The Brickyard Indianapolis Supercross

Every major city in the world is celebrated for something, and Indianapolis is no exception. With perhaps the greatest and most fabled automobile race in history occurring there annually, Indy has made its spot on the map of America with the swirls of checkered flags and the thunderous roars of revving engines and climbing rpm since 1911, when the town first hosted the annual 500-mile-long race known simply as the Indy 500.

“The Brickyard” got its fame and name due to the original racing surface that consisted of 3,200,000 bricks used to construct the 2.5-mile-long oval, but when the AMA/THQ World Supercross GP rolled into town, the legendary road course was suddenly of no interest to anyone; on February 12, 2005, the big race in town was happening on the dirt!

As was fitting for such a renowned motorsports battleground, the Supercross that came to the RCA Dome was an important and anticipated one. Despite the fact that the 2005 250cc racing series, billed to be the best ever, was deflating like a popped balloon-Ricky Carmichael collected victory upon victory while James Stewart sat with a broken left arm and Chad Reed struggled to keep pace-Indy was the breath of fresh air that the season needed. The Indiana fans on hand joined the rest of the racing world salivating at the mouth for this, the first round of 125cc East Coast competition.

Beyond the anticipation for a whole new battle to begin on the right-hand side of the U.S.A., there were other plot twists sure to keep Indy interesting. The first runner-up to the excitement of the support class battle in the 125cc main event was the hype surrounding the hometown hero; the crowd of Hoosiers were all there holding out hope that Mike LaRocco might possibly make magic happen for the second year in a row and pull off a repeat victory. The fantasy was reasonable and realistic, too, considering the fact that less than a year ago the Rock won his first Supercross since Anaheim 2002 in front of his hometown fans at the Brickyard. Adding to the potential Cinderella story was that it also happened to be LaRocco’s birthday, making #5 the fan favorite.

FREAKY FRIDAY

With the stage properly set for a weekend of extraordinary racing to go down in Indy, all of the riders on hand were excited to take to the track for practice on Friday. Unfortunately, at the end of the day the series would be three athletes short after an assemblage of strange and peculiar events that went down in the RCA Dome.

Perhaps the freakiest occurred when Motoworldracing.com’s Matt Goerke went flying 88 feet into the stands during a 125cc practice session. Goerke landed from a bigger-than-usual finish line triple jump on the gas, and the next thing he knew, he was flying off the fast-approaching berm and directly toward the cheap seats! “I just remember landing off the jump, and I guess the throttle stuck or something,” Goerke said as he sat in the pits with a knee brace on. “Something messed up and I just launched into the stadium. I’m not really sure, but I think the throttle stuck or something malfunctioned on the bike or something.”

Considering the event occurred on Friday before anyone was seated in the stadium and the fact that Goerke only injured his knee in the event, it was the best possible ending to a potentially frightening scenario. Dirt Wurx, the AMA, and Clear Channel made the decision to 86 the big-boy jump not long after picking Goerke’s bike out of the “safe” seats that sat above the rows of already taped and blocked off seats below.

The next tragedy of the day happened when privateer hero Nick Wey caught his toe on the landing of a jump and tweaked his already sore knee, effectively eliminating the likable MDK Motorsports rider from the remainder of the SX series. NYK had been doing extraordinarily well thus far in the season aboard non-factory equipment, and had his sights set on the generous privateer bonus come Vegas, when his dreams came crashing down due tohe knee injury in Indy.

“I’ve been having some problems with it since the first mud race, because at a mud race, you’re kind of putting your feet down when you’re not really expecting to,” said Wey. “So, since Anaheim 1, my knee’s been really sore. Yesterday, I did the right thing to get something caught in the joint and I can’t really move it too much, so I’m going to have to get surgery to get it fixed. I just landed off a jump and barely caught my toe-it was just a basic deal-but I need to take some time off now and get it fixed. I’m pretty bummed because I feel like I’ve been riding really well, but I hadn’t gotten the results that I wanted so far. I’ve been one of the faster guys every weekend, but I just wanted to keep improving every week. I was eight or nine points out of third in the series, and I felt like I had my best races in front of me-by far. I’m kind of bummed about that, but I’ll be back for Outdoors for sure. I look forward to riding the 450 there.”

