Racer X: Jake, the last time I saw you, you were standing atop a podium in Italy. Are you still feeling the afterglow of being on the winning Motocross of Nations team? Jake Weimer: Yeah, I am. I was actually talking to my dad about this. It’s kind of weird about the whole motorcycle-racing deal; because we race so often, you only get to enjoy a win for a short amount of time, and then it’s like you’re right back to it and you have to start paying attention again, and then you have to race again.
Meaning you’re only as good as your last race?
Exactly. It’s one of those types of deals, so you’d better enjoy it while you can, because it lasts for just a short moment. It’s not a one-hit deal and then you get to celebrate all year. It’s like we race so much that you’ve got to enjoy it while you can. I’m still, you know, very pumped on the win. I think about it all the time. The experience of going over there and being able to win, it was definitely one of those races I’ll never forget.
Have you been able to sense just how important winning the Motocross of Nations was to the American fans?
Well, yeah, for sure. I really started to realize just how serious it was when we first got over there. The size of the facility, how much time and effort they put into it, the flags hanging everywhere, the pits – there was a lot of time and effort and money that went into that one event. And the fans... It’s a big deal to everybody; everybody is serious about it, and they want to win.
When the signal was given that it was time to go out for the first moto, how were you feeling?
I was very excited. I was super-pumped. You know, the first day that we competed [Saturday] was the qualifying day. It kind of sucked because, right out of the gate, we got a horrible gate pick. So we were thirty-third and clear on the outside. We all had to work our asses off that day to just try and get the best gate pick that we could for the real deal. I wouldn’t say that was an amazing day. It was a tough day. But after seeing my two teammates ride and how I felt personally and mentally, I was a little bit nervous, but I was confident that we could do it. It was exciting because we didn’t really know what was going to happen. That was the first I’ve ever raced [against] 450s. I’m on my 250, and I’m in these classes where it matters if you beat them. But before the gate dropped, it was very, very exciting. The fans over there are just insane.
Could you feel that while you were racing?
Oh, 100 percent. You can definitely feel the energy over there.
Was it a different rush than, say, racing in a stadium before 45,000 fans?
Yeah, for sure. I think the whole event is a one-off deal. Everything is different. You’re not racing for you. I think as a rider it means a whole lot to put on red-white-and-blue and represent your colors and your country. That was a big deal. To pull out onto the track with the bike and all the gear, it was like, “America, here we are. We’re going to ride our asses off and we’re going to try and win.” There’s a lot tension and everybody wants to win and other countries aren’t afraid to try and take you out so that you don’t win. There are just a lot of different elements that we don’t normally deal with.
In the first moto, both you and Ryan Dungey rode really well - Dungey was third and you were eighth. The two results put Team USA atop the board. Did you feel good about the race?
Yeah, I did. I felt good during the race. I felt like I started off a little bit slow, but toward the end I really got some steam going. I felt really good. Again, it was a little bit of a tough situation, because Dungey had to start inside because his biggest competition was starting inside. My biggest competition on the 250Fs also started inside, so I had to start outside. In hindsight, I think we probably did the right thing, but it made it tough for me. I had to come through some people, get by some 450s. I ended up finishing decent. The first moto, I was happy with. I felt like I rode well.
The second moto didn’t go as well for you.
To give you a little rundown on the race, I had a better start. I was around sixth or seventh. I was better off than I was in the first moto, so I felt good. I didn’t feel like I was really tired or really fatigued, so I felt good. Then on the first lap I got really out of control and got really bad headshake. I hit a really low part of my stomach on the handlebars and knocked the wind out of myself. Then I was trying to regroup and trying to make myself stay focused and trying to stay in it. And then I fell down once, and then I got up and was trying to hurry. I fell down again that same lap. From there, I was just having a tough time getting going. There were people everywhere and it was tough, and then I ended up falling again. So I fell three times.
Between the second and third motos, it was pretty somber back in the Team USA pit area. What was going through your head?
Well, I obviously was very disappointed in myself for how that last moto went down for me. I was bummed. I was bummed big-time.
Tough question, but did you feel like you had blown it for the team?
For sure. As a rider, that’s probably your biggest fear in going to ride the Motocross of Nations. You’re like, “If we lose, we lose, but I don’t want to be the reason why.” I mean, I’m sure everybody felt like that. I know I did. I didn’t want to be the one that lost it for us. But then my dad said to me, “It’s not about you right now. You need to get dressed and you need to go out there and cheer your teammates on.” After he said that, I felt better about it. And then Ryan and Ivan rode so well in the final moto. It was pretty cool to see.
I don’t know if you noticed it, but once Dungey rode into the lead and Ivan rode into a safe position, could you hear the crowd go totally quiet? I noticed a number of fans and members from the other teams looking over where all the Americans were standing, and all of them had these looks on their faces like, “Shit, they’re going to win this thing again?”
Oh, for sure. Right out of the gate, [Antonio] Cairoli went down, so the Italians were bummed. It’s weird how it all plays out. It’s like they don’t want you to win, but they do. They’re screaming and yelling and revving their chainsaws and then it’s looking like we’re going to win and then, like you said, it kind of got quiet. The air horns were less and the chainsaws weren’t going as much. At that point, my eyes were just fully glued on the American riders and just hoping for the best. So I was pretty focused just on them, really.
Up on the podium, and with thousands of fans looking up at you guys, you and Ryan looked almost dazed.
For Ryan and I, we’d never been there. When you see it, it’s just ridiculous. No matter how many stories you hear or how you listen to somebody who has been there, you will never know what it’s like unless you’re there.
Okay, back to the present: Do you have your 2010 Kawasaki KX250Fs yet?
I haven’t ridden one. I don’t even know if they have them. I honestly have no idea.
With all the craziness that went on during the off-season, Mitch Payton said, “Even in the beginning, I wanted to keep two guys. I wanted to keep Christophe [Pourcel] and I wanted to keep Jake.” Did getting things lined up for 2010 go pretty smoothly?
Yeah, for the way the economy is and stuff, I suppose it went as smooth as it could go. It’s tough. It’s tough for everybody: mechanics, riders, teams. It’s a little bit of a tough situation. I guess the bottom line is that I’m where I want to be and I’m happy where I’m at.
Yesterday, I asked Mitch which of his riders would be riding which coast, and he answered, “They’ll find out the week before.” Have you heard different?
Do you have a preference?
Probably West, but it is what it is. I really have thought about it very little at this point, just because I haven’t tested one time. Obviously, everybody is on different tires now and there are new bikes, so there’s a lot to go through.
We’re only two months out from the season opener in Anaheim. This is the time motocross and supercross becomes a full-time job for a racer.
Oh, 100 percent. This is everyday time. This is not an off-season. Honestly, it’s busier now than when we race because of all the testing. Also, a lot of our training is done now to get a good base built up. It’s now time to get ready for the whole year, really. Everything is going on right now: training, testing, riding...
Last year, Ryan Dungey only beat you by four points to win the West Region Supercross Series. You also won three main events. I’m guessing you feel pretty good about making a run at your first title in 2010.
For sure. That’s definitely the goal, to get a supercross title. That’s the main focus right now. Once we get moving on that, we’ll have to switch it over and go back to outdoors and try and win that one, too. But as of right now, the main focus is getting prepared for supercross and getting strong and getting the bike ready and taking baby steps to move forward to that.