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The Jude Morris Racing Foundation – Interview

The Jude Morris Racing Foundation – Interview

Since the sad loss of young motocross talent Jude Morris, Jude’s dad Mark and his family have been working tirelessly to keep their son’s name alive by raising money for the Air Ambulance with a whopping £75’000 having been raised.

Feature Image courtesy of Elliot Spencer

Alongside raising further funds for the Air Ambulance and reaching the magical £101’000 figure Mark’s attention has also turned to the Jude Morris Racing Foundation which is being set up to develop and nurture the future stars of motocross in the UK.

We caught up with Mark to find out more…

Dirt Hub: How are things coming along with setting up the foundation?

Mark: With foundations, there is an awful lot of paperwork. There’s an awful lot of getting the words right and so on. As a family we couldn’t be trustees for conflict of interest. So I’ve got people that used to support Jude through their businesses who have very kindly agreed to be trustees. So we’ve had two meetings now about what the foundation should look like.  All of the paperwork has been submitted. So we’re just waiting on that coming back as to whether they will grant us charity status or not.

The website is being created at the moment and then we’ll have an application process for riders. We are working on putting a small structure in place. And you know, we have to be realistic, this is year one, I’m going to put some of my own money in, we’ve got some sponsors, and we’re trying to raise money.  All of the stuff we’re selling online is going into the foundation.

DH: The amount of money that has been raised so far is amazing, how will the funding work with the foundation?

Mark: Yes it has been amazing. Funds raised now will see 80% going to the foundation and 20% going to the Air Ambulance. I mean, we’ve done amazing with hoodies, it’s unbelievable. My wife and I are doing orders for hoodies, and stickers and God knows what else and people have been so so good it’s amazing.

Every pound we raise is going to the Foundation and the Air Ambulance. No one will be taking a salary. If we go to a track to watch someone that will come out of our own personal money, there’s been no extra if we go for a beer afterwards, that won’t be on expenses. If we stay in a hotel, it won’t be on expenses, the people that are going to be trustees are doing this because they believe in the sport.  What I’m trying to say is if someone buys a hoodie, and it’s 20 quid, 80% of that goes to the foundation and 20% of that goes to the air ambulance, it doesn’t go to pay in salaries, paying expenses, and paying for trustees to have beers on a Sunday night. 100% of what’s raised goes into the foundation.

The Jude Morris Racing Foundation

Mark Morris – Image courtesy of X-Cast Media

DH: What do riders need to do to get involved?

Mark What we want to do is invite riders, and there’ll be, as I say a selection process. We’re going to whittle that down to 10 riders. Then we’re going to go and watch them practice, meet them at the track, see how they ride… I think you can see an awful lot by seat position, how they ride on a bike and, and so on and so forth. Obviously, we will look at their social media, and then we’re going to do a zoom panel with them and their families. And then we’ll make a selection from that.

DH: How many riders will be picked from there?

Mark: It really depends on funds, and if I’m honest, I’d rather start small and build than overstretch. So I think probably realistically, it will be one or two in the first year.

DH: You have said applications are open for riders under 18 years of age but is there an ideal age of rider you are looking for?

Mark: We spoke about this as a group of trustees the other night, and it was really good to get people’s input. I think the younger we can get them, the more we can help and shape them and develop them, and invest in them. But also, you know, there’s nothing to say that there isn’t an amazing 14-15 year old that with a little bit of help, could go to the next level. So it really will depend on who applies.  I think that it’s a case of not overlooking anybody at this stage because it is the first year. You know, there are some amazing kids on 85’s at the moment, as there are on 125’s; some really quick kids. So I think it’s about keeping an open mind, and I think the right person is important, rather than their age at this stage.

DH: What do you hope to achieve with those riders in the in in the first year?

Mark: I’d like to be able to get the riders to compete in the Nationals. So there may well be people that are on the cusp of competing in Nationals at the moment. I want the riders to enjoy themselves, to feel that they’ve been invested in I want the riders and their families to feel that there’s a little bit of support there for him.  Obviously, we’re talking to sponsors and lots of sponsors who are going to give us product, we want to be able to also come up with some sort of budget, and we will issue the riders a monthly budget and it will be based on them achieving certain things. So that will be you know, making sure they do their social media, it may well be on race results. It may be on KPIs that we set them, making sure their kit is clean, making sure their helmets are clean, their boots are clean all of those types of things so that they ultimately become brand ambassadors and role models for the next generation.

We’re going to be working with a lady called Karen Croft who used to work with Jude as a sort of psychological mental coach. So we’re going to offer the riders 10 hours a year with Karen. She did a lot of work with Jude on mental ability and sort of mental performance. I think a lot of a lot of kids train like lunatics, cycling, running, swimming, riding their bikes, and the mental side of it, they just leave it alone.

The mental pressure on young riders is unbelievable, which is why shouting at them and doing a twist the throttle sign is absolutely no good whatsoever. You need to work with them and support them and make sure that they’ve got the right mental attributes to become winners.

That’s why the selection process will be so so important. It’s not just getting the riders right, it’s getting the families right as well. There has to be a whole support network in place. It’s not it’s not just about little Johnny sitting on the line on a Sunday. The dad in the pits and the whole family has to support that. And that’s through making sure they get their schooling right, making sure they’re sleeping properly, making sure they’re getting exercise and making sure they do all of those things. But also, when the kid comes in go, “you were amazing”.

You know, some days I would say to Jude when he was younger, things like “Mate your corner speed in that corner was unbelievable.”  It’s just about giving them encouragement and giving them that boost of confidence. 

The Jude Morris Racing Foundation

Image courtesy of Elliot Spencer

DH: Where would you like to see the foundation in say three or five years time?

Mark: I’d like to see, by the end of five years, that all of the riders are competing at a national level across all different classes. I’d like to see the foundation to be sustainable and self-funding, to have a proper training academy in place for all of the things we mentioned, social media, a proper link to coaching… But really, with a view to having someone who’s knocking on the door of the European teams. 

Being really selfish I want it to keep Jude’s name alive, but also for it to be aspirational for other riders. So they look at the people that come out of the foundation and go, I want to be there. I would hope that the auto riders and the 65 riders go you know what, I want to be like that. I want our riders to conduct themselves as professionally as possible so that it raises the level of professionalism in motocross, which I hope then makes it more attractive to commercial partners and to non-trade partners who can see value in it. We also want it that riders can actually see a progressive route, that if they come and they’re selected to be part of the foundation, there is a clear map and route to take them as far as we can possibly take them.

I’m not unrealistic we can’t change the world overnight, but from a tragedy, this could well be an exciting starting point for some young riders and the sport. 

You can donate to the Air Ambulance here >>

To watch a video interview with Mark Morris from the Compass Cup >>CLICK HERE<<

The Jude Morris Racing Foundation

Image courtesy of Elliot Spencer