Ten down, seven to go. Excellent racing in stadiums around the country with the Monster Energy Supercross Championship have made the last few weeks fly by, and just like that, the big East Coast leg of the tour is over. The 2023 Detroit Supercross will go down as one of the key nights of this year’s title fight, even more sot if it all comes down to a handful of points between Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac, and Chase Sexton.
We’ll start this one off with a bang. Well, click. Benny’s heelclickers are a sight to see, as the towering rider has no problem knocking the soles of his Alpinestars boots together. Can we get a Musquin-Bloss side-by-side shot before it’s too late?
Eli Tomac told us (and everyone else) that a tweaked neck threw off his coordination and balance at Indianapolis and left him unable to turn his head to the right. The “look ahead and the rest will follow” concept is a core part of the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider’s technique and would have helped on the very technical track. Tomac looked comfortable on the bike during Friday’s media riding sessions and Saturday’s free practice in the raw footage posted on the site or our YouTube account.
Cooper Webb’s bike was ready with the red plate on Friday afternoon. Working in the rigs was a necessity in Detroit, as the downtown streets around and the parking lot attached to Ford Field have just enough room for the AMA HQ/Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit/race teams/Super Parking, and because the heated trailers kept the bikes at a stable temperature between sessions in the stadium.
Nate Thrasher went down during the First Session of Timed Qualifying, a crash that mangled his Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha YZ250F. But this might not be the worst moment of Thrasher’s afternoon; in HWYW he said, “I tweaked it (his injured knee) during the last lap of qualifying, which sucks, and we’re kind of back to square one. We’ll build back up these three weeks.”
Maybe it’s just us, but the Detroit dirt sort of looked like what’d you see at a Corona Clay Company test track. Lines got cut into the turns and jump transitions, but deep ruts or aggressive chatter bumps didn’t develop. Yeah, there was lots of traction in some areas, but icy slick spots were also under the loose top layer. The Indianapolis-Detroit-Seattle-Atlanta leg of the schedule will challenge riders with very different soil types and track configurations, and it’s an element we’re eager to see the championship contenders take on.
Tom Vialle’s light on the bike style is what we’ve all come to expect of French riders, but the two-time MX2 champion knows that if he wants to reach the next step in Supercross, he needs to improve his speed. Vialle said that he and Red Bull KTM will spend the time between rounds working to find more speed within himself through more training and with the bike through a one-step stiffer suspension setting.
If “Win on Saturday, Sell on Monday” is still a thing, then Grant Harlan, Kevin Moranz, Josh Hill, and Justin Hill are the perfect spokesmen for the 2020-2022 YZF and SX-F bikes that are on dealer floors. The privateers told us their reasons for going with “older bikes” are the limited parts available for the all-new models and the lack of resources they have trying to set them up for racing, especially compared to the factory teams, but that also they aren’t going overboard with fully built engines or weight saving accessories.
We’d love to see a map overlay and data from Cooper Webb and Justin Barcia’s bikes, because it must be very different numbers. We followed the two for a few laps during a re-watch of the Detroit Main Event to see how different their lines were; Barcia carried momentum around the outsides of almost every berm and used every inch of the track while Webb turned down early in most corners and drifted toward the inside line of every lane. There must be a noticeable difference in total distance traveled over the course of the 23-lap feature.
Christian Craig has reached the next level in 450 Class progression: No Man’s Land between the front-running top-five and the rest in the running order. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider logged another solid Main Event and finished in sixth place, his sixth consecutive top-ten, but was eleven seconds behind Ken Roczen at the finish line and was the last person not to go a lap down by Chase Sexton.
Joan Cros didn’t just ride Theodore Pauli’s MADD Parts/Big Buildings Direct/Kawasaki at Detroit: he wore his gear, too. The multi-time Spanish SX champion will finish out the season in Pauli’s place as the team owner recovers from gruesome thumb injury (check his IG to see how surgeons saved and reattached the digit).
It was freezing in the tunnel. The big door at the top of the ramp was left open for most of the day/night, so a steady rush of cold air was channeled down the corridor where riders and mechanics waited for their time on the track. No joke, there had to be a 15–20-degree difference from this part of the stadium to the other side.
Flashing lights are about to become more common at your local tracks. The AMA has included the use of yellow and red safety signals to the 2023 amateur competition rule book (page 36, Section H) and the same rules as flags regarding jumping/overtaking apply. LED flashers by CautionZ have been used in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship for a few years and have been adopted by facilities around the country, including Lincoln Trail Motosports (the Illinois track places them at the bases of jumps).
We’ve heard West Coast stadiums go nuts when Jett Lawrence gets into the lead, but on the East Coast, the biggest cheers are for Haiden Deegan. Ford Field went into a frenzy when the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider took over the top spot in 250 Heat Race One, so we looked up to see what fans were most excited…
No, it wasn’t teenagers rooting on the heir to the Metal Mulisha throne, but packs of 20–40-year-old men with their phones.
