Monday Conversation: RJ Hampshire

Monday Conversation: RJ Hampshire

August 4, 2014 11:45am

Last week at the 33rd Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship presented by Amsoil, RJ Hampshire became the first rider since Shaun Perolio in 1995 to go a perfect 6-and-0 in the pro class. The Factory Connection/Amsoil Honda rider will make his pro transition to GEICO Honda this weekend at the Unadilla National. We caught up with the newly crowned Horizon Award winner at the awards ceremony.  

Racer X: Horizon Award winner: how’s it sound?
RJ Hampshire: It’s amazing. I look back on who won this in the previous years, and to put my name up there on the charts with them is unbelievable. I hope to have a good career as well. I’ve worked hard for this. 

You really kind of were a late bloomer. About two years ago you really started coming on. Before that, did you ever really see yourself being the Horizon Award winner? Was it in your thoughts?
Actually, I was planning on being a college baseball player. I played baseball my whole life, and I rode motocross for fun and never took it serious. Two years ago, like you said, I took it serious and dedicated all I had into the sport. Got my trainer, Timmy Ferry, behind me and he took me in. I believed in him from the beginning. I worked hard and it’s where it got me. 

You’re a really good example of a rider that didn’t kill it in the 50 Class or the 65 Class. You came on really late. Are you able to look back and go, man, I’m glad I got to do other stuff as well and not just train?
I’m actually glad I’m a late bloomer. Every day I wake up I have fun on my bike, and I feel like kids that have been doing it their whole life, they don’t get the same excitement that I do. Every day on my bike I’m having fun. I enjoy what I do in life, and I take advantage of everything possible. I’m happy to be here. I couldn’t have done it, and I wouldn’t have asked to do it a different way. 

RJ Hampshire will make his pro debut this weekend with GEICO Honda. 
RJ Hampshire will make his pro debut this weekend with GEICO Honda.  Photo: Christian Munoz

There was a lot of hype around this class. Yourself, Plessinger, Alldredge, Jordon Smith, Renzland… did you ever see yourself going 6-0? That’s pretty impressive.
To be honest, I was coming here to win. I said that a couple weeks ago. I said, this is my year; I’m coming to win. I’d say I backed it up. The competition was definitely stiff, with my teammate and Plessinger, same with [Colt] Nichols. They’re all riding great. I just had one of those weeks where I was feeling good on the bike and I was comfortable. That was it. My Amsoil Factory Connection Hondas were working great. Like I said, just having fun on my dirt bike. 

You’re the first guy in I think nineteen years to sweep all A classes. That’s got to be pretty special.
Yeah, I wasn’t trying to go 6 for 6; I was just trying to win championships. That’s what the team wanted me for. It just happened to be that way. I got started off with forty-first gate pick, forty-second gate pick, and worked my way to the front. I won both my first motos. I was like, “Dang, I’m the fastest guy here. I can win this.” Brought that confidence into my next motos, ended up holeshotting. Third motos had to pass the best. I deserved it. I felt like that’s where I belong. 

And no rest for you? You’re going straight to Unadilla. Excited, nervous? What are you feeling about it?
I’m excited. Like I said, I’ve put the work in. Me and my trainer, Timmy Ferry, we’re getting back to Florida Monday and right back to work. I’ll be ready for Unadilla. No expectations from my team, no pressure, but I’m going out there to do the best I can. If I the best I can [get] is tenth, that’s fine, but I feel like I have more than that. I want to go out there and make a statement and prove everyone wrong. 

And you’ll also be transitioning into supercross in 2015. What are your plans to prepare? I know you did some arenacross last year.
Yeah, actually I got a good place back at home to practice supercross with in Chad Reed, I’m out at his place a lot. And Eric, he’s got a place now with a couple supercross tracks. I’m just going to hit it hard. A lot of people don’t think it’s possible to be a championship contender in 2015, but I’m telling you right now I’m going to put in the work and I’m going to be out there. 

It was a perfect week for the Florida native. 
It was a perfect week for the Florida native.  Photo: Christian Munoz

Talk about training with Chad and Tim. They’re legends in the sport. They’ve had to help you grow as a rider.
Just to be around two of the best guys in the business, I look at them, I want to be like them. I want to have that career they do. Whenever I got the 22 behind me, it’s a lot better than having… that’s what kind of got me ready for this. Whenever I have someone on me the whole moto, it’s no pressure to me. I ride like I do back at home. It’s a lot of advantages to it. I see their speed and that’s what I push for. That’s why I’m at where I’m at right now. 

And you actually wore the 22 this week. Trying to honor Chad? What was that all about?
Yeah, jokes on him. I put the 22 out front. Did something he couldn’t do. I’m just kidding; me and Chad are good buds. Just felt like it looked good on a Honda, and I want to go out there and put it out front for him. So I did it and made the 22 look good.