Pick up your copy now and read features on the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club, Husqvarna’s first premier class championship by Kent Howerton, and Eli Tomac's thoughts on the new outdoor season. Also read about Ken Roczen's return from yet another injury, the ultimate riding vacation in the jungles of Central America and much more exclusively in the August 2018 issue of Racer X Illustrated.
Our original goal was to pen two separate features for our latest issue of the magazine based on two separate superstars at a crossroads. Ken Roczen was trying to mount yet another comeback from injury, while Eli Tomac was set to defend a 450 number-one plate. One guy completely on top of his game, another trying to rebuild his.
Originally, I was scheduled to handle the Tomac feature while Davey Coombs would take the Roczen piece, but Davey got sucked into MX Sports duty for the nationals. I was happy to take on the Roczen story because it’s so easy to write about him. Ken tells you everything, hides nothing, and has gotten to the point where he seeks out media members at the races to explain his situation. That makes it easy to get quotes and info. In contrast, Tomac just doesn’t talk much.
Right there, I realized I had my story. That was it. The contrast between the two stars would provide my hook. With one guy, the story goes well beyond the race track. With the other, the riding does the talking, then he goes back into his mysterious compound in Colorado.
We already had both stories designed so we couldn’t quite merge them into one giant feature, but I made some tweaks to combine them a bit. The subheadline for both features is nearly the same—have a look under the headlines here—and I spend part of the Tomac story contrasting him with Roczen, and part of the Roczen story contrasting him with Tomac.
That’s the beauty of having these two guys around and battling each other again. With Tomac versus Roczen, you get something for everyone. There are those who prefer the blue-collar, no-drama, “just do your work and shut up” style of Tomac. There are those who prefer the boisterous, outspoken Roczen. When combined, they balance each other.
Getting info on Roczen was easy. I just talked to Roczen during the Hangtown weekend. As for Eli, I talked to him in the pits, and he also provided quotes at the pre-season and post-race press conferences. He’s never long-winded, though, so I made sure to chat with the always-quotable Kawasaki racing boss Bruce Stjenstrom as well. One of Bruce’s main points, which can be applied to both Tomac and Roczen, is the overdemanding expectations placed on superstar riders. Stjenstrom was around when Ricky Carmichael first proved it was possible to win every single race in a season. Since then, crashes and mistakes always get put under the magnifying glass as if they’re entirely preventable. Tomac is not perfect, and the last two supercross seasons, when he has won half of the races but doesn’t have the title to show for it, is proof. Bruce explains that no rider is actually perfect, though; Carmichael just taught us to expect it.
The Tomac-versus-Roczen battles are back this summer, and you can read about their distinctly different personalities in the latest issue of the magazine. Whether you like the quiet guy or the talker, there’s a guy at the front of the pack for you. That’s the best point of all.