Kawasaki/Racer X Race Report

December 26, 2007 11:41am

Back to the Future at the Perris Supercross

Back in the early 1990s, a former National Championship-contending rider named Goat Breker nominated his racetrack — Perris Raceway in Southern California — for a pre-season race called the Perris Invitational Supercross. Held a few weeks before the season-opening AMA Supercross Series, the race served as a warm-up event for many factory riders based in the Southern California area. Interestingly, during this same era — from 1990 through 1996 to be exact — the AMA Supercross Series opened up at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Thus the riders would shake their equipment down and blow out the cobwebs at Perris before having their mechanics load the bikes truck them back to Florida. In fact, the very first version of the Perris Invitational Supercross, this writer watched on as Jeff Ward beat teammate Jeff Matiasevich. Placing a close third on a bone stock Honda CR250 was a young West Region supercross rider named Jeremy McGrath (who had yet to win his first AMA title).
“Jeremy wanted to do the race, but he could only do it on a 250 because there was a huge jump back by where all the rocks were that he wanted to clear,” said longtime mechanic Skip Norfolk. A year later, Team Yamaha rookie Jeff Emig won the race, a precursor of what would be a National Championship season in the 125cc class. Within a few years, primarily due to the factories creating their own test tracks, the Perris Supercross simply died. However, last Saturday night, on December 22, 2007, the race was brought back to life and a number of factory-backed satellite riders came out to get the blood flowing before the Anaheim Supercross in just a few weeks time.

Josh Hill

Representing the AMA Supercross Lites classification were Torco Racing Fuels Honda pilots Josh Grant and Jake Weimer. On their factory Honda 250Fs the flying duo quickly made it through to the sharp end of the field and then set a waging war on the plush, well-groomed supercross circuit, Weimer ending Grant at the finish. Placing third was MDK/KTM rider Billy Laninovich.

In the 450F Supercross division it was Jeff Alessi getting the best jump out of the hole at Perris with Yamaha’s Nathan Ramsey just behind, glaring at the back of his jersey. Meanwhile, assumed to be a major player in the race, Team Yamaha factory pilot Josh Hill was in the dirt, the victim of a first turn crash. While Alessi and Ramsey went at it tooth and nail for the lead, Hill began blitzing his way through the pack. Soon, he was chewing on Alessi’s rear fender, and moments later, through and clear into second. Hill then set his sites on Ramsey and motored right up behind the veteran rider. When the white flag was unfurled and waved, Hill went for it several times, using every trick in the book to get by Ramsey. But Ramsey kept his cool, kept the rubber side down, and crossed the finish line with the win. A hell of a race for Ramsey and a solid, confidence inspiring ride for the Yamaha youngster Josh Hill. Next stop: Angel Stadium, where on Saturday night, January 5, 2008, some 45,000 fans will be on-hand to see who will draw first blood in the 2008 Monster Energy Supercross Series.