Jeremy McGrath is enjoying life immensely. Officially, the Supercross legend and 72-race winner is retired. However, he's still as busy as he wants to be through his involvement with Thor Motocross and Parts Unlimited, the Honda Supercross team and Johnny Greaves Motorsports, the team he drives the 2WD Monster Energy Toyota for in the new Traxxas TORC stadium off-road series.
Sunday evening, after returning to Southern California from the TORC series' debut weekend in Texas, McGrath took the time to reflect on his illustrious career and what he's doing now while driving home with wife Kim and daughters Rhowan, 3½, and Bergen, 1½.
Jeremy, you've been retired for a few years now, yet you still are involved in the sport.
It's been seven years since I retired from it full-time. The last full season I did was 2002 when I raced the West Coast rounds. I raced 6 or 8 Supercrosses a year in '03, '04, '05, '06. In 2006, I raced four rounds or something like that. It's been awhile since I actually raced a whole season, but it's weird because I just feel like it was yesterday.
After such a remarkable career, have you ever thought about your legacy?
I've come to realize that in this sport, and in probably every other type of sport in the world, people very easily forget, but I think my legacy to the sport would be my relationship with the fans, my relationship with the kids, and work. I didn't really even have to try, but just being a good role model for the up and coming kids and the fans.
I was fortunate more than I ever expected, or ever dreamed of for that matter. I think it was just being a normal guy. You run across guys, even today, that success changed them. I pride myself on being the same guy pretty much that I was when I was a young kid.
To a lot of the people that watched you race, Supercross seemed to come naturally to you. Was that the case?
I grew up riding my bicycle with a bunch of older kids and I was always doing the big jumps and sort of the daredevil stuff and showing off a lot. I always was a kid that just loved to jump. When I started riding dirt bikes, my main goal was to figure out how to get into the stadiums and show what I could do.
I'm the first one to admit I wasn't the best amateur motocross kid like a lot of the guys I raced with. In fact, I started a lot later than they did. I didn't start racing until I was 14. All these guys that I raced with, they have massive amounts of titles and stuff like that. I only have a few because I started racing late, and frankly I wasn't that good at motocross at first. I mean, I was decent, but not compared to some of the guys.
I just tried to work my butt off and worked as hard as I could to make sure that I had the chance to get to race in front of the crowds and in front of people on the Supercross track. That was my goal, and once I got to that position I realized I could do it. All that stuff I learned as a kid came into play and I just excelled at Supercross. I loved it.
What was the part of your program that kept you on the top year after year for so long?
I think the atmosphere definitely kept my motivation high. I'm a firm believer that you're not really going to succeed at the very best (level) anyone could ever succeed if you don't have a whole lot of passion for it, and to this day I feel the same passion for motorcycles, whatever it is regarding motorcycles, that I did when I was a kid. I still love it today, and I still live for riding my motorcycle. Sometimes it's disappointing that I can't be out there racing, but reality is reality. The passion I feel for motorcycles just comes out of me. I think that's part of the reason I had so much success, and for such a long time.
How long have you been a part of the Thor Motocross family?
I've been with Thor since like 2000. I signed with them two seasons before I retired, but I'm still actively current in all the stuff. I've maintained my sponsorship with Thor, I still do a lot of the R & D and a lot of testing with the race team and I still have a contract with Honda. It's great to be with Parts Unlimited as well. It's not only a business relationship; it's sort of like family and a friendship now. It's working out well.
You attended the Parts Unlimited dealer showcase in Las Vegas just before the Supercross finale. What makes those events so unique?
Parts Unlimited is the only company that does that. They put on events like that for their dealers. I think it's an opportunity for the people that sell the stuff to get up close to the guys that are actually wearing or using the stuff, and the reps and the dealers like that. It's that family approach, you know; more of a personal relationship.
Why do you want to be a part of Thor?
Thor's been around for a long time. They have a lot of history of being involved with a lot of champions. There's two or three gear companies at most that have the history and the credibility to be leaders in the sport and Thor is one of them. The family approach does make a real friendly home there for riders and makes you comfortable and kind of alleviates some of the pressures that go with what we do, and that's always nice.
Why should the average rider go out and buy Thor gear?
Thinking back when I was a kid, I wanted to wear what my heroes were wearing. Thor does a good job of finding the right guys and having the right guys on the team. They have the Monster Energy Pro Circuit team and guys like Villopoto and Chad Reed, the leaders of our sport. I think that's what makes a difference in the kids' eyes. Of course the design and everything is good, too. Thor comes out with some pretty innovative stuff. Those are the things that catch the kids' eyes, I think.
Is your plate pretty full these days or is there still more that Jeremy McGrath wants to do?
I'm having a blast. I'm still riding a ton, which is my first love, of course. My motocross stuff is still great, I love it, and the off-road is a new adventure for me. I'm getting the thrill that I did from racing (motorcycles) out of driving trucks. Honestly, it's like riding Supercross in the truck. All the things I learned in motocross and Supercross crossed right over into my off-road stuff.After that I don't really want a schedule. I'm having a blast hanging out with my kids and my wife. I've got a pretty good schedule for that.
About Parts Unlimited
Parts Unlimited is the world's largest distributor of aftermarket accessories in the powersports industry and is owned by LeMans Corporation headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin. Parts Unlimited sells to over 12,000 dealerships world wide and continues to expand its market penetration with its sister companies, Parts Canada, Parts Europe and Drag Specialties.
Parts Unlimited continues to promote racing through its campaign WE SUPPORT THE SPORT®, helping to drive consumers to dealerships, while entertaining its dealers through hospitalities at the events it sponsors.
About Thor Motocross
Thor is one of the originators of motocross apparel. When Torsten Hallman made his first U.S trip to race and promote motocross in 1966, he inadvertently started to develop Thor riding gear. Thor is a hardcore, grass roots company that understands what it takes to reach the top and more importantly, how to stay there. It is one of a few companies with over 40 years experience in the motocross marketplace.
Thor, a house brand company for Parts Unlimited, combines design and marketing with superior distribution to reach it's thousands of dealers and consumers priding ourselves on key selling features like quality, strength and performance. Thor is more than a brand. It is a lifestyle.