Troy Dog’s Shack: Hunter Yoder Opens Up

Building momentum is everything in this sport. Hunter Yoder came into his rookie Supercross season armed with a TiLube Honda on a SX only deal. He couldn’t find his flow and by the time he did, the short 250SX East Championship was over. Racing outdoors was not an option due to a lack of funds and support, so Yoder called it a season. It wasn’t exactly the scenario Yoder had anticipated entering the pro side of the sport. He was a highly touted amatuer at one point and even had a deal with GEICO Honda before the team folded up. 

I caught up with Yoder to get his take on his rookie season, the highs, the lows, what he’s been up to, and what is on the horizon. Come to find out, Yoder gave me a very honest interview.

vurbmoto: Have you been riding at all?
Yoder: I’ve ridden less than ten times since Salt Lake City. I rode once in the middle of Summer and I hadn’t ridden in about three months. I just went out on my 450 that’s a couple of years old and went riding at Perris with one of my buddies. I went out to just have some fun again. It was weird after Salt Lake I didn’t ride at all. I think I needed a reset. That was probably the first time I did that. I wanted to be out there racing, riding, and grinding, but for me to be doing it all on my own, it’s hard. That was the first time that I took a step back and looked at it as a whole and took it for what it is. 

So, that was the first time you’ve ever really taken a break from riding in your life?
Yeah, when I was younger we obviously did the big nationals like Freestone, Loretta’s, and Mammoth. A lot of the amatuer kids chase all the nationals. We weren’t like that. After Loretta’s every year I would take a month off at least where I wouldn’t ride at all. After Salt Lake, that was the biggest break I’ve ever taken.

Talk about your rookie season and the prep that you had for it. TiLube Honda signed you to race the 250SX East Region. How did you feel that it went and what are your feelings on your performance?
I’m definitely not happy with how my season went. Coming into it, it’s a whole different ball game than motocross. When you are new to supercross it’s a learning thing. We can all ride dirt bikes very well, that’s why we are professionals, but when you’re learning SX it’s a whole new thing. I just took every riding day and tried to improve the best I could, while not yardsaling myself. My whole goal this year was to make it to all of the races. You see a lot of kids come out of amateurs and make like 1-3 rounds before they get hurt, so I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be at every race. So, I did that. It was a lot harder than I expected. I thought I would have a little more of a handle on it than I did. Obviously being a top amatuer guy you have to be confident, especially when you have to go race guys like Jeremy Martin and Jett Lawrence. Those dudes are really good at what they do and it’s my first season. However, I don’t go to the races to just ride around in the LCQ and that’s what I did all year. I didn’t go to those races to flounder. I wanted to be not necessarily top three or top five, but I wanted to be top ten battling with those guys and I fell way short of that. My preparation was good. I was feeling good before the races, but when I got to the races my bike setup was a little off. It wasn’t what I was used to in practice and it wasn’t anyone’s fault, sometimes these things just happen. The days are short at Supercross and I think we only ride for an hour at most. When you do have bike setup problems it’s a little hard to fix. Overall, I’m happy that I finished the whole season. I’m going to race again next year. I’m working on a couple of things right now. I wouldn’t come back and race if I didn’t think I could do well. I don’t want to go racing if I’m going to flounder around in the back you know? That’s not my program. I want to be a racer in the front. I’m going to do everything that I can in these next couple of months and train as hard as I can. I don’t want to waste opportunities. I have an opportunity to go racing and I’m going to make the most of it. 

Towards the end of the series it looked like you started to feel more comfortable out there, so you made some strides. I’m sure at that point you were wishing that the series had more races.
Yeah, at Salt Lake City I wish there were six more races, you know? I was feeling really good. I was riding with guys like Hampshire and Oldenburg. It’s a good feeling when you pull off the track and you see your name on the board ahead of guys who were getting top three in the heat races at the first round. In the first round I almost didn’t make the night show! That just shows me how much I improved. That’s what fuels me to go racing again. If I would have done that all season where I just was in the back as a gate filler I wouldn’t have come back. I think I truly can come back and race hard. I want to prove that last year wasn’t my best and that I’m still improving. 

Seriously, if you did not improve you would have been okay with not coming back for 2023?
I would have been okay with it if it was 100 percent the best I could do. If I knew I gave my all every time out on the track, which I did, but if I didn’t see those improvements, or glimpses of speed, I wouldn’t have come back. It takes a lot of money out of my bank account and my parent’s account for me to go racing. For all of the people supporting me, it’s not fair for me to go and ride around in the back.

It makes sense, but we don’t have to worry about that because we’re back racing!
We’re going racing. I’ll probably start riding Supercross this week or next. I’ll get some things ironed out when I figure out what team I’m riding for. I’m going to put my head down and give it my all.

