T

he 2018 supercross season kicked off last weekend and among all the hype and new riders, bikes, and gear, one of the coolest things in the pits was Bob Hannah, in town to see the race. We caught up with Bob to get some insight from him on what he thought of the racers at the opening round, and what he expects to see more of this season. Hannah speaks from experience that includes three Supercross championships (1977, 1978, and 1979). Hannah brings a very unique perspective to this because at the end of his third championship year he, like Ken Roczen last year, had an injury that threatened to completely end his racing career. Hannah’s injury was a badly broken leg from a water skiing accident, but like Roczen, Hannah returned to racing. Before we get into injuries and recoveries and the sport, we have some more general observations on the racers in the 450 class and how their 2018 supercross season started off.

Marvin Musquin
Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin kept his pre-season win streak going with a win at A1.Pete Peterson

What did you think of Marvin Musquin's winning performance?
Marvin looked good, and Roczen did what I think he probably should've, not push it, and Tomac­—bummer for Tomac, he falls too much.

What did you think of Jason Anderson's performance? He's a very aggressive rider like you were.
He is. He rode like he always does, he rode good.

Were you surprised to see him up in second place?
No, I wasn't. I figured he may win it, even.

Jason Anderson
Honda HRC’s Cole Seely gave Jason Anderson the once-over before being passed by him.Brown Dog Wilson

Another aggressive rider, Justin Barcia, had a good race. Were you surprised to see him on the podium?
I was surprised to see him there. I hope he understands it's his last chance… I used to be a big Justin Barcia fan, and I was pretty disappointed in him the last few years, to be frank. And I'm glad he's got one more chance and I hope he takes advantage of it, that's all.

Let's talk about you for a bit. At the end of 1979 you had a water skiing accident, can you tell us about that?
Just waterskiing with Marty Tripes in the Colorado River and hit some rocks in the water. Threw me onto the bank, broke my leg in 12 places, and took a year off.

Justin Barcia
Teammates Justin Barcia and Cooper Webb made some contact during the race, but we hear all is good under the Yamaha tent.Brown Dog Wilson

Was Tripes driving the boat or just with you?
Tripes was driving. Wasn't his fault; he didn't know the rocks were there either.

Bob missed the complete 1980 season due to the injury. He returned to racing at Anaheim 1 in 1981, on January 31. He finished sixth. That race and the supercross season was not a significant memory for Bob, but it did lead to this from him:
You're out a year, it takes a year. It's a bad deal. That's why I was looking at Roczen. I can't even imagine Roczen riding again after what he's gone through. My deal was not a very big deal compared to his deal. Although it broke [my leg] in 12 places, his deal was astronomical. How he even rode as good as he did out there I have no idea. And maybe he'll come back and maybe be the guy he was before. The problem is, where I would be if I was Roczen, or any of these other guys riding a 450—Roczen when he got hurt was the biggest badass in the world. One little mistake did that to him. I think, personally, those 450s are too much bike for indoors. I firmly believe they should be outlawed for indoors. That's my firm belief. I love riding 'em outdoors, I love all that power, I think they're great outdoors—I think I would not want to ride 'em indoors.

Justin Barcia
Justin Barcia must have had the JGR guys shaking their heads wondering where this guy was last year.Brown Dog Wilson

What bikes would you put the two classes in?
I'd put the friggin' 250s, and I'd have two 250 classes, one works [bikes] and one not works [bikes]. Whatever, you got good guys in one and bad in the other. I don't know that it has to be something special [to differentiate the two classes]. If there does, make 'em 350s, I don't know, but these 450s, tell me I'm wrong. Am I wrong?… I'm asking your opinion. Am I wrong?

Ken Roczen
Roczen gets blasted by roost, thankfully before he lost his visor in the main.Pete Peterson

My opinion? We should have 125 two-strokes and 250 four-strokes for the two classes.
I'm absolutely with you… The fans are not going to know. If the best riders are on the 250s and they're good 250s, they're going to haul ass; the times will be no different… I just don't think a 450 should be in there, and factories, I would think, would have that in the back of their minds. Why do you want to pay Roczen $2 million to have him broken in half? I don't get it. It's none of my business so I don't give a [heck] one way or another, but I don't get it… You've got a handful of riders, that's all you've got. Your gene pool out there is not that deep. When they say this field is deep, they're full of [it]. It's not deep. You're [BSing] a [BSer] here. It's not that deep. You take four guys out—you've already taken Villopoto out and you've taken Dungey out. Take Roczen and Tomac out right now; tell me how deep that is. You couldn't drown in it. It's not deep enough to drown a rat.

Ken Roczen
Honda HRC’s Kenny Roczen had one little hiccup, but was satisfied with a fourth in his return to racing.Brown Dog Wilson

Let's get back to 1981, your return to racing. Had your competitors gained a lot of speed on you?
Absolutely, absolutely. They had a year to work on bikes. Yamaha didn't work on bikes. I had a year off, you know? It's a two-year problem.

Bikes were changing radically. Did you come back to essentially the same bike?
I came back to a bike that wasn't even as good as what I left, because they made some changes without anybody testing it and they were 35 pounds too heavy, so it was a bad deal.

Ken Roczen
A fourth place finish is an incredible accomplishment for a rider many thought would never return to racing. Roczen is back!Pete Peterson

Roczen had a great race at the exact same stadium where he hurt himself. Did you ever have a superstition or feel like there was a black cloud over some tracks or stadiums for you?
No. I liked some stadiums mainly because of the dirt quality, not any superstition, no. But I would be a little leery if I was Roczen because I'd have in the back of my mind; I'd go, "You know, I was the badass and one little mistake just took me right out." And so could that happen again tomorrow? Yeah. Could that happen to everyone out there? Yeah.

Eli Tomac
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac had a brutal night, crashing while leading and pulling out of the race. He is reported to have a bruised shoulder and the team may have more news later this week.Brown Dog Wilson

Tell me what the 450 podium is going to be in Houston.
I'm going to guess Roczen third, Tomac first, and Anderson second.

Who's your guy for 2018? Who would you like to see win the championship?
Tomac.

Want to tell me why?
I like him. [laughs]