by Rick Johnson
RJ: Jeff, since you retired from professional racing, you’ve had a hand in guiding Honda’s riders. What do you do?
Jeff: I consult the riders mostly. We spend a lot of time together, and we cover a whole range of things. Conditioning, riding technique, mental strategies. I’ll watch all the races and if I see something they are doing right or wrong on the track we’ll talk about that. Basically I’m an extra set of eyes that has racing experience. I try to be ‘hands on’ with the race team in general.
RJ: You were in great shape while racing. You were lean, always working out, riding bicycles, training, running, and more. Now that you have a more administrative role and a family, are you able to still do that?
Jeff: Rick, working out is such a big part of our entire family. It’s just part of our life. We work out around two hours per day. I enjoy it so much, and in some ways I’m in better shape now than I was back then.
RJ: A lot of people don’t know this, but you were hit by a car. You were riding a street bike, and a car ran thru a stop sign, and hit you. You just about died. What happened?
Jeff: Steve Lamson and a few bicycle racers were staying at our house. We were out doing a casual bicycle ride one evening, and this lady came off of the freeway, her car had no brakes, and she ran the stop sign doing 60-65 miles per hour. We happened to be crossing right in front of her.
I myself went thru 13 different surgeries. Legs, arms, and shoulders getting put back together. Add in a few staph infections, and it was a long six month recovery. Fortunately everything has worked out well, and now I’m doing great.
RJ: Do you see a difference in the work ethic of today’s riders compared back to when you and I were racing?
Jeff: In general terms, we worked hard during our time. I’d like to think we helped bring the training level up. I thought the commitment to training had a little lull in the mid-90’s with a laid back approach. Now however, everyone has a trainer. Everyone has stepped it up. Some guys are doing intense interval training, some of the older guys are working on reflex training …. everyone has stepped it up the past few years.
RJ: OK, back when you and I raced, we fought with everyone pretty hard on the track. Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is too cordial and nice on the race track now? I think it’s OK to ride rough, bang bars and stuff, and then you can cross the line into trying to hurt someone. It seems like there is not as much competitiveness on the track. What do you think?
Jeff: I agree with you. I’m always telling my guys ‘Run it in on them! Stuff ’em!’ There is nothing wrong with competitive racing. Remember the days of me and you and Matiasavich and Bradshaw …. what’s wrong with a little close racing? The crowds were certainly into it, and it seems to be gone now.
Everyone is afraid of running up inside the champ. Doesn’t matter whether it’s Jeremy or Ricky, everyone seems to be thinking ‘Oh, it’s Jeremy or Ricky, I can’t run this guy high up into the hay bales’. I say forget running them up high on the bales – run them over the bales! (both laugh)
RJ: In 2001, with RC beating Jeremy consistently, it seemed to me people started to attack Jeremy different. What do you think?
Jeff: I agree. People know now that he can be beat. And sometimes when he gets passed his arms drop a bit, making him a little vulnerable.
RJ: Do you spend much time on the computer?
RJ: OK, I taught you how to train, now I’m going to have to teach you about computers? (both laugh)
RJ: It’s w w w . s u p e r c r o s s . c o m (both laugh again)
Jeff: Actually, now that we both have kids …. I need 10 hours of sleep each night. Not much time for computers.
I do spend some time on the computer. Just not enough.
RJ: What do you think about all this ‘stuff’ on promoters, Clear Channel, AMA, and Jam Sports?
Jeff: I think it’s good that Clear Channel has some pressure. But they’ve done a great job, and it will not do the sport any good if there are two competitive series. Maybe everyone can work it out and there will be one great series, although it doesn’t look that way right now.
No matter what I think, it’s of great concern to American Honda, and just about everyone involved in the sport. No one is quite sure what they are going to do, so everything is really up in the air.
RJ: When you retired from professional motocross racing you were one of the few to do it own your own terms. You got to a point where you said ‘That’s it. I’m done racing’. Are you happy about that, or did you wish you gave it one more shot?
Jeff: I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m completely happy. I raced, and I did a lot of races. Remember all the races we used to do in Europe? Combine that with the amount of training I did, and I got burned out on the racing aspect.
Everything has been great though. Made good money, I was active when I got out, and that helped me to do what I do now. American Honda is an outstanding company to be associated with.
No regrets at all. I still ride a lot. I probably ride more now than I did when I was racing.
RJ: Hey, I heard you rode down in Baja with Chris Haines. Do you want to team up together and ride the over 30 class for Baja?
Jeff: Yeah, I got to ride with Chris and Johnny Campbell down there in Baja. Johnny asked me the same thing – ‘Hey, do you want to be a part of the team for this?’
RJ: No, you need to ride with me buddy! We’d have a good time. Stop at all the pits, have a drink, relax and have a little fun. (both laugh)
Jeff: Yeah, I’ll do it.
RJ: OK, we’ll have to talk with Ray Blanc (Head of American Honda Motorcycles) about putting our team together. (both laugh)
RJ: I’m a big fan of the four-stroke. I grew up racing XR 75’s, and now that I have limited motion in my wrist, I like the four-stroke because of the smooth power. If you were racing today, what would you ride?
Jeff: I like the two-stroke. I have four-strokes, and I ride them a lot. Me and Ryan Hughes rode all summer at my house on the four-strokes. But I’m a two-stroke guy all the way. I always over-rev on the two-stroke, and you can’t do that on the four-strokes. The four-stroke is fun, but I’ve never been able to adapt fully to it.
RJ: Jeff, anything you’d like to add as a final thought?
Jeff: Definitely. The sport is getting bigger and bigger. I think everyone should be appreciative of where the sport is today, and the riders of today. Keep enjoying it, and look us up at the races!