The final disaster of the Freaky Friday of practice in Indy involved Team Subway/Coca-Cola Honda’s Jeff Gibson, who went down hard in a series of technical jumps. The result of the calamity was a concussion and a broken neck that thankfully didn’t involve any paralysis.

“I fell down, went boom,” Gibby said after the incident. “I broke my C6 vertebra in my neck-just a straight fracture all the way through. The doctor said the way it broke and everything, it’s still stable and everything’s okay for the most part, but he said I’ll have to wear a neck brace for a couple months to let it heal and take it easy. I’m going to get a follow-up with my doctor and wish for the best. I was feeling good this year. Things were coming together, and I was starting to figure some things out, then this. In the triple-triple section, I overshot the second triple into the fourth little knuckle and it G’d out and just pile-drove me right into the next berm. The bike landed on me, and the berms don’t move too well. They’re pretty solid,” Gibson confirmed.

After all of the commotion Friday, Indy was dishing out its fair share of surprises and significant occurrences in the 2005 SX season; Saturday night was going to be good!

EAST COAST INVASION

“I don’t want to win, I want to destroy the field. I want to be like RC: I want to be head and shoulders above,” said 125cc East Coast contender Matt Walker in an interview appearing on racerxill.com four days prior to the first Eastern division round in Indy. Matt shared the same confidence that many of the competitors felt approaching this round. With several more weeks of testing and preparation under their belts in 2005, compared to their Western classmates, the beasts from the East were all itching for the first gate drop of the year to prove to themselves, their sponsors and their fans that they’d be at the top of the podium Saturday night.

Besides Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Matt Walker, a ton of other talented pros were on hand to promise competitive racing in the tiddler division. Other favorites coming into Indy were Team Makita Suzuki’s Davi Millsaps, Red Bull KTM’s Josh Hansen, Joaquim Rodrigues and Josh Grant from the Factory Connection squad, and Walker’s own teammate, former World MX Champ Grant Langston. Behind them was a list of notables like Brock Sellards, Branden Jesseman, US Open heroes Greg Schnell and Troy Adams and several others. With no dominant rider in sight (unlike last year, when Bubba faced little perceived pressure from any of his 125cc competitors), this year’s 125cc East Coast division seemed up for grabs.

“I just want to podium,” said Millsaps a few hours before the race. “I just want to be somewhere on that podium and I’ll be happy. If you look inside any of these semis behind me, there’s at least one or two guys from each team who are fast,” continued Davi, “and we all want to win just as bad.” Though slightly contrasted from Walker’s boisterous views on the upcoming race, Millsaps still seemed plenty confident in his ability. In the end it was Davi’s modest attitude that would shine through, and Millsaps rode a nearly flawless race to take the biggest win of his career in Indy.

Several seconds separated Davi from the colossal battle shaping up behind him; KTM-mounted Hansen was hounding his friend, former training partner and now race rival Grant Langston for the second spot.

The race between the two almost never happened, as Hansen fumbled while leading his qualifying heat race and was forced to sneak in via the LCQ. Without the greatest of starting gate picks, Hansen piloted an impressive charge through the pack before going toe-to-toe with Langston in the twilight laps. At the end of the 15-lap main, not enough time remained, and Josh was forced to settle for the third and final position on the box. Behind Lil’ Hany in fourth was Yamaha of Troy’s 125cc veteran Brock Sellards, with Walker following him to round out the top five.

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!

Prior to the Indianapolis round, the premier 250cc division was beginning to become a predictable yawn in ’05. Throwing out the Anaheim 1 mud bog as an exception to the rule, RC had proven to be a step above the field in the last few rounds, winning every race but A1 thus far in the series.

With Bubba sitting out from the broken arm he suffered at round two in Phoenix, Chad Reed seems to be the biggest thing that sits between Ricky and utter domination. This weekend, of all so far, looked especially good for defending SX champ Reed. The previous weekend at Anaheim 3, Chad overcame some early problems to charge his way through the pack and into second behind Ricky, all the while posting lap times very similar to Carmichael’s.

The second feather in Reedy’s cap of confidence was the lap time sheet from practice. Though technically they don’t count for much, every racer in the biz traditionally tries his hardest to post the fastest lap times in practice as a means to psyche out the rest of the pack and show the field whom to watch out for that night. At Indy, the man to beat coming into the opening ceremony festivities at 7p.m. was Chad Reed.

