Jeremy McGrath has retired

Jeremy McGrath has retired

Jeremy McGrath, the man whose name is synonymous with supercross, has retired from full-time professional racing.

(Click on the thumbnails below to see the larger photos)

I talked with Jeremy earlier today, and he said ‘Everything is fine. I’ve always told myself that when I have other things on my mind besides giving 100% and winning, that I would retire.”

“Earlier this year I dislocated my hip, and after that I had a concussion. Ever since then I’ve been tentative on the bike, and not giving it 100%. I’m not going to go out and ride around mid-pack, when people and companies have hired me to be near the front of the pack, and winning.”

“I’ve definitely struggled with the thought of it. This morning I had a long discussion with my wife Kim, my Mom and Dad, my mechanic Skip, and my team manager Larry. We decided it was the best thing to do. It’s the right time to make the transition.”

I asked Jeremy if he’ll continue to do things with KTM, Bud Light, and his other sponsors, such as putting a new rider on the McGrath Racing team. He said “It’s not that easy to just slip in another rider at this level. KTM, Bud Light, Parts Unlimited, and all my other sponsors have been very supportive and understanding. But it’s not that easy to replace a rider, especially at this time of the year. Our plans have yet to be resolved, but we are working on it.”

I admire Jeremy tremendously. Not only as a rider, but as a person too. It takes more balls to make a decision like that and walk away from the racing aspect of the sport than it does to make a ‘Farewell Tour’ and ride around.

For Jeremy, I imagine right now in some ways it feels like a breath of fresh air. I’m sure when he goes to the first Anaheim race, some of it will be painful – Separation anxiety – Doubts about doing the right thing. But he knows that.

Jeremy has worked very hard to build up both himself and sport over the years. Jeremy will move on to tackle new things in the same way he did with racing.

Jeremy has been a fixture in supercross since 1991, when he won his first of two 125 West championships for Team Peak/Pro-Circuit.

1993 was Jeremy’s first year on Team Honda, and he won the first of seven AMA 250 Supercross titles.

His records in supercross are truly remarkable:

72 wins

1991 – 125 West Champion

1992 – 125 West Champion

1993 – 250 Supercross Champion

1994 – 250 Supercross Champion

1995 – 250 Supercross Champion

1996 – 250 Supercross Champion

1997 – 2nd – 250 Supercross

1998 – 250 Supercross Champion

1999 – 250 Supercross Champion

2000 – 250 Supercross Champion

2001 – 2nd – 250 Supercross

2002 – 3rd – 250 Supercross

In addition, Jeremy won the 250 AMA National Motocross Championship in 1995.

In 1997, Jeremy rode for Suzuki.

In 1998, Jeremy signed with Team Chaparral Yamaha, and won three titles.

In 2001, Jeremy formed his own team, McGrath Racing, and continued to ride Yamaha.

In the summer of 2002, McGrath Racing teamed with KTM.

As more details become available, I’ll have them here.


If you’d like to comment or give Jeremy a shout-out

visit this link in the Message Boards

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Jeremy testing his KTM’s

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Jeremy, 1996, Glen Helen

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96 Glen Helen National

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Jeremy, 1997 Los Angeles Coliseum

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Jeremy talking to Suzuki boss Roger De Coster

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Jeremy winning Anaheim 2001

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The Nac Nac – this photo says it all!

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Jeremy and me at Day In The Dirt 2002

2002 FIM World Champions Awards

The 2002 FIM World Champions Awards Ceremony, organized by DORNA, was held yesterday evening at the Grand Hotel Billia in St-Vincent, Val d’Aosta, Italy. In the presence of FIM delegates and many guests, the World Champions received their medals and trophies from FIM President Francesco Zerbi and the respective Presidents of each Commission. Representatives of the Manufacturers World Champions received diplomas.

Two FIM Environmental Awards were awarded in St Vincent. One was received by Mr. Dieter Junge, UEM President, on behalf of his brother Peter Junge for his work and dedication to the CIE from the founding of the Environmental Working Group in 1992 to his death in April 2002. The other was received by Mrs. Sarah Claire Ahlers on behalf of the Northland Motorcycle Riders Association for their very efficient work in favor of the environment during the American round of the Individual World Championship for Trial in Duluth, Minnesota.

