For a professional motocross mechanic, the ultimate reward and perhaps the pinnacle of a career is no different than that of the rider himself-winning a championship. But as we all know, winning a championship, let alone many of them, is an honor that’s only accomplished by the best in the business, and Jeremy Albrecht is no exception. Having aligned himself with the likes of Jeff Emig back in the day, and more recently James “Bubba” Stewart, J-Bone is certainly among the most envied and highly-regarded mechanics of them all. We caught up with the friendly Team Kawasaki wrench to get an update on life with Bubba…
Bubba’s arguably the best talent this sport’s ever seen, and as a result, there’s a lot of pressure riding on his shoulders to succeed. Does that pressure trickle down to you and the efforts you make to ensure that his equipment’s always tip-top?
Yeah, it does a little bit. There’s obviously the pressure of wanting everything to be perfect for him. If you’ve got a guy who’s at the back of the pack and something happens to his bike, nobody would ever know. But with James, if the bike breaks, it’s on me and everybody knows it. That’s not to say I wouldn’t put the same effort into any bike I work on, but as far as the pressure surrounding it, it is a bit more. Plus, at the level that James rides, he can sense any little problem, and little problems can quickly become big ones at the speed he’s riding. He and I have a really good relationship, though, so that makes things a bit easier. He trusts me, so even if we run into a little problem, he still knows that I am giving it my all. We’re cool…
You mentioned that he picks up pretty easily on little glitches with the bike… Is he a picky rider with his bike setup?
He’s gotten a lot better, actually. When we first started working together, he thought everything was good. He really didn’t test much when he was an amateur, so he didn’t know how to go through that whole process of finding the best setup. He’s been doing it long enough now that he’s become a lot more meticulous. He knows what he wants and he’s really good at explaining what he needs. I think this year, too, he’s gotten a lot pickier because he stepped up to the 250s and knows that everything needs to be perfect.
Do you get to his place in Florida that often, or do you usually just see him at the races on the weekends?
No, I don’t get back there that often. We talk a lot on the phone, but it’s tough to cover everything. I’ve got responsibilities here in the race shop all week to prepare the race bike and help out with testing and everything, so we don’t spend that much time together during the week. When we were part timers on the 125s, I had more time to get back there, so I’d go back to test and ride. I went back for his eighteenth birthday party, championship parties…whatever he’d have.
How are Bubba’s parties?
(Laughs) His birthday party…when he turned 18…that was pretty big. That was a good one, for sure…
Switching gears a little bit… There was so much hype coming into this season, and a lot of Bubba critics predicted his rookie 250cc season to go a lot like RC’s did with the crashes and inconsistency. You’ve seen Bubba ride his 250 for a while now… Was that a fair prediction, and how devastating was it to see him go down in Phoenix?
That was definitely a rough day in Phoenix. I felt worse for him than anything else. He had been working so hard and was riding so well that it was a real bummer. I think he would’ve done very well and shocked a lot of people with his speed and consistency. His crash was just one of those things, and it was just too bad to see it all go out the window at that moment. He never got to show anybody how he really rides. We see it all the time, but at Anaheim it was muddy, so nobody else got to see it, and then the crash in Phoenix. I think people would’ve seen a lot that night, but it just didn’t work out. He’ll be back though, and althoughh he’s out of the points, I think he’ll win some races.
What’s been the best part about working with James?
The fun that he has at the races. He’s always enjoying himself, and it’s made me really appreciate what I do a lot more. There are some guys out there who almost kind of expect to win, I guess. But with him it’s like every win’s exciting. He brings a lot of excitement to the sport, and working with a young guy like him has made me feel like I’ve started over again, too.