How do you sum up a career that spans over 20 years? Jason’s been riding on a factory team probably longer than most of you have been alive, and he’s been a Pro probably at least as long as you’ve been riding.If you’ve got roots, then you’ll remember a lot of what Jason’s talking about in his interview. If not, consider this a quick history lesson. One thing I know for sure is that he’s going to be missed at the races. If you’ve never met Jason, than you missed out on knowing a super nice guy.

Y2K saw Jason Haro-mounted… check out who he’s beating: Robert de Wilde in the old GT days…

Why did you decide that now was the right time to quit?
I had a hunch during this past Grands that that would be my last race. Even though I knew that the AAA deal was going to go through, looking back I think I knew that the Grands was going to be it for me. The reason? Well, without going into great detail, I had been dealing with hip and back injuries off and on (but mostly on) for over two years. I didn’t even race a moto between the X Games 2002 in August and the Grands in November because of it, and looking back, the last time I was 100 percent healthy was way back in June of the 2000 season. So, the injury thing is the major reason I am calling it quits. I have seen countless doctors and chiropractors to try and remedy the problem without any real results. But as long as I don’t lift weights or sprint on my bike, then I have no problems with my back. So basically my decision became a solution that I had to accept. I didn’t want to keep racing BMX, fighting this same injury battle that has plagued me so long, just to milk a paycheck.

Was it hard leaving knowing that you had hooked up a deal with AAA for the rest of the year?
Originally yes, it was hard to give up a great sponsor and an even greater opportunity in times of uncertainty in the BMX world. It was also hard to leave the professional BMX life style, but I think I am at peace with it all now.

When did you originally start?
I started racing in 1981 when I was 5 years old.

How long did it take before you started getting good?
Pretty quick; I started winning nationals within six months.

How old were you when you got your first factory ride and who was it?
I rode for Powerlite when I was five (when I first turned expert) and then I went to GT when I turned six.

List all the sponsors you’ve had—if you can remember dates, that would be cool…
I mentioned Powerlite was my first major sponsor, then GT for the 1982 and 1983 season. Then I went with Greg Hill to GHP when he started his own company in 1984. He offered me my own signature frame with a royalty for each one that sold (all at 8 years old). GHP only lasted a year due to lack of funding, but at the end of that year he gave me a brand new YZ 80 motorcycle that he had won at a national as a goodwill gesture. I then went to CW and rode for them from 1985 to 1988 and then CW switched over to Revcore in 1989. I rode for Robinson for a short stint at the end of 1989 after Revcore folded, and then went to Redline for four years from 1990 to 1994. I turned Pro at the 1993 Grands at 17 years old, turned AA the next summer, won 1994 Rookie Pro of the Year and then quit BMX for two solid years. I came back in 1997 as an A Pro. I rode for Supercross that year and I turned back to AA at the beginning of that summer. I then switched over to Elf for most of the 1998 season. I rode for Huffy for the 1999 season, Haro in 2000, and Answer/Pro Concept for the 2001 and 2002 season.

The Chevy Pro Invitational race in Taft, California last year, battling with Staats’ Mike Day.  credit: James Ayres

What do you think your best amateur year was?
I had great years as a little kid, winning the Grands, the Worlds, and NAG 1′s like 5 years in a row, but my most memorable older amateur year was in 1991. I won a lot of competitive races that year and I missed the Amateur #1 title by one point (allegedly).

Who was your biggest comp as an am?
Mike Luna and In Hee Lee were probably my toughest competition.

What year did you turn pro?
I turned pro at the 1993 Grands. I was riding for Redline at the time.

Who was in your rookie class?
I still remember the readers’ choice nominees for the Pro Rookie of the Year award: Chris Sanchez, Scott Yoquelet, Chris Schoonover, Justin Green, Mike Luna, and myself.

What was the pro class like back then? (training, number of races, etc…)
I remember like it was yesterday watching the video from Friday practice at the Burbank National in 1994. I went back to my house to watch it and my Dad and I could not believe how fast Christophe was. He was even pulling Pistol Pete down the first straight and no one pulled Pistol. Right around when I turned AA the first time is when the influx of talent started coming in. Guys like Christophe, Wade Bootes, Jamie Staff, Dale Holmes, Neal Wood, etc. came to the States to live and race, and guys like the Foster brothers came out to California to make a living at racing. Plus you still had legends like Gary Ellis, Pistol Pete, Steve Veltman, Charles Townsend, Danny Nelson, Eric Carter, and Bryan Lopes riding as strong as ever.

