With the 2003 AMA 125cc National Championship now under his belt, Grant Langston is officially able to choose a permanent single-digit number. Under the AMA’s semi-permanent numbering system, numbers two through nine are reserved for current or past National Champions. The number one is reserved for the current champs, though in 2003 250cc National and Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael and 125cc National Champion James Stewart elected to pass on the “heaviest” number in favor if their trademark digits.
Since he’s been in America, Langston has opted to run number 111 which—like 100—is reserved for riders of some sort of prominence. Though Langston could have taken a permanent two-digit numeral in ’02 and ’03, he opted to keep his familiar triple one. That’s all changed, however, now that Cool G has wrapped up this year’s 125cc crown. Though Langston could, in fact, run number one on his bike in ’04, the fact of the matter is that he will not stay in the 125cc class to defend his championship. Instead, he will contest the 250cc National Championship aboard either a KTM 250SX two-stroke, or a 450SX thumper. “I have been contracted to be a 250cc class rider,” said Langston. “This year, KTM allowed me to step back into the 125cc class in both Supercross and motocross because I was not completely comfortable aboard the new 250, and its development was not where I had hoped it would be. The 125 was much more competitive, and it was easier for me to ride, having been injured for the better part of the last two years. In 2004, however, I will race the 250cc class full time. The bikes have come a long way, and I am confident that I will have a great season on the bigger bikes. I will race a 250SX in Supercross, but will decide at a later date which bike I will race outdoors.”
Which leads us to our original question: what digit will Langston choose as his permanent number? Originally, Grant had hoped to take over the number two that—technically—should go up for grabs with Jeremy McGrath’s ’03 retirement and failure to score a single AMA point. However, the AMA is not letting MC’s familiar deuce go up on the chopping blocks just yet, and have informed Langston that he can not choose number two.
Langston’s next thought was to remain number 111, since that is the digit most America race fans associate him with. Knowing well, however, that a prestigious single-digit number can be more advantageous when trying to market an athlete (just don’t tell Bubba’s people that!), Langston is now hoping to secure number eight.
“I have always liked the way that number eight looks,” he said. “Plus, there is a neat history behind the number, in motocross, at least. The last time the number was used was before the permanent numbering system was implemented, and that was the number worn by my fellow South African Greg Albertyn when he won the 250cc National Championship in ’99. Before that, guys like Jean-Michel Bayle and Damon Bradshaw wore number eight when they were really kicking ass. I like the number, and if the AMA will give it to me, that is what I will choose.”
Us? We told Langston that we thought he should choose number nine. Why? Because it looks like a lower-case “g” of course! Whatever the number, we’re glad to see Cool G finally get the title he’s been after for the past three years.