At the Monster Energy Supercross season opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, two Team Next Level riders advanced into the Main in what is seen as a tangible achievement for this united group of privateer racers with a unique perspective on the sport. Instead of counting the number of podiums and the zeros at the end of the check at the end of the weekend, Team owner and manager Kris Fagala has built a program where faith and family play an important part in the team’s philosophy – and he has surrounded himself with riders who share his worldview.
In a sport where superstars are in their late teens and early 20s, where 30 is considered old and major league careers are over in the blink of an eye, the team’s goal is to create well-rounded men. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that their goals don’t fully align with those of many other teams.
Factory riders are the ones who are measured by the podiums earned and their position in the points. Success for privateers counts only for participating in the night show (being among the fastest 40 in qualifying, which allows drivers to race in one of two heats).
In Anaheim, Kevin Moranz and Hunter Schlosser poured gravy over their meat and potatoes. Second in the 450 Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Moranz is hoping to improve on the nine mains he started in 2022.
Third in the 250 LCQ, Schlosser is on track to match or better the three Mains he rode last year.
It’s the riders’ goal to make the mains, but it’s not the team’s promise. Schlosser is new to Team Next Level Racing after racing for his own team as much as possible in 2022. The cost of attending all the races last year was too high for a single person to invest, which is one of the biggest advantages of this organization is Next Level’s transport logistics.
With that worry off his shoulders, Schlosser could concentrate on his riding. He made an aggressive pass to successfully secure his 250th transfer spot and then finished 21st in the Main.
â€œMy riding was great,â€ Schlosser told NBC Sports afterwards. â€œThe team was fantastic. It’s exactly as Kris said it would be. There’s a bunch of good guys in the team and they’re there for us when we need them. Nobody pushes someone to do something they don’t want to do or don’t feel like doing. But there is also accountability, which is a pretty fine line to walk.”
Moranz was 20th in the 450 Main. Schlosser was 21st in the 250th
Another way to measure success
But where you end up is only part of the story.
Fagala and Team Next Level Racing’s promise is not in tangible success, but in helping drivers learn to appreciate the intangibles.
“I enjoy success,” Moranz told NBC Sports. â€œIt is not necessarily result-based. Of course, some of that goes into the results, but as long as I’m having fun with what I’m doing, I’m having fun. With (our social media manager) Seder (Martin) on board we do the vlog, we get a lot of fan interaction which then brings in more partners and more funding for my program.
â€œAs long as Iâ€™m having fun, not losing money and then building for the future, thatâ€™s really all I care about. The results will come. Hope to be better: better results, possibly a full factory ride at some point.â€
In 2022, Moranz found plenty of success driving for Team Next Level. He’s made more than half of the A-Mains in the Supercross series—and he’s translated that into more sponsorships in 2023 and a win Patreon page that allows him to interact with his fandom called Moranz Mafia.
He’s also the racer that Kris brings to the line, where they share final thoughts on how the racing line has changed and say a prayer for safety.
In the season opener, Next Level Racing’s Tristan Lane didn’t make it onto the Main, but he celebrated a win before the start of the race.
After racing only in the outdoor season for several years, Lane made the switch to Supercross last year. His 2022 season was strong enough to earn a double-digit national number, something that sets him apart from the riders on the outer edge of the paddock.
“I jumped into the 450 class and I was really nervous, so my goal really was to even get on the night show — get that experience — so getting three mains was good,” Lane told NBC Sports below the massive awning of Team Next Level Racing in front of Anaheim 1. “Of course we want more. It’s human nature to always do better. But given what I thought was possible, I’ve already exceeded many of those expectations. I’m just trying to build on that.
â€œWas last year a success? Yes absolutely. I’ve earned a national license plate. I can now be classified. In the past, I was a three-figure buccaneer who kind of got pushed under the rug. Being 90th now I feel like I’ve earned my stripes a bit.”
Like Moranz, Lane just wants to improve and do more main events than last year.
â€žPerspective is everything,â€œ Lane continued. “In our sport, especially as a privateer like me, it’s difficult because there’s this gray area where people can quickly forget you if you don’t win or are in the top three. But I try to remember where I’m from, what gear I have, what resources I can get.
â€œWhat I do already surpasses much of what I have. If you look at it from that point of view, I technically win every time I race, but if you were to ask someone like (Eli) Tomac, he might think that that would never be acceptable.
â€œ(Next Level) wants to spread positivity through the boxes. If you get good results doing that, that’s a plus.”
The hope is that Team Next Level Racing will spread their chances of success outside of their box. This philosophy was instrumental in getting Schlosser.
“The team, it’s like a very positive professional environment,” Schlosser said before Anaheim 1. “I’ve known Chris since residency year (2021) and we’re both Christians, so definitely, like straight away, connected in that way.”