That was the longest twenty minutes of my life. – Jason Anderson
Moments after winning his first ever Supercross 450SX Class Championship, the emotions of Jason Anderson began to flow out.
Emotions are what makes Jason Anderson. At times he can be fiery, other times he is the jokester and life of the party. Conversely he is quiet, reserved, thoughtful and affable. But most of all he is a driven racer with a sole focus to achieve that crowning moment, to be a Supercross Champion.
“For me I was going to race this season to the best of my ability,” said Anderson. “I was completely prepared and ready to take that next step to being a Supercross Champion. That was a preseason a goal, but it was not the only goal. I wanted to race this season the only way I know how and however the season ended, the results would be the definition of how my season went. Going into the season, you always want to end holding the number one plate, but if I raced each and every race with how I commit myself through preparation, then I can be proud of that.”
Now seventeen races later and holding that number one plate, how has his perspective changed since the beginning of the season?
“I really haven’t done anything that was not in the plans. I tried my best every time I went out there and tried to stay out of the chaos that can come with racing Supercross. But even with those plans, sometimes that chaos finds you like it did me last weekend.”
Salt Lake City, in the penultimate race of the 2018 season, was to be the crowning moment for Anderson. With such a wide points lead over second place Marvin Musquin, Anderson needed a solid race and to finish forth or better to win the title. Fast forward to the main event, Anderson went down in the first turn after a pile up of motorcycles including the foot peg of Eli Tomac’s bike breaking the spokes of Anderson’s front wheel. Anderson had to pull into the pits while the race continued without him for several laps. Anderson could only stand and watch as several mechanics worked feverishly to put his tire back together.
Once out there, he battled all the way into seventeenth place and held onto a slim fourteen point margin after Musquin won the race.
Never once did it cross my mind to just pack it up and leave the race. I was going to cross that finish line. – Jason Anderson
“I was so impatient,” said Anderson. “To be standing there watching the mechanics work and to watch the bikes continue to put laps down behind me, I was in a place of mixed emotions. I was impatient, ready to get back out there. I was frustrated that it had happened and I was standing there and not riding. I was also thinking about the next steps once I was out there on the bike. Never once did it cross my mind to just pack it up and leave the race. I was going to cross that finish line. At the end of the day, I had put myself in the position from my riding throughout the season, that I could give up that amount of points. It is not a situation you expect or want to be in, but thats Supercross. It can be unpredictable. All you have control over is what you do when you are on the bike and once I got out there, I poured everything I had into that race and pushed through the finish, still with the points lead.”
It all came down to Vegas.
“Truth be told, it has been a long week from Salt Lake to Vegas,” said Anderson. I had to rely on my inner self and the way I have always been to get me here and ready. For me I have never really been the type to let mistakes in the past affect me. I just ride. That is what I do. Mistakes in the past can be anchors. If it is a mistake that I made as a rider, then that is something to be reviewed and learned from. Mistakes that happen out of my control, I leave at the track. Once you are on your bike, the learned skill and muscle memory takes over and any stress about the race leading into it fades away. There was a time racing here in Vegas for the 250SX West Coast Championship where I only had a five point lead heading into the race and won the title. Those are the memories I choose to focus on and how they can prepare me this race. I felt prepared and confident going into the race.”
All the eyes of the motorsport world watched as it came down to Anderson and Musquin. For either rider, it would be their first Supercross 450SX season title. A crowning achievement every racer dreams of. If Musquin was to finish first, Anderson needed to place tenth or better.
Under the lights and in front of a packed Sam Boyd Stadium, the gates dropped in the 450SX Main Event and it was Marvin Musquin who was running away with the lead with Jason Anderson somewhere in the middle.
Anderson worked his way into a comfortable fifth place position and held his line and space for twenty minutes crossing the line as the 2018 450SX Supercross Champion.
“This means the world,” said Anderson after the race. “This is something you work towards your entire racing career. I put my entire heart into this. Holding the number one plate is the best feeling ever. It is hard to explain how much this means. It is an indescribable feeling of emotions. There is so much that goes into that one moment. The countless hours. The training. Battling through season after season until you get your chance. The hours of sacrifice from family, coaches and others to help you have that moment. Racing is notoriously a selfish sport, it is only you out there racing. But behind the rider is a team. This title and this season speaks volumes about this team as well.”
For Anderson, this season has been one of growth and change. He speaks about avoiding the chaos, but for many years growing to this crowning moment, Anderson was the chaos, even as recent as last year.
“I didn’t always want to be the chaos. I just wanted to win and to do that I had to get past the other riders as fast as possible. Sometimes there were some aggressive moves that maybe weren’t the smartest at that time.”
So what changed in Anderson?
Experience does that for you if you allow it too – Jason Anderson
“There were times I was a little too impatient. There were some areas that were not as refined. My riding has always been strong and consistent, just a few other areas needed to change. Experience does that for you if you allow it too. Part of racing is learning. For me, I had to fine tune myself to be even more mentally strong and to sometimes be content with what was available to me rather than pushing my way into something that wasn’t available at that particular moment. All around I have been smarter in my racing. I have had a lot of experience being in the chaos and I know what not to do now.”
Now with the number one red plate affixed to his bike for the entire 2019 season, how does the championship change Anderson’s plan for next season?
“Not one bit. I will keep racing my way and the best way I know how until I retire.”
For the sport and its continued growth, lets hope that retirement is a long ways off for Anderson and other riders.
Supercross is without question the fastest growing motorsport currently. TV ratings continue to rise for the sport in the most coveted 18-34 demographic, rising 27% this season with additional growth internationally.
Rider with personality and who can be outspoke with maybe a little bit of dislike for each other, like Jason Anderson, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin and other racers will undoubtedly be what the sport needs.
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