The last few years have not been great for Jordon Smith. The multi-time race winner suffered injuries in 2019, 2020, and 2021 that ended his championship hopes—and entire seasons—early and sidelined him for significant amount of time. In 2022, he was fully healthy and competed in eight 250SX East Region main events, finishing sixth in the standings aboard a Fire Power Parts Honda CRF250R.
Then, he signed with Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing in June. Smith did not race any rounds of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship last year as he was prepping to make a run at a 250SX title in 2023.
Back aboard factory equipment, the North Carolina native finished third in the Houston Supercross as the 250SX East Region Championship got underway. Smith said afterwards this was the most comfortable he ever felt throughout a race day, from qualifying to the main event—even with a small crash in a difficult sand section in the main event.
After the race, Smith spoke to the media via the post-race press conference.
Two-thousand-nineteen Detroit was your last podium?
Jordon Smith: Yeah, that’s right.
And you had that crash in the sand. A lot of people had problems there. Take us through what happened there and how you were able to claw back.
Yeah, the sand tonight was pretty treacherous, they built those big rollers, and it was deep sand, you felt like you never got to the bottom of it. Been a long time since I rode some sand like that, not doing outdoors last year, you don’t get those deep ruts and letting the front end float. I was struggling in there all day. I actually kinda had it figured out in the main event until I went down there! I switched up my line and was trying to put in a charge there, trying to catch up to [Tom] Vialle. I just pushed the front. So to get back to the podium was really good. I felt really good all day, maybe the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in supercross. That was super motivation for me throughout the day. I’ve been in championship battles and stuff, and I felt really good today. Looking forward to keeping the ball rolling.
Looked really solid out there in qualifying, and you were looking at the board, you guys were all swapping fast times. How was the bike today?
The bike was amazing. I think I’ve been on almost every factory team there is, I think, and safe to say this bike is really good. We’ve been on the same setup all off-season but after the first round, Stilez [Robertson] came back and they tested, and we changed a few things. But the bike has been good all off-season. In practice, this is the first time I felt like I could be P1! And I was actually looking at the board to see if I could be P1. Just the way I was riding, I felt comfortable so I knew it could be good.
As you said, you’ve been on almost every factory team, and now you’re joining this one when they’re in the middle of what could be called a dynasty. They’re really at the top of their game. But there has been some criticism with you joining this team, there’s a good amount of fans out there that believe maybe someone else might deserve this chance after all this time. How does that feel?
At the end of the day, I just try to not think about it, but definitely probably 90 percent of the fans out there probably didn’t expect me to make it to the first race. They already expected me to already be hurt. The support from the team has been unbelievable. Bobby [Regan, team owner], Swanny [Gareth Swanepoel, team trainer], Jensen [Hendler, 250 team manager], the whole team. They’ve been helping me get a little better every day. Whether it’s me, or it’s bike related, things I’m struggling with, they have put me in a good program and I’m just rolling with it.
What preconceived notions did you have with the team, and what has it been like?
Well I’ve always heard Bobby can be pretty gnarly, and that is definitely true. We had a good talk before the race started today. He’s a gnarly dude but I definitely like it. It gets us fired up, that’s for sure.
Any new experiences racing for the team the first time?
I think the new experience was Bobby’s talk! Throughout the day, the team was very helpful, they were very forthcoming with information. It’s a cool dynamic because we also have the 450 team, so they will tell us what the 450 guys are doing. With J-Coop [Justin Cooper] being on the 450, too, we looked at that triple quad, we thought I could make it. I didn’t quite make it! But it was a good experience. I’m happy with a third tonight with a fall, but we’re not settling for that. We want to be further up there.
Two points might not make a difference in a championship hunt, but the difference between a fourth and a third, that has to make a huge difference.
Yeah it did. I’ll be honest, end of 2017, 2018, 2019, I wouldn’t have been happy with a third or nervous about being in third, but tonight the last couple of laps, I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. I’ve been through a lot since those days, 2018 and 2019. So many injuries, things that were out of my control, and some that were in my control. Injuries that wouldn’t heal and I didn’t know if I’d be able to ride a dirt bike again. I had good doctors that got me back riding, and I’ve just been plugging away for the last two years or so. To be back on the podium is huge, and now that we’ve got that, we can focus on getting that win.