GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin missed all of the 2019 AMA Supercross and Motocross races while recovering from a back injury suffered in the summer of 2018. After a second surgery in December 2018, Martin put in the hours in rehab, hours in the gym, hours on the bike (and even hours at a local shop somewhere in between with a real job) to finally get back to riding and preparing to return to racing in 2020. He finished third at the Tampa Supercross in February, his first AMA Supercross race since May 2018, but afterwards said he wanted more.
Unfortunately, less than a month later he—and the entire 250SX East Region—was only able to race the first few rounds of 2020 before the coronavirus shut down the country and put a pause on the entire championship.
With the pause in racing, the Minnesota native headed for home, located close to his family’s Spring Creek MX Park in Millville. We caught up to the soon-to-be 27-year-old to talk about getting back into racing before the shutdown, riding with the vet class at his family’s track, and more.
Stay tuned for part two of this long interview with J-Mart, coming soon.
Racer X: Where do you hang out these days? Not Colorado, not California. Good old days back home.
Jeremy Martin: Yeah. I decided to come home for a bit. We were supposed to go racing a lot earlier, now it’s just getting bumped further back and back. So I’m being a little selfish with my time right now and just enjoying being home.
Did I see you actually logging some laps at Spring Creek?
Yeah. I did a couple laps last weekend at Spring Creek. My dad had an open ride day. It was very, very fun. The track got pretty rough.
How weird is that? I assume your practice bike is a real factory-level bike, right?
For sure. It’s the whole deal. It’s my supercross engine. I haven’t tested outdoors yet, like an outdoor engine or nothing, but I got to feel out the track. Rode with the vet guys, because I’m 26 now so I can ride with Vet A.
You’re 25 plus class now. For you, a lot of riders might say, “I’ve been racing a lot. I’ll get a break. I’ll be back.” But for you, you had to be super frustrated, I would think, because you were just finally getting back into the swing of racing. So did it hit you extra hard, do you think, because you didn’t race at all last year?
Honestly I wanted to keep racing. I think that’s what everyone wanted, especially now that we’re supposed to be racing and it keeps getting delayed. But I needed a break. I’ve done a couple races to see where I was at, but in order to kind of really improve… Then I took a pretty big crash right before the season and I was struggling with my wrist the whole season. So I was just kind of getting through. I could still ride. I wouldn’t say it affected my results, but I was in pain. It’s finally better now and I’ve made some improvements. So I’m’ ready to go back racing now.
So a month off would have been about perfect for you, and then just get back to it.
I remember you saying you were dealing with arm pump. Was it typical, mysterious I don’t know why arm pump, or did you actually know it’s this wrist thing that is the whole problem?
No, it wasn’t the wrist. It was I think a combination of just being out for so long and then being back in at that level. You can go pretty fast during the week and when you create your own line, in a way you kind of control the track conditions during the week. But then when you go racing the lines are pretty janky and everything’s a lot different. So I think that’s probably what it was. Holding on a little bit tighter. A little bit more pressure than just during the week.
Coming back and getting podiums after missing an entire year of racing is obviously good. But I know how some racers are. They’re like, the day I come back I’m going to be better than ever. I’m going to dominate. I want to win the first race back. So how are you categorizing these results? Was it good or was it not good enough? How do you feel about it?
I’m not too stoked with results.
I knew it!
I got two thirds. That’s it, really. Then I landed on that Tuff Block and that was a massive grenade of a result.
That would have been a good race, too.
For sure. That probably could have been maybe another podium. Shane [McElrath] and I were at each other right there. He was trying to move forward and I was trying to move forward. But at the same time the speed is there. It’s just all the other little stuff. What’d we do, four East Coast rounds? Two out of the four rounds I qualified the fastest. And those guys have been racing and everything. I know Chase [Sexton] kind of broke his collarbone but breaking a collarbone and breaking a back are two different fields.
When you’re riding during the week even pre-season for supercross, did that feel more like you hadn’t missed time? Was it the racing where it really hit, dealing with the racetrack and all those other chaotic things that you were talking about? Was that actually harder to get that back than the during the week lap times?
Yeah, I would say so, for sure. Just having that sixth sense of being able to kind of know what someone’s going to do, or making the right decisions and making those split-second decisions. You’re just doing. You’re not thinking. I’d say that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed.
So now you’ve got to be like really wanting to get back after this, I would think.
Yeah, for sure. Everybody enjoys a little bit of time off. I think the travel wears on people, everybody that’s in the circuit and stuff. But eventually you wake up every day—and I talked about it with my brother [Alex]. He was ready for some time off, but it’s what I said when I was hurt. What do you do? When you retire, you almost just train and you’re riding still because you’re like, what else am I going to do?
That’s the problem. You’ve had too much rehearsal for this. A lot of the hobbies and side things you would do if you had more time you had last year to do that, right?