Dream On: Detroit
Our friend Jeff Crutcher talked about the ever-changing graphic ki… erm liveries of the RRCZ KTM bikes with us during the Pre-Race News Break. One of the team’s partners are highlighted at each round of the 250 East Coast Region, with ODI getting top billing in Detroit.
We watched the back and forth between Jordon Smith and Haiden Deegan during the early laps of 250 Heat Race One, but didn’t see the other two incidents the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider endured until much later. Nose wheelie to human projectile? Yikes. Somehow Smitty walked away unscathed.
Same, but different.
250 Heat Race Two was another Thrasher-Lawrence face-off. Don’t let the fact that it was a short sprint fool you: both guys wanted to beat other, and badly.
250 East Coast SX stat: Thrasher now has more Heat Race wins than Lawrence in 2023.
We’re gutted for our guy Alex Ray. A longer than anticipated jump caused ARay to smash his hand into the clutch lever, which resulted in a badly broken ring finger. He went under the knife on Tuesday in Tennessee and had pins inserted to fix the fracture; video is on his IG.
Once again, props to Preston Taylor for Arenacross-Supercross double duty on the same weekend. The Nebraska privateer lined up for the Kicker AMA series in Salem, Virginia, on Friday night, where he won the $1000 1v1 race, then put in a nine-hour drive with his dad to Detroit and made it to the stadium on time for morning practice.
It’s interesting to see how different the composition of the dirt in Detroit was compared to Indianapolis, and there are a lot of changes in topography in the 288 north to south miles from venue to venue.
If you want to help a privateer and promote your business at Supercross, contact Scotty Wennerstorm through Instagram. The racer has some openings to fill for the remaining rounds, with branding opportunities on the graphics, gear, and even muffler.
The original Dig-Dug. It takes a real man of steel to stand between lanes of a Supercross track.
Dream On: Detroit
Ken Roczen’s jersey was complete with Fox Racing’s skull and crossbones iron-on, a subtle reward for a Main Event win.
If you want to watch the Dirt Wurx crew put the finishing touches to the track night before a Supercross, check the Pre-Race News Break videos. Footage of them refacing jumps, smoothing berms, driving the tracks over the track to improve traction, and spraying hoses is a fascinating time filler.
How many times do you think mechanic Richard Sterling has helped Jeremy Martin set his holeshot device?
After running six races in seven weeks, it’s time for the 250 East Coast Region to take a break. Two rounds on the West Coast, plus the off-weekend, will give riders three weeks to regroup, put in some outdoor laps, and prepare for an intense four-race run to the end, which includes a speedway race in Atlanta, the first Showdown in East Rutherford, a return to Nashville, and the Showdown finale in Salt Lake City.
Michael Hicks is on the come-up. The TiLube/SLH/Honda rider is in his second year of SX/first full season on the East Coast and posted a career-best tenth place finish in Detroit.
Gage Linville and Lane Allison are two rookies learning the ropes in the 250 East Coast Region. Linville, who is part of the Fire Power Honda team, made his first Supercross Main Event in Detroit and finished in nineteenth place. Allison, meanwhile, made the cut the last two weekends and crossed the finish line in eighteenth both times.
We’re really hoping for more Deegan-Martin matchups, especially this summer in the long days of 250 MX. Imagine seeing two scrapy guys on blue bikes, riding like their lives are on the line during Moto Two at Southwick…
Things are starting to come together for Caden Braswell. The Phoenix Racing Honda rider has qualified for the last three Main Events and finished twelfth in Detroit, which matches a season-best result in Tampa. This could be some much-needed motivation for the AMA Horizon Award winner during the break and first days of MX prep.
The Chris Blose-Tom Vialle battle for fifth place had our full attention in the 250 Main Event. The two squared off during 250 Heat Race Two, an eight-lap battle that ended with Vialle crossing the finish line just about two seconds ahead, then found each other again at the very start of the feature. Their two very different riding styles, line choices, and physical builds made an entertaining show, and they shared their takes of the action in HWYW.
Was it just us or did the fifteen minutes plus one lap for the 250 Main Event fly by? Hunter Lawrence agreed and said that the checkered flag almost caught him off-guard, hence the simple fist pump celebration for his tenth victory. Talk that we may see the older brother on the big bike in SX 2024? Becoming more believable with each successful weekend.
Kyle Chisholm showed Josh Cartwright the front wheel of his RM-Z a few times on the last lap of 450 Heat Race Two, but hard riding isn’t what put the two on the ground just feet from the finish line. That incident was kicked off by a mistake from Cartwright, who went down on the inside of the flat turn and right in Chisholm’s path. The resulting contact warped Cartwright’s subframe and rear fender, but he quickly remounted and made it over the line for the last transfer to the Main Event; Chisholm got in via the LCQ. We spotted the two sharing a laugh on the starting gate before the 450 Main Event.
The AMA’s sound system got 112.9 decibels from Nate Thrasher’s FMF exhaust.
While Haiden Deegan’s muffler topped out at 113.3 dBs.
