- Career: 2004-Present
- DOB: 05/19/1988
- Height: 5' 7"
- Weight: 150 lbs.
- Birthplace: Canoga Park, CA, United States
- Residence: Victorville, CA
- Team: Red Bull KTM
- Team Manager: Roger DeCoster
#800Mike AlessiMike Alessi's Website
Mike spent much of the summer before his debut living and riding mere miles from the Spring Creek facility, where he wouldn’t be thrown, but would willingly jump to the sharks for his first professional motocross race. When the time finally came, he felt ready, and would be making his debut aboard a CRF450. He’d been riding the 450 all year long and actually preferred the bigger bike. When it came time to negotiate a contract for his first pro national, most teams wanted him to ride in the 250F class. As a result, Mike would be making his debut on a privateer bike with his family at his side like it’d been from the beginning.
Like the amateur days barely in the past, controversy followed the Alessi gang into the pro ranks. With some opinionated comments made about Mike’s speed and the unforgettable “Believe the Hype” shirts that nearly everyone in the Alessi camp wore for his debut, many were curious to see what kind of welcome young Mike would receive in his first outing as a pro.
With at least one obvious welcoming block pass, courtesy of Sean Hamblin, and an expiring bike working against him, Mike failed to score a single point in his first professional motocross race. The hype would have to be put on hold, but not for long. Three weeks and one skipped round later, though, he’d again find himself in the limelight. This time it was for his outstanding ride at Steel City to grab the final podium position alongside Kevin Windham and Ricky Carmichael with a 5-4 score. After working nearly his entire life for this moment, Mike had finally made it to the big leagues, and had his sights set on the top.
Mike wouldn’t have to wait long after his late-summer performance to sign a factory contract for 2005. For his first full season as a pro, he’d be racing alongside his younger brother, Jeff, for Red Bull KTM. Electing to skip the supercross season and, instead, focus on the upcoming outdoor nationals may have been the edge that Mike needed to come out as a legitimate title contender early in the series. He finished a strong sixth place in moto one of the season opener at Hangtown. Then, he jumped out to lead nearly all of moto two, before colliding with Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Grant Langston in the final turn. Langston got himself up quicker, forcing Mike to watch him grab the checkered flag 15 feet ahead. Mike struggled to restart his bike and finish the race, eventually finishing a disappointing fifteenth place. He surged back the next weekend, though, earning his first overall win at High Point Raceway. Alessi remained consistent throughout the series, winning his second overall on the season in Binghamton, NY, and came into the season finale 35 points behind series leader Ivan Tedesco. However, that was before the first moto.
After a dramatic change of events, where his title rival Tedesco scored no points in moto one, Mike came into the second moto at Glen Helen in a position to win the title if he could beat Ivan by just ten points. He came around the Talladaga first turn with an uncharacteristically bad start, then his lack of pro experience, and the stress of racing for a championship, made 17 year-old Mike crack under the pressure. Mike was disqualified from the weekend entirely for “Engaging in an activity detrimental to the sport.” Ultimately, he finished third in the series—but Mike Alessi would be back.
By his admission, the incident at Glen Helen was a real learning experience and something that would never happen again, but the 2006 West Supercross season wasn’t the fresh start he was looking for. After starting the season with bronchitis and struggling overall, things didn’t brighten up until San Francisco, where he scored the final position on the podium. He followed that up with another podium at Anaheim III. Finally, after throwing away the lead on a rain-drenched Seattle racetrack, Mike put together a smooth, consistent ride to finish second at the East/West Lites Shootout in Las Vegas, his third podium finish of the season.
After an impressive win at the first round of the nationals in Hangtown, it looked like 2006 could be the year that he could put it all together. But it’s a long season, and Mike’s amateur rival Ryan Villopoto had arrived on the scene with plans of his own. Through yet another season, Mike was battling it out each moto trying to gain every possible championship point. With a little help from a Villopoto engine failure, he came into Broome-Tioga with a five-point lead in the championship. That’s when it all fell apart for Mike. With Villopoto down in turn one, he grabbed the holeshot and blasted over the finish line when he somehow found a kicker on the top of the jump and sailed through the air completely sideways. He was down in front of the entire field and in his panic to get up, launched his bike into the middle of the pack, breaking his clutch perch off in the process. Just like that, he went from having a clear track and an opportunity to significantly stretch out his points lead to pushing his bike off the track and watching from the lift-gate of the KTM semi. With Villopoto charging back to the front of the pack before moto’s end, Mike’s championship hopes were all but over. He finished the season a strong second place; 35 points back from Villopoto but over twice that gap ahead of third-place rider Josh Grant. It was not a season to be ashamed of, Mike knew it, and had already started looking towards the next step—the 450 class.
