From Feld Motorsports: The 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, kicks off this Saturday at Angel Stadium and for the first time in 40 years of racing, 10 riders with 450 SX Class Main Event wins will take part in this epic season led by two-time defending champion Ryan Villopoto.
The 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Championship season unfolded like a war of attrition. Throughout the 17-race season, the sport’s top five riders were forced to miss races, or in some cases the remainder of their season, with injuries. Before the gate dropped on the opening race the season, the sport possessed the deepest field in its history and subsequently lived up to the hype through the first four weekends.
Only once before had four different riders won the first four races of a season, so the stage appeared to be set for a different rider to win on any given night. When Villopoto, 2004 & 2008 450 SX Class Champion Reed, 2010 450 SX Champion Dungey and 2007 & 2009 450 SX Champion Stewart all grabbed victories to start the season, they became only the second group of riders ever to accomplish this feat in 39 years of competition. In 2013, the plot will undoubtedly thicken as this elite group will be joined by two highly touted rookies, Justin Barcia and Dean Wilson.
A major blow to the 2012 championship occurred to Honda’s Trey Canard, a title contender who was already battling a slow start to the season. Canard fell victim to a massive crash at Dodger Stadium, resulting in three fractured vertebrae and a spinal cord injury that kept him off the bike for seven months.
At the return stop inside Angel Stadium, Villopoto made a stand and became the first rider to win two races in the season, moving into the points lead for the second time in 2012. He never looked back, winning two more consecutive races.
“This year (2012), I worked harder than I ever have,” said Villopoto. “However, backing up what you have already done definitely brings added pressure to win.”
Part of Reed’s racing philosophy is consistency. He holds the record for all-time podium finishes – 119 in 148 starts – and is one of just two riders to win at least one 450 SX Class race in nine seasons. In 85 percent of 148 450SX Class starts, he’s finished in the top five a record 129 times. But last year, for only the second time in his career, Reed was forced to withdraw from the championship hunt due to injury. While stalking Villopoto for the lead near the halfway mark at Cowboys Stadium, Reed went down hard. In a violent crash that lasted just seconds, Reed’s injury report read: fractured T-6, two ribs, tibia, fibula, torn ACL, LCL, and meniscus.
“I’ve seen a lot in my life career. I’ve been a big sponge and taken it all in – the good, the bad, the ugly,” said Reed. “l have lived life to the fullest, and I believe that helps me stay motivated and committed to what I love to do on the weekends. I’ve been very lucky to have always been in the fight for podiums, wins and the title. I’m hoping ’13 will be no different! I learned a lot in 2012, and I’m ready to put that to good use.”
Stewart’s implausible speed would again become his worst enemy. He crashed in seven of 11 races, but still won two Main Events. Through the first 10 races, he averaged a fifth-place finish, but after the 44th win of his career, he joined the injured reserve list, only to come back for one more race, where he finished 20th following a crash. Considered the fastest man on the planet, Stewart either wins or crashes 91 percent of the time. To crack the code, Stewart needs to slow down to win championships. His lifetime winning percentage in races where he did not crash is 84.62 percent. When he won his first of two championships in 2007, his winning percentage in races where he did not crash was 100 percent.
“It’s going take speed, but it’s probably going to be about consistency more than anything,” Stewart said about the strategy to win this year’s title. “There are a lot of fast guys out there, and all of them want to win. None of us will have the luxury of a bad weekend this year.”
At one point in Stewart’s career he was squarely focused on breaking Jeremy McGrath’s all-time record of 72 wins. He told ESPN the Magazine, “The record will fall. I am going to make sure of it.”
Now that he’s more than halfway to the seemingly unbreakable mark, Stewart is not as sure about becoming the all-time winningest supercross racer.
“I would love to,” said Stewart about snapping the record. “But it’s going take some work. I still have a little ways to go, so we’ll see how it plays out over time.”
