The high heels on the Lucas Oil starting girl sink into the fresh dirt in front of you. You do your best to try not check out the rack and tail. Your mechanic gives you one last pat on the shoulder with a shout, and there you sit. You shake your arms and roll your hands back and forth on the grips as the Monster girl holds up the 30-second board. You check your gas for the 20th time, and keep blipping the throttle so the RPM’s are right in the sweet spot. The girl finally puts down the card and scampers off to the side of the track. You know that the gate is going to drop within the next few seconds, so you plant your feet on both sides of the foot pegs. You lean over the front of the bars. You know it’s coming…
Finally the gate slams down and you put forth your best effort to master the divine ratio of clutch to throttle and pray that your path is straighter and faster than those on your sides. As you round the first turn a calamity of fenders, boots, and helmets can be seen out of the corner of your eye. Other fenders are closing in on you. (Don’t let off.)
Drunk on adrenaline, you round the first couple corners as all hell is breaking loose. After an eternity you reach the finish line where the flagman is frantically waving the green flag. (Game on!) On past the mechanics area where a sea of swinging towels and pit boards distract your focus.
Now you settle into some sort of pace that is only slightly less chaotic. Two laps later you find your groove. You know where you can make passes and where they are trying to pass you. Off to your right you see a flurry of yellow flags and one of your buddies on his hands and knees shaking out the cobwebs. (Better you than me, holmes.)
As your arms begin to tighten you pull a tear off past the mechanics area to see that you are now on lap 6. Another lap goes by and the acid in your back and legs begin to steal from your corner speed. You look back in the air over the triple to check the gap behind you. You begin taking different lines to avoid the breaking bumps. You can hear yourself breathing now. (Keep digging, almost there.) Another lap goes by, during which you begin having fantasies of that wonderful white flag. (Should finish in the points here. Just hang on.) The thumb blister on your throttle hand now hurts badly enough that you are repositioning your grip when you land from the jumps. But you keep pushing; the end of the struggle is near. You rail the corner before the finish line faster than you have all moto because you know the flagger will be waiving white. As you reach the tabletop you look up and, wait… no it can’t be… it isn’t a white flag at all.
It’s the green and white cross flags. Halfway, man. Halfway.
Okay, here we go, folks! The summer is half way over and it’s time to tighten it up. Did anyone think we would see five different winners in the 450 class? How about those young lions in the 250 division? The first six rounds of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship have blown expectations out of the water. You really can’t argue. The racing action in the 250 class has been some of the best I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen a seven-rider train on any level, from Loretta’s to the MXoN. That bunch has already produced a half dozen of them! Dungey and Pourcel have dominated, but even those guys have made mistakes and have yet to go 1-1. Millville is Dungey’s home race; perhaps he can do it this time around?
In the premier 450 group, it has been drama filled and hectic. Chad Reed has been far from dominant and we’ve finally seen the rise of the Red Riders. The entire industry was set to write off Ivan Tedesco, especially after he failed to score points at the season opener. After six rounds he now has a 1-1 and is only 40 points away from the lead. His teammate, Andrew Short has been consistent and is only 21 points behind. Ah, but like I said in the beginning; Chad Reed is one of the most prolific championship riders to ever throw a leg over. He simply doesn’t foul up. Ever. He’ll have to if anyone else wants the title belt. Lot of racing still to go, guys!
What should you look for this weekend in Millville? The weather will be perfect for motocross with partly sunny skies and 70 degree temps. But the racing will be much more tumultuous. Josh Grant is coming off his first career overall and I’m picking him for win #2 this Saturday. You should look for a huge crowd, impeccable track conditions and quite simply – more of the same motocross nirvana we’ve seen in the first half of the series.
Cross-flags, baby. It ain’t over by damn sight! In some ways, it has only begun.