As we sit mired in an off-week, an old Willie Nelson song lyric that my Pops used to sing comes to mind: “Turn out the lights, the party’s over/and tomorrow start the same old thing again….”
Exit supercross, enter the great outdoors! If you put your ear to the tracks you can hear the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championships beginning to pour the coal to the engines.
I love supercross—hell, everyone does. It’s a clean and shiny dog and pony show that makes for one of the coolest Saturday nights a family can enjoy. But, there is nothing like the outdoor nationals. You can take a five-figure budget for pyrotechnics and lasers and get the adrenaline level up, but that doesn’t even touch the goose bumps you get from smelling the 8 a.m. juxtaposition of race fuel and freshly cut grass. The plastic shines pretty cool from the lights of Anaheim, but it pales in comparison to the mid-morning sunshine gleaming off the spokes of a rear wheel flying through the air over LaRocco’s Leap.
They put four and five-speed transmissions in those motorcycles for a reason. Catching some air on a supercross triple is one of the best feelings on earth, but anyone that has stood on the pegs in a fourth-gear-pinned sweeper like the first turn at Glen Helen knows what racing a motocross bike is all about. The outdoor nationals don’t have twenty riders on the gate; go ahead and double that, doctor. There aren’t 20-lap main events either, but rather two gut-checking, thirty-minute-plus-two-lap motos with no room to relax.
Recent history alone should be enough to have every person in the motocross industry shadow-boxing about the madness Glen Helen will bring. Think back to the past three outdoor seasons. We won’t have the GOAT anymore—even for cameos—but like we saw last year, there is a ton of incredible racing left in his wake that he would be stoked to watch. Which raises a point: One of the things I always liked about Carmichael was that he is one of the biggest fans in the sport—he’s almost as fun to stand on the sidelines and watch a race with than he is to cheer on during his race. But outdoors, we’re all fans, and being at the outdoor nationals, with the mud, the blood and the beer, offers the ultimate experience as fans. You can get close enough to catch a roost pelt or twenty, and feel the ground shake when they land off the jumps.
We’re two weeks away from the beautiful beast that will be the 12-round 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championships. We’ll be breaking down the contenders in both classes in the next two weeks. In the meantime, study the schedule and pick out the races you’ll be able to make it to over at www.mxnationals.com. Should be an easy decision, they’ll all be four-alarm barn burners!