Monster Energy Interview: Loretta’s Supermini 1 champion Jeremy Fappani
August 19, 2022 (Corona, Calif.) – Of all the titles won at the 41st running of the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills Tenn., one pretty much stands out as ‘the one’ where the top factory MX brass really takes a long, hard look at the 12-15-year old Supermini kids who did really well.
And one of the many Monster Energy-backed racers in the class, Arizona’s Jeremy Fappani (KTM), did better than all – as he was the victor of the 2022 Supermini 1 title.
The list of past and present pro racers that have won the Supermini 1 championship at Loretta’s is as impressive as it is long. Up top, names like Carmichael, Stewart, Pastrana, Alessi, and Cianciarulo immediately stand out. And there’s more, many more, than went on to make a nice career out of racing dirt bikes having been crowned “Supermini” champs at Loretta’s.
Today we take a look at the newest member of that exclusive Supermini champion club. Fappani had an interesting route to the top. Blessed with a great deal of help, and combining that with an impressive amount hard work and perseverance, Fappani, just a sophomore in high school, took one giant step towards a future professional motocross career by winning the Supermini 1 title.
Monster Energy caught up with speedster out of Scottsdale to talk about the ups and downs of his motocross career thus far, the amount of work he’s put into it and what it meant to him to be crowned a first-time Loretta’s champion earlier this month in Tennessee.
Monster Energy: Jeremy! Congrats on your title. Let’s start out by getting everyone caught up on your history at Loretta’s. When was your first year there, what classes have you raced over the years?
Jeremy Fappani: My first year I raced a Cobra (King 50) in the 7-9 class, and also a KTM 65. I think I finished around 30th in both classes. Not that great. My second year was pretty much the same, 65s, 7-9, and I was around the same position. Realized then I need a change and we found Buddy Antunez (multi-time Arenacross champion). With Buddy we made improvements in leaps and bounds. The following year I was in the top ten in 10-11 65 Stock and Mod, then top three the following year in 10-11 Mod. 2nd and 3rd the year after that. And we’ve pretty much been building off that ever since.
Monster Energy: Buddy moved on to help manage Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) then, didn’t he?
Jeremy Fappani: Yes. We’d spent three years with Buddy, and when he left he recommended Nathan Ramsey (former 125 SX East champion). We spent 3-4 years with Nathan and continued to improve. Then he left when he got the job with Husqvarna. So starting this past February we started working with Ivan Tedesco (former 125 SX West champion). Lot of motos, lot of laps with Ivan. He’s more pro-style than Buddy and Nathan, which has helped me a lot. Been putting in a lot of work, hammering it.
Monster Energy: How’s the results been looking with Ivan at your side?
Jeremy Fappani: I first saw how the work with Ivan was going at Mammoth (Mt. MX in June). We won both Supermini 1 and 2, and were able to carry that momentum in to Loretta’s and the Supermini 1 title.
Monster Energy: That’s big. Back to your younger days, did you chase titles on the amateur National circuit?
Jeremy Fappani: Yeah. I think they first one I raced was the Fly National at Hangtown (Calif.). I was about seven at the time. The following year we started getting into the National schedule more. Raced Oak Hill and Freestone (Texas amateur Nationals) on Cobra 50s and KTM 65s. Did the Cal Classic in Southern California. The Motoplayground race. And did Mammoth as well. I’ve always loved Mammoth. But some of the big races we weren’t able to get to because my parents own and show horses. Mini Os was one of those where dates conflicted. But overall we hit quite a few.
Monster Energy: Talk about how you got involved in motocross. Did your dad race? How old were you when you started and when did you first understand that “Hey, I’m getting pretty good at this… let’s see how far we can take it.”
Jeremy Fappani: My dad’s from Italy, so he knew of the sport, but wasn’t into it. My mom grew up in West Covina, Calif. So they rode. I was born in San Marcos (Calif.), then moved back to Arizona when I was pretty young. My parents had Randy Meninga (pro track builder) come out and built a track. Me and my brother used to ride it all the time on our (Yamaha) PWs. So I was like two years old when I started. It wasn’t until I was seven to eight years old that I realized I could race pretty well. We raced some national events, but I was never really that competitive for the first few years. But then I came around after that.
