With the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule announced, we decided to have Steve Matthes and Jason Thomas take a look at the venues and recall some of their best memories from each location.
Round One: Anaheim, CA
Of course the first round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross starts at Anaheim! Where else would it be, bro? Speaking of bros, there will be a ton of them there in the OC watching the opening round. Nothing like it, in my opinion: great buzz, the anticipation of the season is in the air, and the riders and teams try to kick off the year right. As far as the stadium is concerned, well it’s getting up there in age and it would be nice to have better crowd flow, the press box is too small and not in a good spot but it’s A1, you’re just happy to be there!
Round Two: St. Louis, MO
St. Louis in January is going to be a cold one! This race is usually known for having the best dirt of the series, but the timing might make it more rutty than usual. The stadium in STL is a bit lonely these days with the St. Louis Rams taking their talents to Los Angeles. Still, the Midwest crowd turns out in droves, making this a fun event for everyone. The soft dirt will be interesting to watch as the West Coast swing of the series is usually a hard-packed, slippery affair. I am sure there will be some that complain about the trip east for the second round, but I like the wrinkle.
JT's memory: The race in 2003 was a good once for me, landing in tenth place in 450SX. I was able to keep Ezra Lusk behind me in the late laps and just felt like I belonged inside the top ten that night. It was also my first year on the Subway/Coca Cola Honda team and that was one of the team’s home races. To put in a good result with everyone watching was satisfying, as well as cementing my spot there for the next few years. There was an epic battle between Chad Reed and Ricky Carmichael that night, too, but I wouldn’t know anything about that until I watched the race on television later.
Round Three: Anaheim, CA
Yeah. We’re back at Anaheim! The second race at Angel Stadium has been a Triple Crown round for the last couple of years and I expect that to continue in 2020. Remember when there were three Anaheim supercrosses? Yeah, that was a bit much but two does seem perfect and the heart of the industry is in Southern California so I think it’s accepted by everyone. One thing I missed in the A1 preview was make sure you hit up the taco trucks in the pits, they’re pretty good!
Matthes' memory: All the non-opener Anaheim’s tend to blend together but we’ll go with 2000 when the whoops were four feet tall and Jeremy McGrath rode through them like they were flat in practice. It had all the other riders and teams shaking their heads in amazement.
Round Four: Glendale, AZ
Situated just outside of Phoenix, Glendale boasts arguably the season’s best weather. The mild Arizona January temps are a welcome sight to many as is the perennial sunshine. Phoenix is a great city and not hard to figure out why so many snowbirds make this their winter home. Scottsdale is vibrant and upscale, Tempe is home to Arizona State University and all things associated, while downtown Phoenix has its own vibe altogether.
The stadium change has been a great improvement, too, heading out to the Arizona Cardinals football stadium instead of downtown’s Arizona Diamondbacks venue. The old venue’s limited parking had a cramped feel and didn’t do justice to what was possible. Glendale could very well be one of the best rounds of the series all things considered.
JT's memory: Qualifying out of the heat races (when they only took four) was a very difficult proposition for me. I usually qualified from the semi races or even the LCQ, adding more racing and less recovery for the main event. The 2006 event, I did qualify from the heat, though, with Ricky Carmichael passing me with a couple of laps to go. It was a great feeling and one of those “validation” races where you know you are doing something right.
Round Five: Oakland, CA
I bet JT is upset that he couldn’t write this one. It might be his favorite stop in the series! The Oakland Coliseum is committed to excellence… in 1970. Yeah, it’s a tad on the older side but the dirt in Oakland is usually pretty good and it’s a huge floor so the track is always pretty good. The press box is… well better to just leave that alone. In fact, let’s just praise the dirt and track and move onto the next one before people get mad. Hey Feld, if ANYTHING ever opens up in San Fran, let’s try that, yeah?
Matthes' memory: The epic ride that Trey Canard had there one year (2015) as he sliced through some greats to take the win. Stew was also very good here.
Round Six: San Diego, CA
What a great round San Diego is! Even though some will whine about downtown parking, the move to Petco Park has been awesome. Having the Gas Lamp district next door adds to the overall feel of the event. Fans and teams can walk over from their hotel and once they arrive, a multitude of amenities await. Petco Park has the best culinary options on the calendar with breweries and unique restaurants. If you are able, San Diego is a must-attend event. If you don’t agree, Ron Burgundy will literally fight you to the death.
JT's memory: San Diego in 2008 was still out at Qualcomm Stadium but was a great night for me. I ended up tenth in the main event after chasing Nick Wey for 20 laps. I had this 3-3-4 rhythm in the whoops that was hard to top even for the fastest of blitzers. I got a decent start and can’t remember making one mistake in the main event. Tenth place isn’t setting the world on fire but I felt like I rode to the best of my ability that night. Out front, Reed won an exciting main event and being my best friend, added to a great feeling driving out of the stadium that evening.
Round Seven: Tampa, FL
Hey, look who’s back! Tampa, Florida, made its return in 2018 after being off the series for over 15 years and then poof, it was gone again. Well it’s back for 2020 and at a good time of the year at that. Florida in February and March is tough to beat. The stadium is cool, I mean it’s got a pirate ship in it, people! The question with Florida supercrosses is attendance and let’s hope it does well this year because it’s been a tough time over the years keeping the races in Florida. Last time we raced here Tampa had a set of sand rollers that were awesome.
Matthes' memory: I was working for Tim Ferry in 1999 and had just started working for him so to see him pass Jeremy McGrath in a heat race when MC made a mistake was pretty cool. Yes, Jeremy got him back but I remember thinking “NO ONE PASSES THE KING!!!”
