The opening round of the 2007 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF begins on May 19-20 with the 39th Annual Honda Hangtown Motocross Classic. This event marks the start of the final showdown between defending AMA Motocross champ Ricky Carmichael, of the Makita Suzuki team, and challenger James Stewart, who rides for Monster Energy Kawasaki.
The rolling hills of Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area, just east of Sacramento, California, is the site of the Hangtown National. The race is one of the most historic on the AMA racing calendar. The origins of the race date back to 1969 and has been promoted by the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club ever since. A who’s who of motocross have won at Hangtown. Riders like Hall of Famers Bob Hannah, Kent Howerton, Jeff Ward, Rick Johnson, Mark Barnett, Jeremy McGrath, Jeff Stanton, Broc Glover, Marty Smith and Danny LaPorte.
This is very likely to be Ricky Carmichael’s final race at the Hangtown Classic. After 11 years of winning AMA championships, Carmichael is making the move to auto racing already starting a NASCAR development program. Carmichael is the only rider in the history of Hangtown to win four straight in the Motocross class and he would love to leave the prestigious race with another victory.
Stewart is the odds-on favorite to win the championship this season. The young Floridian opened last year’s motocross campaign successfully with a win at Hangtown, but his season was ultimately plagued by injury and crashes. Fresh off of winning his first AMA Supercross Championship, Stewart says he’s matured as a rider and is ready for the challenge of the grueling season of motocross racing.
Kevin Windham, of Sobe/Samsung Honda and privateer David Vuillemin are the other two former Hangtown winners in the premier class. Both riders are hoping to keep Carmichael and Stewart close and possibly steal a victory in the season opener.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry has experienced a revival in recent months during the supercross season. Many expect Ferry to carry that drive into motocross. Suzuki’s championship hopes fall squarely on Ivan Tedesco’s shoulders since Carmichael is not racing a full season. Tedesco is the 2005 AMA Motocross Lites Champion.
Yamaha’s Grant Langston showed he’s prepared for the season by winning the pre-season tune-up last weekend at the Glen Helen “Prequel. Langston won the Lites class (then called the 125 class) at Hangtown in 2005. Another former Lites winner is Mike Alessi. Alessi is stepping up to the premier class this year on the Red Bull KTM squad and hopes to continue his success at the track on the big bikes.
Honda has won more Hangtown Classics than any other manufacturer. This year Big H comes to the race with a youth movement fielding 19-year-old Davi Millsaps alongside the “veteran Andrew Short, who’s all of 24.
In AMA Motocross Lites Ryan Villopoto begins his title defense. Villopoto is looking to add his name to the esteemed list of winners at the event. Last year the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider finished fifth. Teammate Ben Townley, of New Zealand, may prove to be the biggest challenger to Villopoto’s crown. Townley has the background — he won the MX2 World Motocross Championship in 2004.
The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team is overloaded with talent this year. In addition to Villopoto and Townley, Brett Metcalfe proved he’s healthy and ready to race after winning the Lites division in the Prequel last weekend. Metcalfe’s excellent comeback makes a Kawasaki sweep of the Hangtown Lites podium a real possibility.
A host of other Lites riders are expected to be in the hunt at Hangtown. Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey will be trying to give Suzuki its first Hangtown Classic Lites victory in 13 years. Boost Mobile Yamaha’s Jason Lawrence and Ryan Morais are also expected to be among the top contenders in the support class.
Former two-time AMA national champ and local hero Steve Lamson will be making a special appearance at the Hangtown National. The four-time Hangtown Lites winner and MDK Motosport boss plans on riding a Honda CR125 two-stroke done up in a retro style of his factory Hondas that he won his championships on in the mid-1990s.
The AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF from Sacramento, Calif., will be broadcast on SPEED with coverage of the AMA Motocross class May 27 at 6 pm Eastern. Motocross Lites coverage will air Tuesday, May 29 at 3pm Eastern.
Racer X Illustrated magazine will be providing web coverage including audio and streaming video at www.racerxill.com. Additional live timing and scoring will be available on www.amamotocross.com.
WHAT: 39th Annual Honda Hangtown Motocross Classic, the opening round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
WHERE: Prairie City SVRA, located off Highway 50, about 20 miles east of downtown Sacramento.
WHEN: May 19-20.
COURSE: 1.5 miles (approx), hard pack dirt and sand.
2006 WINNERS: AMA Motocross: James Stewart (Kawasaki). AMA Motocross Lites: Mike Alessi (KTM).
SCHEDULE: Saturday — Pro timed qualifying, 1:00-4:35 pm., Lites Consolation Race 4:45 pm; Sunday — Pro Motocross Consolation Race 9:15 am. Qualifying 10:00 am. Opening Ceremonies begin at 12:30 pm with final events beginning at 1 pm.
About AMA Racing
AMA Racing is the competition arm of the American Motorcyclist Association and is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its professional properties include the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship, the AMA Supermoto Championship and the AMA Pro ATV Championship. In amateur and pro-am competition, AMA Racing sanctions over 4000 events in 24 different disciplines and supports over 110 thousand active members.
For more information about professional racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.