250 Words: Bringing  Back the Invitational

250 Words Bringing Back the Invitational

December 11, 2013 4:30pm
With today’s level of homogenized, OCD-level planning for training programs, it’s hard to believe a ton of top factory riders used to gather for a big purse race the weekend before the Anaheim Supercross opener. They weren’t there for the money, but rather the chance to get in a gate drop before it all really counted for AMA points the next weekend. The race was the GFI Invitational at Perris Raceway, promoted by former factory rider Goat Breker. In the late 1990s, this was a big deal.

The trend eventually went away as most riders and trainers chose to stick with the private test tracks until Anaheim rolled around. But the folks that run Perris today also run Milestone MX, and Milestone has three supercross tracks. Two are private, but one is open for anyone holding a pro license. This weekend, they’ll add a starting gate to that track and let ‘er rip. The invitational is back this Saturday, Dec 14 and the new official name is the Monarch Moto Pro Super X Invitational.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the last two years,” says Aaron Cooke, Marketing and Events Manager for Milestone MX. “Goat used to make this a big deal, every top rider used it as a warm up. We’ve got some great riders lined up for this weekend, and we’re going to make it an annual event.”

Check out the video above for an old-school clip of the race, starting with the other GOAT, Ricky Carmichael, who used the race to prep for his first pro SX season. And scroll over to the nine-minute mark. Can you guess whom is the announcer talking in the background?

Here’s another one with a young K-Dub.

This year’s race will run two classes—250 and 450, of course—and confirmed riders include Jake Weimer, Wil Hahn, Nick Wey and Jason Lawrence (he promises to show up, they tell us) on 450s. The 250 group is headlined by Dean Wilson, Austin Politelli, Cooper Webb and Shane McElrath. There’s also an amateur all-star race. Like the old days there’s a big purse, with $10,000 in prize money and $2,500 in holeshot awards for the pros. They’ll even bring Breker down to present the cash from a briefcase, just like he did back in the day.

Milestone has three supercross test tracks. The Rockstar KTM team and the GEICO Honda team each have one, but the other track is open to all pros. But test tracks are not designed to work with 20-rider fields like an actual supercross race track. So this event will run a unique double-elimination style format of heats, semis and LCQs, feeding into five-rider main events in each class. The mains will run 12 laps, and legendary supercross announcer Larry Huffman will make the race call. Best of all, the other Milestone tracks will remain open, and admission for the day is just $15, and that includes watching the pro race and going riding yourself. If you can’t make it, check out oomba.tv for a live webcast. Racing starts at 10:15 a.m. Pacific.

This could be the start of something big—again. We’re all starved for some racing at this time of year, and we could see something like this fitting into plan for years to come.