Champions in all disciplines of racing were honored. In motocross, that would include Stefan Everts (500 World Motocross Champion), Mickael Pichon (250 World Motocross Champion), and Mickael Maschio (125 World Motocross Champion).

Courtesy Marc Pétrier / FIM Press Officer

Pastrana’s back

Pastrana’s back

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First question – how is your health?

Travis: My health is really good now.

But it’s been a tough year. I’ve was sick a lot early on. I’ve been off antibiotics for about six months now, which is great. And I’ve had a lot other injuries, including my wrist and knees.

I’ve matured, and I’ve learned so much about my body. I think it will help me in the long run. My health is good now. My legs are good. I’m looking forward to having a good year in 2003!

In professional sports you have to deal with pain and injury, and still perform. How do you perform week-in and week-out in a sport that is so demanding?

Travis: Any sport can be a challenge. But motocross is even more so, don’t you think? Part of the week-in, week-out routine is dealing with the pain of bruises, sprains, and bumps. Motocross is tough even when you don’t fall.

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It’s obvious when you fall and break your femur – you are going to be out for a while. But if you want to win a championship, you have to deal with the bruises, sprains, and bumps that happen all the time. Maybe you’ll have to deal with more serious injury too. Look at RC – he broke a bone in his hand at the very first round.

Motocross is a tough sport. But that’s also part of what makes it so great. If you are going to win a championship, you have to persevere through a lot of different things.

How are you preparing for a new season?

Travis: I’m doing a lot of what I’ve done in the past, but I’m also modifying things a bit. I’m trying to spend more time on the bike.

And with my work outs, instead of training all day, I’m working harder, but making sure I get time to rest as well.

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A lot of fans only see you on the weekends. What do you want them to know about you?

Travis: That’s true, most people only see us on the weekends racing. If they see us only that one day, they think we might only work one day per week, and it looks easy. Well, for me, the actual racing is the easy part.

Racing right now is my whole life, and every day is devoted to being the best I can be. What you do during the week is going to show on the weekend. Racing is the fun part (winks).

So many kids are aware of who you are, and what you do. They want to be like you. Any words of wisdom you’d like to give them?

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Travis: Wow, that’s a deep question! (laughs) Always try your best. Keep a positive attitude. Be creative, and have fun.

My motto is ‘Work hard, have fun’. And that applies to racing and to life in general.

Editor’s note: Can anyone come up with a really good nick-name for Travis???

Ezra Lusk Interview

Ezra Lusk Interview

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2003, Anaheim is just around the corner, your thoughts?

Well, we pretty much got the bike finished on testing, and we have the bike all dialed in. We are really excited about the bike being completely different – from the ground up.

We felt like we have been held back the last few years with our machine but now we feel like we have the best bike out there.

I feel very confident in our bikes now. It’s been a while since I have felt confident. Coming into Anaheim I feel like I can win. That’s a big difference. Going into last year I wasn’t really thinking I could win. I was just thinking about building for the future and getting uses to the team, and getting used to the bikes, but now I am ready to go.

The Kawasaki team environment is different. The team is outgoing, a little bit more friendly and little bit more personal than some others. Everybody enjoys what they are doing and it rubs off on everyone else. It’s more positive and the bikes are great.

How do you prepare for an upcoming season?

I am pretty much doing the same stuff since 98. I think I have a good training program. I don’t get tired when I ride so why change anything?

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I am going into this season with the same attitude I had back then. I don’t want to give an inch. Ricky has been the guy to set the tone. And it would mean a lot to me to go to the first race and set the tone myself. Be aggressive, not necessarily be dirty, but make my presence known.

How long do plan on racing?

That’s hard to say. I think the thought really crosses your mind about this time in your life, when you’re 27 and most guys aren’t really racing when they are over 30, 31, 32. I definitely have thought about it. But I am pretty competitive and I want to win. I don’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s time if I can’t go out there and win. If I don’t start doing that… who knows.

One positive – my wife is very supportive of my racing career. I started this a long time ago and when it’s time to end it I think I will be able to make that decision and live with it.

What kind of work goes into testing the 2003 bikes?

Pretty much everything you can think about. From chain rollers, to fork springs to rear tires. What we’ve been concentrating on the last couple of weeks is developing a very powerful motor to strengthen our chances to win.

Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

Well, you know you have to go with the defending champion first of all. And there’s a lot of new guys actually. I think Timmy Ferry is going to be a tough threat other than Ricky. You’ve got Chad Read coming in, he’s going to be pretty tough. David Vuillemin. I’ve got to respect every guy who lines up because there all great athletes and they have all had a good day at one time or another.

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You are on the team with James Stewart, tell me about him.

I get along great with James. James kind of grew up in the same atmosphere as I did on the east coast, so I can relate to him right off the bat with that. He’s a cool kid and just wants to have fun, and is winning races and he just loves life right now. You know it’s cool because he respects the stuff he has. He works hard and really wants to win, and he deserves it.

What motivates you to race?

The competitiveness of racing is what motivates me the most. To wake up on a race morning and be nervous. To be nervous and go out and race. It’s cool, it drives you. If you’re not nervous then you obviously don’t want to be there.

v What do you do when you are not racing?

I play golf a lot. I like to wake board, and I run a lot. I hang out with my friends, but I’m pretty mellow. I don’t really go out a lot. I don’t party. I am pretty athletic, so anything athletic I’ll do. Tennis, racquetball, It could be anything any day of the week.

Does Christianity play a role in your life?

Yes. But I have never wanted to come off as a ‘holy roller’ trying to be somebody I am not. I definitely believe in God, and doing the right thing. I don’t want to get on the podium and preach about it, but I like to thank God. People ask me about my beliefs and stuff. I think at some point people they were expecting me to say something like I wanted to be a preacher one day or something. But it’s not about that. It’s about stability in your life, and knowing where you are going to go when it’s all said and done.

What would you be doing if you were not racing motocross?

Hard to say. I am really athletic and enjoy competition, and when I was young I was on the swim team for three years. Back then I had a choice to either swim or race motocross. Obviously I decided to race motocross. But I could have chosen to be swimming and possibly making my way to the Olympics.

The last few years I’ve been interested in becoming a paramedic or EMT. I don’t want to be a full-on Doctor but I want to know the basics and try to help people in need.

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Angela Hall interviewing Ezra

Where do you see yourself five years from know?

Probably in a small town, living a normal life. Once I am done racing I am not going to want to be competitive at anything anymore. Because I give it all I’ve got right now, and I can see when I am done racing I am not going to want to do that anymore. It takes a lot out of you really, physically, emotionally, being focused and concentrating on racing.

When we ride on race day that’s the easy part. But we ride each day of the week, and train each day of the week, and we actually have quite a schedule. It’s tough, from not getting sick, to keeping your composure, to satisfying each vendor and advertiser for the team. I want to try to always be in a good mood with everyone, and not be bummed out when doing things such as autograph signings. There’s much more to it than that too. From the time you get to the track to the time you leave you are on your best behavior. When doing autographs I always try to make eye contact with people. If it wasn’t for the fans, we’d all be nothing.

Can you tell me your thoughts about 2002 and your first season on Kawasaki?

I stayed healthy. It was probably one of the healthiest seasons I had in a long time, so I am happy about that. But then again I didn’t really take the chances I normally take. Hanging it out here and there, riding aggressive here and there. We’ll see if that can change in 2003.

I think I really wanted to have a good, but conservative year. I wanted to get a good year under my belt. Strengthen my body and get back into the mood to racing every single weekend. And that’s what I did. But now I think I am going to go out and race with a little bit different attitude and be a little more aggressive.

What do you want people to know about you Ezra Lusk?

I probably come off a little quiet to everybody, and really conservative. That’s my mood most of the time, but I really enjoy what I am doing. I wouldn’t be doing this as long as I have if I didn’t enjoy it. A lot of people might not think that because I’ve always got a serious look on my face. (laughs)

I enjoy racing motorcycles, and I take my job seriously. I hate to consider it a job, but it sometimes gets to be a job because we have a lot of serious stuff to do. Racing motorcycles is my pressure release from everyday life really. It’s what I enjoy to do. If something goes wrong then I like to go ride.

What was your fondest memory in racing so far?

Whenever I was racing against Jeremy McGrath, looking back on it now. I had a lot of fun racing with Jeremy. Even though we were really competitive with each other, and sometimes because of the pressures had a sour attitude towards each other, it was fun and I enjoyed it. It would be kind of cool to do that again one day, but we have both gone different ways the past couple of years. That was probably the funnest time I’ve had my whole career, for sure – racing against Jeremy.

