There was a collective cheer last year when it was announced that longtime privateer, Alex Martin, was signed by the YamaLube Star Racing Yamaha team. The very likable Minnesota native had been admired by many in the pro pits for his heroic rides and never-say-die attitude. It was his tenure at the Rock River Cycle Trader team where his results really began to improve, earning him a ride alongside his younger brother, Jeremy. Now, early into the 2016 AMA 250 National series, Alex has proven he can be a contender for the title. We caught up with Alex at Thunder Valley.

By Jim and Anna Kimball
Photos by Brian Converse and Daryl Ecklund

Alex, please shed some light on the move from Rock River to Star Racing. On paper it would seem that those bikes are identical. That’s not true though, is it?
Star Racing has full factory support, but the Rock River Cycle Trader team was awesome. To be over there for the last few years definitely gave me a platform to get the good results I needed to move on to the factory team. We had Yamaha factory built motors last year and stuff like that, but basically this is another step up. The motors are better here, the suspension is better, and there is more money. The team definitely has a bigger budget, so they’re able to do a lot more in terms of testing, practice bikes, motors being a little faster, and things like that. It’s a more well-rounded package.

You weren’t happy with your 2016 Supercross season. What was going on?
I went in with very high expectations. I was on a factory team, so I was expecting to be in the hunt for the championship. I really put myself in a hole training wise. I wasn’t able to get out of it, because I had seven or eight straight weekends of racing before the break. I went in not where I would have liked to be, and I think it showed. I was on the ground a lot from crashes. Luckily we had a long break after Dallas so I could finally get my body back together.

You were really training too hard?
Yes. I was just putting in way, way too much time training. I realized that putting in over two hours a day on the bicycle was maybe a little unnecessary for Supercross. I learned, you know? I have learned that when I fail I have to get back up and try again. Fortunately, now in the outdoor series we’re right in the points chase and everything is looking good.

You really came out swinging at Hangtown, and then especially at Glen Helen. Did the fact that you raced the 250 West and had a long break to get ready for the outdoors help you come into the Nationals at peak level?
Yes, for sure. That was the plan. We had such a long time on our Supercross break to prepare for the outdoors, so Gareth Swanepoel, my teammates and I put in a lot of time on our outdoor preparation. We did a lot of testing and got the bike dialed in. We did our homework and were prepared.

What is going to be the key to winning the 250 National title?
The biggest thing for me is to be level-headed and to take it moto by moto. I won at Glen Helen, and I was excited about that. It was the first time I’ve ever won a National in my career. Still, I know there are nine races left and 18 motos to go. I just want to be mellow about things and focus on right now, because I want to be there at the end. That’s my plan of attack.

How is it having so many fast guys within your own team?
It pushes us all. Jeremy (Martin), Cooper (Webb), Aaron (Plessinger), and even our rookie, Mitchell Harrison, are all real close in speed on the practice track. Day in and day out we’re pushing each other to the next level. It definitely has a benefit.

With the west coast National swing done for a while, will you move back to Minnesota for the summer?
Yes, I plan on going back to Minnesota for the summer and hopefully training there with my brother. We have a great facility at Millville, so everything kind of works out.

Recently you have been referred to as “Big Al.” Wow did that nickname come about?
It hasn’t really been my nickname for a long time; it’s just something Jeremy and some of the guys around the team call me. Then I guess Jason Weigandt (television commentator) got a hold of that nickname and it seems to be a thing. I didn’t know it was a thing before Hangtown!

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