After five months, seventeen rounds in sixteen locations, and nearly twenty thousand miles traveled, the Monster Energy Supercross Championship came to a close at the 2023 Salt Lake City Supercross. The final weeks of the tour had taken a toll on everyone, but those that made it through were rewarded with season-best results and, in one instance, the championship trophy.
We’ll start the write-up with a nod to Dean Wilson, as he was one of the only three riders (Sexton, Hill, Wilson) to do all seventeen Main Events and finished tenth overall in the championship standings. DW will not line up for Pro Motocross but is in for the FIM World Supercross Championship, three rounds of Australian Supercross, and potentially the Paris Supercross. Considering Wilson’s comments last summer about how hard the long outdoor motos are on his body, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him skip SuperMotocross and 20-minute races on hybrid tracks.
News broke on Thursday that Phoenix Honda will not follow the Pro Motocross Championship with Cullin Park, Coty Schock, and Caden Braswell. It was a surprising development from the East Coast team, as Park and Schock were slated to line up in the 450 Class and Braswell in the 250 Class. Schock will take the summer off to heal injuries from a tough few years, Park will race WSX on a Suzuki for PMG, and Braswell has been linked to a fill-in ride with TLD/GASGAS.
Dilan Schwartz will be on the RM-Z250 during Pro Motocross, but not on the same bike he raced during Supercross, as an agreement between HEP Motorsports and BARX will see Schwartz transferred between the two Suzuki-supported squads.
Friday’s pre-race press conference ran a little long and kept Chase Sexton from joining the 450 Class for their first session on the track for media day, so the to-be champion jumped in with the 250 East Coast Region and did a few laps with practice partner Cullin Park.
Shoutout to Coty Schock for his run on the 250 East Coast Region. The Phoenix Honda Racing rider lined up for all ten Main Events, including both East-West Showdowns, had a few wild moments/almost crashes/memorable hits, and ended the season ranked tenth overall in the championship standings.
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Grant Harlan made it through the final rounds of Supercross with a damaged labrum thanks to the helping hands of Dr. Nick Crabill. Seventeen rounds of competition, plus the weekly grind of practice motos and gym work, takes a toll on the body and almost every rider has some sort of chiropractor or masseuse on call at the races.
Here’s the last kit in SKDA’s F1 Ride to Survive series with Tristan Lane, this one based on the Williams FW15C that was renowned for the use of anti-lock brakes, traction control, active suspension, and a semi-automatic and fully-automatic gearbox with sponsorship from Camel, Renault, Canon, Elf, and SEGA.
Michael Shaw kept Jared Lesher’s YZ250 two-stroke fine-tuned with this immaculately organized collection of tools and an easy to carry travel case.
Team Solitaire moved Dominique Thury to the 450 Class at the finale and wrapped the bike in a one-off graphic kit from Throttle Syndicate that was patterned after Leatt’s 2024 gear. IAMACOMEBACK? That’s a substance and addiction recovery group aimed at helping executive-level men.
Man behind the lens: Chase Lennemann, the content creator behind the @hepmotorsports and @pmg.racing social media accounts.
Crash and Burn. Devin Simonson got a little loose on the face and had to lay down the Partzilla/PRMX machine. Have you stacked it up recently and have it on film? Send it our way for a chance to win a Bell Moto10 Spherical helmet. Check the swapmotolive Instagram for details.
Good to see it on top one last time.
Even though Eli Tomac and Dylan Ferrandis were absent in SLC, the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha team still drove the rig to Rice-Eccles Stadium and had both YZ450F bikes on display in the pit area. Big respect to mechanic Josh Ellingson for fully prepping the bike and finishing it off with the appropriate white backgrounds, then taking a number one plate to Brandon Zimmerman and Team Honda HRC.
Two different Tagger Designs on the FLY Racing Formula helmet in the Fire Power Honda pit. The air brush work on Dean Wilson’s lid looks like it should be on the trunk hatch of a low rider Chevy. This one was commissioned by Rockstar Energy.
While Max Anstie got a Lightning McQueen-themed piece, complete with bolts and flames, that chemical company Froth footed the bill for.
The couple that pick-up kits together stays together. These had to be buried deep in the closet, as both were mass-produced at the height of SX popularity; Carmichael’s was sold by Honda through Kmart and McGrath’s was a replica available through No Fear.
Freshly prepped. Note the differences between the firmness of the start straightaway, some tractor work in the race lane, and the smoothness of the berm.
Supercross Futures was moved to the start of the night show and the gate dropped before the first fireworks of opening ceremonies. The amateur program has gotten better over time and this year had closer competition, featured more notable riders, and was heavily supported by the OEMs and race teams. Expect similar growth to continue in 2024, especially as ties to Loretta Lynn’s and the Combines at Pro Motocross get tighter.
Daxton Bennick and Julien Beaumer came into the weekend tied on Supercross Futures wins (two each) and were heavily favored for the amateur national championship, but a wild opening lap saw them trade close moves and go down simultaneously and without contact in a slick bowl turn. Bennick would remount and get back to sixth place, but Beaumer had another incident, pulled out of the race early, and was credited with seventeenth.
Because no points are tallied up through the year, whoever wins the Supercross Futures finale is crowned the champion. When Bennick and Beaumer went down, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Casey Cochran took control and rode unchallenged to the checkered flag, a massive accomplishment for the up-and-coming talent.
Supercross is showbiz production that is scheduled to the minute. Take the FMX demo for example; Keith Sayers and his crew know exactly how long it takes to fill up the airbag landing ramp and set up the take-off, so as soon as the Futures riders were off the track, they wheeled their equipment onto the start straight (some of it was stashed next to finish line structure to save time), put it together, did a few tricks, and had everything torn down before the first firework was shot off at 7:45.
