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Supercross Ace Justin Hill

Published On:: 5/4/2023

Justin Hill has railed into the premier 450 class top ten overall points – having overcome a gnarly shoulder injury and missed ’22 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season.

Just like that, at his adopted hometown race in Seattle, Team Tedder/Monster Energy’s Justin Hill railed into the premier 450 class top ten overall points – having overcome a gnarly shoulder injury and missed ’22 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season to keep pace this season on the world’s premier stadium motocross racing series.

How’d the 2017 250 WSX champ bounce back? We’ve had our eye on him here at Monster Energy HQ, and decided it was time to get the scoop.

Yeah, Justin. That’s three top ten finishes in a row – the last coming in front of your homies up in Seattle. You gotta be pumped.


Yeah, I mean, it’s nice to get up there. Relatively close to home (Oregon being Hill’s actual home). Typically, at Seattle I get to see my folks the week before. And I normally have friends and family come up. I’m pretty sure the northwest folks are excited to see us. People we grew up with, raced with forever. Bit different, this time the rig was in the back 40, where nobody could get to us, or really find us. But I was in opening ceremonies, and people seemed pretty pumped on it. Me and Josh,  (Justin’s brother and teammate at Tedder/Monster) had made history the weekend before (first brother combination to both make the top ten in a 450 main event) and the motocross community up there is so big. We had a lot of support. And overall, I’ve had some decent races. Feel like I’m kind of building a foundation this year. So far so good, according to the plan so far.


Talk a bit more about how the Team Tedder program is going. Kind of a different deal for you, seeing as how you were pretty much your own team – with your brother Josh – and flew by the seat of your pants with bike setup and what not over the years. Now you’ve got real data, from testing, to work with. All sorts of technology going on. This been helpful?


The team tedder thing is a lot of fun. And it is a little bit different. We came into it not really sure of the foundation, so we rewrote the script a little bit. We got some help from Mitch Payton at Pro Circuit with pipes, and suspension and setup help from Ross Maeda at Enzo (Racing). So we’ve done a lot of baseline stuff with the bikes. Me and Josh are a lot different than most riders in what we set up. So it was key to be able to work with Ross and the guys we know. I felt like I’ve had a pretty decent race bike for a number of rounds now. With Tedder, we have everything we need, and have plans to do even better. We’re there because we love racing, and found that it’s more of a family atmosphere than you’d see with the OEMS. And we like that a lot, which, at this point in my career, is the perfect setting. Working with Dakota (Tedder, team manager), who we know and like, is not the most difficult thing in the world. It works really well. They’ve let us write the script, which was important for me, coming back to the sport (after being injured in ’22). And Josh is really opinionated, so it was good to give him some wiggle room. (laughter). We’ve never had this much fun racing and hope to be with them through the end of my race career.


That sounds like an excellent situation for sure. More on the testing… with the new team, and the KTM 450, what have been some of the challenges getting the bike to where you want it? On paper, if you look purely at your supercross results, it looks like, with four top ten finishes in the last five races, you’re really getting it dialed. How’s that road been? And what is some of the best input you’ve given to your mechanic(s) and team officials?


Moving to the KTMs – that’s been the biggest challenge. I had a short stint on the KTMs, but we’re kind of lifer aluminum frame guys (Note: Japanese manufactured MX bikes feature aluminum frames, while KTMs use steel frames, which are more flexible.) So pushing the bike to get the most out of it is the toughest. The KTM does so many things well, but the flex was something to get used to. We didn’t have factory data, like how other guys were running it, but ultimately we learned too much by going through the hoops we went through with testing. Now I wouldn’t change it. The majority of my time developing has been on aluminum frames. But like you said, the results are showing. Baseline confidence is there. Didn’t know where I belonged in this thing. But once we got it figured out, quit thinking and started riding, I knew we had it figured out. Pretty pleased with the development standpoint this year, which we can bring with us next time. Every single race, being in or close to the top ten was my goal. Doing my best to keep that same goal, but I want more. I have a lot of speed left on the table. Keeping it all in line. Haven’t had to go to the well for the speed so much. I really felt that I’ve valued the consistency of the results this year. So I don’t want to break character.


What’s been the most difficult part of the bike to set up supercross? Suspension? Engine mapping? Bike geometry? And how’s Enzo Racing assisted with that?


Getting Ross on board was a win. He’s a busy guy, so we’re thankful he was able to make time. So I think the biggest thing is when the bike has this much flex, you don’t have as much leverage on suspension initially – if that makes sense. Softer feel compared to what we were on, if the chassis doesn’t put enough leverage on forks and shocks, we got into a position where we were yanking preload left and right. Then, once we got that in, we were able to ramp up the stiffness above and below. Bit of a learning experience for Ross as well, as he’s mainly been with Japanese bikes. If you know what to do with it, it can be a great thing. It just took us a little bit of time.



In the middle of all this is Shawn Bell, your mechanic, who you’ve called the “third Hill brother.” Was he kind of been the calm in the middle of the storm to start this season for you, and Josh?


You know, Shawn and I go way back. He as my guy during my championship year. And he’s been with Josh forever. For the time that he was there with us, it was a nice little coming home party for me. After a long layoff, to have him there the first couple months was very instrumental. He’s our guy, and we’ve always love having him around.


