Whew! After two years of COVID-19 altered Supercross racing, it was amazing to return to the normal routine of Monster Energy Supercross in 2022, wasn’t it? Three great championships, lots of different race winners, and action that has us all on the edge of our seats…what more could we ask for?
The Salt Lake City Supercross series finale was a barn burner and one that had its fair share of exciting moments. Here’s what we saw, heard, and learned, in the last Supercross of 2022. Enjoy!
This year, participants in the KTM Supercross Challenge were asked to help fundraise for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital charity, and the program raised a whopping $15,272.50!
On Friday after the press day riding sessions, the Yamaha/Pulp MX LCQ Challenge race was held for over $100,000 up for grabs for qualifying privateers. The race had what was probably the best 30-second-board girl all season long: none other than Gas Gas team trainer Wil Hahn. Nice tan lines, Wilbur!
The LCQ Challenge had its own set of loose rules, as well as plenty of special incentive bonuses up for grabs. Gate picks were determined by pulling numbered clothespins, not by qualifying times. After drawing pin #1, Josh Greco sold it to Kevin Moranz for $100. He then sold the #9 pick he traded with Moranz for another $100, earning a total of $200 for himself before the race even started. And what about Moranz? He put the $100 starting spot to good use by grabbing the holeshot and winning the $1000 holeshot award!
Kyle Chisholm opted to race his privateer Yamaha YZ450F at the season finale because he stood to earn more in the 450 class and in the Yamaha/Pulp MX CQ Challenge than he would have filling in on the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha in the 250 East/West Shootout. And his $22,000 payday for winning the LCQ Challenge was proof!
Ryan Breece started on the second row with Kyle Chisholm and he took over second on the next-to-last lap. A mistake in the whoops, just before the checkered flag, though, relegated him to third. "That was the worst $6000 mistake I could have made," he joked, later.
Dad making sure that Kevin Moranz thanks all the right people on the Yamaha Pulp MX LCQ Challenge Podium.
Swapmoto Live kicked in two bonuses for the Yamaha/Pulp MX LCQ Challenge, Keeping with the fun theme of the other bonuses (top rider with handguards, best finish with a kidney belt, etc...) we posted $300 for. the first rider to finish behind Alex Ray, and $300 to the first rider to crash out of the six-minute race. Sadly, it was our buddy Robbie Wageman who crashed out first, suffering a blown-out knee when his Yamaha expired on the face of a jump. We've heard that in the results, he is the only rider to finish behind ARay, who fell twice in the race, but that will need to be verified with Matthes before we mail out a second check to Robbie...
Kyle Chisholm agreed to start on the "second row" at the start of the Yamaha/Pulp MX LCQ Challenge. But instead of legitimately starting behind another rider, he started in the dirt, behind the metal grate. He worked into the top three by the second lap and chased down leader Kyle Moranz for the win.
Kevin Moranz (second), Yamaha's Mike Ulrich, winner Kyle Chisholm, Pulp MX's Steve Matthes, and Ryan Breece (third place).
We saw our buddy Hiroaki Tsuchiya from Nissin inspecting the front brake master cylinder on Brandon Hartranft's Twisted Tea Suzuki with a small, high-powered flashlight. We asked if he was checking the color of the brake fluid, but he said that he was checking for leaks in the hydraulic system. Apparently, one of the most likely places to spring a leak is the sight window, and he checks to make sure all is well. We've seen works brake systems with no sight glass, and now it makes sense.
Cooper Webb will sit out this summer's 450 MX Nationals in order to recuperate from a concussion he suffered in a mid-week crash earlier this season. The timing to get his body healthy is also in perfect timing with the anticipated birth of his first child with his wife, Mariah. Congrats, and heal up, champ!
The Salt Lake City pits were spread out over three areas around Rice-Eccles Stadium: the pit party and Monster Energy teams (Star Yamaha, Pro Circuit Kawasaki and Kawasaki) were in the parking lot in front of the stadium, while Honda, KTM, Husky, Motoconcepts, Suzuki, and Club MX teams were on the street that flanked the stadium, and the privateers in a separate lot up the street. For the edia, it made for a lot of walking throughout the day!
Bummer! Bar-X Suzuki's Carson Mumford crashed on press day and dislocated his big toe. Sidelined through the weekend, the California kid is already rehabbing at Dr. Gs Natural Health Spa in preparation for the Nationals.