Heading into St. Louis, Dungey crashed during a practice session at his training facility, breaking his collarbone. To maintain his position in the title fight, he raced in St. Louis and finished second – but that made the fracture worse. As a result, Dungey was forced to have the injury surgically repaired, missing the next five races. He closed out the season with two consecutive wins and finished third in the championship during his first season on the Red Bull KTM team, delivering the Austrian team its first 450 SX Class wins and best season finish ever.
As fate would have it, two races after clinching his second consecutive Monster Energy Supercross Championship, Ryan Villopoto crashed in the Main Event of his home race in Seattle and tore his ACL, sidelining him for the remainder of the year. The season closed out with Andrew Short capturing the first victory of his seven-year 450 SX Class career, followed by Dungey sweeping the final two races of the season.
Graduating from the 250 SX Class is standout Justin Barcia. Barcia finished second overall as a rookie in 2010 and moved on to win back-to-back Eastern Regional Championships in 2011 and 2012. En route to a dominant 2012 season, Barcia won six of nine races and closed the season out with a 45-point lead over the second-place finisher with a 1.6 finishing average.
After establishing himself as one of the brightest rising stars of the sport over the last three seasons, Barcia is ready to compete in the 450 SX Class. His arrival will add to what is already the deepest field of riders in Monster Energy Supercross history.
If history repeats itself, Barcia will have his work cut out for him in 2013. Only twice in the sport’s history has a rookie claimed the 450 SX Class Championship, with Jeremy McGrath in 1993, and most recently Ryan Dungey in 2010.
Barcia puts less stock in history than he does his skill set, saying he’s a legitimate title contender. “That’s the plan; that’s what I was hired for,” said Barcia. “It’s like 250cc (250 SX Class) racing with more experienced riders.”
In this sport, anything can happen and Stewart put it best in saying, “What if the top four became the top, five, six, seven, eight … ”
Only time will tell as the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season prepares to challenge the fastest riders on the planet with 17 weekends of the greatest spectacle on dirt.
SPEED will broadcast the race live from Angel Stadium on Saturday, January 5 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
The 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season starts the first Saturday in January, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. And the series will end the first Saturday in May, at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
First, let’s look at what happened this past season. Ryan Villopoto clinched his second consecutive Monster Energy Supercross Championship. And he did it in dominating fashion, winning the title before the season even ended.
Justin Barcia won the ‘East’ 250 Lites Region, and Eli Tomac won the ‘West’ 250 Lites Region.
At the beginning of a season, you’ve got to start with the ‘big’ names. And these are the ‘big’ names:
Ryan Villopoto Chad Reed Ryan Dungey James Stewart
Why? They’ve all won AMA Supercross Championships! Villopoto – defending champion (and 2011 champion). Chad Reed has won two titles (2004, 2008), Ryan Dungey won the championship in 2010. And James Stewart has two AMA Supercross Championships – 2007, 2009.
Ryan Villopoto is coming back from a knee injury, suffered at the Seattle Supercross last April. But he did race at the Monster Energy Cup, looked great, and is 100% fit and ready to go for 2013. RV will ride with the big number “1” on his Monster Energy Kawasaki all season.
Chad Reed. Chad is also coming back from injury – he crashed at the Dallas Supercross and had multiple injuries – the most serious to his knee. He’s back and fit as well. He raced the Monster Energy Cup, and then went ‘home’ to Australia where he won three rounds of the Australian Supercross Series. He’s ready to go too. Chad is number 22 on a Honda – his own team: Two–Two Motorsports.
Ryan Dungey. He is, as KTM says, ‘Ready to Race’. Ryan is fit. Ryan is smart. Ryan has a brand new model KTM 450 machine. He has a great support staff around him. He’s comfortable at KTM after being there over a year now. Can he win his second title? Ryan will race on the number 5 machine.
