MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, kicks off in just a few days with the highly anticipated Red Bull Glen Helen National in San Bernardino, California. The season opener, taking place this Saturday, May 24, will serve as an industry homecoming for the motocross-rich Southern California area, as Glen Helen Raceway returns to the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross schedule for the first time since 2009.
Glen Helen Raceway held its first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross National in 1993, where it served as the final round of the championship during its inaugural season. Glen Helen then moved to become a Mother's Day staple from 1996-2003, hosting the opening round in six of those years, before returning to the final stop of the championship from 2004-2007. Glen Helen returned to hosting the opening round in 2008 and 2009, and will once again serve as the opening round in 2014 for the sixteenth running of the Glen Helen National.
Not all the hype surrounds the return of Glen Helen to the National schedule, though, as three former Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 Class Champions will line up to reclaim the #1 plate following the news of reigning 450 Class Champion Ryan Villopoto's absence. Villopoto suffered a serious knee injury in the closing stages of the recent AMA Supercross Championship, forcing him to take the summer off for surgery and rehabilitation. Leading the way will be two-time 450 Class Champion Ryan Dungey, last year's runner up. Joining Red Bull KTM's Dungey will be the 2008 450 Class Champion James Stewart, aboard his Yoshimura Suzuki and TwoTwo Motorsports/Discount Tire Racing's Chad Reed, who claimed the 450 Class title in 2009.
Of the current riders lining up at this weekend's season opener, Haines City, Florida's James Stewart is the only rider to have won in the 450 Class at Glen Helen, where he won in 2006 and 2008. Additionally, Stewart has claimed two wins in the 250 Class at Glen Helen in 2002 and 2004.
While Dungey has yet to compete in the 450 Class at Glen Helen, the 2009 250 Class Champ is the last rider to secure a win there in the 250 Class.
Two Southern California natives, Mike Alessi of the Smartop/MotoConcepts Racing team, and Toyota/JGRMX/Yamaha's Josh Grant, will make an appearance in front of a hometown crowd this weekend. In 2009, Grant and Alessi each swapped a second place moto score, finishing atop the last National podium held at Glen Helen. While Alessi has never won a National at Glen Helen, he has finished second in four consecutive attempts, once in the 250 Class (2006) and three times in the 450 Class (2007-2009).
With 2013 250 Class Champion, Eli Tomac of the GEICO Honda team, having moved into the 450 Class this season, the door is now open to any one of a number of top title contenders. Two former 250 Class Champions and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammates Dean Wilson and Blake Baggett will return to the class this season in hopes of becoming the next multi-time 250 Class Champion since Ryan Villopoto's three-year streak from 2006-2008.
Additional notes and stats for Glen Helen:
- Glen Helen held its first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross National in 1993, where it used a unique one-moto format.
- Doug Henry won Glen Helen's first National in the 125cc class, while Mike LaRocco won the 250cc class.
- Mount Saint Helens drops about 200 feet in elevation, which equals 20 stories.
- Ricky Carmichael is the all-time leader in wins at Glen Helen with eight career victories, three in the 250 Class and five in the 450 Class.
- In 15 years of Nationals, 10 different riders have emerged victorious in the 450 Class.
- Eleven different riders have won in the 250 Class and the class will feature its eighth straight new winner in 2014.
- Every manufacturer but KTM has won in both the 450 Class and 250 Class at Glen Helen. KTM has yet to win a 450 Class race here.
- In the 250 Class, Kawasaki has won 10 of the 15 races held at Glen Helen, where they enjoyed a seven-year winning streak from 2002-2008.
- Four riders have won at Glen Helen in both classes: Ricky Carmichael, Grant Langston, James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto. Ryan Dungey is the only rider who can attempt to join that list with a 450 Class win this weekend.
- Ryan Dungey became the first rider to win in the 250 Class on a Suzuki during the 2009 race at Glen Helen.
- In 2009, Ryan Villopoto won his first 450 Class race in his first career start.
- A total of five international riders have won at Glen Helen: Grant Langston (250 Class & 450 Class), Mickael Pichon (450 Class), Sebastien Tortelli (450 Class), Stephane Roncada (250 Class).
- Three riders have won at Glen Helen to capture the very first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship race they ever entered: Sebastian Tortelli (1999), Grant Langston (2001), James Stewart (2002).
Previous Glen Helen National Winners:
Aug 1, 1993 Mike LaRocco Doug Henry
May 12, 1996 Jeremy McGrath Kevin Windham
May 11, 1997 Jeff Emig Ricky Carmichael
May 10, 1998 Mickael Pichon Ricky Carmichael
May 9, 1999 Sebastien Tortelli Ricky Carmichael
May 14, 2000 Ricky Carmichael Stephane Roncada
May 13, 2001 Tim Ferry Grant Langston
May 12, 2002 Ricky Carmichael James Stewart
May 11, 2003 Ricky Carmichael Mike Brown
Sep 12, 2004 Ricky Carmichael James Stewart
Sep 11, 2005 Ricky Carmichael Grant Langston
Sep 10, 2006 James Stewart Ryan Villopoto
Sep 9, 2007 Grant Langston Ben Townley
May 25, 2008 James Stewart Austin Stroupe
May 23, 2009 Ryan Villopoto Ryan Dungey
The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship kicks off this Saturday, May 24, in San Bernardino, California for the Red Bull Glen Helen National. For more information or to purchase tickets for this weekend's event, please click HERE.
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