This weekend kicks of the East coast rounds of Monster Energy Supercross in Houston, Texas. We asked Muc/Off/FXR/ClubMx Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin to come on The MotoXpod Show this week to talk about his preparation, why he chose to move to the new team, and how he felt about his teammate, Phil Nicoletti, almost winning a race at A2’s Triple Crown.
For the full interview, check out the MotoXpod Show in ITunes or anywhere you listen to podcasts. If you're interested in the condensed written version, scroll down just a bit further.
Jamie Guida – Vital MX: You've had a few months on the ClubMX Yamaha. Is it at a level where you feel it's comparative to your Star bike?
Jeremy Martin: Yeah, absolutely. Really great question. Yeah, I'm excited. I basically haven't raced in a year. It's been a long time. So, number one, I'm just excited and I'm grateful to be lining up, and I feel really good. I had a big crash in the middle of my off-season. But yeah, the body feels good now and I feel like I'm in really good form. If I can carry what I've been doing during the week and bring it to race day and I get the track down, I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
Vital MX: Why did you make the decision to go to Club and step away from a factory team?
Jeremy: For me, I was at a pretty dark place mentally after the shoulder injury and all the injuries I’ve racked up over the last couple of years. I didn't enjoy riding my dirt bike anymore. I really enjoyed the environment at Geico Honda. Then Geico Honda folded, and I was left with an 11th hour deal, and that was Star. I took the deal; I wanted the best bike in the pits. I knew that we worked together really well, and I really wanted to win. Unfortunately, I got hurt and I lost a lot of freedom that I had before when I was with Star when I won my championships. Honestly, I just wanted to find the fun in the sport again because I was over it. That to me was ClubMx. Alex got an opportunity to ride for Brandon Haas and he's like, “You know, Jeremy, it's actually a pretty good team and the facility is amazing. I'm having fun”. Then when my shoulder came out at Star I thought about it long and hard and I was like, “Dude, we've been hurt a lot and I just want to find the fun in it again”.
Michael Lindsay: The Club team is on the up and up and building. I would say on one hand there's probably a group saying, “Man, it's a really big risk to sign you” because for them, if you don't have a certain level of results on the team, it may look poorly on them. However, as of recently, Enzo (Lopes) and Phil's (Lawrence) results have been really good and that looks really good for the team. I think there's also, I don't want to say doubt, but you have had a couple of rough years. So, I think people's expectations on what they see from you may have gone down slightly. Do you feel it's really that big of a risk that they signed you? Or do you think it's a perfect meeting point? Do you think you're going to have that big of an impact on how the team is viewed anymore?
Jeremy: I feel people definitely are wondering and it's kind of an exciting thing, I guess, for people that are in the industry and people that are fans of the sport. “This guy has always rode a factory bike his entire career and now he's on a privateer team”. I really wanted to be on a Yamaha, and I felt like Yamaha provides a really good stock platform. I know the bike pretty well, and to me I felt I could still win races. I still feel I can be competitive and line up every time and know that if things go right, the opportunity is there to win. I still felt like I could do that at Club. I could find the fun in the sport again because I was ready to retire and be done for sure.
ML: You said you were actually close to retiring. How serious was that conversation with yourself? When injuries occur, whether it's for 5 minutes after the injury, a couple of hours, a couple of days, you really do go, “Hmm, maybe I should quit doing this”. On some level everybody goes through that. Was it the typical after sitting at the house for a week, “No, I need to go riding, racing”?
Jeremy: Everyone thinks about it. It goes through your mind a little bit. Obviously, the back was a big one for me. Then I had my wrist and I still won three outdoor nationals with my wrist, my scaphoid broken, and then I had my shoulder and should have got the shoulder fixed. I think things could have been avoided had I just gotten things fixed right away. But I was on these one-year deals and you're fighting for your livelihood, basically, just trying to get a ride and to get a job. That's what I felt like. So, after the shoulder I really contemplated, we've been doing this a long time and we've grinded pretty hard for a long time. It took a little while to where I was just like, “Yeah, I think I could take the next step in life”. But I felt I'd have regret if I would have walked away. I wanted to find the fun in the sport again. I owed it to myself to have a pretty healthy body and then go at it again for sure.
Scotty Thomson – MotoXpod Show: I think there’s been an exponential amount of injuries that we've seen, especially in the 250 class. I wanted your personal theory on why we're seeing so many. Is it just coincidence, part of the sport, pace, or maybe another theory? Also, with the injuries you’ve had, has that changed your outlook on what you expect this season to be in the East Coast?
Jeremy: The injuries are part of our sport. I think it's tough. There's been some issues when COVID hit with manufacturing and stuff, you know, certain parts weren't done quite the same, or they would switch to a different distributor that would produce that part. I've heard of some issues that way. Riding Supercross, it's not easy. The guys at Dirt Wurx work really hard. But when you get all the guys riding, it gets rough. To jump a triple in a rhythm lane or to hit a set of big whoops when they're fat and brand new is one thing. But when a bunch of guys hit them and they get cupped out, it's a different beast, you know? Then you're racing next to people and it's just one of those deals where you have to send it in to get by somebody. It's a risky sport, but we love it and that's why we do it.
Jamie: How different is your bike from Phil (Nicoletti) and Enzo’s (Lopes) setup?
Jeremy: I have the same engine basically as Enzo. Phil chose a little bit different direction with what he wanted, but Enzo and I are on the same. I'm 140 lbs, so my general setup for suspension is definitely different than Enzo's.
Jamie: The reason I ask is after seeing Phil almost win a race Saturday night, and Enzo's been riding really well, I wonder how much confidence that gives you with what the bike can do?
