Welcome to Sam Boyd Stadium, what would you like? A gritty muddy race, of course. Last Saturday was the last race of the 2016 Supercross season. Having never been to a Supercross race in Las Vegas, I figured it would be a good time to get extra work done. While managing editor, Daryl Ecklund, stayed behind to change his new son’s poopy diapers, MXA’s video guru, Travis Fant, made the drive out to the desert. Also present was contributor Scott Mallonee. The day didn’t turn out as expected, as hard rain prematurely ended the timed practices. Not only did the 450 riders only get one timed practice, but the track was flooded. The MXA crew chilled up in the press box, exchanging stories and attempting to get an internet connection. Some of the photographers contributed to the local economy and got rain boots at Walmart during the downtime. Nobody was able to go to the track until opening ceremonies started at 7:00pm.
An hour’s worth of rain made for an exciting set of races. Las Vegas is not known for its quality dirt, and the rain just compounded that fact. The rocky slickness played into the hands of some (Ryan Dungey, Zach Osbourne), while mercilessly pushing other riders to defeat. Joey Savatgy has been strong all season, but he really stepped up his game coming into Las Vegas. He had spent the last few weeks studying every rider in the 250 East and training for the worst. In the heat race and the East/West Shootout Savatgy established an early lead and was able to win both races. The 250 West points leader, Cooper Webb, was not able to keep the same pace, which made his championship hopes seem grim.
Savatgy closed up the 16-point gap during the main and was tied with Cooper Webb in points by the middle of the East/West shootout. The tie wouldn’t last. Cooper Webb gained a position to finish 11th and win the championship. Even if Webb and Savatgy had tied on points, the nod would have gone to Cooper due to his having more race victories.
The other three riders that shone brightly in the 250 mud fest were Malcolm Stewart, Zach Osborne and Colt Nichols. While we haven’t seen Stewart race a Supercross like this, he obviously learned from big brother. Malcolm now shares another thing in common with James–both own a regional Supercross titles. As for Zach Osborne, he isn’t afraid of getting dirty. He flew by everybody else to take second place after an 11th place start.
Considering Ryan Dungey had already clinched the championship many had expected another mediocre 450 race. The rutted slick track proved the opposite. Dungey drove a final nail into the hearts of his competition. He dominated the race. Chad Reed’s experience was on full display, and the old dog still has a few tricks up his sleeve. He cruised to fourth in the muck. While the 450 title wasn’t up for grabs, the inclement weather made Las Vegas one of the most memorable races of the season.
WASN’T THERE ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP THIS WEEKEND?
Indoor racing fans got a second race in Las Vegas, thanks to the 2016 Amsoil Arenacross finals inside the Orleans Arena. Arenacross is the miniature of Supercross, and while it’s similar, there are some differences. The biggest difference is how passes that would be considered dirty in Supercross are the norm in Arenacross. Nonetheless, the racing was tame between the leaders as Gavin Faith didn’t want to risk crashing and losing the title to teammate, Chris Blose. Jacob Hayes had the most wins of the season, but didn’t benefit from the points getting reset.
ELI TOMAC’S SUPERCROSS SEASON STATS
Eli Tomac looks poised to challenge for the 450 National title. While it took him until the end of the season to consistently land on the podium, he seems to be getting his Kawasaki dialed in. Tomac has shown he is faster on looser tracks (a la motocross). Eli will have to wait until 2017 in order to try and earn his first 450 Supercross crown, but there’s probably a smile under that Bell helmet knowing that the circus is heading to the great outdoors.
ELI TOMAC’S 450 STATS
450 Total Starts: 47
450 Total Career Podiums: 19
450 Total Career Wins: 4
450 Win Percentage: 9%
450 Podium Percentage: 40.4%
Consecutive Podiums: 6
Total AMA Points Earned: 764
OTHER WEEKEND WINNERS
Supercross 450 Main: 2016 champion Ryan Dungey.
Supercross 250 East Championship: Malcolm Stewart.
Supercross 250 West Championship: Cooper Webb.
Supercross 250 East/West Shootout: Joey Savatgy.
450 Grand Prix: Antonio Cairoli.
250 Grand Prix: Jeffrey Herlings.
Arenacross Championship: Gavin Faith.
Arenacross Las Vegas: Chris Blose.
Arenacross Lites Las Vegas: Ryan Breece.
Australian National 450: No race. Season to pick up May 22nd at Murray Bridge, Austrailia.
Australian National 250: No race. Season to pick up May 22nd at Murray Bridge, Austrailia.
Maxxis British 450 National: No race. Season to pick up May 22nd at Hawkstone Park, Shropshire.
Maxxis British 250 National: No race. Season to pick up May 22nd at Hawkstone Park, Shropshire.
MXA PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: SHOEI VFX-W
MXA CLASSIC AD | August 1976
Van were once the cool thing in motocross. More nimble than a trailer, more affordable than an RV, a van was your home away from home. What cooler way to advertise your trick van than in a magazine (pre-internet)? This ad is from the 1970s.
AMATEUR SHOT OF THE WEEK
The track Saturday night was brutal. Deep ruts and slick clay made it tough for even the top racers in the 450 class. The conditions didn’t deter the KTM Junior exhibition, where 15 racers lined up on the gate to brave the conditions. It was a minefield coming straight out of the gate as more than half of the kids slid out before the first turn. To expedite the race, it was cut down to less than one lap. Jamison Mutschler was the first racer to cross the finish line, and one of the few riders that didn’t need assistance on the dragonback obstacle. While his current best AMA finish has been a fourth at the Top Kid Showcase, the skill he showed in Saturday’s race may lead to a great amateur career.
I make it a goal to photograph as many riders as possible at any given race. If we need a picture of a particular rider, it is useful to have one handy in the archives. The stories we write aren’t always about the Champion but instead other riders, mechanics, teams, fans and bikes. Having a photo to go with it is useful. This means taking a slew of pictures to best capture the race. Events have their key moments and main coverage, which get syndicated quite quickly via web (or print). Everything else gets archived. Currently, I have 10,000+ photos in my personal archives and MXA has quite a bit more. Sometimes I’ll go back through my archives only to discover little things I missed when the initial edit was created. The above photo was one of those.
Location: Glen Helen
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: 70-200mm F/2.8
Focal Length: 150mm
Shutter Speed: 1/800