What did you do this Summer? Did you do anything fun?
Actually yeah, when I took some time off I just relaxed for a bit. I went to Mammoth and one of my buddies was racing the Supermini class there. They rented a house and I went up to ride mountain bikes for a couple of days. His name is Nathan Abbott and he got top three at Mammoth, so I stayed with his family there at the races. His dad asked me if I wanted to go to Loretta’s with them as a trainer. So, I ended up going to Daxton Bennick’s house for about a month. Bennick’s is where I would stay and do all my training before Loretta’s every year. It was cool to go back there and see Daxton and his whole family. We went out on their boat and had a lake day. Nathan actually broke his wrist at Mammoth, so he only had about six days of riding before the race. He got a couple of top tens at Loretta’s, which is pretty good for not riding. After that, I’ve been getting back into riding for myself to make sure I still got it. Now I’m just waiting for SX to come around so I can put my head down and get after it.

Do you still have the option for Josh Hill and Josh Hansen to come out to the track with you and help you out?

Yeah, both of those guys are super cool. If I called Hansen I’m sure they would come out and ride with me. Same for Hill, he’s told me if I wanted to go ride in North Carolina with him and stay at his house I could. Anything I ask, they are here to help. They are definitely two good guys to have to learn off of.

Oh, absolutely. Those guys have so many Supercross skills. Those are definitely guys that I would want to learn from.
I tell everybody, I have never seen guys show up to a brand new Supercross track and do the big lines on the second or third lap. It takes me two motos to figure the track out and here they do a sight lap, a jump lap, and right into the big ones. You’re just like, how do you see it that way? They are so talented and so skilled. It’s crazy.

The veterans of Supercross are incredible. You don’t want to call it old man skill, but it takes time to figure this stuff out.
That’s a real thing! Old man strength! My last year at Loretta’s at Daxton’s house we were doing motos everyday. At this point I was a top A class guy, and he’s a top B guy. Then Chad Reed came out, he wasn’t training, and for four or five laps he kept me honest. It was frustrating, you know? I know he’s Chad Reed and he’s ridden forever. He’s been pro longer than I have been alive. It was frustrating that he could go as fast as me.

What year were you born?
I was born in 2004.

He was Supercross champ that year!
Yeah, I know!

Man, so you grew up watching the Ryan’s dominate. Who were your guys growing up? Dungey and Villopoto?
Yeah, it was Dungey, Villopoto, and then I watched Hansen when he was on Pro Circuit, and Dean Wilson. It’s funny because the guys I looked up to I text them once a week, or I can call them whenever. I’m good buddies with Dean-O now, both the Josh’s, Chad Reed is there to help me if I need it. Dungey, with his little time that he spent at GEICO Honda. If I called any of those guys they would give me advice. It’s crazy that it happened so quickly. I’m super grateful to know all of these guys.and be in the position that I’m in.

Just pick their brains and learn as much as possible.

Every little bit helps.

What did you learn from your SX season that you’re going to apply for next year?
The biggest thing I learned last year is that in the first eight minute practice session you have to be ready to go. I think now I’ll be able to figure the tracks out a bit quicker. When you walk in that stadium you’re nervous. Towards the end, the last two rounds at Foxborough and Salt Lake City, I would walk down on the floor and I would not be worried about it at all. It was just another track. When you look at it you’ll be able to figure it out pretty quick. You have your lines ready in your head before you even get out there. So, just be ready when the day comes. Everything goes a lot faster than you’re expecting on race day. My training program will be a little more intense this year. I’m going to do as many laps as I can this year. I’ll get back into the swing of things and come November and December I’ll hit it really hard and lay it all on the line. So, no matter if I’m racing West or East I’ll be ready.

Do you do your own training?
I trained with Randy Lawrence, but he’s out of the game right now. I’ll be doing my own training just because I’m paying for everything. I’ve done this long enough to where I know what I need. I know how my body feels and I know what to do to improve. Most likely this year I’ll be doing my own program. I’ll also be training a couple of kids. In the next couple of weeks I’ll have anywhere between 3-6 kids I’ll be training. It’ll be a full-time schedule, but that’s what I have to do right now to make this dream work. 

It’s pretty crazy how quickly everything changes. It was your rookie year, but yet here you are already training kids.
For me, they are all my friends, you know it’s a bunch of kids riding 85s. It’s cool from their perspective I guess to have a guy who raced Supercross helping them out. If I would have had that when I was younger I would have been over the top excited. For me it’s cool too. Not only to see myself improve, but also give them tips that I got from Hill, it’s a win for me too. It’s cool to see both sides of improvement.

So, if you put me on your training program I could go win the 30+ class at Loretta’s. I have no doubt about that.
Troy Dog, we will put you on the program.

Well, how much? I got kids that are 3 and 1 that won’t stop eating. I need grocery money.
Well, are you still paying for diapers? Yeah, you are. We could work out a deal. An online training program. I’ll send you a schedule. You’ll hit the gym, get on that road bike for 70 miles, and we’ll get you 30+ in no time. You can watch your kids and still grind on the stationary bike.

My dream is to hold that number one plate up with the gold medal around my neck. You have to take a bite out of that medal like, “I worked so hard…”
Yeah, “For my family.” You have to trust the process.

The process is trusted. How can people get a hold of you if they want to train with you?
You can DM me on Instagram @hunteryoder58 and email me [email protected] I want to be able to help kids get better. I work with all age groups at any level. I just want to help everybody.

Written by Troy Dog

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