He would ride a 250F for one final supercross season, but would switch to compete in the East Supercross Lites series for 2007. No matter which coast he seemed to pick, Mike just didn’t have the same success that he enjoyed outdoors. He started the season by finishing 21st at the Georgia Dome and only made it to the podium once—at Daytona—before injuring his foot slightly at the East/West Shootout in Las Vegas. He finished the supercross series in a bleak eleventh place, but would soon get to race a bike that he felt more comfortable aboard at tracks that he’d proven he could race on.
Mike’s decision to jump on the 450 for the 2007 Toyota AMA Nationals after only two seasons aboard a 250F had many people questioning the logic of the young Californian. He went into the outdoor season unsure of what to expect, but knowing that he could run top-ten and maybe even top-five. His predictions turned out to be fairly accurate as he spent the beginning of the outdoor series riding on the bubble of the top-ten. Then, with the reported arrival of a new rear shock that World GP racer David Philippaerts had been testing, Mike suddenly came alive over the fourth-of-July weekend at Red Bud. He grabbed one of his patented holshots and proceeded to race with both the semi-retired Ricky Charmichael and heir-apparent James Stewart. Although he didn’t know it, Red Bud was the place where Mike became a contender for the outdoor championship. Soon after Mike’s immergence as a weekly front-runner, series leader James Stewart started to falter when he seemed to be in total control of the series. Starting with a practice crash at Unadilla, and ending with a knee injuring foot-dab in Washougal, the door suddenly flung open for a host of riders to win the title. Most of which had previously fought over the second and third spots on the podium. One of those racers now in the title hunt was Mike Alessi. Mike would fight it out to the last moto at Glen Helen, grabbing a streak of second- and third-place finishes along the way, only to miss winning the championship for the third year running. This time, though, second place felt like a victory. He was partially injured and unsure of himself at the beginning of the summer, but by the end of it all, he knew that he had the speed to win a national championship.
With a switch to the Roger DeCoster led Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team, 2008 would be a combination of a fresh start and a carry-over of momentum for Mike. He debuted his new ride at the Rockstar Energy US Open, showing that he had picked up his supercross game during his short period with the team and that he’d be a title threat going into Anaheim I. The supercross season didn’t last long for Mike, though, after only five of seventeen rounds he was put onto the injured reserve with a broken collarbone. He wouldn’t line up at a gate again until the AMA Toyota Motocross Nationals kicked off near his own backyard.
When the outdoor series got underway at Glen Helen Raceway, it was no surprise that James Stewart, after withdrawing from the supercross series to fully repair and heal his injured knee, was on another level of speed compared to the rest of the field. What was interesting was that Mike had come off of an injury of his own to gap the rest of the pack by nearly the same margin that Stewart was beating him by. He quickly established himself as the second man to beat in the 450 class during the first five rounds of the series. On the opening lap of moto two at Red Bud, the same place that marked his immergence in 2007, Mike suffered a horrific crash that saw him landed on several times and left him unconscious. In an internet video four days later, he re-assured his fans that he was all right, although he will miss the rest of the season.
Alessi has positioned himself as more of an outdoor motocross specialist than supercross master, and he skipped last year’s indoor tour to develop KTM’s new 350 SX-F for competition. He’s eager to follow through on the promise he has sometimes shown.
After Mike’s 1997 appearance in the ground-breaking motocross film Mini Warriors, the spotlight shined brightly on the already decorated amateur racer and his family. His hard work always seemed to make him one of the fastest riders in the nation, despite being matched against other up-and-coming stars like Davi Millsaps and Ryan Villopoto. He and his family raced amateur nationals across the country, but no place was as special for Mike as the Loretta Lynn Amateur National Championships.
Through the years, Mike was involved in so many head-to-head battles—as well as newsworthy controversies—that it’d be difficult, if not impossible, to count them all. During his time in the amateur ranks, he racked up an astounding 11 amateur titles at “The Ranch,” becoming one of the most successful riders in the event’s history. In his final visit to Loretta’s, he was awarded the AMA Horizon Award, a usually prophetic sign of a future AMA Motocross champion. The hype had been building for years, and in August of 2004, the Spring Creek Motocross Park would play host to the long-awaited professional debut of Mike Alessi.
"We have the picture of them when they were one and two, on Pee Wees, and in diapers. It was always the dream to, somehow, put together two of the best riders that the world had ever seen,” says father Tony Alessi of his sons Mike and Jeff when asked if he had thought that the boys would ever come as far as they have in their motocross careers.
Mike Alessi was born to be a racer, period. Almost everything that he does relates back to improving his racing. Whether it’s riding his road bike, training, or spending time with his girlfriend Danielle, everything comes back to racing in the end. It’s what he does.
After some difficult times growing up in the media spotlight, he’s come to be one of the most well-spoken and friendly racers on the circuit today. He grew up racing alongside his younger brother Jeff, and although they no longer share the same pit area, the Alessi program stays the same more than it has changed over the years. Out at the practice track it’s still Mike, Jeff and Tony riding and training together as a family. Essentially, it’s the same as it has been from the beginning: the Alessis race motocross. Justin Fisk
Contributors: Cole Thorsen , Alissa Gilligan , Bad Billy