Generally, the rule for looking behind you during a race is to¿well, to avoid it whenever possible. It’s pretty well accepted that if you’re looking back, you’re not going forward. Besides, some riders consider it a strong signal that if the guy in front of them starts looking back frequently, it’s because he’s fading. That makes looking back about as effective as waving a white surrender flag. But maybe most embarrassing of all, we’ve seen riders look over one of their shoulders to see where the competition is, just as a rider goes by them on the opposite side.
Now, having said all that, in Arenacross, the tight confines of the track combined with the aggressive style of racing pretty much dictate that you should check behind you every once in a while, mostly as a defensive tactic. Dennis Jonon is in his first year as an Arenacross Pro in the BooKoo series, and when we asked him how and when he decides when to check behind him, he laughed and said, “When you hear a bike coming fast on the inside of you.”
While blocking is an option, Dennis says, “Most of the time you try to just maintain your line…and if they hit you, well then, they hit you. Guys like Bess, Demuth, Woods, etc., they know how to race and they won’t intentionally take you out unless you do something stupid to them, because they understand it slows you both down.”
Taking a quick look over the inside shoulder is popular, since you’re already lined up for the corner and you don’t have to turn your head as far to get a look at who’s coming. With his Arenacross perspective, Dennis suggests, “Just glance, don’t completely look, or you may run into the wall!”
Looking back over larger jumps (when you have adequate airtime) is another popular spot, as demonstrated by Shane Bess. When we quizzed Dennis about it, he agreed that it was a convenient place to look, saying, “In a recent race, Josh Demuth and I battled in the 450 main for about 14 laps. He’s smart and wouldn’t clean me out and risk him going down too¿but I did check behind me over the jump on probably eight of those laps, just to make sure he wasn’t on the inside of me.”
Apparently Arenacross is a lot like dealing with a foreign country’s nuclear missles. Trust, but verify.