On the wind-whipped morning of the 2018 Monster Energy Cup, Joey Savatgy, backpack slung over his shoulder, came charging through the automatic doors of the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Casino, deftly dodged his way through the underground valet line, and hopped into the back of an awaiting rental car. From there it was a 10-mile trek down Tropicana Avenue to Sam Boyd Stadium, where Savatgy would be making his 450cc debut with the Kawasaki factory team later that evening.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit anxious,” said Savatgy, the longtime Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki 250cc standout. “I’m anxious to get everything going. This 450 opportunity is a clean plate and a fresh start. I want to set things off on the right foot. It’s a new team with a bunch of new faces around, but we’re with the same manufacturer and we all have the same goal in mind and we want to succeed. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m going to try and learn as much as possible from being around Eli [Tomac]. I’m going to try to take it all in.”
Johnny O’Mara, the former AMA Supercross Champion who has served as Savatgy’s career mentor the past few years, was listening in.
“Like I’ve reminded Joey numerous times now, he’s made it to the pinnacle of the sport,” O’Mara said. “This is where every young motocross racer wants to get to. Joey has that platform now to do his job at the highest level. He has raced every single one of those guys that he’s going to race tonight. It’s easy for me to say that he shouldn’t be nervous, but I know he is, and he’s got some anxiety, but that’s normal. Those are butterflies that we all have as racers. So I’m here to remind Joey, yeah, some of these guys are champions, and Joey has been very close to being a champion and has beaten these guys on the small bikes. He has to know that.”