Photo by: Glory Hog – Interview by: Chase Yocom
The 2014 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship series, is nearing the end, and like a lot of years, new privateer faces have made their way into the show in each of the 250SX Regional Championships. While the top tier of the sport is worried about who they’ll ride for and how many podiums and wins—and even possibly Championships—they’ll earn, there is a whole forgotten group of privateers simply living their dream week in and week out with their love of the game.
Justin Freund from Desota, Missouri is one of those guys, and in 2014, the Surdyke Yamaha/JM Suspension rider has taken that dream to a whole new level during the 250SX Eastern Regional Championship. After missing the show at the first two rounds, Justin made the show in Indianapolis and has been a regular ever since. Even better, the #659 lived one of his lifelong dreams when he made his first-ever main event at the Detroit SX. Overall, he has just one point so far in 2014, but with Justin preferring outdoor motocross, that tally could grow over the summer.
After the St. Louis SX, Chase Yocom caught up with Justin in his pits and talked to him about his run at SX in 2014. You can read Chase’s interview with Justin below.
We’re here with Justin Freund. What’s going on, man?
I thought it was going to be a good end to the year. In the heat race, I got an awesome start, got bounced around a little bit on the first lap and ended up missing it by one spot, but that was alright. I came into the LCQ with a good gate pick and came around the first corner—some guys got squirrelly; I didn’t do one of the jumps. It was just carnage, and the kid behind me did it and just landed on me. I don’t think anything’s broken, but I’m really sore.
What did you think about the track tonight? Looked like it was technical, and the dirt looked good.
Some spots were slick—like the whoops were really slick—and that’s why so many guys were having problems with them. It was a tough section for sure, and other than that, it wasn’t too bad. But yeah, it was a tough track for sure.
Not a lot of people know much about the privateers in the sport. Can you tell us a little about yourself? When did you start riding?
I started riding when I was like five years old, and literally my entire life, I’ve been an outdoors guy. I never did any fair races or arenacrosses or anything like that. I’m just a lot better outdoors. Finally, this year I said, “I’m going to give it a serious go” and went down to Florida for like a month and rode a lot. I ended up breaking my wrist and knocking out some teeth right before I came home, so the first couple rounds I was a little rusty. I haven’t been on the bike much. I missed the first two rounds, I never felt good, didn’t get into the show and missed it by about ten spots both times. Then at Indy, it was a lot better—really tough track—and I actually liked it. That helped a lot, and I got into the show there but didn’t do anything special. Then I got into the show the next weekend in Daytona—it was a really outdoorsy track so I liked it a lot—and I ended up holeshotting the LCQ and getting shoved off the track. Each weekend since then, I’ve been progressing a lot, and it’s really cool to see the progression. When you put in all the work, it’s nice to see it pay off in a short amount of time, from the first round to Detroit where I made the main. That was the highlight of the season.
I heard that you were on a different bike heading into the season and made the switch to the Yamaha. What was the story behind the switch?
Yeah, I was riding KTMs, and after Thanksgiving, we were having some transmission problems, and a lot of guys were having the same problem. So we talked to my sponsor, and he carried Yamahas too, and everyone we talked to said the Yamaha was a great bike. I didn’t even try it, just went and got one, went to am SX track and started practicing. I really like it and was surprised. I was really leery of the whole new engine design, but I fell in love with it right away, and so far so good.
You’ve been pulling holeshots on a stock motor. That’s pretty sick.
Yeah, my buddy Russ and my buddy Jake, it’s just one of those things where at first I wasn’t practicing my starts because I wasn’t getting into the show—there’s no point. Then I really started working on them and, I don’t know, I don’t know how it happens, definitely a lot of confidence. Like today, I was sitting on the line for my heat and something clicked, and I was like “I’m gonna get this holeshot.” And I was about the second one into the corner. It was cool for sure.
I heard you were ending your season here in St. Louis. Is this just the last SX you’re doing in ’14?
No, I don’t think I’m going to do New Jersey. We’re kind of going back and forth, but I’m just anxious to get riding outdoors. That’s probably what I’ll do, and now after tonight, it’s questionable whether my wrist is broke and my pelvis is pretty messed up, so that’ll probably put me out for New Jersey. I’ll come out swinging for the outdoors. I’d really like to do the whole series.
Where do you see yourself finishing outdoors, or what are your goals?
Realistically, my goal is to make the motos. Last year, I made two rounds, and that was a dream come true, because I’m an outdoors guy. So, as of now, we’ll probably load up the van and try to head out to Glen Helen, do the first few and see where we’re at. If it’s looking good, keep hitting them all. If not, we’ll pick and choose which ones we do and figure what we need to work on to improve.
Well, we appreciate your time, Justin. I’m sure there are some people that help you live the dream. Who would you like to thank?
Yeah, Surdyke Yamaha, he’s helping me out a lot. He was real nice about the switch from the KTM; he understood and is helping me out. And my mom and dad, they’ve been there since the beginning, so I can’t thank them enough. JM from JM Suspension who does my suspension. He’s been around the pro scene for a while, so he gives me a lot of advice. That’s really cool, and he helps me out every week. I’d also like to thank FMF. That’s literally the only thing I’ve had done to my bike besides the suspension, and it’s apparently working good. O’Neal too, they have some awesome gear this year, and it holds up really good. My buddy Paul from Paul’s Paint and Body, he helps me out throughout the week and actually gave me a job for a little bit. RynoPower supplements, that’s something new for me this year. I started training a lot harder and figured I might as well take it to the next level. 6D, I can’t say enough about them. I started working with them this year, and I’ve hit my head a couple times really hard. I’m bad about getting concussions, and the 6D helmet has kept me from getting concussions And, my girlfriend Cindy—her and her whole family. They help me out. Her brother works on my bikes, and her dad helps me get parts sometimes. Anyone else, if I forgot you, I’m sorry, but I appreciate all the help.