This past weekend's Monster Energy Supercross round was especially unique due to three high profile athletes making their return to racing at the highest level; interestingly, two of them are re-joining a brother who also competes in the series.
Maybe the most anticipated return was 26-year-old Minnesota native Jeremy Martin. The young racer suffered an injury in 2018 and last weekend’s race marked his first start since. In a sport that can leave behind riders who take even a short break, expectations for the young racer with six previous wins in his six seasons of Supercross racing were not high. But the GEICO Honda team re-signed Martin and he rewarded them early on race day with the fastest lap in 250SX Class qualifying. But one sub-60-second fast lap and 15-minutes plus one lap of battling during a Main Event are very different things. Martin amazed his fans and silenced his detractors by grabbing a podium finish – third place – in his first race back. All sports replace a goal, once achieved, with the next higher – and now Jeremy Martin, his team, and his fans might be wondering if his return to racing might also be the season in which he grabs his first Supercross title.
The premiere 450SX Class also had a big name return at the Tampa round. Broc Tickle re-joined the sport after a two-year suspension. During this hiatus from racing, Tickle never stopped riding or training and less than a week before his suspension ended it was announced that he had signed with JGRMX Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing, which made his comeback possible. Tickle finished an impressive fourth in his Heat Race and was strong during the 20-minute plus one lap Main Event where he finished 12th.
A third top name, who'd spent past seasons racing both the 250SX and 450SX classes, Josh Hill came out of retirement to tackle the same division in which Martin is competing. Hill had done some part-time racing as a fill-in rider in recent years but hadn't competed full time since 2014. What prompted Hill's return? He told reporters he was riding well and having fun at training tracks and came back for the pure love and excitement of competition. Hill, just like Tickle, finished 12th in his division in Tampa.
Coincidentally, two of these returning racers have a brother who's been competing in the series all along. Josh Hill's younger brother Justin is in his 8thseason of racing, second in the premiere 450SX Class, and Jeremy Martin's older brother Alex, in his 12th year, races the Western Regional 250SX Class. In further coincidence, Tickle now rides for the same team that Josh's brother rode for during the 2018 and 2019 season and that Martin's brother races for this year.
Now that the returning athletes have established that they still have the speed to compete against the world's best motorcycle racers, fans will be watching how they do at this weekend's event in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium. If you tune in to the NBCSN broadcast or have signed up for the NBC Sports Supercross app package, keep an eye out for race numbers 6 (Martin), 20 (Tickle), and 175 (Hill) – they each have more to prove over the remainder of the 17-round 2020 Supercross season.