Des Moines Arenacross Notebook
By Pat Schutte
Back to Wells Fargo Arena for the opener! Dirt hit the floor for the first time in this new building last November when the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series rolled into town. The response was so excellent that Live Nation decided to make Des Moines the season opener of the 2006-’07 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series. A few facts about Wells Fargo Arena:
-Opened in July of 2005
-Hosts up to 17,000 guests
-The Iowa Stars, affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, call Wells Fargo Arena home
-Home to Iowa state high school wrestling and basketball tournaments
-Attendance for Toyota AMA Arenacross is around 15,000 at Wells Fargo Arena
-You can see the Des Moines skyline and State Capitol building from inside
-In addition to Toyota AMA Arenacross, Wells Fargo Arena will also host Toby Keith, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Disney On Ice in the month of November
In regards to the crowd size, last year Toyota AMA Arenacross announcer Tim Cotter said: “Biggest crowds we’ve had in some time,” regarding the inaugural arenacross races in Wells Fargo Arena. Last year’s Des Moines round winners: Chad Johnson (AMA Arenacross class) and Shawn Clark (AMA Arenacross Lites class).
With the track holding up nicely last year, Cotter said that outside the whoops, there were two places that racers were looking to pass. The newly named “ Toyota Hairpin ” provided for the evenings’ most exciting passing, with riders really getting after it in bar-to-bar action in the tight section just before the catapult jump. There was another section right after the catapult landing, where riders had a choice of two lines (high/low). But it would be the Toyota Hairpin, which collected a couple of riders – including Zach Ames (Suzuki) and Matt Barnes (Honda) in the Arenacross class on Saturday night. The wreck forced Barnes to hit the ground hard and the race to be red flagged. Fortunately Barnes was able to walk off the track under his own power, but the single-file restart allowed then 7th place Chad Johnson to catch and pass leader Kevin Johnson (Yamaha) and check out for the victory.
Defending champion Chad Johnson said in his interview yesterday published on www.arenacross.com that the guys from TUF Racing – Danny Smith and Justin Buckelew – are flying. The cool thing about Toyota AMA Arenacross is all the guys tend to stick together, help each other out with places to stay, and ride when possible. We all generally get along really well – despite the mayhem that occurs once the gate drops.
With all sorts of sponsors jumping onto the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series bandwagon, Team GPF/babbittsonline.com picked up a couple big ones. Custom graphics company De Cal Works and clothing company MSR will be giving the team from Michigan a tight look this season.
Team TiLube/Storm Lake Honda’s Teddy Maier is stoked to start the season. The top 10 AMA Supercross Lites class runner in the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series will be contesting his first Toyota AMA Arenacross Series. Maier said: “It’s been quite a while since I’ve raced arenacross and I’m really excited to race this year. The Toyota AMA Series is a class act with good TV coverage.”
Several of the nation’s top freestyle motocross (FMX) talents will be on hand in Des Moines representing the United States Air Force in a show that’s sure to get the crowd amped up before the final rounds of Toyota AMA Arenacross Series racing on Friday and Saturday nights. “Live Nation, in cooperation with Team Faith, is pleased to introduce the United States Air Force FMX Exhibition Team,” said Robert Hansen, Director of Arenacross for Live Nation. “The United States Air Force FMX Exhibition team will perform throughout the year at many of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series rounds and we hope you enjoy the show!”
AMA Arenacross Lites class racers competing at Des Moines will be eligible to win one of four separate Lites class regional championships, according to race officials at Live Nation and the AMA. A progressive step forward in terms of Toyota AMA Arenacross being utilized as a feeder program for the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, the four regional points leaders will not only be crowned “Regional Champions,” but they’ll also receive a free pass to enter AMA Supercross Lites competition – a benefit exclusive to Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ regional Lites class champions. The Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ North Region is as follows: Des Moines, Iowa (Nov. 3-5), Grand Rapids, Mich. (Jan. 5-7), Dayton, Ohio (Jan. 19-21) and Springfield, Ill. (Feb. 2-4).
Make sure to check out this week’s Des Moines Register newspaper. Local racer Brady Peck (Saint Charles, Iowa) will be featured in a story by Register reporter Rob Gray.
The famous MX racing Blair brothers – Vincent and Daniel – have banded together again, and along with pal Casey Hinson, will contest the 2006/07 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series under the team name “Eternal Industries.” In addition to their top shelf MX skills, the Blair’s band “The Main Event” will also be performing live at select arenas and clubs in the cities the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series visits. Daniel (vocals) and Vincent (guitar) formed the band and have even offered up their musical talent as part of the opening ceremonies at this year’s events.
DirtBikeMike’s got a team! With backing from Kawasaki Sport Center in Little Rock, Ark., and Oklahoma City’s House of Kawasaki, longtime Toyota AMA Arenacross Series fixture Mike “DirtBikeMike” Lambert recently unveiled his very first professional arenacross team - slated to compete in the upcoming 2006-’07 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series competition season. Heading up the team will be four top prospects from the central United States, including Oklahoma City’s Chad Cook (#713), Beau Romstedt (#357) of Baldwin, Kan., Guthrie, Okla.’s Robbie Smith (#660) and Tolland Weems (#911) of Crossett, Ark.
Don’t forget the Wells Fargo Arena Track Party on Saturday (Nov. 4). Fans can get a FREE track party pass at participating Yamaha and Toyota dealers, or online at iowaeventscenter.com. Also, fans attending the Des Moines Arenacross will have a special opportunity to get Jan. 5-6 Monster Jam tickets for Wells Fargo Arena for only, get this, Ten Bucks! Finally, participating Dahl’s stores have $5 off coupons for this Friday and Saturday’s Toyota AMA Arenacross.