The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship came to a thrilling end in intense conditions at the 2022 Fox Raceway Two Motocross, as a historic title fight in the 450 Class and highly anticipated win in the 250 Class lasted all the way through the final laps of a long summer.
This was some of the closest racing any of us have ever witnessed, and that it was done by a varied cast of characters made it even more exciting to follow. The coming break, though much-needed, will go by in an instant once everyone’s minds start to turn to next year.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarnas sported a special retro look at the season finale that reminded us of Andy "Bro Show" Jefferson's glory days in the late 80s. "I'm not sure what the throwback era is," said Team Manager Nathan Ramsey. "All I know is that the bikes look good and it was a LOT of work to pull together."
Expect Pierce Brown and the rest of the Troy Lee /Red Bull/GasGas team to be mounted on all-new machines in 2023. Though the standard '23 MC 250 and 450 remain the same as before, save for new graphics, Gas Gas will introduce special Troy Lee Edition bikes (that will have the same chassis and engine updates as last season's Husqvarna and KTM bikes) in order to meet the AMA's homologation rules for competition.
Pierce Brown has a forgettable day at Fox Raceway Two, going 9-19 for 14th overall after bad starts and crashes, but he succeeded in earning 10th overall in the overal 250 championship point standings.
Justin Barcia ended his 2022 season with a 5-6 for fifth overall, In the final season standings, he was all alone in eighth overall. The New Yorker's highest finish of the season was a third overall at RedBud.
We spotted Benny Bloss' mechanic Pat Thrall installing a new set of handlebars on the number-73 bike after practice. Crash damage, or did Ben need a taller bend? We'd guess the latter.
Official Kawasaki KX Glass Cleaner? Though the manufacturer does produce a complete line of Kawasaki lubricants, this Windex has simply been re-labeled to maintain chemical consistency in the Monster Energy Kawasaki team pit area.
The 2023 Yamaha YZ450F was on display on the side of the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha pit area, and the all-new bike attracted lots of attention. We sat on the machine and marveled at how much thinner it is than the current YZF lineup. Bikes are due in mid- to late-October.
After starting the 2022 MX season off as a fill-in rider on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team, as Dean Wilson and Malcolm Stewart were both sidelined with injuries. We were surprised when McElrath was informed that his time at the team was over with four rounds to go, but he was able to secure a spot with the Club MX Yamaha team quickly enough to maintain 10th overall in the series in his rookie 450 outdoor tour. McElrath indicated to us at Fox Raceway that he has come to terms with the team for a permanent slot. Excellent!
While the portable fans are normally used to dry their helmet liners, their gloves got exclusive priveledges while the Alpinestars crew attended to Hunter and Jett's lids.
Euro style: the Lawrence brothers use a portable laundry rack to dry their sweaty gear off in between practice sessions.
Where will Ken Roczen land for 2023 and beyond? Heck, where will he land for the 2022 World SX series? Though most expect the German to come to terms with Honda HRC soon, it does seem odd that the two-time 450 MX Champion has yet to be signed.
Speaking of Alpinestars helmets, we love Chase Sexton's custom painted Supertech M10 helmet.
In spite of the massive pressure on his shoulders at the season finale, Chase Sexton remained gracious with his fans, stopping to sign autographs even before the designated autograph session times.
Justin Cooper celebrated his recent induction onto the 2022 United States Motocross of Nations team by running his team graphics and MXoN number at Pala.
This year's Stars and Stripes theme is tastefully done and will be available from D'Cor Visuals soon.
What are those? No not chanklas, those are Steg Pegz! First brought into the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha team by Levi Kitchen, several other members of the team have begun to use themm too. Like Kitchen, Nate Thrasher likes the way they allow him to grip the bikes with his legs. Look elsewhere on our website for a Fly Racing Newsbreak, highlighting the part that has gained recent popularity.
The new Eli Tomac replica Bell Moto 10 Spherical dropped last week and we love its eagle-themed design. Of course, ET's helmet was branded with Monster Energy logos, but the standard helmet is beautiful, indeed. Bell's Kyle Vara displays Tomac's lid after giving it a cleaning.
