Let me preface this by saying that the ultimate bummer as race fans is that motocross is a dangerous sport and the greatest tragedy in the sport is the numerous career-ending injuries that have robbed fans and the sport as a whole. Donnie Hansen, David Bailey Ernesto Fonseca and Rick Johnson just to name a few but the list is far too long.
With that said, I came up with five times I felt we, as fans, got ripped off. Enjoy!
We never got to see James Stewart at MXDN on a 125
It just never happened. James Stewart’s 125 career lasted just three summers from 2002 to 2004. After that, James spent the rest of his career in the premiere class. In 2002 the USA bowed out after the event at Competition Park in California was canceled. So, we missed out on watching the fastest rookie on the planet. In 2003, after winning every moto following recovery from a broken collarbone, Ryan Hughes was brought to the MXoN. Either Stewart passed on the invite or there were some serious politics going on because with all due respect to Ryno, Stewart was the best 125 rider in the world in 2003. 2004 rolls around and USA once again does not send a team effectively ending any opportunity to see James Stewart faceoff against all the world’s best aboard a Chevy Trucks KX 125.
Travis Pastrana’s 250 racing career
Stick with me on this. Twenty-two total events in the premiere class spread out over five total seasons. As awesome as Travis was in those events with flashes of brilliance and even a few attempted backflips. Travis left race fans forever wanting more. Nitro Circus, X Games and Rally Car aside, the hardcore race fan ended up frustrated. One can only speculate what a championship fight between Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Travis Pastrana and Chad Reed may have looked like. At the end of the day, if you kept your eye on everything dirt bikes, you got your fill of TP199 but from a racing fan’s perspective, all we can do is wonder.
Every mud race ever…
Before you swear off all things Vurbmoto for this take, I am not saying mud races do not produce memorable moments. Millville 2006, High Point 1997, Anaheim 1 2005 and yes, who can forget when Chad Reed’s bike quit with three corners to go in Daytona 2008. Great memories of bad races. Watch back any of those races and 99% of them are like watching paint dry. Passing is rare, speeds are mediocre and aside from saying “how do they ride in this stuff” mud races are a novelty for a few corners but in the end, mud races rob the fans of a potentially great race. Makes for a few cool photos though.
Ricky Carmicheal, Ryan Villopoto, Mike Kiedrowski, Ryan Dungey, Jeff Stanton, Mark Barnett, and many others. Motocross may be a young man’s game, but we have had some legends hang up the boots way too early. Imagine Ricky Carmicheal squaring off with Ryan Villopoto on 450s or RV battling tooth and nail outdoors with Eli Tomac. So many storylines could have unfolded leaving us to bench race and speculate about what could have been.
Ok, I might sound like an old man yelling at clouds, but four-strokes have hurt racing no matter how you slice it. Thumpers have made racing more start dependent for the simple fact that they are easier to ride and all the things that make two-strokes hard to ride are the things that make racing on two-strokes more entertaining. To race a two-stroke fast, you must be perfect. One simple mistake can mean seconds per lap. From the style by which the bikes are ridden to the sound and smell of a two-stroke, motocross fans have been robbed in the last 20 years. Every fan should know the sound of forty 125s or 250s held wide open before the gate drops and if you have not experienced that on a regular basis then I am sorry to hear that. Ask anyone who was lucky enough to go to the nationals in the ‘70s,’ 80s and 90s. The sound and smell of two-stroke factory bikes are unlike anything else. Attending a race in 2023 is still awesome but the industry wide switch to four-strokes has hurt racing and driven up the cost of bikes in general.
Main image: MXGP