Like the rest of us on this recent morning, seven-time supercross champion Jeremy McGrath wondered what in the world he was going to do with the day ahead of him. Caught up in the life-during-wartime coronavirus reality that now darkens all of our doors, “Showtime” has been holding station down in the northern suburbs of San Diego and trying to ride this thing out. Climbing the walls and trying to get back to riding around on his motorcycle again—a knee replacement has set him back a bit—the greatest supercross racer to ever kick a bike to life talked with us about his current plight as well as his immediate, near and distant future. Chilled out, in good spirits and going with the flow, it was a great 30 minutes of bench racing with the one and only McGrath.
“I’m doing great,” started McGrath. “Actually, everything is fine. My kids and wife are great. We are abiding by the rules and staying clear of people, that’s for sure. We did go to the desert, so I guess I can’t say we’ve been locked up at home the whole time. We took out the side-by-sides with the whole family last week and we did about two days out at Superstition Mountain [east of Phoenix, Arizona]. We did that and it was so awesome because I drove my own KRX Kawasaki side-by-side and my youngest one Bergen had her own and Rhowan had her own and we did over 200 miles of driving and it was the first time Kim has went out there with me.
“Kim, she hasn’t been big on the desert thing. It was just cool. We were all doing it as a family and we did over 200 miles of driving and it was awesome. We did as much social bonding that is required. We’re doing it. We’re pulling it off.”
“What have you been doing to burn time?” I asked.
“I’m not going stir crazy because my life pretty much operates out of my house, you know what I mean? It always has. I’m fortunate in the way that I don’t have to go into an office, so my life is kind of similar to the way it was. I’m just staying home a lot more. The weird thing is that my kids are out of school. That’s a little bit strange. We’re dealing with trying to become teachers a little bit, or disciplinarians when it comes to schoolwork, for sure. We’re putting up a schedule and now allowing our oldest daughter to sleep until 10. We’re just trying to put some focus on keeping some order around here. It’s been fun. I enjoy having my kids around. Yesterday I took Rhowan for a two-hour mountain bike ride, I put her on a new Specialized E-bike and it was like, ‘Let’s go!’ She did great and we had a lot of fun doing that.”
And with no racing at all on TV, how has that been for MC?
“Well, that’s the funny thing, right?” answered McGrath. “I heard Chad Reed say something the other day. Chad is such a fan of racing and stuff, it’s like, ‘Cool. If I’m going to be home, at least I’ll have something cool to watch.’ But man, with nothing going on, no competition to watch. Period. It’s been really funky, yeah.”
I asked Jeremy if he has spoken much with other racers or industry friends within the last week.
“I haven’t really talked to any of the race guys,” he pointed out. “Of course I talk to the Kawasaki guys. It’s like everyone is so in lockdown that it’s going to be really strange when everyone comes back. And the riders, I’m sure a lot of the riders feel lost and like, ‘What do we do now?’ And then we found out Salt Lake and Vegas are canceled [note, Feld Entertainment has stated rounds 11-17 will be rescheduled for later in the year]. You see that and what starts going through your mind is, What’s everyone going to do now? They did say they are going to run the races, but then it is like, ‘Okay, when?’ So does that mean that there is not going to be motocross races? Is there going to be supercross later in the year? How’s that going to work out?’ Nobody knows. I think this is going to linger on for a while. Even as good as you can get it, or the best you can possibly do in this circumstance, it’s all going to linger a little bit, you know? I mean have you been to the grocery store lately? It looks like zombie land in there. Everyone is wearing masks and stuff. It’s weird!”
“Being locked down and with a hell of a lot of spare time on your hands, have you been working on projects or trying to dream and scheme anything up?” I asked.
“Well, right now I’m just itching to get back on my dirt bike. I’ve been almost five months now from my knee replacement and I still haven’t ridden. I’ve been riding my mountain bike. The knee kind of fluctuates from being swollen to not swollen; feeling good to not feeling good. After talking to O’Show [Johnny O’Mara], it takes a long time to heal up. Maybe even up to a year. It’s feeling pretty good and I’m anxious to ride my dirt bike and I haven’t done that yet.
“One thing I recently did was race my Kawasaki KRX side-by-side in the King of Hammers event,” he added. “That was almost a month and a half ago now. Man, what an amazing race and amazing event. It was so fun. It was so cool. I finished 29th out of 140 guys. That was pretty good. I started in 42nd and was up to seventh and then I almost flipped over and had to run the front wheel into a rock and had to gas it and broke it so I was down for about an hour and a half. I was doing really well and it was a great experience and super-fun.
“Also, with my motorsports shop, Jeremy McGrath Motorsports, we’ve been working on creating a little bit of a retail line with cages and bumpers and different things for side-by-sides. It’s just been weird because for the last three weeks everyone has been at a standstill.”
Before time got called on the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Championship shortly after the Daytona Supercross, what was McGrath’s overall take on the racing and competition this year?
“I thought the supercross series was great, man!” said McGrath rather declaratively. “I was so looking forward to Indy when they canceled the thing. I was like, ‘Oh man, this is going to be a great weekend. At the end of the day that pass Tomac put on Roczen at Daytona could have been worth a couple million dollars because they may end up not having the races or not finishing the series. If they don’t finish it or whatever, that’s going to be one of the most expensive passes in the history of the sport, I would say. Yeah, I was digging the series. A lot of guys were riding good and there was definitely a mix of competition in there between speeds. There are just a lot of guys riding good and from what I was seeing, it all boiled down to what type of a track it was. Each guy had their different strengths on different types of tracks. That was interesting because when you would see the track layout, you could almost predict which guy was going to be sort of strong or which guy was going to struggle a little or whatever. It was neat to see. I was digging it. I’m really happy that Eli is riding strong. I’m really bummed for Adam [Cianciarulo] because he was riding really well. I also really stoked for Roczen because he’s just been able to compete at the front again. Man, it’s been such a long road for him and he’s riding really well too. It’s good for all of us as fans. Barcia also looks good. Much more consistent. Sometimes he’s still up to his old ways of roughing everyone up in every corner and that just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. For the most part, though, he was riding really good. He came out strong and swinging in winning the first round.”