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The Half-Century Hitters – MC & JS7 joined by ET3

At Lumen Field in Seattle, March 25th 2023, Eli Tomac became only the third rider in history to win his 50th AMA Supercross Main Event in the premier class. He levels with James Stewart for 2nd in the all-time list, with only the all-time King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, ahead of them with a mighty 72.

Just to compare the leading three in the all-time list, MX Vice breaks down their numbers to see how they got there.

Words: Ben Rumbold | Featured Image: Align Media

125cc/Lites/250F Career

Eli is the only one of the three to have raced a four-stroke before moving up to the premier class, and the only one to have just won the single coastal series on his way.  His second straight title was denied him by Ken Roczen in 2013. McGrath had an extra year to build things up, but like Tomac moved up full-time at the age of 21, with a handful of top-class appearances in the year before he did so. MC reached a best of 5th, whilst Tomac got up to 4th at a place he would come to break records – Daytona!

Stewart, in contrast, moved onto a 250 two-stroke – against a horde of 450 four-strokes – at the age of just 19 in 2005, without any wildcard entries before going full-time.

Win %age43%75%40%
Year 15 Races, 0 Wins (8th)9 Races, 4 Wins (2nd)10 Races, 2 Wins (2nd)
Year 29 Races, 1 Win (2nd)8 Races, 7 Wins (1st)10 Races, 5 Wins (1st)
Year 38 Races, 5 Wins (1st)7 Races, 7 Wins (1st)10 Races, 5 Wins (2nd)
Year 48 Races, 7 Wins (1st)
ChampsFerry ’97 (Roncada 2nd)Preston ’02Tickle ’11, Roczen ’13

The Road to 50

James Stewart was, as suspected, immediately fast on the big bikes, but suffered injuries which prevented him challenging for a title from the get-go. He did still win in his first season, at the 3rd attempt in 2005 ahead of title combatants Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed. The three of them would go bar-to-bar-to-bar for the title in 2006!

Jeremy McGrath shows the first sliver of light at the dawn of a new era – his era – with a fine showing at the Bercy Supercross of 1992. (Image: Jack Burnicle)

Eli had to wait until his second season to win his first race, but of course McGrath only had to wait until the third round of his first full season, technically his sixth 250cc start, to register his first win for the then-mighty Team Honda. He only took 12 more races to register his tenth, amazingly just like Stewart hitting double figures on just his 21st attempt. Eli again had to wait just that bit longer, as he has done throughout his career. Amazingly, Stewart got to wins #20 & #30 faster than McGrath did, but Showtime is the only one of the three to have won 10 in a row, in that incredible 1996 season where he won all but one of the 15 rounds, as close to unbeaten in as anyone has managed in a Supercross year. His best career streak ended at 13 races. Stewart’s best streak was 8 in a row from the end of 2007 into the first race of 2008, whilst Eli has twice hit five in a row, once in a losing cause against Ryan Dungey in 2017, and again in winning fashion for Yamaha in 2022.

1st Win9th Race, Anaheim ’933rd Race, Irving ’0515th Race, Phoenix ’15
10th Win21st Race, San Jose ’9321st Race, Seattle ’0658th Race, Indy ’17
20th Win38th Race, Orlando ’9534th Race, Indy ’0777th Race, Minn ’18 (TC)
30th Win52nd Race, Orlando ’9646th Race, A3 ’09104th Race, Tampa ’20
40th Win62nd Race, Tampa ’9665th Race, A2 ’11139th Race, Arlington. ’22 (TC)
50th Win90th Race, Daytona ’98115th Race, St Louis ’14159th Race, Seattle ’23
60th Win113th Race, Vegas ’99
70th Win129th Race, Vegas ’00

TC = Triple Crown

Career Progress

James Stewart, just like McGrath before him and Eli Tomac after him, moved to Yamaha and won a title immediately.(Image: Simon Cudby/Red Bull Content Pool)

As the table below shows, there were very few times in McGrath’s career that he didn’t win, only stopping when RC came through as Jeremy hit 30 years old. Stewart encountered RC at the end of his career, and very nearly took a title from him before gaining the crown with an emphatic 13-win season of 2007.

Tomac couldn’t crack the Austrian machines of Ryan Dungey, Jason Anderson, and Cooper Webb until the 7th year of his career, winning a lot of races but only finding title-winning consistency in 2019.  He hits 50 wins in his 10th season, just as Bubba did, but James had a lot of injuries and issues that prevented him even starting as many races as he should have done.  Jeremy hit 50 in just his 6th season, en route to his 5th title, before reaching his ultimate total of 72 in three more years.

