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Thursday Rev Up: Atlanta Classics

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"History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again." - Kurt Vonnegut

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. History made the world the way it is and people the way they are. As we stare down round eight of the 2010 Monster Energy Supercross Series, history is a subject you need to train your attention to. The actual Battle of Atlanta took place during the American Civil War on July 22, 1864. The Union soldiers beat down the Confederates that time around capturing the rail and supply center in Atlanta and further turning the tide in the war. Is it time to turn the tide on this year's supercross series?

Supercross fans with the right set of eyes know that when the tour visits Atlanta, it's time for something big. To that end, the Atlanta round has become the grand daddy of all supercrosses races, in my opinion. Depression, tough economic times, or whatever - we're going to see 70,000 of the most core fans in the industry get the shoulders back this Saturday night. Yes, A1 is big because it kicks off the season, but nowadays it’s merely a race that sits close to the factories. Recent history has watched the upper echelon of talent in our sport call the east coast home. In amateur racing, the Georgia-based Millsaps Training Facility churns out the best talent in the country. Atlanta and its surrounding land is the new nucleus of power in American Motocross. And now she will host what could be the greatest supercross race ever. If you know your history, you know that she has already done it before.

We don't really need much to get us excited because the racing action has been straight crushing it. Indy was a four-alarm barnburner and the grand conquest for the title belt still sits in a tie. I love everything about this weekend, but it's the history surrounding it that has me shadow boxing. When I close my eyes and think about Atlanta, I see Guy Cooper flapping his arms like a bird when he whiskey throttled into the cold air of Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium. I see Jeff Ward pulling a triple fist pump. I see Ricky Carmichael upside-down and backward on his 1998 #6 Pro Circuit KX125 with his goggles around his handlebars. I see Damon Bradshaw flipping Jean Michel Bayle off after winning the last Supercross race of his career in 1993. I can see all of that stuff, but I feel something just as big coming our way.

Let's kickstart this pig and blip the throttle a couple times. Let's roll that neck and get revved up, Hotlanta style!

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Try to imagine what Ochlocknee, Georgia's Justin Barcia will be feeling when they call his name in front of 70,000 hometown fans. Barcia was born in New Jersey and grew up in New York, but he's an MTF graduate and this is the one he's been waiting for. When his hands and feet burned in the mid-summer Georgia heat, he knew that it would prepare him for the firestorm he'll face this Saturday night. He didn't win last weekend, but he did a lot better than I thought he would. History is on Justin's side. Ricky Carmichael crashed out of his first supercross, then won Atlanta. James Stewart carted huge in the whoops at his first supercross, then won his second race at San Diego...

  • Local boy (sort of) Justin Barcia.
  • Christophe Pourcel
  • Austin Stroupe
  • Ryan Sipes
That said, the talent and experience of Christophe Pourcel isn't on his side. The Bayle comparisons are hard to ignore. Like Bayle, Christophe isn't very well liked by his peers or the fans. Unlike Bayle, I think #1/#377 actually wants to be liked. He smiles when he wins, and when a rider whips it flat on the triple that isn't for any reason other than he wants the crowd to cheer. Bayle never whipped it. What's not to like about Pourcel? He has a gorgeous riding style, he's tough, and he has long hair. Be that as it may, he'll have a small cheering section in the ATL this Saturday night.

I want this podium to belong to the Southern boys like Ryan Sipes, Stroupe, and Izzi. And for that matter, Martin Davalos is another member of the MTF militia that will be digging extra deep this time around. Look for a holeshot from the Matador from Ecuador. I told you guys that the LCQ would be gnarly last weekend and boy was it ever! Darryn Durham and Matt Lemoine didn't even make the main and this time around it'll be two other big names that fail to make the cut.

There is a lot of heat in the 450 class, but the 2010 version of The Battle of Atlanta may very well happen with these boys.

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I was jumping up and down and pounding my fist on the counter top as I watched Kevin Windham last weekend. If Millsaps hadn't raced him so hard those first two laps, I think KW might have lasted long enough. Even if he didn't win, he still showed everyone how to really ride a dirt bike. Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey only overtook him when they figured out how he was crow-hopping those two dragon back style sections. Man, #14 was awesome. But, my man is 30+ years old! All he needed was a gap and he might have gotten another one.

  • Kevin Windham leading a freight train of Davi Millsaps (18), Ryan Villopoto (2) and Ryan Dungey.
  • Ryan Villopoto
  • Ryan Dungey
But there is no gap in today's racing. RV Park has found his wheelhouse and once he gets you in his sights, you're toast. I've never seen a rider attack like Villopoto. He's relentless and he absolutely will not follow, even if it means taking a slower line. And 99 times out of 100, if he can see you, he owns you. Now he's owned everyone two times in a row and he's in the points lead via tiebreaker. They have to stop him now or it'll get ugly. Davi Millsaps is the most likely man to stop him this weekend. #18 returns to the site of his first victory and the comfort of his hometown fans. He is beaten up pretty bad from some crashes. Sometimes adversity makes you faster, and sometimes, well, it hurts like a son of a bitch and you can't go as fast as you want to. Hurt or not, Davi is going to fight hard this Saturday night.

But here comes that word again: History. The history of the Atlanta Supercross is one of massive drama and conflict. We have all of the ingredients to see a six-sided ring of fire that sends fork guards and spokes flying for 20 laps. The four horsemen: RV, RD, Hill, and ‘Saps now have company in the return of the Ragin’ Cajun. And one thing a big fight does is bring more fighters. I'm sending a call to Ivan Tedesco to get a good start this weekend and jump in the mix. It could be even bigger than that. Jason Lawrence is about two races away from top-five speed. Maybe he's one race away? An interesting fantasy note is that Yamaha owns the Georgia Dome with 11 wins - one more than Honda.

Now, bring it in and grab a knee, damn it. This is what it's all about, baby! This is the big one. The great thing about our sport is that no matter how great a rider is, deep in the pit of his guts, he is an even bigger fan. Every single one of those riders knows how big the Atlanta Supercross is. They know their moto history. They might not be able to name all of the original 13 colonies, but they all know Atlanta is sacred supercross ground. There is absolutely nothing that could beat the scenario we face this Saturday night. The points lead is tied and anybody can win the race! When they turn the lights down, it's going to be so damned loud in the Georgia Dome it'll hurt. Get ready to taste the acid in your throat when the music pounds and the lasers dance through the green smoke. Get ready to stomp your foot when the starting official swings his index finger over his head for that first heat race.

What else do you need? It's time for The Battle of Atlanta. Get ready for some surprises!

Thanks for reading, see you next week.
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