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For most of the nineties Jeremy McGrath ruled supercross, winning seven 250cc AMA Championships and a staggering 72 AMA main wins. He dominated SX so much that he was nicknamed “The King”… and no one could touch him.
During what became known as the “McGrath Era”, he helped popularize and grow supercross as a sport to unprecidented heights, drawing in huge crowds of fans chomping at the bit to witness him in action. In the process he became one of the most popular US riders ever – not only because of his exceptional talent but also because of his friendly personality, respect for the fans and the tricks that he performed while jumping.
Back then freestyle motocross didn’t exist, but McGrath couldn’t help himself and would often bust out Nac Nacs crossing the finish line. He claims that he did his first Nac Nac during a race because he was bored. This became his trademark trick and was quite possibly one of the first in FMX.
An interesting thing you should know about Jeremy McGrath is that he didn’t pick up racing dirt bikes until age 15! As a youngster he rode competitively in the Southern Californian BMX circuit – and he did very well at it becoming one of the top riders in the nation by his mid teens. This is where he believes he set the foundations for his later success in supercross, saying that his BMX riding was instrumental.
By the time he reached 15 his attention had turned to motocross and with the help of his parents he bought his first MX bike and began racing at amateur level. Within 3 short years he had turned pro and set his sights on supercross, finishing eighth in the AMA 125 West Region SX Series in 1989. Riding for Team Kawasaki the following year he finished the season 2nd, and then finally claimed 1st place in the ’91 and ’92 West Supercross Championships.
Jan 23, 1993, saw McGrath enter the big scene of the pro mains class as a junior under defending AMA champion Jeff Stanton, riding for the Honda Factory Team. He was expected to spend the season adjusting to the bigger 250cc (two-stroke) bikes and elite, experienced competition. What happened that historic night in Anaheim Stadium rattled everyone’s minds and kick-started the winning streak that no one could challenge for years to come. McGrath made a sensational pass on Stanton to take his first AMA Supercross win, claiming that it was one of the most memorable and greatest moments of his career. He won 10 races that season and became the first ever rider to win a SX Championship in his rookie year. He retained his #1 spot for ’94, ’95 and ’96, only coming 2nd in ’97 when he switched to Team Suzuki after contract issues with Honda. He also won the 250cc Outdoor Motocross Championship in ’95 proving his talent outside of the supercross circuit. Riding for Yamaha in ’98, 99 and 2000 he continued his onslaught and won each of those years until Ricky Carmichael knocked him off his throne in 2001. He then struggled in 2002 managing 3rd, and retired in 2003 after a pre season crash related injury.
On the topic of crashes, in 2006 Jeremy set up an off-season race involving big prize money called the Jeremy McGrath Invitational – this was supposed to be his last competitive race on a dirt bike. During a timed qualifying practice he endo’d coming over a jump and fractured his neck pretty badly. He had to sit out the rest of the event (in hospital) and was lucky he recovered from it.
During his lifespan on a dirt bike, “The King” has also starred in many free riding MX videos and D.V.D’s, launching himself over huge canyons and natural kickers. He was one of the first guys involved in the freeriding movement. He has graced the covers of countless magazines, been interviewed on T.V shows and has had some hugely popular video games released in his name. So you can imagine he’s probably doing alright in the coin department.
Since those days he has been enjoying raising a family and has turned his hands to off road truck racing, supermoto and NASCAR. He also carries out testing for Honda Motorcycles to try and improve their range of dirt bikes for you and me.
Jeremy McGrath was, is and always will be a true legend of the sport. And just to ensure no one forgets, in July 2007 he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. If you visit you will find a bronze statue of the man himself performing a Nac Nac over the finish line. Nice.
2005 – Gold Medal, X Games Step-Up & bronze in Supermoto
2000 – 1st, AMA Supercross Champion
1999 – 1st, AMA Supercross Champion
1998 – 1st, AMA Supercross Champion
1997 – 2nd, AMA Supercross Champion
1996 – 1st, AMA Supercross Champion & 1st Motocross des Nations Team
1995 – 1st, AMA Supercross Champion & 1st AMA Outdoor Nationals
1994 – 1st, AMA Supercross Champion
1993 – 1st, AMA Supercross Champion & 1st Motocross des Nations Team
1991 – 1st, 125cc Western Supercross title
D.O.B: November 19, 1971
Place of Birth: San Francisco, California
National SX Number: #2
Nicknames: The King, Showtime, MC
Other Interests: Supermoto, truck racing, NASCAR, golf and jet skiing
* All care was taken to get this information correct at the time of writing. If anything is wrong please contact me so I can correct it.