Jett Reynolds has been touted as the next amateur motocross sensation in the long line of Team Green Kawasaki graduates and his results reflected exactly that, but an unfortunate and untimely string of injuries has threatened to derail that narrative. He has remained steadfast and resolute in response to his recent injury woes, keeping his focus forward as he’s been determined to make improvements on the KX250 while changing his riding style to suit the four-stroke. Reynolds admittedly struggled while making his debut in the B class at the AZ Open and used it as fuel to his fire, propelling him back to the top step of the podium at the beginning of the 2020 season at many of the Supercross Futures rounds on the west coast. The Team Dunlop alum has found a renewed sense of enjoyment on his motorcycle since moving up to the bigger bike and has even fortified his confidence in himself after recently switching up his training program. Reynolds has been finding the positives in the recent situation and utilizing the time to invest in himself in the hope that he can secure his tenth Loretta Lynn Amateur National Championship later this season. We chopped it up with Jett to get the rundown on what he’s been up to during the quarantine, the mental struggle of back-to-back injuries, and secretly riding a 250 when he was still in the Supermini classes.
How's the quarantine been for you?
Dude, honestly this quarantine hasn't stopped me from doin' anything. I've been doin' more than I actually ever have I feel like.
Yeah, considering you have your own facility out there it probably hasn't affected your riding and training too much.
Nope, this is like boot camp for me right now. I got a new trainer so he's been really killing me and we're just doing what we can. He's drainin' me out so I've been so super tired lately and there's no racing for a while, so he's killin' me right now. I'm ridin' four days a week and doin' four days in the gym, so all in all it'll definitely wear you out.
Who’s the new trainer you've been working with and who do you ride with on the regular?
Yeah, I ride with Dylan Cunha and my trainer is Kellen Overall, he's located here in Bakersfield. He's not just a guy that tells you what to do, you know, he'll actually do it with ya. Dude, I think I've almost had like four heart attacks. (laughs) Oh my god, dude. The guy will push you to your limits, but I think it's one of the best things that's happened to me, so I believe in that guy and I think he's gonna get me to the next step in my program.
What have you been doing in the downtime for fun?
Dude, I play golf. I've been playing for a good three months...
So you're still hackin' three months in then, huh? (laughs)
Yeah. Dude, I'll tell you what though. I'm gettin' some type of decent, you know, there'll be some days where it'll be like "What the hell was I doing?" and then there'll be some days when I go out there and it's the best I've ever played. It's just fun to start something new. When you ride a dirt bike for the first time, you're like a little kid. It's so fun and with golf being so new to me it's kind of like that. I'm super bad at it, I'm not gonna lie but it's something I do wanna get better at. But I'll go ride my pit bike with my buddies and we'll ride my sister's pit bike, so she's not too happy about that sometimes. I've been keepin' it fun during this quarantine and it hasn't really affected me. It seems like I've been doing more in a lot of ways and life's been good.
It's funny that so many of you guys are into fishing and golf because it's the exact opposite pace of what you experience in a motocross race.
Definitely. There are really no injuries unless someone's playing up on ya. I've been playing golf since I was 6 years old, but it was just like every now and then I'd swing a club, but I've been playing quite a bit. Before that, I used to just ride my BMX bike -- they actually took down our dirt jumps in the hills -- so I don't really ride my dirt jumper that much and I used to go to the skatepark quite a bit, but I kind of lost interest in that. Riding a bicycle is still fun to me and I've been riding mountain bikes a little bit lately, so that's pretty fun. I mean it's fun, but it's hard work.
Has it been kind of strange not knowing what race you're building up to with your training?
Umm, no it hasn't really changed much for me because dude...it sucks, but I've been injured for the past two or three years. I've only done like one race and that was at AZ Open after six months off the bike. I dislocated my shoulder at regionals last year and then a week later I broke my collarbone. I was so done with the supermini and I told Ryan Holliday that I'm done with the bike and I don't wanna ride the supermini anymore. He said okay and I think Mitch (Payton) agreed on it. We had a due date (for me to ride the 250) on August 5th, the next Monday after Loretta's, and we ended up not makin' that due date. They wanted to evaluate me with one of the guys and apparently I wasn't strong enough for the 250 yet. I was actually riding some guys 250 in town, they found about that and I think they got a little bit mad and showed me who's boss, so they delayed my first day on an actual 250 until September 12th or something. I had like two and a half or three months off and then my third day on the 250, dude, I broke my ankle at Fox Raceway. So that was another two months or two and a half months, so I had like five months off the bike and then I went to the AZ Open and I was literally a joke there. I've never been more embarrassed in my life riding a dirt bike.
Really? That's how you felt out there?
I was so slow. I got arm pump so bad 'cause I wasn't used to the intensity. I only had three weeks of preparation after five months off. Honestly, I should've sat that race out lookin' back on it but not really, because that's what really fueled me up right there. I was thinkin' "Dude, I'm slow. I need to go."
