That’s it. The last few months were a blur following the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series, but now that we’ve gotten through 17 races in seven cities, we can look back and say for sure that it was one of the best tours of recent history. We were treated to close racing almost every time the gate dropped, saw riders come into their own in both classes, had first-time winners and podium finishers, and have a better idea of who will be a force in the years to come.
The last race of the season, the 2021 Salt Lake City Two Supercross, was just as eventful as the opening round. All three titles were up for grabs going into the last motos, and though there wasn’t too much drama or unpredictability, it was just enough to keep us on the edge until the checkered flag flew.
The end of a series is just the start of another, and soon we’ll load up and go to the line for round one of Pro Motocross at Fox Raceway. But that’s a few weeks away. For now, check out Kickstart from the SLC finale.
FMF Racing had celebratory 4.1 mufflers made for Colt Nichols and Justin Cooper, which featured red carbon-fiber end caps (match the number plates) and the rider's logo/region laser engraved into the titanium.
Like we mentioned in last week's Kickstart, Josh Osby had to grit through a broken navicular bone in his wrist during the final rounds of Supercross. The Phoenix Racing Honda rider knew that a fifth-place overall finish in the 250 East Coast SX region would earn him a bonus from the team, but the injury and combined field at the Showdown limited the points scored dropped him back to sixth in the final standings. Still, this was a career-best season for Osby, and he'll spend the summer months working on different projects with the North Carolina team.
You can always count on Red Bull riders to have a custom-painted helmet. Ken Roczen's Fox Racing V3 was a nod to the Team Honda HRC rider's sponsorship with Swiss watchmaker Breitling, with the inner workings of a chronometer and his name spelled in the company's font on the top of the shell.
Jett Lawrence's lid was the final touch to the one-off Alpinestars gear set that MotoGP rider Marc Marquez designed. The eight-time world champion's initials, race number, and face were painted onto the top of Alpinestars SM10.
Laser cut holes, mesh used in strategic areas, four-way stretch materials, sublimated and lightweight logos. Riding gear has changed tremendously over the last ten years.
Did you like Year One of BamBam on GASGAS? The switch to the TLD team and the new red bike has reignited Justin Barcia's career, and we're interested to see how his hard, fast riding style translates outdoors. We talked with Barcia on the way out of the stadium Saturday night, and he seemed content with his SX season and optimistic that he'll be better this summer and into 2022.
Friday's riding sessions are a rider's best opportunity to share feedback with Dirt Wurx. Heavy rains early in the week soaked the Utah clay, and the transitions between jumps were still a little soft during the pre-race practice, which the track crew anticipated and worked to correct overnight.
There's a lot to take in on a Team Honda HRC race bike. What sticks out to you? The color of the Yoshimura header? Individually cut-placed graphics? Carbon fiber skid plate? Coated engine cases? Assorted electronics and data acquisition devices? Titanium fasteners?
The progression of the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha team is incredible to look back on. What started as a small privately-funded effort from the South has turned into a factory-level powerhouse with a list of championships and race wins. On Saturday night, the team added two more number one plates to their doors, and going into the summer, have a handful of contenders for moto wins and championships in both classes.
Hard Hat Area
Traffic Jams and Billboards. The final moments of a Timed Qualifying session are always chaotic as riders work to get a clear track for a clean lap, and mechanics relay information about lap times and remaining opportunities.
Be on the lookout for Adam Enticknap at a handful of Nationals this summer. The Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports/Suzuki team is committed to the full 12-round tour with Max Anstie and Brandon Hartranft, while The 722 will focus on a handful of races like Pala, Colorado, Washougal, RedBud, and others.
One corner, two angles. Here's Jason Anderson exiting the 180-curve and blasting down the start straightaway on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing machine.
Both Marvin Musquin and Cooper Webb wore new Thor MX gear for the weekend, pieces of apparel with KTM logos in strategic areas. The kit will be part of the company's PowerParts catalog alongside branded goggles from 100%, OGIO gear bags, tools, coffee cups, lawn chairs, pit mats, exhaust systems...
