Ah, but this is where she is going to heat up. There are two variables that will come into play this weekend, the first of which is the altitude. I don't care if you are dynamite TNT at sea level, if you aren't used to getting your heart rate up in this air, it is difficult to acclimate. Secondly, this is the first (and only) nighttime outdoor national of the season, and the second in recent history. I grew up racing at places like Jeeps MX in Wichita, KS, and 59th and Douglas in OKC. Let me tell you that riding under the lights is a different animal altogether. All of the moisture comes to the surface late in the moto, and soil texture is very deceiving with the glare of the lights. A lot of guys lose their front ends in corners at night races.
That said, the state of Colorado, the "Centennial State," has a rich history of nighttime races. Big-time-small-time supercross races have ran at places like Greeley and Colorado Springs. Guys like Kip Sandell, Andy Atkins, Shawn Morgan, and Paul Lindsey were fast everywhere, but were very much ringers on their home turf. They were also low-down, ankle-breaking, scum... Those guys were dirtier than a Woodstock Porta-John. Hey, I've been taken out by all of those guys, so I can say that. And they’re all good, dudes. Except for that Lindsey guy... (Hola, Paul)
Now let's talk about this race we have on our hands: Three years ago, people began really ramping up what was possible with these outdoor nationals. The promoters seemed to be going with more of a festival vibe with color variety of on- and off-track changes. Enter the night-time Lakewood national. With Red Rocks amphitheatre just around the corner and (remove your hats) Coors Brewing Company sharing the same air, it's impossible for it not to dominate. I like how each round has manifested into its own unique animal. I've hit two of the first four and they've exceeded my expectation as far as a good times go. We've been blessed with weather, though. Its looks like it should be overcast this weekend and down right chilly for Saturday night's race. Sub-60 temperatures would feel... different, for certain.
Favorites, longshots, and dark horses - sure. There is good reason to get behind Honda Red Bull Racing riders Ivan Tedesco and Andrew Short. If Ivan the Terrible wouldn't have gone T.K.O at Glen Helen, he would be buried in the title fight. He's been leading laps and trying to win races, so I wouldn't be too surprised if he did this weekend at Lakewood. Ivan used to run at a lot of those old-time Colorado supys. He knows what it's like to go the distance in thin air. On the other hand, a hometown win out of Andrew Short would be off the frame. I don't know why he can't just go that little extra and run with Reed. He can do it, he just needs to hang it out a little more. Come on Shorty, let's make the party Saturday night really burn.
Josh Grant, Chad Reed and wait, what - Mike Alessi is racing? I don't even know what to say about that. Mike's kneecap was wired together a little over two weeks ago. Now the guy is going to try to nut up and make Reed work for the title. Mike is smart. I don't think that kid would go out there if he didn't know he could do it. If his knee was too shacked he would call it off. I do respect his appetite for the title. I just question if it's worth toasting that knee if something happens. It's worth it to him, though, and that's good enough. If he makes a top-five, he'll chase Reedy all the way to Steel City.
It's all going down, folks. She's going to be four motos of the good stuff where anything can happen in the 250 class and there should be a four-rider dogfight in the 450 class. Tune into the Speed broadcast, or if you're going to the race, let's hang out Friday at the Fan Fest. For some reason, the Coors Light just tastes better in Colorado.