Friday Feature:
The Jeremy McGrath Invitational

Seven-time Supercross champion, Jeremy McGrath has created one of the most unique weekends of racing our sport has seen in some time with the Jeremy McGrath Invitational (JMI). With a track that includes metal ramps and FMX-style landings, a head-to-head race format, and a total of $500,000 in prize money, the JMI is drawing lots of attention from invited riders and fans alike.

With just a week to go before the racing starts at Carson, CA’s Home Depot Center, we caught up with the King of Supercross early this morning to learn more about the event.

Hi Jeremy, thanks for taking some time with us early on a Friday morning. The Jeremy McGrath Invitational is just a week away and everyone’s getting excited about it. Tell us about the race and how the whole thing came together.

Having an invitational race is something I’ve always wanted to do and to finally have it come to reality is pretty crazy. The idea for the race actually came years ago from a BMX movie called Rad.

[BRACKET “Laughs”] Oh yeah, I remember that movie!

Yeah it was sweet! The idea behind the movie was that they had to score points and qualify to race “Helltrack.” So the idea for the Jeremy McGrath Invitational came from that. I always wanted to make something bigger, badder and totally different than what the guys are racing on every week. We’ll have some crazy features on the track, including metal ramps that are twenty feet wide and nine feet tall with big 15 foot landings like in freestyle, mixed in with a Supercross style track.

It’s kind of just the beginning; we want to keep having this race for another twenty years. Like I said, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Something unique and on the edge, maybe even a little bit crazy. It might make the guys a little bit nervous, but they’ll still have a lot of fun.

How difficult was it to pull the whole event together?

I’ve been thinking about it for ten or twelve years, but to actually get it off the ground has taken a couple of years now. I knew I needed the right partner and to have WMG (Wasserman Media Group) involved is really good. It’s something I could’ve never done alone.

Did you always plan to do it independently, rather than with the AMA or a similar group?

I thought it was important to do it with someone that has never done it before and is more independent. As much as I like Supercross, I still wanted to have some partners with open minds. It’s been a steep learning curve for all of us, but the response has been overwhelming; everyone’s psyched about it. It’s really just a whole new look, especially with the head-to-head races. That’s something that has never been done over here. My whole career I’ve always tried to be a little bit different, and that’s what I’m trying to do here.

The head-to-head racing is definitely one of the really unique things about the JMI. How will the head-to-head race format work?

We’re going to time practice, and the top 16 riders will race head-to-head in a single-elimination format similar to the sweet sixteen in college basketball. If you win, you keep going, and if you lose, you’re out. There’s a huge purse both nights and the overall winner makes an extra $35,000. The idea of us having the richest motocross race in history is pretty cool as well. We have a half-million dollars on the line.

The prize purse is definitely impressive. What do you expect in terms of fan turn-out?

We’re doing really good. It’s been overwhelming, actually. Everyone’s talking about it and the momentum is starting to snow ball. It’s interesting because a lot of people have heard about it and are excited to see it, but they don’t know exactly what they’re going to see.

I would think having your name in the title,, along with the unique format are big reasons people will be there to see everything first-hand.

Yeah, maybe it woke people up a little bit by doing something different. What we definitely don’t want to do is bring something out that is the same as what the fans see every weekend. Ticket sales have been good and we expect to be sold out.

The list of riders that will be racing is also really impressive.

Yeah, I’m excited. We have a great lineup, and the riders have been pretty pumped about it all along. Obviously Ricky (Carmichael) and Chad (Reed) are hurt so that’s kind of a bummer, but the buzz has been good with riders like Windham and Pastrana racing. They’re really excited, but also a little bit nervous about hitting the ramps. With all the money that’s being given away they’re taking it pretty serious, so that’s cool.

Will you be racing as well?

Yeah, I’ll be racing for sure. Actually this will be my last Supercross race ever.

Really? We’re not going to see you hit a few AMA Supercross races like you did last year?

Nope, no more part-time racing next year. Especially now that I have a family with my new daughter I don’t need to put myself out there every weekend anymore.

Wow. We’ll definitely be excited to see your last Supercross race.

If people want to learn more about the JMI and get tickets, where can they go?

They can dial 888-MCRACE1, or go to www.ticketmaster.com or www.jeremymcgrathinvitational.com and there’s all the information on there about it.

Thanks for taking the time, especially this early in the morning.

All right, no worries. Have a good one.

It was a surprise to hear that we won’t be seeing MC at any of the AMA Supercross rounds next year. With that news, you definitely don’t want to miss the Jeremy McGrath Invitational!

Keep your browser pointed to www.transworldmx.com for complete coverage.