The 2004 U.S. Open was an stressful race for Ricky Carmichael. He had six months off the bike due to an ACL injury. He switched from Honda where he just won 24 straight outdoor National motos in a row to Suzuki. With only two weeks on the RM-250 and $100,000 up for grabs, nerves were high.
All looked well for Ricky in his heat race. He dominated with a first lap pass on leader Ernesto Fonseca. There were still two 25 lap main events ahead (one on Friday night and the other Saturday night), and Chad Reed looked on top of his game. Ricky got off to a holeshot in the first main. Although after five laps with Chad on his tail, Ricky gave Reed the green light to let him pass. It was strange to see Ricky let someone pass without putting up a fight. Maybe he wanted to see Reed’s lines? Maybe he was having problems with his bike? But Ricky never regained the position. After six months off and switching to a new bike, Ricky just didn’t look like himself.
When Saturday came around, Ricky looked much more comfortable on his new machine. He had won his heat race, and had again holeshoted the main event. Reed fell early in the race with Ricky extending his lead. It wasn’t long before Ricky started to slow down. Ricky’s new steed was suffering from clutch basket problems. It wasn’t long after Reed caught and passed Ricky, that his engine failed.
Reed went on to win the $100,000. Ricky went home wondering if he had made the right decision switching brands he was so successful on.