In our sport, it’s not often that you see a rider return to a race team, but in 2013 the JGR Yamaha squad consists of two alumni: Josh Grant and Justin Brayton. For Grant, his previous time with the North Carolina-based team holds many great memories, as it is there that he enjoyed all of his 450-class success. After three years away, JG is excited to be back with Coach, Coy, and J-Bone; and he hopes to pick up where he left off with the team: winning.
This is your third team in three years, but you’re back in familiar surroundings. Are you excited to be back with the team that you had the most success with?
Yeah, definitely. Some of the best moments that I’ve had in my life and career have been with the JGR guys. So I’m pretty excited about it. It felt like home the first time I walked back into the race shop, and it will be an easy transition. Hell, maybe there won’t be any transition at all.
You are arguably one of the most talented riders in our sport, but you struggled with injury upon injury. Was there ever a time where you felt timid because you didn’t want to crash and get hurt again?
No, because I pretty much knew that I didn’t need those thoughts in my head. Once you start thinking about that, you tend to actually crash more. I just wanted to focus on what I was doing. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of our sport and everyone realizes that. For me, I had to lot to lose if I didn’t do well, and a lot to gain if I did. So the risk was worth it.
How pleased are you with 2012? It was a rebuilding year, of sorts...
I’m pretty happy with it, but at the same time, I kind of knew where I stood. To begin with, I didn’t have a lot of time on the bike. I had only started riding that bike a few weeks before Anaheim I. So I kind of was just thrown into the mix. After only racing a couple of rounds, I was landed on at the Los Angeles Supercross race, and I ended missing a few rounds because of it. When I came back, I just kept telling myself to keep plugging away, even though I wasn’t doing that great. I was stoked, however, that I got a few good races in there.
Are you going to be 100 percent come Anaheim I? You’ve had some time on this bike, and this deal didn’t come together last minute like the Jeff Ward Racing team.
I definitely feel a lot more prepared than last year. I’ve had a couple of months on my new bike, and I’ve also been training a lot. However, I don’t think I’m at 100 percent yet. There’s still more to gain by getting into that race pace. I think I can still build myself to be stronger, but I probably won’t have a chance to do that until the next off-season. So hopefully I can have a good, solid year, and we can start building from there.
You’re a SoCal kid, born and raised. How hard is it for you to go back to North Carolina? Is it way different for you?
Not really. If you think about it, I’ve been on my own since I was 16, and I’ve been traveling the whole time. So I think that it becomes easy to get used to changes like that. I do miss my Southern California home, but that might change here in a little.
I know when JGR first started, they required their riders to live and train there...
They’re not pushing that idea that hard anymore. The only thing is, the weather isn’t that great over there. It rains, it’s cold, and it’s hard to get a lot of riding in during the winter. For me, it just makes more sense to be at home because I can help take care of Wyatt, but I’m open to going out there to test or whatever else I need to do.
How has being a dad changed your attitude at the races?
One thing that being a dad has changed is that it’s not about me anymore. I really want Wyatt to be proud of his dad. So that allows me to set goals, and that leads to the good feeling of accomplishing them. Wyatt is definitely a big part of that.
Do you ever trip out that you’re one of the top guys out there now? You used to be this little squid out at REM who wore his gear to the track.
[Laughs] I mean, I wouldn’t have called myself a “squid” because I was doing laps around a lot of those guys out there! Yeah, it is crazy, though. I know that I have the speed, and that I can win, but it’s crazy to really think about how things turned out. When I was an amateur, the guys that I thought were fast, they aren’t really doing anything in the pros. That’s what’s crazy.
You have a lot of changes in your program for 2013, but you are still with the crazy Aussies...
Definitely! Unit is a big part of my program, and they have done a lot for me over the past year. That is one of those relationships that I want to keep for a very long time. I’m also still with Shoei. Other than that, I’m wearing Thor gear now, which I’m really stoked about because I don’t have to worry about my pants falling off.
I heard Unit is going to make another bathtub T-shirt, but this time it’s full of Cocoa Puffs and your wife Ashley is the model...
[Laughs] I think we’re still deciding on what kind of cereal we’re going to use. She wants it to be Cinnamon Toast Crunch [laughs].
It looks like your son Wyatt is a moto kid, through and through. How do you feel about him racing?
It’s kind of scary, but at the same time, I’m here for him. Whatever he wants to do, I’m going to back him up all the way. I actually don’t want to see him go through all of the struggles that I know come with racing, but if he really wants to do it, I’ll be right next to him helping him out. When I was growing up, I never really got the chance to be a kid. So our plan for Wyatt is to just have him go to school and play baseball or something. I just really want to be a dad for him.