For those of you unfamiliar with Monster Energy AMA Supercross, we break down the series so you’re primed and ready to go on race day for DAYTONA Supercross By Honda.
What is Monster Energy AMA Supercross?
Supercross is a form of indoor dirt bike racing, with its premier series, Monster Energy AMA Supercross, being held from January through early May. The series primarily takes place in open-air or domed stadiums across the United States.
Riders race off-road motorcycles on an artificially-made dirt track, which contains steep jumps and super obstacles. Unlike the traditionally long and winding motorcross courses in natural environments, Supercross entails taking an outdoor motocross track and condensing it within a football stadium, baseball field or even the World's First Motorsports Stadium.
The course condensing not only allows spectators to effortlessly view all of the racing action, but also changes the DNA of the course. Bigger jumps, some as big as 50-feet, along with sharper turns are par for the course when it comes to Supercross.
AMA is the sanctioning body for Supercross, the AMA sets all rules and regulations and makes sure that they are followed to the letter.
The term "Supercross" was coined as the event name for the first organized motocross race to be successfully held inside a stadium in the United States.
Mike Goodwin is credited for bringing Supercross to the United States when in 1972 he brought to fruition his idea of putting on a motorcycle show in a stadium. A former rock concert promoter, Goodwin's idea stemmed from a 1971 race held inside Daytona International Speedway that used a more traditional motocross track.
On July 8, 1972, Goodwin had the LA Coliseum would host something new, which he termed the "Super Bowl of Motocross". The turf and chalk that had marked its field of play for nearly 40 years was covered with dirt and hay bales, upon which motorcycles wheels spun. This event was truly a prime example of the melding of man and machine, both coming together to form an entirely new sport. Man-made courses and souped-up off-road bicycles put Supercross in the history books as one of the first extreme motorsports, proving to be a massive commercial success in short order.
Supercross was developed to better excite the fans and be more communicable through television. As a result, it has flourished in the 21st century age of new, state-of-the-art stadiums, which provide the perfect setting for fans to witness the bar-to-bar action.
Bikes and Classes
There are two main classes that race in Monster Energy AMA Supercross: 450 Supercross and 250 Supercross. The 450 Supercross class is the premier racing division with all of the top riders. These riders are allowed to race either 250cc two-stroke motorcycles or 450cc four-strokes.
All of the major manufacturers have committed a lion share of their attention to 4-stroke engines. They are inherently clean-burning from an emissions standpoint and they have significantly higher fuel efficiency.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship is presented in the 450 SX class, which primarily features four-stroke 450cc technology. The 250 SX class, which showcases riders on four-stroke 250cc motorcycles, is split into U.S. eastern and western regional divisions, each awarding its own title.
How is it different from motocross?
Supercross' immediate distinction from its Motocross counterpart was an ability to reach fans. To watch Motocross, fans typically drive to an out-of-the-way place with limited viewing. In Supercross, fans flock to a stadium with every seat offering a decent view of the entire track layout.
Supercross also separated itself from Motocross by trucking in dirt to create a man-made track featuring jumps, tight corners and whoops built on the playing field of whatever stadium held the race.
Among the common sections of a Supercross course are:
- Whoops: Riders gliding along the tops of multiple bumps
- Rhythms: Any irregular series of jumps with a variety of combination options
- Triple jumps: Any three jumps consecutive jumps in which riders clear 70 feet or more
On the other hand, a typical motocross track is about a mile in length and, because it is so much lengthier and requires more real estate, is generally in a rural area. Motocross tracks are significantly rougher and faster, containing fewer jumps. Outdoor motocross events are also susceptible to elements such as rain, humidity, heat, and cold, which most Supercross event don’t have to contend with.
How the course is made
For the ninth straight year, Supercross legend Ricky Carmichael returns as the course designer, while Bomber Built, owned by three-time AMA 125cc National Motocross Champion Mark Barnett, is building the Supercross course.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the construction of this year’s Daytona Supercross By Honda course:
290 – Truckloads of dirt
5,000 – Tons of dirt
12 – Trucks used to transport the dirt into the Speedway
2 – Days to bring all of the dirt into the track
40 – Obstacles on the Daytona Supercross By Honda course
20 – Loads of new clay for the start gate
2 – Whoop sections
450 – Honda-branded Tuff Blocks
2,915 –length in feet of the Supercross course
500 – Man-hours (approximate) to set up the Daytona Supercross By Honda course
This year’s Ricky Carmichael Signature Design course sees the starting gate return to pit road and competitors will race in a counterclockwise direction.
Supercross has been defined by the dominance just a handful of riders throughout its history.
1990’s: Jeremy McGrath – 7 Supercross Titles
- McGrath won 7 titles in an eight-year span from 1993-2000.
2000’s: Ricky Carmichael – 5 Supercross Titles
- Carmichael won five titles in a six-year span from 2001-2006.
2010’s: Ryan Villopoto – 4 Supercross Titles
- Villopoto won four consecutive titles from 2011-2014.
While riders like Ryan Dungey, James Stewart and Chad Reed have proven great competition and worthy champions in their own right, since 1993, McGrath, Carmichael and Villopoto have won 16 of the 23 Supercross Championships.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross’ long and proud history at Daytona International Speedway continues with the DAYTONA Supercross By Honda on Saturday night, March 5. This will be the first Monster Energy AMA Supercross event to be held in the new Daytona International Speedway. In addition to improved amentities, the new stadium will provide premier sightlines for Supercross fans looking to enjoy the high-flying, side-by-side racing action by Supercross riders like Ken Roczen, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed and Trey Canard.
Daytona International Speedway remains the only motorsports facility and Florida’s only venue to host a Monster Energy AMA Supercross event, with the toughest course on the circuit, designed by five-time DAYTONA Supercross By Honda champion Ricky Carmichael, located in the grass between the trioval and pit lane.