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Jonah Smith thrilled to pass on knowledge to young motocross generation

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Jonah Smith passes on his knowledge to youth riders at Bermuda Motorsports Park yesterday (Photograph supplied)

Jonah Smith is passionate about sharing his knowledge with up-and-coming motocross riders as he competes in a sport that has formed an integral part of his life.

With his career presently on hold, the 25-year-old professional has taken the opportunity to fulfil an ambition by giving back to the sport and grooming the next generation of riders at Bermuda Motorsports Park in Southside, St David’s.

“I have always wanted to give something back to the youth,” Smith told The Royal Gazette.

“It’s actually fun coaching them and even if I was racing I would still try to do it. I’d rather coach besides anything else that I do work-wise.”

While coaching has taken top priority for the time being, Smith has not ruled out making a return to overseas competition.

“If the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely take it,” he said. “But right now I am focused on training the youth until I get my career where I want it to be, and then I’ll start riding and training again to start going back overseas. But it is definitely the plan to go back racing before I’m 30.”

Smith turned professional in 2017 and has since been afforded the opportunity of showcasing his talents in the United States and the Middle East, but the transition was not the proverbial bed of roses as the Bermudian struggled to make the necessary adjustments at that level.

“It definitely opens your eyes,” he said. “Competition-wise coming from Bermuda, you go to the States thinking that you are good and you’ve been winning. But then you go to the States and you’re back of the pack and getting lapped, so it’s definitely an eye-opener speed-wise and talent-wise in the United States.

“You would have to be out there full time to actually make anything of yourself in motocross. Nine times out of ten there’s going to be at least ten people in every race that’s going to be faster or your speed at least.”

Obtaining sponsorship to support his passion has also been an ongoing struggle for Smith.

Jonah Smith and fellow professional motocross rider Denver Rigsby coaching youngsters at Bermuda Motorsports Park yesterday (Photograph supplied)

“The biggest obstacle has been the financial part of getting the equipment,“ he said. ”I was always on stock equipment that you buy out of the shop, so that was the biggest disadvantage.“

Smith has been competing in the sport since age of five and spent years establishing himself on the domestic scene before turning professional.

“Since I was a kid this is the only thing I have done, so it’s just like a habit at this point,” he said. “I like the adrenalin rush and when you’re riding you just keep going until you run out of gas.”

“The way it works is you do the amateur scene and once you get enough points you can apply for your pro licence, so I applied and got my licence,” he explained.

“But at the time I ran out of finances so I never really got to use it. I have done one race a year in the last three years overseas. I did Mini-O’s in Florida last year and raced in the Dubai Motocross Championship in Dubai at the beginning of this year, but right now I am off the racing scene.”

Local fans will get the opportunity to see Smith in action in the Expert class during the final round of the Bermuda Motocross Association’s Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Trophy Race Series at Southside on Sunday.

“Hopefully I win, but we’ll see,” he said. “We have overseas rider Denver Rigsby here so we’ll see. Everybody is going to have their hands full.”

Smith opted not to compete in the unfavourable wet and muddy conditions on Boxing Day, which saw all but three races completed.

“It was a little too muddy to race and I don’t have good experience with mud races,” he said.

Smith has his work cut out competing against American Rigsby, who is making his debut on the island and is looking forward to the experience.

“I am ready to ride and it’s going to be fun,” Rigsby said. “The track is lot like what I rode back at home. The compactness of the track and how everything is close together looks really fun.”

Rigsby also missed the Boxing Day event as his arrival was delayed due to a winter storm that buried his native Indianapolis under nearly two inches of snow but the American wasted no time familiarising himself with the local motocross scene upon his arrival.

“I was a little bummed the flight got cancelled,” he said. I went straight to the track from the airport to help Jonah teach the children,” he said.

“The island is beautiful and there is so much scenery. It’s a lot better than corn fields.”

Rigsby is among an overseas contingent of riders competing in the series which also includes Brazilian siblings Kayky and Kevin De Pinho and Dutchman Willem Vermeulen, with racing starting at noon on New Year’s Day.

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Published January 01, 2023 at 10:34 pm (Updated January 01, 2023 at 10:34 pm)

Jonah Smith thrilled to pass on knowledge to young motocross generation

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