Jason hitting up the downhill race at Woodward last year…

What would you say was your best pro year?
I had a really consistent two-year period from the middle of 1998 to the middle of the 2000 season. 1999 was my best year, and that carried over to the first half of 2000. I remember I was #7 in ABA points when I first started having back problems in June of that year.

Is there a race that stands out in your head that you did especially well at?
There are two races that I am most proud of. The first was the 1998 ABA Grands. At that time I had raced AA (the second time) for two years. I had a really tough time and struggled the first year and a half, but the second half of ’98 I really started to put in some good results. Anyway, at that time I was still basically paying my way to get to the races and I didn’t have a good sponsor lined up for the 1999 season. Well, I ended up getting really sick three weeks prior to the Grands with some viral infection and didn’t think I would even get to go, let alone race. I ended up going to the Grands at the last minute just to watch, and Saturday morning I decided to race. Next thing I knew I found myself crossing the finish line 3rd in the semi and I had made the main. I ended up 5th overall that day, and got a call from Huffy the next week.
The second race that stands out is Ontario, CA. ABA in 1999. I holeshotted all three mains. I went into the third main leading points and led that race all the way to the last turn until I let Big Mac and Christophe dive on me. It was so disappointing to ride so good and only end up 3rd overall.

JD and Greg Romero mixing it up during the ABA’s Monstercross Series.

You raced through a lot of different eras (uni blade forks, neon leathers, Greg Hill…). Name some of the others that you remember…
I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go. In the early and mid ’80s all the factory-sponsored racers brought their 16-inch “pit bikes to the Nationals. In the late ’80s Spokie Dokies and Donuts for your grips were a necessity. In the early ’90s it was all about neon and visor risers.
Speaking of trends, did anyone know that my dad was the guy who invented the curved Powerlite handle bar and the first caged pedal?

Who did you look up to as an amateur and as a pro? Why?
As a little kid, I looked up to my brother. He was an inspiration to me and he was also a good racer. As far as other riders, I always looked up to Eric Carter and spent a lot of time with him because he was my teammate and my brother’s best friend. I could go on forever telling you about all the other Pros that I have respected over the years.

The Huffy era, 1999.

Do you have any regrets about ending your career now?
No regrets at all; I am completely satisfied to move on to the next stage of my life, whatever that may be. Quite honestly, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. No more pressure of having to perform well, fighting injuries, stuff like that. I had a great run and an even better time, and now it’s time for me to move on, so I have no regrets.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? (downhill, trails…)
As far as my plans related to BMX, I would like to still compete in the downhill series if possible. But realistically I know that I can’t stop riding competitively for 6 months and expect to race down a mountain with 50-foot gaps on a little 20-inch bicycle with no suspension. So I’m not sure. If I can find a way to ride my bike consistently then maybe I’ll try to race some downhill events. But as far as riding as a hobby, I still try to stay in shape by riding my bike to school everyday and I make it down to Sheep Hills once a week.

Photo session at Coal Canyon, 1998.

Which top amateur will make it as the next good pro?
There is obviously a whole new breed of pros coming in, and I think it is great for the sport. Kids like Mike Day, Donny Robinson, Jarrett Kolich, and Bubba just love to race their bikes and they bring a whole new element to the pro class. It seems like they can’t get enough of riding their bikes and I think that is the difference between these guys and the veterans. I think these kids will retire most of the veterans in the class within a couple of years because they have the desire and skills to run the older guys right out of the sport.
As far as the next amateur to make it, Paul Lange, hands down.

The Elf days…

Where do you see BMX headed?
Nowhere fast. If you were to create some type of line graph of participation in BMX over the past 25 years, it would be as flat as a pancake. In my opinion, BMX racing has been and always will remain stagnant because it just does not have the elements to attract and sustain an outside fan base and following. I know it’s fashionable to blame the associations, but I think people fail to realize that the ABA is run as a profit business; it is not worth the risk for them to overhaul their operations to try and create something that isn’t there, especially when their financial statements looI’ve seen a lot of fads come and go. In the early and mid ’80s all the factory-sponsored racers brought their 16-inch “pit bikes to the Nationals. In the late ’80s Spokie Dokies and Donuts for your grips were a necessity. In the early ’90s it was all about neon and visor risers.
Speaking of trends, did anyone know that my dad was the guy who invented the curved Powerlite handle bar and the first caged pedal?

