This weekend is a huge one for motorsports in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series holding its series finale in Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night. However, on Friday night, across town at the Orleans Arena, the 2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship gets underway with the opening round of its nine-round series, and this year’s field is one of the most competitive ever.
Here’s a breakdown on who-to-watch when the Pro class hits the stadium floor. From pre-season favorite factory teams and riders to the independent racers ready to prove their place. This is AMA EnduroCross’ hot list.
Taddy Blazusiak, KTM Factory Racing
Going into a season as the favorite is nothing new for Taddy Blazusiak. Simply put, there is no one more dominant in EnduroCross competition. Taddy, as he’s known throughout the world, has won five consecutive AMA EnduroCross Championships. Five, it seems, is his lucky number. On top of the AMA series, he’s won five consecutive SuperEnduro World Championships (European indoor enduro series).
He’s also won the notoriously difficult Red Bull Hare Scramble at Erzberg in Austria five times.
This is all very impressive but what’s truly staggering about Taddy’s dominance is his win count. Since his first race in 2007 (which he won), Taddy has amassed a whopping 28 AMA EnduroCross main event wins. This is where his domination shows. The next closest competitors have three.
The biggest news for 2014 with Taddy is he’s signed for two more years to the KTM Factory Racing team. It looks like he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
Mike Brown, Bel-Ray / FMF / Moose Racing Husqvarna Factory Racing
If there’s one racer you can count on to be prepared and up front, it’s Husqvarna’s EnduroCross specialist Mike Brown. The former WORCS champion, X Games gold medalist and 125cc Motocross Champion came out swinging hard in 2013—posting back-to-back wins at the first two rounds. His momentum continued until the final round where he missed his first EnduroCross championship by merely four points.
For 2014, Brown comes into the AMA EnduroCross season with a new team, a new bike and plenty of grit and determination. If you want a fighter to cheer for, Brown is your man. And at 42 years old, he’s the definition of gnarly.
Cody Webb, Factory Beta / GEICO / Stillwell Performance
Factory Beta racer Cody Webb took his Stillwell Performance-tuned race bike to the top of the EnduroCross podium more than anyone last year—including Taddy Blazusiak. His three wins put him in rare company and, it seems his momentum is only getting stronger. Those who follow the sport regularly say Webb has clearly picked up his speed game. As a trials specialist (he’s the 2010 National Trial Champion), Webb has always mastered the most difficult terrain with ease. If he continues to increase his race-winning intensity like he did last year, the competition will surely take notice.
Two-stroke fans unite! Cody Webb rocks the pre-mixer (most of the time) and uses it well.
Colton Haaker, Lucas Oil/Rockstar/Fly Racing/JCR Honda
One of the most talented motorcyclists competing today, Colton Haaker has taken a championship-winning trials background and combined it with national-caliber motocross speed to become a powerful force on the EnduroCross track. In 2012, Haaker won his first (and only) main event win. In 2013, he teamed up with the JCR Honda squad and finished fourth in the championship series. He has no trouble putting down the fastest of laps (as you can see during the intense hot-lap segment of the EnduroCross show) and with the full support of a national race team and sponsors once again, we expect to see him with more race wins before the 2014 AMA EnduroCross season is finished.
Haaker boasts one of the toughest EnduroCross practice tracks you’ll ever see at his home in Perris, Ca. Look for him and his 450 to get good starts and put down fast laps.
Taylor Robert, Factory FMF / KTM Off-Road Racing Team
The powerhouse off-road efforts of the U.S.-based FMF/KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team centers on a new rider for 2014’s EnduroCross campaign: Taylor Robert. The 2012 WORCS champion, 2012 and 2013 ISDE Top American, X Games Gold Medalist, and Baja 1000 runner-up team member finished 5th in the AMA EnduroCross series in 2013.
Signing with the Factory FMF/KTM Off-Road Racing Team in the off-season has put him in a prime position to battle for wins and the championship. And his fearless riding style and almost limitless potential to be on top should have him in serious contention.
Kyle Redmond, CYCLENANO / Everrev / FMF / Kenda
Kyle Redmond is an extreme enduro specialist and a regular on the EnduroCross circuit since 2007, earning multiple podiums and showing on-the-bike skills that put him in the Top American spot at the notorious Red Bull Hare Scrambles at Erzberg the first time he tried it. A likeable privateer with support from a group of loyal sponsors and family, Redmond shares Haaker’s mindset that an EnduroCross track at home is the best way to prepare and his, like his approach to 2014, is all-new.
