5 Minutes with...Jeff Matiasevich

September 10, 2008 8:00pm
On September 3 it was officially announced that former supercross standouts Jeff Matiasevich and Damon Bradshaw would compete against one another at the legends rematch race at this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. This heated rivalry still exists today even though they haven’t raced each other in over a decade. With only a few weeks until the race, Matiasevich gave his thoughts on the race, the rivalry and the first and only conversation between these two guys.

On getting involved with the legends rematch race at this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open.
Jeff Matiasevich: It started with a phone call from Todd Jendro. As soon as I heard Damon was in, I was in. That was about a month ago. It started around the time that the Moto GP race was in Laguna Seca. I went to that event, and I was at a bar. Damon came up and grabbed me from behind and asked me if I was racing. I said to him that if he was going to be there, I was going to be there. It’s been on ever since then.

  • Jeff Matiasevich
On his relationship with Bradshaw.
Matiasevich: That was the first time I have ever talked to Damon. We never talked to one another. We never spent any time off the track with one another. At the races, we just stayed away from one another.

How their rivalry started.
Matiasevich: I was thinking about our rivalry. It started at the Bercy supercross race in Paris just before the 1990 supercross series. He put me into the cement wall at that race. We were in a set of whoops and there was a tight right turn. He basically knew he was not going to make the turn, so he let go of the bike and put me into the wall. Then, in the qualifier at Anaheim that season, he was leading and I was behind him. He was out of control and shot his bike at me again. I ended that race with tire tracks on my helmet from there. The rivalry lasted from 1990-1993.

On the talk at Laguna Seca?
Matiasevich: It has been a number of years, and we are both a little older. He said let’s not kill each other; we are getting older. I was like @#$! you, Damon. When the helmet goes on, we can throw everything out of the window. The last time we raced in Las Vegas, he cleaned my clock. He made no attempt to make the turn. I told him that I still owed him from before. We are both going to go the speed that we used to. The racer is going to come out in both of us.

On still riding a motocross bike.
Matiasevich: I ride once a week, so I have been on a bike. I have stepped it up more now because of this race. I want to get the blood going again.

On the team he will race for.
Matiasevich: I am going to ride for Monster Kawasaki. We tried to get a two-stroke, but Kawasaki doesn’t make their KX250 anymore. It took me forever to get used to the four-stroke bike. I did not like them. I have a call into Troy Lee about gear. Maybe I will use old Fox gear.

On training for this type of race.
Matiasevich: It’s more of timing that I need to work on. It’s only going to be five laps. The endurance and fitness should not be that much of a challenge. I get to use the Kawasaki track. I am working on jumping and timing. It is amazing when you get older. Things don’t work the way they used to.

Will it really be a brawl?
Matiasevich: I think that we will go at it, but maybe not dirty riding. Unless it’s the last turn of the race. I will slam him, but not put him down. I do not want to ride around by myself.

Has racing changed since the Bradshaw/Matiasevich era?
Matiasevich: What Damon and I had going on was the fact that we didn’t like one another. It may have even hurt our careers. We were paid to win championships, and this rivalry cost me a championship as well him. Roy Janson would fine me $2,000 after each race. I told Roy to just fine me for the rest of the season. I am not going to change. It was not about the money. I hated that guy. I told Roy I had better things to do after the race, so fine me now for the rest of the season.

On being friends with competitors.
Matiasevich: I wasn’t a guy that hung out with the other guys. I was not there for a social gathering. I stayed with myself. No one really got me mad like Damon. I just wanted to @#%! with his head like I did.

On who would win in a fist fight.
Matiasevich: We may find out after the race. We never fought one another. We never really saw one another, which was weird. For us to never be in the same room is pretty amazing. I never went to the restaurants he was at or anything.

On his thoughts about adding the legends rematch race to the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open.
Matiasevich: I think this concept is a great addition to the U.S. Open. I wish more guys would join in on it. I am a big fan of motorcycle racing, and I think the fans would love it. I would like to watch some of these type of races myself. I wish we could have done one of these last year in Anaheim.

On an email from Yamaha race team manager Jim Perry, one of Matiasevich’s friends.
Matiasevich: Jim Perry emailed me the other day asking about the race. I said, @#!$ you, Jimmy, you are on the other side now. See you in Las Vegas. I think when the helmets go on, we will be back to the ‘90s. I do not want to cause any injuries.