I’m a pretty big Jason Anderson fan. I’ve always appreciated El Hombre. Even in 2014 (when I was spinning practice wrenches for Malcolm Stewart on the Troy Lee Designs Honda 250), when Jason was putting in some exceptional rides during that 250SX West Region Championship. Seeing the awareness and determination that he displayed during that championship run was quite inspiring.
Since watching him break the hearts of Cole Seely and the rest of the TLD squad that year, he’s always been a rider that I consistently look for on the track. Not only is his lanky and fluid riding style captivating to watch, but his personality is quite intriguing. He’s been able to capture 250 and 450 supercross championships with a seemingly nonchalant and no-nonsense approach to racing.
Of course, we all saw Jason have his mechanical mishap at the San Diego round this year. However, at the pace these guys are going, to salvage an eighth place with a smoking motorcycle is quite impressive, in my opinion.
His win at round 2 in Oakland was celebrated by many (kudos to his mechanic Jason Montoya for getting his first victory as well). Seeing the 21 machine on top of the box after 47 races was exciting, not only for him and his team, but for the entire sport. The scruffy-faced kid from New Mexico has a personality that resonates with a lot of fans, and it’s nice to see him back in victory lane and in the championship hunt.
When he was taken out by Justin Barcia at Anaheim I, I was a bit surprised, yet impressed by his response towards that incident. I honestly expected him to put Barcia in the cheap seats at the next round. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to market his business and ended up winning in Oakland.
Growth and maturity are things that come with life experiences and it’s nice to see Jason evolve as a human. However, a few years ago, I wouldn’t have spoken so glowingly about him.
During the 2015 AMA Supercross season, I was assigned as the mechanic for Blake Baggett during his rookie 450 campaign under the Factory Suzuki tent. At that time, Jason was riding for Rockstar Husky (it was also his 450 rookie year). I remember the number 4 and 21 machines rubbing elbows early and often that season, usually in practice, and from my perspective, it was mostly initiated by Jason (I could be wrong).
I specifically remember an incident at Daytona Supercross in 2015 during practice where Jason took Blake unnecessarily high in a corner. Blake acknowledged his displeasure towards Jason that day, but he channeled that frustration into his first SX podium finish at a race where, honestly, everyone expected him to do well (we all know the Chupacabra excels in the great outdoors).
The very next round in Indianapolis is where it all hit the fan. Something triggered Blake to the point of retaliation during the first practice. After the finish line jump, there was a 180-degree left turn. Jason and Blake jumped the finish line simultaneously. Blake was on the outside, and as he landed he checked up, squared off the corner, and punted Jason completely off his Rockstar Husky into a Parts Unlimited tough block. I’ll be completely honest when I say that it was nice to see Blake stand up for himself, as he was finding his place in the 450 class. There was some back and forth from both guys after practice, but the next practice was when I was introduced to the legend of El Hombre.
After an unfortunate red flag early in the second practice, all of the riders had to line up on the starting straight and wait for the medical units to finish before continuing. I set the holeshot device with Blake and waited there in case he needed anything before the officials sent the mechanics off. A minute later, I see the white 21 machine out of the corner of my eye. Jason pulled up unusually close to the left side of Blake’s rear fender. I could tell in his body language and his eyes that something was about to go down, so I moved to Blake’s left side to act as a barrier in case he attempted to retaliate from the incident in the first practice.
I waited as long as I could there, until I was forced to leave by an AMA official…and just as I thought, Jason took matters into his own hands.
As soon as I walked away, the AMA official gave the signal for the riders to begin practice. Before Blake even had a chance to twist the throttle tube, Jason took off and used the right side of his bike and elbow to knock Blake off balance and I watched him and the #4 machine fall onto the Indianapolis soil.
Blake then stood up and threw his hands into the air as if he were seeking acknowledgment from an official of what just happened. He soon got that acknowledgement when Jason was black flagged for that practice, and shortly after, Blake would receive the same punishment. Blake would go on to finish 15th in the main that evening; Jason finished 17th. Not that the results mattered, but it was proof of where the focus was for those riders and teams that evening.
After experiencing the wrath of El Hombre up close in the past, and seeing how he handles adversity currently, I am extremely impressed. After the Barcia take out at Anaheim I this year, I don’t believe that anyone would have been surprised if Jason retaliated; but, to instead use that as an opportunity to call out Barcia and coax him with guilt into buying and advertising his Team Fried merchandise was absolutely genius in my opinion.
Now that I’m no longer a mechanic, I have so much appreciation for the intangibles that different racers bring to the table. I love the light-hearted personalities of guys like Jett Lawrence and Adam Cianciarulo, as well as what they do to engage with the fans of our sport. I’m also looking forward to this new wave of talent in the amateur ranks and seeing how they translate their skills into the pro ranks. However, I’m not sure that we’ll see another racer not give a “you know what” and win the way that Jason Anderson does. From his on-track escapades, to his post-race diatribe about AMA officials, there seems to be an entertainment aspect that only El Hombre can provide for us fans.
Here’s to a future of good clean racing, with a little bit of excitement mixed in.
Main image: Kawasaki