The Watercraft Journal: Craig, thanks for the chance to talk. Clearly 2013 has been a big year for change for you and your family. So what brought you to move from Southern California to the Good ol’ South?
Craig Warner: Yes, 2013 has been a crazy decision-making year on a lot of notes. Dustin [Farthing] and I had been joking around for a year or two about me getting out of California. One day in August an opportunity arose and Dustin, Ryan [Hardwick] and I had a really great conference call. I talked it over with the wife, and we decided to fly out to Georgia and spend four days there with the Farthings and a realtor. We immediately fell in love with Georgia! Everything was exactly what we talked about, and it was a great opportunity for myself and family to make a change, and get into a business that is growing everyday.
WCJ: What a great opportunity. Working with Dustin and the Mountain Motorsports crew is sure to be a fun experience. Now, it’s hard to know you without knowing you’re biggest fan, your mom, Debbie. Is she mad you whisked the grandkids off to Georgia?
CW: Exactly, what a great opportunity is correct! I cannot thank Dustin and Ryan enough for making this whole deal happen. These two guys are great people to be around and learn from everyday. I wouldn’t usually take such a big risk moving my family 2,100 miles away from home, but there is no growth unless you willing to take risk. Mom is having a bit of a hard time, but thank God for our evolved electronic world. Facetime one or two times a month helps.
WCJ: On a more serious note, what does this career change (and moving across the nation) mean for your program with Kawasaki, and by extension, PWCOffshore.com and your other sponsors?
CW: There is no change except for shipping! I will fly home for my offshore races and Finals. I will be contracted with Monster Energy and Kawasaki for the 2014 year.
WCJ: Many of us were sad to see Dustin back out of the National Tour this year. Now that you’re closer to more closed course events (UWP-IJSBA National Tour, Pro Hydro-X Tour), will we see you on the water more in 2014 or lose another great racer to their career as well?
CW: You know, it sucks that the top guys don’t really do the tour anymore. Reason being is it ends up costing money even when you win every moto. If there were bigger purses to pay for each round, then myself and Dustin would most likely do the tour. I may do a couple rounds, it just depends on my sponsors and what my schedule is going to be for 2014.
WCJ: You’re readily hailed as one of the United States’ most successful offshore racers, will we see you competing in any offshore events in 2014? The Long Beach-to-Catalina won’t be the same without you!
CW: I will be there! I have one more win to beat the famous Billy Womack. I want that title and record. He has held it for way to long!
WCJ: Dustin and the Mountain Motorsports, Marrieta, GA, have churned out some seriously cool custom skis. Can we expect some limited-edition Mountain Motorsports Craig Warner Signature Offshore Series Ultras in the future?
CW: Yes, and they are already available! Offshore/Closed Course Craig Warner-signature series, plus in 2014, there will be limited addition 4-stroke stand-ups available also.
WCJ: Now that you’re on the other side of the PWC industry (transitioning from racing to retail/service), what new insights have your gained?
CW: It’s really amazing to say the least! I’m very competitive with everything I do so it has been a little overwhelming the first couple weeks, because we carry 12 different manufactures, and each one has many different units you have to know in order to sell them. The sales and closing part comes really easy to me, and I am very aggressive with word tracks and reading the person on what they are really here to do.
WCJ: OK, here’s your chance for some blatant shout outs and thanks:
CW: I would just like to thank my wife Jesika Warner for believing in me and trusting me on this new beginning we have started in the South. I want to thank Dustin Farthing for making all this happen! I couldn’t do this on my own or even try. Dustin, you are the man, bro! Ryan Hardwick, thank you for helping with my decision and all the great ideas you have that just make so much sense to me. You are one of the smartest guys I know! Joe Heim at Kawasaki also has helped me with the decision if we could keep a race team going without me being in Kawasaki’s backyard anymore. Joe believes in me and he has figured out a way for everything to make sense. To all my sponsors and friends, thanks for always being there and having my back with every good and bad decision I have made! Let the good times roll! I love this state!