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I am going to go ahead and give you a minute to catch your breath and pick your jaw up from the floor…
That’s about how I felt Saturday night around 1 am. (or Sunday morning for you particular folk). It may have been the Vet 30B beverages, or it just might have been 3 hours of non-stop supercross action, we’ll never really know, but what an opener! That was a lot to unpack for the avid supercross fan but think I can speak for most of us in saying, that was well worth the wait.
I’m not going to go into dissecting the race because, well, that’s my co-worker Palms’ gig, but I’ll touch on things real quick. Amongst the craziness that was delivered from every gate drop, I feel like most things played out as I had expected. Kenny, Kenny’d, Coop, Coop’d, And Barcia Barcia’d. This is one stacked field again but the cream always rises and rise most certainly did.
A huge bummer on the night was my buddy Coat (Colt Nichols) having a lapse in concentration while walking away with the heat race. Those whoops were big-league whoops and both sets reminded more than a few guys of that throughout the night. What surprises me is, Colt is generally very consistent through the whoops. That’s why I say lapse in concentration because he is too talented of a rider to be missing the 3rd whoop and ending your season on lap 3 of the opening heat of the year… Rewind 8 years ago, both Colt and I were on the Babbitts Arenacross team. I was Tyler Bowers’ mechanic and Colt was just a rookie injected to the team through the Team Green Program to earn his supercross stripes. The kid had raw speed and talent, but on the nights when they actually built real whoops, he struggled. Rightfully so, for a kid dipping his toes into the world of indoor racing. As time went on, Colt graduated to the confines of stadiums and it was evident he put in the work. After a few privateer seasons and some podiums later, Star Racing was calling.
In years past, we have come to Anaheim for round 1 to find a rather mellow course. This is to allow everyone to get back into the swing of things and get some real race laps under their belts. I am on the fence with this, because yeah, it’s just not good for anyone when we watch a few guys get carted off the track and sometimes not come back until outdoors, but at the same time, this is professional AMA Supercross. This is the pinnacle of our sport, the best of the best, so why do they need a tame track to get back into racing? Everyone rides the same track, and how each rider navigates their laps is entirely up to them unless you’re around the ‘22 version of Mr. Musquin – he may help you out with a thing or two, but that’s a topic for another discussion.
I think the layout for A1 was fine, the obstacles were standard issue. Nothing too weird or aggressive in my opinion. The game-changer here was the dirt. SoCal received some rain in the weeks leading up to A1 and boy did the dirt ever let us know. The dirt they use for the Anaheim venue is a mix of clay-type soil with stones and rocks. It packs up quickly but also leaves a pebbly/marbly loose dirt on top making it tricky to maintain grip. The grip is the tire on top of the surface, think road racing, always fighting for grip, and traction is when the tire is biting into the surface, learned that one from Mr. Vuillemin himself many moons ago. There’s also another thing about Anaheim that most wouldn’t know until they’ve raced it. Depending on the moisture content in the atmosphere, accompanied by falling air temperatures, the dew point can add a layer of difficulty to certain areas of the track. It creates a very thin layer of grimy, slippery wet dirt, that’s why you see so many guys tuck the front wheel coming into the turns.
Overall, the dirt this year was visibly more wet than usual. The way it broke down and got chewed up was very east coast-like and developed a much more technical track than what most were anticipating. The clay base of the soil creates sharp, hard edges that catch the wheels and make it difficult for even the best riders in the world, to maintain consistency. I love when these guys race on tracks like this because it really shows who’s comfortable and who brings forth a skill set that we usually only get to see outdoors. The way these guys ride SX these days is unreal, they make it look so easy, it’s almost refreshing to see them struggle a bit and remind us that they are human and can and do make mistakes. It’s hard to fathom how incredibly talented these guys truly are but racing in those conditions gives the average rider a glimpse of an AMA Supercross rider’s ability.
I am so pumped Supercross is back. The “off-season” is a dark place for most of us up here where the snow grows, and since we can’t do anything else, (thanks, Doug) it’s nice to have something to look forward to every weekend. Before I sign off, I have to give credit where credit is due… It’s pretty rad to see Cole Thompson pack up his shit and hit the road. Now, before everyone starts saying “Oh yeah, more guys should do this,” please understand that Cole possesses a talent in which very few have, and that whole topic is long debated. Not just anyone can do this. Furthermore, I don’t mean this as an “Oh, it’s great to see a Canadian giving it a go.” That’s great and all, and I am always pumped to see a Canuck take on a challenge. What I am getting at here is, it’s nice to see Cole back in his natural environment. Cole is a phenomenal rider and the kid absolutely shines on a supercross track. Think of him what you want, that’s a different discussion, but the fact he is putting himself in the best position to showcase his extraordinary talent is worth a nod in my books. Good job, kid.
‘Til next time…