Jeremy Martin has had some run-ins with the injury bug over the past few years.
The bug hasn’t just bitten Martin, though. It’s made a meal out of him.
The Millville native hopes he’s done being sidelined by injuries, and he hopes he can reel in his third AMA Pro Motocross 250 Class national championship this summer.
Martin, who is “not 100 percent, but doing the best I can with the cards I’ve been dealt” while recovering from a shoulder injury, got off to a strong start in his quest to capture his first national title since he won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.
He won the first moto of the 2021 season on Saturday at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif., then finished as the runner-up in the second moto. That was good for a second-place overall finish in Round 1 of the 12-round AMA national championship.
“I’ve ridden quite a bit over the years,” Martin said of the Fox Raceway course, which sits just north of San Diego. “I did most of my prep (for this season) back home in Minnesota … but (Tuesday) the track was fun. They added a lot of sand in the back. It was pretty gnarly, it would grab you and the bike pretty good.”
Martin handled the track quite well on his Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha bike — his first time back on a Yamaha since he parted ways with the team in 2016. It was also his first time back in competition since suffering a dislocated shoulder during his first race of the Supercross season, back in February in Orlando.
“No doubt the shoulder blowing out was a big deal and I didn’t get a chance to race (supercross) this year, so I’ve been pretty bummed about that,” Martin said last week. “I’m really just trying to rehab it. Shoulder (injuries) are a pain in the butt.
“I finally feel like I’m in a pretty good position to contend for wins in this (motocross) championship. I know the field is going to be tough and we’ll see what we can do.”
The shoulder injury was the latest setback for the 28-year-old who grew up at Spring Creek MX Park near Millville. Spring Creek is owned by Jeremy’s parents, John and Greta Martin, and it’s where he said he’s done a lot of his riding in preparation for the 2021 motocross season.
Martin missed most of the 2018 motocross season and all of the 2019 supercross and motocross seasons after he suffered a burst fracture of his L1 vertebrae during a race in Blountville, Tenn., in June of 2018. The injury didn’t heal properly and caused him to miss all of the 2019 seasons.
After nearly a half-decade with Geico Honda, Martin was forced into the free agent market after last season when that team closed shop. Martin won his national championships when he was just 21 and 22 years old, on a Yamaha, but many reports after last season linked him to the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team for the 2021 season. Yet it was the Yamaha team that was able to get a deal done with the rider who finished as the runner-up in last year’s 250 motocross national championship.
“It’s been fun to get back on the Yamaha,” Martin said last week, in advance of the outdoors season opener. “I’ve been back home in Minnesota doing a lot of riding. Just to see the difference in lap times. … On the Geico bike I felt fast and there was a good gauge there.
“To come back and be on this bike, to see the difference in speed and the amount of effort it takes throughout a moto to maintain that speed, it’s been very cool to see.”
Martin had the fifth-fastest qualifying lap of the day Saturday (2 minutes, 21.69 seconds) in the 250 class, then finished in the top two in both motos, as Australian Jett Lawrence also finished in the top two in each moto.
“I’m comfortable,” Martin said of being back on the Yamaha bike, “and it’s time to try to make something happen on this Yamaha. I’ve been patiently waiting to be able to race.”