For first-time visitors, we break down everything so you’re primed and ready on race day for DAYTONA Supercross, the only Monster Energy AMA Supercross event in the state of Florida and the longest-running Supercross event in America!
What is Monster Energy AMA Supercross?
Supercross is a form of dirt bike racing, with its premiere series being Monster Energy AMA Supercross. The series’ 17-round season takes place in open-air or domed venues 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 venue by man-made means.
The condensed course creates bigger jumps and sharper turns and 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 large-scale venues in the United States after attending a race held inside Daytona International Speedway that used a more traditional motocross track.
The combination of state-of-the-art venues, man-made courses and souped-up off-road motorcycles put Supercross in the history books as one of the first extreme motorsports.
DAYTONA Supercross has been running at the “World Center of Racing” since 1971. Gunnar Lindstrom won the inaugural race aboard a Husqvarna motorcycle.
Last year, Justin Brayton became the oldest rider to win a Monster Energy AMA Supercross event with his DAYTONA Supercross victory in the 450SX class just four days before his 34th birthday.
To date, 30 different riders have become race champions, with 5-time champion Ricky Carmichael leading all riders. Nine riders (Eli 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 AMA Supercross, each awarded a championship title by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).
They are the 450SX and the 250SX, with the latter divided into West and East divisions with a champion 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 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.
Heat 1 and Heat 2 feature 20 riders each, with the top nine finishers of each Heat advancing to the Main Event. Riders who finish 10-20 move to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), a race to determine the final four spots in the Main Event. Heat Races last six minutes plus one additional lap, while LCQs last five minutes plus one additional lap.
All 22 riders that reach the Main Event will receive points that count toward the series championship, with the race champion earning 26 points. Riders compete in 17 rounds to determine the season champion of 450SX Class, while the East and West Regions of 250SX Class compete in 10 races each to determine who takes home the crown. DAYTONA Supercross is the 10th round of the 2019 season.
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 Supercross.
DAYTONA Supercross legend Ricky Carmichael returns for the 12th consecutive year as course designer to create one of the most grueling courses on the entire circuit. This year’s course places the starting gate at the center of pit road with competitors racing in a counter-clockwise direction, a change from last season’s clockwise race direction.
The first step is a layer of a road-based material is put down to support the many dump trucks that will be hauling the 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 sheep’s foot, one roller, one grader and two excavators are used to move the dirt into the infield during construction.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross’ long history at Daytona International Speedway continues with the DAYTONA Supercross on Saturday night, March 9.
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 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule gets fans closer to the action. Marquee names like Eli Tomac, Cooper Webb 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.
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.
Tickets for the event are now on sale here or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. General admission tickets for DAYTONA Supercross start at $45 and youth tickets (ages 6-12) are $15; kids five and under are free in general admission frontstretch seating.