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11/1/2020

End of the Year at Spring Creek MX Park. 2021 is Next!

 

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The Conversation - Jeremy Martin by Racer X

12/3/2020

 

 

A lot of riders switch teams, but when†Jeremy Martin†and Star Racing Yamaha parted ways after the 2016 season, it seemed like a bigger relationship than usual. So it was shocking to see Jeremy†suddenly announced†as a member of Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha for 2021. Of course, he was forced into the free agency market when†GEICO Honda closed up shop, but Jeremy, after a strong second-place showing in Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, had options. Why did he go back? We called him today to ask how the deal came together.

Racer X: I donít know if this is the biggest news of the off-season but itís definitely the most surprising news. I definitely would not have put money on†Jeremy Martin†returning to Star Racing ever, but here we are!†Jeremy Martin, back with Star Racing!
Jeremy Martin: Yeah, so obviously I had heard at Ironman Racewayówhich was the third outdoor nationalóthe team said GEICO was out and if they couldnít find a new title sponsor it was not going to be good. They said they would have to close the doors. At that time I was pretty invested in the championship, so I just thought, ďI donít care. If I win the championship Iíve done my job, and if I do that Iíll get a ride.Ē I think the first time I had contact with Star was at WW Ranch. Jeremy Coker from Star actually approached me and said, ďHey would you be interested in riding for us.Ē Honestly, I was a little bit taken aback! I said I would definitely consider it for sure, but I was waiting to hear from GEICO. I was supposed to hear something in Colorado, but at Colorado we didnít hear anything. So after that race I put my nose to the pavement. I sat in Mitch Paytonís office and talked to him, I sat in Starís office, and I had a lot of talks with GasGas and [Troy Lee Designs Team Manager] Tyler Keefe. A lot of thoughts about what would be the best future plan for me. Even though I had my differences with Star back in the day, we talked about it in a meeting and we call kind of agreed to just let bygones be bygone. I felt like that was the best route for me in the future.

So you had†another year on your GEICO Honda deal. That had to be a gut punch.
Absolutely. I felt terrible about the whole deal. I really loved that team and they felt like a family to me. And we had a good year. I came back from a broken back. Iím sure they expected that I could come back and maybe win some races and show some speed, but I think I exceeded expectations. So, because they did stick with me when I was done, I was a little bummed, obviously, that we couldnít get another year together where I was fully ready to go.

So GEICO Honda was telling you they were going to try to keep it going? Maybe they could find another sponsor and keep the team alive. Did that make it tough to go shopping for other rides?
Yeah, it made it a little tough. In the past I always had an agent to negotiate for me. This time I did all the deals myself. I think the biggest thing for me was, after Colorado I told them ďLook, I have to go out and protect my future. I want to be a loyal person, but this is business for me as well.Ē I think those guys were fine with that. And every time I had a conversation with Mitch [Payton from Pro Circuit], or with Star, or GasGas, I would tell them about the conversations we had. So no one felt like I was back dooring anyone.

You didnít know you were racing for a contract this summer, but in the end you were! Have you looked back at it like that? Good thing you won some races this summer, or you might not have had options.
Oh yeah. Frick, I didnít expect to be in that position. I didnít win a supercross race this year but I definitely showed I had speed, for sure. Outdoors I felt like I smashed it considering my circumstances, and I kept the points race pretty dang interesting. I worked hard and was able to get a deal. It all happened at the 11th hour, thatís for danged sure!

We had jokes all year about Star looking to hire 49 riders for its team. They had room for you even though this came together late. It sure seems like this team is going all-out. Whatever it takes to win they will do it.
Yeah, Iím not gonnaí deny it. We were at the test track before Mini Os, so we had all the amateur guys, we had most of the pro 250 guys except for†Justin Cooper†who is out [with an injury] and the three 450 guys. Iím not gonnaí lie, it was like a freaking main event! I have to wear my ear plugs at the track! Itís good. The track gets beat up and rough and gnarly which is good. Every day itís like, ďHere we go!Ē

So you guys are all out there doing motos together?
So I donít train with Team Swanny [trainer†Gareth Swanepoel] and a lot of the Star guys do. But that was one of my things, I just like doing my own deal by myself. The team said they donít doubt my fitness or that Iíll put in the work. So I work on my own, but when weíre out at the track, yup, they see me and I see them and Iíll time them and they time me, we all kind of feed off each other.

Look, you were pretty clear about it all summer when you were battling†Dylan Ferrandis. You also know because you raced for this team before. The bike is good. That had to be a factor with going back to Star.
[Laughs]†Well, I thought about it quite a bit. GasGas/TLD did have a potential future deal there for me, maybe. Mitch [Payton, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki] that was a one-year deal no matter what. So Iíd be on a different chassis and manufacturer for next year no matter what. At Kawasaki, there would be no future for me in 2022. Theyíve got AC, theyíve got Eli if he wants to keep going, and then they have [Austin] Forkner who has a guaranteed 450 deal if he can go and get Ďer done. So then Iíd have to be looking for another manufacturer again for the next year. If I went to GasGas, Iíd have to learn a whole new staff and everybody, a new bike, and I have to win to get a 450 deal. If I go to Star I have to win to potentially get a future 450 deal, too, but if I go there I get to work with people that know me, and who I worked with winning my past championships.

