40 Day Countdown To AMA Motocross Opener: 2004

40 Day Countdown To AMA Motocross Opener: 2004

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One week from today, we’ll be gathered at Hangtown for the opening round of the 40th-season of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Don’t forget to watch FUEL TV’s season preview show. Air times are:

SAT 5/14

@ 2p EST / 11a PST

THUR 5/19

@ 10p EST / 7p PST

@ 1a EST (5/20) / 10p PST (5/19)

@ 4a EST (5/20) / 1a PST (5/20)

SAT 5/21

@ 3p EST / 12P PST


Also, lock in facebook/com/AmericanMotocross and www.allisports.com as your social media and web homes for the championship. And now, 2004!

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Carmichael showed he could come back from injury and ride a 450 by winning every moto outdoors.
Photo: Simon Cudby

At the season opener for the 2004 AMA Motocross Championship, a feeling that had never been felt before had swept across the pits. There was actually some doubt over Ricky Carmichael!

The 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 250 Class Champion (and 1997, 1998 and 1999 125 Champ) had missed the entire 2004 AMA Supercross campaign with a torn ACL. Turns out RC’s incredible ’03 des Nations ride was not only logged on an underpowered 250 two-stroke, but he was also riding with a bum knee. So Ricky skipped supercross for surgery and rehab, while Chad Reed and Kevin Windham battled for the supercross championship, with Reed coming out with the title. Carmichael had also decided to switch to the CRF450R four-stroke. RC had never missed races before with an injury, and had never raced a thumper. How would he respond?

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In his rookie season as a pro Broc Hepler finished second in 125 class.
Photo: Simon Cudby

By winning, like usual. Carmichael even rode without a transponder in practice so no one knew where he stood in the lap times until the racing began. Then he promptly dominated both motos. Did the same the next weekend. And the next. Before long, the competition had a serious problem on their hands. Ricky was going to go for a perfect season again!

No doubt the hyper-competitive Carmichael was stung when Kevin Windham got two victories on him in 2003 on the 450.  He wanted to show that, on even equipment, no one could beat him. Through Unadilla and Washougal, two tracks where Windham shines, Carmichael dominated, and by the writing was on the wall. We were about to see another perfect season.

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Although he didn't win a race Chad Reed was fast throughout the '04 outdoor season.
Photo: Simon Cudby

Reed rode well on his Yamaha YZ450F, definitely better than he did on a two-stroke the previous year, but not quite enough to get a moto win, although he battled Carmichael at times. Windham, meanwhile, didn’t seem nearly as fired up as he did the year before. If you wanted to find the next challenger to Carmichael, you were going to have to hit the 125 class to find it.

James Stewart was dominating races at the same clip as Carmichael. Through round five, neither had lost a moto. Stewart’s streak was made even more impressive since he was riding a KX125 against a field of mainly 250 four-strokes. For whatever reason, Stewart elected not to ride Kawasaki’s new KX250F, and when Pro Circuit’s Stephane Roncada challenged Stewart to some great battles at Hangtown on one, it looked like Stewart had made the wrong decision. He quickly bounced back and dominated, while Roncada began a downward spiral.

Stewart’s only slip came at Red Bud, when he crashed in the first turn of the second moto and did some damage to his bike coming through traffic. He pulled out of the moto, and Mike Brown won the overall for Yamaha of Troy. After that, Stewart won every other race. Basically, 2004 was just one giant set up for 2005, when Carmichael and Stewart would finally get to meet head to head.

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James Stewart won 23 out of 24 motos in '04. Everyone wondered how he would fare against Carmichael the next season.
Photo: Simon Cudby

Carmichael would do it on a new bike. In April, while still on the mend from knee surgery, Carmichael announced he had signed with Suzuki. This was a shocker, as the yellow squad’s fortunes had sunk so badly in the last few years that many thought there was a Suzuki curse. Carmichael would try to reverse it in 2005.

As for the 2004 Motocross des Nations, the U.S. elected not to send a team. In the decade since their record 13-year win streak had passed, interest in the event had waned quite a bit, so the Yanks stayed home.

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When Stewart faltered at RedBud veteran Mike Brown picked up win.
Photo: Simon Cudby

2004 NATIONAL MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP

2004 250cc National Motocross

Date Location Winner Machine

May 16 Sacramento, CA Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

May 30 Mt. Morris, PA Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

June 13 Southwick, MA Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

June 20 Budds Creek, MD Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

July 4 Buchanan, MI Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

July 18 New Berlin, NY Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

July 25 Troy, OH Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

August 1 Washougal, WA Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

August 15 Millville, MN Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

August 22 Binghamton, NY Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

September 5 Delmont, PA Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

September 12 San Bernardino, CA Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda

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Tortelli ended the year strong and was the top 250 two-stroke during the second half of the year.
Photo: Simon Cudby


2004 250cc National Point Standings

Pos. Name, hometown Machine Pts.

1 Ricky Carmichael, Havana, FL Honda 600

2 Chad Reed, Menifee, CA Yamaha 476

3 Kevin Windham, Centreville, MS Honda 444

4 David Vuillemin, Murrieta, CA Yamaha 351

5 Ernesto Fonseca, Murrieta, CA Honda 300

6 Michael Byrne, Temecula, CA Kawasaki 294

7 Nicholas Wey, Dewitt, MI Suzuki 287

8 Sebastien Tortelli, Lake Elsinore, CA Suzuki 273

9 Heath Voss, Mico, TX Yamaha 257

10 Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, CA Suzuki 202

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Believe the hype?
Photo: Simon Cudby


2004 125cc National Motocross

Date Location Winner Machine

May 16 Sacramento, CA James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

May 30 Mt. Morris, PA James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

June 13 Southwick, MA James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

June 20 Budds Creek, MD James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

July 4 Buchanan, MI Michael Brown, Johnson City, TN Yamaha

July 18 New Berlin, NY James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

July 25 Troy, OH James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

August 1 Washougal, WA James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

August 15 Millville, MN James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

August 22 Binghamton, NY James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

September 5 Delmont, PA James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

September 12 San Bernardino, CA James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki

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Josh Grant pulled the holeshot in his first pro race at Hangtown.
Photo: Simon Cudby


2004 125cc National Point Standings

Pos. Name, hometown Machine Pts.

1 James Stewart, Haines City, FL Kawasaki 575

2 Broc Hepler, Kittanning, PA Suzuki 396

3 Michael Brown, Johnson City, TN Yamaha 368

4 Matt Walker, McDonough, GA Kawasaki 279

5 Nathan Ramsey, Menifee, CA Honda 278

6 Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, CA Kawasaki 260

7 Danny Smith, Middleton, ID Yamaha 235

8 David Millsaps, Cairo, CA Suzuki 232

9 Christopher Gosselar, Victorville, CA Honda 220

10 Joshua Grant, Yucaipa, CA Honda 212

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In his last race with Honda Carmichael actually rode with the number one as a tribute to his team.
Photo: Simon Cudby

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