Supercross “season” kicked off with a bang at the second annual Monster Energy Cup held this past weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Unlike last year, when Kawasaki factory rider Ryan Villopoto swept all three main events and walked away with the $1 million prize, each 10-lap race had a different winner: Villopoto, Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac. Barcia took overall honors and a $100K payday.
The one-off racetrack with its split starting gates, “joker” lane and banked, high-speed Talladega Turn was designed by former champion Ricky Carmichael. The 15-time MX/SX title-winner and three-time X Games gold medalist also chose the event to announce his new AMA Supercross team, RCH Racing (Ricky Carmichael/Carey Hart), which will run in the premier 450 class under the Dodge Sycuan Casino Bel-Ray Suzuki Racing banner with 2011 Supercross West Coast Lites Champion Broc Tickle. A second team rider will be announced soon.
1. What prompted you to become a team owner?
I’ve always had ambitions of doing this, and the timing was perfect for me to be able to jump into a situation that was already there. We’ve been talking about it for a year, and we were finally able to make it happen.
We’re a factory Suzuki team. It’s a full-blown deal, and the riders and mechanics will be based, NASCAR-style, out of Yoshimura R&D in Chino, California. Suzuki has really stepped up and given us a two-year contract. I know what it takes to win; 2013 will be a building year, but I’m looking to overachieve.
Factory support was the one thing Carey was lacking. He obviously has the dollars, his marketing ability is better than anyone else in the paddock and I really respect him as a business person. With my demographics and his demographics, it’s a win-win for both of us. Now, it’s up to us to execute.
Broc will run the supercross and outdoor series in the 450 class. Our other rider will be supercross only. In 2014, both of our guys will be full-time supercross and motocross.
Broc had several podiums in the outdoor series this year. Our goal is to make the bike good for him and get him that confidence so he can go out and ride to the level he was at when he won the Lites championship. He’s excited, and I think he’s going to do extremely well.
2. You incorporated several unique features into the design of the Monster Energy Cup track at Sam Boyd Stadium, including the 200-foot banked “Talladega Turn.” How do you create a venue that is exciting for fans yet challenging and safe for the riders?
First of all, I have to thank Feld for giving me this opportunity. It’s a great honor when they ask you to build a racetrack. When I sat down at the drawing board, I thought a high-speed turn—a “wow” factor, if you will—would be pretty cool for the fans.
The folks at Feld shot around some ideas about a “joker” lane, and I was totally for it. We went through some design concepts, and I implemented them into the track.
I think the split start is extremely cool. A 20-man gate, using both the east and west ends of the stadium, all of the guys funneling down into one lane. That’s something you really can’t do for a regular supercross.
Safety is always my number-one concern. It’s a fine line between making the track technical and safe for the riders and also good for the fans. If the track is good, where everyone can do the same thing, the best guy is always going to win.
At the end of the day—and I can say this because I’ve lived it, learned it and been in another sport—you’ve got to have a good race. A good race promotes good TV. Good TV brings sponsorship dollars, and guys can get paid for the risks that they take. Also, the fans like good racing. That’s what it’s all about.