AURORA, Ill. (January 2, 2002) - Seven-time supercross champion Jeremy McGrath today announced his retirement from supercross racing at a press conference in Anaheim, Calif., at Edison International Field.
After winning 72 250cc main events and taking supercross into the main stream, McGrath, 31, made the official announcement to a room full of motocross industry members and a host of media inside Edison International Field's Diamond Club. McGrath's storybook career places him at the top of the leader list for a host of records, including all-time wins and career championships.
While McGrath has hung up his helmet, he will remain active on the supercross scene, working with Clear Channel Entertainment and his sponsors throughout the season.
"After injuring my hip before the season, I started to evaluate my career and decided it was time to retire," said McGrath. "This is a very difficult decision but the right one ...I have had a lot of people support me throughout my career, but most importantly my first sponsor, my parents."
"To measure what Jeremy has meant to the sport of supercross you only need to look at the number of people in the stands, the length of the lines at his autograph sessions, the roar of the audience when he is introduced, and the incredible strobe of flashbulbs during his hot laps," said Charlie Mancuso, president, Clear Channel Entertainment - Motor Sports. "He has the looks of a movie star, the charisma of a rock star and he is humble and accessible unlike most world class athletes. The records he set in supercross pale in comparison to the impact he had on the motorcycle industry. Those of us that know him are privileged; he is so much more than the greatest racer ever."
Dave Coombs, Racer X Illustrated, editor in chief, on Jeremy McGrath: "The record book shows Jeremy McGrath at the top of almost every category: 89 career wins; 72 supercross main event wins; eight major titles; 13 main event wins in a row; 17 total race wins in a row; 15 wins and a pair of supercross titles in the 125 class.
"Obviously, his record speaks for itself. But it will be years before we can fully appreciate his contributions to the sport and what he really meant to supercross. Jeremy ushered in a new era of popularity and professionalism in supercross. His technique, his charisma, his everything has made the sport better, stronger and faster. There is no way one could oversell what he's meant to supercross directly and the industry in general. Jeremy McGrath is Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, all rolled into one.
"When he was coming up through the ranks, Jeremy's nickname was "Showtime," which matched both his style and his personality. It was the industry - the media, the fans, his friends and his competitors - that changed it to the "King of Supercross." Because if anyone ever deserved a nickname of royal origins, it's Jeremy McGrath.
"He even changed the way supercross was actually ridden. Coming from a BMX background, he incorporated those low-jumping techniques into his approach. This revolutionary style saw him dominate the sport for almost a decade before the next generation of riders - all of them employing some of his trademark technique - finally started to catch up.
"Jeremy McGrath was also the single most influential person in the freestyle motocross movement. His signature nac-nac trick, another BMX-inspired move, ushered in the video and contest era. And his remarkable ability to whip the bike around in the air thrilled supercross fans all over the world. Whether it was the parade lap, the first lap or the last lap of a race, everyone was watching Jeremy to see what he would do next.
"His success on the track was matched by his charisma off it. He brought a new era of professionalism to our sport by breaking into the mainstream almost single-handedly. When fans look out across the pits at all of the big rigs with outside sponsors and long lines of fans waiting to get autographs, the TV trucks and the mainstream media, and know that the first time most of them ever heard about supercross, it was because of Jeremy McGrath. It is impossible to quantify what the supercross tour owes Jeremy McGrath."
When asked if McGrath would ever make a return to racing to retain his national number, he said: "I think everybody knows my number."