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Rev-Up: 10 Years

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. It’s been 10 years since I attended the inaugural U.S. Open of Supercross. I remember it being the biggest, coolest, and richest race in supercross history. Everyone in the industry was amped up to the moon for it. Man, those were such fun times. The entire vibe of the industry was pulsing with energy and excitement as the sport was making a long sweeping corner around a whole new race concept. The bikes and numbers on the starting line were new, the gear they were wearing was wild and different, and the clothes and hairstyles being modeled off the track were even wilder than that. It was such a great time to be a fan and when the lights went down and the fireworks and lasers began exploding and darting for the opening ceremonies, that right there, was one of the coolest moments in supercross history. There was an unprecedented $100,000 on the line and everybody wanted a piece.

The Fox-sponsored event was supposed to be won by their soon-to-be-gone franchise rider, Jeremy McGrath. Instead it was almost won by one of their biggest heartbreak’s in Robbie Reynard, who ride a #21 RM250 with Answer riding gear.

Meanwhile, Ricky Carmichael made his 250cc supercross debut riding a #6 KX250 wearing AXO gear. All of us were so pumped to go to the event. We all went out and bought new “club” clothes for the huge after-party at Studio 54 and the always popular Crusty Demons of Dirt video premiere. Back then, those events were almost as important for industry folks than the race itself. It was truly awesome. Ricky Johnson announcing in a tuxedo, shark aquariums in the Fox VIP lounge, and just insanely hot girls as far as you could see.

I remember the track left a ton to be desired. It was really sandy with absolutely no jumps to test the riders. But nobody cared. We were all a dozen Jack-and-cokes into it up in the lounge and too preoccupied with being cool and trying to figure out which girl to dance with after the race. Damon Huffman ended up making a couple of people rich by winning the overall with something like a 35:1 odds.

Next day I ended up arriving late to my gate at the airport, dead broke, wearing a lipstick-stained, night-before shirt (silver crushed velvet) and wearing shades with a slight twitch in my shoulder.

Ah, how things have changed. The circle bar at the Hard Rock used to be the mother of all hangouts. If you were looking for somebody all you had to do was catch a cab to the Hard Rock and make a few sight laps around the bar shaped like a circle. If they were in the motorcycle industry, they were there drinking this new concoction called a Red Bull and Vodka.

I think the industry was simply smaller back then. Smaller in a lot of ways, I suppose. Davey Coombs was doing ESPN commentary. James Stewart and Mike Alessi were in the 80cc intermission race, and if you had on a Fox t-shirt you really stood out. It was an incredible time to be 21 years old and watching supercross is Las Vegas. Eric Peronnard and Mike DiStefano—the guys who promoted the first race—changed the way a U.S. Supercross race is presented by bringing over the razzle-dazzle of Paris-Bercy. Now Live Nation has taken it all to a completely new level. Anyone who sees the fireworks and laser lights at Anaheim can tell you that!

How will this year’s version go? Heck, I’d be willing to bet there will be more than a few folks wearing shades at the airport this Sunday. I know I’m glad I’m staying home because the difference between 1998 and 2007 with me is being 21 and 30 years old - and all that noise to me just isn’t what it used to be. Be that as it may, the race itself has been hanging in there. It’s lost a little bit of the hype and the mystique, but that $100,000 grand-daddy paycheck is still there and its still enough to bring out the biggest names in the sport. And how cool is it to think that Mike Alessi and James Stewart were racing in the first one in the 80cc class and will march into this weekend as headliners in the pro class?
Speaking of the pro class, don’t forget that this year’s race will consist of 250F and 450cc machines.

But in all actuality, the main attraction is Chad Reed and James Stewart preparing to throw down. Maybe the ole MGM Grand Garden Arena will rock out like it did that glorious night ten years ago?

Thanks for reading, see you next week.

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