Last thoughts?

I really want to thank the fans who have stuck by me. I really got well known early in the ’98 season when I was real aggressive and racing against Jeremy. Ever since then the fans have stuck by me even when I wasn’t doing that good. And the other things is that I’m not going to give up because I am entering this season with a different attitude.

Call him Skippy

Call him Skippy

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Rick: Chad, you won the 125 East Championship, dominating it in 2002. You said you couldn’t wait to race the 250 class full-time. Now you are there on the YZ 250 two-stroke with Team Yamaha. You have fulfilled a lot of the goals you set for yourself in racing already. What are your thoughts about 2003?

Chad: I feel good. Our bikes are even better than all of us thought they would be.

In testing I’ve tried a lot of new stuff, but I’ve always come back to my original settings. The bikes are that good, and I’m confident.

I have a bunch of people I surround myself with, and they are good people. We have a great team, things will be exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.

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125 East winner

Rick: Is being on the factory team with Yamaha what you expected it to be?

Chad: It’s really good. I rode the 450 in the beginning, but after the World Cup I switched to the 250. I started with old settings straight from David Vuillemin’s race bikes. By riding the 450 first, I was able to experience some different things, and then getting on the two-stroke, which I really wanted to do, was even better.

Rick: Have you personally made any changes for 2003 that are different from what you did in 2002?

Chad: Well, the biggest changes obviously are moving up to the 250 class, and changing teams. I’ve made some small changes in my training program. Everything is going very well right now, and I’m looking forward to 2003. I love riding the bike, and I really want to win. When I’m on the bike, I’m having fun. And that’s what I like most about racing, enjoying myself, riding a bike I feel really comfortable on, and having fun.

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125 East Champ!

Rick: You work with a great trainer – Jeff Spencer. He’s worked with so many great riders, and great athletes, from Tiger Woods to Lance Armstrong. What’s your training program like?

Chad: Besides the physical training, Jeff helps with emotional support as well. We have a good relationship.

I met Jeff as a result of an injury. I believe things are meant to happen for a reason. My injury wasn’t a good thing, but meeting Jeff was. He’s a great guy. I’m sure you know that, having worked with him as well. I believe he’s a step above everyone else.

Jeff has so much knowledge and experience, and he wants to win as much as anyone. He hates losing as much as I do (laughs).

Rick: How much stronger mentally and physically do you feel for 2003 compared to 2002?

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Chad’s 2003 YZ 250

Chad: I feel a lot stronger in all facets. I took a two week break, since after Steel City I went straight to testing at the Yamaha track. I comfortable and rested. I’m enjoy riding the bikes, and it’s great that we have all of our testing out of the way. We have our race bikes built and ready to go.

Rick: Is Ricky Carmichael like Superman right now?

Chad: I don’t think anybody is Superman. Even if anyone was Superman, we would all still be out there racing and battling. We all have our good moments, and we all have our bad moments.

I’m looking forward to racing with Ricky, and with everyone else.

Rick: Everyone gets really pumped up at the start of a new season. Going into that first round at Anaheim, what are you comfortable with as a result, and making it safely into round 2?

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Chad: It’s only one round of 16, but definitely my number one priority is to win. I’m not putting in all this hard work with Yamaha for nothing. We will show up and be ready to fight.

The goal is to be like Ricky – in the hunt every weekend. Be strong mentally and physically. Compete. Be on the podium. If I can’t win that first race, I’ll be mad and go home and work harder for the next week.

Rick: Do you keep score in your mind on who has made the really tough and aggressive passes? Ricky made an aggressive move on you at the US Open. Do you owe him one now?

Chad: I’d probably say he’s one up on me. He made the final pass, and he finished one position ahead of me. But the US Open doesn’t really mean too much. It’s only one race, so much is happening, and it’s a really tight track. That’s just what you have to do on the track. Doesn’t matter all that much that it was Ricky. It could be LaRocco or Ferry or anyone. I want to win, and if I’m going to do that, then I’ll have to pass them at some point.

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2003 should be more of the same. No one bothers me or scares me. I want to race, and win. I’m sure lots of other guys feel the same way too.

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