Justin Brayton's friends and fans were invited to sign this cool poster that commemorated many of the years of his professional racing career.
Christian Craig was calm and cool as a cucumber in Salt Lake. "I believe in myself and I finally have complete confidence," he told us. "I know what I have to do to get the job done and that's what I plan to do."
Did anyone notice the new Leatt kits that Vice Friese, Mitchell Oldenburg, Robbie Wageman, and Ryan Surratt were sporting in SLC? The helmet, pants, jersey, and boots all matched perfectly. We loved the design and requested a set for ourselves, but were told that we'd have to wait a few weeks until the gear is officially released Can't wait!
We love the geat and graphic schemes that Jerry Robin, Canvas MX, and SKDA have planned out for every round. For Salt Lake City? Who else but the Utah Jazz, offered up insporation. Cool, Jerry....cool.
Club MXs Garrett Marchbanks crashed during timed qualifying and tweaked his arm and shoulder badly enough to need a ride back to the pits by the Alpinestars Medic Crew. Fortunately, nothing was broken, but he did suffer a dislocated shoulder and sat out the SX finale.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's RJ Hampshire ended the series with a fourth in SLC. Not the way he would have wanted to cross the finish in the Shootout, but hell...2022 wasn't all bad. Earning your first 250 SX win has to be a series highlight!
Phoenix Honda's Cullin Park earned Rookie of the Year honors with his 15th in the final Eastern Region 250 SX Championship. A crash-induced 16th in SLC is not the way he had hoped to end his first Supercross season, but he was happy with his progress in 2022. He will race selected Nationals with help from the team, as well.
How about Nate Thrasher's SLC win? After winning two Supercross mains in his rookie season, Thrasher was in a bit of. a sophomore slump until the series finale. "It was a combination of things," he said. "But the biggest difference tonight was a good start. My starts have really been lacking this season."
Hunter Yoder didn't figure inside the top 20 of the Eastern Regional 250 SX standings, but our buddy from SoCal showed steady improvement throughout the series, in which he qualified for two main events. Yo Dirt!
When you're 6'5" like Octopi Media's Garth Milan, you have to work to get some of the angles that come naturally for the rest of us.
Alex Ray was born ready.
Garret Steinke kept the two-stroke dream alive all season long and in Salt Lake, he narrowly missed qualifying for t he 450 main aboard his Husqvarna TC 250. Braaap!
Jett Lawrence sported this cool maroon Alpinestars MX kit in SLC, but most fans didn't get to see it since he was hurt in qualifying. Here's hoping that it finds its way into production!
Only a few moments after we snapped this photo of Jettson....
...his day came to an abrupt end when his hand and foot slipped off the bike in a seemingly simple jump section. "I had been double-singling it, but I went to triple it and it all went wrong," he told us. Jett said that he jammed his ankle and would sit out the race with the defense of his 250 National MX Championship in mind.
Real sneaky, Cade Clason.
Forget the pit board, Buttery was there to get vlog content!
Jason Anderson earned his seventh win of the season in Salt Lake and tied champ Eli Tomac for the most wins in the season. "That's more than I've won in my whole career!" he said.
The timing tower was either glitching, or Hunter Lawrence was so quick that he logged two lap times.
Twisted Tea/Yoshimura/Suzuki's Justin Bogle
Webb showed flashes of brilliance at SLC but when the checkered flag flew, we're sure he wasn't pumped with sixth. Coop told us that he was looking forward to getting back to work at Aldon Baker's next year and making a bid for the 2023 SX Champioship. "Apparently, I am an odd-year guy," he joked.
Cooper Webb announced that he extended his contract with the Red Bull KTM team just before the SLC season finale. Eli Tomac also did the same, resigning with the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha team for Supercross 2023.
The whoops inside Rice-Eccles Stadium were tricky. Throughout the day, the jumping vs skimming techniques varied greatly as many riders switched from one to the other, depending on the track conditions.
Always a fan favorite, Justin Brayton really took the time to soak in all the experiences of his last AMA Supercross. "I'm just so thankful," he said. "To have had such a long career and make so many great friends....it has been awesome."
Dean Wilson's Rockstar Energy Husqvarna was on display in SLC, complete with the "halibut" seat that he prefers to run in the MX Nationals. The wings on the sides of the seat help him grip the bike better with his knees.