Round Eight: Arlington, TX
Jerry’s World welcomes Monster Energy AMA Supercross for round eight. The sheer size and scope of AT&T Stadium is enough to make this a series highlight. The dirt has improved in recent years, too, adding traction and improving the quality of racing. This round feels more like a regional event, drawing crowds from far and wide. The pit party is always packed, the stadium is full, and the event feels like a huge success year in and year out. The only thing that could top this event would be access to Jerry’s suite but I won’t hold my breath on that.
JT's memory: My first visit to the new stadium was in 2010. After racing in the old stadium over in Irving, it was mind-blowing to be in this revolutionary new venue. Everything from the massive flat screen to the next-level VIP areas was beyond awesome. I didn’t ride all that well in the main event and can’t even remember what place I finished but I will never forget walking into that stadium for the first time.
Round Nine: Atlanta, GA
I heard that Atlanta was going to go away and truthfully that never made sense to me based on the history of the city holding races. Whether it was Fulton Country Stadium or the Georgia Dome or now, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Atlanta round is always packed. Then again, I’ve never actually been to this new stadium and have skipped this race the last two years. This stadium looks amazing though and Atlanta needs to be on the schedule every year.
Round Ten: Daytona, FL
I love unique aspects to a series and Daytona certainly provides that. Bike Week is a truly awesome spectacle and the supercross event is the kick-off. There are motorcycle enthusiasts from thousands of miles away, all making their way to the speedway by Saturday night. The track is totally different than any other round of the series, the speedway setting has a different look, and as Ricky Carmichael always says, the series doesn’t even really start until we arrive here.
JT's memory: My first year of racing Daytona was 1997. I was a senior in high school and trying to make as much money as possible, raced both classes. I ended up qualifying for both main events that day and although exhausted at the end of the race, couldn’t have been happier. I remember going back to school on Monday with $1,300 in my pocket, thinking I should just drop out and retire with all of that cash.
Round 11: Indianapolis, IN
Another staple of the series, Indy has seen some great racing and crowds over the years. Yes, it’s a bit cold but the pits are nice, the stadium is right downtown and easy to get to and the city of Indy is kind of underrated. The press box is great here and there’s a good burger place in the one corner of the end zone that’s pretty solid. Also, Starbucks for days around the place so I’m all in on this round.
Round 12: Detroit, MI
Detroit takes some heat as the downtown area had a rough start to the new millennium. There has been light at the end of the tunnel and it’s clear to see things are slowly turning around. There are businesses up and running now with a much more upbeat feel to the area. The stadium here has always been great, it was just getting in and out that created the questionable vibe. With great dirt, a nice stadium, loyal fans from the entire Great Lakes area, and a city on the rebound, Detroit might be the most underrated race of the year.
JT's memory: In 2008, I grabbed another tenth place finish (notice a pattern here). It was only memorable in that it felt so easy. I didn’t battle with anyone, I didn’t have any pressure, I didn’t even have anyone to race with, honestly. I rode around by myself for 20 laps and headed back to the pits. Easy nights are few and far between for 450SX racing but that was an easy one.
Round 13: Seattle, WA
This race usually has bad weather, it usually has a track that is treacherous but it also usually packs the fans in! The Pacific Northwesters do not care a bit about some rain. Love this city and the general area, the pits moved indoors a couple of years ago and that was a good thing. It’s a very cool vibe at this race and I always enjoy going there.
Matthes' memory: Eli Tomac in 2018 was simply amazing to watch. The other riders looked like novices out there trying to navigate the ruts and jumps and the #3 was on another level out there.
Round 14: Denver, CO
In 2019, Denver made its return to the series for the first time since 1996. Even with the snow during practice, this round was a huge hit. Colorado has a massive off-road riding community and they all turned out to watch supercross action. I hope this round is around for a long time to come. Denver is a great city, the stadium is awesome, and the elevation creates an interesting wrinkle for teams to deal with.
JT's memory: The 1996 Denver round was the finale so of course awards were handed out afterward. In those humble days, there was no banquet or niceties, so to speak. The awards were handed out from a flat bed trailer and makeshift microphone. We have come a long way, folks.
Round 15: Foxborough, MA
I like the whole New Jersey/Massachusetts every other year thing. Just switches things up and makes it a tad more interesting every year. This is a newer venue so I haven’t quite figured everything out yet. Do I stay by the stadium? Or by the airport in Boston? Where are the good places to go? The stadium is good, it’s pretty modern although the floor seems a bit smaller than usual so the track isn’t imaginative because of the football stadium layout. It’s the home of Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski though, so there’s that.
Round 16: Las Vegas, NV
Vegas, baby! It’s going to be weird for Vegas to not wrap the series, but I am sure it will be just fine. Vegas’ great spring weather will be the same and it will still have the “home stretch” feeling that it always has. The biggest difference will be that the Shootout won’t be in Vegas and it will be a 250SX West Region only round. Otherwise, I think it will still be a great round with hopefully the same panache and fanfare that Vegas always commands.
JT's memory: My first time to Vegas was 1998 and I think my eyelids were blown off by the craziness that is Vegas. I somehow managed to qualify for the 250SX (now 450SX) main event in a wild and wooly LCQ. To travel to Vegas for my father and I was no small undertaking so to reward him with a main event was a good feeling.
Round 17: Salt Lake City, UT
The final round of the series takes place in Utah and that’s a curious decision for sure. I mean, Las Vegas kind of worked, yeah? Anyway, we’re back to SLC which is an easy commute for me and most of the industry. The dirt ends up being pretty hard pack if the weather holds out and the crowd always seems into it. Let’s see how this works for the finale this year.
Matthes' memory: The racers out there in a snowstorm one year. That was wild and something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before.