Today is December 10, 2009. The 2010 Supercross season will commence in about 30 days. Through Christmas and New Years it will be here before you can say Anaheim 1. I began thinking about the new bikes, new riders on new teams, and the smoke hovering in the night air after opening ceremonies. I thought about that buzz in the pits as they are being cleared right before show time. As you walk to your seat you can hear a thousand simultaneous bench racing sessions, then glance over to the tunnel and watch the riders leaving footprints in the concrete heading to the starting line with their shoulders back. There's no moment in the season like it. Everyone has a clean slate. The boys are all healthy and fresh, armed with a new set of goals.
Then I thought a little more about how quickly 2010 has arrived. I mean... think about it. I remember the movie Space Odyssey 2010 when I was a kid and thinking about how far and away that date seemed. At that point (1983) even the year 2000 was hard to grasp. Be that as it may, I remember being in the Anaheim pits for the 2000 version of Anaheim 1. Jeremy McGrath was still the King, and he won that night with ease. Meanwhile, David Pingree won the 125 class over Casey Johnson and Greg Schnell. Ol’ Ping would end up losing the title to Derrick Shae Bentley by 2 points. Burn! 2000 also marked the arrival of Travis Pastrana. I was at St. Louis when he ate crap on the parade lap trying an Indian Air over the finish line. Look at what TP's done since then. Wow.
The sport was going through a major transitional period at the turn of the century. Satellite teams were popping up like crazy (this was the year of Jeff Emig's defunct Strategic 3 team) and it seemed like every rider with a top 100 number was either in a semi or a 5th wheel rig. Riders not making it in Supercross were making great livings in the Arenacross series. Factory contingency programs were booming and being a professional motocross rider was almost easy.
Now we're staring down 2010 and things aren't so peachy. There will be no Factory Yamaha Team, and Factory Suzuki is almost toast. Heck, in 2000 team Honda had an army of riders and on January 9, 2010 only Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps will line up under the mighty red wing-and-a-prayer awning. Factory contingency is almost extinct. And, damn, what happened to Arenacross?
What's to blame? The global economy? Lead laws? Deaths and Injuries? All three took a bite. Though, I think it's just the natural order of peaks and valleys. I don't want to get off on a negative tangent, just thinking out loud...
The Supercross goblet isn't overflowing like it was in 2000, but it's still a mighty cup of blood-pumping mash. It's time for a new decade of dirt and I find myself already wrapping my head around what 2020 will look like. There is so much opportunity on the horizon!
Motocross and Supercross will never die as long as we have the passion for it in our hearts. When you can look at your dirt bike and not walk over and pull the front lever a couple times, then we have trouble. But, there isn't one person reading this that can resist that urge. There isn't a man or woman among you that isn't feeling that tingle I spoke of above. Who's ready to smell the smoke and feel that first charge into the first turn? Seasons will come and go, and decades will fly by like sands through the hour glass, but that first spark will always be there for the few and the proud that know it. The dark clouds are gathering and if you listen closely you can hear the crackle in the distance.