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Wide Open: A Life in Supercross

Wide Open: A Life in Supercross

by Jeremy McGrath, Chris Palmer

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Jeremy McGrath has been called 'the Michael Jordan of Supercross' by the Los Angeles Times, and in this revealing autobiography fans not only get his personal story, but also a detailed guide on how everyone can become a Supercross racer.

The No 1 Supercross racer in the world – who has over 20 sponsors, his own film company, a toy line, Nintendo and


Jeremy McGrath has been called 'the Michael Jordan of Supercross' by the Los Angeles Times, and in this revealing autobiography fans not only get his personal story, but also a detailed guide on how everyone can become a Supercross racer.

The No 1 Supercross racer in the world – who has over 20 sponsors, his own film company, a toy line, Nintendo and Playstation games, and a signature shoe by Vans – talks about his life and the sport. Supercross started out as a redneck '70s sideshow, but thanks largely to Jeremy McGrath it has become a massive extreme sport. Over the last three years, AMA Supercross attendance has mushroomed from 700,000 spectators a year to 1.5 million. This book will satisfy even the most hardcore fans, as it not only gives you the life and times of Jeremy McGrath, but acts as the calling card to the entire sport by including unique sections on how to become a Supercross racer, the workout regimes, fixing common bike problems, and more.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this gossipy, spiteful memoir, champion Supercross motorcycle racer McGrath wastes no opportunity to settle scores and gloat over vanquished enemies. Targets include his former Yamaha sponsors ("how quickly people can turn their back on you"), Supercross rivals Damon Bradshaw ("failed to win a single pro championship") and Jeff Emig ("always felt he was above everyone else") and "spoiled diva" actress Alyssa Milano ("she was a little bit out of shape and her butt was kind of big.") The nursing of resentments gives some energy and focus to an otherwise slack, anecdotal recounting of McGrath's aimless off-track existence as it meanders from his party-hearty bachelorhood, to his tense but dull courtship of his wife, to the furnishing of his home ("[I] rubbed my knees on each individual carpet sample page to simulate lying on the floor watching TV.") McGrath's account of his on-track career is preoccupied with the minutiae of sponsorship and endorsement deals and a catalogue of his record-setting accomplishments, but it occasionally includes revealing material on racing strategy and the exploitation of riders by promoters. Advice sidebars on topics like motorcycle maintenance ("modestly apply oil to filter, then gently massage in") and career-building ("you need [parents] to supplement your paper-route money and take you to the races") may be of interest to young Supercross wannabes, who will be further inspired by the countless photos of McGrath and motorcycle soaring through the air. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Wide Open
A Life in Supercross


This is what motocrossers do when no one is looking. This is what we do in the dry air, the dusty wind, and the unforgiving sun. We ride. A Supercross race is merely a snapshot of my life. A clip. A highlight. What I do when the world is watching. It's my reason for being, yes. But between those races is where life happens. And a huge part of my life is preparation.

That's why my longtime mechanic and friend, Skip Norfolk, and I were at the KTM practice track in Corona, California, on that warm, sunny, dusty day the twenty-first of September 2002. I had just signed with KTM after five years on a Yamaha. Riding a brand-new bike is like getting to know a complete stranger. If you don't know anything about that person you have to ask. I ask by riding. Again and again and again.

How does it handle in the corners? How broad is the power delivery? Do I feel comfortable thirty feet in the air? Is this bike faster than Ricky's? And about a thousand other things I have to know before I pull up to the starting gate under the lights of Edison International Field in Anaheim for round one of the AMA Supercross Series in January.

I had already put over fourteen hours on the new bike over the past two weeks and was beginning to feel pretty comfortable on it. Skip and I had wrapped up another five-hour session and were close to having the bike completely dialed. He gives the rear suspension a couple of clicks, documents the day's findings in his logbook, and loads up the truck.

"I'd better take it out for one more quick spin," I gladly tell Skip. Staying late at the track was nothing new for us. For the better part of the last thirteen years we've spent countless hours going over an infinite number of suspension and carburation settings. Besides, you never know exactly how long it'll take to work the kinks out of a motorcycle, so Skip gave the thumbs up so we'd have a jump on tomorrow's testing. "Just two more laps, Skip."

Skip flicks his stopwatch and I blast down the first straightaway. I guide the bike in and out of a tight hairpin, as easily as I would point and click a mouse, then shoot for a sixty-foot triple jump. With a blip of the throttle in second gear, I'm sent thirty-five feet into the lower atmosphere. I like the view from up here. I've seen it many times in my thirteen-year career. So good I take my right foot off the footpeg and swing it over the bike behind me like I'm going to dismount my KTM in midair. The nac-nac. Been doing it that way before there was anything called the X Games.

Upon returning to earth, I grab a handful of brake, but not too much, snake in and out of another turn, then head for a tricky rhythm section -- the meat and potatoes of a Supercross course-- made up of a small triple, another triple, and a big double. Negotiating a 200-pound motorcycle with a hair-trigger temper through a technical section like this requires upper body strength, a gymnast's balance, and the precision of a scalpel-wielding surgeon. Now do that at full speed. One mistake and you'll actually need a surgeon.

I smoothly pogo the first triple, gas it, hit the second triple, then more gas before the double. But there's a bit of a problem. As I come off the second triple jump, my bike bogs down. The high-pitched scream of the 250 two-stroke motor is reduced to a suffocated low rumble as it starves for gas. This is never a good sound.

I've built up too much momentum to avoid the double, so I hit it as planned -- bogged out engine and all. The idea is to land smoothly down the backside of the landing jump. But it isn't going to happen. The bike dies. With my KTM gasping and choking, it takes an unwanted nosedive, ejecting me over the handlebars. I'm sailing through the air without my bike, praying for a soft landing I know isn't coming. Luckily, I've got my feet out in front of me. I land on the face of the landing jump almost as if I've jumped out of a window. Unfortunately, that window was three stories high. It isn't really a bad crash. At least it doesn't look that way. Even though I land on my feet, I hit with such force that my body folds completely over like I'm trying to touch my toes-- with the back of my neck.

The human body can only bend so far forward before unnatural things begin to happen. In my case, the top of my right femur pops out of my hipbone, tearing away the ligaments and muscles that were holding it in place, and shoots out of the back of my right ass cheek. Regardless of what kind of pain you've dealt with in your life, a dislocated hip will make you cry.

I've crashed plenty in my career, suffered a broken wrist here, a broken leg there. I've been knocked unconscious, had double vision for six weeks, and nearly had my ribcage crushed. (And I've had it pretty good.) But I was thirty years old and now I knew the meaning of agony. My leg was paralyzed with pain. It shot up my back and through all my extremities. I laid there on the track in a fetal position-- because I couldn't straighten out my legs -- while Skip came rushing over ...

Wide Open
A Life in Supercross
. Copyright © by Jeremy McGrath. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Jeremy McGrath is the most successful rider in Supercross history, with a record twelve major championship titles: seven 250 Supercross championships, two 125s, one Outdoor, and two FIM World Supercross Championships. Jeremy retired from the sport he passionately referred to as his "lifestyle" for more than half of his life in January 2003, and currently resides in southern California.

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