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Between the Motos: Dave Prater

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We’re currently in the midst of a fan’s least favorite time of the year: the off-season. It doesn’t last too long, though, as there are a couple big events right around the corner, one of which is the annual Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open of Supercross. Starting in 1998, the U.S. Open takes place every October inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and it is often one of the most laidback and enjoyable events of the year. There are no championship points on the line, but there is one heck of a payday if you win. Just ask Jeff Emig, RC, Chad Reed or James Stewart. This year’s race is on October 9-10, and we talked to Feld Motor Sports’ Director of Supercross, Dave Prater, to see how things are looking.

  • Feld Motor Sports’ Director of Supercross, Dave Prater.
  • Does the tight course favor a 250 or 450?
Racer X: Dave, it’s hard to believe, but the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open is right around the corner already. How are things shaping up so far?
Dave Prater: It is hard to believe. It seems like we just left Las Vegas. Things are going great, though. The Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open is always a fun event to work on every year. It’s unique and allows us to experiment with some different elements and gives fans a chance to see their favorite riders in an intimate arena environment. Fans get a sneak peek into the future with the teams competing on their 2010 bikes for the first time, and the track is always tighter than a typical supercross layout, which always leads to full-contact racing. There is nothing like being there live and feeling so close to the action.

Do you have a solid list of who’s confirmed to ride?
Yeah, the list of riders continues to grow. James Stewart is in, as well as Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, Kevin Windham, Davi Millsaps, Ivan Tedesco, and of course Ezra Lusk is coming out of retirement after five years away from supercross.

I can’t believe Ezra Lusk is returning. That’s awesome.
I know! We’re all really excited to see Yogi back on track. It will be good.

  • The U.S. Open is a sneak peek at 2010 for the fans, and a chance for riders to make a lot of money.
  • With Rockstar Energy drink comes Rockstar Energy girls.
Are there any big changes in store for U.S. Open fans this year?
We try to change it up every year and keep the event fresh. We are going to have One-on-One races this year, taking the top-ten fastest qualifiers from timed practice and lining them up against one another (1st races 10th, 2nd races 9th, and so on) for a one-lap sprint to the finish. The winner of each race will receive a point toward their overall score for the weekend.
We are also going to incorporate the MMI Mechanic’s Challenge. The top three rider’s mechanics from the three heat races (for a total of nine) will compete for event points. All nine mechanics will line up on the gate with their bikes on the stands. When the gate drops they will have to change the rear wheel, take the bike off the stand and push it to the end of the start straight. Things should get very interesting considering the fact that your mechanic could be responsible for you winning or losing $100,000.  

The One-on-One event will be really cool. It’s sort of like a Dash-for-Cash. Will you guys be offering any cash?
The winner of the MMI Mechanic’s Challenge will receive a cash prize each night. Points are much more important to the riders than money during those two events. The more points they can pick up the more money they walk away with on Saturday night.

  • The tighter confines of the MGM Grand Garden Arena means riders have to rub elbows a little harder for position.
  • There's a $100,000 prize up for grabs at the end of the always unpredictable event.
Are tickets and rooms still available, and what’s the best way for fans to purchase tickets?
Yes, rooms and tickets are still available, but fans need to act fast. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com and the MGM box office. Fans can go to www.ussx.com for great deals on hotel rooms at the MGM Grand. Staying at the MGM Grand for the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s like a weekend-long party. You can walk straight from your room to the arena without ever leaving the hotel.

Yeah, I typically don’t see daylight during the U.S. Open weekend. I already got my trip booked for this year and can’t wait. Well, last question, and I’m going to put you on the spot, Dave. Will Yamaha make it three-in-a-row this year?
That’s tough. Yamaha has held the trophy for two consecutive years now, Langston in 2007 and Stewart in 2008, and I know James wants to take it back for a third time. Reed and Dungey are going to be really fast. Honda will have Millsaps and Windham. You can’t count the Lites guys out. Weimer won Saturday night’s race on a 250 in 2008, and he may be coming off of a Motocross of Nations win. Can Canard or Wharton match that in 2009? Will Ezra Lusk come out and shock the world? You never know what is going to happen at the U.S. Open. It always turns into one of the best battles of the year.
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