We spotted some new FCP titanium front engine mounts on the BarX Suzukis of Carson Mumford, Derek Drake, and Preston Kilroy. We're set to do some testing with FCP in the near future and can't wait!
James Stewart was on hand at Fox Raceway Two as he was in the booth with Jason Weigandt commentating for the television broadcast. Stew brings a unique perspective and his own style to the team, and we hope to see a lot more of him in the future.
Fun fact: Malcolm Stewart used to wear a medium helmet before he had dreadlocks. His current Shoei VFX-W is an XL.
Lots of riders used ice vests to keep themselves cool before the motos at Fox Raceway, and we saw many different styles. Joshua Varize's looked much like the reusable ice chest packs we've used for years. Varize, by the way, was impressive on his AEO Powersports KTM, finishing 17th at his home National.
Ryder DiFrancesco told us before the series finale that he hoped to finish inside the top 10, but his overall was hurt by a crash in moto two that forced him to DNF.
Jo Shimoda stayed cool before the races with an umbrella, a pair of Scott Shield cycling sunglasses, and an ice-cold microfiber towel around his neck. JoShow battled tooth-in-nail with the Lawrence brothers throughout the first moto, but was knocked from second to fourth by a late-race collision with Hunter Lawrence. Shimoda was furious after the collision, and worked his anger out in moto two with a runaway win.
Can't stop the drip.
Blocking out the haters.
RJ Hampshire kept cool with an ice vest and a portable fan that is powered by his bike's battery. We watched as Hamshire and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team set his sag before the first moto, taking the weight of the ice vest into consideration. Hamshire told us that his weights at least five pounds.
Chance Hymas was all smiles at Fox Raceway, where he finished 15th overall in his pro debut. 20th in the first moto, the youngster was a solid 11th in moto two!
We noticed Alpinestars logos on the cooling vests worn by many of the Alpinestars-sponsored riders and were surprised to find the product on Alpinestars' web site. Reading through the product description, though, it seems as if the Astars vest is meant to be ridden with so it can cool your core with a constant release of moisture from its water pockets. We're pretty sure, though, that Justin Cooper and the rest had the vest frozen for pre-moto use.
Haiden Deegan went 16-10 for 13th overall at his home National. Danger Boy's second moto - especially - was impressive as he battled with fellow rookie Chnace Hymas, teammate Nate Thrasher, and veteran Marvin Musquin.
It was so hot at Fox Raceway that we couldn't even come up with a smart-assed comment for this photo of Wil Hahn and Pierce Brown.
Richard Sterling broke the news on Instagram that Marvin Musquin was racing the 250 class at Fox Raceway earlier in the week. "It's what I do, man," he joked. Sterling has had quite the summer; first tuning for Antonio Cairoli and now Musquin...quite the turn of fortune after he found himself without a job at this time last year when the FXR Chaparral Honda team closed its doors unexpectedly.
It was good to see our old pal Brian Deegan alongside his son before the first gate drop of the day. At the moment, Haiden shows a ton of potential but until he wins a Supercross, dad still has him covered.
21 Days. Cameron McAdoo's butt patch at Fox Raceway was in honor of his September 17 wedding to Maddie Salute.
We liked Haiden Deegan's Fox Raceway Two butt patch: Please Be Patient, Student Driver. Haha!
Jalek Swoll turned in 13-18 moto scores for 16th overall at Fox Raceway. We know for a fact that the Floridian is not happy when he's not on the podium, and we're betting that he hits it hard this off season and comes out swinging in 2023.
Hunter and Jett Lawrence wear cooling vests made by Nike for runners. We're not sure if there are sponsorship dollars at work, but with Lucas Mirtle as their agent, we wouldn't be surprised.
Did you catch our Fly Racing SML Newsbreak with Marvin Musquin last week? In it, Marvin told us that the decision to race was so last minute, that he was racing in a helmet left over from Supercross, and didn't even know if he'd have new gear at the National. Do yourself a favor and check it out...
