The Day/s I Became a Martin Bros. Fan

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6/25/2018 7:12 AM

I first met Jeremy Martin back in 2001 when I spent a year on the road instructing with Tony DiStefano for his motocross schools.

Spring Creek MX had been a stop on Tony D’s tour for a long time, and I was excited to ride one of the most iconic tracks in motocross. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would also soon meet one of the nicest families in racing or otherwise.

The John and the Martin family welcomed Tony, myself and the rest of our crew with open arms. Back then Alex and Jeremy were just two little kids running around Spring Creek, riding dirt bikes and having fun. I actually never knew Jeremy’s real name because everyone just called him by his nickname, Bullfrog. I still have no idea where the name came from, but it seemed to fit.

The track was everything I expected and more, but my real takeaway was the entire Martin family: just a kind Mid-Western family that reminded me of my mother’s roots in Wisconsin.

In 2004, I made another trip back to Millville with Tony D. This was just ahead of Mike Alessi’s infamous pro debut, so he and Jeff were staying at Spring Creek as Mike prepped for his big day. I can’t recall if they rode with us that week, but I do remember the two brothers weed-whacking the grounds and earning their stay.

The other thing I recall vividly was Jeremy (I finally learned his real name on this trip). He clearly had matured into a competent rider, but it was not until we were doing drills through the sand whoops along the creek that he really caught my eye.

Another instructor and I set up to give feedback after the right-hand turn at the end of the two whoops sections and were having two riders go at a time. With 60 or so riders of all skill levels, there was a wide range of critique, but when Jeremy first came through I was speechless. He went faster through that section on his KX85 (I believe that’s what he was riding) than anyone I saw all day, regardless of bike size. Jeremy diligently rode up to me for his feedback, and I had nothing worthwhile to offer.

After working with literally thousands of riders, you gain a sense of the source of a rider’s speed: simple familiarity with a track or actual talent. Jeremy’s talent was undeniable. Following that visit to Millville, I kept my eye on both of the Martin brothers’ results as they rose through the amateur ranks.

Seeing both Alex and Jeremy thriving over the last several years has always brought a smile to my face. I have interviewed both since they turned pro and saw the same humble personalities among factory rigs as I witnessed back at their home all those years ago. They are two riders that I always root for, either quietly as I’m covering a race (when I’m supposed to remain unbiased) or loudly when I’m at home watching them on TV.

I was very saddened to hear of Jeremy’s crash. Any day when a rider suffers a major injury is a terrible day, but this one really hit home. From what I gather so far, Jeremy’s injury is not catastrophic in the same manner as Tony’s, but it will likely be life altering. Whether in the immediate or in the long term, things will be different for Jeremy and his outlook on life. I only wish the best for he and the entire Martin family. I have been cheering for them since the first time I met them and will never stop doing so.

-Bayo Olukotun

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Twitter: @bayodome
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