James Stewart. He won his first title in 2007 aboard a Kawasaki. He’s ridden for various teams over the past few years, and finds himself coming into this season on a bike he’s never raced in supercross before – Suzuki. He has had some successs on the bike though – winning the first four motos of the 2012 Lucas Oil AMA outdoor motocross series, until a hard fall at the Colorado national derailed the rest of his 2012 season. Look for James in 2013 with his familiar number 7 – on the Yoshimura Suzuki team.
Does anyone remember who finished second to Villopoto in the 2012 Supercross Series?
Davi Millsaps. Davi is on a new team – Rockstar Suzuki. He’ll be riding with number 18.
Justin Barcia has moved up to the 450 class after winning two consecutive East Regional championships. Justin has always made great results when riding a 450. He won the Monster Energy Cup back in October. Can he stay consistent in his first full season in 450 Supercross for a 17 race series? That’s always a question when a rider moves up from the 250 class. And Justin need look no further than Jeremy McGrath (who won the premier supercross title in his rookie season – 1993, and Ryan Dungey, who also won as a rookie in the premier 450 SX class – 2010).
More info on the 450 class: Mike Alessi will be racing on his #800 Suzuki on the MotoConcepts team. Kevin Windham will be back again on the number 14 GEICO Honda. Trey Canard (a 2008 Lites Regional Champion) is returning to competition from a serious back injury. Jake Weimer (another former 250 Lites Regional Champion) is Villopoto’s team-mate on the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross – they have two riders they’ve had on their team before – Josh Grant & Justin Brayton. They’ll be racing Yamaha YZ 450’s. Andrew Short returns on the Chaparral Honda team, managed by Larry Brooks. He’ll be number 29. A new team – RCH Factory Racing. Ricky Carmichael and Carey Hart have teamed together to form this team. They have factory Suzuki bikes. Their riders will be Broc Tickle (another former 250 Lites Regional Champion) and Josh Hill.
And the 250 Lites classes – actually two series that run as ‘West’ and ‘East’ regional series.
Do we, or anyone, know for sure which ‘coast’ riders are going to race on? No. Because teams and riders can always change their mind – and many changes usually happen the week before and after the opening round at Anaheim.
Some notes though: 250 LItes West Regional Eli Tomac will be racing the 250 class at least one more year – although which series (region) remains to be seen. And there is a new member to the GEICO Honda team – Zach Osborne – who has been racing the World Motocross Championships the past few years. KTM has said that former World Motocross Champions Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin will race West and East respectively. Monster Energy Pro Circuit has top contender and 2011 AMA 250 National Motocross Champion Dean Wilson. And 2012 AMA 250 National MX Champion Blake Baggett.
Monster Energy says it’s going to be big. And it will be. It is cool. It is old school. It is new school. And it will be big – speedway racing in the USA.
Below is a race recap and photos, courtesy of Monster Energy. A quick video overview is below.
You’ll definitely want to be at this event next year – it a lot of fun, and lots of quick, exciting, fantastic racing action!
Americans Shine at Inaugural Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational in Front of Capacity Crowd
Record Attendance Inside Industry Racing’s Grand Arena
The Monster Energy World Invitational lived up to expectations on Saturday night as 18 of the world’s fastest riders took to the track inside Industry Racing’s Grand Arena in front a record-setting, sellout crowd.
After a full night and 23 races, American rider Billy Janniro stood atop the podium for one of the biggest wins of his career.
Janniro said “Monster did a great job tonight. I don’t know how many thousands of people were here, but it was awesome. To win in front of everyone and for these Europeans to be here, it was a big achievement. I’m very happy.”
The 20 events that ultimately set up the pair of semi finals were full of drama, excitement, and the trademark competitive action that defines motorcycle speedway racing. Throughout each set of heats, the crowd stood on their feet, giving the riders all the support they could ask for.
Ultimately, American rider Ricky Wells garnered the top seed going into the Semi Finals, winning four of his five events. He was joined by fellow Americans Billy Hamill, Greg Hancock, Charlie Venegas, and Billy Janniro, along with Brits Edward Kennett and Scott Nicholls, while Swede Antonio Lindback rounded out the top eight riders that featured just three international competitors.
