MPG / DAILY BREAD / MARCH 6, 2017
Tommy Hahn came into the 2017 season planning on racing his last year of Monster Energy Supercross. The thirty-two year old Kansas born rider had just joined forces with top trainer Gareth Swanepoel, therefore rejuvenating his confidence and drive heading into his final season of racing. He was feeling better on the bike than he had in recent years and it showed through his results; Hahn placed eighteenth in San Diego, seventeenth in Glendale, and seventeenth again at Anaheim II. The second year CycleTrader / Rock River / Yamaha rider was making progress with each passing weekend, but unfortunately things don’t always go as planned -- he sustained an injury at the Oakland SX, dislocating his shoulder, removing him from contention for the next couple rounds of action. Hahn attempted to push through the injury by lining up for the final race at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, but the shoulder injury was too debilitating and will require surgery. The California resident has decided to hang up his riding boots and shift his focus toward the next chapter of his life; pursuing his bachelor's degree in real estate. Hahn has had an illustrious professional career that has spanned a lengthy thirteen year period; his stellar career has taken him from high caliber teams such as Pro Circuit Kawasaki to motorsport giants such as Factory Honda. Hahn also had quite the decorated amateur career which was capped off terrifically in 2004 with a Loretta Lynn’s title in the 125 A class. He ended up graduating to the professional ranks the same year and began racing under the Factory Connection Honda canopy. Over the course of the next year, he took a 3rd place overall at the U.S. Open as well as a top 10 finish in the West Coast Supercross class. Throughout the next couple of seasons, he continued to lay down solid results and just barely missed out on the overall podium in the 2006 East Coast Supercross, coming away with a 4th place. Hahn continued to put in solid results in the years that followed, but it wasn’t until he moved up to the premier class in 2009 that he was really able to show his speed. Towards the end of the outdoor season, he was able to finish on the podium multiple times and take an overall win in the final race of the season at Steel City, finishing 5th overall in the points in his first motocross campaign on a 450cc machine. He continued to score podiums and top 10 finishes over the course of the next couple of years and cement his presence in the sport as a consistently speedy premier class competitor. We caught up with Tommy to grab an update on the first couple rounds of action in 2017, revisit his career, and uncover what lies ahead in the next chapter.
You came into the season planning on racing your last Monster Energy Supercross series, but unfortunately an injury cut that short...
Yeah, the year started off good and I started training with Gareth Swanepoel -- I got really strong before the year and I felt like I was in a good position comin’ in. Y’know, each race I got a little better and we were starting to figure things out, and then unfortunately I kinda got off balance in the ruts in Oakland and made a small mistake. I didn’t crash, but I just ended up poppin’ my shoulder out and unfortunately it’s gonna need fixed. It doesn’t look like there’s gonna be enough time to get back; I went to Georgia trying to tough it out, but it’s awfully loose and something’s wrong, so we’re just gonna go back and get it fixed. If it was something I could ride through, I would definitely do it but it’s just not standable right now.
You went out and rode practice in Atlanta this past weekend but decided not to race, could you elaborate on that decision with your shoulder.
I was doin’ the rehabilitation exercises and stuff like that; I’ve had surgery on this shoulder before and it’s kinda been a problem in the past, so I knew what I was in for -- I just didn’t know how bad it was. I had a pretty decent week goin’ in Georgia, it didn’t pop out at all, and then basically the second lap of free practice it popped out. After that one it just never felt sturdy, it never felt strong; I didn’t wanna risk hurtin’ myself worse or risk hurtin’ somebody else, y’know, if I shot left in a rhythm section or through the whoops section. I think right now it’s just the best decision for me to make.
You showed some really consistent speed at the beginning of the season, making the main at San Diego, Anaheim 2, and Phoenix with three finishes inside the top twenty. How were you feeling on the bike?
My speed was actually not bad, I felt like everything was clickin’ and I felt great; I felt the best I’ve felt in SX in years, so I was excited and workin’ with Swanepoel and that whole crew puts a smile on your face everyday doin’ all the stuff you don’t wanna do. I was in good spirits and everything was clicking and my bike was great -- we had a good bike last year, but we definitely made significant improvements on it this year, and I was smilin’ ear-to-ear with that thing. It was just one of those things that happened right at the wrong time.