Getting ready for Monster Energy AMA Supercross, you guys were chasing track time all over Southern California. Places like Pala, and Team Tedder’s old stomping grounds – Lake Elsinore. Did you guys settle in on location to train during the season, or are you still bouncing around to various tracks?


We’re still bouncing around quite a bit. Josh’s home base is NC, now mine’s Oregon or Wyoming. But yeah, I was able to stay in California most of the time. Jumped to Josh’s place for couple weeks. I’m typically in the Murietta, Temecula area. It’s as close to home not home gets, right? Then we all got a house together when Josh was here. And I trained a lot with Charles Dao up at Icon (Fitness Studio in Murietta, Calif.).

So coming into this season you’d been pretty much gone from racing for two years, getting hurt prior to the start of the season last year, taking time off to be with your family for the birth of your first child the previous year. What did you do in order to get your mind and body right to go racing – at the highest level in the world – here in 2023?


I was really unsure of what I was going to do. I’d taken a year off when my daughter was born, which gave me a perspective on things that was so beneficial. I saw the sport of supercross in a different light after that. Time off when healthy, I don’t think it was good for racing. I was a 200 pound meathead when I decided to come back, and had no business being on a bike. But I credit Matt Musgrove and his MotoClimb Super Series he does. I had so much fun racing that last summer, I felt that I'm really enjoying riding again. No pressure, more of a hangout – an enthusiast type thing. I figured out I really liked riding, and racing again. And figured I could bring this attitude into supercross, and enjoy it a lot more.


Getting hurt earlier that year was tough. I had a Grade 5 shoulder injury that left me unable to pick up a gallon of milk with my left arm. But got in with Charles (Dao) and he presented a program to me which I believed in. In two months in I was feeling good, strong. And it was the first time I really felt strong. I love being in the gym, working out. Ju-Jitsu, kick boxing, cardio in general. So we addressed it and, by the time I raced Straight Rhythm, I was pretty happy where I was. When November came around, I felt even better than ever. And I credit Charles Dao with that. I’m just a caveman… just work out and do stuff to get back. Fine for a normal guy, but not to race supercross at the professional level. What Charles did for me worked. He got me to let loose a little bit more, try some new stuff, and I think my base was so much better when the season started.


How has it been, racing on the same team as your brother? And would you be putting up the results you have if he wasn’t on the team with you?


It’s hard to say how different it would be if Josh wasn’t here. He changed the direction of the bike when he got here. I really do enjoy having Josh around. There were a lot of the years spent racing that we weren’t even around each other a lot, different parts of the States… the world. So what I said earlier, about the family atmosphere at Tedder, really fits. I particularly like riding with Josh on the weekends. Our training is very different. Josh really had some shortcomings with the injuries he’s had. So during the week we can be on different sides of the gym. But on the weekend, I’m really enjoying this. Not like we’re really fighting for a spot. Both of us are really comfortable where we’re at. Show up, do our job and there’s way less worrying. But, of course, we both want to be the top guy.


What have you picked up this year, racing-wise, in terms of what’s led to faster lap times and consistent top ten finishes?


I honestly think it has a lot to do with my energy level. Me and Dakota talk about that a lot. I was working very hard preseason, and I kept training just as hard during the week. But it wasn’t making me better. So, truthfully, it was when I stopped worrying about bike setup. I couch-surfed a bit during the week, anticipated where I was going to be fitness-wise, then focused on having fun and putting the bike where it needs to be. There were times when I was unsure, but I had some indicators, and this was all new data as far as my body goes. I used to train through sickness, and that was bad for me. Now I’m much more relaxed, versus being stubborn. So the confidence would build, starting at Anaheim. Then made some pretty big changes at Oakland, some bike baseline chassis stuff. Josh did it earlier, three to four races in, when I was driving myself into the ground. So I took some time off, didn’t ride at all during the week. Then Oakland was the first day that I rode the new chassis setting. So when I finished Oakland, I was like, ‘That’s gonna be the ticket.’ It almost set me back that day, but such a leap forward beyond that day. And that really changed my approach to where I could start pushing that bike a little bit harder.


Interesting! So, there’s like six more Monster Energy AMA Supercross races. What will be your ideal way to finish out the season?


I really, really do feel like I could be a top five guy. Now that being said, it’s a really big leap from 8th and 9th to the top five for sure. You’re talking about passing a guy that’s won a race this year. A guy that’s in the top four in points. Those are the guys you’ll have to beat. But that’s kind of the beauty of racing. I do feel that if I can start up front, where normally I’m middle of the pack, lean on the recent starts where I’ve been better, put myself in a better position, and at least get close to where I’ve got a legit shot.


Are there plans for you to race the Nationals?


So, basically right now, I’ve said this a little bit under my breath, I am going to be racing World Supercross for a team I’ll announce in the coming weeks. I’m really pumped, in that I get to race supercross all year. I consider myself better indoors, the technical racing. Do that and then come back and race the Super Motocross races at the end of the year.


Right on, Justin. Thanks again for checking in. We’ll look forward to watching you hammer ‘er hard here this weekend in Arizona – and beyond.


Thanks again to everyone at Monster. Both Josh and I, along with everyone at Tedder, are stoked to have Monster on board with us for supercross. We’ve still got a lot of racing left, and we’ll work hard to continue the solid results. Look forward to seeing the Monster Army out in full force this weekend in Arizona!

In This Article:

Justin Hill