GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Jordan Ashburn

Tuesday Toolbox: Jordan Ashburn

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 | 10:00 AM
Tuesday, October 20, 2015 | 10:00 AM

Jordan Ashburn is the “Quiet Hero” of GNCC Racing! He’s one of those guys who puts his head down and does solid work. He earned the Top Amateur Award back in 2010 and then started riding Yamaha’s in the XC2 class for a brief period. He’s been on the AmPro Yamaha Team since 2012 and earned the #3 plate in 2014. The past two rounds have seen Jordan working his way onto the podium with solid 3rd place finishes. caught up with Jordan to get his thoughts and analysis.

Jordan, that was an awesome race you had going in Somerset!
Yeah! I was really looking forward to that race. I’d done well there last year. I led a portion of the race and got passed by Kailub, but still finished 2nd. I knew I had it in me to get a win and Somerset was the place to do it. It’s really similar to the stuff I ride in Tennessee. Lots of rocks and roots and of course, was pretty slippery with the rain! I tend to like the mud!

Yes you do! Our RacerTV announcer, Johnny Gallagher made of point of that before first lap results were even in! At the end of the first lap, you had a 30 second lead over 2nd place, which turned out to be your teammate, Grant Baylor.
I got a good start, and that always helps! Chris Douglas beat me to the $250 holeshot line, but I was right there, 2nd or 3rd. Anyway, I made the pass for the lead right away and led into the woods. My intention was to get away and don’t let anyone pace off me. I just wanted to ride my own track, so-to-speak. It was going good until I had that tire issue!

That was amazing! You actually had a mousse bib disintegrate and the tire come off the rim?
I’ve NEVER had that happen before! Of all the times to happen; when I’m leading and feeling good! And it happened instantaneous. There was no warning, everything felt fine. Then I came over a hill leading to a field section and it spit off. I pulled off the track, stopped, and then Thad came by! I saw what was wrong and headed to the pits.

After some tough luck earlier this season, Jordan has came on strong lately with 2 podium finishes in the previous 2 rounds.
After some tough luck earlier this season, Jordan has came on strong lately with 2 podium finishes in the previous 2 rounds. Photo: Ken Hill

Could you see the pits from right there? How did you know where to go?
[laughs] I couldn’t see anything in that fog! But I knew where I was. If it had to happen, that was the best spot. I walked the track earlier that morning so I knew the direction of the pits. I rode there and started taking the wheel off. Eddie Ray was there (AmPro crew) and he jumped in. My dad came up and they got me back together and I rejoined the race from where I pulled off.

I know you are bummed because you gave up the lead, but you came through that next lap in 4th place after all that trouble!
I was back even farther than that! I was around 6th or 7th when I rejoined. But I made a couple passes and gained some time. I was surprised to see I had 4th place and was only like 10 seconds behind [Josh] Strang. I knew I was riding good. I just did my best and was really pleased that I could get back on the podium. My team puts a lot of work into this program. I put in a lot of work, my parents, everybody! So even though a bad situation happened, I’m glad we were able to overcome and still make some points and give some credit on the podium.

Did you guys do anything different with your tire set-up that might have contributed to a blown bib?
No! This is the same set up we’ve been running. Our Kenda tires are always good. I had the right grip all day. As most racers know, you don’t go to a rock race with a brand new bib. They need to be broke in so they aren’t too “inflated.” They need to give a little bit. So, I don’t know exactly how much time was on that bib, but my guys did everything right. It’s just one of those things.

Jordan has been training harder than ever this year, and it has been paying off.
Jordan has been training harder than ever this year, and it has been paying off. Photo: Ken Hill

You’ve had a couple of “those things” bite you this year! It seems everything was smooth in 2014, you got the #3 plate, but this year you’ve had a couple gremlins?
Just weird things. I lost my brakes in South Carolina and didn’t get back out in time to salvage points. At Tomahawk, I crashed and hit my head real hard. I actually got a concussion and wasn’t able to finish the race. Not that I crash all the time, but it happens! Usually you just bounce and roll!  So yeah, a couple strange things this year. I’ve been training harder than ever, though. Sometimes hard work can help overcome bad luck!