Of course, if you asked the heavily partisan crowd who was going to take the checkers, 99% of them wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that local boy Iron Mike LaRocco was going to celebrate his 34th birthday in style by going for the Indy SX repeat to follow up his win at the same venue last year.

Unfortunately for the crowd as well as LaRocco, it was painfully obvious that Mike’s traditionally mediocre-at-best start was not the present he was hoping to unwrap. To make matters worse for the Rock, directly behind holeshot artist Erick Vallejo were Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed, in second and third, respectively. The pair made short work of Vallejo’s privateer Yamaha, and a battle royale between the two heavyweights of the 250cc field began to ensue.

In the opening laps, Reed looked strong as he kept RC in his sights and poised to make an attack, but after only a few laps, he faded back, just out of striking distance. Though Reed kept Carmichael honest by staying only about a straightaway behind, meaning that Ricky didn’t have much room to make a mistake, that mistake never occurred, and Ricky went on to capture yet another impressive win aboard his new yellow machine.

Reed seemed slightly disappointed but still plenty satisfied with his runner-up finish, and you could see in his eyes that he wasn’t even close to giving up. Reed knows as well as Ricky that as long as he continues to finish directly behind Carmichael, it will only require one bad round from RC to make the points chase very interesting.

Behind Carmichael and Reed was Team Factory Connection/Honda’s Kevin Windham. K-Dub was plenty happy to make it onto the podium, especially considering a sciatic nerve problem was making his feet and legs go numb in practice. Windham had little practice time on the bike the two weeks prior and even admilenty confident in his ability. In the end it was Davi’s modest attitude that would shine through, and Millsaps rode a nearly flawless race to take the biggest win of his career in Indy.

Several seconds separated Davi from the colossal battle shaping up behind him; KTM-mounted Hansen was hounding his friend, former training partner and now race rival Grant Langston for the second spot.

The race between the two almost never happened, as Hansen fumbled while leading his qualifying heat race and was forced to sneak in via the LCQ. Without the greatest of starting gate picks, Hansen piloted an impressive charge through the pack before going toe-to-toe with Langston in the twilight laps. At the end of the 15-lap main, not enough time remained, and Josh was forced to settle for the third and final position on the box. Behind Lil’ Hany in fourth was Yamaha of Troy’s 125cc veteran Brock Sellards, with Walker following him to round out the top five.

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!

Prior to the Indianapolis round, the premier 250cc division was beginning to become a predictable yawn in ’05. Throwing out the Anaheim 1 mud bog as an exception to the rule, RC had proven to be a step above the field in the last few rounds, winning every race but A1 thus far in the series.

With Bubba sitting out from the broken arm he suffered at round two in Phoenix, Chad Reed seems to be the biggest thing that sits between Ricky and utter domination. This weekend, of all so far, looked especially good for defending SX champ Reed. The previous weekend at Anaheim 3, Chad overcame some early problems to charge his way through the pack and into second behind Ricky, all the while posting lap times very similar to Carmichael’s.

The second feather in Reedy’s cap of confidence was the lap time sheet from practice. Though technically they don’t count for much, every racer in the biz traditionally tries his hardest to post the fastest lap times in practice as a means to psyche out the rest of the pack and show the field whom to watch out for that night. At Indy, the man to beat coming into the opening ceremony festivities at 7p.m. was Chad Reed.

Of course, if you asked the heavily partisan crowd who was going to take the checkers, 99% of them wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that local boy Iron Mike LaRocco was going to celebrate his 34th birthday in style by going for the Indy SX repeat to follow up his win at the same venue last year.

Unfortunately for the crowd as well as LaRocco, it was painfully obvious that Mike’s traditionally mediocre-at-best start was not the present he was hoping to unwrap. To make matters worse for the Rock, directly behind holeshot artist Erick Vallejo were Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed, in second and third, respectively. The pair made short work of Vallejo’s privateer Yamaha, and a battle royale between the two heavyweights of the 250cc field began to ensue.