Top-level teams leave nothing to chance, and now that most bikes are electric start, seeing trickle chargers on the batteries is common.
In spite of his fondness of one-fingered sign language, Cade Clason is still popular with the fans...
Check out the championship helmet that Bell had painted up for Eli Tomac. The gold number-one helmets have become a familiar site in our sport in recent years. In pour opinion, one of the coolest trophies, ever.
Alex Ray's WSOL teammate, Samantha H.
Jo Shimoda and his coach Yannig Kervella, review some practice footage before the final timed qualifying session. Well, that, or the trending Instagram reels of the day.
Eli Tomac's Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha YZ450F was on display in. the pits, even though the new champ elected to sit out the race to let his injured knee have a break. We asked Team Manager Jeremy Coker how long it actually took to blow up the engine in the well-publicized celebrations after Denver, and he told us that it actually ran out of fuel before the engine let go. Rest assured, the bike was outfitted with a new engine shortly thereafter...
This is Yoshimura R&D's Ichiro Nakaya. Ichi develops all of the exhaust systems for motocross bikes at Yosh. We found this photo of him on our camera after leaving it for a moment to interview Jett Lawrence. Hmmm...
Check out the cool trophy that they guys at Yoshimura made for Jett Lawrence. Did you know that Yosh makes the best flat mountain bike pedals in the game? Now you do...
In spite of limping badly with a tweaked ankle, Jett Lawrence stood at the edge of the Honda semi pit area to interact with fans for hours on end. There's a reason he's a fan favorite!
Justin Brayton received a great farewell from the Utah crowd during opening ceremonies. SLC marked his 190th main event!
AMSOIL Swapmoto Race Series regular Deegan Sugamele took part in the KTM Supercross Challenge in SLC, which was composed of top finishers from all of. the previous rounds.
Salt Lake City has been good to Malcolm Stewart. In 2020 Mookie earned his first-ever 450 heat race win and in 2021 he earned his first-ever 450 Supercross podium. Though he was off the box in the series finale with a Justin Barcia-induced fourth, he was clearly the crowd darling.
Standing ovation for Justin Brayton's 180th 450 main.
Eli Tomac and his mechanic Josh Ellingson before the SLC opening ceremonies. ET3 was greeted with a hero's welcome by the Utah crowd.
Lots of pyro when new Monster Energy Supercross Champion Eli Tomac was introduced to the crowd.
Eli Tomac told us on press day that there was no need for surgery on his torn MCL ligament in his knee, and that therapy alone should have him ready for the Fox Raceway National kickoff.
Fox Racing produced some extra-cool gear for the Moonster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team at Salt Lake, utilizing the original; Pro Circuit logo from way back in the day.
Gate prep techniques: bring a towel to help clean the plastic panel.
Gate prep techniques: use your fist!
Gate prep techniques: use your knuckles.
The whoops in SLC were extra challenging for 250 pilots, as an awkward dog-leg preceded the rollers that made it tough for riders to get into fourth or fifth gear entering them. Of course, Christian Craig has no trouble with them...
In stark contrast to the sandstorm conditions on press day, slick, wet conditions greeted riders during qualifying and i the opening 250 heat races.
Turn two action is wild behind the first few riders at the start of a main. Nate Thrasher recovered from this average start to earn his first win of the year,
As did Justin Brayton in the 450 class, 250 pilot Chris Blose competed in his last Supercross at Salt Lake. "There are too many emotions running through my head to name just one, he told us before the racing began. "I am just going to try and soak it all in tonight." Congrats on a great career, Chris!
SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/Motoconcepts/Honda rider Mitchell Oldenburg told us that he is looking forward to some time off following Salt Lake, but will resume riding in a couple of months to prepare for the upcoming World Supercross Series. In the meantime, we will work to build up his fence-building business back home in Texas. "Ideally, I'd like to get it to a point where I can hire a staff full time and keep the business going while I am away racing," he said.
We chatted with Jo Shimoda before the night's racing began, and he said that while he was disappointed in his season, he was happy to have made some adjustments. Previously known for his super-smooth and in-control riding style, Shimoda and his trainer Yannig Kervella aimed to up the intensity of his race pace a bit. "We obviously went a little too far," he said. "And that's why I made so many mistakes and crashed this series. We are backing it down now to find the perfect compromise."
Club MX Yamaha rider Enzo Lopes was on fire during afternoon qualifying at SLC, topping the first timed session over Jett Lawrence and the rest.
