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C50 line-up Quote
8/10/2017 1:18 PM


MXLarge: Firstly, it’s a tough sport, long seasons and stuff, but what is your opinion of Eli not wanting to race the event?

Johnson: Extremely disappointed. His father represented America when he rode mountain biking, and the thing that lasts with you forever, is when you represent something other than your manufacture, or yourself. We never got paid, I mean I had it set-up I got bonuses from a lot of my sponsors, we didn’t get money, and we didn’t go there for money, we went there for our country and to represent our sport. I am just very disappointed.

MXlarge: When Eli mentioned the tough schedule, I get that, but I don’t think you guys had it any easier than they do now? I am also guessing the bikes were harder to ride back then, as despite you guys being fit, the modern technology probably has these athlete’s fitter now than ever?

Johnson: I raced all the time. I loved racing, I argued with teams and companies for the money, because that was the prize for winning, but you race for money in a series, but I liked racing all the time, because I loved the feeling when I beat everybody. One of the races where I really was hurt was when I was beaten at the USGP by Eric Geboers. He went 1-2 and I went 3-1 and he looked at me with the first-place trophy and said, “you are only as good as your last ride, and I just beat you.” I had beaten his ass so many times, but in our last race together, he beat me. I was so angry. So, I understand the schedule and I understand where he is making his money, I understand all that, but when you are the guy who can make the whole country stand up and be proud, and you choose not to, I can’t side with you.

MXLarge: I remember you raced a pretty long schedule, sometimes starting in January and ending in October, then you would do two classes, plus SX, and a bunch of International races after all that. Did you ever have a year when you were too burnt out, and didn’t want to go, but went anyway?

Johnson: I never felt that way for des Nations. I used to do the Golden State series to warm up, then we would intermingle the 250cc championship and the supercross series, so you were always swapping bikes and your style. Then we had all the European races, like the Masters of Motocross, the Fastcross, I used to race in Holland, Belgium, Bercy, we were all over the place and part of it was we loved doing it also a couple of USGPs. We didn’t really have an off-season, just weekends off. The one year I declined was when I had my broken wrist, I think in 1990. They had me on a 125, and I was going to do it and I was testing and I felt fast on it, but my wrist wasn’t holding out. I remember thinking, if I go, and I am a big guy on a 125 and I lose for the team, that was why I passed and they took Kiedrowski in my place.

MXlarge: Mind you, back in the 80s and 90s you could have picked three or four A-team for America. It isn’t like that anymore. I mean in your era you had multiple AMA champions all in the same class, this year’s 450 class doesn’t have a single AMA 450 champion in it.

Johnson: What I would do, I could be pitching for Ryan Dungey. Tell him to blow the dust off his riding boots and have Osborne and if he was fit Anderson. Or maybe Thomas Covington on the MX2 bike. I think Ryan Dungey would kill it. What do I think that, because look at him in that last race in Las Vegas this year, when everything was on the line, and he gets the holeshot, he couldn’t afford a second-place start. When it comes to crunch time, there is nobody as good as Ryan Dungey. I don’t care if he is eating hot dogs and drinking beer, he would still be strong enough to do well there. I am not saying he would win everything, because Cairoli and Herlings and those guys, they are fast over there.

MXlarge: You were in an era where you dominated everything. Do you think these guys are struggling because they have been beaten and they go there now knowing that is a possibility? You guys went to the MXoN knowing you were the best team and had a big shot at winning it.

Johnson: I don’t think so, I think it’s just self-preservation and they have big contracts and don’t want to get hurt and lose out on that. I think that is what it is.

MXLarge: I was reading an interview on racerxonline with the HRC team-manager in America and he mentioned Ken Roczen wants to race the USGP and the MXoN. What is your opinion on that?

Johnson: Oh man. I hope he doesn’t make the same mistake I made. I reached out to Kenny, because I have experience career ending injuries. I made some big mistakes in my career and one of them was coming back too soon from injury. You need to go through a routine before you are allowed to race after injury. As soon as I could grab a handlebar I wanted to race. When you come up short and mis-time a whoop, you can damage everything again. I think it’s a mistake. He needs to not be in a rush and get himself healthy.

MXLarge: What moments in your career stood out?