No doubt! I understand you’ve been putting in laps on motocross tracks?
That’s right! I’m at one right now, actually! There’s a new track near my house in Tennessee and the owner has been real good to me. I’m able to come over and train. It’s fun! It’s a good track with rough straightaways, good corners and a few tabletops thrown in. It’s great practice for the fast, rough conditions we get in GNCC.

Are you airing out any monster jumps over there, ready to kick-start a Supercross career in the off-season?
[Laughs] No! I’m not feeling Supercross! I grew up riding motocross when I was little, but I’m really at home in the woods. I love it. This is what I do!

Very cool! Well, at, we always like to know how it all started. So, what got you into this crazy sport we all know and love?
My dad! He raced in the 80’s and had a love for dirt bikes. When I was younger, I wanted to ride, so he got me started on a 50 and then it was on to a KX60. The 65s were out, but I had a used 60 and we did the local stuff: motocross, fair races, some flat track. I did some trail riding, too. It was just fun to ride! I got bigger and moved up to a YZ80. In 2002, Yamaha came out with the YZ85 and we got one of those and I did my first woods race on that bike!

Jordan got started racing thanks to his dad, who was a racer as well.
Jordan got started racing thanks to his dad, who was a racer as well. Photo: Ken Hill

How did that first woods race go?
It was in Livingston, TN, not too far from the moto track I’m at today. I don’t really remember how I did. Not terrible, but not great. 4th or 5th I guess? I just remember cutting my leg open on the footpeg! You haven’t ridden until you get a boot full of blood! [laughs] I took my boot off at the end of the race and was able to drain it out! Pretty cool! I had fun and decided I wanted to do more of the woods racing.

You XC1 guys have different ideas of “cool” than the rest of us! But that aside, what did you do next?
My next bike was a KX100. I raced the Mid South Cross Country series (MSXC) for a while. I won a couple championships there and then we decided to do the Nationals. My best there for a season was 2006, I think? I finished 2nd to Cory Buttrick. I had some wins, but in Florida and North Carolina, I blew the bike up. It was hard to recover from catastrophe so early on. We had some good battles and it was a lot fun! 

What class did you go to after youth?
I went on to the afternoon and rode 250B. I won like 8 out of 9 races there so I went to 250A the next year and won that championship. By 2009 I was running Open A and had some battles with Chris Bach all year! We actually tied in points and so the tie-breaker gave me the championship, but the overall points gave him the Top Amateur! I had to ride Open A one more year to get the Top Amateur Award.

And then in 2011 you switched from green to blue and rode XC2?
Yeah, Keith Obermeyer of Obermeyer Yamaha got involved and gave me a ride for the XC2 class. It took me a while to adapt. Stew Baylor dominated the first half of that season. I caught on and won a handful of races. I ended second in the championship. Then AmPro took me on and I moved up to XC1. This is the pinnacle! I have a great bike, great team. I’ve made a bunch of 2nds and 3rds, but still looking for that win! It’s a competitive class. And it should be. These are the fastest guys in the world!

You still have a chance left this year! Ironman can be anyone’s race. You’ve got what it takes, so go to it! Before I let you thank your sponsors, what advice do you have for a kid trying to make it?
Take it slow! Too many kids think they have to turn 16 and go pro. But that’s not how it works. Ride in classes that match your ability. Learn! We’re all out there together. You’ll be mixed in with guys from other classes that are faster so there’s no hurry to jump up. Sometimes I think it’s just ego driven and that causes problems on the track. So go after those amateur championships. That’s the hard work that it takes to get noticed. A “B” Class champion is more noticeable than a back place XC2. So, take it slow and stay in school!

Great advice! Thanks for talking with us today. Who would you like to thank?
There are a lot of great people and sponsors behind me. Mom, dad, my girlfriend, Mary, N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha, MSR, FMF, Factory Connection, Sidi Boots, Bell Helmets, Rekluse, IMS, Leatte, TM Designs, DP Brakes, Wiseco, Kenda Tires, Pro Taper, Gear Wheels, Cycra, CV4, Stuk MX, MotoSeat, Ankle Savers and Works Connection.