TEN THINGS ABOUT SUCCESSFUL SUPERCROSS ROOKIES

(1) 50 years. Pierre Karsmakers won the first official 450-class Supercross race at Daytona on March 9, 1974, which makes him (and the 39 other racers) the first true Supercross rookie. The race was a triple-crown format, and Jim Pomeroy won the first moto. Half a decade later and 742 Supercross races later, Jett Lawrence won the 2024 Anaheim Opener as a 450 Supercross rookie.

(2) Josh Grant. Josh turned Pro in 2004 and made his 450 Supercross debut in 2008 when he finished sixth place at Seattle before going back to the 250 class to finish out the year. Then, he made his official move to the 450-class full-time for the 2009 season and won the opener at Anaheim 1. 

(3) Ken Roczen. Ken came to the U.S. in 2011, and during his first year racing 250 Supercross, he was already riding a factory Red Bull KTM 350SXF in two East Coast 450SX rounds to gain experience. He dabbled in the 450 class again, with one round raced in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons before he moved to the 450-class full-time for 2014. Ken won the 2014 Anaheim 1 opener as a rookie, only he had raced in the class multiple times before.

(4) Jason Lawrence. The other “J. Lawrence” gets an honorable mention because he led his first-ever 450SX main event at the Daytona Supercross in 2009 before pulling over to let Chad Reed pass. Now, J. Law and Chad Reed weren’t teammates, so there weren’t any “team orders” in play here. Jason led 16 laps out of the 20-lap main event, and he had a huge lead before he started to get tired. It was around lap 14 when Chad Reed smelled blood in the water. Jason pulled over for Chad to go by, hence people said, “He let Chad win.” However, Chad would’ve made the pass eventually, whether Jason pulled over or not. 

(5) Adam Cianciarulo. Every longtime motocross fan remembers Adam Cianciarulo for being one of the most highly touted Amateur riders of all time. His first 450 Supercross race was at the Monster Cup, and he won it with 2-2-1 scores in the triple crown races, ahead of his then-teammate Eli Tomac and Malcolm Stewart; however, his statistic doesn’t count as an “AMA 450SX win,” because it was a one-off race with no connection to the AMA Supercross Championship. 

(6) Ryan Dungey. “The Diesel” was very successful when he jumped to the 450 class. He won both the Supercross and Pro Motocross Championships in his first year in the 450 ranks. But, he didn’t win Anaheim 1. Ryan was second at the opener, and he claimed his first win at round two in Phoenix, Arizona.  

(7) Championship. Another interesting statistic about winning Anaheim 1 is that it is most often not won by the rider who eventually claims the championship. The last time that an Anaheim 1 winner in the 450 SX class went on to claim the title was in 2012 when Ryan Villopoto did it. 

(8) The greats. James Stewart won his first 450SX main event in his third race. Chad Reed won in his fifth 450 SX race. Jeremy McGrath won in his ninth 450 SX race. Eli Tomac won in his 15th, and Ricky Carmichael won in his 21st race. Surprisingly, despite his successful Supercross career, Carmichael never scored a victory at Anaheim 1. 

(9) Jett Lawrence. Can we still call Jett Lawrence a rookie? After racing and winning every 450 National moto in 2023 and then winning the first-ever SuperMotocross Championship, it’s safe to say Jett Lawrence does not ride like a rookie. Not to mention, he won the MX1 (450) class at the 2022 Red Bud Motocross Des Nations, and he won the 2023 Paris Supercross this past offseason as well. Technically, Anaheim 1 was considered his first-ever AMA Supercross race, but it’s understandable why some fans find it hard to consider the 2023 AMA SuperMotocross Champion a rookie. Jett Lawrence had raced his CRF450 a total of 14 times before winning at Anaheim. 

(10) Lofty goals. Jett has publicly said that his goal is to surpass Jeremy McGrath’s record of 72 total Supercross wins, and he’s already off to a good start. With his first win coming at just 20 years old, if Jett were to stay healthy and race another 10 years, achieving 72 wins might not be inconceivable. But, lots of racers have gotten off to quick starts and climbed to 30 and 40 wins before fizzling out.

 

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