Photos and Words by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
The year 2016 was a wild one for Josh Grant. From finding himself in a non-ideal situation without a ride to start the year, to buying a Suzuki and making the trek out to Daytona as a privateer to finish a very impressive off-the-couch seventh place, then eventually signing with Monster Energy Kawasaki and rebuilding his body via ankle surgeries mid-summer to prep for the new year. To say JG is in a better place than last December would be an understatement, and we caught up with the always stylish rider to chat about things as we near Anaheim One…
So you and the Monster Energy Kawasaki team just wrapped up another day of pre-season prep. Another solid Tuesday in the office for you?
Yeah, and my schedule is usually a little different but we kind of got cut a little short this week. We have a Kawasaki Christmas party to go to, so normally what I did today I would do on Wednesday, but yeah we're here getting ready for the season to start.
So you and Eli were putting down motos, and then McGrath joined in on the fun a little bit for some practice starts with you guys. Talk about his role as brand ambassador and how he can be of aid to the team.
Yeah, Jeremy is a brand ambassador for Kawasaki but we kind of took a step back and were like, "What can he help us with that we struggled with last year?" Especially me at the end of the year because I only got to do five races – but it was being consistent on starts, you know? Jeremy was a guy that always started up front, so to have his knowledge and have him helping at the track helping Eli and I work on some techniques and just different things we might not think about – it was good to have his input. So he's going to come out here and try to get those starts dialed in so we can put ourselves in a better position come race time.
So people know you had your double ankle surgeries and had been recovering, but you've been back for a little now correct?
Yeah, I mean I came back a little early on the ankle side. I was supposed to be a good 5-6 months off the bike and I came back right at 5 months. I was a little early, but I had passed all the tests the doctor put me through and completed what he needed to clear me. I just worked so hard to get as much done as timely as possible because we only have so much time to get ready for Anaheim and I just wanted to use all of it as much as I could. I feel good. I've been on the bike, well I wouldn't even count the first two weeks because I would ride once or twice and be so sore I couldn't really even do anything. I'd get out of bed and I couldn't even stand on my feet, it was like pins and needles. I'd say like a good 8 weeks on the bike, so for me two months and to be on the pace with the guys that I want to race with I feel good about that. Eli and I are out here at the track, pretty much doing the same lap times, and anywhere else I go with any other track I'm right there with the fast guys. That's been my goal, and as long as I can keep that up I'll be happy.
One big off-season change for you is gear is your FLY Racing gear sponsor, talk about that a little bit!
Yeah, I linked up with the Western Power Sports crew, Max over there at FLY. It was a little sticky situation with how things ended with Shift, but you know some things you just can't control and moving forward I'm happy to be with a company like FLY that has a huge presence in moto. Not only that, the guys are all just really cool to be around. So I'm looking forward to the partnership they put together with me and hopefully we can put some good finishes together and make it visible!
I guess other than prepping for Anaheim you've got two little boys that are riding now right? What's it like to be a professional racer and also a full-time moto dad?
Well I've been coming to the track almost every day throughout the week and then on the weekends Wyatt's wanted to race lately. So it's kind of like the monster I've created [laughs] but he's been having fun and he's wanted to do it so I can't say no. So even on the weekends we've been at the track – full track life now! Yeah, I'm looking forward to helping him out and just kind of guiding him in the right ways so he can have fun!
So I'm picturing you racing Anaheim – 450 Main Event – and then waking up early Sunday to take Wyatt to a race. Full-time dad stuff.
It's probably going to happen, yeah. [Laughs] Because he's going to go to the race, unless he stays up super late eating pizza and drinking Sprite! You know what I mean, I other than that I think I'll be there on Sunday morning!
I saw a clip (above) of his start you posted on Instagram, he did pretty well!
Yeah that was pretty serious! First time on a concrete start and I thought for sure he was going to spin out, but he held it together and took his time like I told him and he just greased it up. That was his first time on a gate drop, because Day in the Dirt was just a flag start like "alright, wave, go…" but that was his first actual gate drop.
Didn't he almost holeshot everyone?
Well he holeshotted his buddy Robbie that was next to him, but he was also up against some 80cc kids and he got them off the gate but they ripped around him in the turn!
It has to be crazy seeing yourself in them as they get older, especially riding and racing.
Yeah, I see some similarities and whatnot and to see it happen right in front of you is pretty cool. It's an experience that I haven't been able to see yet, and that's what life is all about.
For sure. So you'll just be on the grind until Anaheim then?
Yeah, just three weeks away. I've got another solid week of doing some work, and obviously leading into the last couple weeks before the race it's pretty mellow. With Christmas coming up we just try to spend as much time with the family, because we're going to be traveling and getting on the road here soon.
Follow Josh on Instagram: @joshgrant33