During the 2000 tour, Ricky rode with more consistency, but he was merely a top five or podium threat. He still didn’t show the natural supercross talent needed to topple McGrath for wins or titles.
Then came his breakthrough at Daytona. Carmichael jumped out to the early lead there, and while McGrath climbed into second, he couldn’t catch the then-20-year-old Floridian and on a KX250.
Carmichael’s toughness allowed him to finally beat McGrath, and he quickly gained confidence via fitness. RC has always been fast enough and tough enough to win before, but he would have to bring his training to another level if he wanted to outduel the King.
He wouldn’t win another supercross race that season, but he did land the AMA 250 Motocross Title later that summer. He hooked up with trainer Aldon Baker and got in shape, and by the time 2001 rolled around, he was read to take on—and beat—The King.
But the genesis of it all came in Daytona in 2000, when Carmichael won his first-ever 250 supercross.