"When you go on the podium, people actually know you,” pointed out Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki racer Jo Shimoda, runner-up finisher in the recently run 250SX East Region Supercross Series and current sixth place competitor in this summer’s 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. “They cheer and make noises. It’s cool to have that energy.”
In the 64 year history of world-class motocross racing, only one Japanese rider has won a world-class championship. His name is Akira Watanabe and in 1978 he won the 125cc World Motocross Championship. In a nation of 127 million people, Jo Shimoda of Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture, Japan wants to be Japan’s next champion. That’s why he and his family came to the United States of America in 2014. Kindergarten-age Jo competed across the U.S. on a KTM 65. Within a span of six years, Shimoda was a full-on professional racer and recipient of the 2020 Supercross Rookie of the Year award and a supercross superstar in the making.
“I really like Jo’s disposition,” offered motocross GOAT Ricky Carmichael, a racer who actually won the first of his fifteen AMA titles as a member of Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit/Kawasaki outfit all the way back in 1997. “I love his racing and what he brings to the table. He is extremely consistent. He really sticks to his program. He doesn’t get caught up in the hype. He just goes out there and knicks down those consistent runs. He’s just quietly there, knocking down those fourths and thirds, you know? As soon as he aligns himself to everything properly, he’s going to bag some big wins. He already has.”
Winner of the 2021 Salt Lake City 250SX East Region Supercross last April, Shimoda immediately powered into the outdoor motocross season showing his fangs. Hovering in the top five to top ten during the opening phase of the season, the 19-year-old Japanese ace sent heads spinning at the Southwick National by finishing as runner-up in the strength-sapping, swingarm deep silica. Sixth in points following the Washougal National on July 24, Shimoda has been relaxing during what has been something of a summer break for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. With a couple of hours on his hands, Shimoda recently swung by sponsor Monster Energy’s corporate headquarters in Corona, California to say hi and talk about Lewis Hamilton and F1 (Jo loves that stuff). That’s where we sat down with the sensational young Japanese racer.