Mind of a Mechanic: Ken Roczen’s Road to Recovery

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely heard the news that Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen has withdrawn from the 2022 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. Due to health-related issues, the German native will sit out of the remainder of the series and put his efforts towards recovering and preparing for the upcoming Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect the 94 machine to be parked for the rest of this year’s supercross series (especially considering his victory in the opening round); however, this announcement doesn’t come as a complete surprise. As each round passed, it seemed less and less promising that Ken would become a championship contender. Since his win at the opening round, Roczen has posted finishes of 13-7-13-5-11-8-13-7 which certainly aren’t typical of him. Between take-outs and crashes, it’s been tough to see Ken not perform to the level of his own expectations. 

Like most moto fans, I like to hop on the internet and read what people think about what’s going on in the sport. In recent years, it seems that some fans have been a bit critical of Ken’s personality, or his intentions and expectations toward racing. Some say he doesn’t care about racing anymore, he’s physically washed up, or he has personal issues going on. I guess we all have the right to criticize what we observe from our unique perspectives. However, from my own perspective, Ken has always had the expectation to win. Granted, throughout his career he’s shown the ability to make smart decisions and maybe settle for a 2nd or 3rd at times, winning has seemed to be his ultimate goal. In 2012, when Ken competed in the 250 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship against some serious competition (Baggett, Barcia, Tomac, Musquin, etc), I was able to see that desire to win up close.

I was working with Andrew Short as his practice mechanic in 2012 when Ken decided to set up camp at Shorty’s home and training facility in Smithville, Texas, for the summer. Andrew and Ken developed a friendly relationship during their time together on the Red Bull KTM team, so it was only fitting that Ken spend the brutally hot and humid Texas summer with us. 

When I met Ken, he left a big impression on me. I remember my first time seeing him on Shorty’s property. He was shirtless, with a heart-rate monitor strap around his chest, shorts, and running shoes. I’m not sure if his bike had even arrived at the time, but he was already working, running laps around the property at a pace that was shockingly fast (I ran track in high school and he beat me in a 40-yard sprint). That summer showed me how much work this kid was putting in. It showed me how dedicated he was to winning, and that he recognized the opportunities that were in front of him. 

A lot of you may remember that summer of 2012, as Blake Baggett went on to take the number 1 plate in the 250 championship. Ken finished 4th overall in his series debut, and even experienced some heartbreaking losses due to last lap passes, but his focus never wavered. Even after a tough weekend, he came to work on Monday locked in, with enthusiasm which I felt was beneficial to Shorty’s program as well. 

I want to remind everyone that Ken has never finished an AMA Motocross Championship worse than 3rd since his 250 debut in 2012 (he did not compete in 2017 and 2020). Even with a brutal and potential career ending injury during the supercross season of 2017, he still managed to finish 3rd or better in each of the next three motocross seasons that he entered. 

I was occasionally around Ken during his recovery from his shattered arm in 2017. The rods in his arm, the surgeries, and the rehab would have been enough for me to confirm my own retirement from employment of any sort. But even after this brutal injury, through our conversation I was able to see his desire to succeed by how dedicated he was to the recovery process. Since then, he’s not only won races, but been a podium contender in every series that he’s entered. 

It seems that racing has always been the main priority in Ken’s life, and he’s done everything in his power to be successful on the track. I’m not in Ken’s inner circle so I don’t know the facts about his current health situation. What I do know is that if he’s the same guy I met in 2012, whatever he does moving forward will have his 100% focus. He’s shown us time and time again that he’s been able to sift through the contrasts of racing and life, and still been able to perform at an elite level. 

Between the battles with his on-track rivals and his colorful post-race interviews, Ken has made racing fun to watch while also winning races and championships. Because of that, I think it’s important as fans to appreciate the guys we have racing and the effort they put into optimum performance.

Ken, thank you for all of the entertainment and excitement you’ve provided to us fans over the years. We look forward to you being 100% healthy and happy.  

Main image: Honda HRC


  1. He is my favorite rider and an ambassador to the sport, i agree that he is 100% into anything he does and a great person for our youth to emulate.

  2. Ken is an awesome rider. Anyone that can come back with two major arm injuries and still ride at his level is awesome. He is also a husband and father. He just wants to be healthy when he is racing.

  3. I have watched Ken ride since his pro debut, he has always gave nothing less than 100%. His heart and desire for the sport is awesome . Wish you well Ken see you back soon ripping.

Written by Brandon Anderson

Brandon spent 12 years in the motocross industry as a technician for riders such as: Malcolm Stewart, Adam Cianciarulo, and Blake Baggett. At Round 15 of the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, Brandon won his sole race in the premier class as a technician for Andrew Short. Since leaving the industry in 2018, his primary focus is spending time with his wife and son, helping others through his bi-weekly podcast, and traveling as often as possible with his family.

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