For sure. I know what retirement is like. A lot of people needed a break. Imagine the 450 guys. They did ten rounds. They were going since January. I’m an East Coast guy and I just did four rounds. To me it was like, alright, this sucks but I’ll enjoy it. Now who knows when we’re going to go racing?
So what is your schedule now? Do you treat this as off-season? Is this mega grind like boot camp almost right now? How do you manage your training and riding at this time of the year?
For me, honestly a lot of people are like, “When are we going to go back to racing? It would be nice to know for training and this and that.” I didn’t swing a leg over a dirt bike for a year and a half, so for me, I don’t care. We’re going to go back racing at some point. Life will resume. I think it’s going to be obviously a bit different. I think everybody is kind of in this limbo and stuff. For me, I just continue on doing what I do. Now is a great opportunity to try to improve on myself and getting better and the time that I did lose for being hurt.
So you’re not really on edge like “I don’t want to do too much because I’ll be burnt out later in the year.” You’re just doing your thing?
Yeah. I’m just doing my thing. What’s the difference? Yeah, mentally it’s a little bit maybe harder to kind of get up because you’re not going racing every weekend, but you still put it into perspective. If the series was still resumed and everything was still going on, we’d be training every day. We wouldn’t be having these discussions.
Is there anything else you are doing with these free weekends? This might even include last year when you had all this time. Is there anything you picked up or started to get interested in or watch more of? How does that all work?
No. It’s probably been about the same. Probably watch a little bit more TV than normal. Just been outside. I bought a chainsaw. Just maintaining the yard. Just doing stuff that you trained all day and you want to go do at the end of the day but you don’t want to blow yourself out anymore. So now it doesn’t matter, so I just get out in the yard and clean stuff up.
Clarify this. When you say the yard, you have your own house somewhere? We’re not talking living at Spring Creek, Millville, Minnesota track, right?
No. So I live about 25 minutes away from Millville. I got about 2.6 acres and kind of my own little time to get away from Millville and stuff.
Can you pit bike track it there? Could you build a pit bike track?
I do have a little pit bike track off to the side of the property, but my neighbor is not too happy about it.
Is the neighbor like, “The guy’s into dirt bikes,” or does he actually know that you’re a legitimate, elite racer? Or does he just think you’re some guy that has dirt bikes in the garage for some reason?
I don’t really know. She’s a little bit older of a lady. When I was originally building the track she came over and she was pretty upset about it. She was like, “Why would you build this on the edge of the property?” She actually went to the store and bought some rope you’d hang laundry up with, and that’s the divider of our property. So she made it known that you can’t go past this point. I think we’re better now, but it was a little rough there for a bit.
That’s hilarious. Well, if you really need to ride, drive 20 minutes and you’ve got a great track. Were you in Colorado again during race season? Were you working with the Tomac’s like you had in the past?
Yeah, for sure. I was there. Stayed for a while, probably a good three or four weeks when Indy got canceled. Then I was just like, I’m going to go home. I just don’t know when we’re going to go back to racing. The schedules have been changed multiple times. We know that supercross is making a massive push to get us out there, but it’s definitely up to the governor.
You probably have a little extra perspective. I know you don’t run this Spring Creek track, but I’m sure you talk to your parents here and there. These are not easy decisions for anyone to make. I’m sure your parents, same thing. Trying to figure out what they’re going to do. It’s almost impossible.
For sure. You got to think about it. I definitely have both sides. Supercross is a little bit different as far as I think maybe the sponsors that they have are why they’re able to go racing, but for the promoters, we need to have the spectators. We need the fans to be able to go racing for the outdoors. So that’s a massive deal for my parents to have everybody out.
And that’s not going to be easy to pull off. What do you do? Are you just crossing your fingers at this point and just put your head down and proceed as usual, I guess? That’s all you can do, right?
Yeah, pretty much. I don’t really know what the plan is completely for outdoors or anything like that. My life is normal. I train every day. I get up. I do my deal. I leave the professionals that have to worry about those things and let them deal with that.
That’s right. You have a mechanic. He works on the motorcycle. You just do your part. That kind of thing. When you stay in Colorado—you have a house in Minnesota. Where do you stay in Colorado? Do you have a house there?
No. I stay on the property out at John Tomac’s place. He has a little guest house. That’s where I’m able to rest my head and sleep there on the property. I don’t ever really leave. When the whole thing went down, quarantine and everything like that, I’m out in the country and they’re like, “Don’t leave the house.” We’re walking outside. I’m riding my dirt bike and stuff. Just normal life for me.
So you’re saying, you don’t leave the property even under normal times for a couple days here and there?
For sure. You go into town and you get what you need for a couple days. There’s always something to do at that place, or even at Millville. I grew up that way. There’s always something to do. Whether you’re bored or not, you just go work or find something to do.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with J-Mart.