Like usual, we paid close attention to what Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb were doing during the afternoon practice sessions. Both riders had a lot on the line going into the finale, and it was interesting to see who they got around on the track (Roczen tried to be by himself as much as possible, Webb jumped in behind him a few times) and how many laps they did (both guys averaged about 9-10 laps a session, compared to the 11-13 that others clicked off).
It was good to have Kyle Chisholm back on the starting line at the finale. The veteran racer sat out three rounds due to a shoulder injury, something he hadn't entirely recovered from, but he wanted to end the season on a high point. A ninth-place result in 450 Heat Race One transferred Chisholm directly into the 450 Main Event, and he went on to post his sixth 15th place finish in the feature. If you can make the cut for the Main Event in the premier class and get paid decently for it, why would you step away? Here's to seeing KC11 on the starting line in 2022.
Conditions look prime, right?
Not quite. The Dirt Wurx crew knows how to handle the Utah clay (running seven races in three weeks was a crash course), and they did everything they could to keep moisture in dirt, including heavy water between practice sessions. Riders like Colt Nichols found out how muddy the track was during the final sessions.
Want some one-on-one interviews with guys? Hit the homepage or our YouTube channel to find our Maxxis Spring Break videos, including an extended chat with Texas privateer Lane Shaw on his Main Event participation in 2021, moving to Florida to work with Tyla Rattray, and his plans for the summer months.
Malcolm Stewart is a free agent. Again. The contract with Star Racing was a one-year Supercross-only deal, and it ran out when the checkered flag flew on Saturday night. 2021 was the best season of Stewart's career, thanks to a podium finish, five top-five results, twelve top-10 finishes, and participation at every round (despite a hard crash at Atlanta Two) which put him sixth overall in the 450 Class. Is this enough to earn a multi-year deal somewhere in the pits? There are a handful of team managers interested in Mookie.
Recrue de l'année. Dylan Ferrandis earned the RotY award in the 450 Class after one podium, eleven top-10 finishes, and plenty of come from behind charges through the season that ranked seventh overall in the points. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider could be a factor in the 450 Class this summer; he's the defending 250 MX champion outdoors and knows his way around the tracks on the schedule.
We finally got to meet Joan Cros. The Spaniard is part of MADDPARTS.com/DEMX/Namura Technologies/Kawasaki with Bubba Pauli and Logan Karnow and qualified for two 450 Class Main Events in 2021. With the team's season complete, Cros will return to Spain, where he's one of the top riders in the country's small SX scene. Click the homepage or our YouTube to hear more from the three-rider squad, including a chat with Cros.
Bump and run. Hunter Lawrence gave Justin Cooper a little nudge going through the first turn in 250 Heat Race One...
And the contact sent Cooper into the Tuff Blocks and off the track. We have to admit that we were surprised to see Lawrence make that sort of move, especially that early, but with the title on the line, it makes sense. It didn't matter much, though, because the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider rallied back to eighth place, which put him into the 250 Main Event, and went on to win the title a few hours later.
Jalek Swoll held his own in 250 Heat Race One. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has shown progress over the last two years, especially in 2021, and the laps led over McAdoo, Lawrence, and others showed that he could be a factor at the front of the field in 2022. Swoll ended the short race in third place, eighth place in the 250 Showdown, and fifth overall in the West Coast championship standings.
Ramy Alves and Enzo Lopes, Brazilians in battle.
Cameron McAdoo's entry speed into the whoops was the determining factor to his win in 250 Heat Race One. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider wasn't afraid to hold the throttle from the finish line landing to the first roller (shocker), and it helped him reel in Swoll and take the top spot.
We always like it when riders with chronological numbers find each other on the track.
Michael Mosiman was untouchable in 250 Heat Race Two. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider took the lead early and instantly pulled away to win the race by 5.7 seconds, a big margin for a 10-lap moto. We expected Mosiman to be a factor in the Showdown, mainly because the combined field and championship scenarios make for strange results, but you'll see what happened with that later.
The little curb that Dirt Wurx carved into the straightaway served a purpose: it kept riders from drifting wide at the exit of the corner and into the mechanic's area.
