Arenacross kicked off in Grand Rapids, MI and the season is shaping up to be another action-packed series.
The 2009 AMA Arenacross Series season started with a bang last weekend at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. with some of the most exciting racing in series history. Over the course of two nights of action, four different winners claimed the first place trophy in both the AMA Arenacross and AMA Arenacross Lites classes.
Preseason favorites Chad Johnson, Josh Demuth, Brock Sellards, and Kelly Smith all experienced their fair share of difficulties and were ultimately unable to start the season the each had hoped for. In the end, Keith Johnson and first-time winner Nathan Skaggs stole the spotlight and headlines for the weekend after equally impressive performances.
In the first round of the AMA Arenacross Lites Midwestern Division championship, Codi Adams and Willy Browning beat out a talented field of riders to grab victories on Friday and Saturday night, respectively.
With their wins on Saturday, Skaggs and Browning made it a clean sweep for Spinechillers/Storm Lake Honda team.
As one of the smallest teams in the series, the success achieved on Saturday night inside Van Andel Arena was the crowning moment of nearly a decade of blood, sweat, and tears from team manager Dallas Avery.
“I can’t put what that night meant into words really. It’s the greatest feeling I ever could have imagined. The amount of hard work we’ve put in finally paid off and it was probably the biggest accomplishment ever in (my) life. It’s kind of hard to describe.”
Based out of Ohio, the Spinechillers team has essentially been a competitor in the sport thanks to the dedication of Avery, who also has is own construction company. Getting the idea for a team name from the “left-handed spinechiller supreme” dunk by NBA legend Darryl Dawkins, he runs his operation out of the love he has for motorcycles and the desire to give young, talented Ohio riders a chance to compete at the top level, this is truly an underdog operation. Avery and his riders live the unglamorous privateer lifestyle but have arguably the strongest drive to succeed in the pits simply due to their passion.
“Nathan (Skaggs) and I have worked together for a while. When we initially started, we went straight into supercross. But the expense that goes into that is a lot and it became really difficult to show how good Nathan really was. It went from being a chance to get Nathan a shot at a bigger ride to building into something we began doing ourselves.”
As the team made its transition into the AMA Arenacross Series, the work ethic of Avery and his riders began to pay off with competitive results and great sponsorship support, which in the end is what makes or breaks a team. This season, Spinchillers receives its support from Williams Motor Works, Storm Lake Honda, Suzuki City, Yoshimura, Dunlop, CP Pistons, Hot Cams, DVG Graphics, Wiseco, RG3, Engine Ice, and several others, many of which came on board with the help of MX Connections.
Gaining experience last season with the team’s other rider Zach Ames, Avery reached out to his longtime friend and rider Skaggs to join the arenacross program. The team also added Browning, who maintains his strong ties with American Suzuki despite being a part of a Honda-backed team.
“We’ve received good support from Honda and it kind of worked out with Willy in that he needed some help in the motor area and we were able to provide that. It just kind of happened and we’re happy.”
With the trio of riders being from Ohio, they all complement each other and get along well. Competing against one another on the local scene for many years, they are familiar with each other and undoubtedly bring out the best in one another on the competition side.
“The long term relationships they have established from racing as kids really allows them to trust each other and it translates out on the track.”
With so much success and the momentum that comes with that leading into Baltimore, Avery’s goal for the championship is simple.
“We’ve set out to win the thing. Bottom line, we feel that with the help we have received and what we’ve rounded up, if we show up to the race, we have a chance.”
This weekend, the intimate and exciting action of the AMA Arenacross Series will be showcased at 1st Mariner Arena, the largest indoor sports and entertainment facility in Baltimore. Opened in 1962, it served as the Civic Center before becoming the Baltimore Arena, which was the official title until 1st Mariner Bank garnered sponsorship rights in 2003.
Hosting the Baltimore Clippers and Paul Anka with its grand opening, the list of performers that have graced the arena include Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Frank Sinatra. 1st Mariner Arena serves as home to the Baltimore Blast MISL soccer team and Baltimore Mariners AIFA football team but is regularly host to Ringling Bros., Disney on Ice, the WWE, and Monster Jam.
There are 11,000 permanent seats inside the arena, but as many as 14,000 can be in attendance when using its spacious floor, which will be covered with tons of dirt and tens of the most competitive arenacross riders in the world this weekend.
The first gates drop on the Baltimore Arenacross Friday, January 9 beginning at 7:30 p.m. The action continues Saturday night from 1st Mariner Arena at 7:30 p.m. for night two, followed by Amateur Day on Sunday, beginning at 12 noon.
All Gold Circle Level seats cost just $20. Mid-level seats are $18 for adults and $8 for kids, ages 2-12. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race. Purchase at 1st Mariner Arena Box Office and Ticketmaster charge by phone at 800-551-SEAT.