Love him or hate him. Competitor or clown. Respect him or scoff at him. Brilliant talent or squandered talent. Wait for what comes next or cringe at the thought of it. Say what you will about him, but Josh Hansen is one polarizing character. For those who move in the concentric circles of American motocross—media, industry, fan base—Josh Hansen can mean radically different things. Perhaps that’s what makes the AMA supercross winner and multiple X Games gold medalist—both in supercross and freestyle —such a compelling and sensational figure to follow.
Just what is next for the son of 1982 AMA supercross champion Donnie Hansen? After a somewhat successful, albeit abbreviated showing at this summer’s X Games in Austin, Texas, Josh Hansen now, like everyone involved in the sport, must begin looking to the off-season, and immediately thereafter, 2015. So, what’s in the now 30-year-old’s bag of tricks for the future? Good question. Today, while he was up in Oregon and driving pell-mell towards Portland International Raceway and the Forty-Eighth Anniversary Pro Unlimited, Hansen got us up to speed on all things 2014 and far beyond.
Racer X: Josh, what’s up?
Josh Hansen: I’m on my way to Oregon right now, and we just had a blow out, and we’re on the side of the road. Some 18-wheeler tire-changer dude is out here with us right now.
What do you have going in Oregon?
They are having that PIR race, and I’m supposed to go up there. Also, MotoSport sponsors the Washougal National, so I’m going out there to go sign autographs. After that, I’ll also go riding with all the MotoSport dealers for the next two days after the race. I’ll ride with everybody who basically goes through MotoSport. It’s kind of cool and something different. Those guys have been a big help to my situation and trying to get me back on my feet for next year. I have to give it back to them.
I wanted to ask you about MotoSport. Just how did you get hooked up with those guys?
I started talking to them one day. I saw everything they were doing with [Jimmy] Albertson and Brett Cue and a few other guys. I don’t know. I kind of think it’s a cool situation. What they’ve got going is exactly like what I’m doing, so I just figured it would be good to get together.
You had a MotoSport hauler at the X Games in Austin. Was that the first time you went out in public with them?
Yeah, that was my first time. That was my first time running around with those guys. Yeah, they’re supporting my entire move to get back into racing and also my freestyle and video stuff. They’re pretty cool to have on my side.
That PIR race always struck me as being an awesome race. Are you going to compete in it on Thursday night?
Yeah, I’m thinking so. There are some fast dudes that show up there. Some of the national dudes and stuff show up. It should be fun. I’ll just ride my Kawasaki. I just don’t have my Step-Up bike from X Games, so I don’t really have suspension or anything like that. I’ll make it happen. It’ll work. I’d like to leave with some cash, for sure.
Speaking of X Games, what did you think of them this year?
I guess I expected a lot more than what it was. There was just so much hype around the X Games being at the Formula 1 track and kind of just moving away from L.A. I thought it was good. It was definitely cool, but it’s really been harsh with all the weather. Even last year the X Games had problems with the weather. I kind of thought maybe ESPN would have their heads wrapped around it for Austin, and it was still kind of a blow out. It was good, but I think it could be a lot better. To get upside down and do Step-Up and all that kind of stuff, it makes it a little bit better when it’s not so windy. The wind was crappy all the way around.
There was some talk that there wasn’t much of a buzz around motocross at the X Games this year. What’s your slant on that?
Yeah, it kind of felt like they were pushing the car stuff a lot, and there wasn’t as much push on the motocross-side. I don’t really know. I’m kind of curious to see where that ends up because I definitely don’t want to be a part of something if they don’t want to be a part of something with us. We’ll see what happens. I think it’s a good opportunity for everybody to have a good thing with their sponsors as well as what they do as a job. It kind of seemed like their heads were in a weird spot this year so I don’t really have a whole lot to say.
Are you still carrying on with your program of being the supercross guy that also does freestyle, and in doing so, attempts to weld the two worlds together?
My goal is to try to get back into racing next year. That is still my push. It’s been a few years, and I really look forward to getting back into racing. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. The freestyle thing—that’s just kind of like the whipped cream and the cherry on top. It’s really cool to do, and I just love being on a motorcycle. I also kind of want to tie everything together with my racing and freestyle as well as my video stuff. That’s my plan right now. As far as my next year’s push, I’m still working on that. I kind of want to do my own team. That’s what my push is right now.
Interesting. I ran into you at all the supercross races this season, and I remember at one of them in particular you kept saying to me, “Man, EJ! It’s killing me not to be here racing! It’s just killing me!”
Yeah … Its one of the things I’ve done forever. I just love it. I give all the respect to everybody and all the heart that they put into it and how badass each and every rider is. I would just love to be out there with the field, too. I think it’s such a cool situation. I’ve had enough time to think about it, and I’m excited about getting back into it.
What are the racing people going to say? How will they react to you coming back to racing? We both know some people will say, “Hansen can do it!” while others will say, “Oh, Hansen is just talking big.”
Yeah, there’s going to be plenty of people talking. Look, I don’t know. I’m not really thinking about any of that. I’m not really thinking about people liking me or not liking me. Honestly, for the first time, I’m just doing it for myself. If people are on my bandwagon, cool. If they’re not, cool. It’s all good. I don’t want to come in there making some big stink that I’m going to win. I’m going out there to have fun and not have any drama or any problems. I’m just going out there to ride dirt bikes and do what I do. I’ll just let everything else speak for itself. As far as outsiders, I think I’m old enough now, and I think it’s awesome to have people on my side. You can’t make everybody happy, so I don’t expect to have everybody be on my side. As far as my situation, I just love what I do so I’m just going to go with that. I hope people can like what I’m doing. If not, fair enough. It’s all good either way.
It’s early, but do you have any sort of plan as to what you’d like to do in racing in 2015? Would you ride a 250 or a 450?
You know, I’m eligible for either class. I really don’t know which direction yet. I’m still kind of putting out my feelers. I’m kind of waiting to see what people are going to be on my side, as far as sponsors go and what they’re willing to do. I don’t really have anything set. I do know that I’m getting help from MotoSport next year, so that’s cool. I got a couple things going. I’m just trying to figure out stuff. When I get back from Washougal and all that, I start testing for next year with a couple of things. I’m excited to get back and start putting my energy towards next year. Honestly, I’m trying to get over this hump of getting back in shape. It’s been two or three years, so it isn’t easy to come off the couch.
Not many people could do that, but I think we both know that if you really put your heart into it, you could do it.
Oh yeah. I’m stoked. I’m so happy to be back, honestly. I think I have a good head on my shoulders. I’m not trying to get a ride. I’m not trying to be this guy or that guy. I just want to go out there and be Team 100. My heart is in it. I love everything. I love all my sponsors and everybody who has helped me out. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a super-cool new chapter for me.
You want to keep that #100, huh?
Yeah, I’d like to. I’m sure they’re going to give me problems, or that people are going to complain. I don’t know. I think it would be kind of lame to see somebody else running my number. Whatever. I’ll run the number zero.
How about the Monster Cup? Do you think you have a shot at running that thing?
Yeah, I’m thinking so. As of right now, my goal is to be ready for Monster Cup. As long as testing and everything else falls into play, there should be no reason why I should not be there. I’m psyched. It’s obviously a good race to get your feet wet and kind of get back into it. Either way. Any kind of race sounds like a good time. That race always has good battles. I’ve been watching that for too many years. I’d rather be a guy out there trying to run for some money.