As the 2009 AMA Arenacross Series continues its march throughout the country, its competitors are beginning to hit their grooves as the schedule approaches halfway. Mahindra Tractors/Tuf Honda’s Jeff Gibson holds a comfortable 47-point lead over his competitors as the series makes its second stop at the famed Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. on January 31-February 1.
With the series making its lone visit to North Carolina, there are four riders excited for the opportunity to return to their home state. The Foremost Insurance Suzuki team, led by team owner and rider Jim Neese, of Julian, N.C., along with Josh Thomas, of Climax, N.C., and Michael McDade, of Raleigh, N.C., join Makson Construction Suzuki’s Tyler Bright, of Lexington, N.C., as competitors that hail from the Tar Heel State.
Neese is the elder statesman on the tour. At 35 years old, he is arguably the most experienced rider on the track and is also known to be one of the best teachers in the sport. With his Jim Neese Racing team, the series’ oldest rider takes the opportunity to give local North Carolina riders a chance to compete at the top level of Arenacross, mentoring them in hopes of building a solid future in the sport.
Through seven races, the Foremost Insurance Suzuki team has had its ups and downs. Neese currently sits 12th in the AMA Arenacross class standings and has garnered a season-best finish of sixth at the Grand Rapids round.
At just 19 years old, Thomas continues to gain experience on the intimate layouts and is beginning to come into his own, boasting a trio of top-10 finishes in the past three races, including a season-best runner-up finish last weekend in Louisville. He sits ninth in the AMA Arenacross Lites Eastern Division standings.
Overall, McDade has had the best results in the stable and has put in consistent runs in both the AMA Arenacross and AMA Arenacross Lites classes. After rounding out the podium in the Lites class at the opening round in Grand Rapids, the 21-year old achieved a career-best second place run in Dayton after stepping up into the premier class for the evening. He holds the seventh spot in the AMA Arenacross Lites Eastern Division standings and 15th in the AMA Arenacross class.
Privateer competitor Bright has made the transition into running his own team for 2009. With the distinction of being one of the youngest riders in the series at just 18 years of age, that is a significant task for Bright to undertake.
“It’s actually been a lot easier to run my own team than I thought it was going to be,” said Bright. “It’s been going real smooth and I got some good sponsors helping me out this year.”
With help from Makson Construction, he is running the full 11-round season. After garnering a win in the AMA Arenacross Lites class last weekend in Louisville, the defending Lites Eastern Division champion is hoping his season turns around.
“It felt really good to win again,” he added. “Last weekend I was able to put in some consistent rides and I hope that consistency will keep up for the rest of the season.”
With a hometown crowd full of family and friends, each of these riders will undoubtedly be looking to make an impression and leave Greensboro on a positive note.
Originally built in 1959, the Greensboro Coliseum was originally known as the War Memorial Coliseum, playing host to the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons NCAA basketball team. Throughout the years, the venue has served as the home for several sports teams including a pair of arena football organizations, but most notably the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL from 1997-1999. It also was the permanent home for the ACC Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament for many years and even hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 1974.
The Coliseum can seat as many as 23,500 spectators, making it the largest arena in North Carolina with a 30% larger capacity than the Time Warner Cable Arena and 10% larger capacity than the Dean Smith Center on the University of North Carolina campus. No stranger to racing, the Coliseum hosted the 1st Annual King of the Concrete indoor go-kart race in 2004.
Prior to Saturday night’s race, Neese, McDade, Thomas, and Bright, along with their competitors Michael Willard and Brock Sellards, will be signing autographs at SRS Powersports in Greensboro, N.C. The appearance is scheduled from 3-6 p.m. on Friday, January 30.
The first gates drop on the Greensboro Arenacross on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Amateur Day concludes an exciting weekend of action on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Gold Circle level seats are just $20, while Super Value seats are only $10. All seats are $2 more on the day of the show. Receive a $3 discount on Gold Circle seats and $2 on Super Value tickets with a coupon from Wendy’s.