RJ Hampshire | Offseason Boogie | Transworld Motocross
By: Casey Davis | @air_d617
For some racers, it’s been another not-so-offseason, as more and more US riders head overseas following the annual Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship to sharpen their skills for the next upcoming season of races. This year, what seemed to be more US riders than ever headed across the pond to contest the handful of European Supercross races, and amongst them was Geico Honda’s RJ Hampshire. This marked the Florida native’s first offseason trip to Europe for racing, so we sat down with the #36 at the 2018 Team Honda Intro to discuss his time racing in other countries.
It was just announced that you are headed for the East Coast 250 SX Championship, which happens to be familiar territory for you…
Yeah, definitely. I've honestly wanted to race on the West Coast for the past couple of years, but injuries always seemed to keep that from happening. However, I would have been pretty bummed if I wasn’t racing East Coast this year with Tampa coming back to the schedule, which is only twenty-five minutes from my house, along with Daytona and Atlanta. I'm stoked to be headed back East, and I'm actually headed back out there later today to start preparing for the upcoming season.
We were just chatting with Jeremy Martin and he mentioned that you two have been spending some time riding together recently. That has to be extremely beneficial for you, right?
Yeah, it’s great having Jeremy around, as it's been a positive move since he’s come over to the team. He really took the role of a leader when it came to getting the bike where it needed to be since he has so much experience with other teams and such. We spent a lot of time together during the outdoor season, where he has two championships, so it's great having him around. I feel like we’re going to have a really good time racing on the East Coast together.
You had a pretty busy off-season. For those that don’t know, talk about the different countries you visited to race…
I was able to visit Australia, and that was the best time of my life! It was so much fun, despite it being such a last-minute decision and having a jacked-up bike setup, it was great. They treated us really well down there. I never actually planned on going, let alone to race, but it was great being able to get out there and experience how friendly everyone is over there. My new mechanic was able to come out there with me, as well, so we were able to hang-out quite a-bit and really bond.
Was that a trial-run of sorts for yourself and your mechanic?
Well… our first race together was the GP, where I went 1-1, so he was pretty stoked on that! We knew each other before that, but never really got to experience anything or bond together. It was cool to go to Australia and then Bercy together because we had a really good time.
After Australia, you seemed to hit almost all the other overseas race…
Yeah, it was my first time going overseas for a race which was awesome. I actually flew back from Australia to LA, but then right back to Paris because of how unplanned and last-minute everything was. It was so fun! The track in Paris was great and so was the dirt. We got to go see the Eiffel Tower, as well, which was rad. The racing aspect of the trip wasn’t great for myself, but, man we sure had a good time!
Was all that racing aimed to keep you fresh, since East Coast doesn’t start for a while?
Honestly, Dan wasn’t too stoked on me going but at the same time he agreed I should experience some overseas racing. I went into that race with the mindset of staying healthy and getting some good gate-drops in. I've been riding a 450 a bit back at home, but it was quite a bit different than what I raced on. We got to the race and had a brand-new bike that had never been ridden, so setting it up wasn’t the quickest or easiest process.
Did you feel panicked at all being that everything was so last-minute?
Yeah, honestly I went into it saying that I would tame it down if I felt sketched-out at all. I felt like I was riding well in Paris, but I kept stalling the bike because the mapping wasn’t set up to my usual standards. I would pass some guys and then stall, so I’d have to keep making my way back through the pack. That 450cc was pretty fun, though (laughs).