Johnson: For me winning the first championship, even though Mark Barnett wasn’t there, he was injured, but in my rookie year I won the last race in Carlsbad and got the title, then also winning my 1984 250 National championship with my mechanic (Brian Lunniss), because he was the first guy who believed in me. We came down to the last moto and I pulled it off. Also, my win at Unadilla at the Motocross of Nations, because we were behind the eight ball. I remember sitting watching the start of the 125cc/500cc race (in pouring rain) and I remember seeing Jeff Wards goggles get blown off in the first turn and he was back struggling in seventh place and Bob Hannah was stuck in the screw you (a section of the track) for like a bunch of laps. I looked over at the team and said, I need to win both races if we have a shot here. That feeling, even when I talk about it, I want to throw up. It was a feeling of what men are made of, and this is when you are scared, you go and fight. You know what, the Europeans were known as mud racers, and I was from California, where it doesn’t rain, and I beat them and we won the MXoN. Saw Jimmy Weinert (AMA legend) crying and Tony Distefano (another AMA legend) was there, and all these people, and the only one who was a dick was Bob Hannah (laughing). That was the one I will take to the grave with me.

MXlarge: Was 1987 your best year? You won two motocross championships that year, and the MXoN.

Johnson: I think 1988 I was a better all-round rider I was in better shape. We won the 500 Outdoors and the supercross title and we were leading the 250 championship and my bike blew up. I was emotionally and mentally very strong in 1988.

MXlarge: Will we see you at the des Nations this year?

Johnson: I want to go, I mean what the hell, it’s been 30 years since I won that one (1987 in the mud at Unadilla). I want to ride the train, you know what I am saying. I don’t want to wait until its 40 years, I might not be around then.

C50_100238980_1294767206 peelout Quote
8/10/2017 1:26 PM

Colorado is famous for producing some of the best snowflakes in the country, didn't expect Eli to be one of them


C50_cr3a6017_600x400_1489959416 jorgechavez Quote
8/10/2017 1:27 PM

Can't really argue with RJ

C50_img_0237_1503928563 Rowlands Quote
8/10/2017 1:37 PM

I totally agree with him and all us fans want to see the best riders in the world going at it.

C50_chance_1517159782 500guy Quote
8/10/2017 1:40 PM

Re read the part where He say's He knows He made mistakes coming back to early and raced what ever race he could. it's a contradiction.

Eli is doing what He thinks is best, unpopular as it might be.

C50_image_1445431990 Flip109 Quote
8/10/2017 1:45 PM
peelout wrote:

Colorado is famous for ...more


C50_husqvarna_250_tc_2017_2_1492377431 kiwifan Quote
8/10/2017 1:57 PM

Great interview, cant argue with RJ at all

Current rides: 2018 CRF450R and 2017 TC250
Occasional ride for VMX: 1985 CR500
Road bike: None

C50_031214grapeape_1394661426 GrapeApe Quote
8/10/2017 2:07 PM
500guy wrote:

Re read the part where He ...more

What? He was talking about coming back too early from injury.

C50_8f327a4a_1_1490304278 davistld01 Quote
8/10/2017 2:10 PM

RJ is from a totally different era of racers than we have now.

Wonder what Eli's feelings would be if he read that?

C50_me RyanD797 Quote
8/10/2017 2:18 PM

"It's just a dirt bike race"...said no one...wait, yeah someone did say that.

C50_spicoliinfasttimesatridgemonthigh1_1447175199 Stuntman949 Quote
8/10/2017 2:22 PM

The best. Kevin Kelly's impression was impeccable.

"A link is only as long as your longest strong chain"

C50_steel_city_1498508400 Casting Quote
8/10/2017 2:24 PM

Spin it any way you want (small payout relative to monster cup, tough schedule, whatever), Eli is letting the fans down and fans are why Eli has a job that allows him to potentially retire at 30. Yet, he can't man up for a couple weeks?

How many Vital members work 60+ hour weeks 50 weeks per year, probably until their 65 or older? My guess is a lot. It's a slap in the face of the fans when he complains about not enough off tike and chooses to skip the race that means the most to his fans while choosing the race the USGP. (Yes, he chose to race the GP, he could have negotiated a different contract but chose not to, making his priorities $$$$ clear. His country and fans aren't one of them.)


C50_141_0712_04_z_dirt_rider_25_year_anniversary_bob_hannah Zildjian Quote
8/10/2017 2:33 PM

RJ is still the man after all these years and thanks for linking that video Stuntman, good times.

C50_12304521_10153806728633829_6610791591939636682_o_1471455987 bayodome Quote
8/10/2017 2:38 PM

Last year Tomac stated the same reasons for not going. No surprise he chose to skip it again. Bummer, but I'm still watching the race no matter who attends for the US. It's just a cool event.

Twitter: @bayodome
Instagram: @bayodome

C50_hatfall_1450633513 Falcon Quote
8/10/2017 2:40 PM

I've kept my mouth shut about all this, but I feel like Eli is a letdown.

