I have seen a lot of places in the world, but none holds as many profound memories for me as this special area in Northern California. Between seeing a 15-year-old Travis Pastrana launch off Pier 32 at the X Games in 1999, making out with a girl on a boat under the Bay Bridge in 2002, and seeing Ricky Carmichael battle with Chad Reed last year, I’m torn as to which one I hold dearest!
Last weekend was a special race. It was the 20th anniversary of Bailey vs. Johnson, and so many things mirrored that epic moment in U.S. supercross—the track included. Last week’s track was old-school. We had fast straightaways, sweeping turns, and obstacles that Bailey himself could have jumped on his 1986 CR250R. But we also had one of the best races for the lead we’ve seen in years. I think the track was a genius effort in creating the more four-stroke-friendly courses of the future. This isn’t BMX, and this isn’t freestyle motocross. In my opinion, we do not need “courses” for better action; we need “racetracks.” Spice up last week’s track just a little bit more and I think the Dirt Wurx crew will have it dialed. Moving right along, let’s get to the racing action that leads us to the Bay.
“Competition to mission control … mission control, come in.”
“Competition, we have you, what’s going on out there?”
“There’s a bright yellow comet bearing down on us and we can’t shake it!”
“Competition, we have that comet on radar … it’s gaining strength and magnitude. If you do not gain velocity it may overcome you. Increase velocity immediately! We’ve seen this comet before … if you fail to pick it up, it may be too late!”
Ricky Carmichael may not be a comet, but he sure as hell is a house on fire, ladies and gentlemen! Do you remember last year when RC was the underdog? Chad Reed was the defending champion and had him covered on SX speed. San Francisco was the race that really saw the momentum switch back to the GOAT when he came from behind to pass #22—in the whoops, of all places. As we head back to SF, Ricky appears to have gained the upper hand already, as the exact same race took place, only this time it was with James Stewart at Anaheim. With two wins in a row, mother momentum is riding strong behind his RM-Z450. The boys had better put him in check quick, or else Armageddon is in their immediate future.
But boy oh boy, do we have a treat waiting for us. James Stewart will be on a mission this Saturday night! Hey, he is doing it right. He has led the most laps, finished on the steps all three times, and is two small mishaps from possibly being undefeated. And with rain in the forecast for the next three days, I am predicting we will have a soft, rutted track waiting for us. Remember Seattle last year? JBS can lay wood in the ruts, folks.
This is the time of year that is very important for James’ title hopes. He just has to keep placing on the podium and riding smart. His amazing talent and determination will get him to the promised land of supercross if he keeps it calm long enough to rebuild the confidence he carried into Canada. But now, with the race right up the road from RC and James’ shared clothing sponsor, Morgan Hill-based Fox Racing, I think Stewart will really be focused on winning this race. Even with Ricky taking those two wins in a row, I feel its going to be all eyes on #7 this time around.
Ah, but as I touched on above, rain is in the forecast. The Cobra could be ready to strike! Ivan Tedesco is gaining speed, and Jeremy McGrath just keeps us believing. And Mike LaRocco is still lurking out there somewhere.
I’ll be there in the flesh this weekend to watch it all go down. I cannot wait to walk on the Embarcadero. I can already smell the salt air drifting in off the cold Bay waters. I can close my eyes and see the glow of Pac-Bell Stadium shimmering in the moonlight of the surrounding sea. The race forecasters were a year off on their prediction of the Perfect Storm. What we felt last year was mere shockwaves of the eye of the real Perfect Storm, which seems to have actually arrived in 2006. The storm is here, and it is not for the timid. Run and take shelter … or ride the lightning out across the bay like good old #199! Round 4 is here, guys! Let it roll!
Thanks for reading, see you next week!