scoop if they hadn’t caught the team changes on Social within the last few weeks?
Yes, I’ve definitely been busy talking with riders and their parents over the past few months to line up 2023 and beyond. This year is my 7th year at LUX and I feel the race side of the business is in a super strong position to support some of the best riders in Australia and a little further afield.
For starters, we continue to support Izaac Kennedy as a personal sponsor of his and if you haven’t checked out the Chase announcement vid, get onto it. The boys at LUX, Big Salad and Mitch, really took racing to another level content and production wise and we are really focused on showcasing racing as strong as freestyle (the shop took out the Vans Circle comp in 2022). He’ll be back in the US and traveling to all the World Cups, and of course, Glasgow.
Another rider we’re super stoked on signing is NZ boy Rico Bearman. A great mate of Izaac’s, he aligns perfectly with what we look for. Sure he’s fast, but has humility and the way he handled dumping the bike in the second turn while leading the Junior Elite World’s final spoke volumes of him as a person. Some riders would have picked up their bike and thrown it across the line, instead he just picked up a White Claw and said there’s other racers. A lot more to come from him and New Zealand holds a lot of opportunities for LUX. It’s closer than Perth and they have less mullets. Speaking of Perth…
Next up is Khalen Young. Needing no introduction, he’s swinging back into racing and is heavily involved in his local scene in Western Australia. It’s on the other side of our country and think of that part of Australia as far away as LA is from New York, but with the population of Nebraska, with nothing but the outback and desert in between. He coaches and mentors a solid crew of riders and has just set up a not-for-profit organisation to further help Aboriginal kids choose a healthier lifestyle and direction in life through good choices and BMX. LUX is fully aligned with these values of BMX being a positive life choice, along with us all being one family.
Speaking of Khalen, a shredder he coaches, Declan McGee, is on board as well. A WA kid, he hit 4th at the World’s last year in France and is currently double Aussie champ in 14 Boys and Cruiser. He sends the big stuff and embodies the LUX lifestyle of giving everything a crack. Both the WA riders will be on Speedco, as is Rico obviously.
So far all these riders have been spread geographically by a country and oceans, and the next rider isn’t much closer to our east coast home base of Brisbane with Joel Marsh hailing from Sam Willougby’s and Anthony Dean’s home city of Adelaide. Joel has won the National Junior Elite title for the last two years running and heads in the U23 class. He’s traveling to the US this year as he pushes harder to consolidate his position as one of Australia’s fastest up-and-coming elite riders. Under the guidance of both the Adelaide legends, Joel also continues on Speedco. A brand we are strongly associated with at LUX.
Lastly, we do have some east coast riders on the main team, and heading these up is Tahlia Marsh who is the current U23 Women’s National Champion and out and out deadly on a Speedco with a huge heart. She fits right in with our family and is a great role model for young female riders in OZ.
The second local is Nate Argent who is in the same age bracket as Declan and I’m looking forward to seeing the boys battle it out against each other this year when they meet at national events. They are mates, but as we all know, when the gate drops, we are all out for ourselves and your teammate is always a scalp you want to take. Drama, we need drama in BMX!
The youngest on the team is Mila Bax and she has a fierce streak that I have to manage being her coach. A task her folks gladly hand over. 3rd at the National Champs in 2021, she finished 2nd last November in 10 girls and is really finding her comfort zone jumping her Speedco. She’s a joy to coach and definitely earns her place.
You won the Australian National Championships yourself last month. How’s the “old guys” racing going Down Under these days? Must be nice to win another 1A plate for the resume?
Ha, thanks. The “younger” old classes from 40 to 49 are super competitive, and even 50-54 (we run to UCI class regs here in Oz). Luckily I was 55 last year and we did manage to have two gates in the oldest class and you can see by the finish it was no Sunday arvo ride to the pub. And yeah, I’m performance “bonused” on “1A” plates here at LUX, so it was a good Christmas.
You also head-up the BMX, Beers & Bullshit Podcast with Khalen Young which is very entertaining. How did it all come about and how long have you been doing it?
