After a 22-year hiatus, we are back to Florida for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross! The last time we visited the Sunshine State, I was in high school and making my national debut at Gatorback. My 26-21 scores weren’t memorable historically, but they are forever etched into my memory. The race was shoehorned into the supercross series back then, coming in between the Atlanta and Daytona rounds (but it counted as the AMA National Motocross opener). March usually means great weather in Florida, and that weekend was no different. Little did we know that Florida would be removed the following year and take this long to return. With this race taking place in June, I have a feeling the return is going to be a “warm” one.
WW Ranch Motocross Park is a relatively new track. In fact, it didn’t even exist when I moved away from Florida in 2012 (as far as I know). I grew up 45 minutes from the now USGP and national track and if you know anything about that area, you know it’s going to be hot and it’s going to be sandy. The USGP in September of 2017 was a brutally hot and muggy affair, testing everyone’s endurance. This weekend’s event is going to be more of the same with high temperatures expected in the mid 90’s. The tough part about Florida heat is that it will be hot as soon as everyone wakes Saturday morning and won’t cool off until, well, November. June in many states might have a high temperature but it takes all day to reach it. Not Florida. Riders will be sweating profusely starting in qualifying practice and have to find an air-conditioned escape to stop. Hydration will be critical, cooling core temps in between rides is a must, and overall fitness will be tested for the first time this season. National events are always difficult but heat like the riders will experience Saturday is a whole different level. The fittest guys will rise to the top but make no mistake about it, everyone will suffer. It’s just going to be who suffers the least.
The track is typical Florida; flat, sandy, and rough. The Dream Traxx crew has done a nice job of adding some man-made elevation but there’s only so much dirt that can be moved. It’s going to be a fast layout this year from what I have seen, but the bumps should help slow that down. Going back to the USGP, starts were a huge factor so look for that trend to continue. Riders might be susceptible late in the moto but early, I think there will be a lot of follow the leader on a smooth, fast track.
This track marks the first of two sand races in a row, and the first of the season. Sand riding is a different animal and might give us different results inside the top ten. I think that variance might be more visible in the 250 Class as the 450 guys are experienced enough to maintain their elite level on any surface. Riders who have struggled lately might find themselves back in the fray. Alex Martin is a perfect example of a rider who could use these two sand races to rejuvenate his season.
All in all, it’s going to be a brutal day for the riders. There is simply no way to avoid the impending heat. The only relief could come in the form of afternoon thunderstorms, but I don’t know if rain and mud is a great alternative. My advice would be to add an extra day of rest this week, hydrate more than normal, and have a game plan for in between motos to cool yourself immediately. Preparation is much more important on days like Saturday.
Questions I Need Answered
Will Justin Cooper bounce back after an off day last time out?
How will the results differ in brutal conditions Saturday afternoon?
Can the Baker’s Factory group close the gap to Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac?
Will anyone ever crack the Team Fried code?
Will Alex Martin use the next two sand races to make like Stella and get his groove back?
AC92 has won four overalls in a row and holds a commanding 26-point lead heading into his home race.
Hunter Lawrence won the first moto of his career and in effect, made good on GEICO Honda’s move to bring him to America.
Blake Baggett won the first moto at High Point and although his second moto was a bummer, he took a huge step forward.
Zach Osborne has had a great 450 outdoor debut thus far, consistently putting himself into the top five.
Cameron McAdoo finally gave the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM a reason to smile with a better-than-expected High Point.
Justin Cooper had a tough day at High Point, losing big points to his rival AC92.
A-Mart hasn’t been able to find his best pace lately but with two sand races upcoming, he has a chance to turn it around.
Christian Craig is mired in an FIM/WADA mess that can’t be easy to navigate.
Garrett Marchbanks had his second huge crash at High Point in as many years. Worse, it was in the exact same section of the track.
Less than 30 guys finish in one of the motos this weekend due to the sand and heat.
Someone who is not racing in the actual motos is shown as running well inside the top 20 on television live timing. I continuously pepper Jason Weigandt with angry texts while this is happening.
Ken Roczen holeshots the first moto, followed by a gaggle of orange bikes.
Everyone in the entire facility joins Jason Anderson in becoming Team Fried with temps expected into the upper 90s.
With about ten minutes to go in the second moto, amateur phenom Pierce Brown wonders why in the world he chose this microwave for his debut.