Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev-Up! Now, before I get started,
please do not take the war anthem to heart; there is a real war going
on, and it needs all of our best wishes and prayers. Make no mistake, I
am here to entertain you. These words of inspiration, encouragement,
and all of the noise I try to bring every Thursday are just for fun. I
am using “Ghosts of War” metaphorically to describe the vibe that will
be in the nighttime air in Anaheim this Saturday.
Anaheim has been the site of some of the most incredible battles in the
history of our sport. In fact, twenty years ago yesterday—January 18,
1986—it was the site of the greatest supercross battle of all time, the
legendary David Bailey-vs.-Rick Johnson slugfest that serves as the
benchmark for all supercross thrillers. This venue is home of the
wildest fans, the heart of our industry, and the hometown race for the
King of Supercross himself, Jeremy McGrath. Let’s dive into the madness
that has all of us fired up, and get Revved Up for another epic race in
We knew this series was going to be a brawl, and so far this class is
bringing the heat in a big way. After two wild and hard-fought races, a
scant eight points separates the top five, and leading the charge so
far is Billy Laninovich—even though he has yet to win! Billy has paid
his dues and fought through a staggering amount of injuries and
setbacks. He is getting good starts and riding excellent. A certain
confidence emerges from holding the points lead, and Laninovich could
be ready to bust out with a win this weekend. If he does, watch out for
the biggest whip of the decade, because Billy throws ’em huge!
He has a fight on his hands, though. Grant Langston has maybe been the
fastest rider so far, and he has to be champing at the bit to stand on
the top part of the steps. Andrew Short and Nathan Ramsey have failed
to use their experience to capitalize on consistency. All the same,
both riders are carrying the mail and should be ready to race for a
repeat win this weekend.
And then we have our new phenomenon, Ryan Villopoto. He has been
getting great starts and riding the wheels off of his Monster Energy
KX250F. If this young man bangs a holeshot this Saturday night, he has
the potential to show the rest of the veterans the taillight. And there
is still hope for Mike Alessi. Now is the time, if he wants to turn his
title hope around. But he has to get on his best horse, because the
rest of the pack is slowly pulling out of his reach.
All things considered, I say we see the third different winner in as many events when the dust settles this weekend.
Oh, the drama! It’s going down, folks! The GOAT had his horns at
attention and charged last weekend in Phoenix. I knew the man was
hungry after throwing it away at A1, but when I saw him get punted over
the Tuff Blox in his heat race last weekend, I could only imagine the
gravel in his belly and the spit in his eye! Ricky Carmichael went to
town in the 20-lap main event, got a little payback from his heat race,
and took the checkers with his fist punching the air like a madman.
He has that look in his eye now, folks. I’ve seen it before. It was the
same look he had when he beat McGrath for the first time in San Diego.
As the GOAT gallops back to Anaheim, his hooves are sharper than ever.
And why is this? Did you happen to see the colors he won with? Dale
Earnhardt had his black car, Allen Iverson has his sleeve, and Ricky
Carmichael has his orange gear. I don’t care if you are superstitious
or not, history doesn’t lie. And supercross history says, when RC
starts a streak wearing orange gear, things tend to get apocalyptic for
the competition. But he has two soldiers standing in his way before he
can begin said streak, and these guys are ready to brawl!
James Stewart did something last weekend that made me smile and nod in
silent appreciation. After murdering his heat race, James bit the dirt
in the first turn of the main. The man went from dead last to fourth in
10 laps. He made it to third just one lap later, and was then faced
with a 10-second deficit to the leading duo of Chad Reed and
Carmichael. But instead of going all “Bubba” on us, he took a deep
breath, controlled his rage, and settled in for another podium finish.
Could he have caught them? He might have!
Remember the cheesy old T-shirt that read “To be old and wise you must
first be young and stupid?” It is becoming clear that James has gained
the most important weapon of all, the weapon of wisdom. It’ll take a
mountain to hold him back this Saturday night. It’s a mountain he has
already climbed three times. I always like to say, “It ain’t no step
for a stepper.” James will be ready to march Saturday night.
At this early stage in the game, the man that has me shadowboxing is
Chad Reed. He kooked it in Canada, but the “Thunder from Down Under,”
as Todd Harris used to like to call him, has been rumbling loud and
clear from the onset of the AMA series. He almost had it won last
weekend. The bar is set so high between these three top warriors that
the room for error is toast. You have to bring it with precision for 20
laps. Reed nailed down 19 of them in Phoenix. If he had not slipped up
that one little bit, those four seconds he lost would have been the
difference between Carmichael throwing his helmet in victory or sulking
his shoulders in defeat. Be that as it may, Reed blinked and the GOAT
got hungry and ate. I still can’t believe he saved it. Watch out for
#22 this weekend, the man is ready.
Ah, but there is another aspect on the horizon. As mentioned earlier,
this week marks the 20th anniversary of the SX battle heard ‘round the
world between Rick Johnson and David Bailey. Take time to check out the
banner atop this column and admire the new One Industries David Bailey
tribute helmet (Andrew Short will be wearing one this Saturday night to
harness some of the power in those colors and try to wake those ghosts
of war from that unforgettable night in Anaheim that took place two
decades ago for some extra supercross mojo.)
And hovering around the nucleus of my theme for this week is Jeremy
McGrath. Anaheim is the House that Jeremy Built. You think “Part-Time”
is washed up? Did you see The King bang the holeshot last week and
immediately twist his CR250R sideways and chuck a fat nac-nac to bring
the house down? (Okay, it wasn’t on TV, but it sure sounded cool on the
‘net and on some of the photos I’ve seen!) McGrath still has some magic
left, and the word on the streets is he may have some more strokes this
So here we go, gang! A race doesn’t get any more anticipated than this.
The sound and the fury are within earshot. The spirit of competition is
in full force and, with the right set of eyes, you will be able to see
the soul of our sport shine like never before this Saturday night.
Memories can’t ignore, satisfy the scorn, and rise ghosts of war!