There aren't many riders who can whip a dirt bike like Australia's Jarryd McNeil. He medaled in three straight X Games Moto X Best Whip contests from 2010-2012, with a year off in 2013 (to tour with the Nitro Circus.) Then, he returned to X Games in Austin last month to compete in Moto X Speed & Style, where he finished third.
In Austin, McNeil used the speed that many of us knew he had to nearly beat event favorite Mike Mason. And he eventually topped Kris Foster to secure a bronze medal in the event.
Now, the speedy Australian will look to put his speed to the ultimate test against arguably the best riders in the world as he attempts to qualify and race this weekend at Round 9 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in Washougal, Washington.
XGames.com caught up with Jarryd as he made the final preparations for this coming weekend's event.
XGames.com: Jarryd first of all, congratulations on your bronze medal at X Games. McNeil: Thanks mate, going into X Games I was only actually an alternate for Best Whip. Then while driving out from California they called me and told me that I had the first alternate spot for Speed & Style. So I was pumped to finally get in this event. Unfortunately it was my good friend Javier Villegas going down in practice that put me in, but I was able to make it through far enough to get myself a bronze.
You and Mike Mason got into it a little bit in the semis and you high fived after it on TV, but was everything cool between you and Mason when the cameras were turned off?
To be honest, as much as I was bummed I went down, I was so stoked to be at X Games this year. Racing against Mike Mason was a great experience and I will just have to live and learn from it and pay more attention to my line choices. But a bronze in my first year had me stoked.
A lot of us have always known you have had the speed to run up front in Speed & Style, but not a lot of people know just how fast you really are. You have had your Pro license for a while now right?
I grew up racing motocross as a kid and left school at 16 to follow my career dreams as a racer. I made it as far as winning a 250cc Australia Junior Championship in 2007. At around the same time, I was starting to ride freestyle and moved up to Senior Pro for 2008 and 2009 in both motocross and supercross.
You're running a few outdoor nationals before the end of this season. Can you let us know which ones you plan to ride?
So I'm locked in for the Washougal National on [this weekend] and possibly the Utah round [on Aug. 23] if all goes to plan.
This actually isn't the first time you tried this. Correct me if I am wrong, but you planned to race the Pala national a few years back?
Yes, that's correct I was set to race the Pala National in 2010 for Jay Clark. But the Monday prior to the event, I went down hard and lacerated my liver. So I could not compete that year.
Nationals are the real deal, how is your conditioning and what are you riding?
The past couple of months I've been on the bike doing motos at some of the local Southern California tracks and having spent countless hours at Icon Sports. I have also tried staying on my freestyle bike as much as I can. For the nationals, I'm riding a 2014 Kawasaki KX250f.
I know there are some fast guys and it may be hard to make any predictions, but do you have any expectations for the rounds you are running?
To be honest, I have no real expectations, I just want to make the top 40 and be on the start line for both motos and have fun.
They are more than a few people and companies making this happen, so who is helping out your race effort?
This has been a dream of mine since I was a young kid, so I'm taking part of my money I made from Nitro Circus Live and making this happen. But I'm also getting great support from Lucas over at The Factory Metal Works, who has been helping me over the past year to race again. Also on board with some media coverage of my whole experience is Vurb Moto. And of course, all the sponsors that have been supporting me and my freestyle career.