Hansen, a supremely talented rider who has burned up eight of his nine lives in the sport by bad decisions and bad judgment (and he’ll be the first to admit it), will now get another chance. We sat down with him at the Farmer Brothers restaurant in Corona, California, and gave him the news.
Racer X: Okay, Josh, Mitch Payton called me a little while ago and told me you were riding the West Region. What do you think about that? Josh Hansen: [Pauses] Pretty exciting. I’m ready to race, so that’s good.
So you honestly didn’t know which region you were riding until just now?
Now that you’ve told me, I know. I asked him yesterday and he couldn’t give me a straight answer, so yeah, right now, this is the first I’ve heard. But I’ve been expecting to ride Anaheim, so it’s not really news to me, but it’s good that I’m going to be at home now. It’s all good.
Did your heart just start beating a little harder or anything?
My heart’s already been pumping. It’s on. I’m ready to go. So let’s get it going.
Fans are fully aware that you’re part of the Pro Circuit team, and many are supportive and stoked for you, but there are still a fair number of them saying things like “Josh who? What a joke!” What do you have to say to that?
Whatever. I think the people that are saying I’m a joke are probably a joke themselves. It is what it is. I do my thing, and I ride for myself. I definitely don’t for anybody else. You’re always going to have haters in anything that you do. Nobody is going to agree with everybody, so it is what it is.
Not long after the U.S. Open, you guys received your new KX250Fs, and you’ve been hitting it hard the entire off-season. As far as riding, testing, and training are concerned, what have you been doing up to this point? Mainly just trying to get my life together. I think that’s been the first thing. That’s really a big change for me – the decisions and the people I’ve been surrounding myself with. Yeah, I’ve been working hard. As far as everyone I work with, I really respect everybody. I think that’s really big for myself. I don’t think that I’ve had that great of an environment around me, and I now have somebody like Mitch around me. He is definitely somebody that I respect, and I’m really open-minded towards him and I really feel good about everything he tells me that I need to do. I really think a lot of the sport is mind over matter, and I really believe that all my stuff is going in the right direction. So I think that’s probably one of the biggest changes and the most positive thing that’s going on.
You’ve been a shop rat over there all winter, hanging with the mechanics and working with Mitch. Even though he likes to call you names and make fun of you, I think down deep he really cares about you, you know?
Yeah, definitely. Obviously, he cares about me. I guess I was down in the gutter, so for him to ever give me the little open window…. I’m just trying to take advantage of it. I do believe that he does care about me, and I don’t ever disrespect that or anything that I have in front of me. It’s pretty exciting, and it’s a big step and there’s a lot of hard work in front of me, but I’m ready to take it on.
How did the day-in-day-out testing and riding go for you during the off-season?
You know, trying out the 250F was definitely a change. I think I ride a 450 really, really well. I’m really fortunate to be able to have the talent and to be able to ride a 250 as well as a 450 good. I seem to have adapted to it pretty well. Kawasaki definitely has made a good bike, and it was really easy to adapt to. So getting on the thing, it was mainly just trying to put laps together. I think a lot of people have seen me be one of those guys that, when they go to other teams, they don’t do so many motos and stuff. I’ve definitely been putting in the work this time. I’m excited to see what happens, because I’ll tell you this much: I want to say this is the first year that I’ve really, myself, done motos and have tried to prepare. Before, if I did do motos, it was because somebody else told me to do it.
I’ve also noticed that you have had a number of good people around you providing advice and guidance. What do you think about that?
I think it’s rad. If you would have asked me this, like, a year ago, I wouldn’t know too much about that. Yeah, I do. I have some unique people that are a little different and who have really inspired me and kept me on the right track, and I believe in what they say. It’s really new for me. It feels good to have a good attitude. I’ve always known I can win and stuff, but not all the pieces of the puzzle were there. I just can’t wait to get it going.
Way down deep, we both know we can probably count the guys who can actually win a West Region race on one hand, and you’re one of them. I mean, you’re a guy who can walk to the gate and know you can win a race, you know?
Yeah, definitely, that’s one thing I do have. I definitely have a lot of confidence in my riding. I do believe I am one of the best people in the world on a motorcycle. Maybe I haven’t shown it, but it isn’t about what everybody else thinks. I’m the guy that’s riding the bike, and it’s what I think. I have good confidence. Mainly, I think it isn’t always just about winning. I think it’s about the way I should be carrying myself and definitely making changes and sticking by those changes.
Jake Weimer, Trey Canard, Blake Wharton, Tommy Searle … who do you see having to fight with on Saturday night?
There are so many fast kids these days. There are so many fast guys. You can’t really count out anybody. I haven’t really thought about too many people other than myself. I just want to keep myself on the line. I think that’s enough to think about. That’s a handful right there. I’m thinking my teammate Jake Weimer is really riding good, and he’s a good teammate to have.
When you wake up on race-day morning, what’s going to be the mindset? What’s going to be the plan for the day? Positive. I think positivity goes far. I don’t have any expectations. My expectations and my mindset are to ride the best that I can ride, and I think that will take care of itself.
Can you win?
Everybody around you ready to go?
Everything is good. I guess I just want to make sure that I thank Randy Wyner and Chronic Tacos for really being behind me before I even got a chance to even to ride a motorcycle. I especially want to thank him. I’d like to thank Monster Energy for putting this opportunity together for me. And definitely Mitch and Mike Fisher and Kawasaki. I’d like to thank my parents as well. I’ve probably embarrassed them quite a few times, and they’re still on my side. That’s something I’m thankful for. And Sunny Garcia. During the time I was living with Randy, I didn’t have a bike, I didn’t have money, I didn’t have shit. I definitely blew it. But Sunny Garcia gave me his personal motorcycle to practice on before I ever got the Kawasaki deal. That guy has been an inspiration to me. As old as he is, he’s the baddest dude ever. He’s the Jeremy McGrath of surfing. He really has my best interests in him. That’s pretty cool. There aren’t too many people out there in our industry that you can call your friends, and he’s one guy that, if I was ever in a dying situation, he’s a guy that I can call. I have to thank him.