We like to observe the rituals riders have on the starting line. While his MCR teammate Vince Friese has some remarkable twitches and habits Mitchell Oldenburg seemed to check his Polar heart rate monitor at least five or six times while on the line.
Fourth in the overall Eastern Regional 250 Championship, Oldenburg proved to be a steady contender in every main event he started. Sadly, a crash with teammate Friese early in the East/West Shootout held the fast-qualifier to 14th at the checkers.
Oldenburg backed his fast qualifying time up with a great showing in the heat race. Freckle holeshot and led the majority of the race, succumbing to winner Austin Forkner in the whoops on the next-to-last lap.
Austin Forkner told us that he is 100% healthy and looking forward to the upcoming 250 Nationals. With his impending move up to the 450 class in 2023, this will be his last chance to earn a 250 championship.
Floor reported Kristen Beat joined the Supercross Live team in 2022 and did a great job with plenty of insight about the sport, having worked the Arenacross circuit for years.
What was Austin Forkner's Salt Lake butt patch all about? "It was 678 days in between my two most recent wins," he said.
We were surprised to see our buddy and part-time test rider Connor "Buttery Films" Ericsson on the floor, working as mechanic and pit crew for his friend Austin Politelli. "Let's just hope nothing breaks," he said. "I'm just here for the content."
Marvin Musquin and Cooper Webb battled tooth-in-nail for the win in their heat race, with Musquin making a late-race pass for the win. "I knew I am better than him, so I was confident I would win," said Marv on the podium. There was plenty of speculation that Musquin's comments were triggered by Webb's recent contract extension with the Red Bull KTM team, while Marv has yet to find a deal for 2023.
Kyle Chisholm wore his custom FXR Racing gear from the St. Jude's race in Salt Lake City. We like it!
The calm before the storm.
Privateer Ryan Breece turned a lot of heads this year and ended the 450 championship 17th overall. We'd be surprised if the Idaho resident doesn't land some sort of deal in 2023.
Webb will line up with his trademark number 2 next year at Anaheim One.
For the past two seasons, Roger DeCoster has forbidden any of the KTM Group riders to wear GoPro cameras atop their helmets and in order to continue to incorporate the team sponsor, the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/Gas Gas squad has the cameras mounted behind the front number plate. The point of view certainly offers a unique perspective in te race broadcast track preview. What do you think of the angle?
We watched Logan Karnow with great interest as he awaited the start of the main event. See the Atlas neck brace on his handlebars? He practically waited until the 30-second board went up before he put it on.
Its interesting to note how Jason Anderson's front tire is still on the ground as he accelerates off the start, while almost all of his competitors are wheelying.
450 Supercross Rookie of the Year Alex Martin. The diminutive rider had some great showings aboard the Club MX Yamaha YZ450F, and it looks like he will be joined on th team by younger brother Jeremy in 2023.
Close flying formation!
AMart ended the series ranked 15th overall and made consistent progress throughout the series. We're looking forward to seeing what he can do on the big YZ450F outdoors!
Karnow qualified directly for the main with eighth in his heat race. The privateer was visibly stoked and celebrated with several full-throttle revs as he left the stadium.
The Supercross Futures finale saw an epic showdown between Ryder DiFrancisco (23) and Chance Hymas (21). The duo were the cream of the crop and their battle for the lead position pulled them well out of reach of the rest of the field.
Hymas passed DiFrancisco for the lead in the closing stages of the race, and used quicker runs through the tricky whoop section to track down the leader.
Kawasaki Team Green's Ryder DiFrancisco suffered his only Supercross Futures defeat at Salt Lake City and he was visibly upset with his performance. "The whoops were my weak point tonight, and that's what cost me," he said.
We liked the custom touches on DiFranciscos Renen pants. Who needs butt patches? Sublimation is where it's at!
Honda HRC's Chance Hymas, flanked by runner-up Ryder DiFrancisco (right) and third-placed Gavin TGowers (left).
We were bummed to see Chance's first-place medal snap off the ribbon when he jumped off the podium... While we're sure it can be re-attached, it was disappointing nonetheless.
Hymas and his support crew Congrats, guys!
All eyes were on Christian Craig and Hunter Lawrence when the gate dropped on. the 250 East/West Shootout, but it was Nate Thrasher who stole the show.
