Walking into the opening round of the 50th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Honda Fox Raceway in Southern California, an announcer’s voice boomed out over the facility’s public address system.

“And that does it! Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Seth Hammaker just stopped the clock with a lap at 2m13.063s and that’s good enough for the top qualifier spot for today’s 250cc Class National here at Pala!”

And that’s how Hammaker kicked off his 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship season, the second year racer ultimately powering to 8-5 moto scores for seventh overall on the day. And he has kept on charging since, averaging an eighth-place finish in the first 16 motos of the natural terrain campaign.

It has been an excellent and consistent year for the No. 47 rider, who only competed in two outdoor Nationals in 2021 as well as only two 250SX West Region Supercross main events in 2022.

Q: You got off to a great start in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship when you were fast qualifier and then raced to seventh overall at Pala…

SETH HAMMAKER: It had been a while since I had raced because of injuries and stuff. It was kind of unknown where I was at, especially with the outdoors. I hadn’t really raced outdoors really that much, and going into Pala I was feeling like I didn’t know where I fit in. I knew that I had good preparation leading up and into Pala. I was confident in the work I had put in, and I believed in myself and went out there and did the best I could.

It was a big confidence-booster. There was a lot of learning in the first couple of rounds. I felt like I was riding pretty well. At some of the early rounds I was kind of riding a little tight while riding up front and just kind of getting some arm pump, just because I haven’t been up front like that in a while. And then once I got some more races and some more laps under me, I felt better with that. You learn so much from running up front with those guys, so that was pretty cool.

Q: And with the practice sessions, I’m assuming that’s the first time you’re getting to go out and put some laps in on these tracks and beginning to sort out how to string sections together and what-not.

SH: Yeah, especially with these new tracks that I have never been to. It’s just tough to learn it super-quick and it’s also tough to lay down a fast lap.

Q: You raced to 8-5 moto scores for seventh overall at Pala. From there you started posting up top five and top eight moto scores. You had to realize you could do it and gain confidence?

SH: Yeah, for sure. The confidence was definitely coming in while I ran up front and then at that point I said to myself, “Alright, I know I can get good starts and once I’m up there, I know I can run with these guys.” Once that all set in, I was more confident with my riding.

And it is only getting better from here, too. The more rounds that I do, the more confident I get. And with some of the tracks, you have a bunch of different track conditions. Like, you’ve got the Southwick sand. That was the first time I had been there and that track was super-gnarly. And then there was Hight Point, which I had raced at just once before. That’s kind of more like the dirt that I grew up on and that I’m more comfortable with, so that was pretty cool. You also have to have good racecraft in these races and I think that’s what the guys up front do really well at. They can manage the race from up front. They don’t overdo it where they are spent at the end of the race.

Also, the biggest thing that I have been learning is changing different lines throughout the motos. For instance, once one line gets rough, you have to move. It’s like you don’t keep hammering that line or else it is going to take a toll on you. Also, if you’re losing a couple tenths there every moto, it’s going to totally add up through the whole moto. It’s just kind of learning all that stuff and racecraft is definitely important.

Q: What’s your take on your competition? You’re right up there with class standouts Jett and Hunter Lawrence, Joe Shimoda and Justin Cooper.

SH: Yeah, they’re definitely really fast and talented. Every time I start up front I can see a lot of things that I learn from them. Especially Jett Lawrence. He’s pretty patient out there in these motos. In the early laps of the race he’s pretty patient. He gets his lines down and then I notice that he doesn’t really rush things in the early part of the race, and then once he gets comfortable, he starts just clicking guys off. If he gets out front, he’ll immediately start building a gap and he holds that intensity pretty much for the entire 35 minutes. That’s something that is not easy to do and it’s something that we’ve been working on. Those guys are no joke, and I’m looking forward to battling with them more.

Q: You’re also working with veteran rider, racer and coach Ivan Tedesco now, aren’t you?

SH: Yeah, I am. He’s been helping me out a lot, especially with the outdoor races. He’s really helped me here with my first full season of outdoors. He’s been a huge help in giving me some insight on a lot of the things that helped him in the past. Yeah, it h as been working good and I really enjoy working with him.

Q: How do you like racing for Mitch Payton and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team?

SH: Yeah, it’ is awesome. The whole team over there is just awesome because they want to win as bad as I do. Every one there is for the same goal and they give me all the tools and the knowledge to succeed and be the best the best I can. It’s cool. I’ve got good teammates and everyone is willing to push each other and get better. Obviously, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki is the team to ride for and I’m super-thankful to be there and riding for them.

Q: Your next stop is going to be the Unadilla National in New Berlin, New York. Have you been there, and of so, what do you make of the circuit?

SH: Yeah, Unadilla is up next and this is a track that I actually have been to in the past and I really like it. It’s super-rutted there and pretty technical. You also have some high speed sections and a lot of elevation. It’s one of the tracks I enjoy going to and you’ve definitely got to know how to ride the ruts there. I think it’s going to be a good weekend and I want to get on the podium there.