Can we get these Tomac and Roczen to have a few more head-to-head battles before their careers come to a close? Despite being two of the best riders in the current generation, we can't think of many straight-up races between the two like we used to get from RD-RV/JS-CR/MC-RC.
Many rumors have circulated about the MotoConcepts team's future, including talk that they could direct their efforts to Arenacross with Mike Alessi or that they could change bike brands and return to Supercross for another go in 2022. The four-rider team had its share of troubles this season, including crashes/injuries/mixed results, but there were some highlights, including Shane McElrath's speed at his first race and Broc Tickle's ability to be on track through seventeen races that jumped him to jump to 13th overall in the final standings of the 450 Class.
Josh Cartwright was another guy we talked to last week during a trip to Flying Iron Horse Ranch, and the PRMX Racing rider explained his summer plans: a full-time IT job in Texas. A college graduate from Florida State University, Cartwright will be able to balance his desk job with practice motos at tracks located around Dallas and aims to return to SX in 2021.
What will we see from Eli Tomac this summer? The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider has been good, not great, through the closing part of the Supercross season and surprisingly finished off the podium in the Utah rounds. A win in 450 Heat Race One showed that Tomac had good lines on the track, but problems in the 450 Main Event kept him back to ninth place. As for the "where will Eli go in 2022" talk, the latest rumor is that he will jump ship from Kawasaki to Yamaha. This is a little out of left field, especially after it seemed like he was in for a re-up with Team Green, but we've heard that almost everyone has been linked to that spot over the last few weeks, including Adam Cianciarulo around Atlanta, so who knows. Stay tuned.
And looked cool when the pack of riders dropped off it at the start of the motos.
Jason Anderson gave it his all in 450 Heat Race Two. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider got out front immediately and kept Cooper Webb at bay, despite CW2's repeat attempts at passing El Hombre, and he won what might be the closest qualifying moto in recent memory. How close was it?
The top six finishers (Anderson, Webb, Plessinger, Barcia, Sexton, Ferrandis) were within 2.5 seconds of each other when they crossed the finish line.
A crash on the opening lap of the 450 LCQ ended any chance Justin Rodbell had of making it into the Main Event, so the SGB Racing/Maxxis/Babbitt's/Kawasaki rider decided that a freestyle session was appropriate. We enjoyed it.
Gone. This first-turn melee ended Michael Mosiman and Garrett Marchbanks' chance of Showdown success. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the crash.
Hey Max, we really liked the blue Kinetic Mesh with the white bike. If you want some of FLY Racing's vented gear, act quickly because we've been told that it has been a hot seller in recent weeks and that supplies are already limited.
How many of you had Jett Lawrence picked as the winner of the Showdown. An up-and-coming talent is always pegged as the favorite in the combined field, and Team Honda HRC's youngster certainly fits that description. Will Jettson ride this win into a 250 Region title next year?
With Jett's win and Hunter's late-race push to third place, the Lawrence brothers locked up two podium spots in the Showdown. How many forms of racing have siblings side-by-side at the highest level? Well, Honda alone has the Lawrence and Marquez families, so there's two.
Championship moments with Colt Nichols and Justin Cooper.
1W and 1E. Will we see Cooper and Nichols rep their hard-earned number ones next season, or will they swap to the opposite coast and go for the other plate? Both riders are still eligible in the 250 Class for another season, Cooper has a multi-year contract at Star Racing, and we're pretty sure that Nichols does, too. If Colt doesn't, well, his asking price has probably gone up a notch.
The 1E SX title is a first for mechanic Josh Ellingson. "Jelly" has been with Star Racing since 2017 and wrenched for Dan Reardon and Mitchell Harrison before getting paired with Justin Cooper in the rider's first full pro season.
Matt Winters has made the rounds in the industry, including stints at Star Racing with Cooper Webb, Red Bull KTM with Dean Wilson, TLD KTM with Shane McElrath, and a return to Star Racing with McElrath and now Nichols. Like Ellingson, this is Winter's first title as a mechanic.
