The following release is from AMA Pro Racing…
The year was 1980. Mike “Too Tall” Bell rode his factory Yamaha to victory in the inaugural San Diego Supercross over rivals Donnie Hansen and Marty Tripes in Jack Murphy Stadium. On Saturday, Feb. 19, the race will celebrate its 25th anniversary when the THQ AMA Supercross Series comes to the same San Diego venue now known as Qualcomm Stadium. This year’s event is round seven of the 16-race series and is the final of five AMA Supercross races held in California this season.
While Bell, Hansen and Tripes are now all enshrined in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, a new generation of riders featuring names such as Ricky Carmichael, Chad Reed and Kevin Windham will take to the track this weekend in San Diego.
Carmichael, the Floridian veteran who rides for Team Makita Suzuki, has won five of the six rounds coming into San Diego and enjoys a 32-point lead over two-time San Diego winner Chad Reed. A three-time AMA Supercross champ, Carmichael is off to his best start ever in the series. The 25-year-old Carmichael is smack dab in the prime of his career and it’s showing. His ride last weekend in Indianapolis was one of the most dominating of the season.
“My confidence is at an all-time high,” Carmichael said after his victory in the RCA Dome. “Everything is going in my direction. I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to get better as a rider every season and so far I’m happy with the results. I seem to be adapting well to different track conditions this year. I’ve got a point to prove this year and I can’t afford to become complacent.”
Carmichael looks unbeatable right now and if he continues to win out the rest of the season he has the opportunity to break the all-time single season AMA Supercross Series wins record. He and the legendary Jeremy McGrath share the current record of 14 wins in a season.
Carmichael is hoping to earn his first San Diego Supercross win in four years and to give Suzuki its first ever San Diego Supercross victory.
Reed comes into San Diego hoping to win his third straight at Qualcomm. Even more important than another victory in San Diego, a win for the defending champ could give the Aussie hope of catching Carmichael. In 2003 Reed went on a six-race winning streak in the second half of the season and pushed the race for the title to the final round. He hasn’t yet given up hope of a similar rally this year.
“I’ve got to stay strong and improve my game,” Reed said. “I rode a good race in Indianapolis, but Ricky’s riding better right now. I’m just going to work harder and if I do good things will happen. My team is working hard and now I need to uphold my part of the bargain.”
Factory Connection Honda’s Kevin Windham took back third in the series standings from Hoosier Mike LaRocco by finishing third in Indianapolis. He is riding despite suffering nagging injuries in the previous rounds. Windham hopes to continue getting healthy so he can move up to challenge Carmichael as well.
Jeremy McGrath, a San Diego area resident, is tentatively slated to race this weekend. McGrath is making a part-time return to supercross after retiring two years ago. He’s shown good speed in his comeback taking two top-10 finishes in his four races with Honda this year. A crash in Anaheim two weeks ago left McGrath with cracked ribs yet he is hoping to be healthy enough to ride Saturday.
Another rider to watch for in San Diego is Yamaha’s David Vuillemin. The Frenchman is a two-time AMA Supercross winner at Qualcomm, earning victories there in 2002 and 2000.
The AMA 125 West Supercross Series will run in San Diego. There have been four winners in the hotly contested series. It’s round six of the eight-race championship and defending 125 West title holder and San Diego winner Ivan Tedesco leads the way with two victories and a 29-point lead. If Tedesco wins Saturday on his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki he would join a select few riders who have managed to take two straight wins in the 125 event at San Diego. In the history of the race only James Stewart and Jeremy McGrath have managed that feat.
San Diego Supercross fans will get a chance to see themselves on TV the next day when the races will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 starting at Noon EST on Sunday, Feb. 20.
Gates at Qualcomm open at 12:30 pm and the opening ceremonies kick off at 7:00 pm. Tickets are available at the Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, all participating Yamaha dealers or charge by phone at 619-220-8497.