450 Words: History  Made in Anaheim

450 Words History Made in Anaheim

January 7, 2014 4:15pm
Saturday’s 450SX main event was a race literally forty years in the making. Monster Energy AMA Supercross was marking its fortieth year, and Red Bull KTM was beginning forty years without having accomplished 1-2 finishes in the premier division of supercross, the world’s most prestigious stage for dirt bike racing. So when the smack-bang-wow main event ended with the smiling Ken Roczen on top and Ryan Dungey second, it marked a high point in some ways for both the series as a whole and especially KTM.

Forty years ago, what was called the Yamaha Super Series of Motocross was a two-stop tour that went from the infield of Daytona to inside what was the then considered the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by some savvy marketeers, the Houston Astrodome. (That year’s L.A. Coliseum race was a standalone event.) History tells us that Pierre Karsmakers won the 250 class on a Yamaha that first day at Daytona, while Roger DeCoster won the 500 class on a Suzuki.

Ryan Dungey's (left) and Ken Roczen's 1-2 finish at Anaheim marked the first time in history KTM has gone 1-2 in the premier class in AMA Supercross.
Simon Cudby photo

Here’s the cool little angle long forgotten for the most part: The runner-up in that first “AMA Supercross” at Daytona behind Karsmakers was Long Branch, Washington’s Buck Murphy, who was riding a Penton—actually a KTM, but renamed for its U.S. distributor, the iconic John Penton.

In the years since, supercross has grown in leaps and bounds, but Penton/KTM’s fortunes didn’t get any better than that single runner-up finish until 2012, when Dungey finally won KTM its first premier-class main event, bettering the brand’s high mark from 1974.

That's Buck Murphy on a Penton in 1974.
Steve French photo

On Saturday night, with a live network television audience watching a jam-packed house in Anaheim, the sensational Roczen rode a superb twenty laps, showing both patience and resilience—and pure speed and stamina—to win. Dungey’s runner-up finish gave Red Bull KTM its very first 1-2 finish. And with Jason Anderson winning the 250 main, it was easily KTM’s best night ever in AMA Supercross.

Somewhere, Buck Murphy was smiling.