Beautiful Florida sunshine greeted nearly 800 riders at historical Daytona International Speedway for the 3rd Annual Monster Energy Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross on Sunday and Monday afternoons. While rain drenched Saturday's Daytona Supercross By Honda, tireless work by the Daytona International Speedway and MX Sports crews-and even Ricky Carmichael himself-helped transform the super speedway's infield into a perfect playground for dirt bikes. Amateur, youth and vet riders from around the country were treated to a genuine supercross experience through the two-day format of heat races and main event.
Not only is the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross an unprecedented opportunity for non-pro riders to compete on a genuine supercross track, it's a rare chance to see one of sport's true legends associate his name and brand to such a unique event. Carmichael, the 15-time AMA Motocross and Supercross Champion, puts as much passion and enthusiasm into this race as he did when he was actually competing. Not only did Carmichael design the racecourse, he participated in the press day activities and then jumped out into AMA Supercross practice on Saturday afternoon wearing a GoPro camera on his helmet for the SPEED TV crew. Later on Saturday night he was the guest color commentator on SPEED's live TV broadcast, and then was seen in the late hours of the evening planning tweaks and changes for the amateurs alongside an expert track crew that included top course builders Don Flaner, Glenn Bates and Mark "Bomber" Barnett-himself a part AMA Supercross Champion.
"Daytona has always been a special place for me and my family, and to help others build their own memories here like we had has always been a goal of mine," said Carmichael, who was born and raised in Florida and won the Daytona Supercross By Honda a record five times as a competitor before retiring from professional motorcycle racing. "To have the chance to not only plan out an event of this magnitude, but also roll up my sleeves and get out there and work on the track and talk with young riders and just be a part of such a unique race has really been a lot of fun."
Despite all of the rain, Sunday and Monday's amateur supercross track turned out remarkably well. With the exception of a small portion on the west end that was still under water Sunday morning, the amateur riders were greeted with the same design as the previous evening's tenth round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. The crews tamed down some of the larger jumps in order to maintain a safe racing environment for all the different classes, but some of the more experienced racers were still able to air it out over the big jumps and technical sections of the track.
Monster Energy had a large presence at this year's event as the new title sponsor, enhancing the fan experience with their massive stage, which was open to all of the riders and their families. The Monster Energy girls were also on site throughout the event, posing for photos with fans and participating in the trophy presentations. Besides Monster Energy, Honda, Suzuki, KTM, Fox Racing, Oakley, Cometic and more offered trackside support. In fact, the amateur infield was filled with many of the same industry professionals that graced the area Saturday night. Pro Circuit's Mitch Payton and suspension guru Jim "Bones" Bacon spent the two days watching amateur prospects closely while former champion and SPEED's color analyst Jeff Emig co-announced the amateur races with his longtime AMA Motocross partner Jason Weigandt and DMXS Radio personality David Izer.
And at the end of it all, there was the hands-on host Carmichael, up on the podium after every main event, handing out trophies and Motorcycle-Superstore Holeshot Bonus Awards and speaking with every winner.
Once the track was drained of the rainwater from the previous evening's deluge, Sunday morning kicked off the amateur racing festivities, beginning with practice and using heat races and LCQs to seed riders into Monday's main events. With the new two-day format, A classes were able to ride 10-lap mains, while B classes did nine laps and C classes and minis went eight, giving all racers even more track time than ever before.
The 250A and 450A Pro Sport classes provided some of the best racing of the day as riders like Van Martin, Justin Summers, Jesse Wentland and Cody Chisholm battled back and forth throughout every race. The Honda-mounted Martin took home the 250A Pro Sport win, and Kyle Swanson took the 450A Pro Sport win. Local prospect Justin Summers took second in both classes on his Suzukis. North Carolina cross-country racer Cody Gragg put in a solid weekend of supercross racing as he took home the win in College (17-24), and finishing out with a second-place in the highly contested Two-Stroke (16+) class.
In the mini classes it was Suzuki-backed Jake Pinhancos who dominated the 85cc classes, with wins in 85 (9-13), Mini Sr. (12-15) and a fourth-place in the Supermini (12-16). Jarek Balkovic swept both Supermini classes, in addition to taking home the Two-stroke (16+) class win, making his trek from Pennsylvania worth it as he takes home all the extra hardware. And KTM rider Keith Tucker went back home to North Carolina as a champion in the Super Mini (12-16) division.
In a deep field of up-and-coming amateur racers, it was Bayville, New Jersey's Barry Carsten that stood out as one of the most dominant riders of the weekend. The longtime professional took home three titles in the Senior A (40+), Senior A (45+) and Vet A (35+) class. Tallahassee, Florida's Earl May didn't let Carsten get away too easily, though, as he finished a close second in all three classes.
"On behalf of MX Sports and Daytona International Speedway, and especially Ricky Carmichael and his family, we want to thank all of the competitors and their families who participated in the Monster Energy Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross," said MX Sports' Tim Cotter, the event director. "Seeing the satisfaction on the faces of everyone made all of the hard work worthwhile, especially with the track coming around so well. I'm sure everyone enjoyed watching the pros splash around on Saturday night, but the idea of getting out there themselves must have been a little intimidating for our amateur racers. But the weather worked out, the track was perfect, and we saw some great racing throughout both days."
To view the complete race results, click HERE. The 2013 Monster Energy Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross at Daytona will take place in conjunction with the Daytona Supercross By Honda and continue to be a part of the historical Daytona Bike Week in March. For more information on the race, visit www.mxsports.com.