The control panel on Nate Thrasher’s YZ250F: ProTaper bars/grips/donuts, kill switch with molded guard, heartrate monitor, bar-pad mounted mapping system, electric start.
The hot trend of hand cut tires were probably extra helpful in Detroit, as the grooved and split knobbies would be able to flex a bit more and have extra edges to cut into the hard-packed dirt.
The back-to-back berms over the starting line were a very cool element of the Detroit track. They were one of the few spots where the dirt loosed up on top, but didn’t become slick, dry, or packed-in underneath. Scroll down for some berm-blasting images from the Main Event.
One request, though: can berms like ’09 STL SX get another chance sometime soon?
Considering the times, this is a wild name for a commercially-manufactured and readily sold product.
There are more timing loops than ever buried in the Supercross tracks, and in Detroit, splits were recorded in five places (finish line, before and after the whoops, before the long rhythm lane, face of the first jump in the end zone). Advancements like this are cool and necessary, but put more attention on the milliseconds of every lap and rider.
If you want to see another angle of the 450 Main Event from Detroit, with no commentary but just the sounds from the stadium, YouTube has what you’re looking for. We’ve rewatched one fan-shot video about three times now and have seen more of what happened during the race than from the broadcast (That’s not a knock on TV; they’ve got a different agenda that a guy in the crowd who is locked on the action). Here’s some notes we pulled it…
Adam Cianciarulo was the best buffer Aaron Plessinger could have asked for. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider has no problem going at an all-out pace for a few minutes right now, and he gave Plessinger someone to aim for and then run from during the in the early moments of the race. Cianciarulo was headed for an event-free moto until he went down in the same spot as AP with a few laps to go and was credited with eighth.
Chase Sexton set up and executed least three different passes the same way: building speed with the table over two line in the shorter rhythm, aiming at the inside line of the awaiting right-hand turn, cutting underneath the competition in the berm, and tripling into the next rhythm.
Eli Tomac made a forceful pass on Cooper Webb, but there was no contact between the two. The move put Tomac into second place and should have set up a pursuit of Plessinger, but instead, he went to the outside line in the 90-degree right hander at the end of the long rhythm and allowed Webb an opening on the inside a lap later. Tomac admitted on the podium that the decision, what he amounted to bad line choice, cost him the race.
The top-five looked like it could have ended up a few different ways, especially when Barcia was on a roll during the middle of the race. BamBam’s tactics are known by everyone, and nobody wanted to get in anything too serious with him at round ten.
Berm blast style check, starting with Aaron Plessinger.
Cooper Webb’s race awareness is sharp right now and a few things by the Red Bull KTM rider in Detroit during the Main Event caught our attention. After he took full advantage of Tomac’s line choice miscalculation, he never let the defending champion get a chance at redemption. Instead, he did his best to block the inside immediately after, then pull away from Tomac, and was almost nine seconds ahead at the finish.
How will these two deal with each other in the coming weeks? Sexton has the speed, but Webb knows how to be in the right place at the right time. Then there’s the gamesmanship of the starting line, tactics in Timed Qualifying, comments on the podium, and finally, bar-to-bar racing.
We were glad to see Dean Wilson get up and finish the Main Event after simple mistake him onto the ground. The Fire Power Honda rider has been painfully close to the top-ten at every round and has gone 14-14-13-12-15-12-11-11-12-21 in ten races.
Inside line style check, starting with Cooper Webb
Justin Hill and Josh Hill became the first brothers since Jim and Ron Pomeroy to finish in the top-ten of a premier class main event on the same night. We’ve mentioned the bike changes and progress that the Team Tedder riders have made a few times now, and while the boys are pumped, they were a little bummed it came at the cost of close friend Aaron Plessinger. Justin Hill watched the wreck happen in real-time and recounted it for HWYW. JR has plenty to say in the interview, including where he’s been riding lately, hype about his property in Wyoming, and plans for WSX.
Aaron Plessinger Appreciation Photos
Chase Sexton got a much-needed win, his second of the season and third of his career. The Team Honda HRC rider admits that it came in a familiar, albeit different way, and is determined to carry this into the next part of the series. Unfortunately, the victory is still bittersweet, as he was docked seven points for jumping when wheels on the ground safety lights were being displayed and lost ground to Webb and Tomac in the championship standings. Sexton said that going by the accident, an upright but backwards Dean Wilson, was his rationalization for jumping, but AMA had proof and reason for the flags and lights to be shown.
Cooper Webb saw it all happen and used hand signals to point it out to the Team Manager’s tower as soon as he finished the race. The crowd-shot angle we talked about earlier focused on the situation for a few moments and clearly showed multiple yellow flags were waving and the flashing lights were on, and that Aaron Plessinger, Josh Hill, Grant Harland, Benny Bloss, Kevin Moranz, and Josh Cartwright all rolled the two doubles ahead of Sexton.
What’s there to be said about Aaron Plessinger’s heartbreaking loss that he didn’t say himself? The Red Bull KTM rider added to his everyman appeal with an emotional post-race interview and vowed to come back for more in Seattle, a race that’s been very good to him over the years.
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.