The last time I saw Jett Reynolds, we were in the pits of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team on race day at the opening round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Pala Raceway. Waiting to watch the first moto of the summer outdoor season, the 18-year-old was showing me the wrist he broke on press day of the 2022 Minneapolis Supercross at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I knew it was broke right away,” answered Reynolds when I asked about the miscue that costs him his AMA pro racing debut. “Yeah, I felt the disappointment right away. Pala is the first AMA Pro National I’ve ever been to in my life. It’s kind of crazy, you know?
A broken pelvis suffered during the off-season initially put the Californian back on his heels heading into the 2022 racing season and, according to both Reynolds and team owner and principal Mitch Payton, put too much of a rush on all things related to Reynolds’ professional debut.
“It’s a bummer, because Jett got hurt in the pre-season and so he was off for a while, then he came back and there wasn’t a lot of time to get ready,” reflected Payton. “We were kind of thinking, ‘Is Jett really ready?’ Second or third lap out at Minneapolis, he wasn’t even going fast, just cruising and maybe that is what bit him.”
A few weeks later, I called Jett who was holding station at home up in Bakersfield, California.
“I’m not doing too much,” admitted Reynolds. “My health is definitely good as of now. I’ve just been putting in the work and getting better and better. I’ve had two weeks on the bike now and literally every day is getting better and I’m feeling like myself again. It’s been tough, though. There are times where you really don’t know what to do after a little while.
“It’s going OK, though — I believe we’re going in the right direction. We do want to find success, win races and championships, and as of right now things have gotten a little bit off track. We’re going to get back on track and we’re going to do all of these things. Mitch has definitely been great. He’s been in my corner and that’s awesome.”
2022 marksthe 50th anniversary of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship — it’s a big year for all involved in the sport and a year nine-time Amateur National Motocross Championship winner Reynolds wants to get up and running.
“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you when I’ll be back to racing,” said Reynolds, trying to hide his disappointment and impatience he’s been forced to deal with in getting back up to racing speed. “I do think that we’re going to come in really prepared. I want to come into the first race and ride like I really know how to. I’ve had three and a half months off of the bike, so you definitely lose a little bit of your motor skills. I’m just going to work on getting back to being healthy and getting on the motorcycle and getting my speed up and getting back out there for those 30-plus-two-lap motos.
“I’m kind of in this little hole right now and it can’t really get any worse, so we’re climbing our way out,” he continued. “I’m working with Broc Tickle now and he’s really good at finding the positives. You know no one wants to do better and have more success than me, right? Broc’s whole thing is that he just finds the positives in every little thing. I think that’s what keeps me up and not getting so down on things so easily. I have the right people in my corner and I think they’re behind me 100 percent and I just can’t wait to show off what I have.”
Interestingly, and perhaps a bit unlike the many amateur sensations who came before him, Reynolds has not been shy in the global motocross media in saying things such as: “Hey, I’m nobody. I haven’t made it yet. I have a chance to make it, but I haven’t made it yet.”
“I mean that’s how it is, though,” declared Reynolds about turning professional. “I have not proven myself one bit in this sport on the professional level. As of now where I line up with these guys, I can’t say. All I have are nine Loretta Lynn’s titles and I’m the winningest minibike rider or whatever. I can’t do that because it doesn’t mean anything. The professional and amateur worlds are completely different and I haven’t really gotten a taste because of it. I haven’t raced yet.
“I think it’s going to be tough. If you’re watching a National on TV it might seem like it would be a long day, but if you’re at the races, it goes by fast. You go out to ride and then you get back to the truck and cool off as soon as you can and get water in you and then you’ve got to get right back up and go to the gate.
“As much as I want to do good, I also have to be realistic. I haven’t had a gate drop in almost a year. You know I’ve had all these injuries and all these months off of the bike. The first couple races I do might be a little bit tough, but I think if we just get through the first couple, I think that by the end I’ll be up there and I can really be able to see what I have. I definitely have different perspective on things now days after a couple of bad years of some injuries.”
Then there will be all those world class 250cc racers lined up behind the starting gate with names like Lawrence, Cooper, Shimoda, Mosiman and Robertson that Reynolds is going to soon be dealing with on Saturday afternoons.
“Those guys are great. I mean, I know what I can do whenever I’m on,” he said. “I think everyone is super-close. Everyone has raw speed. I feel like I could go out there and throw a hot lap down right with them. For me, I’ve got to get used to the intensity of those motos. I think that will be the toughest thing. Speed won’t be a problem. It’s just going to be hanging on for 30-plus-two motos. The jump from amateur to pro is big. In amateur racing you do what, five or six races a year?. When you’re a pro these guys are traveling every weekend. The amateur jump to pro is crazy. It seems like a whole different level. You’re always on the go. You hardly get a break. These guys are sending it. It’s what they love doing.”
So will it be worth the wait to see Reynolds at work when the time finally comes for him to power into the first turn of his premiere AMA Pro Racing National?
“Yes. Absolutely,” he declared. “I’ve been riding since I’m six years old and my dad and brother are always right there by my side. I’ve been doing this for 13 years now. It’s time to make that next step and really move forward.”