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Eli Tomac - MXoN And More

Eli Tomac - MXoN And More

May 15

  • Interview

Our good friend Eric Johnson always gets the right interviews and this time he did it again with AMA legend, Eli Tomac, who is going to miss some AMA Nationals rounds, but wants to be back to race the 2024 Monster Energy Motocross of Nations at Matterley Basin. Team USA needs you, so good news for the American challenge to the Aussies, Dutch, French and Spanish.

Eli Tomac had planned to compete in the 2024 SuperMotocross World Championship beginning with the Pro Motocross opening round in Pala, California on May 25. But a day after making that announcement, at the penultimate round of the Monster Energy Supercross in Denver, Tomac hit the dirt during free practice and landed on his thumb. The result of the small shunt was a fractured thumb that will require surgery, putting Tomac out of action for six to eight weeks. It’s hoped he will be able to return for the Southwick National on June 29.

“It was just in free practice there in Denver and I just tipped over and I must have just landed on it wrong and with the weight of my body on it and it tore my ligament. I also actually even fractured a piece of my thumb, so it was kind of wild,” he said.

“What was interesting about it is that I did a quick X-ray at Alpinestars at the track,” the four-time Pro Motocross 450MX champion continued. “This was right after the fact. I guess we missed it or didn’t have the correct angle, so I thought it was just kind of a jam or a sprain. It obviously hurt, but I was like, ‘Well, I can just try and get through this.’ I did get through the main event, but I crashed and that was actually because my hand gave out. At that point I didn’t really know what was up and said, ‘Well, I’ll give it a couple days here and see.’ It never got better, and I knew I had to get a real MRI on the thumb. Sure enough, there was some bad news with the thumb.”

A race winner and six-time podium finisher in the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Series, Tomac believed his was building speed, confidence and momentum heading towards the opening phase of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship.

“I feel like my results have been a little bit up and down this season, but overall, I felt like I was coming around,” he said. “My speed was pretty good most of the time. I was good in qualifying. I had one main event win this season and a handful of second-place finishes. For it being a comeback season from a big Achilles tendon injury, I was feeling pretty good, and I was getting stronger. It was just unfortunate timing for this to happen. I was just enjoying the moment and enjoying the racing and it’s still what I love to do. Stuff like this is a bummer, but I guess it’s a part of racing, you know?”

So once again, Tomac, as a result of thumb surgery and the healing process that will follow, will be forced to watch the motocross world go on without him.

“I’m getting this fixed-on Monday. That’s as soon as they could get me in to fix this thumb issue. I guess the only positive outlook to all of this is but won’t be as long of a recovery as say my Achillis or my shoulder injuries,” he said. “They said that I have to have pins in for six weeks and then they pull it and then basically you just have to let the wound heal. That’s when I can get back to riding. I envision myself back in two months or somewhere along that timeframe and that puts me somewhere in the middle of the motocross season, If I can get a few of those rounds in and then really be strong for the SMX, that would be another successful comeback in my eyes.”

Undaunted by this latest setback, Tomac is focusing on the fact that all is not lost for the year.

“Yes. That’s the good thing,” he stressed. “I’m not out the whole year and I’ve got something to go for, you know? And that’s just trying to get back healthy, and I know I can get back to racing before we round out the year. Of course, I wanted more, and I wanted to be closer to the championship run, but at the same time, I have to have realistic expectations from what I came back from. I would consider it solid up to this point with a win in there. That was my goal number one in coming back from my Achilles injury and I accomplished that.”

What did Tomac make of the sensational Jett Larence, as well as the other top racers he faced off against in the NFL football and MLB baseball stadiums of the United States all winter long?

“It was very competitive, and Jett is the newcomer right now,” said Tomac. “He’s the guy. Cooper Webb made a bike switch and he’s on my team on Star Yamaha. There was newness to the season, and it seems like every year that there is always another level that you have to step up to. That’s the evolution of racing and I felt like we were able to step up in some parts, but there are other things that we definitely have to work on to catch up to those new guys.”

Fourteen years ago, rookie Tomac won the first AMA Pro Racing event he competed in at Hangtown in Northern California. Since then there were more than a few ups-and-downs for Tomac, but he continued to build his fan base. Nowhere was that more evident than the ’24 Monster Energy Supercross Series where legions of fans cheered him on.

“I have noticed that with the fans and it’s so cool to see,” said an appreciative Tomac. “I feel like the sport, as a whole, is growing. The stadiums seem like they’re more packed. Our autograph lines have been ginormous this year. Unfortunately, people have to get cut off because there are so many fans in the lines. The support for myself and the sport has just been fantastic.

“Obviously, it helps when you get good results and all that, but yeah, it’s just pretty hard to believe when you’re in my shoes and you see all these people wearing your T-shirt and hats and merchandise, but it’s so awesome. I want to leave a good example for the kids and anyone watching the sport, so yeah, I am just grateful for it all.”

2024 marks Eli Tomac’s third year with the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing organization. The relationship between the veteran and the entire Yamaha contingent has been both positive for both sides.

“It has been a great fit for us. Right off the bat in 2022, we really came out swinging,” Tomac noted. “We basically did the best that we could. We won both championships there. In 2023 we should have had the Supercross championship locked up, but that’s when I injured my ankle. Overall, it has been an outstanding team.

“You know, if you would have asked me when I started my career if I would have been second place on the All-Time Supercross career win list with 52 wins, I would have said, ‘Well, that’s a lofty goal.’ You look at some of those names on that list and it is amazing, but I have achieved that, so it has been so good. I’m really grateful that I’ve made it in the sport to the age of 30 and I’m still at a high level. Man, winning 450 championships, that’s the number one thing and I’ve been able to accomplish that.”

And what of the approaching 2024 Motocross of Nations poised for the sprawling Matterley Basin circuit in the UK this October? If he’s healed up and up to speed, would Tomac like to represent Team USA at the storied event that has been running annually since 1947?

“Oh yeah,” Tomac answered, “If I’m in the position to race it and I’m top two in those Open or 450 class, yeah, sign me up. It’s a race like no other, you know? There is no environment like it.

“But right now, yeah, I’ve got to keep myself in shape, so it’s not like I’m out six months this time. I’m out for a couple of months, so I’ll be cross training and hanging out with my family as much as I can and really just trying to get ready for the later part of summer of racing. Although I don’t have this under contract yet, that’s what I want to try and do. Right now, that’s my mindset and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen.”

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