There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.
William F. Halsey
The 2006 Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, aka The Perfect Storm 2, aka the Clash of the Titans, has more than lived up to every moniker thrown its way. From Anaheim to Atlanta, from Daytona to Dallas to this very minute, we had no idea who was going to win the race. Now we are faced with an even more beautiful dilemma: Who will win the title?
Isn’t that a great question?
Like any great question, it is the elements that pertain to it that give it weight. That Chad Reed, Ricky Carmichael, and James Stewart arrive at the last round separated by five total points makes for some amazing elements. There is so much on the line this Saturday night: the title, career reputations, millions of dollars, the future of sport, maybe even the perfect ending. They’re all akin to a pair of dice bouncing across the felt surface of a casino craps table.
Dave Coombs Sr. East-West Shootout
It’s all about bragging rights and bench-racing bravado here, guys. It’s where you come from; it's one for territory. The titles have been decided, and aside from the large purse, the coolest thing a rider earns with a victory in this prestigious event is the ability to walk the track at Hangtown and look over at his cross-coastal rivals and say, “Hey, I kicked your ass in supercross.” And for a racer, there are few material things as rewarding as that.
This race typically brings some drama with it: the 1997 takeout/crash-fest between Carmichael and Kevin Windham; the LCQ-to-victory lane of Nathan Ramsey; #259’s “endo seen around the world” in 2003; the ‘04 battle royal between Stewart and Stephane Roncada.… That last one sticks out the most in my mind.
Another division runner-up, J-Grant, can lay wood in the main and look over at Grant Langston and Davi Millsaps and say, “Scoreboard.” Did I leave anyone out? Of course I did—there are a half-dozen guys who can win this great race!
“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.” Relax, it’s just a quote from the movie Airplane. But seriously, folks, this is downright nutty.
Let me make sure I have this straight: RC and Reed are tied, James is only five out, Metzger is flipping the fountains this evening, the race is airing live, all of the after-parties and the banquet, and Tool is playing at the Joint? Fahgeddabout it! Throw in a FHM Oil Wresting Tournament and a guy could pretty much call it good when Monday rolls around!
Before I get carried away with the comic relief, I am going to stop right there, because this is serious. This is it. This race is the biggest … er, uh … greatest of all-time. The championship is going to be decided between three of the most incredible supercross racers who may ever throw a leg over a bike. And I don’t care who you are pulling for, each one of these cats deserves it if they make it their own.
Richard Petty once said, “I’d rather be lucky than fast any day,” meaning that if he won a race after a faster car suffered a mechanical failure or a crash, he knew that when the paper came out the next day, all that mattered was the headline read “Petty Wins.” There is no way anybody can beat Carmichael and Stewart in a championship by just being lucky. Petty knew that at the heart of competition lies a balance. You get some wins the easy way, but all championships come the hard way. Chad Reed has ridden brilliantly in 2006. He has kept his nose clean, for the most part, and stayed in the hunt all season long. Main events are won on speed, but championships are won on consistency. To date, Reed has won two mains and placed on the steps 12 out of 15 races—many of which came after he separated his shoulder before Daytona. In most cases, this would spell championship. But unfortunately for Chad, and many others, their rise to greatness came at the wrong time.
So it’s not that big of a deal if he loses the championship in 2006. Or is it? "There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.” Ricky is just a man. The Big Three are just men. They put one leg in their riding pants at a time and bleed the same blood when they crash. The 20 laps that face James, Chad, and Ricky this Saturday night are an unbelievably great challenge for all of them. There is a lot at stake for all three gladiators, but none more so than Carmichael, because this appears to his last full dance card with supercross. His antics on and off the track while earning his wins and titles make him a good man, but becoming the 2006 Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Champion would forever cement his status as The GOAT.
In the big picture, each of boys has already won something, but the biggest prize of all is still up for grabs. So let’s call down the thunder one last time before we head outdoors. Lets watch (live!) the boys finish the game they began in January. And (best Michael Buffer impression) Ahhhlet's get ready to ruuummmble!
Thanks for reading. See you next week.