There was a slight hiatus away from racing and then you came back in 2015, what inspired the comeback then and are you content with how the last couple years went?
Yeah, I mean it was kinda the same old story -- I got hurt a lot again. But, it was good for me where I was at with my life...when I hung it up before I didn’t have anything to go into so to speak, and just kinda fell into a rut. This time around there’s a couple different things that I’m looking to explore and have my mind set on, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and basically I had to get back into it and do it for myself. I didn’t want it to end like this, I didn’t want it to end like it did last time either, but y’know...I guess you just don’t get that say so. It’s what was best for me at the time and obviously for the team as well -- they weren’t gonna get much more out of me, they needed to have somebody else out there in the main event. It’s just one of those things, I would have loved to see it out ‘till Vegas, that was the ultimate goal. I never felt like I rode quite like I should have in the main events this year...I just mentally wasn’t there for the twenty minutes, but I really feel like things would have started rollin’ a little better right around this time had I kept racing. I was just hopin’ for top fifteen, top twelve, and if I could sneak a top ten in there before the end of the year. I was on the right path and I was doing everything right, it’s just one of those things you can’t control.
You’ve had some fantastic results throughout your career as both an amateur and a professional — looking back on your career, what is your proudest moment as a racer?
I kinda look at it as a whole; I did many great things and saw many awesome places, and pretty much did it all by the time I was twenty-five, so I can’t complain one bit. There’s nothing necessarily that really sticks out -- of course there’s always the good races on those days that you had that were magic days, everybody’s had ‘em. There’s some days like that, some days at the practice track, and certain places that I stayed and rode back east or back home in Kansas or Texas. There’s all kinds of stuff that sticks out and it’s been a hell of a ride, I’m just ready to do something else. I had a great career, I can’t complain and at one point I was a threat to be on the podium and within the top five every race, so I can’t complain about that.
You and your brother put together an event in your home state of Kansas to give back to the community, promoting a race at a track that you both grew up riding on. Could you talk about what you’ve got going on with the Hahn Brothers’s SX Shootout?
Yeah, it’s just a real fun night race that we do. We have a $7,500 to $10,000 pro purse and just try to get as many pros that we can. That track is the same area that my brother and I both had our first race at. Unfortunately, the track that was there before -- the land is owned by the city, and they’ve been awesome to work with since we started this, and luckily they wanted to bring an event back -- but they shut the old track down in the late nineties. They decided to get back into it and Will and I had been asked to be a part of it, and of course we jumped right on it. Once a year, we’re just trying to better the race. We’re not trying to turn it into anything, we’re just trying to better it every year and make little changes. Y’know, if we can give back to the privateers and stuff during the rush for them to make money -- y’know, all the money races are around that time, so it just gives them another option to come do a fun race with a good format, on a decent track, and make a good amount of money.
The CycleTrader / Rock River team was your home for the past two years and you definitely brought some veteran experience to the team. How was it passing your experience down to some of the young guns?
It’s been real good. Especially when you steer them in the right direction and they see the change or feel the change, and you see the smile on their face -- that’s cool. Yeah, it’s definitely rewarding to be asked instead of asking for advice sometimes. But, still even now I’m like “When did I become the old guy?” All of a sudden it’s like all these kids are young and I haven’t even heard of the music they listen to, all of a sudden I’m the old guy. That part of it’s cool and definitely rewarding, and being a professional for thirteen years you definitely have something to offer, with the right type of kid you can really help them out a lot.
Do you have any idea what the next chapter is for you? Would you like to step into a similar role that your brother has over at Geico?
Right now I’m just concentrating on getting my Bachelor’s degree and the ultimate goal is commercial real estate appraisal. I’ll have to do residential first before that, and I’m just going through the hoops and the steps and everything to make that happen right now. Until I get done with that, I would entertain doing something in the industry -- just work for a company, work for a team, doing something. I wanna keep riding; I love riding, just the racing part of it now doesn’t make sense for me with the way my shoulder is. I’m doing things that I can do to get another bike pretty soon and just keep riding, ‘cause that’s what I love to do. I dunno, I might go back to Loretta’s in the Vet class but right now I wouldn’t. Ten years from now, I might feel a little different but for now I’m just gonna stay riding, mountain biking, doing the things that I like to do, and just enjoy the career that I had, and enjoy the glory years with the friends that I made.
/ Words / Lake Kilpatrick
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