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If that word alone doesn’t give you at least one goosebump I’d like you to check your pulse. Just the thought of this historic venue, from all angles, gets me going! The relatively small beach town on the eastern coast of Florida is dubbed The World Center Of Racing for good reason. Give or take, motorsports of all kinds can be found competing here throughout the year. This past week it was our turn, for the 52nd time!
Since 1959, when Daytona International Speedway opened, the history that has been made within the tri-oval high banks could write its own novel. Our sport added another chapter this weekend with Eli Tomac securing sole ownership of most wins at Daytona, with 6! Overtaking arguably the greatest dirtbike rider of all time, Ricky Carmichael.
What makes Daytona, Daytona?
Outside of motocross, Daytona International Speedway is most known for the series kick off of the Nascar Cup Series’ own, Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in Nascar history. Beginning in 1971, our sport has made a stop here for what I consider the most prestigious Supercross race of all time.
The Daytona SX always offers such an incredibly unique race track that has proven to be more than challenging to those who are brave enough to race it. Over the years, the race has taken place both during the day, as well as under the lights. Each adding their own specific set of difficulties to the already long list. We’ve been under the lights for several years now, and every year this race seems to create a storyline that is unmatched throughout the season.
I feel pretty comfortable in saying, Daytona is now Eli Tomac’s house. Ricky had his bags all but packed coming into this weekend’s race with the overall win record on the line and sure enough, Eli secured victory, for the 6th time.
I think I enjoy this race as much as I do because, to me, it emulates everything motocross and supercross are all about. It’s undoubtedly the toughest supercross race and it’s incredibly demanding. Somehow, these guys find a way to bring extra strength, extra endurance, and a whole lotta grit to this famed weekend in March and if they have enough, they might be to pull off a win here. You have to be able to suffer immensely, and push yourself to a place only a few athletes can go, physically, and mentally. The way Daytona pushes a rider into their physical reserves is unlike any other. It’s basically a gnarly motocross race blended with the extreme intensity of supercross. The high speeds, deep ruts, and ever-changing soil matched with the standard steep faces of supercross carved into it make for one hell of an assignment. Managing all that, while maintaining your timing, rhythm, and pace is a feat only an elite few can achieve.
Something that stood out to me from the post-race interviews on the podium was how considerably more fatigued the guys looked. Usually, they still have a bit of pep-in-their-step, so to speak after the main event. But this week, Eli, Cooper, and Chase’s mannerisms, and overall appearance proved they emptied the tank out there. They straight up looked exhausted and that in itself is a little reminder that they are human. It’s also a strong testament to everything I mentioned above, this race is truly gnarly and one of a kind. I love it!
The handful of times I worked at the Daytona Supercross provided a new and distinctive experience. My rookie adventure was none other than a full-on mudder and I am proud to say my rider, and bike completed the entire race and saw the checkered flag. A task that perhaps doesn’t seem all that impressive, but if you were there in 2012, you would understand. It wasn’t as bad as the famous muddy, drenching, water-filled race from 2008, but it’s definitely in the same conversation.
A couple of quick notes, then I will be on my way…
Anderson… On behalf of every El Hombre fan, GET IT TOGETHER. It’s frustrating as a fan, but obviously even more frustrating for Jason himself to watch these wins slip through his fingers. The fastest qualifier on the day looked poised to continue with his successful ways but, yet another run-in with Mookie derailed that idea early on in the main event. Mookie is another guy that has to be frustrated… they are both hurting each other. I did watch an interview with Malcolm this week and he stated that he and Jason have talked it out and agreed to cut the bullshit and just race their dirtbikes. I believe both these guys can, and should be on the podium weekly, as I’m sure many others could agree. However, the variables that come with racing are why we line em up and drop the gate every week.
Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned how we just need to wait it out for the KTM team and Coop to figure it out…? Well, I think it’s safe to say we are there. Cooper’s bike hasn’t looked this good all year and, man! Did they have it working GOOD this weekend. They’ve crested the metaphorical mountain and are definitely building momentum. From what I saw, it makes me eager to see what they might be able to do with this bike outdoors. Ahh, soon enough. I believe Webb will stand on top of the box here soon. But, it may be too late for a championship run, however, if I’ve learned one thing from watching Cooper Webb’s career, it’s to never, ever, count him out.
This supercross season just keeps on delivering. I always used to watch the races because, well, I love racing… but I feel like I’m somehow even more invested this year. Every week is just another installment to the incredible story that’s being written. I had originally planned to be in Daytona last week but as Coop says, shit happens, and plans change. So, as of right now the plan is to make the short trip down to Detroit this weekend to see some old friends and slap some hands. I can’t, and won’t lie, I really miss the vibe of the stadiums, being on the floor, and looking up to 30 or 40 thousand fans taking in the action. It’s been a while since I went to one of these things to just simply watch. I can’t guarantee the heart rate won’t hit 175 at some point, but I am damn excited to see what unfolds before my eyes this weekend.