Bench Racing Ammo: MEC

Bench Racing Ammo: MEC

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The Monster Energy Cup is a race unlike any other dirt bike race on Earth, and whether you are planning on watching it on television or are attending the event live, there are quite a few differences between this race and a regular supercross that you’ll want to be aware of. That’s why we’ve dedicated this week’s Bench Racing Ammo to pointing out and explaining some of those differences.

The Entertainment
For fans lucky enough to attend the MEC, the uniqueness of the event will hit them long before the first gate of the night drops. While there is no shortage of things to occupy your attention in the pits at a regular supercross, the MEC takes this factor to an entirely new level. Nate Adams, Adam Jones, Taka Higashino and Blake Williams (Bilko) will all be on hand performing freestyle motocross exhibitions in the pits, Ken Block will be dazzling spectators in his rally car and Formula Drift driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. will be burning up tires and blowing smoke when he takes to the pavement for a top-notch drift demonstration. Even Grammy nominated rapper Paul Wall is scheduled to perform. All this before the racing even starts!

Qualifying
Check out this unique qualifying system, which has been revamped from last year's MEC: The MEC has no heat races, and the fastest eighteen riders from practice will transfer directly to the main events. Right before the start of the first main, there will be one last chance qualifier. The top four finishers in the LCQ go on to the first main, which starts immediately following the conclusion of the LCQ. That’s right, the four riders that transfer out of the LCQ don’t go back to the pits and rest, they hustle right back to the gate which is already preloaded with the eighteen fastest riders from practice.

The Format
With three, 10-lap main events to decide the winner, the MEC’s format is much different than any other supercross race. Consistency will be the key to doing well, and since there is almost no time to make repairs between races, avoiding mechanical damage is also extremely important. Last year a simple problem with a damaged chain guide caused Ben Townley to miss an entire main event, killing his chances of securing a good overall result. The overall winner is determined by combining the scores from each main event. Forget that Motocross National "25 Points for a moto win" stuff, though. At the MEC, if a rider finishes 1-3-2, he is assigned 6 points. Whoever has the fewest points at the end of the night is the winner. In the event of a tie, whoever has the best result in the third race will be awarded the better position.

The rules are also different in the sense that there aren’t many of them. In-helmet communication, traction control, full-works bikes: it’s all legal at the Monster Energy Cup. Different sized engines are also allowed, which means we could see a 250/450 showdown, although last year almost every single rider opted to ride a 450. What we are guaranteed to see is a matchup between young flyers like Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia against premier class veterans like Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey. Now that’s something to look forward to!

The Track
Last year the track’s biggest claim to fame was its hybrid blend of motocross and supercross style terrain. That tradition is continued for this year, along with several additional features that are sure to mix up the racing and add to the entertainment. The dirt has also been sifted for rocks, which promises to provide a better racing surface than last year.

The first and biggest difference this year is the addition of what is being called the Joker Lane. Basically, it’s a detour that will add several seconds to a rider’s lap time. Racers are required to take this lane one time per main event. It’s going to be exciting to see what kind of strategy this new design brings to motorcycle racing. It’s also going to be interesting to see how many riders get caught up in the race and forget to go through it!

Another cool feature of the MEC track is the split start, which is actually something that has been used in a few supercross races in the last several years. Riders will start outside of the stadium, with half of the pack on one side of Monster Alley and the remaining eleven racers on the other. As they race into the stadium the two lanes funnel together and the two groups become one pack. In order to ensure fairness, riders will alternate start sides before the start of each main event--if you start from the right side gates in the first main event, you have to take the left gates for main event 2.

You may remember that the track went into the stands last year, but the design was a simple up and down with a 180 degree turn at the top. It quickly became one-lined and unexciting. Track designer Ricky Carmichael and the rest of the boys have taken that into account for this year and have designed Talladega Turn, a massive banked turn that goes up into the stands in the end of the stadium opposite Monster Alley. Because of its sloped angle and flowing, high-speed design, this section should create plenty of thrills and passing opportunities.

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Will anyone take home a cool million in Vegas on Saturday?
Simon Cudby photo

The Amateurs
With $1 Million on the line, you know there’s going to be some hard racing in the pro ranks, but some of the best racing could take place in between the main events. The MEC offers fans an opportunity to look into the future of the sport when the nation’s fastest and most talented amateurs square off in the Super-Mini and Amateur All-Star races. Aptly named, the Super-Mini race features the nation’s fastest Super-Mini racers while the Amateur All-Stars race is made up of the fastest A and B Class riders in the country. The Amateur-All Stars event has the potential to be explosive, as Adam Cianciarulo will be making his long awaited big-bike debut. Cooper Webb, who finished second to Cianciarulo in the Super-Mini Class last year, is also on a 250 (but he's been racing a big bike throughout the year). Both races feature two-moto formats, with racing taking place in the breaks between pro racing.

The Money
Perhaps the biggest difference of all is the payout offered at the Monster Energy Cup. If a rider wins all three main events like Ryan Villopoto did last year, he’ll take home the Monster Million. If nobody goes 1-1-1, there’s still plenty of money to be paid out, as the MEC features a gigantic $250,000 payout. With $215,000 worth of motivation earmarked for the top ten finishers, there's a reason to battle even if it's not for the overall win.

Television
Now that we’ve spent the last 1,000 words pumping you up on the MEC, it’s only right that we supply you with the viewing info. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED with two more showings after that. For more information, please visit www.monsterenergycup.com

October 20, 2012 - Live
10:00 p.m. ET

October 21, 2012
Midnight, ET

October 22, 2012
Noon, ET

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