Marvin Musquin chose the far inside gate before the first moto, even though the path to the first corner was not straight. Why? The dirt down the inside of the start straight was dry and not ripped as deep as the rest.
Like most riders with cooling vests, Jett elected to ride his sighting lap with his on. Back in the day when cooling vests first burst onto the scene for the hot summer months, we remember Brett Metcalfe actually forgetting to take his off and racing an entire moto with it on, long after it was cool. Yikes!
And it worked! Even though Jett Lawrence ripped the holeshot, Marv was able to get to the inside of t he first corner before the riders immediately to the right of him and he began the first lap in fourth place.
Bringing your body temperature down after exertion in extreme temperatures is super important, and Eli Tomac did so with the help of his mechanic.
After leading 90% of the first moto, Chase Sexton lost the lead and moto win to Eli Tomac in the twilight stages of the moto and saw his points deficit grow from one to four points, realistically ending his title chances given the dominant performances he and his title rival had been turning in all year long. It was easy to see how frustrated Sexton was in between motos.
After his strategic win in t he first 450 moto, Eli Tomac immediately stripped his boots off and dunked his feet into an ice chest full of ice water to help bring his body temperature down. "It was FREAKING hot today," Tomac told us later.... We must admit that we were jealous of his ice foot spa as we shot this photo...
Seven MX's Roger Larsen had a busy day at Fox Raceway Two as he not only had to attend to Malcolm Stewart in his recent return to the Nationals but also had James on hand to watch over.
Talon Hawkins had a great showing at Fox Raceway Two, going 18-14 for 17th overall and his best National showing thus far. Hawkins was 19th at Millville and 27th at Ironman. Look for big things from the SoCal kid.
With all three of the top 250-class performers in his stable, agent Lucas Mirtl has a lot to smile about. Like the rest of us, he is glad to see Jo Shimoda coming out of his shell and turning in the finishes he's truly capable of.
Jett Lawrence actually clinched the 2022 250 National Championship with his win in moto one, but he still fought back from a bad start in moto two to finish second and clinch the overall win in his final 250-class MX National. Jett will contest the 250 Supercross Championship in 2023 and move up to the 450 division outdoors.
Jo Shimoda's second moto performance at Fox Raceway Two was downright dominant, and we hope that it is a sign of things to come from the Japanese rider in the future.
Sometimes, even winning hurts.
A similar goal with a different approach: Jo Shimoda's support crew dumped ice cold water down his Fox Instinct boots in the rider's post-race cool-down area, right after his final moto of the season.
Congrats to Christien Ducharme on his third championship as a professional mechanic. Interested in the behind-the-scenes heroes of our sport? Look elsewhere on swapmotolive.com for a cool O'Neal Checking In With feature with Ducharme.
What do you think Jett Lawrence and Justin Cooper are joking about after the last moto of the year? We're pretty sure that it's not about dogs on the podium...
Instead of a complete victory jersey for Jett to struggle to change into with a sweaty body, Alpinestars made a cool sleeveless tank for the two-time champ to slip over his existing race kit. Talk about planning every little detail!
Justin Rodbell is always quick to check his hair when he sees a camera pointed at him...
Surprisingly, he reported that he did not throw up following his qualifying hot lap at Fox! Rodbell has an odd problem of vomiting inside his helmet during practice, and sometimes in the races, too!
Before the season finale, Jason Anderson told us that he didn't want to interfere with the championship battle between Eli Tomac and Chase Sexton. A second-turn crash in moto one kept him far away from the dynamic duo in moto one, but he turned in an amazing charge from 40th to fourth. Anderson did lead much of the second moto, but eventually succumbed to the pressure of an on-fire Tomac and also Sexton, who had to overcome three crashes en route to second. El Hombre was third overall and has proven himself to be an outdoor contender. With two overall wins in 2022, we're looking forward to seeing what '23 has in store for him outdoors.
