Although the crowd may bay dumbfounded and stunned by electrifying antics while soaring through the air, a true racer isn’t attracted to the limelight of flash and trickery, without first crossing the finish line at the head of the field. Tyson Johnson can maneuver his machine through the air in a multitude of ways, leaving all in attendance awing over the sight of his whips, in route to clearing the largest jumps on the track. However, what matters most to the KTM pilot is that of victory and the aura of a championship. He’s as hungry as ever, and we managed to catch him during a seldom break from his rigorous efforts. Here’s what he had to say.
Who do you credit as your biggest influence in the sport? Family Member? Friend?
Of course my mom and dad, they put in so much work so I can go and have fun every single day!
Growing up, were there any professionals you tried to mock? Copy their style? Your fluidity seems effortless.
My dad would always tell me to mimic my favorite rider who was Ryan Villopoto and I tried and kind of adapted to my own style and it’s worked well.
To begin the year, you went to the Freestone Spring Championship, against a stacked field; did you come away from Texas with anything to work on?
I came away with a lot to work on and was not happy with my results, but you live and you learn, and always gain experience, but I had fun!
The California Classic provided a strong platform for yourself; were you satisfied with your results?
I was satisfied with my riding not my results! We had fun and we did our best and came away safe and healthy, so that’s always a plus!
You then underwent surgery for an injury you suffered; could you shed some more light on the entire experience?
My injury was a big part of my year. At the Hangtown Amateur day, I got through practice and everything, and in the first race, throughout the second turn, I made a small mistake that turned into a bigger mistake; I ended up getting run over by another rider and didn’t even know my wrist was broke! I went to pick up my bike and realized my wrist wasn’t working and felt some pain! An EMT walked over and was telling me not to look down and I said I think my wrist is broke and he’s like “Oh, yes it is haha!” I went to the emergency room, got a few x-rays, and they put me on some meds, eventually setting it into place! Well, when they casted me they cut my cast into two to allow room for swelling. We then went and got a second opinion to see how it looked, and were pleased to see it was healing. We did not get good news. This doctor had told us that my bones had moved from the cast being cut and he wanted to do immediate surgery. I was still questionable so we got a third opinion and he said the same thing so about 4 days after I underwent surgery where they reset it, so we put a pin in it. I was out for about 2 months and then got the pin out, and waited about 4 days to ride.
How was it coming back? Tough to regain your speed or did the process resume quickly?
Coming back was tougher then I thought. It wasn’t actually my speed, but my hands were blistering every single time. I could only get one moto in, so it bothered me, but I was trying everything from oils and ointments, to wrapping them, but nothing really helped except super glue! As time went on, they gained the skin back and I was good to go.
Returning to the Washougal amateur day, you dominated, taking three wins; how rewarding was it to be on the top step of the podium?
Washougal was good. I had a lot of fun and rode super well for being my first race back! I was happy with how it went and it was fun to be back at the races with friends and the traveling is also fun.
You then headed to the Baja Brawl, where you had multiple excellent finishes? Do you feel you adapted to the sand well?
The Baja Brawl was awesome! From traveling there, riding at some tracks and having fun with my mechanic Rob, to the racing! We got there and the track was amazing. That was the most fun I’d ever had on a track, it was like a dream! My results were good, but not what I went there to do! We then came home to get back to training.
How'd things turn out for you at The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City?
Ponca City was fun! I haven’t been there since 2012 and I was super excited to know it was back! I love what Motoplayground has done with the race. My results were not where I was wanting them, I had a moto win in Schoolboy 1 and had some good finishes in each moto. My speed was there but my starts weren’t! In the 250 classes, I rode really good putting myself in 2nd in Schoolboy 2 in the first moto and 5th i believe in 250B. The classes were stacked so we had divisions which then went to a main event. I was running good, got up to 4th in Schoolboy and landed a jump next to a lapper when he crossed into my line, resulting in me going down. My best finish overall was in Schoolboy 1 with a 2nd. I’m not happy but I am safe heading into the rest of the year, so that’s a plus.
What other nationals do you plan on racing for the rest of 2017?
I recently raced the Fly Amateur National, which went great, I competed in Schoolboy 1 - 125 B and 250 B stock, won 9 out of 9 Motos! I plan on racing Mini O’s, AZ Open, and the Ryan Villopoto race at the end of the year.
So for your assault on next year, what’s in the works? All the big nationals? Any class, training, or bike changes?
Next year I will be doing all the nationals again. I will continue training with my trainer Ryan Fedorow. And will be moving up into the 250 B classes full time, no bike brand changes, as I will stay with the KTM.
Do you have any aspirations of competing in the X games best whip contest? It looks as though you can definitely hold your own.
I don’t want to compete in the X games! My focus is not to throw whips, as I do that for fun and it’s going to stay that way. My focus is to be a champion and I work for that! If I make whips my job it wouldn’t be the same. After my motos, I go and throw whips with my friends to have fun!
Any sponsor’s you’d like to thank?
Id like to thank my mom and dad, my mechanic rob Gonsalves , my trainer Ryan Fedorow , BTO Sports , Ride 100 Percent , SevenMX, 6D Helmets, FMF, Pod Knee Braces, No Toil, Ethika, Acerbis USA Addiction Industries, Nut Up Industries, Alpinestars, Hinsonracing, Moto Pro Graphics, DP motorsports, EMT Racing, Haeseker Racing, Mind Fx , Ktm of Modesto