Who Is Axell Hodges?
Axell “Slay” Hodges is an X Games gold medal motocross competitor known for his multifaceted athletics and style. Garnering a huge social media following, he is known for his unique moto videos.
Born on August 20, 1996, in Encinitas, California, Hodges grew up watching his father and two older brothers racing dirt bikes and being a fan of motocross champ Jeremy McGrath. Hodges began riding at age eight and broke ground when he won the Loretta Lynn’s national amateur race in 2012.
Hodges built ramps in his backyard to practice his tricks, although he admits he’s got to be careful not to disturb the neighbors.
“We have a couple neighbors that are up above, and it echoes off the canyons, so they’re pretty bummed on it. We’ve been [living in Encinitas] for like 25 years, and everyone knows my dad from my Snapchat and stuff — he’s kind of the crazy guy who gets s**t done,” Hodges explains. “We put spark arrestors in the pipes, and when I hit the ramps I try not to rev it and go complete X Games-mode on everyone. I try to keep it mellow and just ride at the right times of the day. I keep it minimum to around 30 minutes to an hour at most.”
Outside of motocross, Hodges also grew up skateboarding, BMX biking and snowboarding, which has influenced his racing style and is exemplified in his popular moto videos on YouTube.
With Hodges’ older brother, Ash (aka “Dirt Shark”), directing mini videos of his kid brother on Monster Energy’s YouTube channel, Hodges has developed his own unique brand of moto theatre.
“Yeah, nobody really does this sort of thing with riding,” Hodges says about his multifaceted athletic approach in his videos. “Everybody is trained to race and go fast or do the freestyle thing. I grew up surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding and all that stuff and just used those influences and put it into moto. It’s fun.”
He adds: “There have been a lot of people that I would have never expected who have come up to me and said they’ve liked my stuff and are pretty hyped on me. That makes me happy and makes me feel good about all this.”
Career Highlights, Stats
Ever since becoming a Loretta Lynn’s national champ, Hodges has gone on to place second at the 2015 Monster Energy cup and second at the 2016 X Games in Austin under the MTX Best Whip category. In the following year, he won yet another second place finish at the World of X Real Moto. 2018 ended up being a golden year for Hodges when he took home two first-place finishes, the first being for the MTX QuarterPipe High Jump at the X Games in Minneapolis and the second for the MTX Real Moto at the World of X Real Moto.
Hodges rides a Honda CRF 250/450.
‘Evel Live 2’ on HISTORY
As a rising phenom in motocross, Hodges has starred in stunt docs like A-X-L (2018) and Ridiculousness (2019). In July 2019, in preparation for HISTORY’s Evel Knievel stunt special “Evel Live 2,” Hodges crashed while on a practice run for the longest motorcycle jump in history—a death-defying distance of 378 feet and 9 inches—and severely injured both ankles. “I’m shocked I’m not in worse shape and feel extremely grateful to have been able to get up from this crash,” Hodges says.
He was preparing two record-breaking jumps for the event: First, he was going to attempt to soar over more than 25 semi-trucks to break Knievel’s 1971 attempt and Evel’s son Robbie’s 2003 record. In the same night, he was going to try and jump farther than anyone ever has on a motorcycle, a distance that was set in 2011 by Australian Robbie Madison. A fully customized Kawasaki KX450F was to have been his ride for both jump attempts.
“Evel and daredevils of the past have helped pave the way for guys like me. What Travis, Nitro Circus and HISTORY did last year in ‘Evel Live’ inspired a lot of freestyle athletes and a new generation of motorcyclists,” Axell says. “I’m ready to make my mark.” Chances are good the ankle injuries won’t ground him for long.