Courtesy of RacerX

May 8, 2017 4:30pm

by Jason Weigandt

Back in 2006, the AMA Supercross Championship was coming down to the wire, and things were tense. James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, and Chad Reed were playing mind games with every word, mining and measuring every quote for slights and confidence. Eventually, all the mechanisms ground to a halt, and they stopped saying anything decent in the press conferences. But the supercross promoters still wanted the announcers to have good info, so one week they brought Carmichael, Stewart, and Reed into a room and then brought in the announcers—Ralph Sheheen and Denny Stephenson from TV, and myself and Jim Holley from the Supercross Live! webcast—and told us all to just have a conversation. No recorders, no cameras, just talk and see what you can learn.

Ralph asked them the obvious question, which was, “How much would winning this supercross championship mean to you?”

Apparently, it wouldn’t mean much.

Carmichael said he’s won a ton in his career and didn’t need this one for validation, plus his bike broke at St. Louis so he wasn’t going to lose sleep if he lost a title because of that. Stewart said he was injured for a lot of the previous season, so this was almost like his rookie year, and winning a title would just be a bonus. He also said he was only 20 years old, guys like Ricky and Jeremy McGrath didn’t get a SX title until they were 21. Reed said he had hurt his shoulder before Daytona and thought his season would be over right there. Winning the title, again, would be a nice bonus, that’s all.

Ralph, I’m pretty sure, was in shock that these three dudes could just write off the most prestigious championship in their sport as merely “a nice bonus.” Wasn’t it supposed to mean everything to them?

Well, of course it meant everything to them, but the conversation was just a continuation of the mind games. None of the three wanted to look vulnerable. They didn’t want to look like they were under too much pressure. What if Carmichael said this was the most important thing ever, and he got beat? That would be terrible. So they all shrugged off the importance of the most important thing.

That sucked. There are people like us, media members or announcers, trying to explain to the world how prestigious this championship is, how hard everyone works to get it, and how badly they want it. We know this is not a hobby, it’s a way of life. The effort required to win and the pressure that comes with it leads riders into premature retirement. It’s that hard. Winning a supercross championship is everything for these guys.

This is why I have no problem with any of the things that unfolded over the last few weeks of Monster Energy Supercross this year. Yeah, Marvin Musquin moved over for Ryan Dungey. Yeah, Zach Osborne took Joey Savatgy down in the 250 finale. Yeah, Eli Tomac slowed down Dungey and tried to stack the pack behind them, and then bumped Dungey in hopes someone would pass him. Yes, these moves are going to be debated and most will answer based on party lines—if you’re a Dunge guy, you think Eli played dirty, and if you’re an Eli guy, you think KTM fixed the race last week.

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RacerX 2017 Las Vegas Supercross Exhaust