“Rain is 10 minutes away!”
This was Jim ‘Bones’ Bacon playing weatherman earlier this week when an unexpected rain storm blew off of the Pacific Ocean and held station over San Bernardino, California and Glen Helen Raceway. Present for a preseason test being conducted by the Monster Energy Kawasaki race teams, the brand’s 2024 450cc and 250cc team riders were training in unison when the rains came and sent everyone fleeing for shelter.
Sitting in a Team Kawasaki director’s chair and waiting it all out was Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jason Anderson. Poised to enter his 14th season of Moster Energy Supercross, the 30 year-old native of Albuquerque, New Mexico was amused when asked if being out at Glen Helen Raceway in a driving early winter rain storm was all part of the glitz and glamor of being a millionaire factory supercross race.
“No, but it is, honestly, pretty cool,” said the 2018 AMA Monster Energy Supercross Champion. “Especially when you see people that you’ve known for a long time and you just kind of hang out.
“As you get older, it does become more normal, you know?” continued Anderson on the commitment involved in attempting to make a run at a supercross title. “You do opening ceremonies and you go to the races and everything like that, and it does become normal. The thing with me and what keeps me going competition-wise is that I still want to good and I still feel like I have fire in me to compete and be one of the best guys in the world at supercross and motocross.
“My days are really fulfilled whenever I’m able to work with my team and kind of problem-solve. It’s a way I use my brain and it all keeps me busy and keeps me out of trouble.
“There is a lot demanded on my family. Realistically, I’ve got to drag my wife and my daughter around 31 weekends out of the year. I live in California, so when we have east coast races, that is flying six hours each way. Fly there on Friday and fly back on Sunday. I go to work and they’re at home. As glamorous as it can seem from the outside, it’s tough on us. Luckily, my wife is really, really supportive in the way where she sees I’m able to live my dream. There are sacrifices you make, but at the same time, you can make a very good living and luckily I get to hang out with people that have very common interests with me. We all love what we do and I don’t think you’d make it to this level if you didn’t love it to a certain extent.”
The talk turned to race results and the importance they present to a rider and race team.
“It is tough because I think for a lot of us who have done it for so long, it’s really hard mentally because I think a lot of our self-worth comes from our results,” he said.
“Whenever you don’t have the best results it’s hard on you throughout the weeks. For me, and I’m going on my 14th year, luckily at this point I know that if I have some tough times with results and I keep digging, the results will eventually come. I’m lucky to be in the position that I know that if I do that, the results will come. For some people, they dig, dig and dig and nothing ever comes of it. But when you do get the results and you are on the podium and you are doing all of that, it is a cool feeling and it’s what keeps you coming back for more.”
A racer who has always been his own guy, Anderson, with the nickname El Hombre and penchant for creating YouTube videos and TikTok and Instagram posts featuring his Team Fried colleagues, has entertained racing fans the world over.
“It’s tough because with our sport you have sponsors and stuff, so you’re supposed to act a certain way and be a certain person” said Anderson of going about it all in his very own way. “I always had a hard time with that, so I think over the years I became a little bit more quiet towards the public.
“Yes, I do it different. I live in Laguna Beach and I ride in California and that’s kind of rare for the 450cc class guys nowadays. A lot of them live in Florida. I did that, but I’m a west coast kid. I grew-up in New Mexico and I love being out here. I love the weather and I’m lucky enough and have done well enough for me and my wife to live in a very beautiful area. I work hard and I’ll do everything I can, but there is a part of me, and I guess you could say my humanity, that I wanted to keep. I feel like we give up enough with the sport and I did the Florida thing for eight years and had that humidity and summer heat and all of that and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to get the job down here in California.’”
And what does the veteran racer hope to achieve come the start of the 2024 racing season?
“I would like to be a multiple race winner and I would like to think that multiple wins can carry me to more success as the years goes on,” he said.
“We have a new bike for this year and I think it’s quite a bit better than our bike was last year, and I think there are some areas where we are a little bit more comfortable on it. I also think the pace last year got raised from the year previous and we were having a hard time finding a setting to help me be on that pace. But with that said, last year, and even though it didn’t go as good as I would have liked it to, I think I knew that I would still be able to be P1 on the board and I’d still be on the podium some nights and I was able to win heat races relatively easy.
“I know my talent and skill is still there. The execution of the main events was not there. And another thing too, I was having my daughter last year. It was kind of hard when you have that little life event. I was trying to race and I’d go to the practice track and I’d be worried about my wife being stressed-out with being pregnant. I didn’t want to get hurt or anything like that. Right now we have our daughter and we are in a good place in life, so I think that is going to help and benefit me a lot.
“You know, I just did a two-year deal with Kawasaki. To be honest, I feel like from the outside looking in, you wouldn’t see me as too much as a social person, but any team I’ve ever been on, I can really get along with anyone. With Kawasaki it’s a really good home for me because they support the way I go about it. I live in California and they’re not pressing me on stuff and I enjoy working with the brand. So for me, I have a two-year deal and my whole goal is to be good enough to where they have to re-sign me for another two years, you know? That’s really a big goal of mine and that’s to be competitive and be one of those first-tier signing guys. That’s where I want to be.
“Right now it is tough because I’m in my 30s and I’m having to change my way of thinking about how I ride my motorcycle,” continued Anderson, looking over at his 2024 Kawasaki KX450F being tuned by Anderson’s mechanic Jason ‘Rango’ Montoya. “It’s not all about fitness. You actually have to have speed, talent and fitness. You have to have it all together. And I also think the bikes are getting to a level where you can ride them differently and faster and it’s a change and I think you see that. It’s an evolution. I’ve gotta go with the wave or else I’m going to be left behind and I’d love to be a 30-year-old that isn’t left behind and still be the cool old guy. I still love the sport and there is nothing else I’d rather do. My goal is to be closer to 35 by the time I’m done.”
Sixth overall in the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship after missing the final two rounds of the season after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his C5-C6 vertebrae at Nashville, Anderson is very much looking forward to making a run at another supercross title.
“There hasn’t been a 30-year-old win a supercross championship, but I feel like I still have the hunger and the belief that another supercross championship could happen,” he said. “There is no reason for me to stop racing as long as I feel that.”