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Jeremy McGrath, AIRAID-backed King of Supercross, Explains What it Means to Be a Champion

Jeremy McGrath

Jeremy McGrath has come a long way from the early days of racing. McGrath started riding at 14 years old and turned pro at 16.

If you've been following Jeremy McGrath's career you know he is one of the winningest racers in action sports. Jeremy "Showtime" McGrath is known around the world as the King of Supercross, with 12 overall Championships, over 100 wins, and 5 X Games medals to his name. He is a 2003 inductee to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and 2010 inductee to the BMX Hall of Fame. His Signature Move is the "Nac-Nac" and his list of accomplishments borders exhausting in just reading and imagining that one person has done all that Jeremy has done in his lifetime.

Jeremy McGrath in qualifying 2nd turn

McGrath fully locked coming around turn 2 during qualifying. He would go on to qualify in second position with a fastest lap time of 47.858, tied with pole sitter, Carl Renezeder.

In his mid-thirties, Jeremy retired from full time, professional motocross/supercross racing. He understood that to be competitive on a dirt bike meant going faster to keep up with the 20 somethings and that meant greater risk of injuries. But he wasn't one to simply sit on the sidelines and sign autographs. Jeremy was a racer. So when opportunity knocked in August of 2005, McGrath would get his toes wet in the world of the high flying, adrenaline filled, dirt competition complete with the safety of a full cage between him and the track. This seemed like a great gig for this husband and father of two precious little girls.

We talked to Jeremy and asked him what his thoughts were on being a family guy. "I LOVE being a dad," Jeremy said. "I have wanted to be a dad and husband since I was an older teenager. I like the establishment part of it. Totally on board with it." His folks are still married and admittedly he said that has a lot to do with his family values. He said his dad was strict, but the good kind of strict. Then Jeremy paused and said, "Not all parents parent." McGrath was a good kid and all he wanted was to be the best supercross rider and that was what he focused on. He wasn't girl crazy, he just wanted to ride.

Jeremy McGrath in his Maxxis Pro2

Coming out of Turn 6 McGrath's Maxxis Pro2 getting serious bite as he heads toward the tabletop.

Jeremy married the love of his life 14 years ago. When he talks about her, his emotion is palpable. You can seriously feel the love they share suck you in, it's that special. Not too long ago Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer and she beat the odds. But just about 18 months later she was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia as a result of the chemotherapy treatment. She was fighting for her life when another big name in racing would share his story. Rick Hendricks, of Hendricks Motorsports, had also been living with leukemia for several years. He would be instrumental in connecting Kim and Jeremy with Be The Match, an organization that finds donors for people like Kim. It was this connection that literally saved her life.

The family looks at this hurdle as being a rewarding experience saying that these challenges have a way of putting things into perspective. Jeremy shared that they've put on and participated in close to twenty "match drives" that have resulted in saving an additional 15 lives. He is passionate about Be The Match and having been a part of helping others. His conviction is inspired.

Jeremy McGrath clearing the tabletop

Jeremy McGrath clearing the tabletop with the greatest of ease.

Jeremy tweeted last week on July 27th, happy birthday to his wife. He explained that July 27th was actually her "Re-Birthday" and they were celebrating 4 years since her bone marrow transplant and celebrating life. Grateful to their donor beyond measure, this family has so many things to be thankful for. Together Jeremy and Kim share two incredible daughters, Rhowan, 10 and Bergen 8. Recently the family spent almost three weeks in Italy, for work and a little vacation, and it's plain to see the joy this dad feels getting to share this life with his McGrath Ladies!

Jeremy's come a long way from the early days of racing. What started for him at the age of 14, quickly turned into a professional racing career at the tender age of 16. A career that would go on to be, for lack of a better term, LEGENDARY. As for whether he wants his daughters to follow in his footsteps or not, "I want my girls to go to college!" he said. Sure the girls ride dirt bikes and they love going to the track with dad. Last year they even participated in Modified Kart races. But for now they do what little girls their age do; hang out with mom and dad and get a little dirty from time to time.

McGrath has seen and done a lot in his lifetime and is ready for more. In 2008 he added full time, Short-Course Off Road Race Driver to his resume when he became a member of Baldwin Racing. Ricky Johnson, one of the first Supercross legends to transition to short-course racing, helped pave the way for Jeremy McGrath. Jeremy was great for the sport, bringing awareness to the sport and spectators to the events. Then in 2014 McGrath would add Team Owner to his long list of racing accomplishments. And, he was back at Kawasaki as a Brand Ambassador where so much of his story began.