McGrath’s career was certainly on a higher trajectory than those who joined him at the Half-Century bar, but it has to be said that the timing was in his favour. He arrived as Jean-Michel Bayle left the sport, and pretty much hastened the end of the careers of Damon Bradshaw and Jeff Stanton as his domination just shut the previous megastars out of the winner’s circle. From there, whilst Mike LaRocco and Mike Kiedrowski were great Outdoor Champions, Jeremy always had the measure of them indoors. You can argue that his competition wasn’t as great because he wouldn’t allow them to be, but you can’t argue that he had to deal with the multi-champs that both Stewart and Tomac had to contend with. The likes of Ryan Villopoto, Dungey, Webb, Reed and Carmichael would surely have made McGrath’s life tougher, but he did raise the bar and deserves to still sit so much higher, with almost 50% more wins than JS7 and ET3, after over twenty years of people trying to catch him.

Seasons10 (1992 raced 6 rounds)11 (2015 Suspended)10 (2013 raced 4 rounds)
Win %age45%41%31%
Year 116 Races, 10 Wins (1st) Kiedrowski 2nd with 2 Wins, 57 Pts Back6 Races, 3 Wins (10th) RC Champ, Stewart behind Preston in standings after injury9 Races, 0 Wins (13th) Villopoto Champ, Reed just behind Tomac after injury
Year 215 Races, 9 Wins (1st) LaRocco 2nd with 3 Wins, 48 Pts back16 Races, 8 Wins (2nd) RC Champ with 6 Wins, 2 Pts ahead of JS & CR tied!17 Races, 3 Wins (2nd) Dungey Champ with 8 Wins, ET 85 Pts back
Year 314 Races, 10 Wins (1st) L. Ward 2nd with 0 Wins, 50 Pts Back16 Races, 13 Wins (1st) Reed 2nd with 1 Win, 51 Pts back17 Races, 1 Win (4th) Dungey Champ with 9 wins, Roczen & Anderson ahead of ET
Year 415 Races, 14 Wins (1st) Emig 2nd with 1 Win, 132 Pts Back2 Races, 1 Win (23rd) Reed Champ with 9 Wins, Stew injured at Round 317 Races, 9 Wins (2nd) Dungey Champ with 3 Wins, ET 5 Pts Back
Year 515 Races, 2 Wins (2nd) Emig Champ with 5 Wins, MC 15 Pts Back17 Races, 11 Wins (1st) Reed 2nd with 3 Wins, 4 Pts back16 Races, 8 Wins (3rd) Anderson Champ with 4 Wins, Musquin 2nd
Year 616 Races, 7 Wins (1st), Lusk 2nd with 4 Wins, 51 Pts Back3 Races, 1 Win (20th) Dungey Champ with 6 Wins, Stew injured Round 417 Races, 6 Wins (2nd) Webb Champ with 7 Wins, ET 18 Pts Back
Year 716 Races, 8 Wins (1st) Lusk 2nd with 5 Wins, 83 Pts Back17 Races, 5 Wins (4th) Villopoto Champ with 6 Wins, Stewart 38 Pts Back17 Races, 7 Wins (1st) Webb 2nd with 4 Wins, 25 Pts Back
Year 816 Races, 10 Wins (1st) Vuillemin 2nd with 4 Wins, 35 Pts Back11 Races, 2 Wins (7th) Villopoto Champ with 9 Wins, Stew injured at Round 1117 Races, 3 Wins (3rd) Webb Champ with 8 Wins, Roczen 2nd
Year 916 Races, 2 Wins (2nd) RC Champ with 14 Wins, MC 64 Pts Back14 Races, 1 Win (10th) Villopoto Champ with 10 Wins, Stew injured Round 1517 Races, 7 Wins (1st) Anderson 2nd with 7 Wins, 9 Pts Back
Year 1016 Races, 0 Wins (3rd) RC Champ with 11 Wins, DV12 2nd17 Races, 5 Wins (4th) Villopoto Champ with 7 Wins, Stewart 96 Pts Back11 Races, 6 Wins (2nd) Win #50 at Rd 11
Year 114 Races, 0 Wins (32nd) Dungey Champ with 9 Wins


The three Half-Century Hitters are also among the very few to have won on three brands of machine, with MC’s domination on Honda proving to be the most lucrative. Both Eli & Bubba won the most in green, and in fact McGrath won his first ever 125cc Supercross on a Kawasaki too, and has returned to them as a magnificent brand ambassador.

In leaving the mighty team Honda and becoming the first rider ever to win Championships on two different brands, McGrath ended over a decade of the red team’s dominance of the sport. Only Carmichael has won a title for them since. Ricky is the only rider to have won titles on three different brands (Kawasaki, Honda, and Suzuki), whilst Stewart & Tomac are the only other men to have won titles on more than one brand.

Chad Reed remains the only rider to have won top-class Supercross Main Events on four different brands.

BikesHonda –  43 WinsKawasaki – 25 WinsHonda – 3 Wins
Suzuki – 2 WinsYamaha – 19 WinsKawasaki – 34 Wins
Yamaha –  27 WinsSuzuki – 6 WinsYamaha – 13 Wins