Few records remain in the annals of AMA Motocross that do not have Ricky Carmichael’s name on them. This Sunday, July 21 at Unadilla Valley Sports Center in New Berlin, N.Y., Carmichael has the opportunity to put his name on yet another record. If the 22-year-old Honda rider from Havana, Fla., wins this weekend’s round of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship he will tie the all-time AMA 250 Motocross winning-streak record set in 1978 by Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bob Hannah with eight-straight wins in 1978.
Earlier this month, Carmichael broke Hannah’s AMA 250 Motocross record of 10-straight moto wins Carmichael’s moto win streak currently stands at 14 having won each moto in the previous seven races. The setting for this possibly historic race could not be more appropriate. Unadilla is considered the granddaddy of motocross circuits in America. The track, which is situated in the gentle hills of New York’s Central Leatherstocking region, has a storied history including hosting U.S. Grands Prix and the prestigious Motocross des Nations.
While Carmichael is setting records in the 250 class, fellow Floridian James Stewart is leading the way in the 125 series. Stewart substantially opened up his championship lead with his victory last week in Troy, Ohio. The 16-year-old rookie from Haines City, Fla., now owns a 55-point cushion over rival Chad Reed of Australia. This will be Stewart’s first race at the historic Unadilla circuit.
While Carmichael seems unbeatable at this point, he sees Unadilla as one of the tracks where he might be vulnerable.
“Unadilla is more of a fast European-style track,” said Carmichael, who has won four races since 1998 on the natural-terrain circuit. “I enjoy racing there for sure, but I think the track suits the style of a few other riders better than me.”Reading between the lines, Carmichael just might be starting to realize that if he wins Unadilla his chances of going the entire season undefeated go up dramatically. While RC may feel that Unadilla could be the track where his competition has their best chance of stopping his winning streak, he failed to note his four-straight wins at the track, including the last two years in the 250 class.
Hoosier native Mike LaRocco joins Carmichael as the only other past winner of Unadilla in the 250 class. The 31-year-old LaRocco has done very well over the years at Unadilla, winning three 250 races there dating back to 1994.
Local New York fans will be rooting for Ithica’s Paul Carpenter. Carpenter is ranked 12th in the 250 standings earned a season best eighth-place finish last week in Ohio.
In the 125 class the top two contenders have never turned a wheel at Unadilla. Stewart is a rookie and Reed is racing in the U.S. for the first time after competing in the World Championships, so almost every stop on the 12-race tour is new to them. The enthusiastic Stewart has already built up a strong fan base because of his interaction with fans and his seemingly always-positive attitude. A prime example of this was in May when his bike broke down at Mt. Morris, Pa., Stewart took the long walk back to the pits shaking hands, talking with and signing autographs with the fans along the way. Reed is a determined rider who is riding in the 125 class for the first time in his career. He’ll move up to the 250s next season, but he hopes to try to beat Stewart straight up a few times this season.
Suzuki’s Branden Jesseman is third in the 125 standings and hoping to earn his first win at Unadilla.
For additional information contact Unadilla Valley Sports Center at (607) 965-8784 or visit www.unadillamx.com.