Nothing came ‘easy’ this weekend at Guthrie’s Lazy E Arena. The long-running fixture on the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series tour with the sasquatch-sized arena floor footprint will featured arenacross lap times that rival that of supercross tracks. The points chase as we head into Hampton, Va., this weekend is insane close between Yamaha’s Chad Johnson and Thor/Honda/TUF Racing’s Brock Sellards (more on that later in the week). With three races to go in the season – including Hampton – Johnson holds a very reachable 17-point lead over Sellards. And if either of them slip, watch out for Team Faith’s Kevin Johnson. The New Mexico native went 1-1 two weeks ago in Baltimore and jumped from fifth to third overall in the standings – and is only 10 points behind Sellards.
The Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series will be at a new arena in Memphis. Formerly at an arena known as the “Pyramid,” this year’s Memphis AX round will be held at the new FedEx Forum – home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. “We’re going to Graceland,” said Tim Cotter, Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series track announcer.
Back at Hampton, the Hampton Arena sits right smack dab in the middle of the largest contingent of military personnel in the nation. With the nearby Norfolk shipyard surrounded by all sorts of military satellite stations, Hampton always draws a big military crowd.
Also making the trip over to Hampton will be a bunch of NPG member Jonathon Beasley’s racers from Budds Creek. Geographically speaking, Hampton will draw from two motocross hotbeds – the Northeast and Southeast. Amateur sign up should be one of the largest – and most competitive all season.
Always a crowd favorite, IHRA motorcycle drag racing legend Larry “Spiderman” McBride will be at Hampton to meet with the fans and sign autographs.
Just how big was the Lazy E Arena floor? Big enough that they don’t need to truck any dirt in, the work actually starts on Tuesday (vs. Wed/Thurs at other venues), lap times will be close to 60 seconds and, get this, an over/under bridge! CCE and the AMA agreed to cut the main event laps down from 20 to 16 in the AMA Arenacross class and 16 to 12 in the AMA Lites class.
Last Friday night’s contest at Guthrie featured a mini bike race with local legend Guy Cooper.
Faith No More? Air Force sponsored Team Faith’s Rob Lewis wadded up pretty bad in Dallas FMX intermission, separated his shoulder and broke some ribs. He’s down, but not out. Same goes for Lewis’ airborne teammate Willie Watts, who banged up his hand last week at Baltimore. Watts will see how it feels and is likely for Hampton.
We said to watch out for Chad Johnson to come flying back in a big way at Guthrie – and he did. Johnson was on the couch all last week suffering from the flu and is now up to speed – and hopefully for him the speed he enjoyed going 1-1-1 at Albany, Des Moines and Rockford. He spanked everybody on Friday, then cruised to a 3rd on Saturday.
According to Live Nation’s Pam Lambert, Arenacross National Event Manager, the riding continues to get more aggressive as the points race tightens up. But Lambert adds: “The guys still come off the track high fiving and stuff. The racing’s been excellent so far and will only get better during the next several weeks.”
Good to see some more names up top of the AMA Arenacross Lites division. Last week at Baltimore new guy Jeremy Cook pulled off the win on Saturday night.
A couple new faces were at Guthrie. Michigan pro Jimmy Wilson and up-and-comer Travis Hodges will close out the rest of the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series season – beginning with Guthrie – before crossing over to race the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series’ Eastern Lites division.
Competition for Miss Arenacross, Ashley? Maybe in a few years when Briann Stiles – the 10-second board girl – decides to ditch her dirt bike for the T-shirt cannon. Stiles help out down on the floor, then races the amateur arenacross on Sunday.
Look for a feature story coming out later this week on Baltimore 1-1 star Kevin Johnson (Team Faith). Kevin and brother Keith grew up in Albuquerque (N.M.) with the Tedescos (Ivan and Gio), Ryan Clark, Justin Buckelew and cousin Isaiah Johnson. And he’s got some real good stories, including the gang they started as kids called “Mini Mart Locos.” Track announcer Tim Cotter says he’s the “fastest guy out there” in terms of lap times.