What everyone says about the driving through the tunnel and into the infield at Daytona International Speedway is true. Sure, we go to world-class stadiums for every round of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship, but those cathedrals to sports and athletes who perform in them don’t connect the way the tri-oval and its motorsports heros does with riders. You know that racing history has happened on that piece of Florida property, and that makes a victory there feel different than any other. Getting accosted by security for trying to go through a gate that was open five minutes before, or God forbid, touching the infield grass is worth it because there’s no place we’d rather be.
Daytona calls itself the “World Center of Racing,” but that moniker could apply to all of Florida from January through the first part of March. In just the last few weeks, the speedway has hosted the Rolex 24 Hours, Speedweeks, and the Daytona 500, then immediately went to work for the 81st running of Bike Week, which starts with Supercross, includes American Flat Track, and wraps up with the Daytona 200. There’s been plenty of motorsport action happening elsewhere too, as sprint cars, dragsters, modifieds, and IndyCar have all started their race seasons in the Sunshine State.
Joey Savatgy decided to call his AMA SX season one race early due to some lingering pain in his wrist from Arlington. His KX450 was parked on the back of the Rick Ware Racing rig in the paddock and was wrapped in graphics for a new sponsor, BurgerFi, a Florida-based fast-food chain that prides itself in the quality of its food sources. While we’re here, props to RWR for putting together support for Briar Bauman and Shayna Texter-Bauman in the American Flat Track championship’s SuperTwins and AFT Singles classes.
Example 3002 that we’re seeing a happier, more engaged Eli Tomac at the races every weekend. Sometimes we forget, especially during a hectic weekend, that these are the moments that mean the most to young fans.
Father-son time on the factory machine.
Several late competition withdrawals in the 450 Class got Justin Hill into opening ceremonies. We’re pretty sure it was a first for the Team Tedder rider and while he enjoyed it, Jr said that he wants to “earn it and not have guys get hurt to get in there.” A guy that’s been through the highs and lows, it’s cool to hear Little Hill acknowledge what others on the starting line deal with and have respect for them.
Chris Blose will spend the next few weeks in California to work more closely with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki on the KX250. We’ve heard through the years that Blose likes his bikes set up little differently than others, be it through engine performance or suspension settings, and we asked what he’s learned working with PC. “Everyone does things differently, and I think that’s the hard part, because every rider is different. I’ve learned a lot being here already, so it’s been intriguing for me to learn and I hope that it’s helping the team in that aspect. These guys have been with the team for so long, so I hope it’s helpful to get an outsider’s perspective on things.”
Nate Thrasher’s speed and determination through the first of this year has done a lot for his future in the 250 Class. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider’s knee injury is pretty serious (we heard full ACL tear), but he’s raced through the pain and never once used it as an excuse to the team or media. Although the two incidents in the Main Event basically eliminated him from title contention, they might have turned him into an even bigger rival for Hunter Lawrence to deal with; Thrasher’s one of the few with pace to get race wins and has little to lose.
No one loves you like your mother can. Curren Thurman’s mom, Leta, joined her son on the starting line as the two took on the 250 East Coast Region in Daytona.
Chance Hymas and Team Honda HRC are sticking to their plans for part-time action in the 250 East Coast Region, and Daytona was Hymas’ last SX of the season. The developing rider went out on a high note, as he finished in third place behind Lawrence-Smith in 250 Heat Race Two and in sixth place the 250 Main Event. 8-8-10-6 results are plenty for the rider and team to be happy about and have Hymas ranked seventh overall in the point standings. He’ll use the next few weeks to get ready for all eleven rounds of Pro Motocross and the three SuperMotocross events.
It didn’t look like the track builders dumped as much sugar sand into the middle of the layout as years past, but the two lanes and hairpin turn proved to be plenty deep. ARay compared it to what’s in golf course bunkers in the Kickstart Podcast and said it’s harder to ride through than any other sort of sand.
Battlin’, with Hunter Lawrence and Jordon Smith in 250 Heat Race Two.
How many 250 West/East Coast Regional championships do you see?
Justin Cooper and Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha are also staying true to their word of “select rounds in the 450 Class,” and Daytona was to be Cooper’s last round on the big bike. With 7-7-10-9-6 results, willingness to mix it up with the best in the class, and no serious issues, we’d say the experiment was a success, and the rider agreed. “I knew I’d be around this, but going out and doing it is something else. I hadn’t raced Supercross in almost two years, since I won my championship, and I didn’t think I’d be in this position this soon. We can take all of this experience in this class into next year, which is valuable for me.” You can bet that Cooper’s name is on plenty of team manager’s lists for future riders.