Jeremy: I was stoked, man. I went from riding with guys like Justin Cooper and Levi Kitchen and Eli (Tomac) when he would come to Florida to test in the off-season. Then to ride with Phil and Enzo, I was a little bit nervous. I'm not going to lie. But I'm going pretty fast, and these guys are right there. Obviously, I rode the the Star bike, the fastest 250 in the pits. I was like, “Wow, this Club bike, it's good. It's good enough to win”. They're getting starts on it. And Phil almost had that Main Event win. I called him afterwards and I'm like, “Dude, you had three laps. Three laps, buddy. What happened”? He's just like, “Dude, I cracked”. And I'm just like, “Phil, you're the biggest hard ass I know. You don't crack”. Phil would be up my ass if I did that.
ML: On the engine side, I know you and Alex both have insane roll speed. That's something you two are so well known for. I've heard that you are somebody that kind of rolls into the throttle a little faster, like goes to more of an opening quicker. So, the type of delivery you look for may be different than some guys.
Jeremy: Yeah, absolutely. I think you're 100% spot on. My biggest thing is my turns. In Supercross, if I don't hit my turns right, I feel like I can’t get the rhythms down. The whoops are always a work in progress for me, being a little bit shorter and not having the leverage to keep that rear down. I feel like one really positive thing about this Club bike is the power delivery is a little bit easier for the rider. When I am pushing really hard, or if I do go into the whoops a little bit faster to try to find that little bit, I felt like when you're on that edge, I had a little bit more of a consistent feel, even though I'm pushing that limit.
ML: Other guys maybe like a sharper response, they're looking at the obstacles out of a Supercross corner and they're right on exit going, “Okay, I need it here because now I need to accelerate and get the obstacle”. Where I'm guessing from what I've listened to, where you're on it, it seems more mid-corner. You're already getting on it earlier, and if the bike had too aggressive of a hit, you would have a harder time with it popping up and standing out.
Jeremy: Yeah, absolutely. I like to be able to get into the throttle a little bit. I have a smoother power so I can get into it. That way when you chirp the throttle, the front will pull up out of the rut. That kind of affects how your turn goes, you know? So, you're definitely spot on with that.
TJ Smith – MotoXpod Show: You've brought up a couple of times about the fun. What does that mean to somebody on your level? You're still training every day, you're still working hard every day. But what makes the difference when you sit back and go, I'm having fun with this team or with what I'm doing?
Jeremy: The one cool thing I've noticed with being here at Club is I'm around the amateur kids every day and they're young, they're starting out and you can just see the hunger, the want, and the fire in their eyes. They want to be in that position where I am racing my dirt bike and being on a team and racing on the pro level. I think that's been pretty motivating for me. I also wanted to have the fun back in it to where I enjoy being around the people day in and day out and not dreading going to the track, if that makes sense.
ML: You've been in a lot of different places to train. You've done stuff with Eli, you go far back when it was Ricky’s, you've been in California, you've been all over. Are they really that different in terms of program? Or would you say at this point, a lot of these places have good tracks to ride, good people doing the physical training, good people advising? Does the environment play more of a part into it now?
Jeremy: I think it's a combination of everything. I've been to a lot of amazing places, and I've gotten a crazy education. Like Carmichaels. I've trained with Johnny O (Johnny O’mara), I've been out in California doing all the test tracks. For me, it kind of boils down to you've got to be comfortable on your motorcycle. A fast rider is a happy rider. It’s a combination of everything. Enjoying the people and, like I said, the motorcycle being comfortable, the motorcycle being fast. I think it's just a little bit of everything, the facility being good. I think everything nowadays is so good. It's just finding what you like and going for that.
Jamie: I feel the outdoor title is your priority. How much weight do you put on that versus the Supercross series?
Jeremy: Yeah, well, like I said, I'm thinking long term this year. In Supercross, if the opportunity is there, I'm absolutely going to take it. I want to be a gamer. I love to win, it's what drives me. But yeah, I want to make a full year. I've had a lot of injuries the last couple of years, and not just little injuries. They've been six-month injuries. I've done three Supercross races in the last two years, so I'm digging myself out of a hole. Then you've got a guy like Jett Lawrence who's just doing season after season, building on that season after season where I'm not racing and I'm coming off an injury. I'm just so far behind the eight ball if that makes sense. But outdoors is definitely a priority for me. I always tell everybody it's my bread and butter. You give me a good bike and you give me a program where I'm in shape, you can't count me out.
ML: I'm actually not too far from you right now. I'm just up in North Carolina with the Phoenix Honda boys. A couple of guys up here on the team had been at Club a lot. I asked Coty Schock, “Do you feel a difference in how you're treated there? Or the focus of, say, Brandon (Haas) and some of the trainers”? I was really impressed that he said from his opinion, “I can't tell a difference from the way they talk to me and advise me versus how they're talking to Phil and advising Phil or even Jeremy”. I was curious, do you feel the same way and is that something else that impressed you with the facility? Not only do they have the facility, they have a team that you're on, but the fact they work with your competitors?
Jeremy: The Phoenix guys being here is honestly awesome because it's just another group of guys helping get the track rough every day and making it like a race, a main event, realistic condition. If we're breaking down sections, for example, and we're working in a particular area like Coty or Cullin will go through the section and then Brandon will pull me over and he's like, “Hey, hey, Jeremy, see how they're doing that? That's good. That's really good”. It's not about, “Jeremy's the fastest guy, so this is what he's doing”. We're all treated as equals. If someone's doing something better, it's just, “Hey, he's doing this. Watch how he does that. See if you can figure out how to do that in your style”. So, yeah, definitely. I would say it's very equal for sure.