These are photos and a written article by Tyler Young. It’s meant as an expanded feature to our normal race coverage. To see our normal coverage, please click Race Results on the left hand side navigation.
The explosion is deep royal blue and the thumping that trails in the distance sounds like a heartbeat dosed on adrenaline. It flies bursting in fits of leaps and turns, leaving stars and letters in its wake, leaving clouds of dirt clods and dust settling down, leaving thousands of cheers and shouts of alarm reaching through the time of the moment.
It’s going off and off and off and in broad daylight it lights up the whole field shining brighter than the sun, light blue intensity and focus, bright star rejuvenate and spring to your trembling end, rejuvenate and sing with every throb and thump you leave behind, trailing in deep throaty sound.
It’s hard to believe that one man could generate this, is at the center of this, could command this much attention, fascination, and admiration. Generate this dazzling show of belief in one destiny, that one man could reach for greatness with such calm and recurring ferocity, it’s hard to believe that there was anything other than his current state of brilliance; no doubt, no fear, no possible end other than the pinnacle of achievement, nothing else, no setback, no failure, not ever.
This man exploding before us, streaking deep royal blue, racing toward his own ultimate end of victory leaving stars and letters behind him, he’s something unlike ordinary men, there can be no similarity here, see how he pulses and spins at the expense of his own strength and according to the measure of his own courage?
And what are those letters that float and fall behind him like the aftermath of battle or the lingering melody of a song that has just driven its audience to new heights? What are those stars that pop out gold from the streaking blue shine in the Daytona sun?
Those stars are victories. They’re marks cut into stone with the blade of a hunting knife, they’re symbols of dominance and a promise of more to come like the warning growl of something wild and ready to spring, each star is the twinkle in an animal’s eye when it’s fangs are bare about to bite, they’re the glint of determination in Chad Reed’s eyes as he comprehends the brutal landscape he commands with his Yamaha of Troy YZF 250, destroying the will of his competition, blowing their minds, beating them down, leaving them behind, disappearing from sight, managing them like each and every sand whoop and rut that demands his attention so completely, he isn’t even aware of the technique he’s using.
And the letters. R’s and E’s and D’s, rippling off of his body with the wind of his speed, fluttering with the contortions of his jersey over his chest and shoulders as they push into his lean with every corner and press down over his bars over the biggest jumps. They stand for Chad and right now Chad stands for something grand, his Yamaha sending a growling message of victory.
Chad Reed is winning, the way Roger DeCoster won, the way Jimmy Weinert and Bob Hannah won, the way Mark Barnett, Broc Glover and Johnny O’Mara won, the way Jeff Ward, Ricky Johnson and Jeff Stanton won. Absolutely. Ridiculously. Cruelly.
The will to win is a cruel thing. True, all-consuming, let-it-all-burn desire to be the best. The heart that drives Former World Champion Grant Langston and Defending Outdoor National Champion Mike Brown. That drive to exhaust their bodies and punish them for being exhausted. That force that pushes them to eliminate everything from their lives that would distract them from being the best.
It drives them to extremes, it drives them to separate themselves from everyone around them, and if they encounter anyone like themselves then they haven’t pushed hard enough, they haven’t convinced themselves that they were the only one capable of reaching that singular honor: knowing there was nothing more to accomplish, no higher perfection he or anyone else could reach.
Today, in Daytona, both riders, proven Champions, each one amazing in his own right, must admit defeat at the hand of Chad Reed.
Imagine how cruel the will to win is then.
To stand and see this, to feel the weight dropping down through your own legs, just a spectator, watching the demand Chad throws upon himself as he clings to the shuddering chassis of his Yamaha, checkered flag waiting, is to suddenly realize, can there be any coincidence, that the words won and one sound exactly alike?