Supercross Futures podium (from left): Mark Fineis, Casey Cochran, and Parker Ross.
We hid out near the podium during opening ceremonies (access to the floor is limited when the pyro is active) and watched Chase Sexton as he waited to be called to the stage for his introduction. Scroll to the gallery to see more shots of Sexton and Zimmerman from the night.
Haiden Deegan’s starting abilities were impressive through the Supercross season. We’re eager to see what Dangerboy can do with the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha YZ250F in the drag race to the first turn at wide-open tracks like Thunder Valley, RedBud, Southwick, and Spring Creek.
Yeah, the Star Racing seemed to have a little more oomph than the other bikes at altitude.
The Salt Lake City surface looked very technical, as it was a rock-hard base with some loose loam on top. Rain during the Heat Races made it even trickier, as the clay slicked off and the topsoil stuck to the bike and became heavy.
Classic cross-up. There’s another shot of Levi Kitchen styling, from a different angle during practice, in the gallery below.
Anthony Rodriguez and Alex Nagy came together at the start of 450 Heat Race One, an incident that wrapped both bikes up and caused ARod’s to rev wide-open for a good ten seconds. How badly were they tangled together? It took most of the opening lap for them to get it sorted.
Did you know that Dunlop produces an entire line of protective footwear and rubber boots made for industrial situations? Neither did we. dunlopboots.com
What’s the difference between wiping down a wet starting gate and leaving it messy? To be honest, we have to wonder what is really better in conditions like we had during the Heat Races, as the steady rain made everything extremely slick.
Our minds are wandering as we wait for summer for the first gate drop of the summer and recently thought, “could an Aaron Plessinger-Chase Sexton title fight happen?” Both are very good on the wide-open tracks of Pro Motocross, are known for their stamina in the heat, and have a lot to prove over twenty-two motos.
Jared Lesher made the cut for the Main Event via a third-place finish in the LCQ, but the extra time on the track took its toll on the YZ250 and the two-stroke engine lost most of its coolant after the base gasket let go. To redeem his purse money and points, Lesher and mechanic Michael Shaw drained all of the coolant out of the bike, let the 450 Main Event blast off, rolled one lap very slow pace, and pulled out after crossing the finish line.
A mistake while going through the whoops didn’t just shoot Aaron Plessinger over the top of the berm and into the robotic camera that was placed in the “no man’s land” between lanes; it also dropped him out of a transfer position into the Main Event. A quick recovery and pass on fellow Ohioan Logan Karnow got AP back into the top-nine, but meant he had a terrible gate pick in the Main Event.
Chase Sexton’s stats from the 2023 season will look very impressive a few years from now, as the Team Honda HRC rider’s championship will be supported by most Main Event laps led (124, not counting Triple Crowns), fourteen first place overall rankings in Timed Qualifying, seventeen top-ten finishes, sixteen top-five finishes, and seven podiums (not counting wins).
Like this shot? There’s a version of this start, plus twenty-four of our other favorite photos, sized to fit your computer screen in our collection of wallpapers posted on the homepage.
The recent Jett-RJ battles were excellent, as both guys have a willingness to go for any opening and are aware the other will do whatever it takes to get a win, but with Jett moving up and RJ in for another stint with the small-bore bike, it could be years before we see them square up again.
What do you prefer: near-perfect technique and a foot off for balance?
Or an aggressive, wild style with a toe drag for added excitement?
Couple takeaways after watching Levi Kitchen the last two seasons: he’s very good on hard pack terrain, thanks no doubt to the days spent at Washougal and other PNW tracks, and is surprisingly strong at elevation, evident in podium results at Thunder Valley, Denver, and now Salt Lake City.
We went over the possible outcomes and changes to the championship standings multiple times ahead of the finale and knew there was only two points between Haiden Deegan and Max Anstie for second place in the East Coast Region. Anstie looked poised to take the spot for much of the Showdown, as he ran a few spots ahead of Deegan, but a late pass by Hunter Lawrence for sixth place cost Anstie the one point he needed most (a sixth-place finish by Anstie would have put he and Deegan even with 183, and his win in New Jersey would have been used as the tie-breaker).
“Lawrence Brothers Steps to Success.” We see a potential collab with Baghouse Industrial.
A lot has been said about moving the finale from SLC, as the city isn’t known for its nightlife and late spring weather in the Wasatch region can be hit or miss, but the outdoorsy fans don’t seem to mind, and they sat through rain, cold, and less than thrilling races to see the final laps of a very memorable season.
Last gate drop.
Ken Roczen’s knee-jarring incident on the opening lap led to a few tense moments, as the rider’s instant reaction and quick withdrawal made it seem like the worst had happened. Our initial thought was on WSX, which starts in less than two months and had just announced Roczen has a confirmed competitor for the next three years. Then we (and apparently those in Roczen’s camp) realized that his 22nd place finish wouldn’t get him the two points needed to pass Cooper Webb for third place overall in the championship standings and a lucrative bonus. Fortunately, Roczen escaped with no serious injury, and he should be good for round one in Birmingham, UK.
Out with a bang. Chase Sexton told us and many others that his mindset for the weekend was to race like the title was on the line, not like it was assured. The Team Honda HRC rider did just that, as he led every lap of the 450 Main Event and crossed the finish line with an 18-second gap on Aaron Plessinger (it would have been over 20 seconds had Sexton not slowed down to celebrate on the final lap).
The cowboy, the champion, and the cop. What a podium…
One weekend off and then it's time for summer's eleven rounds and forty-four motos.
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.