You definitely had a more exaggerated comeback as well because it was multiple injuries and you were transitioning to the big bike, so that had to make things a bit more challenging.
Yeah, it's been a rough two and a half years and I thought these injuries would eventually stop but they're still goin', I just got over a broken collarbone. If I can stay injury-free and at least have a year on a bike instead of having two or three months on a dirt bike and then gettin' knocked back down, and just keep building. Right now I think I'm finally back to where I was, maybe a little bit better before I broke my collarbone. All the other top guys just keep on buildin' and they're not really getting knocked back down, so that's what really sucks just 'cause everyone's getting faster, they're not getting slower like me when I have those injuries.
It must be a tough mental battle as a competitor to watch your competition improving from the sidelines. How has that psychological struggle been for you? Especially as someone who had a streak of winning a title at Loretta's for five consecutive years.
Yeah, that's what really sucks, too. You have these guys that you know you can beat, that rarely beat you, like you have to fall down for them to beat you or somethin', and they're out here winning all of these races. I don't know, it really kind of killed me. The first year I missed at Loretta's (2018), I was kind of like "Eh, whatever." Then last year I really couldn't believe I missed Loretta's twice. At one point after this broken collarbone, it was such a minor thing, so it wasn't too gnarly you know, it's just a broken collarbone. But just the setbacks and the 'what's going to happen next' kinda deal, I think my dad kind of watched out for me on that. For a few days, he didn't really want me racing dirt bikes anymore. I just couldn't really believe that. I mean, this is my life and I have everything set in front of me. It kind of bothered me a little bit when he said that, but just callin' those guys (Team Green) on a weekend and them bein' like "Well, what happened this time?" I hate being that kid; I went so long injury-free and it just hit me like a wall and it's really brought me down. But everyone, especially those guys, really believe in me. It's hard to do, you know. It's hard to believe in someone that hasn't really shown a lot of results in a couple of years. You have the right equipment, you have the right people around you to make it happen, and it hasn't happened in a while for me.
That must be difficult to hear coming from your dad, did the thought of quitting racing ever cross your mind?
Nah, I kinda just I just shut it out. I didn't really think it was real, you know, like "blah blah blah, whatever." Then you start thinkin' about it like what is gonna happen for me? But you can't really have that mindset in this kind of sport. It just really sucks, too, 'cause I was feeling so good on the bike and we were a week and a half away from Daytona and everything. So that's what I was really bummed about, just missing more races.
Yeah and that feeling of making the phone call and letting your team down has to be tough as you said.
Yeah and it's me every time, you know. I'm gonna call those guys and tell 'em how it is. My dad can't make that call anymore, he can't do it. He's sick of makin' those calls. So yeah, I gotta make the call and it sucks to say it to 'em. I mean, it's hard to keep believing in me after all this stuff but they've showed good support.
So you mentioned your first race on the 250 at AZ Open. Was it tough for you as a competitor to not be able to finish where you know you're capable?
Yeah, they destroyed me. I've never been killed like that, I don't think ever. That one was a stinger and I dunno...my camp couldn't take it. We'll just say that, we'll just say that. The week started off decent and it just gradually dropped, I was getting worse and worse. I got passed by B Ray (Brandon Ray) on a 125, dude.
(laughs) Yeah, really. That's what everyone was saying. But at the end of the week, Ryan Holliday didn't care where I finished, he just cared that I finished the week out.
How'd the Supercross Futures races go for you at the beginning of the 2020 season?
Yeah, I was ready by then and I actually rode pretty damn good during Futures. That's what kind of boosted my confidence up and then we did a couple of Area Qualifiers and I don't think I lost a moto. I was racin' the guys that were gonna be the top guys at Loretta's, so I was kinda pumped on that and like I said, it kind of drained me when I broke my collarbone again 'cause I'm sitting at home and these guys are racing dirt bikes.
Which rounds did you race and how was that experience for you?
Yeah, I did Anaheim, Glendale, and Oakland. I think it really suits me, those races went as good as they could've gone really. I think I lost two races, but other than that my worst finish was a 2nd and there were some good guys there, too.
In addition to Dylan, it seems like your facility is a pretty popular place for pros to come out and ride sometimes, especially with the recent situation. What's that like for you? Especially now that you're on a big bike.
Yeah, it's honestly really sick. You kind of just sit back and watch how they ride and you start learnin' stuff off of them really easy, just the way that they do stuff. Josh Hansen and Ivan Tedesco were out there yesterday and just watchin' those guys, you start pickin' up off of them and I got to spin a few laps with them so it was cool. I could kind of gauge myself off of them a little bit and those guys are still unbelievable on a dirt bike.
Yeah, Hansen has always been known for his natural style and supposedly Tedesco still goes pretty fast at the test track.
He definitely does 'cause he tests for the Pro Circuit team, so he still rides a dirt bike a lot. Those guys and especially Josh, his style is one of a kind. The way he rides the bike, it's like "Dude, how do you do that?"
