was my first reaction after listening (not seeing) to Jim “Hollywood”
Holley and Jason Weigandt’s live broadcast at www.supercross.cc.com
last Saturday night: So James Stewart did a RC on Ricky Carmichael by
pocketing the Toronto main event. But I am not going to make the same
mistake twice: I am resisting myself from jumping on the bandwagon. I
am going to adopt a wait and watch approach here.
Don’t get me wrong, I was one of the first to be genuinely excited
about Stewart making it to the 250 class. Count me in among a few
millions (trust me, the figure is right) who were rather bored by the
Saturday-night-cum-Sunday afternoon annihilations that Ricky Carmichael
authored. Be it under a dome or outdoors, Ricky would certainly run the
table any day for any point of time—unless, of course, it happens to be
one wet and un-motorable Anaheim in January.
I digress here. I was certainly rooting for Bubba to make it tough
fight with RC in the 250 class. Alas, we all know how that panned out.
The point I am trying to make is James did put on a wonderful show at
Toronto. He took the lead, went down and mounted a fight and
methodically grinded RC, crowding his shadow and finally passing him
with more brain than brawn and won this race. It’s the exact same
formula that RC has used on several occasions: to go out and pound out
the competition is one thing but to line up at the gate and out-smart
your rival by adopting similar tactics to what your bitter rival always
relies on, well, that says something.
RC got pinched off on the start as the Kwackers of Stewart (7) and Michael Byrne got good jumps
wondering what Bubba was doing during the break, playing chess? (A
confession: I just can’t stop myself from drooling over Bubba’s
skills.) Cut back to reality, I am not about to go out on a limb and
say Stewart will be the new incumbent to the throne at the end of the
First up, the season hasn’t started yet and secondly most of the riders
would treat these World SX meets as more of a training ground to get
them up to speed, fine-tune their bikes, and measure their fitness
levels with the others. Rather than working on a private testing
session somewhere down in Florida or SoCal, the Canadian races give the
riders an opportunity to tweak themselves to “race-trim.”
The 12th lap position poll (a cool new addition) shows RC leading Stewart and Chad Reed
Stewart can hold to such levels of riding and sustain his performance
throughout the season, then the sport of motocross is sure to attract
more eyeballs, grab its share of ink in the newsprint and also hold the
attention of a few talking heads on sports-talk radio. Since everyone’s
caught up on that Ivan Tedesco-Mike Alessi slugfest and comparing that
to NASCAR’s version of Sunday afternoon fight between the Allison
brothers and Cale Yarborough, to a certain extent fits the bill.
NASCAR’s reach and popularity grew bazillion times since the fracas
that occurred in the infield of Daytona International Speedway, which
incidentally was the first race to be telecast live on network TV. What
a strange coincidence…. Granted, a knuckles-knocking, noggins-nodded,
free-for-all not only makes for better TV but also it fires the sport
up, shakes it to no uncertain amounts.
Similarly, one fight doesn’t a season make. NASCAR, after getting its
share of the market, ought to have had a good product on the ground
(read: competition) to sustain its fan base. In fact, NASCAR produced
nine winners in the 1979 season (and that included the current Fox
analyst Darrell Waltrip). It’s here that motocross needs to capitalize.
Now since it has gotten the rude awakening that it has craved for
years, the sport needs some nip-and-tuck stuff to woo the casual fan
and also those straight-jacketed sports editors in mainstream
The all-Florida-residents podium: RC, JBS, and Reed
Stewart picking up a win at Toronto is all nice and sweet but he has to
translate his form once the season becomes a grind, like well into
March and April. If Bubba can manage to hound RC like he did at Rogers
Center then the sport is bound to grow in the coming years. It’s
certainly exciting times ahead!