Eli Tomac's mechanic Josh Ellingsen, too, was all business before the motos at Fox Raceway.
ET3 or The Terminator. Same steely gaze, same "cannot be stopped" demeanor...
For some reason, we don't think that will help, Joan...
Spaniard Joan Cros decided at the last minute to enter his first-ever 450 MX National and with the help of our buddy Humberto Baca, was able to put together a repectabvle 11th-hour effort. Cros was 24th in the first moto, but shock problems in race two forced him to withdraw early.
Shoutout to Zack Williams for racing eighteen of twenty-four motos as a privateer in the 250 Class. The GASGAS-mounted rider hovered around the top twenty through the summer, scored ten total points, and finished thirty-ninth in the final standings.
The AEO Powersports KTM team had quite the year. The independent team took on West Region tour in Supercross and hit every round of Pro Motocross, then faced challenges like injuries and rider changes mid-season, but kept Derek Kelley on track for the rider’s best season to date and helped Joshua Varize solidify himself in the 250 Class. The efforts seem to be enough to merit more support from KTM in future seasons.
Jerry Robin ended his summer of one-off gear and graphics with a look sponsored by friend and fellow racer Austin Forkner. CANVAS and SKDA printed the “ALL FUN” design that was created by GAS Productions. Follow @allfunbrand for more content from Forkner and GAS.
Ready for it. Bryson Gardner rolled to the starting line with a USWE hydration system strapped to his back and a hose routed through the mouthpiece of the Arai lid for a mid-race sip. What is the best time to actually get a drink from this setup in moto conditions: over big jumps/down rough straightaways/through corners? For real, we don’t know. Leave a tip in the comments below.
CHAI tagged the spot up real quick.
After a rough run of results, Benny Bloss went 6-8 for seventh overall and had a season-best day at the finale. How important was that finish? It was enough to put Bloss even on points with Garrett Marchbanks at 172, and the better moto scores got the BBMX rider eleventh overall in the championship standings. Sounds like Bloss is putting together a privateer effort for 2023.
We like that even though Ryan Dungey knew Pala would be his last National, he didn’t make a big deal of it. Instead, everyone got to speculate if RD5 would keep going, talk fueled by the open-ended response of “looking at the options” any time questions about 2023 were asked. While others were saying that a full-time SX-MX return was in the works, we’d heard around Budds Creek that the summer back in the saddle might have been enough for the multi-time champion.
Garrett Marchbanks labored through the final rounds of the season. The Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX team told us that he threw up during a few different motos and was drained of energy before the checkered flag, which correlates with the 37-DNF-11-36 results at Ironman and Fox Raceway.
Just another day at Fox Raceway for Chicken Little and DangerBoy. The SoCal youths diced for eighteenth and nineteenth on laps three and four of 250 Moto One.
Who’s going to be the better MX2 rider at the MXON? That’s all we could think of when Justin Cooper and Hunter Lawrence traded moves. Lawrence pulled clear of Cooper on lap five in 250 Moto One for second and third, respectively. The American stayed in 250 Moto Two and again finished third while the Australian worked his way to a fifth-place result. Cooper ended the day in third overall and Lawrence fourth overall.
This man fought a long, pointless war against riders for this spot of ground, as efforts of hammering track markers into the rock-hard soil were wiped away by the guys looking for a slightly shorter, smoother line down the backside of the tunnel single.
Enough to share. Ryan Dungey offered Ken Roczen a wet rag to cool off with on the starting line, then passed the Ziploc down so teammate Aaron Plessinger could get one, too.
Everyone had their own way to keep cool, which prompted us to go down the rabbit hole of internet research theories. Shane McElrath must have saw the part about facial cooling in “Head, Face and Neck Cooling as Per-cooling (Cooling During Exercise) Modalities to Improve Exercise Performance in the Heat: A Narrative Review and Practical Applications” by Yinhang Cao, Tze-Huan Lei, Faming Wang, Bin Yang, and Toby Mündel, which states that “Face cooling improves athletic performance and perceptual responses for athletes in dry heat. Thus, for all athletes who have access to water, face cooling is a recommended cooling strategy.” However, the report goes on to say that pre-cooling with a vest is “impractical in the real-world situations due to the excessive weight of the vest.” Be your own specalist by reading https://sportsmedicine-open.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40798-022-00411-4.