Redmond finished 2013 on a high note, nabbing the third-place position on the main event podium at the final round. He’s also a two-stroke pilot so enjoy the sound of his highly-tuned KTM in 2014!
Cory Graffunder, Troy Lee Designs / Rekluse / Fasst / Sidi / DirtTricks / 509 / AME / Hammer Nutrition / Kenda / Silkolene / Cv4 / TMdesigns
Cory Graffunder finished second at the final round of the 2013 AMA EnduroCross season in Las Vegas. It definitely wasn’t his only trip to the podium as the talented extreme enduro competitor from Canada is always in contention for a top-three finish and consistently makes main events. In the wild, unpredictable world of EnduroCross, Graffunder looks to hammer out consistent finishes for his solid list of privateer-supporting sponsors. On new bikes and with plenty of momentum, look for Graffunder to show up big in 2014.
Geoff Aaron, Team ERE / KTM / Red Bull
This ten-time National Trials Champion is on the extremely short list of multiple EnduroCross main event winners. His technical skills are unmatched and his smooth speed ensures he’s on the podium often. He’s also one of the few racers who’s competed in every year of EnduroCross racing ever held in the U.S. including the inaugural event in 2004! An almost mistake-free competitor, Aaron looks to move his 8th overall position from 2013 back into the top three where he’s spent most of his career.
Destry Abbott, DA8 Training / Monster Energy Kawasaki
Destry Abbott might be the most consistent EnduroCross racer of all time. The off-road racing veteran (he’s a five-time AMA National Hare and Hound Champion) can do it all. From wide-open across the desert to the ultimate technical terrain of the EnduroCross circuit and the X Games, Abbott truly defines a champion. His off-the-track demeanor and professionalism make him a great role model for young racers and fans and, let’s be honest, he’s a fan-favorite! Apparently, racing professionally for over 20 years gives you some serious credibility.
Look for Destry and his DA8training.com prepped riders to make main events often and battle for the podium. Plus, if you’re in the local area, look for Destry on local TV handling the PR-riding duties for most of the stops.
While there are clear favorites to win and finish in the top spots at every EnduroCross round, the unpredictability and chaos of the racing action is too great to count anyone out. For 2014, racers like Gary Sutherlin (undefeated in WORCS racing competition so far in 2014), Max Gerston (former EX Pro Junior Champion), Bryan Roper (Defending EX Pro Junior Champion), Ricky Dietrich (2008 EX Pro Champion) and Ty Tremaine (up-and-coming talented Pro-class racer) enter the series with more experience, momentum and drive than ever. The EX Pro Class Top 10 preview has to include them all and, honestly, anyone that makes it to the main event starting gate. That’s what makes EnduroCross the “Toughest Racing on Two Wheels”.
The Lucas Oil Productions team will again be producing one hour shows for the eight AMA EnduroCross events that will air on MAVtv. Check out www.MAVtv.com for more information.
Las Vegas will host the opening round of EnduroCross on Friday, May 2, during the Monster Energy Supercross finals weekend. Atlanta, Georgia and Salt Lake City, Utah will host first ever EnduroCross events in 2014 and the X Games Enduro X event in Austin, Texas, also will be included as a points-paying event for the GEICO AMA EnduroCross championship. The traditional EnduroCross finals in November will now be held Nov. 22 in Ontario, California.
Tickets are on sale now at www.EnduroCross.com/buy-tickets/
If you can’t be there in person, use the FMF Live Timing & Scoring to keep up with the action: http://endurocross.escoremx.com/liveresults.asp
2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross, fueled by Monster Energy Schedule
May 2, 2014 - Las Vegas, Nevada. Orleans Arena (Friday Night)
June 6, 2014 - Austin, Texas. X Games, Circuit of the America's
June 21, 2014 - Sacramento, California. Sleep Train Arena
August 23, 2014 - Atlanta, Georgia. Gwinnett Center
October 4, 2014 - Denver, Colorado. National Western Complex
October 11, 2014 - Salt Lake City, Utah. Energy Solutions Arena
October 18, 2014 - Everett, Washington. Comcast Arena
November 15, 2014 - Boise, Idaho. Ford Idaho Center
November 22, 2014 - Ontario, California. Citizens Business Bank Arena
For more information, please visit www.EnduroCross.com