Monster Energy: What allowed you to turn the corner, results-wise?
Jeremy Fappani: A lot of time both on and off the track, riding motos and training. My parents were really supportive and always tried to put me in the best hands possible. Jared Becker, my trainer, started with him around 8 years old. So that’s when things got serious. Mainly a lot of time and parents making sure I was riding the best tracks in SoCal as well.
Monster Energy: Was there a pretty good MX scene in Arizona (Scottsdale) growing up? Discuss your local motocross track(s) and how that played into your success as a Loretta’s champion.
Jeremy Fappani: There’s really not too many tracks in Scottsdale. A few, but they’re not the greatest. Some are hard pack. ACP (Arizona Cycle Park in Buckeye, Ariz.) I would definitely say is the best track. I went there a lot. Canyon (Canyon Raceway MX Park in Peoria, Ariz.) as well. I was six years old, just starting out, and rode a lot there (Canyon). So those local tracks really helped me out with bike control, and learning how to ride different dirt. Hard pack to sand. Got a lot of that. But mainly where I’ve really trained in the last eight years is out in SoCal.
Monster Energy: Shifting gears a bit, what else were you in to, or still in to, outside motocross? Any other action sports (snow/skate/surf/BMX, etc.)? Did any general school sports interest you (soccer, basketball, football, etc.)?
Jeremy Fappani: I’ve always wanted to skateboard, but I never really got too good at that because of time. I love downhill mountain bike riding. For regular sports I played some little league baseball, but again, just didn’t have the time to make all the practices and games because of motocross.
Monster Energy: Out of all the X Games sports, which ones get your attention?
Jeremy Fappani: Best Trick Skateboarding. Definitely watch that. BMX Quarter Pipe stuff. Big Whip is, of course, fun to watch. I also like Snocross racing in the Winter X Games. That’s pretty cool.
Monster Energy: We understand you’re a pretty good student. Real good as a matter-of-fact – Straight As. Talk about importance of school and how you’ve been able to combine that with a successful motocross career at such a young age.
Jeremy Fappani: I was public school until about three years ago. Then Covid hit and my school went to online. I was doing well, but wasn’t happy with going to school. I wanted to be online anyway. After Covid it was a pretty good wake up call, and going to school online helped me out and fit right into my schedule. I’ve been doing online since 7th grade and I’m a sophomore now.
Monster Energy: Back to Loretta’s… 2022 Supermini 1 (12-15) champion has got a nice ring to it. You’ve had some time now to think about that successful week you had in Tennessee. What are your thoughts on winning such an important championship in the sport of amateur motocross?
Jeremy Fappani: It’s a huge accomplishment to me. All those names, all those greats that have won it and where they are now. A lifetime dream of mine. And a prestigious class at that. So I’m very thankful to all the people in my corner that have helped me get there. Very thankful for that.
Monster Energy: There’s a crazy amount of work that goes in to what you just accomplished. Monster Energy backs all kinds of athletes from a wide variety of sports, and they all work exceptionally hard at their craft. Explain how much time and effort, both on and off your motorcycle, that went in to your first Loretta’s title.
Jeremy Fappani: It’s definitely a full-time job at this level. Three to four days a week, four hours a day at the track – minimum. Cycling 2-3 hours a few days a week, 1.5 hours of gym work every day. It definitely keeps a kid busy. And if you’re dealing with any injuries, that’s another hour or so a day at PT. So it truly adds up when you get to this level.
Monster Energy: The Supermini classes, both 1 & 2, were stacked with Monster Energy-backed racers. Leum Oehlhof, who won Supermini 2, Landen Gordon, Tiger Wood – you battled in six motos versus these guys. Talk about the Supermini competition level at Loretta’s this year.
Jeremy Fappani: The top five was definitely heavy this year. Look at all these kids. You see the work they put in. I see them almost every day at the track. Everyone puts in so much work to get to this level and they’re all respected in my eyes. An honor to race with them, learn from them, sometimes beat them and sometimes you’re behind them. Either way there’s a lot of respect.
Monster Energy: Was there any one moto, or a point in the racing, that stood out last week as the turning point to you winning the Supermini 1 championship? The aforementioned guys and you seemed so even in Supermini 1. What was it that allowed you to win?