So a lot of this is just the comfort in the staff?
Absolutely. Even though we did have a rough patch a few years ago, I have to look at this from a business perspective. Iím like, ďDude, you have to win. Your ass is on the line.Ē I have what I used to have, I know itís good, and now I can make something happen for my future.

I know youíre comfortable with some of the techs over there, but you were saying it without saying it all summer long. The Yamaha is fast.
Yeah, for sure. So I raced the GEICO bike, and Ziggy [Rick Zielffelder, Factory Connection co-owner] gave me maybe the best forks and the best overall suspension setups Iíve ever run. I thought I was pretty competitive. You look at the points, aside from Dylan, we waxed everyone else. The Factory Connection guys did as much as they could to make us competitive. But once I rode this Star bike, I was like, ďWow.Ē I remember how good it was when I left in 2016, but I didnít expect it to be that much better.

So in the four years that has passed itís gotten that much better.
Yes. For sure.

So Star Yamaha now has a 450 team. But theyíre not saying you have a 450 deal for 2022. Just maybe thereís a chance for an opening if it goes well.
Yes.

So youíre looking at this like yet another free-agent year where you have to perform and earn a ride.
Absolutely.

So that brings us to the supercross thing. We have this same conversation every year. Is this the year it finally comes together?
I mean, it kind of has to be, right? Itís been my kryptonite and something Iíve been thinking about heavily, thatís for dang sure!

Hereís what is weird about it. Yes you have all these outdoor wins and titles and havenít won a supercross title, so it would look like youíre just not good at supercross. But whatís weird is, youíve won supercross races before. There are races where youíre just as fast and just as good as anyone else. How many races did you win in 2018?
I think three.

Yeah and one of them was an East/West at Indy, against everyone, and you won. So hereís what I see. For three or four races every year youíre right there in the hunt, podium or winning, youíre just as good as everyone else. If you could just replicate that in every race, youíd be good. Do you see it that way?
Yeah, itís not a matter of speed or skill or fitness. I just need to put it together. I need to just get away from the bullshit, I guess you could say! Outdoors you have time to make up for that mistake. In supercross, you donít have the time. If I can get a holeshot I know I can win. I can just ride my lines, maybe someone will be able to match me, but I know I have the speed and the fitness. So for me, itís ďWhat can you do to maximize your bad days?Ē If I have a bad start or a tip over, whatís going to unlock me in those bad rounds. Like you said, hey, for three races Iím good, but whatís going to unlock me if I donít get a good start and I have to take lines I donít want to take? Iíve got to try to figure out a way to get up front and be competitive. Now Iím looking at those things a lot more, where before I was only looking at speed and fitness. All of that is there. I know how to win championships and deal with that pressure. Itís just a matter cleaning up the other little things so I can be in the championship hunt for supercross. I need to maximize every situation to the fullest.

Well thatís what happened this year. You were okay with podiums early in the year and then one race ruined it.
Absolutely. Damn Tuff Blox!†[Laughs]

Youíve had some moments with Tuff Blox!
Yeah, itís a love-hate relationship!

So whatís the atmosphere over at Star? Different or the same?
Itís kind of different and the same. The same old box truck we used to take to the track, when we had a rainy day it would leak through the cab, thatís still there. There are guys I kind of gravitate to who were there when I was there, like Brad Hoffman. But overall, the way I look at it is that GEICO Honda was like a family and this is a business. So I gravitate toward the guys I knew before, but you know me, Weege, Iím usually off the side doing my own thing. They have my phone number and they know Iím there if they need me for anything. But I know I have the bike and now itís up to me to do what I need to do to get the job done.

Whatís your riding location and schedule going to be?
Yeah, so Iím in California now. Of course I miss the old Minnesota program, and I even spent a week back at Cortez [Colorado] riding with Eli [Tomac]. I just wanted to get out of the California rat race for a week! Itís good, Iíve got a beautiful setup, rented a place not far from the test track in California. Itís been good for testing.

So this doesnít mean youíre back in Colorado full-time?
Yeah, I would like to ride in Colorado for supercross if it permits itself. The biggest thing was, I just called Eli and I was like, ďHey Iím here in California, would you like a riding partner for the week?Ē We get along really well. So he said to come on out. So I loaded my old danger Ranger with the #6 bike in the back and drove ten hours out to Colorado!

Factory rider, factory bike, stuffed in an old Ford Ranger.
Pretty much!

Gear bag and bike?
Iím a minimalist right now. Whenever I come to California in the winter, with the photo shoots and the new products and stuff, I ended up getting so loaded up with new things that I usually have to call Ogio and ask for a new bag!†[Laughs]†So now I usually just come out here doing it minimalist so Iíll have more room for the new stuff!

 

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