After practice on Saturday in Oakland, I saw RJ Hampshire and asked his status for the day. We knew RJ had crashed hard twice at the last 250SX West race in Anaheim, but few really knew how bad it was.
“Come on you don’t know?” asked Hampshire?
No sir, I did not.
He had successfully kept some serious injuries close to the vest. Hampshire has long been known as one of the toughest riders to ever line up, often coming back early from gnarly injuries. From a massive concussion years ago, to a three-month return from ACL surgery to a Pro Motocross moto win in 2020, to last year when he…when he fell down a hill at Hangtown and ended up getting stabbed by a stake way off the side of the track. After that one, he attempted to check himself out of the hospital in California and go straight to the next race at Thunder Valley! But no, that wasn’t allowed, so he waited one whole week and then raced the next one at High Point, where he placed 7th overall.
Hampshire is tough, but he doesn’t want that to be the story anymore. Finally, he explained how bad it was after Anaheim 2:
“No one really knew other than my team,” he said. “I separated my shoulder pretty bad at A2, thought that was it. Flew home, slept in my own bed Sunday night and wasn’t feeling right. Checked myself into the ER and had some internal bleeding that was feeling pretty bad. Got transferred and spent a night in the hospital and yeah, after that was pretty brutal. Couldn’t even sleep for a few nights. I’d go to bed and my body would be sweating, nonstop. Yeah, it looked like Oakland wasn’t even happening, but we did all we could and showed up tonight.
“I didn’t ride for two weeks, I didn’t even leave my house for a week. It was questionable if I was going to race, but on Monday I made the call, “Look, we’re going to go racing.” But Aldon [Baker, trainer] wasn’t really going to let me race unless I did a main event. So, I did one Tuesday and at the end of it I was pretty weak, but we got through it. I knew we needed to execute a start, but I knew I wouldn’t have 15 in me.”
Like Hampshire, fellow 250SX West contender Cameron McAdoo has a tough-guy rep, rooted in his go-for-it style by punctuated by his wild week in Atlanta a few years ago, when he went flipping under his motorcycle, but lined up for a red flag restart and salvaged points. A few weeks ago, a similar story, as McAdoo went down hard in Anaheim 2 practice and smashed his arm. He lined up for the Triple Crown and managed 8-7-5 scores for 6th overall.
Hampshire and McAdoo were back and podiumed at Oakland, taking second and third, respectively. Like Hampshire, McAdoo didn’t want that to be the story.
“It was obviously a long few weeks of getting my arm back to being healthy but I don’t want to highlight that,” he said. “I’m still struggling with that a little bit, but I was the third best guy tonight. I’m proud we were able to get me back healthy enough to race, but, yeah, we’re back up here, so it feels good.”
McAdoo wouldn’t quite let on how bad he’s hurting, but we did hear he had to have his arm drained four times during the three-week 250SX West break. He would only say that he’s still dealing “with stuff” but otherwise put the focus on the race. He got into a big battle for the podium with Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas rider Pierce Brown and ended it in a corner.
“It was one of those things we were going back and forth [in the whoops], jumping or skimming,” said McAdoo. “I usually skim as long as I possibly can. Yeah, he got me in the turn before and I think I kinda ran him high after in the turn before the dragon’s back. I assumed he went down because I didn’t hear him behind me after that. Yeah, that’s about all that happened.”
McAdoo held on to finish third.
Hampshire, meanwhile, started the race up front. Oddly, that’s actually not what he had in mind.
“Of course, you always want to get a good start but tonight I almost actually was really hoping I didn’t get the holeshot,” Hampshire said. “Just because I knew it was going to be a tough main event for me with the way I felt. But I ripped the holeshot. I felt pretty good, but I knew I didn’t have that for the whole 15. I just went into that rut, caught a rock and there went my front. Just had to reset after that. Clicked it off and did what I could.”
After the race, both Hampshire and McAdoo were laboring pretty hard. Hampshire was in some real pain, with tape holding his separated shoulder down, and a big chest protector under his jersey to protect those sensitive internals. But that was the end of that. Now, the focus goes back to somehow trying to challenge Jett Lawrence for this title.
“It’s time to start winning,” said McAdoo. “Our season is nine rounds, pretty short. Got to close that gap to the front.”
“Yeah, what Cam said, we both want to be better, and I think we both can be,” said Hampshire. “Jett’s got us on speed right now and A2, yeah, that hurt us pretty bad. I think this four-week break, hopefully we can come back in Seattle and have a little more fight in us.”