It’s a blast to do the show and I’m still humbled by Khalen reaching out to start it. We’ve become great mates now and LUX is heavily involved in supporting his BMX endeavours over there in Western Australia through his and his wife’s (Michelle) foundation, and his coaching. It’s a cliche, but he’s definitely giving back to the BMX community.
And the podcast does ask and discuss the issues that affect the sport here locally, and internationally. Will we effect any change? Maybe. But it’s nice to have an outlet and I’m amazed that people are into it as much as they are. Our time zone differences with the world, and each other does make it hard to have international guests, though I hear a lot that the fans just like to listen to us two rabbiting on. Khalen’s popularity in the BMX community worldwide continues to amaze me even though he’s effectively been out of the sport at an elite level for 10 years. His impact becomes apparent from the messages we receive from past and current riders through our social media platforms. He is genuinely loved.
You guys definitely put out a straight perspective, not sugar-coating anything with real talk which is always refreshing. What’s the most heated debate so far on the Pod?
I guess that’s somewhat an Australian trait, we don’t stand for bullshit and we aren’t intimidated by the threats that organisations place on their members through social media policies etc. After all, we aren’t making the issues and incidents up that we discuss. One of our main platforms is making riders here in Australia the focus of the sport, not the organisation (who should shrink into the background), nor the officials. The negative experiences of riders at the hands of overzealous officiating has a real impact on the sport and its growth.
But by far the most divisive discussion was around Khalen’s fine and sure he mouthed off, but respect goes both ways. No matter if you’re an Olympian or a 9-year-old girl. And that week of our national titles, that spectrum of riders received the rough end of the pineapple equally.
Any long-term goals with the Pod?
A huge deal with Spotify with Khalen and I rolling in Mercedes G-Class Squared wagons on our ranches.
How’s the overall racing environment going these days in racing?
There are some really, really talented kids here and the 13-16 age groups at the recent national champs really highlighted the depth of ability. Geographically (and cost wise) it’s a real challenge in Australia to bring together racers more than once a year, which is why our National Series is really a token event(s). I’m not downplaying anyone’s success in that series, but this year there are only a handful of rounds. Our new governing body AusCycling is still finding its feet, and honestly, I feel that BMX has nearly been tossed into the too hard basket. The ratio of BMX people to “others” in that org is about 1 in 25. So our voice is muted.
Do I have the answer? No, not even my ego can send that gap, but a dialogue would be nice with invested parties to start. AusCycling has just dropped its support of the BMX HoF and is, I think, a statement of position. The clubs especially (in my candid conversations with people running them) really feel isolated. Trying to meld so many disciplines, with such a varied demographic is proving a huge challenge. BMX racers are very different people to track cyclists, and it’s just not the bike they ride. Worlds apart in beliefs, resources, and culture.
One of the positives, there are two World Cups here in Australia in 2024, with one in our home city of Brisbane, so that will no doubt push race interest locally.
Any future top Elites we can watch out for in the next few years we might not know much about?
It’s a long and difficult path to navigate to crack that top 16 at World Cups consistently, let alone consistently make the main at those events. As well as being a big empty continent, Australia is thousands of miles from the US and Europe and any Aussie rider looking at making a go of it inevitably has to base themselves over there. No one is going to “sneak” over to a World Cup and surprise the BMX racing world with a podium finish. Deep pockets and a deep drive is needed to succeed. I can see why Izaac and Josh (McLean), plus a couple of others, have based themselves in Florida. Good weather year-round, a couple of SX tracks within a couple of hours of each other, and a day’s travel to Europe versus 2+ days from Australia and the big time zone differences.
I do know there are a bunch of U23 riders and Elite riders heading to the first two rounds of the USABMX UCI weekend rounds in Houston and Oldsmar, so keep an eye out for this crew as they try to gain US race experience.
Let’s wrap it up with the best 10 Aussie Pros of all time?
In no particular order, but those that come to mind are a mix of local dominance and international success.
Anthony (Howie) Way
Photo Credit/Supplied by – Jackson Kennedy/LUXBMX/Rico Bearman