Texas has deep motocross roots. From Wyman Priddy and Kent Howerton to Steve Wise and Dennis Hawthorne as well as Texas transplants like Josh Demuth, Tommy & Wil Hahn, and Andrew Short. Over the last few years, a number of Texas riders have battled amongst the privateers at the top level of our sport. Vann Martin, Grant Harlan, Ryder Floyd, and many more all reside and train in the Lonestar State. Last week, I sat down with another Texas boy, John Short, to see how things have been going.
Racer X: Good to talk to you, John. You had a week off and now I assume you're prepping for St.Louis?
John Short: I've been mechanic’ing it up for the past couple days. You say to yourself I need to do X, Y, and Z and in your head, you think it'll take an hour. And realistically it's a day and a half. It's the nature of the game. I needed a reality check. My buddy, Kent [Rider], has been helping me out a lot. It's about time I got dirty.
For those that don't know much about you, give us a little history on your start in racing.
I grew up in Texas and got my first motorcycle at three. My first race was at four on a Suzuki JR50. I went with my mom and dad. It was a family deal. We raced the local off-road series, TCCRA [Texas Cross Country Racing Association] at the time. Me and my dad both raced. Occasionally we'd do a moto race. But I sucked. I really wasn't that good. I was really timid. I didn't know how to shift very well. Basically, my family did the local woods races until I was about 12. At that point I realized I was starting to take it more seriously than others in those series. I spent a lot of my free time watching the Pro Motocross series. That's where my heart was at that time. I started racing motocross around 2009.
Were you racing just for fun, or did you start taking it more seriously?
Yeah, we actually decided we wanted to do Loretta Lynn's. I personally made a goal of doing a year of supermini, a year of School Boy, a year of “B” Class, and a year of “A” class. In my head I had a five-year plan. Once I started riding motocross, I lost interest in riding woods.
Were you getting a lot of help?
No, not really from outside sponsors. It was family and friends. It took that whole community for us to get there. I believe 2010 was the first year we raced Loretta's and it was Grandma, Grandpa, dad, and whoever else was able to support. There were people who wanted to see me do well. We weren't able to do every single amateur national, but we would do Oak Hill and Lake Whitney because they were here in Texas. And we would shoot for Loretta's.
What did you learn from racing a big amateur national such as Loretta's? It's a very different environment from a typical local mx race.
At the time I was working with Blake Wharton's trainer, Beau Boynton. We were training like professionals even though I was on a Supermini. The five-lap sprint motos like at Ponca was not my forte. It isn't to this day. Loretta's suited me with it being hot as heck and longer motos. I never had great results, but I can look back and there were a handful of motos and years where I feel I should have done well. I either didn't execute or I was on the ground. I got a fifth and a tenth my last year in the pro class. I feel I was quicker than those results.
The next year, 2014, you raced your first pro national at Ironman [Raceway]. How was that experience?
That was right after Loretta's. It was hard for me. It was the muddiest race I've ever seen in my life. I spent a large portion of my first race picking my bike up out of mud holes and ruts. There's actually a clip when they come back from commercial, and you can see me on the #253 with the bike buried to the pipe and trying to get it out of the mud. That was my first big “whooooo” TV moment. [Laughs] The next race at Utah was really my first race in my opinion. I remember crashing like six times. Not just small crashes, but endo'ing and just getting back up. That was my first taste of pro racing because Indiana was awash with the mud. But I seemed to rush things when I'd get excited, and I'd make mistakes. That's something I've learned throughout my career, believe in myself and slow down to go faster.
Let’s jump ahead to 2016 and your first supercross main in New Jersey.
I raced every single East Coast supercross that year and that was the only one I made the main. That's one of those deals when you talk about being an amateur and did you have much support. I was the kid that had one motorcycle normally. Maybe a race bike as well. I wasn't able to ride any supercross or arenacross. That first year in professional supercross was my first experience racing those style tracks. That was the biggest learning curve. I was pretty much scared all year. I'd crash and I really didn't know what I was doing wrong. It was a lot of learning. That last main event was pretty cool. My dad actually went with me. It was the only one he went to that year. We made the main and left supercross on a high note.
Two-thousand-seventeen was also a learning year for you. Let's talk about finishing 10th overall in 250 East SX in 2018.
I learned a lot, my motorcycle got a little better, and honestly the more I rode supercross the more confidence I had. And there was a little luck here and there. I got a top 10 at the opener in Dallas. I had a good ride in Minneapolis. It was just riding solid in the main events. It was a big confidence booster for me.
In 2021 you got to ride for Bar X Suzuki under Larry Brooks. Was that eye opening in any way?
Yeah, getting to work with Larry even a small amount was beneficial. Seeing his perspective on the track, on the bike, and his attitude towards things was cool. Unfortunately, I didn't get to do a ton of work with the team because it was short notice. Those guys were giving me bikes to go race on and my goal was to do the best I could with it. Utah was one of the races I did with the team. Having the feeling of being under the “factory” rig and not having to worry about anything but riding was a cool experience.
This season hasn't been what you wanted. You didn't qualify at Minneapolis, which I'm sure was a punch in the gut.
[Laughs] I definitely wasn't expecting to be that far off. I look at preparation as a whole. Whether it's fitness, speed, technique, where the bike is, suspension, etc. As a whole at Minneapolis, I was like, "Wow! We are off." That was a bummer of a weekend and flight home. My weaknesses stuck out like a sore thumb. That next week I knew I'd address those issues as best as possible in the time we had. Sometimes you need that fire lit. It's not that I wasn't motivated, but those moments can be a boost.
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
We're gonna finish out what we started in the 250 East series and ride the 450 in Colorado. We're kicking around racing the 450 at Atlanta and Utah as well. I want to race the 450 more. I think anything past this season will be 450.
You recently got married to Ashley. Tell us how that effects your program and what took you so long. [Laughs]
It kind of doesn't change, but it does. As a man you have that feeling that you need to take care of your family. She's supportive of whatever I do. She says to race as long as you want, jokingly, just as long as you can come up with your half of the mortgage. She really loves it. With her job now, she gets to go to 90 percent of the races. So, we get to enjoy it together. It definitely makes you feel like you're getting older. It's really great.
Before you go, who's helping you out this season?
David with Jones Powersports in Durant, Oklahoma, helped me get a couple bikes to kick things off this year. Eddie Lee with Volkswagen of Waco, Texas, has been a big supporter of mine and really has made this season happen for me. We're racing in memory of his son, JT Lee. It's cool to see people that just want to see me race and be a part of it. They are pumped to be there and make it exciting to be there. Jeremy and Michael McWhorter with McWhorter MX have always supported and helped me. Justin Venteicher with Venteicher Realty helped me get my own track going so I can train myself and give lessons. Shane Wheeler at Xclusive Truck Customs has been a big part of this season and teaching me to have more of a business mentality. Kent Rider is a friend that goes to the track with me almost every day and fulfills that practice mechanic/friend roll. Greg Swirczynski with Core Mx has been going to the races as a consistent mechanic. Obviously, my long-time industry sponsors such as Fly Racing, Pro Taper, X Brand goggles, Sidi, Blud Lubricants, Fire Power, Guts Racing, Twisted Development, Enzo Racing, Cadence Cyclery in McKinney, Texas, and so many others. I've also had some weekend title sponsors like Denton Foot and Ankle, Ronnie Praddo Company, Firm Automotive, North Texas Services, Knox Roofing, billyGo Plumbing, and MattandPaul.com home design.
Note: At the St. Louis Supercross, Short finished 12-13-10 for ninth overall (his new season best) and sits 14th in the standings after the first six rounds of the 250SX East Region Championship.