How is it to have someone come out to your track and do something that you never even thought of? (laughs)
Yeah, just his line selection and the way he rides the bike. Everyone's been telling me "Don't rev the bike. Don't rev the bike," and I've been working on that. Whenever I wanna go fast, dude, I dunno why but I grab a handful.
Tomac makes that style work, so if it works for him...
(laughs) Yeah, but I'm not in the same position as Eli so they kind of want to fix me from the start. I'm not saying they're wrong or anything either. I agree. I do need to stop revving the bike so much and stop being so hard on it, but it's hard to change your riding style.
When you're out on the track practicing, do you have an inner monologue running of what to focus on or will your mind drift off and think about random things?
We'll have a guinea pig in the front and run 'em down. My training partner, Dylan, or sometimes Ryder or whoever is there, we'll throw them out there and try to run 'em down. I mean, I'm just focused on getting 'em, you know. I don't really ride by myself. I used to but I can't ride a dirt bike by myself (anymore), I've gotta have someone riding with me. Whenever I'm by myself I start thinkin' about things 'cause you don't really have anything to keep your mind focused in my opinion. Sometimes, especially now, if I feel a little bit sketchy and it's almost the end of the day, I'll call it a day and say it was a good day riding my dirt bike. If it's at the beginning of the day and I just don't feel like I have my full potential that day, I'll definitely back it down. Six months ago or whatever, I would ride the crap out of the bike. I don't really think I have enough time on a dirt bike to really push the limits of the bike and it always seemed like whenever I did, you know, I was on the ground.
It's good that you're able to evaluate yourself in that way because it's not easy to look in the mirror and see your own faults and there are certainly a lot of hard-headed personalities in this sport that might not be able to do the same.
There definitely are and I can't say that I'm not either. I get reminded every day by my dad or someone from the team that I just need to calm down and not ride the dirt bike as hard. That's like the main thing I've been working on on a dirt bike, don't rev the bike and keep the revs low. My dad was just tellin' me two days ago at the track that it was the best he's ever seen me ride a dirt bike, so smooth, so it was kinda weird 'cause he just talks shit on me a lot. (laughs)
How difficult was the two-stroke to four-stroke transition for you? Obviously, that's why that high-revving riding style is ingrained in your DNA at this point.
Yeah, I mean I was pretty rough on the superminis. I would ride 'em until the wheels fell off pretty much, I wasn't too easy on the actual bike. The 250s can take a little bit of a beating, but I've been riding the 250 for awhile. Kawasaki would give us a loaner bike every year for my brother and I think when I was like 14 I started ridin' 'em and I didn't really wanna ride the supermini anymore. I would jump from the 250 to the supermini and I had a 125 so I'd hop on that. They eventually took the 250 away and gave my brother a 450 so...
Oh boy, did the team know that you were riding them?
(laughs) Yeah, they did. I think I posted a video and no one was really too happy about the situation. But all of last year, I didn't ride the 250 and I didn't even want to ride my 125 'cause I kind of listened to those guys on that. When I made the jump, I was so happy. All of last year, I just wanted to ride the 250 but I wasn't ready. I'm happy to be on it now and it's a great bike, I love it.
You were at the point last year where you started getting pretty big for the supermini, too.
Yeah, for me I wasn't really too happy to ride a dirt bike last year I feel like. I didn't want to ride the supermini. So, jumpin' from the two-stroke to the four-stroke is like riding a dirt bike all over again, it's so fun.
You mentioned your brother and you're in the unique situation where you're on a factory level team but he's still working as your mechanic. What's it like working so closely with him and your whole family?
Yeah, I don't think I could do it without my brother right now. He works on the track, same with my dad, and my dad couldn't do all of the track work by himself. I don't really think I'd want my dad to be my mechanic and that's where my brother comes in. He does a great job and I sometimes think about that...I gotta keep my brother pretty happy, you know? (laughs) It's awesome to have him and he's definitely a big help. He went through some injuries himself, too, so sometimes he'll reflect on those with me and it helps.
What're your thoughts on what might end up happening with Loretta's this year?
I mean, hopefully it's there 'cause I'm ready right now and we can make it to Loretta's this year. I just don't wanna miss any more races on a dirt bike and have more downtime, so hopefully they do have Loretta's and I can get to that point. I want to race the guys that are threats, the last thing I want is to win and have no one be there.
Do you have any idea what your plans might be following Loretta's heading into the 2021 season?
At Ironman, they're supposed to have a 250 A/B All-Star race and the team wants me to do that and I'm totally down to do that, but after that I think they want me to get some hardware removed. We'll see what ends up happening with that, I'm still not one hundred percent sure when I'd get it done but I might get it done after Ironman. I wouldn't be able to do Monster Cup anyway because it's just an A class thing, so that's kind of a bummer 'cause I look forward to riding supercross anytime I can.