You ok, Jo?
Lawrence led early on but was passed by both Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha riders in the first half of the main.
To be honest, we were shocked to see Nate Thrasher pass his teammate Christian Craig for the lead in the 250 East/West Shootout. We asked Team Manger Jeremy Coker about it later and he indicated that championship or not on the line, there were no team orders and he was glad to see THrasher earn his third 250 main event win of his career.
Nate Thrasher's performance at the Salt Lake City East/West Shootout was phenominal. In addition to passing and pulling away from his teammate and eventual West Coast Champion Christian Craig, he fended off the race-long attacks of Honda's Hunter Lawrence, winner of the three previous main events.
Pierce Brown had a rough start in Salt Lake as he crashed in his heat race and had to qualify for the 250 East/West Shootout through the LCQ. No matter: he got a great start from his poor gate pick and earned yet another podium finish to end the series ranked third in the East Coast champioship. Aigoo!
Christian Craig looked as if he would race away with the win in the 250 main, but a few mistakes, a small crash, and some bigger-picture reasoning saw him drop off the leaders' pace and settle for eighth and the championship.
Lawrence made several bids for the lead that looked as if they'd stick, but each and every time, Thrasher gassed it a little harder and held on to the point position.
This is how close it was at the finish.
Eighth at the finish, however, is all it took for Christian Craig to earn the first championship of his professional racing career.
Emotions were high for Christian and his wife Paige, after the race was done and the reality of his championship set in,
Alpinestars had a cool championship SM10 helmet custom painted for Craig. East Coast Champ Jett Lawrence had and identical trophy, but with an E...
Hometown hero Pierce Brown was glad to have his friends and family on hand for his third-place finish!
It was strange to have the final 450 main of the series start without Eli Tomac, but Jason Anderson picked up where he left off and scored a convincing win aboard his Jason Montoya-tuned Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Justin Bogle enjoyed his second 450 main event holeshot of the season aboard his Twisted Tea/Yoshimura/HEP Suzuki!
Team Nuclear Blast/Solitaire rider Ryan Surratt qualified for the 450 main event aboard his Yamaha YZ250F. He finished 18th!
Jason Anderson led all 26 laps across the finish line and closed out the series with his seventh main event win. We can't wait for next year!
Chase Sexton has been a threat all year long, but the Honda HRC rider has suffered some massive crashes while leading the pack. Sexton kept everything under control in SLC and finished a steady second, not too far behind winner Anderson.
If you weren't a Malcolm Stewart fan before Salt Lake City, you certainly were after watching his race through the field after being taken out by Justin Barcia. Mookie had the corwn on its feet as he repassed Webb and Musquin, then closed in on Barcia. If only there had been two more laps...
All told, the Twisted Tea/Yoshimura/HEP Suzuki teammates Justin Bogle and Brandon Hartranft had great seasons. Hartranft finished eighth overall in his second 450 season, and Bogle rebounded to 13th after struggling with bad luck and personal tragedy early in the series.
Did you catch Eli Tomac's interview in the Fly Racing Pre-Race Newsbreak video? It's worth a watch if you missed it!
After the main event, Justin Barcia was docked 10 points and fined $3000 for his overly aggressive pass on Malcolm Stewart. The penalty cost him fourth in the final championship standings, but his third-place finish in the main event was left untouched.
Seven wins on the season for El Hombre.
We never grow tired of looking at the details of Marvin Musquin's Red Bull helmets...
We wonder if Justin Barcia's choice of red for his mouthguard was made with intimidation in mind?
SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/Motoconcepts/Honda 250 teammates Vince Friese and Mitchell Oldenburg made quite a splash in the small-bore class in 2022, validating team owner Mike Genova's choice to have the duo split time between 250s and 450s, depending on the region.
We checked in with Ryder DiFrancisco before the racing got underway in Salt Lake. Look for the video interview later this week!
FXR Racing has debuted several limited-edition gear colorways throughout the year, and this one from Salt Lake City may just be our favorite so far.
We can't wait to see how this guy does outdoors! It's been several long years since we've seen Malcolm Stewart race motocross.
We think that Chase Sexton, of all Justin Brayton's competitors, will miss JB10 the most. The two have often been spotted chatting it up at the races...
Texan John Short had quite the cheering section in Salt Lake City.
Sketchy is as Sketchy does. See ya next year, Alex Ray.
Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.