Wells said “It was a good start to the night, I couldn’t complain too much. I had a good setup and good people behind me and everything was just working really well for me. I think I started off the night really fast and carried it through.”
With exceptional talent filling each Semi Final, the action was sure to be some of the best of the evening as only the top two finishers from each would advance to the Final and the chance to be named winner of the inaugural Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational.
In Semi Final 1, Hamill, a Monster Energy Athlete, made an impressive move coming out of the second corner to vault from third to first place heading into the third turn. He fended off Wells for the entire race, as the pair pulled away to solidify their spots in the Final.
Semi Final 2 became a showdown between Janniro and Hancock, with both riders battling for the win and leaving their fellow riders well behind. The duo crossed the line mere inches apart to make it an all-American Final.
The culminating race of the night became a battle of track position, with each rider’s chosen lane at the start setting the foundation for a chance at victory in a four-lap sprint to the finish. As the top seed, Wells had first pick and selected the third lane, with Janniro lining up next to him in the second lane, Hamill on the far inside, and Hancock on the far outside.
As the starting ribbon rose, Janniro positioned himself in the lead with a quick move inside as the riders jockeyed for momentum. He was closely followed by Hancock, who put forth an impressive challenge throughout the entire four-lap race but couldn’t generate enough speed to make a pass. Behind them, the battle for third was equally as exciting with Wells slipping past Hamill on the final lap to claim the third spot on the podium.
“I really wanted to win this one. This is the biggest event we’ve had here in the U.S. since the late 80’s,” exclaimed Hancock, a Monster Energy Athlete in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix. “This is one of the greatest events to be a part of for me, having Monster on board to support the sport here in the states. They have lifted this sport so much and for American Speedway this was a big hit. Just look at the crowd that turned out. I could talk all night about it. We’re really grateful.”
“This was the start of something great for American Speedway,” boasted Hamill. “Monster has come on board and revived speedway, recognizing it’s a pure form of racing like we saw tonight. It’s very promising for our young riders and I think more kids that do other disciplines will take a long hard look at racing speedway now and see it as a big opportunity.”
In addition to the star-studded international battle of pros, the future of American Speedway also put on a show on the packed crowd with Mini 150cc and Junior 250cc competition. Courtney Crone provided one of the most memorable moments of the evening when she took the victory in the Mini 150cc class. Max Ruml was dominant in the Junior 250cc class, winning each Heat and the Main Event.
With the biggest crowd ever seen at Industry Racing, it’s safe to say that the Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational was a success and a fitting complement to the resurgence of motorcycle speedway in America. The fans welcomed the global group of riders with open arms and never left their seat, cheering on the world’s best speedway riders through to the final checkered flag.
“This event was unbelievable and a huge lift for the sport in America,” added Hancock. “This is going to be a long term thing and it’s the beginning of something great. There were a lot of people here looking at what this sport could be on this scale.”
“This is a great spectator sport,” concluded Hamill. “There isn’t a bad seat in the house, even with a big crowd like we had tonight. Its no-holds-barred racing and something I’m proud to be a part of, and I think this is something we will build off of here in America.”
Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational
Industry Racing – City of Industry, Calif.
December 29, 2012
World Speedway Invitational Results
1. Billy Janniro
2. Greg Hancock
3. Ricky Wells
4. Billy Hamill
Yes, the video quality is terrible. But this race is still considered to be the ‘best’ supercross race of all time. David Bailey and Rick Johnson – battling for 20 laps. Multiple lead changes. The crowd going crazy. Announcer Larry Huffman screaming like crazy.
David won the race, and Rick would go on to win the 1986 AMA Supercross Championship. Also in this video – Jeff Ward number 1, Ron Lechien number 2, Broc Glover #4. And see who else you can spot!
You want retro? How about the greatest supercross race ever? The 1986 battle between David Bailey & Rick Johnson is still considered the best race in the history of the sport. Shot by Lex on VHS for Rick Johnson Racing