There was once a time—not that long ago—that Hunter Lawrence was winning 250 Class motos in the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, while “another” lesser-known Lawrence brother named Jett was racing down in the amateur ranks. It’s all flipped quite quickly, with knee and shoulder injuries keeping Hunter off the track for several months, while Jett started battling at the front of the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 250SX West Region campaign. Now Jett’s running the high profile while Hunter has been off the radar.
Is Hunter coming back to the race track soon? We checked in with him this week.
Racer X: Are you alive?
Hunter Lawrence: Yeah, I’m alive.
I did see you on TV, but I feel like we just haven’t heard or seen much. You look good, by the way, in a snazzy, white coat. I’ll give you that.
Thanks, bud. There’s not much going on. I just keep to myself. Just working hard. There’s nothing to be blowing up the internet about. No one cares about something I do every single day routinely over and over and over for the past month and a half.
What are you going to do? Show going to therapy or something every single day?
Yeah. I’m doing therapy and cycling. Again, just same time, different day. I think I’d lose followers.
The obviously question, are you recovering? What stage are you at? Are we going to see you racing soon? Do you know?
Yeah. I’m basically doing really well. For what injury I had, we’re doing extremely well. Just unfortunately that doesn’t slot into the time frame we wanted to. That’s the story of every motocrosser’s injury, I think I could say. So, I tore the rotator cuff and tore the labrum in my shoulder and smashed my HUMEROID, which is just bone. That’s the easy thing. It takes three to five weeks and it’s golden, but obviously the ligaments is a three-month sort of deal. Our orthopedic, who’s a sports orthopedic—he works on crazy guys like us all the time, only crazy, high-end athletes. They say three months, but ever since the day after surgery we’ve been working really, really hard physio. We’ve invested a lot in physio and outside health and physical health stuff to just try and really get this thing going and just try everything we can. We are doing extremely well. We’re at a month and two weeks from the surgery date, and I’ve been mountain biking for the past three weeks on mountain bike trails. I feel phenomenal. I feel great, bulletproof. We had a doctor checkup just last Friday and he’s really happy with it. It’s just the unknown of something we’re not expecting on the bike is what could really unlace the whole process and everything we’ve gone through so far. So, he was happy to just say, keep working, keep building. Give me another few weeks to get the tendons and ligaments… I guess the roots can sink into the bone a little bit more, is the words he said. So just the ligament grow into the bone a little bit more and get a little bit stronger and you’ll be able to step up your physio with your shoulder and stuff. Physiotherapy, our guy out here is really happy with it. He’s super pumped on it. We’re just going to keep pushing it and pushing it until it’s really a hundred percent. And then I’ll be back on the bike really shortly, a lot sooner. If things keep going at the progression rate we’re doing things, I’ll be back on the bike at one month and four weeks, which is two weeks sooner than both the doctor and physio [therapist] have ever seen anyone come back from this injury. The fastest they’ve ever seen anyone come back was two months. As far as that, we’re really doing amazing at it actually, but it’s just not amazing enough to be back for the start of the East Coast series.
Was this one big crash, or was this a wear and tear kind of thing from a series of things?
No, it was just a big crash, honestly. I’ve crashed four times last year and every time I hit the ground I got injured, pretty much, except the crash at Pala in that second moto. My knee, I didn’t crash, so four crashes really and three of them I got injured. We went to the doctors. We wanted to get tests done just to see if my bones were a little bit thinner or not as dense and my bone density was lower than the next guy. The doctor who operated on me said, “No, your bones are amazing. There’s just so much energy in your body when you’re riding, so much force and energy pumping through your body when it takes a blow like that. You’re so committed, and it just pinpoints to one spot and it’s just unfortunate.” You got a 100-kilo motorcycle coming down on top of you or throwing you into the ground. That’s the just the downside of the sport. The highs are unmatchable and so are the lows.
The ACL injury happened going into the off-season, essentially. You missed the very, very end of the year, so that was kind of a little extra quiet. It’s not like we didn’t see you for one race after another. How was that recovery? We never even really saw you get back after that.
It was golden. I got back into training. I was back three months on that one, which was still good. That’s a five to six months one. We done that in three months. That was feeling awesome. I don’t even worry about that. I was back into riding. I was feeling really good generally. The team was really happy with how I was going. I was already so close to the boys in lap times with just very, very little time in comparison to the three months of supercross they all had under their belt. That side of things was really good. My crashes just don’t tend to be a little front wheel wash-out in a turn.
