PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The 2003 AMA Supercross Series and the AMA Pro Racing year kicks off this Saturday, Jan. 4, at Edison Field in Anaheim, Calif. This year marks the start of the 30th season of AMA Supercross — the AMA launched the championship in 1974. This weekend’s race is the first of three series races to be held at Edison Field. Floridian Ricky Carmichael is kicking off his quest to earn his third consecutive AMA Supercross title. In the history of the series only Bob Hannah and Jeremy McGrath have been able to claim three championships in a row. Anaheim is not only highly anticipated as the season opener, but many will be eager to hear what the legendary Jeremy McGrath has to say in a scheduled a press conference at the stadium during Thursday’s press day. It has been reported that McGrath will announce his retirement at Anaheim, although it’s unclear whether or not he’ll race one final time in the season opener.
For much of the 1980s Edison Field, then known as Anaheim Stadium, was the traditional AMA Supercross season opener. In the early 1990s the series opened for a time in Orlando, Fla., and later at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but since 1998 Anaheim has returned as the home of the opening round of the 16-race series. The stadium is rich with AMA Supercross tradition. In 1986 David Bailey and Rick Johnson battled the entire race before Bailey came out on top in what is considered by many to be one of the greatest AMA Supercross races of all time. Supercross King Jeremy McGrath won the first of his 72-career AMA Supercross victories at Anaheim in 1993. And then there was the epic McGrath vs. Carmichael race in 2001, where McGrath took his final victory.
Even though the season opener has often produced great races and historical moments, it hasn’t always produced a champion. In fact, in the last 10 years the winner of the season opener has gone on to win the championship only four times. The last time it happened was in 2000 when McGrath won the first race and went on to win the title.
Carmichael has a great deal of incentive coming into Anaheim I. It was there last year where he suffered a hard crash on his factory Honda mid-race and walked off the field dazed from a concussion. Of course Carmichael made a spectacular recovery and went on to easily win the 2002 AMA Supercross title, before riding to the perfect undefeated season in the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship.
“I still have a lot of goals in supercross,” Carmichael said. “I feel it’s my championship to win or lose, but that’s the beauty of racing, you never know until that starting gate drops.”
While Carmichael will be the heavy favorite to win this year’s opener, other riders could be a factor. Of course if McGrath chooses to race he will certainly be the emotional fan favorite. Even though he hasn’t won since 2001, he was still the third-ranked rider last season and many feel there’s yet some magic left in McGrath.
Ageless wonder Mike LaRocco, who will turn 32 next month, has trained harder than ever for this season. That hard worked paid off richly with some strong performances in off-season events. LaRocco is hoping to become the oldest AMA Supercross champ in series history.
A lot of focus will fall on Suzuki’s Travis Pastrana. Arguably the most popular rider in the field, due to his success in freestyle motocross, Pastrana has yet to taste victory in the AMA Supercross Series’ premier 250 class, but feels confident coming into the year. “I honestly have never felt better prepared for the season than I am now,” says Pastrana. Pastrana will have new teammates Frenchmen Sebastien Tortelli and Stephane Roncada on the revamped factory Suzuki squad this year. Tortelli shocked a lot of people when he won his debut race in 1998, the supercross season opener that year in Los Angeles. A series of frustratininjuries have kept Tortelli from winning his second, but now healthy and on a new team, he is hoping to be a contender for this year’s title.
Aussie Chad Reed has look great in off-season races on his factory Yamaha. Last year’s AMA 125 East Supercross champ claims he’s more than ready to step up to the spotlight in the 250 class. The same could be said for KTM ace Grant Langston, who will also move up to the premier class this season.
In addition to the main event at Anaheim, Saturday will also see the season opener of the AMA 125 West Region Supercross Series. Kawasaki’s James Stewart is looking to win the title he felt should have been his last year. Instead it was Factory Connection Honda’s Travis Preston who was more consistent and took advantage of Stewart’s crashes to win the championship. The rematch starts Saturday night. Throw in riders like Suzuki Sean Hamblin, who earned his factory ride by turning in some great rides in replacing the injured Pastrana last season, former AMA 125 Motocross champ Steve Lamson and Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Eric Sorby and you have the makings of a very interesting 125 series.
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AMA SUPERCROSS SERIES
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Saturday, January 4, 2003
EVENT LOCATION: Edison International Field, Anaheim, CA
PROMOTER: Clear Channel Entertainment
9:00 am – 11:30 am – Rider registration and Tech Inspection at the Venue
9:00 am – 12:00 noon – Bonus Awards Participant/Mechanic registration
11:00 am – 12:00 noon – Rider Track Walk
11:00 am – 12:00 noon – Junior Supercross Riders Meeting (Mandatory)
12:00 noon – 12:15 pm – Riders Meeting (Mandatory)
12:30 pm – 1:15 pm – 125 Practice
1:30 pm – 2:15 pm – 250 Practice
2:15 pm – 2:45 pm – Track Maintenance
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm – KTM Practice
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm – 125 Practice
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm – 250 Practice
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm – Qualifying Heats
5:30 pm – 5:45 pm – KTM Practice
5:45 pm – 6:45 pm – Track Maintenance
7:00 pm – 7:20 pm – Opening Ceremonies
7:30 pm – 7:40 pm – 125 Heat #1 – 6 laps – 20 riders (1st – 9th to Main)
7:40 pm – 7:50 pm – 125 Heat #2 – 6 laps – 20 riders (1st – 9th to Main)
7:50 pm – 8:00 pm – 250 Heat #1 – 8 laps – 20 riders (1st – 4th to Main)
(5th – 20th to Semi 1)
8:00 pm – 8:10 pm – 250 Heat #2 – 8 laps – 20 riders (1st – 4th to Main)
(5th – 20th to Semi 2)
8:10 pm – 8:25 pm – Junior Supercross Exhibition- 3 laps – 15 riders
8:25 pm – 8:35 pm – Track Maintenance (10 minutes)
8:35 pm – 8:40 pm – 125 Last Chance Qualifier – 4 laps – 22 riders
(1st – 4th to Main)
8:40 pm – 8:50 pm – 250 Semi #1 – 6 laps – 16 riders (1st – 5th to Main)
(6th – 16th to LCQ)
8:50 pm – 9:00 pm – 250 Semi #2 – 6 laps – 16 riders (1st – 5th to Main)
(6th – 16th to LCQ)
9:00 pm – 9:10 pm – Track Maintenance
9:10 pm – 9:20 pm – 250 Last Chance Qualifier – 6 laps – 22 riders
9:20 pm – 9:25 pm – 125 Rider’s Parade Lap
9:25 pm – 9:45 pm – 125 Main Event – 15 laps – 22 riders
9:50 pm – 9:55 pm – 250 Rider’s Parade Lap
9:55 pm – 10:15 pm – 250 Main Event – 20 laps- 20 riders
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the AMA Supercross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship and the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship. Nearly 2 million race fans attended AMA Pro Racing events during the 2002 season. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.e information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.