Keith Johnson's incredible summer

It was one heck of a summer for multi time NESC champion, Keith Johnson, a win at Loretta Lynn's, a trip to England on the Vet des Nations with Team USA not to mention co-promoting the Southwick National with his dad, Rick Johnson. With that said we figured it was time to sit down with KJ for a quick little interview to get his take on the summer.

NESC First off, Congratulations for an incredible summer! Great job on the National, you guys did an amazing job on the track and ended up with a great crowd and then you went to Loretta Lynn's for the 2021 Amateur National where you won the 50 class and were on the podium in the 45 class and as if that wasn't enough you took off to Farley Castle in England for the Vet des Nations where you helped team USA take home third in the world.
KJ Thanks, yeah for sure it was a summer for the books!

NESC Let's start before Loretta's, how important was racing NESC to getting ready for the Amateur Nationals?
KJ It was super important! Way back around Christmas 2020 I didn't say anything but I decided that I was going to go back to Loretta's this year. I started training in the gym and biking with Justin Cokinos and Chris Canning but I knew I needed to get my intensity up, in the Vet class you think you're going into this corner pretty hard but you're really not so that's why I started riding the 450 Pro and Open Expert classes, just to get my ass kicked! It worked out pretty good, I was getting good starts but working my way backwards at first but got better and better and ended up running in the top five with those guys.

NESC Once you decided that you would go to Loretta's did you set any goals?
KJ Shortly after I decided to go I learned that Jeff Emig was getting ready to go as well and Kurt Nichol would be there too in the 50 class but my goal was to win that one and I wanted to be on the podium in the 45 class, I mean Mike Brown's a freak of nature, he's battling with Robby Marshall in the 25! Most of all I wanted to be ready, I don't mind getting my butt kicked if I know I gave it my all. It really was a great week, winning the 50 and getting third in the 45 but not only that but more than that it was a great family week. I went with my son, Tyler, Justin Cokinos and his dad, John and then my family flew down, my wife and my daughter and even Kylie and Chris Canning were there. The weather was cool by Loretta standards, it really couldn't have been better.

NESC A few weeks later you landed in England for the Vet des Nations at Farley Castle, how did that deal come about?
KJ They had Timmy Ferry lined up for the team but for some reason he couldn't make it so David Pingree (the USA team liaison) suggested they call me. It was a scramble because I hadn't touched my bike for three weeks and at 50 you can lose a lot in three weeks!

NESC That ended up being another good race for you.
KJ It really did, I went over with my cousin, Dana Johnson, we had a great time at the race and even got to do some sight seeing before we returned home.

NESC How's your hand? we saw some crazy photos of your bloody glove on Facebook.
KJ It's almost stopped bleeding now! Almost a week later! It was a challenge because I had brought four pairs of gloves over but was doing 16 motos that weekend and I got hit by this rock on the first lap of the second moto. It hurt at first and I was wiggling all my fingers and looking at them over the jumps to see if they were all there, which they were, but then my hand was feeling all wet and in one corner my hand slipped off the bars because my glove was so wet.

NESC But you kept racing?
KJ Yeah, the whole team was pretty beat up, we were all doing lots of classes and we were all bruised up from all the rocks (I sure wish Dowdy had to me to bring hand guards and a chest protector) Doug Dubach even had a walking cast on because he had hurt his heal just before the race. My hand didn't hurt so much but it was a deep, wide cut, they tried all sorts of bandages but nothing helped, it bleed like nothing I'd seen before.

NESC So third overall is really good considering.
KJ Yeah, Mike Brown won a bunch of his motos, the guy's a machine! I was usually fifth or sixth, Sean Hamblin was tenth or twelfth and Dubach was always in the top twenty.

NESC Everyone knows you can't do this alone, who's been helping you out this year?
KJ For sure! I've got a great team behind me starting with my wife Kellie and my kids, my training partners Justin and Chris and all my industry sponsors like Pilgrim Powersports and Kawasaki Team Green, Factory Connection who got my bike working so good (I couldn't have won at Loretta's without them), FXR for always making me look good in those Buckley photos, 6D Helmets which are the best out there, Gaerne Boots, 100 Percent goggles, Pro-Circuit, Dunlop Tires, Artco Design for the sweet lids, 508 E bikes and Melo Designs. Oh and The Wick 338. Also thanks to all the NESC experts who kicked my butt week after week this spring, you guys were with best training there could be!

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FXR, the official sponsor of the NESC 2021 season

Need some new gear to start the season off with a fresh look? Take a look at what FXR has to offer and see why more and more riders are switching to FXR

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2021 schedule

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Craftsman tools

For the second year in a row Craftsman tools kicked in a bunch of prizes for our Awards Banquet, one of them being this giant mechanics tool chest which was won by Jeff Martel, on the left with Jason Hargreaves

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