The hills of Corona, California were abuzz with multi-million dollar supercross race bikes last week as racers from Honda and Kawasaki roared around factory test tracks. Bikes, bodies and brains are ready for the opening round of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship on Saturday night, January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium.
One racer in particular made his presence felt off the side of the 91 freeway in Corona and that was Monster Energy Kawasaki team racer Jason Anderson. Atop his Monster Energy KX450SR, the New Mexican rider bashed out countless test laps before retiring back to what was an ad hoc area consisting of race bikes, box vans, vans and pickup trucks. While a legion of Kawasaki mechanics and technicians worked away in a determined silence on Anderson’s race bike, the runner-up in the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, who handily won seven supercross main events in 2022, sat down to do the following interview with Racer X.
Before this writer turned the recorder on, I read an excerpt from an interview Anderson and I did in 2022 exactly one month before the start of the 2022 racing season. I needed a change," he said of his switch to Monster Energy Kawasaki. "I think it’s kind of the spark that I need to kind of get back at it and kind of try and reinvent myself. I kind of want to be an older good guy, you know what I’m saying? I really want to be that guy who is going to be in his 30s and is still able to win races, you know?”
Jason Anderson will turn 30 in March of this upcoming season. Will he keep the winning going? I turned on my recorder and away we went.
Racer X: Okay, Jason, a year ago, virtually to the day, you and I were out here at the Monster Energy Kawasaki test track and working on a pre-season interview featuring you and your thoughts on what was the rapidly approaching supercross season. It is now one year later. How do you feel? How do you feel to be out here as full-on contender for the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship?
Jason Anderson: I feel good. it’s hard to say because you always second guess yourself. You’re saying to yourself, ‘Am I better than last year?' You’re always trying to be on the top of your game, but I feel like I’m in a spot where I feel like I’m going to be very competitive this year and I have my head down now and I’m just trying to keep it going and to keep my focus.
You are your own guy, huh? Eli Tomac has his program in Colorado and Chase Sexton is right there as the young championship contending charger. You almost quietly go about the business of being Jason Anderson. I mean there is not a terrific amount of fanfare around you. What do you think?
Yeah, and to be honest, I feel that for me I just love racing dirt bikes and that’s kind of all I’ve really got to offer, you know? As far as the fans go, I feel that obviously there are a few fans that appreciate me, but it’s tough for me. I feel like I’m in a zone by myself, you know? I’m getting older, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love it any more than the first day that I threw my leg over a dirt bike. I’m just trying to keep the ride funded for as long as I can because right now I feel like I have it really good and I enjoyed my day today and I enjoy the people that are around me and life is good.
This isn’t just a job to you is it? This isn’t about just making money and making a living for yourself, huh?
Yeah, 100 percent. It’s something that is my life. It’s a lifestyle and I think that’s the toughest part about it. To be successful in this sport, you have to turn it into your lifestyle. That comes along with everyone that is around me. It’s not only my team and my trainer, but my family and everything like that from my mom and dad to my wife to my grandpa. All of them. It’s probably got to be tough on them, too, you know? It’s a lifestyle and they are all cool with me doing what I love to do. Man, it’s been fun and I just don’t want it to end.
That’s awesome. The entire Anderson family is racing out there racing with you, huh?
Yeah, I mean obviously from a young age you need the support from your family and luckily my grandpa was able to get me all across the country and my mom and dad and my grandma. We’ve just been grinding since I was six-years-old and I’m 29 right now and turning 30 next year. We’re all striving to be better and still want to get those wins and make some runs at some championships and hopefully we can accomplish some of the goals that we have. I think that you can only control what you can control and I just try to keep my focus on what I’m doing and trying to get those negative thoughts out of your head. I always have to keep my focus.
You won seven main events in 2022 and narrowly lost the supercross title to Eli Tomac by a mere nine points. In fact, if not for 10th place finish you scored at Anaheim I and the 21st place finish at Detroit, you very well could have won everything in the end. What’s your take on this?