Weekly shoutout for Jared Lesher. The privateer is sticking with a 1987 theme on the YZ250 and had MotoPro Graphics come up with a kit that looked like Davey Allison’s Havoline-sponsored Ford, an iconic scheme in four-wheel racing.
Ski Jump style check, starring Eli Tomac….
And Josh Hill.
THOR MX, Bell Helmets, and Alpinestars all worked together to get the details of Cooper Webb’s Aloha kit right. Although it was hyped as a one-off, THOR seems to be gauging interest in making this a part of their catalog through media posts. If you want to get tropical, let the Poway crew know with a comment on Instagram.
Shane McElrath got into the spirit of Bike Week with a set of ape hangers on his Twisted Tea/HEP/Suzuki RM-Z450.
Moto Memess on OnlyFans would be some top-tier content.
Silver rims, red hubs, and a Woody Woodpecker graphic kit made Justin Starling’s GASGAS MC look like Ricky Carmichael’s Honda CR-F. Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the red European bike get made to look like the Japanese machine.
Joan Cros announced that he’d parted ways with the Invictus Speed Crew before of Daytona. The Spanish privateer says he intends to keep going with support from longtime backers like Ronnie Prado Companies, FXR, LS2, and Blud Lubricants, but he’s going to need some additional funds to finish out the SX season. If you’d like to help, contact Cros or send money via PayPal at [email protected].
Just another day at the Baker's Factory.
With the 250 West Coast Region on hold, Kaden Amerine has decided to dip a toe into the 450 Class. The Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Rides Unlimited-backed rider is only a few years into his pro career and big finishes aren’t expected right away, so thirty-first overall in Timed Qualifying and tenth in the LCQ are results to build from.
We noticed a mix of rubbish around the apron of the speedway. Some of the bottles were empties, discarded carelessly for the trash crew to worry about, while others were full/mostly full beverages that accidentally rolled down the banking of the racetrack.
Wouldn’t expect a guy sponsored by Air Jordan to wear anything but high tops, would you? For those of you that don’t watch car racing, this is Kurt Busch, one of Monster Energy’s biggest motorsports ambassadors and a die-hard fan of Supercross. Word was that Busch had wanted to come to the Daytona round for years, but that NASCAR’s schedule always put him on the other side of the country when the race happens. Now retired from full-time competition, Busch got to spend all of Bike Week on two-wheels.
Kyle Chisholm sat out the Daytona race due to a crash and concussion that he suffered earlier in the week, which gave him some added time to go to Disney World with his daughters and to watch Cullin Park, a fellow Florida man, in the 250 Class. Park’s shoulder brace and road rash are from the Tampa round, where he suffered a Grade Three AC separation.
We, like many, had high hopes for Tom Vialle at speedway. The two-time MX2 champion spent the week riding the Daytona loop and working with Red Bull KTM at the Baker’s Factory, and all of the work was put to use when he got out front in the 250 Main Event…
Unfortunately, Vialle had a hard slam in the offset rhythm section during the opening laps and his 250 SX-F was too twisted to continue.
Half in, half out of the rut but still on the gas. Haiden Deegan saw an opportunity to get around Cullin Park in the early minutes of the 250 Main Event and didn’t let an uneven exit out of the corner deter him from making a move for sixth place.
Jeremy Martin as one of the riders who had high hopes at Daytona, as a win in the 250 Class and some good 450 Class results at the speedway gave him plenty to aim for. The Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX/Yamaha rider was solid, but not outstanding, on the big track and ended the weekend with a well-earned fifth place finish. If you need something exciting to follow in the East Region, keep an eye on Martin and Smith through the next few weeks; they’re currently tied for fourth overall with 71 points and are just a few back of Haiden Deegan.
Caden Braswell raced his way through the LCQ and into the 250 Main Event. Last year’s AMA Horizon Award winner is figuring out how hard Supercross can be and is two for four on Main Event appearances in his rookie year with Phoenix Racing. We’re hoping the personable teenager can make it through SX unscathed and show more of his potential when the outdoor series starts.
Michael Mosiman has had a rough go in the last few weeks, a trend that continued with a crash that forced him to pull out of the 250 Main Event. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider was injured in the offseason (broken neck) and has much less time on the new bike than he/the team would have hoped. It sounds like he will sit out the Indianapolis round to sort out the issues and heal up.
Shoutout to Josiah Natzke, a New Zealander that’s raced all around the world and is currently in the 250 East Coast Region with Canada’s Partzilla MX/PR MX crew. Natzke scored the LCQ win at Daytona and capped the night off with a fifteenth-place finish in the Main Event. “This whole Supercross thing is taking me a lot to get used to. It’s good to get some momentum going, get out front to see what it feels like, and to have the experience,” he told us for HWYW. “This was savage, Supercross mixed with outdoor style stuff. It was a bucket list race for me.”
