The Eli Question

In the annals of supercross and motocross history, there has never been a champion like Eli Tomac. This little barb scratched me last weekend while watching the Thunder Valley National in Colorado. I’ve been on this one for a few years, however throughout the summer as I watched ET post 6-7, 5-8, and 3-9 moto scores I just couldn’t take it anymore.

The breaking point came last Saturday when he blasted the field in the second moto by 10-plus seconds. Even more, he pulled up a little over halfway through the second moto to adjust his clutch or whatever. AC and Zach closed to his fender while he was adjusting his hydraulic clutch which to my knowledge are not adjustable. Whatever it meant, he just went and yanked them 10-plus by the checkered flag. The two riders that have dominated the whole summer. Yes, it was his home track. Yes, he is the three-time defending 450 Pro Motocross champion, and yes, he is the newly crowned Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion. But where was that at all summer? The mesmerizing fact is, that has been the status quo for Mr. Tomac his entire 450 career. 

Grab a piece of this and taste it: Eli Tomac owns 34 450SX wins. That’s seventh on the all-time win list. By that nomenclature one would think he would have more than a single unicorn on his mantle. Jeff Stanton is 13th on the all-time list and has three premier class titles. Damon Bradshaw won in the big boy class 19 times and has none. Where am I going with this? Nobody in the sport’s history, including the aforementioned, have ever done it like ET3. He can win 4-5 in a row, then throw down P8 like a boss at any time. If that isn’t mind scrambling, what is?

Let’s go back to 2017. Eli had the title firmly in his kung fu grip. He had dusted Ryan Dungey at will and was moon walking toward the championship and the Team Green brass in Japan were already ordering the champagne. His reverse “#1 jerseys” were ready at Alpinestars heat press ready to put adhesive to polyester. What happens? Eli takes his nice, sweet comfy point lead and straight up throws down P8. He cased the double on the triple, stalled his bike and looked like he was having a seizure. That isn’t funny to say. But it wasn’t funny. At all. Put the champagne back in the cooler, turn off the heat press for now. It would all come down to Vegas finals. 

And it did.

To my point. On this Saturday night in supercross history, which may have been one of the most electrifying of all-time…but, I digress. Ahem, anyways Eli makes his way to the lead rather easily on the hard-packed desert dirt and maybe tries to take Dungey out on the way by. Then, my friends, then he did something I’ve only seen one other racer (JS7/Reed Unadilla 2002) in motocross history do. Eli SLOWED DOWN and let Dungey climb to his rear wheel. The indescribable mess that followed included letting would be winner Jason Anderson go by and even teammate Josh Grant to enter the mix. Not to get lost in the weeds, the point is, Eli could do whatever he wanted with the best in the world like they were toys. He’s that powerful and fast. Yes, one week removed from riding like a guy that had drank 37 beers the night before at East Rutherford. 

Not to detract from his greatness. Listen, Linda. LISTEN. At the 2017 MXGP at WW Ranch in Florida the world brought their best to our soil. Including, who I consider the fastest motocross racer in the last decade—or maybe ever—Jeffrey Herlings. Welp, ET3 hung 20-plus on them in the first moto. Including Herlings. 

Just watching Tomac last weekend shows what he truly is. Weird? Maybe. The ability to destroy everyone when whatever is going on upstairs claps right? 100 percent. 

Main image: Octopi Media / Instagram: Octopi Media 

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Written by Andy Bowyer

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