Saturday night's 450 Main Event was the last time that Dean Wilson and mechanic Damon Conkwright went to the line together, as Conkwright has taken a new job that starts in the next few weeks. The two were a good pair, as "Sideburns" even wore red gloves to match Wilson.
The opening laps of the 450 Main Event were exciting. Title contenders Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb got to the front of the pack right away and had their teammates Chase Sexton and Marvin Musquin closely behind. If there was ever going to be a time for Honda or KTM to enact "team orders," this would have been it, and thankfully, they let them have a straight-up race for the top spots. Find guys with more differing riding styles than these four.
What'd you make of Roczen's defensive riding in the early laps of the feature? It wasn't what we expected of KR94, especially because the open track was a perfect chance for him to play to his strengths and sprint away, but he did everything he felt was possible-reasonable to throw Webb off a little. There was one moment right around this time when Roczen faded left in the long rhythm lane and blocked the line for the next corner, but they weren't close enough for it to be considered a cross-jump. We could rewatch this race a dozen times and find something new to talk about.
The Jason Anderson-Justin Barcia battle was great, too. Both guys are loose, fast, aggressive, and have points to prove, and the moves they traded never seemed to cross into "dirty" territory. Anderson bailed out of the race shortly after this, an issue that the team PR didn't clarify but was widely believed to be Anderson's ongoing issues at altitude.
7 & 27.
Cooper Webb could have cruised home to a podium finish and clinched the title. Hell, a 19th would have sufficed. But instead, the Red Bull KTM rider went to in the middle of the 450 Main Event, put in some of his best laps, erased the 4.2-second advantage that Chase Sexton had built, and stole the rookie rider's chance at a career-first win. It was a stunning show of force from Webb in multiple ways. First, it showed that he isn't going to let anyone get one over on him, especially if he feels the chance of a win is there. Second, his post-race comments on Sexton showed how much he understands racing, and he said he knew Sexton was fast but anticipated the young rider would run out of energy and experience late in the moto. Young riders should take note of Webb's awareness.
The Red Bull KTM rider did everything right on his way to a second 450 SX title (his fifth pro championship), won an impressive eight Main Events, was often one of the fastest riders on the stopwatch, led 108 laps, and ended the year with a 2.5 average finish. That's a dominant showing. Knowing that Webb has had the first-time 450 champion emotions once before, we doubt he'll experience the "SX Hangover" when it's time for the gate to drop at Fox Raceway and should be a factor for the 450 MX title. If he goes 2 For 2 in one season, well, we'll really need to start talking about Cooper Webb's overall rank in the sport.
We've learned how much Carlos Rivera bonds with his riders over the years. The mechanic has spent large parts of his with Davi Millsaps, Ryan Dungey, and now Cooper Webb, and all three have touted Rivera's expertise and motivation as factors in their success. How close is the rider-mechanic relationship? His wife and daughter were immediately at the podium to celebrate the championship and were embraced by Webb moments after he parked the bike.
This was the best Supercross season of Ken Roczen's career. The Team Honda HRC rider had the best overall qualifying results (4.0), led the most Main Event laps (156), had an average podium finish (3.6), and won four feature races. What happened through the middle of the season and why he didn't win the title will forever be a topic of bench racing discussion, but it's not like the year was a total loss; Roczen had never made it through all 17 without serious issue or drop-off. It's safe to say that he's gotten past the most turbulent years of his racing life and should get better in 2022 and beyond.
Wise words from Wil Hahn. After the stadium emptied and teams filed back to the rigs for the post-race party, the Star Racing team manager spent a few moments with Colt Nichols and told him to soak in the moments and emotions of the evening. Wil knows from experience; he's a 250 champion, too.
Seventeen races in seven cities are behind us, and wow, it was something. We'll look back on this Monster Energy Supercross Series for years to come, thanks mostly to the incredible racing that we saw on the track, but the work behind the scenes by everyone at Feld Entertainment, Dirt Wurx, the stadiums, and the teams deserves a massive amount of praise. Without them, there's no way we could have gotten to the finish line. Thanks to everyone for their efforts, and we're already excited for 2022.
Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.