In the opening laps, Reed looked strong as he kept RC in his sights and poised to make an attack, but after only a few laps, he faded back, just out of striking distance. Though Reed kept Carmichael honest by staying only about a straightaway behind, meaning that Ricky didn’t have much room to make a mistake, that mistake never occurred, and Ricky went on to capture yet another impressive win aboard his new yellow machine.

Reed seemed slightly disappointed but still plenty satisfied with his runner-up finish, and you could see in his eyes that he wasn’t even close to giving up. Reed knows as well as Ricky that as long as he continues to finish directly behind Carmichael, it will only require one bad round from RC to make the points chase very interesting.

Behind Carmichael and Reed was Team Factory Connection/Honda’s Kevin Windham. K-Dub was plenty happy to make it onto the podium, especially considering a sciatic nerve problem was making his feet and legs go numb in practice. Windham had little practice time on the bike the two weeks prior and even admitted to feeling a little rusty heading into Indy, making his third position even more impressive.

Back a spot in fourth sat LaRocco, who was running a dogged charge through the field to overcome his not-so-great start. Mike’s solid performance still gave the locals plenty to cheer about, but a win was not in the cards.

The other big battle of the night came from Team Honda’s Ernesto Fonseca and Team Yamaha’s David Vuillemin, with Vuilly getting the better end of the outcome. The two were fierce at it for several laps, though, once again keeping the Indiana fans on their feet for much of the night.

When Ricky finally whipped his RM sideways to welcome the checkers at the end of the 250cc main in Indianapolis, the motorsports-icon-of-a-town proved to be the perfect home to an exciting evening of racing. From Indy a new title chase was born, and the 125cc East Coast crown is shaping up to be the most unpredictable one of the year.

RESULTS>

125cc EAST COAST SX: ROUND ONE; INDIANAPOLIS, IN

1. Davi Millsaps, Suz

2. Grant Langston, Kaw

3. Josh Hansen, KTM

4. Brock Sellards, Yam

5. Matt Walker, Kaw

6. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hon

7. Branden Jesseman, Suz

8. Tucker Hibbert, Hon

9. Greg Schnell, Hon

10. Kelly Smith, Yam

250cc SX ROUND 6, INDIANAPOLIS, IN

1. Ricky Carmichael, Suz

2. Chad Reed, Yam

3. Kevin Windham, Hon

4. Mike LaRocco, Hon

5. David Vuillemin, Yam

6. Ernesto Fonseca, Hon

7. Sebastien Tortelli, Suz

8. Heath Voss, Yam

9. Damon Huffman, Hon

10. Michael Byrne, Kaw

admitted to feeling a little rusty heading into Indy, making his third position even more impressive.

Back a spot in fourth sat LaRocco, who was running a dogged charge through the field to overcome his not-so-great start. Mike’s solid performance still gave the locals plenty to cheer about, but a win was not in the cards.

The other big battle of the night came from Team Honda’s Ernesto Fonseca and Team Yamaha’s David Vuillemin, with Vuilly getting the better end of the outcome. The two were fierce at it for several laps, though, once again keeping the Indiana fans on their feet for much of the night.

When Ricky finally whipped his RM sideways to welcome the checkers at the end of the 250cc main in Indianapolis, the motorsports-icon-of-a-town proved to be the perfect home to an exciting evening of racing. From Indy a new title chase was born, and the 125cc East Coast crown is shaping up to be the most unpredictable one of the year.

RESULTS>

125cc EAST COAST SX: ROUND ONE; INDIANAPOLIS, IN

1. Davi Millsaps, Suz

2. Grant Langston, Kaw

3. Josh Hansen, KTM

4. Brock Sellards, Yam

5. Matt Walker, Kaw

6. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hon

7. Branden Jesseman, Suz

8. Tucker Hibbert, Hon

9. Greg Schnell, Hon

10. Kelly Smith, Yam

250cc SX ROUND 6, INDIANAPOLIS, IN

1. Ricky Carmichael, Suz

2. Chad Reed, Yam

3. Kevin Windham, Hon

4. Mike LaRocco, Hon

5. David Vuillemin, Yam

6. Ernesto Fonseca, Hon

7. Sebastien Tortelli, Suz

8. Heath Voss, Yam

9. Damon Huffman, Hon

10. Michael Byrne, Kaw