I am at work or doing work 65 hours a week and I only get 2 weeks off per year. And I ride/race/train, raise children, and manage a household with my wife ON TOP of all that.
To say you need a break from the "grind" of a dream job, wherein you make, quite literally, more than 100 times the money I do, from which you will retire 20 years before I do, even though I started my professional career fifteen years before you did, is a cop out. Plain and simple. Eli, you are a huge disappointment to American motocross fans.

I bet if Roger D. asked Bob Hannah to go race today, for nothing more than patriotic pride, he'd stinkin' do it.

C50 Acidreamer Quote
8/10/2017 2:45 PM

Good god people how many of you work overtime year round with no vacation. I cant blame him. Its not a hobby. Its a job.

No way in hell would i work overtime all year round and never take vacations. Breaks are what keeps people sane.

2009 Kawasaki KX450F
2009 Kawasaki KX250F
2002 Suzuki GSXR 600

C50 Bonanza69 Quote
8/10/2017 2:47 PM
bayodome wrote:

Last year Tomac stated the ...more

So he will miss 2018 too?

C50_12957637_492673644276035_4862143765081302060_o_1520714776 Muscle-Milk-KTM Quote
8/10/2017 2:52 PM
Acidreamer wrote:

Good god people how many ...more

Didn't seem to bother RJ.

C50_cr3a6017_600x400_1489959416 jorgechavez Quote
8/10/2017 3:02 PM
Falcon wrote:

I've kept my mouth shut ...more

I don't really care who races for team USA as I'm Canadian but comparing your day job to a professional athlete is laughable.

C50_steel_city_1498508400 Casting Quote
8/10/2017 3:07 PM
Acidreamer wrote:

Good god people how many ...more

The dude's job is living out a dream that let's him retire a millionaire. Sure he is training on off weekends, but there is at least a month of off season time where he can chill.

Let's be clear, the stress of exercising and bike testing doesn't compare financial stress like normal people experience. He's surrounded by a team meant (trainer, mechanic, assistants) to make his life easier. How many typical worker can say the same?


C50 BMSOBx2 Quote
8/10/2017 3:07 PM

Thank God the guys on the Olympic Dream Team didn't feel that way. Represent.

C50_tumblr_m9s6u97gie1rxpt8qo1_500 aFACEdismembered Quote
8/10/2017 3:08 PM
bayodome wrote:

Last year Tomac stated the ...more

Bonanza69 wrote:

So he will miss 2018 too?

Honestly, at this point, I'd have LESS respect for him if he wanted to race it next year.

Maybe he can pick up some sponsor dollars from these guys to sweeten the deal

C50_11140218_10206784455269528_8445901534315300067_o_1498095008 DonM Quote
8/10/2017 3:10 PM
bayodome wrote:

Last year Tomac stated the ...more

Bonanza69 wrote:

So he will miss 2018 too?

I hope so...after turning it down twice he should never get another invite...but moving the date 2 weeks would make all the difference in the world.

C50_img_1754_1507156050 Squitlege Quote
8/10/2017 3:13 PM

I'm so mad at someone else for their multi million dollar career decision. Until you are in his shoes, STFU.

C50_chicken0001_1400193184 Ramrod Quote
8/10/2017 3:14 PM

Solution is simple. Monster pays him to ride the mxdn and skip the usgp. Let Weimer or someone race the usgp for Kawasaki as a one off race.

We as fans want Eli to race the mxdn. I will buy a can of their drink if he does.

C50_2f3991d0ba8abb320d67cb10e44ae689_1508115967 PastranaWho Quote
8/10/2017 3:15 PM

Its hunting season bitches,
C50_fim_licence robkinuk Quote
8/10/2017 3:29 PM

Well said RJ!
Wonder if Tomac would have chickened out if the race was still at Glen Helen?
Even if he's the fastest rider for 2018 edition in US, I hope Roger snubs him. A line has been drawn.
Why can't he go Elk hunting for 2 weeks after Nationals finish then step up for the MXDN in 3rd week?

Accountant's only look at the bottom line, whereas an Artist see's it all!

C50_st_george_2017_1489019064 Titan1 Quote
8/10/2017 3:48 PM
robkinuk wrote:

Well said RJ!
Wonder if ...more

Elk Hunting season is only for a very small window and its closer to the fall (end of Sept/Early Oct...depending on weapon).

C50_032607_026_1484060956 doghouse Quote
8/10/2017 4:00 PM
Acidreamer wrote:

Good god people how many ...more


C50 kkawboy14 Quote
8/10/2017 4:06 PM

"We never got paid, I mean I had it set-up I got bonuses from a lot of my sponsors"

Is this a joke? We didn't get paid in our salary but we got paid another way?

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