For first-time visitors, we break down everything so you’re primed and ready on race day for DAYTONA Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship.
What is Monster Energy Supercross?
Supercross is a form of dirt bike racing, with its premiere series being Monster Energy Supercross. The series’ 17-race season takes place in open-air or domed stadiums across the United States from January through early May.
Riders race off-road motorcycles on a dirt track containing high-flying jumps and challenging obstacles. Unlike the traditionally long and winding motocross courses in natural environments, Supercross entails taking an outdoor motocross track and condensing it into a multipurpose stadium by man-made means.
The condensed course creates bigger jumps and sharper turns, this year running “backwards” in a clockwise direction, allows spectators to effortlessly view the one-of-a-kind showcase of talent, fitness and fearlessness.
Race History & Champions
Mike Goodwin is credited for bringing Supercross to United States stadiums after attending a race held inside Daytona International Speedway that used a more traditional motocross track.
The combination of state-of-the-art stadiums, man-made courses and souped-up off-road motorcycles put Supercross in the history books as one of the first extreme motorsports.
DAYTONA Monster Energy Supercross has been running at the "World Center of Racing" since 1971. Gunnar Lindstrom, aboard a Husqvarna, won the inaugural race, while Colorado-native Eli Tomac looks to three-peat after winning the event each of the last two seasons.
To date, 29 different riders have become race champions, with 5-time champion Ricky Carmichael leading all riders. Nine riders (Tomac, Pierre Karsmakers, Darrell Schultz, Jeff Stanton, Mike Kiedrowski, Jeremy McGrath, Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed and Carmichael) have won the event in back-to-back years, with just three riders (Stanton, Kiedrowski and Carmichael) collecting three consecutive wins. In fact, Stanton and Carmichael both won an unprecedented four-straight from 1989-92 and 2000-03, respectively.
There are two main classes that race in Monster Energy Supercross, each awarded a championship title by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).
They are the 450SX and the 250SX, with the latter being divided into West and East divisions and a champion being crowned for each. The 450SX class is the premier racing division with all of the top riders, while the 250SX class or “Lites” generally consists of less experienced riders. Riders in the 450SX class almost exclusively ride 450cc four-stroke bikes, while riders in both 250SX classes almost entirely race with slightly less powerful 250cc four-stroke bikes.
The 450cc boasts roughly a 10 to 15 horsepower advantage over its 250cc counterpart, while tipping the scales at an additional 10 to 15 pounds. Though the 450s have a clear power advantage, the lighter 250s are nimble and quick-turning, better able to handle tight, rough track conditions.
From the official AMA rulebook: The 2018 season will debut an all-new points system to evenly allocate points over all 22 finishing positions. While the gap between first, second, and third has not changed, the new points system will ensure that the race to the championship will be much more competitive throughout the season as the reward is greater for a better finish.
The elimination of semi races will add further pressure to qualify as the world's most elite endurance athletes will have just two chances to ensure a spot in the Main Event through one of two heat races or a last chance qualifier (LCQ). This year, the Top 9 in each heat will qualify directly into the Main Event while positions 10-20 will have one last chance to make it through the LCQ. Previously, only five positions would transfer to the Main Event from the heat races and all others would be transferred to a semi race. Eliminating the semi races will make for longer heat races and last chance qualifiers, allowing for more intense battles on the track.
How is the course made?
Immediately following the DAYTONA 500 – the season-opener for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – the 900 man-hours of construction begins in the tri-oval area between pit road and the start/finish line to create the demanding and challenging course for the DAYTONA Monster Energy Supercross.
This year’s Ricky Carmichael Signature Design course places the starting gate at the center of pit road with competitors racing in a clockwise direction, both of which are changes from last year.
The first step is putting down a layer of plastic to protect the surface that the track will be designed on before putting down sheets of plywood. Once the plywood is in place, a layer of a road-based material is put down to support the dump truck that will be hauling the actual dirt for the course. The dirt is roughly 70 percent clay and 30 percent sand. The sand serves to keep the moisture in the clay, so the track doesn’t dry out and become dusty.
Overall, over two dozen trucks, mostly provided by a locally-owned paving company, two crawlers, two front loaders, two bulldozers, three skid steers, one sheepsfoot, one roller, one grader and two excavators are used to move the dirt during construction.
DAYTONA Monster Energy Supercross
Monster Energy Supercross’ long history at Daytona International Speedway continues with the DAYTONA Monster Energy Supercross on Saturday night, March 10.
This year’s edition features high-flying, side-by-side racing action as the best riders in the world battle on the demanding course and, with Trackside Access, no other venue on the AMA Supercross schedule gets fans closer to the action. Marquee names like Eli Tomac, Jason Anderson and Chad Reed will bang bars from the gate drop to the finish line on a quest to become the next DAYTONA champion on the circuit’s toughest course.
Tickets for the event are now on sale at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. General admission tickets for DAYTONA Monster Energy Supercross start at $45 and youth tickets (ages 6-12) are $15; kids five and under are free in general admission stadium seating. Fans can upgrade their Supercross experience with Trackside Access which allows them to view the races from the frontstretch of the Speedway’s famous tri-oval. Trackside Access is an additional $20 and kids 5 and under are free.