The AIRAID-backed owner-driver of JM2 (his off-road short-course truck race team) had seen a few challenges earlier in the 2016 season. However, he currently sits in second place in the Pro 2 Championship Points race going into Round 9 & 10 of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORRS) behind series leader, Rob MacCachren. We asked Jeremy if there was one driver in the series that made him work a little harder. He shared that secretly everyone wanted to catch Rob MacCachren. That is the racer he looks up to, because MacCachren is that good. Another fellow competitor that he keeps eyes on is Brian Deegan.

LOORRS returned to the US for Round 9 & 10 at Glen Helen Raceway, in San Bernardino, California, on July 23rd and 24th. Coming off two consecutive wins in the past month, with the first at Utah Motorsports Campus and second at Estero Beach Resort in Baja California, Mexico, Jeremy was poised to make a statement at the next race venue.

Jeremy McGrath clearing the tabletop and coming in for landing

Patiently waiting to touch ground so he can get back on the throttle.

Southern California was literally a blaze with the massive Sand Fire that erupted Friday before the race and would go on to burn more than 41,000 acres in the Santa Clarita area over the next few weeks. The temperatures were well into the triple digits, but that didn't stop our racers. The drivers had two opportunities on the Friday before the event to run practice laps on the track. During practice, Jeremy would have the second fastest lap time just 3/10ths of a second behind Carl Renezeder.

During qualifying on Saturday, McGrath and Renezeder would tie with their best lap time of 47.858, recorded during Lap 2 of qualifying. This allowed Carl the pole position with Jeremy right behind him in second position.

McGrath getting air and hauling tail down the front straight

McGrath getting air and hauling tail down the front straight.

Opening ceremonies at Glen Helen on Saturday started with honoring the 14 victims killed in last December's attack in San Bernardino. The president of Corona-based Lucas Oil, Bob Patison said, "we wanted to do something for the survivors to honor the victims of this terrible event." Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series along with 14 racers, displayed the names of the 14 who perished that day on their vehicles. Included in the ceremony were a number of the first responders to the scene. After a moment of silence and prayer, the fans gave San Bernardino's finest a standing ovation for their commitment to service and their courage. It was a moment of healing for the community of San Bernardino.

Then, the moment the fans had been waiting for, time to go racing. With Pro2 at the start line, the pace car would lead the 11 competitors for one lap then the green flag was dropped and fans were on their feet. It was in the first lap that we noticed our AIRAID-backed driver, in his Maxxis Pro2 Tundra, having what looked like some mechanical issues. There was no visible smoke or broken parts, just McGrath getting passed. Having had such a great showing in qualifying, it was easy to see that this wasn't driver related. It seemed as though Jeremy just didn't have the power he needed to stay out in front. Fortunately, a few cautions bunched the field up and this kept McGrath from getting lapped. Saturday's checkered flag afforded him a seventh place. Not the finish he'd hoped for, but still earned valuable points. Later that evening his crew discovered a kinked fuel return hose dumping extra fuel into the carburetor, causing it to flood. His motor was just running too rich to perform properly.

Sunday was a new day. But the heat wasn't showing signs of letting up anytime soon. Qualifying for Round 10 would begin promptly at 4:00 pm for the Pro2 competitors and these guys were ready to roll. It was clear in Qualifying that the mechanical issue that had plagued Jeremy in Round 9's Main Event had been put to rest. In fact, in Lap 2 of Round 10 Qualifying, Jeremy McGrath and Brian Deegan would run their fastest laps with just 4/100ths of a second between them. The field of racers in Pro2 is made up of some serious talent. After qualifying, the Round 10 main event had MacCachren in pole position, with Jeremy once again starting second. Jeremy told us that he doesn't have any particular ritual that he does before the start. He's not superstitious. But he did tell us that he gets nervous. Always has. He said, "if you don't get nervous, you're not human!" It's great to know that Jeremy McGrath is indeed human.

After the pace car left the track and the drivers got the green flag, the field was electric. And so was the crowd. Jeremy would complete the main events' 16 laps with a blown motor and having bested Carl Renezeder, who finished a lap down. Other notable drivers that encountered issues were Brian Deegan, Rodrigo Ampudia, and Bryce Menzies. Rob MacCachren finished first, with Tonka sponsored driver, Myan Spaccarelli coming in second.

Maybe it was the extreme heat that seemed to wreak havoc and create mechanical failures. Who knows. But McGrath uses his time wisely to learn more about the competition and more about what strategy he'll use in Rounds 11 & 12 at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nevada, on August 13th & 14th. He's planning and preparing and won't back down, and AIRAID will be there rooting and cheering for Jeremy all the way.

With just 6 more Rounds before the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series Champion is crowned, we want to take a moment to thank Jeremy McGrath for not only spending time with us, but for spending time creating a positive impact on the world all around us. For standing up and being the champion for those who need a match, a voice, a hand. Congratulations Jeremy on your success during the first half of the 2016 Season. We look forward to seeing what you will do next.


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