Hunter Lawrence is quickly racking up Main Event wins. The Team Honda HRC rider faced his share of setbacks early in his career, namely some health issues he’s mentioned but never fully detailed, and is entering the prime of his time in the small-bore class. If you haven’t watched HWYW, scroll to Lawrence’s interview. In our few minutes together, he explained the determination that fuels him and the pass on Nate Thrasher. He’s got that dawg in him.
Doc Bodnar of the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit was at Nate Thrasher’s side immediately after two slams in the 250 Main Event. A dirty shoulder and ripped jersey looked bad, but the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider assured them he was fine and was cleared by Bodnar to go back to the pits. The guys are in good hands.
How’d the scoop hook up on the asphalt, Hunter?
Max Anstie took his one-year-old son, Finn, onto the podium with him for the NBC interview and the boy didn’t clam up on camera. Anstie explained that having his wife and son around has brought a new perspective to his riding, that the kid’s constant happiness while crawling on the floor of the semi can break him out of a race-day funk.
Haiden Deegan knows the podium etiquette. The rookie rider doused the crowd but saved some of the bubbles to pour over Hunter Lawrence and Max Anstie.
Yes, Daytona is an expensive hassle to get to compared to other races. Yes, security never seems to be on the same page. Yes, it’s not the easiest to watch or shoot. But man, there’s nothing like seeing the front straightaway grandstand completely full of fans, with more on the banking of the speedway, and then watching them rush to the podium at the end of the night. If you can get to Daytona, do it.
Dozers reworked some of the rougher spots between the 250 and 450 Main Events, like this tabletop that riders used as an on-off in the pit lane rhythm section. The glossy topsoil didn’t last long, though, and it was a rutted, notchy mess within a few laps.
What’s your pick: Shot one…
We’ll follow that sequence up with another, this one showing how Eli Tomac had a wheel on everyone going into the first turn and the way Cooper Webb pulled even and ahead as they hit the holeshot stripe.
Webb, Tomac, Sexton, Barcia, Anderson, Craig, and Hampshire all got to the front at the very start of the 450 Main Event. To say that we, as well as the fans screaming behind us, were excited would be an understatement. Might have to rewatch this one again before heading to Indianapolis.
“My Dunlops were hooking up…”
Seem scary? Yeah, but remember, this is the backside of the wall before the finish line.
They didn’t show it much on the broadcast, but man, the weather was wild during the night show. Ocean breezes throughout the day kept it from getting too warm and because they when the sun went down, it felt hotter during the night show. The stale, humid air was perfect for two sudden rain showers, a light one during the 250 Main Event and a much heavier pour during the 450 Main Event. Eli’s decision to run roll-offs proved to be a good one; by our watch, only he and Barcia opted for the film system.
Battlin’, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac in the 450 Main Event
Chase Sexton and Justin Barcia’s near miss in the 450 Main Event happened right in front of us. But our excitement in the moment overcame our professional duties, as we dropped the camera after this shot and watched the two nearly collide leaving the next jump face. Our bad.
Ken Roczen was quiet at Daytona, but was committed to the whoops. Like Lewis and Michael from Vital MX said on their post-race show, Roczen had the fastest average time through the sector, all because he continued to skim across the big rollers when others opted for the slower but more manageable jumping line. A seventh-place result on the night kept the Progressive/ECSTAR/Suzuki rider among the top-five in the championship.
No other SX race like it.
Just guessing here, but the Daytona trophy looks like KX-era Carmichael. Does that mean future generations hoist a YZ-era Tomac award over their heads? Might need to start working on a mold for the topper.
Example 3072 of Eli Tomac being happier at the races. The crowd around the podium added to the excitement by chanting “One More Year” while ET was being interviewed by RC and JS on television. We, like all of you, would love to see it.
Last note about the Daytona podium and the crowd: Cooper Webb was doing nothing to hide his displeasure over the runner-up result, which the fans all noticed. When one playfully quipped, “You mad, Coop?,” the Red Bull KTM rider cracked, smiled, and said, “Yeah.” Maybe it’s time to bring the podium closer to the fans at every SX.
Chase Sexton has put on a smile through everything this year, but some mistakes and a distant third place at Daytona gave him little to be find the positives in. The Team Honda HRC rider, who has more trophies than anyone this year, knows a win soon is a must.
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.
Love the podcast guys, been listening since 2020, when I was shopping for a 450, and watched the YouTube of Pat talking about the yz! Bummed there is no stl supercross this year, I always enjoy seeing Anton and Aray! Side note, Aray sold me a shirt during last years and made me put it over my Swap Moto T. Keep it up guys, by far the best moto podcast, and congrats Anton on Media Person of the Year!
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