Who did you look up to as an amateur and as a pro? Why?
As a little kid, I looked up to my brother. He was an inspiration to me and he was also a good racer. As far as other riders, I always looked up to Eric Carter and spent a lot of time with him because he was my teammate and my brother’s best friend. I could go on forever telling you about all the other Pros that I have respected over the years.

The Huffy era, 1999.

Do you have any regrets about ending your career now?
No regrets at all; I am completely satisfied to move on to the next stage of my life, whatever that may be. Quite honestly, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. No more pressure of having to perform well, fighting injuries, stuff like that. I had a great run and an even better time, and now it’s time for me to move on, so I have no regrets.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? (downhill, trails…)
As far as my plans related to BMX, I would like to still compete in the downhill series if possible. But realistically I know that I can’t stop riding competitively for 6 months and expect to race down a mountain with 50-foot gaps on a little 20-inch bicycle with no suspension. So I’m not sure. If I can find a way to ride my bike consistently then maybe I’ll try to race some downhill events. But as far as riding as a hobby, I still try to stay in shape by riding my bike to school everyday and I make it down to Sheep Hills once a week.

Photo session at Coal Canyon, 1998.

Which top amateur will make it as the next good pro?
There is obviously a whole new breed of pros coming in, and I think it is great for the sport. Kids like Mike Day, Donny Robinson, Jarrett Kolich, and Bubba just love to race their bikes and they bring a whole new element to the pro class. It seems like they can’t get enough of riding their bikes and I think that is the difference between these guys and the veterans. I think these kids will retire most of the veterans in the class within a couple of years because they have the desire and skills to run the older guys right out of the sport.
As far as the next amateur to make it, Paul Lange, hands down.

The Elf days…

Where do you see BMX headed?
Nowhere fast. If you were to create some type of line graph of participation in BMX over the past 25 years, it would be as flat as a pancake. In my opinion, BMX racing has been and always will remain stagnant because it just does not have the elements to attract and sustain an outside fan base and following. I know it’s fashionable to blame the associations, but I think people fail to realize that the ABA is run as a profit business; it is not worth the risk for them to overhaul their operations to try and create something that isn’t there, especially when their financial statements look just fine.

What will you miss the most?
I will miss seeing all the great people associated with BMX the most.

Any plans for Vet Pro or mountain bikes?
I have absolutely no plans for Vet Pro or mountain bikes. You have to be 30 years old to race Vet Pro, and I am still three years away from that. As far as mountain bikes, I just never had any desire to ride, let alone race, mountain bikes.

Jason on Answer/Pro Concept, 2001, ABA Winter nationals.  credit: James Ayres

What’s after the business degree at Cal State Fullerton (Job or band)?
I am not sure what I am going to do job-wise. I have had a number of good opportunities and job offers in the past few weeks, but my main focus is to finish my business degree. I will graduate this May and then make some decisions from there. As far as my band, the other members and I have committed a full year and a half to it to see what happens. We are recording in March-April, and then we are going to do a US tour this summer. Our main goal is to try to get signed to a bigger label and see what happens. Check us out as JWKB.com. The Web site is being revamped but it should be up soon.

Thanks James for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. Also, thank you to all of you who have supported me over the years, I will miss you. look just fine.

What will you miss the most?
I will miss seeing all the great people associated with BMX the most.

Any plans for Vet Pro or mountain bikes?
I have absolutely no plans for Vet Pro or mountain bikes. You have to be 30 years old to race Vet Pro, and I am still three years away from that. As far as mountain bikes, I just never had any desire to ride, let alone race, mountain bikes.

Jason on Answer/Pro Concept, 2001, ABA Winter nationals.  credit: James Ayres

What’s after the business degree at Cal State Fullerton (Job or band)?
I am not sure what I am going to do job-wise. I have had a number of good opportunities and job offers in the past few weeks, but my main focus is to finish my business degree. I will graduate this May and then make some decisions from there. As far as my band, the other members and I have committed a full year and a half to it to see what happens. We are recording in March-April, and then we are going to do a US tour this summer. Our main goal is to try to get signed to a bigger label and see what happens. Check us out as JWKB.com. The Web site is being revamped but it should be up soon.

Thanks James for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. Also, thank you to all of you who have supported me over the years, I will miss you.