The glitz and the glamour of supercross have faded away, and now the accolades earned or lost mean nothing as we approach May 20th, 2017. On this faithful day, a rider’s slate will be wiped clean, whether it be a past season of turmoil or success. The opening round of the Lucas Oil Pro Championship may mark many new beginnings for riders, but it is also entrenched in the past of so many.
Hangtown is the oldest track in the series, dating even further than the Lucas Oil Championship to 1969. The track itself has seen the changes of time on the riders, bikes, and culture. The track’s history is instrumental in many Hall of Famers backgrounds. James Stewart won his first 450 victory at the track back in 2006. The billy goat himself, Ricky Carmichael, also stamped his domination at the prehistoric track as the winningest rider to ever race the course.
While the track may be rooted on the 60’s, much of the history and interests of the track lays in the recent years. The track has been home to the opening round of the series this past 10 years, offering the ignition or the suppressant to many seasons for many riders. Recent three time supercross champion, Ryan Dungey has never won at the track. Although to be fair, in his diesel ways, he has taken second 2nd these past two consecutive seasons.
The 2016 season opener at Hangtown saw one of the greatest displays of domination as Ken Roczen dominated both motos, ultimately leading to his 450 Championship. The year before also saw utter domination by Eli Tomac aboard his ole’ red FCH 450. The first two motos of the season saw utter speed and unity between man and machine. Tomac went on to win both motos by a landslide giving him the momentum for a championship contending season. Sadly, this momentum would come to an abrupt stop, as he fell victim to treacherous ruts and sustained a season ending injury at Thunder Valley. This past supercross season has shown, that the young gun has smoothed his edges and is looking to put in a much more comfortable and safe ride aboard that green machine.
Tomac also set history at the season opener in 2006. That day Tomac, on his 250 would become the first rider to win his pro debut.
Whether it’s a local race of 300 or the national series, the first gate drop of the season brings jitters to every rider. Here, is where the public will see who is prepared and who is not. On top of all the uncertainty of a season opener, a champion has retired recently leaving everyone a contender. In a season with a quick Eli: who’s ready to keep the rubber down, and Ken Roczen: still off the bike due to his injury, anything can happen. In classes that are more stacked than an elderly man’s pancake plate at Ihop, the racing that will ensue on May 20th can only be described with one word: unpredictable, and crazy, and talented, and also indescribable.
As far as the Lite’s class is concerned, truly only one term can encompass the attitude of those two races, can’t call it. There is an influx of brand new talent like rookie sensations Sean Cantrell, Michael Mosiman, and many more. There are veterans of the class ready to chase consecutive championships, and there is hidden talent ready to surface.
So while plenty of history has already been made on the track, try not to act too surprised if history is made on the 2017 season opener.