Instead of revving up, let's ease back on the gas and go back through the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
TRACKS and VENUES
Much was made of the smoother track conditions this summer. You can argue how this affects the racing until you are blue in the face, but the single most important aspect of our sport is television. TV doesn't do a lot of things justice. If a section is all chopped up with hip high braking bumps, even Chad Reed can look like a goon. He isn't going fast. Yes, the core fan knows what he is doing is incredible, but "viewers" see that same section, smoothed out and go, "Wow, those guys are going fast." The sensation of speed translates well on TV, and I watched every race on TiVo. They looked like they were flying around the tracks and you can't argue that the racing action thrived because of it.
The GPs are smooth and fast and they run a pretty good show over there. I think the smoother tracks were the right call.
What's more, each and every track was decorated to perfection. The little drop offs with the Lucas Oil banners and the giant Monster claws painted on the track were really cool. Each track had repeater banners around the whole track. I can personally tell you that takes a ton of hard work. It paid off. The tracks and venues legitimized our sport. Motocross has always been cool but in 2009, it looked cool.
How about the track conditions? The only dust that could be found was in the pits. Hangtown used rice pellets and the dirt there was the best I've ever seen. Save for a couple mudders, the remaining ten events saw conditions just as good. And I'm glad we had those mudders. It just isn't an outdoor series without a mud race.
Congratulations to the track crews and promoters for their work at the race track. They were awesome.
Oh yeah, the dominator of the track decorations? Two words: Monster girls.
Try this stat on for size: Twelve races, seven different first-time winners. You kidding me, Jackson? We've been spoiled in recent years. Fans with the right set of eyes knew that when they watched James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael go to war that it was a once in a lifetime feat. There has never been and never will be two guys that fast with that set of circumstances. It was the high water mark and we were lucky to see it. Then what? Better racing and more fun, that's what. True, RV Park would have kicked a damn mud hole in everyone had his knee held together, but it didn't and what fell in that wake was something wonderful: Parity. We had ten races that anybody could have won! And, hell, everyone almost did! We saw the return of Ivan Tedesco. We felt the relentless charge of Josh Grant. We saw Mike Alessi finally reach his professional potential. We even saw a kid from Kansas win. Tommy Hahn, man! Then we saw Chad Reed figure out that outdoor nationals can actually be fun, then he destroyed fools.
Look, RV would have won if it wasn't for his knee. Then #800 would have won if it wasn't for his knee cap. But that's racing folks. OTSS, baby. Only the strong survive outdoor moto, and you have to be lucky in every form of motorsports racing. King Richard Petty won 200 races but his most famous quote was "I'd rather be lucky than good any day." This adage transcends into this next bunch...
This group had so much raw energy that you got chicken skin if you so much as walked behind the starting line. Rookie bravado, veteran strength, and international diversity. It was easily the most competitive class of racers outdoor motocross has ever seen. Okay, I've used "ever" a lot here, but name me one group in the history of the world that produced eight-rider freight trains time and again. Do it. Name one. That’s what I thought.
How much fun was it watching Justin Barcia flail all over the place, WFO style? How about Christophe Pourcel's sanitarium of speed and style? Some of my personal favorites were Blake Wharton and Tommy Searle. I like the guys that have the ability to hold riders off the whole moto. It takes fortitude. That Searle kid held off Rattray in Texas for 30 plus 2. The World Champion was on him tighter than gnat’s ass around a mason jar. But #123 stayed strong. Wharton held off Blake Baggett at Steel City in the same fashion. Hey, you keep an eye on ole Baggett. The kid will be there in 2010.
In the end it was the Heartbreak Hotel for the three-double seven. That said, it wasn't the DNF at Southwick that cost Pourcel and Mitch Payton the title as much as it was those 6th and 8th place finishes at the beginning of the season. Turn those bad motos into top-fives and he would have still won the championship. Christophe will have his time. Payton has won enough, and he'll win again.
Ryan Dungey and the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki squad earned it.
Everyone reading these words is a fan. And motocross fans are a unique breed. Our attention span can be short, but we never forget the good stuff. The image of Josh Grant railing Alessi at Lakewood will hang around. Dungey's front flip at Red Bud will stain the back of your brain for a while. #377 fans may never lose track of the image of him pushing his failed machine out of the sands of Southwick. There were just so many wonderful instances of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
What a summer guys. What a summer.
From a personal standpoint, I just want to tell you how much of a pleasure it has been to try to get your shoulders back for each round. I want to thank One Industries and Racer X for making it possible for the Rev Up to come to you every Thursday. I have plenty of good stuff to keep you stoked during the off-season, but thanks for being with me this far.