Edgewood native Jason Anderson, a 23-year-old pro motocross rider, has been flying high since turning pro six years ago.
Not only over the humps, large and small, and around hairpin turns on the dirt courses from coast to coast, but up the standings in the 450cc class.
He is in third place on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross circuit after finishing seventh his 2015 rookie season in the class. Four events remain on this year’s 17-event schedule, culminating May 7 with competition at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev.
After that, comes the 12-race summer motocross slate.
“I’m doing this 50 weeks out of the year,” Anderson said in a phone interview Monday after returning from competition in Indianapolis. “The least amount of days I ride will be five in practice, and then seven days a week there’s cycling, the gym, everything.”
He gets back to his native New Mexico maybe two times a year, and on the road there’s little time for sightseeing.
“I was only in (Indianapolis) a little more than 24 hours,” said Anderson, who earns in excess of $1 million a year in sponsorship money and prize money. “We go there, do our job, then go back home to work.”
The “we” includes members of his Rockstar Engery Husqvarna Factory Racing team.
“I’m not mechanically knowledgeable. I just ride,” Anderson said. “At this level, we don’t touch the bikes at all. We just hop on and go.”
This week, it’s off to St. Louis for this afternoon’s competition. After qualifying races, the final will come down to 20 laps of roughly 50 seconds with 19 other riders.
“Yeah, it’s going good,” Anderson said from his home in Clermont, Fla. “I got a couple of wins and also a couple of other podiums.”
He has won in Anaheim, Calif., and Detroit. The past two outings, he placed third in Santa Clara, Calif., and in Indianapolis, where the crowd exceeded 60,000.
“The size of those crowds can get overwhelming, but you kind of rise above it,” he said.
This summer, the venues turn from stadium courses to those over natural terrain. Laps often are 2½ minutes long.
Anderson said he was about 6 or 7 when his grandpa, Leslie Anderson, bought him a KTM 50 bike. Apparently Jason’s requests of Santa had gone unfulfilled.
“Santa was cheap,” said Michael Anderson, who is Jason’s dad and now lives in Rio Rancho with wife Darlene.
Jason went on to a sensational amateur career, winning five Loretta Lynn championships. In 2010, he received the AMA Horizon Award, which is presented to the rider who shows the most promise heading into the professional ranks. Four years later, he was the AMA Supercross Lites West champ, which preceded his move from the 250cc group to the top level of racing.
A key to success is to steer clear of injuries. But that’s hard to do.
“I broke my arm my rookie year, which one was of the tougher ones,” he said. “Soon as I was cleared by the doctor, I was back on the bike.”
His father knew early on Jason was more than a weekend rider.
“We were told when he was 8 or 9 that he was going to do well,” Michael said. “And when he was getting up to 12 or 13 was when you could tell it could happen for him.”
Michael said he and his wife, along with Jason’s grandparents, attend about 60 percent of the events, including his performance in Santa Clara.
And no longer do they shield their eyes when Jason is flying through the air, sometimes 20 to 30 feet high.
“When he was younger, yes, but not anymore,” Michael said.