BOB HANNAH’S MOST FAMOUS INTERVIEW: IS IT JUST AS TRUE TODAY AS IT WAS A DECADE AGO?
ÿÿÿ This story was written back in 2000. We have included it below for those who want to hear Bob Hannah’s unvarnished truth. It is “funny, scathing and absolutely true”…only the names have changed.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE YOUNGER GENERATION BY BOB HANNAH
This generation can bust moves that ten years ago were considered impossible, superhuman or suicidal, but something is missing. Everybody can see it. It’s the sport’s worst-kept secret. The buzz is that the new generation of motocross stars is lacking in heart, determination and physical fitness.
There was a time, ten years ago to be exact, when being the toughest, hardest-charging, fittest rider on the track was the red badge of courage. Riders like Jeff Ward, David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Rick Johnson, Broc Glover, Mark Barnett and Bob Hannah prided themselves on their ability to turn the last lap as fast as the first. They prayed for 100-degree weather, high humidity, long motos and deep sand whoops.
What about this generation?
The MXA wrecking crew asked Bob Hannah to tell us what’s wrong with the current crop of MXers. And he should know. After his amazing career came to an end, Bob spent the next decade working with the stars of today at Team Suzuki and Team Yamaha.
NOW YOU’VE MADE ME MAD
ÿÿ “Are you sure you want to ask me this? You’re not going to like the answer,” said Bob. “If you really want me to answer it, though, I will. Did you see the Daytona Supercross? It was a weak and embarrassing moment for motocross. There was only one worthy guy there. That was McGrath. And the rest of them? Excuse me, I take that back. LaRocco. For who he is, he did a good job. That guy is in shape and he charged the whole time. He is just not on top of it anymore. McGrath was excellent as always. The rest of the field ought to be embarrassed.
ÿÿ “You should talk to Roger DeCoster. I asked him once, ‘Roger, am I being too critical?’ and he said, ‘They gag me.’ Pichon told his mechanic that he didn’t think he should ride the main because he was so tired from riding the six-lap qualifier. Now, you tell me? Call and get a quote from them. It boils down not to money or talent, but heart. And if you don’t have it in your heart, you’re a loser. I’ve always said that. The only reason I won was because I had heart. That’s it. I wanted to whip them. Now these guys, they don’t have in their whole body what McGrath has in his little finger. It is great for McGrath, because he’s just going to kick them a while longer.”
HANNAH ON GREATNESS
ÿÿÿ “Jeremy is undoubtedly the greatest Supercross rider there ever has been and probably ever will be. He picked a good time to win, because he’s racing against a bunch of morons (not to take anything away from him). Johnson, Stanton, Bailey and myself on our best day couldn’t beat Jeremy in Supercross. I’ll bet 10 grand nobody can beat his record in the next ten years. If I find somebody who wants that bet, I’ll put the money in escrow. I don’t think it’ll happen. McGrath has more wins than Rick Johnson and me put together, and I know how hard it was for me to get what I got. I’ll bet Johnson will tell you it was hard to get what he got. To win twice as many? I don’t care who you are, you worked hard for that. But, it is a weak field out there.”
HANNAH ON BEING ASHAMED
ÿÿ “It is embarrassing to me to see these guys ride. If that is all they have to offer, they need to go home. I feel sorry for the guys, like Roger DeCoster and Keith McCarty, who have to work with these guys daily. They don’t have a gene pool to pull from. The selection process is reduced to: these are the morons that are available, so which moron do you want?
ÿÿ “I’m really hard nosed and I feel sick about it. I’ll tell any one of them to their face. A couple of them I wouldn’t want to tell to their face, because I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings, but I guess I’d have to if they asked me straight.
ÿÿ “Ricky Carmichael may throw himself on the ground a few times, but he’s got heart. But I don’t see heart in anybody else. They take their money and finish fourth. I see these guys congratulating themselves for taking fourth or second. They are pumped for taking second! I say they’re all on a Sunday cruise and should be fired. It is a joke.”
HANNAH ON NATURAL TALENT
ÿÿ “These guys have talent, but in my book, guys who have talent and don’t put it to use are worthless. Mark Barnett didn’t have half the talent that some of these kids have in one hand, but look what he did with what he had. Ricky Johnson and Jeff Stanton didn’t have natural talent. I don’t think I had it! Think about this: Barnett, Johnson, Stanton, DeCoster and myself didn’t go in to racing with the talent that Ron Lechien had. Ron had the talent to win on any given day and, for a while, he could do it without training. None of us could have won without training. These young guys have the talent, but since they don’t have heart, they are a waste of skin.
ÿÿ “I could take one of these kids and, if he’d listen, he’d be beating McGrath, because Jeremy is on the backside of his career. Face it, Jeremy is on his way down and these kids still can’t beat him. I don’t think any of them on their best day could beat McGrath, all things being equal. Not heads up. Not on a real track. And he is not what he was. He probably doesn’t want to race after this year. I wouldn’t. But he is making so much money whipping up on these little punks that he ought to just stay in there and whip them. It’s sick.
ÿÿ “You don’t want to get Roger DeCoster and me together to talk about it. I guarantee nobody will like what we have to say. I don’t care what people think of what I say. I say it the way I see it. I am disgusted. My dad asked me the same thing the other night and I said, ‘Dad, don’t even get me started!’ I wish I was riding. I’d get a lot of seconds, because I’d never beat Jeremy, but the rest of the field is wide open. Give me a break!”
HANNAH ON ANGER
ÿÿ “David Bailey got tired of hearing about Ricky Johnson, Ricky Johnson and Ricky Johnson. I got tired of hearing about Roger DeCoster, Roger DeCoster and Roger DeCoster. I was jealous of his position. I wanted his spot. I wanted to beat him for pure ego. It had nothing to do with money. If money is a factor, then you have a problem, because money won’t motivate you for very long. The kids today are signing such big contracts that money shouldn’t matter. These riders aren’t tired of hearing about Jeremy McGrath, Jeremy McGrath and Jeremy McGrath. They aren’t jealous of McGrath. That is sad. I would hate Jeremy if I was racing against him. I would want to beat him bad. They don’t even want a piece of him. They go, ‘McGrath won and I got second, so I really won because we can’t beat him.’ They are like that all the way to tenth place. I’m not as hostile on any other issue, but this gets to me.
ÿÿ “So many of these kids think they have arrived. They haven’t! You know when you have arrived? When you win a championship fair and square. And not some meaningless 125 East or 125 West Championship.”