“Thank you, God.”
As unfortunate as it was to see a huge portion of the factory pits down in the first few turns, it was the perfect scenario for 450 Moto One. Tomac and Sexton got to take off unchallenged, guys like Bloss/Noren/Harlan were able to put in clean laps, and Dungey/Plessinger/Anderson put on a show as they passed their way forward.
Slasher. Must be wild to take a razor and slice up a brand-new jersey.
For how rough and tough as Fox Raceway was, considering the conditions, it was far better than we feared/expected. Factors like constant sunshine, a steady breeze, and the dry heat should have sucked any sort of moisture from the decomposed granite, but hose work by the track crew kept it as “lush” and “loamy” as SoCal can get.
Championship stickers for the exhaust tip? Big E had it handled. If you want to see how the RS pipes are bent, welded, packed, and shipped from start to finish in the US, search for “Yoshimura House Call” in the search bar on our site or the SML YouTube.
Somehow, racing a Honda CRF450R he borrowed from Kris Keefer, driving a pick-up truck he rented from an individual online, and pitting in an RV lent to him by a race fan, Grant Harlan put in the best results of his career. Aside from a busted mount on the stock muffler, the privateer avoided any serious issues as he charged to 12-11 finishes for eleventh overall. This was a huge day for Harlan, and we’re stoked to see him do it at the final round.
Anyone else eager to see Christian Craig as a full-time 450 Class rider? CC led laps in 450 Moto Two, which was a fitting end to his time at Star Racing and a nice look at his potential ahead of a move to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing. A run 3-4 finishes put Craig fourth overall on the day (Anderson’s better Moto Two score broke the tie and kept Craig off the podium) and earned him fifth in the championship standings.
Fredrik Noren is another rider that had a much-needed good day. The BBMX rider was fast at the final round and stayed out of any major trouble, which resulted in 9-14 finishes for twelfth overall. Noren will ride the Motocross of Nations for Team Sweden.
Think really, really hard and you can hear Eli Tomac hammering the throttle on his YZ450F.
End with a win. Eli Tomac clinched his fourth 450 MX championship and closed out his Pro Motocross career with a forceful performance in 450 Moto Two. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider didn’t waver during the 13-lap push (that was especially evident during the tight battle with Jason Anderson) and to be honest, was a ride put to end any concerns that Tomac could crack under pressure.
Lars Lindstrom was one of the first people to Chase Sexton’s side after the race was over and told the rider how proud Team Honda HRC was of his effort during the summer. We talked with Lindstrom in May about his promotion to Team Manager and the current strategy in the Torrance shop, an interview that was on our minds a few times leading up to the finale. Are we entering a bright era for the red riders?
A few things about Eli Tomac and Chase Sexton’s first interaction after the checkered flag caught our attention. First, while the two were as cordial and complimentary of each other as ever, both seemed to sense this could be just one chapter in an unexpected battle for 450 Class supremacy. Second, they immediately turned the attention the Motocross of Nations, when they’ll be teammates against the world at RedBud.
Is this the last of Eli outdoors? Maybe. Tomac said in multiple interviews that his contract for 2023 is SX-only and that’s all he’s doing unless something happens. What could change his mind? We’ve heard firsthand that Monster Energy, new presenting sponsor for the Pro Motocross series, wants to have the number one plate on the track next year and that some financial compensation in an amended contract could be what makes it happen.
That’s it for this year. In fact, that’s it for twelve-round Pro Motocross tours. We’re in the early days of a new era for professional SX-MX, as the coming weeks will see everyone get together for the MXON, kick off the new WSX series, learn complete details of SMX, see the usual movement among personnel in the pit area, develop new motorcycles, and ready for 2023. Things are about to get interesting in every way possible.
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.