I mean it was tough. There were tough races. Anaheim I obviously didn’t go so well. I was passing into second place there and, well, it went how it went and I placed 10th. Even at San Diego, my radiator cap came off my bike and there was smoke everywhere. I went from second to eighth in that race. Detroit, I pushed the front end out and that was on me. There were a lot of races that were just tough pills to swallow because I had so much opportunity at stake. That’s where we are at in this sport. Yeah, just trying to take the opportunity when it is there and whenever something positive comes your way, make the best of it. For me, last year being able to overcome some of things and to be able to come back and win those last four races and be able to make the best out of it is real, real progress for me.
As far as your competition goes, what did you make of Eli Tomac and Chase Sexton in 2022? Who are you going to have to cross swords with in 2023 to make a run at your second career supercross title?
Tomac is strong and he’s always strong. I think that it is going to be a little bit closer for the top five guys and I think that you’re going to have a lot of guys who maybe didn’t have big years last year and didn’t race to their standards and they really want to prove a point in 2023. For me it is very important not to underestimate anyone. It’s very important for me to be as good as I can and it’s very important for me to get the best out of myself from day-to-day and that’s all I can ask from myself. Obviously, we want to win, but some days if it means your best is in the top five, that’s what we have to work with and that’s our mentality, but I want to win. Last year the success was good and the race wins were good, but for us, we feel that the grass is always greener and that’s what we want and we aren’t going to settle until we get it.
Down deep, did you know you were going to do as well as you did in the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross Championship?
Yeah, I really believe in myself. I know what I can do on a motorcycle and I know that if I’m in the right place in life, or if I’m in the right place to be competitive and stuff like that, I can be relentless and when I am I know that I can be really good.
You have to be a killer to win in this sport, huh? I know you pretty well and a lot of people may think that you’re own guy with his own way of doing things, but down deep, when you’re out on that track, you’re as ruthless and driven as absolutely anyone.
Yeah, I feel like I’m pretty relaxed when I’m off the track, but when you’re on the track, there is so much passion with what I want to achieve that I think it overpowers any of the calmness that I have in my body. It’s tough, too, because you’re lining up next to a guy and they are trying to take something for you and I’m like, “That’s mine!” That’s a tough thing to because you want to be professional and a so-called class act, but it’s tough to ride that line, you know? I try to be better and I try to be a better person, but it is a tough thing to do when you want something so bad.
Okay, the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship begins over at nearby Angel Stadium here in Orange County, California in less than a month. How are you going to approach that first round?
I mean for me, I just want to go there and get a good start and ride my race and be as good as I can. Coming out of there with a win would be amazing. I’d like to be able to put my foot down a little bit at that race, but it is going to be a tough year and I’m looking long term and I want to be there for the war. And dude, I’ve got a cool team. They are cool. There is me, my mechanic Jason “Rango” Montoya. I’ve got Broc Tickle. He’s been nothing but good to me. What’s nice is that he’s my trainer, but my friend. We work together and what is good is that between us there is not really much ego. I think that we are very open-minded. The communication is very open here and everyone is pretty honest. Within a team it is nice to see the honesty from the top of the corporation to the bottom.
How long are you going to race for?
To be honest, as long as I’m competitive, I don’t want to stop. I’m having a kid this year and my wife is like, “I don’t care how long you want to go, as long as you just take us with you. If that means you going five more years, we’re going to do it.” She’s down with it and that’s my number one crew and my family too, my mom and dad and all of them. I just want to make sure that we are keeping the home life good and that is very important to me.
You sound good, dude. You sound like you can really make a run at this thing in 2023.
Yeah, I’m hoping so. I’m hoping so. This sport has ups-and-downs, but I’m trying to check off all the boxes and hopefully be the guy that comes out on top.
Main image courtesy of Octopi Media