Rev Up: Atlanta

Rev Up Atlanta

February 21, 2013 2:35pm

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. I can’t remember a better time to be at the races than 2013. Being in Dallas last weekend at Cowboys Stadium was almost everything I could have asked for. On one hand, I’ve seen thousands of supercross races but never seen anything like Zach Bell’s crash. Before that we saw the greatest heat race battle I can remember, then we all watched James Stewart pass Ryan Villopoto to win his heat. The 250 main had crazy action with charges through the pack, take-outs, and highlight reel crashes. The 450 main saw Ryan Dungey stuff the dog crap out of Chad Reed, and an intense race to the finish. Although, what set the tone for my sweaty palms on the night was meeting an interesting man on the track walk...

I was standing behind the starting gate checking out the holeshot when I spotted a large man fidgeting with the huge Monster sign on top of the start box. He climbed down and walked over giving me a nod, so we exchanged greetings. With wide eyes he introduced himself, “Name’s Keith Herbert, I’m the pyro-technician for the series, man in charge of the fire.” With raised eyebrows I said nothing while he went on to explain the aggressive flames that we see after a checkered flag being the result of a burst of liquid propane, which he controls. Clearly proud of his trade he added, “We use all kinds of different chemicals to get the color.” Now looking at the ceiling with his hands on his hips, he continued, “We don’t have color this weekend, but we can use BIG fire in this stadium. You got to be careful though, we first used this in Atlanta years back and didn’t have the regulator set right.” Looking at me as if he were glancing over the top of imaginary glasses he concluded, “We scorched the roof of the stadium right in front of the building superintendent! But we have it dialed in now.” Ho, ho.

Will Wilson light the flames again in Atlanta?
Simon Cudby photo

Time to burn the roof again in Atlanta. This is the biggest supercross of the year ladies and gentlemen. An army of reasons makes it so, but paramount is the event’s history. Atlanta is territory for some of the greatest supercross races we’ve ever seen. Who can remember seeing the #10 of Guy Cooper flapping his arms like a bird after he crashed out of the lead in ‘89? How about Jeff Ward doing the triple fist pump winning the '90 barnburner? If you listen closely enough you can still hear reverberations from explosion the stadium made when Chad Reed cleaned James Stewart the hell out in 2011. It’s the history behind the Atlanta event that makes it the grand daddy, but accompanying the nostalgia is a pack of fans that stomps a mud hole in any in the country. They’ll be 70,000 standing tall for 20 laps and ready for the beast if it comes calling.

Is this going to be the race we see it go down? Why wouldn’t it be? It’s Atlanta, son.

Headlining the stoke coming into round eight of the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross series is Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps, who owns a 21-point lead. Born in Florida but with many a year spent in Georgia, Davi has extended his lead for three consecutive rounds, posting fastest qualifying times, winning heat races and main events along the way. It’s going to get loud when he rolls out for opening ceremonies. Can you imagine holding his handlebars as he coasts out to greet his home fans this Saturday night? The Davi-Train will be ready to run for them.

Davi just has to keep chugging along because even though Ryan Villopoto won last weekend he is still 24 points behind. This series is beginning to remind of Ricky Carmichael’s 2003 championship when Chad Reed beat him six consecutive times down the stretch, to no avail, titlewise. DM18 and his crew have to start looking ahead because we’re already near the cross flags of the series. As for Villopoto, Atlanta has been cruel and kind to him. He won in 2011 (riding around the Reed/Stewart pile on the last lap) but in 2010 he carted huge and got dirt stuffed into his muffler. Remember that? Atlanta is also the venue where Josh Grant plowed his daylights out in the old Lites class. That noted, there are nine other guys that are pressing hard to stop Millsaps. Justin Barcia also calls this race home, and he’ll be ready to use the red dirt to hang it out. That’s right, red dirt. I’m an Instagram advocate and always look forward to Dave Prater’s weekly post of the track being built. Looks like we may finally have some traction and ruts. We may finally see the war we’ve been waiting for all year.

Reed and Stewart had 60,000-plus on their feet in 2011. What will 2013 bring?
Andrew Fredrickson photo

My sweaty palms are back and I’m not even at the race yet! As you read, Mr. Herbert is busy setting up the fire machine and soon enough those in attendance will feel the heat on their faces. Who’s ready to hear 70,000 strong stretch their vocal cords? Does anyone share my feeling that we’re on the cusp of another version of The Battle of Atlanta? I think it’s time. It just has to be time for the donnybrook. This is a huge weekend. I’ll be driving down with my family for the supercross, then driving all night to watch my brother, The Wheelman, go to work in the Daytona 500. It’s already time for the madness again, and every supercross fan in the world should be rolling their necks for this one. Time to see if the war is going to go down. Time for Atlanta!

Thanks for reading, see you at the races.