Jeremy Fappani: I would say practice day (Monday at Loretta’s prior to the start of racing on Tuesday) I felt really good. My speed was really solid. In past years I’ve always been right there, but never fastest. I had the 7:30 a.m. first moto on Tuesday. I didn’t get the holeshot, but made my way up to the front. By the last lap I had a 20-second gap (on 2nd place), then fell, and still got up and got the moto win. That was a huge confidence builder. And in the (Supermini 1) 2nd moto I got the holeshot, got the lead and opened a gap. Mid-day sun, track was super rough. So those two motos I felt like I really had it this year.
Monster Energy: In Supermini 2 you finished 4th, having been on the podium (2nd/3rd) in the first two motos. It was a winner-take-all in the third and deciding moto for you, Landen, Tiger and Leum. What went down in that final Supermini 2 moto?
Jeremy Fappani: I didn’t get the greatest start. Sitting around 3rd for a few laps. Last moto of the day, 4 pm, going through the sand rollers, person in front went around the outside, I tried to go through the rougher section, which was shorter. I was wheeling and hit one roller, hard, threw my feet above my head, went down, about 10th that time. Tried to motor up and ended up like 4th. Whoever won would take the title. For me it’s unfortunately, but it is what it is I guess.
Monster Energy: The vibe is so cool at Loretta’s – despite the heat! Hahaha … How was that being around the nation’s top motocross talent, hanging out in the pits and camp sites, knowing that you were the fastest Supermini 1 guy that week?
Jeremy Fappani: I didn’t try to get too ahead of myself until I knew it was done. 1-1 in the first two motos… anything can still happen in that third moto. So I was still stretching, foam rolling, doing therapy on myself so I was ready. Once I was done, that Saturday night, there was no more stress. I could eat what I wanted to, didn’t have to stay perfect anymore. It was a big relief.
Monster Energy: So what’s next? What does the national Supermini 1 champion move to now?
Jeremy Fappani: I’ll start riding a 125 as a bit of a transition bike. As long as necessary. Then as long as my trainers (Ivan Tedesco and Jared Becker) say it’s good, then move up to the 250 much. I definitely feel I’m there, but need to ride the 125 a bit until I’m ready for it. Feel my numbers are there, so I should be solid for it (the 250 class bike).
Monster Energy: Rewinding a bit here, did you ever race the KTM Jr. Supercross Challenge for kids deal when Monster Energy AMA Supercross was in town at Glendale (Ariz.)?
Jeremy Fappani: I usually try to make a supercross round, usually Glendale. But I never made it to the KTM Junior Challenge. We tried to get accepted, but it never really happened. Raced the Supercross Futures, had fun with those. But ever since those went away I really haven’t touched a supercross track much.
Monster Energy: Finally, how cool is it to have a KTM mini factory ride? Talk about your relationship with KTM and how well they’ve treated you. And how pumped they are that you won them probably the most prestigious amateur mini cycle championship on the planet.
Jeremy Fappani: I’m very thankful to have KTM behind me, supporting me. They’ve been a huge help. (I) don’t have enough good things to say about them. They’re looking to do the best for you, and whatever you need they try to make it happen. It’s a brilliant program and I’m thankful to have them with me.
Monster Energy: Right on. Well a big congrats from the Monster Energy home offices here in Corona, Calif., on your Supermini 1 championship at Loretta’s. Great story on how you got there. We’re pumped to see all that hard work pay off for you.
Jeremy Fappani: Thank you very much. Monster Energy’s been a great sponsor for us and I’m always proud to be running the M-claw logo. Thanks again.
About Monster Energy
Based in Corona, California, Monster Energy is the leading marketer of energy drinks and alternative beverages. Refusing to acknowledge the traditional, Monster Energy supports the scene and sport. Whether motocross, off-road, NASCAR, MMA, BMX, surf, snowboard, ski, skateboard, or the rock and roll lifestyle, Monster Energy is a brand that believes in authenticity and the core of what its sports, athletes and musicians represent. More than a drink, it’s the way of life lived by athletes, sports, bands, believers and fans. See more about Monster Energy including all of its drinks at www.monsterenergy.com