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NEWS

Monster Army's First Ever FMX Athlete

Apr 182019

The sport of Freestyle Motocross is still relatively unknown in Australia. While there is a booming motocross racing scene, the competitive FMX scene is small and events are scarce. As a result, few riders have emerged from “The Land Down Under” to make a name for themselves on a global scale, but globally recognized riders like Monster Energy athlete Jackson “Jacko” Strong are proof that there’s plenty of talent south of the equator.

In addition to the likes of stars like Strong, homegrown heroes like Truman Carroll and Rob Adelberg have been an inspiration for aspiring youngsters in Australia as well. One of those budding talents is Benny Richards. The 18 year old from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales is the newest member of the Monster Army, following in the footsteps of Jacko Strong as Australia’s next great FMX hope.

Richards’ journey into the sport was about as unexpected as it gets. After his family moved to a property just outside Wagga Wagga when he was about four years old, it was fate that ended up landing them right across the road from Carroll’s compound. Prior to his family’s move, Benny knew little to nothing about FMX, but as he and his younger brother, Tommy, watched Carroll ride day after day they became captivated by the skill and wanted nothing more than to learn how to ride.

Carroll was all too happy to oblige the wishes of his young admirers, and soon enough the Richards brothers were ripping it up on their minibikes. Carroll became a mentor to his sibling neighbors, and they continued to progress. At about the age of eight Benny got his first taste of jumping ramps and was immediately addicted to the freedom of flight aboard two wheels. From that moment Richards was dedicated to his passion, solely focused on becoming the best rider he can be. A decade later, his dreams of being recognized as a full fledged FMX rider are now a reality thanks to the support of Monster Energy. While Benny’s journey is just beginning, he’s got the tools to be as successful as fellow Aussie and Monster teammate Jacko.

We caught up with Benny to learn more about his path to joining the Monster Army, and his hopes for the future.

Q&A

Benny, welcome to the Monster Army. Tell us about your journey.

I have three other siblings and we used to live in town [Wagga Wagga] when we were young, and then my parents bought a house about 10 minutes out of town. Where they happened to buy was across the road from a freestyle motocross compound. I had no idea about freestyle motocross before I moved out here, and I was only about four when we moved. Me and my brother [Tommy] would just watch the guys [ride] through a fence every afternoon. My dad finally bought me a little 50cc, and I would ride around the paddock at my place for a few years. When I got up to about a [Kawasaki] KX65, I finally went over [across the road to Truman Carroll’s] and watched him for a few afternoons. One day he asked my if I wanted to ride over there. I started riding over there. I rode a small little ramp he had set up for a day, and before I knew it he had me in front of a competition ramp at 30 feet. I was about eight years old.

Was it only about FMX for you? You never pursued motocross racing?

I used to ride [motocross]. We set up a little motocross track in front of the paddock, but then as soon as I started jumping ramps I was completely obsessed. I didn’t want to do anything else.

Would you say Truman was the one who helped pave this path for you as your mentor?

Yeah for sure. Truman helped us out so much. He let us ride there for years. Then he also introduced us to guys like Jacko [Strong] and Rob Adelberg. He really set us up.

What has gotten you to where you are now, 10 years after you got your first taste of jumping?

I don’t really know [laughs]. Throughout school I would just ride and stuff, as much as I could. After school I would go home and ride every afternoon. I think it was basically, more or less, the people I got to hang out with, like Adelberg. He taught me so much. He used to live in Wagga, so he used to ride the compound. Over the last two years I felt like me and Jacko just strung a chord, and we’ve been training with each other basically like every day.

Have you done a lot competitions? Or has it really just been about learning the ropes and enhancing your skills?

Well there’s not that much in terms of competition here in Australia. I do a fair few of demos, like on the weekends. At the moment I’m just training [and] practicing, making sure I can get all my flip tricks dialed so that I’m ready to go.

With that being said, what’s your big picture, long-term goal? What’s the next step for you?

I want to get some bigger, big flip tricks like seat-grab flips and all that kind of thing. I also want to do some kind of variables, like Cali Rolls and vaults. Once I start getting some bigger flip tricks I’ll start hitting the [foam] pit and doing doubles [flips] and fronties [front flips].

Your brother Tommy is also chasing his FMX dreams. Do you two feed off one another and push each other?

Yeah, he just stepped up to a [Yamaha] YZF250. He just turned 16. He just got onto a 250 and started jumping 75 [foot ramps]. He’s going to be one to look out for. Tommy and I have progressed over the years by pushing each other. He’s does a trick and I want to do it bigger. I do a trick, and he wants to go more massive. I think that’s just the nature of the sport, and that’s how we’ve grown, for sure.

Do you ultimately hope that you’ll be able to get the chance to compete at X Games, or come over here to the U.S. to compete?

Yeah for sure. That’s the major goal. That’s what I’m working toward, for sure. Other riders, like Tom Pages, have a completely different style [riding freestyle] and that’s what I’m drawn to. There’s just a different energy to it.

How does it feel to become an official Monster Energy rider?

It’s an absolute dream come true. I’ve always looked up to Monster riders my whole life, and to finally get that helmet...It’s crazy.

What does it mean to have the support of a brand like Monster Energy, who is so ingrained into a sport like FMX?

It’s huge. It gives you so much confidence to know you have a lot of support to make sure you’re able to follow your dreams. It’s just massive. It feels like such an honor to wear that logo.

FMX is still relatively small in Australia. With all of the opportunities that lie ahead of you as a Monster Energy rider, what kind of impact do you hope you can have on your home country in making the sport more popular?

I think Jacko at the moment kind of has set the bar for Aussie FMX riders around the world. I’d love to be able to carry on his legacy. Set up a good name for myself and be inspiring to any of the young kids. Let them know they can do the same thing that I did. There’s not much in terms of freestyle motocross in Australia. Not many people know it. So, yeah, I’d love to spread the word a bit.

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