I know you want to have a solution bad, but all your solutions could be you’ve been unlucky the last couple times you crashed, and then maybe that eventually stops?
Yeah, basically. It would be awesome to say I’m done with all my injuries for the rest of my career. Let’s just put a pin in that. I guess my story is going to have a different path to the next guy or my brother or whoever it may be.
So, the riding date here. Is supercross at all this year a possibility? Maybe you don’t want to rush it normally, but you missed it all last year too. So, are you kind of itching to maybe try it somehow at the end?
Yeah, for sure. I’d love to. In all honesty, I’d love to just get a hundred percent, because I really honestly don’t want to devalue myself and hinder my market value just for the sake of getting a gate drop. I know what I’m capable of. The team does. Everyone in my circle knows what I’m capable of. I think we’re pretty safe to say I’m going to be a guy that’s going to battle for race wins and battle up front. That’s what we work to be. Especially after seeing my brother’s success—not success, but the potential—seeing that is kind of reassuring. It reinforces the belief and the goal and what we’re working for. I’m just going to get a hundred percent first and see where we’re at. If the time schedule is we’re five rounds left on the board, then rock and roll. Let’s go and do it, if we’re a hundred percent. But if we’re only a hundred percent at two or three rounds to go, then it’s only four weeks until Hangtown. Let’s maybe just switch our focus, just looking at the risk versus reward.
So it could be either East or West, whatever. You might just get out on the track, or you might not. Options are pretty open at this point.
A hundred percent. It could be back at Seattle. The number one priority and goal now is just to be a hundred percent back on my bike.
How much time did you get on supercross between the back from the ACL and riding, and then this surgery a little over a month ago? How much time did you get?
I had three weeks on it. So, finally enough, Johnny [O’Mara], our trainer, worked out that in Jett’s first supercross pre-season he got more time on a supercross track than I have in two seasons with the two months I got last year, and the three weeks I got this year. Jett’s at like four months, so he’s two months ahead of me in supercross experience. Not a whole lot of great amount of time.
That’s probably a factory too, then. It would be one thing to be like, the shoulder is good. But if you had raced 50 supercross races in your career, maybe you jump back in. But do you still feel you need a little extra time just in case?
Yeah, for sure. Like you said, a guy like Christian Craig or an experienced supercross rider, just him as an example, could have an injury like he did last year. He didn’t even ride before round one, and then came out and rode a day before it with his thumb and could come out and race. So, I think that experience thing definitely has a massive effect in the decision.
Can you find some sort of silver lining somehow in this? Is this some sort of grit, some sort of determination, motivation, something? Obviously, a whole bunch of kicks to the balls, pretty much. Have you been able to find some silver lining?
It definitely does suck, for sure. Fingers crossed I get all the bad times of my career out early, so we can have golden days ahead. It’s just life. Anything can happen. This is the times where the mentally tough people can pull through. It’s really easy to remain mentally tough when everything is going good, you’re doing well, everyone’s patting you on the back and you’re in the spotlight or whatever. It’s times like this when you’re forgotten about, when no one’s calling. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. You’re not on the bike. You’re not working towards that goal of winning on your bike as such. So, it’s just character building. We’re fine. I know I’ll be back and we’re going to have a great summer as well. So, it’s just character building.
I feel like the program you’ve been on, going over to Europe and talking to your dad a lot, I feel like you guys really value that. You got to have some hard times. Obviously, the plan wasn’t to have this level of hard times, but I think you guys understand the value of having the dark days sometimes too.
A hundred percent. If there’s one thing we know really well how to do that’s live uncomfortably. I think always living like uncomfortably or having to prove something or having to constantly do things the hard way is something we’ve prided ourselves with and just what we’ve had to deal with. We’ve never had the golden, ideal sort of scenario play out, as such things where hard work is involved. So, we call it kind of the Lawrence way. Me and Dad joke about it. It wouldn’t happen if we didn’t do it this way. It wouldn’t have turned out if we didn’t have to do it the hard way. That’s just because that’s how it is our whole life. We’ve always had to do things the hard way.
So, you’re probably better equipped to deal with it than a lot of others. So that might help you a little bit.