The Anaheim stadium is synonymous with supercross. The famous location hosts three rounds of the championship including the most hyped race of the year – the first round.
Driving along the freeway and you get you’re first tantalising glimpse the home of supercross and the Anaheim Angels baseball team. You can see right into the stands of the stadium as well as the Big “A” as you approach and it really adds to the anticipation when you see it for the first time.
Two giant red baseball hats greet you at the entrance before you go in, in what has become an iconic image for the stadium and provides the perfect backdrop for your first photo opportunity.
If you ever go to a supercross make sure you go to practice too. The riders get one free practice and two timed qualifying sessions. It allows you to see the riders all day as practice runs from half 12 until 5pm. As an added bonus you are allowed to sit wherever you want in the stadium during practice.
This means you can check different sections of the track out or even see some of the riders walk past you as they sit in the stands to check out how the track is shaping up before their session goes out.
The track seems smaller in real life than it does on TV, each lane is surprisingly narrow but the track itself was pretty busy with the riders not getting much of a break.
During practice it was immediately apparent that the whoops section before the triple was going to be tough. It seemed that during nearly every lap in the C practice someone would crash trying to go through them fast or stall trying to go through them slow.
Wil Hahn got caught out big time in the 450 A practice and he went head over heels in first practice. It was a big crash that Hahn was lucky to get away from.
In the first 250 practice Dean Wilson raced the first couple of laps together with Jason Anderson as they sized each other up and put a couple of block passes in. With each session lasting only 10 minutes there was no time to waste and it was almost like a race start as all the riders flew into the first corner together.
One rider in the B practice was too keen and actually ended straight out of the first turn in his timed qualification. He was out for the session and showed the danger of going too fast too soon.
The afternoon goes quickly between walking about the pits and watching practice. The riders also had an autograph session halfway through the day in addition to their practices. From track walk in the morning to the main event it is pretty much a 12 hour day for the riders.
The riders had to wait for the mechanics coming off the track before the disappeared down the tunnel. Most riders waited for the mechanic to run down but some riders like Jake Weimar rode up the mechanics section to save the mechanic walking. Justin Barcia just rode straight through and didn’t wait on his mechanic at all after the heat race when he didn’t qualify!
The opening ceremonies are one of the best parts of the night. The usual American patriotism is there and it is easy to get sucked in as they stand up for their troops and play the National anthem.
The fireworks are huge as they introduce the top ten riders in the championship with the leading riders getting a small video. There are lasers too but there is no word if Jeff Alessi was behind them or not.
The heat races produce the usual excitement and the crowd really get into it, standing up on the first lap before settling down for the remaining five laps.
Unfortunately for Michael Leib his night ended early in the heat race after a big crash in the aforementioned whoops. It was a shame for Leib who had been riding really well.
Jason Anderson had the crowd into it when he almost ran down Malcolm Stewart in his heat but Stewart held on for the win. Then big brother James won his 450 heat race, surviving a Mike Alessi punt attempt to create some family history. It prompted a stadium interview with Big James Stewart who was suitably proud of his boys.
The addition of the semi races help the night flow as it means there is very little downtime through-out the entire night. Mike Alessi should have won his semi but made too many mistakes at the end and that allowed Justin Barcia to take a come from behind victory. Jimmy Alberston held off some big names to take the other semi win.
After the LCQs it was onto the two main events.
This was the business end of the evening and it was hard to know where to watch! Between watching Seely and Wilson out front and the Anderson/ Stewart battles you had to look carefully to see Cooper Webb ride another sure and steady race to third.
The intensity of the 250s around the track is impressive. The leaders are on it and there is no rest, it is an impressive sight to see. Ultimately it was Dean Wilson who took the win after Seely fell. The crowd seemed happy to see Wilson get the win.
The 450 main was fantastic and the crowd stood up throughout the entire main event. With the top six riders the top six in the race, all eyes were on them. The crowd gasped when Stewart went down and again when Dungey hit the deck. But Dungey was on the gas and was stuck behind Stewart for a long time, probably too long then was in a rush to catch RV when it all went wrong in the whoops.
It was then a matter of trying to keep your eye on Dungey trying to re-start, watch the leaders and check out where Stewart was once he got up off the ground! It’s no easy task watching a supercross, there is just so much going on at once!
Before the crash Stewart was doing the quad before the long set of whoops then Dungey picked up on it too. Ryan Dungey’s DNF was not reflective of how well he was riding.
The biggest shock was seeing both RV and Stewart not really going anywhere, and having to look in the rear view mirrors. Reed and Roczen made fewer mistakes and were very smooth and precise on the slippery track.
Roczen put it up the inside of Reed before the triple but didn’t touch him and Reed held on riding pretty much a perfect race. That was as close as Roczen got but both riders eventually dropped RV showing just how fast they were going. But the track seemed to reward a slow down to go faster approach.
Reed was getting the biggest cheers all night and when he won it went to another level. The Aussie might just be the most popular rider in the series right now. Both Reed and Roczen did a victory lap to the cheers of the crowd and both were happy with themselves and each other for the battle they had.
Back in the pits after the event and the teams waste no time tearing down the awnings as the riders who didn’t do so well make a quick escape. Other riders can be seen chatting to their team about the night and are at ease when approached for an interview but everyone isn’t too keen on hanging about especially as it is pretty cold by 11pm and they have been on the go for over 12 hours.
Chad Reed was the exception and he showed no sign of leaving as he chatted to everyone at his pits posing for photos with fans and chatting to the media longer than was necessary. Reed was happy with his nights work and nothing was too much trouble for him.
So there you have it, a quick review of what went on at the Anaheim supercross – if you haven’t been, make sure you do! It’s an experience every motocross fan should have at least once!
Words and Picture: Jonathan McCready