What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada. The city’s name alone automatically sparks images of heavy partying, wild and gaudy outfits and sights, and world-class entertainment in a carefree environment where nothing matters but a good time. And when the Clear Channel rigs and factory semis rolled in to invade the desert oasis this May for the 2005 AMA/THQ World Supercross G.P. series finale, things were typical V-town…

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With my photographer’s vest in hand, credentials swinging from my neck, and a pocketful of fresh new memory cards for my trusty Canon, I made my way down towards the field of Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Silver Bowl stadium. Carmichael, Reed, Bubba, and the rest of the crew were all waiting patiently by the gate for their first shot at practice and I was ready to begin shooting.

As I walked onto the track, out of the corner of my eye I noticed an official with a blue collared shirt walking my way. The standard reaction of a quickened pulse and a cold sweat began the moment I realized that the individual was a Clear Channel official. You see, the men in blue act as our “security guards” of Supercross, and like any true security guard there are always some heavy power issues that these gentlemen battle even as adults. Basically, their job is to make ours miserable and tell us that we can’t stand here, there, or anywhere else that there are good photo opportunities. When I accidentally glanced again at the man, I thought, “Oh no! I looked too long!” It was then that I realized I actually made eye contact with him.

All of a sudden crazy thoughts of losing my credential, spending the evening watching from the stands, and maybe even getting beaten unmercifully crossed my mind. In the split second while I waited to see which would be the end result and the final sentence, I couldn’t help but notice an almost pleasant look on the man’s face. Wait a second… I think there was even a faint smile and a hint of some pearly whites going on! Suddenly it all began to make sense; I was in Las Vegas, this was the SX series finale, and even the most disgruntled men at the races were suddenly in good spirits, as this was the last of eighteen rounds of racing and the traveling circus was finally going to get a break. I love Vegas!

THE RACE THAT DIDN’T MATTER

How could anyone be in a bad mood at Vegas? The race/party was the perfect way to celebrate the series that began five months earlier in Canada, a series so dominated by Ricky Carmichael and his Suzuki RM250 that the big #4 had wrapped up the title of both THQ World Supercross G.P. and AMA Supercross Champion a week earlier in Houston, Texas.

With the big titles already decided, the next champ to crown would be the Clear Channel Privateer of the Year. But wait… Tyler Evans took home that honor the week prior in Houston as well, besting the rest of the non-factory-supported riders to grab over $100,000 in cash and prizes for his tenth-place overall finish in the series.

Of course, both the East and West Coast 125cc (or shall we say 250cc four-stroke) class championships had also been won, leaving the top riders of both classes to slug it out it in a Vegas heavyweight bout to decide which coast was quicker in the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout.

So basically, the point is that while the eighteenth and final round of the THQ World Supercross G.P. was indeed part of the series, a great excuse to party in Vegas, and a perfect place for spectating in the sunny desert weather, in terms of the series points standings it didn’t matter a hill of beans, making it the ultimate stress-free end to a great season of bar-banging.

LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!

Since the race of the weekend was the 125cc East/West Shootout, we’ll get right to the good stuff. Heat one featured the best of the West, and was the perfect place for two-time-straight Champion Ivan Tedesco to showcase his talents. Hot Saucgrabbed the holeshot and the lead from the get-go, never looking back on his Pro Circuit/Monster Energy-backed KX250F. Behind him for second was Nathan Ramsey’s KTM, followed by Paul Carpenter in third.

The next heat featured the stars of the East Coast division, and an all-pink clad Josh Hansen took the lead early on. It wasn’t long, however, until East Coast champ Grant Langston got by Hansen for the number-one spot, where he would comfortably stay until the checkers waved. Davi Millsaps, who was also coincidentally wearing some pink of his own, too got by Lil’ Hany for the second position.

The results of both heats were the perfect setup for a real nail-biter in the main to decide which coast would the get bragging rights of being the fastest. Since both series champs won their respective heat races, it was to be a battle royale between 1E and 1W!

Or so it should have been… The riders left the start gate just fine, made their way around a building that split the pack in two momentarily, joined back together inside the stadium, and headed down a straightaway of rhythm jumps with Jay Marmont leading the pack when all of a sudden there was major trouble. A collision between West Coast Champ Tedesco and Factory Connection/Honda’s Joaquim Rodriguez left the two in a pile on the ground, immediately diminishing any hope of a true East/West Shootout and taking one of the two number one plates on the track out of action.

Up front, Millsaps zapped Marmont fairly quickly and checked into a healthy lead where he was never again challenged. Millsaps conquered the war of the regions with relative ease and rode exactly like the Davi Millsaps that Suzuki teammate Travis Pastrana speaks so highly of-his ultra-smooth and beautiful riding style left the rest of the field in the Vegas dust. Behind Millsaps was fellow East Coaster Grant Langston in the second spot, followed by Josh Grant, who nabbed the third position to make for a clean East Coast sweep of the podium.

FINAL CALL

With the results of the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout being anything but predictable, the sold-out stadium of partiers were left speculating on what crazy plot twist the final 250cc main event of 2005 might take (or those that were still sober enough to think that deeply, anyway!).

The fact that Ricky Carmichael had already clinched the title and was thinking ahead to the Nationals that started in just two short weeks left the door wide open for someone else to stand atop the podium underneath the traditional series finale fireworks at the end of the evening. Add to that the strange stadium setup featuring extra-long lap times, a supermoto-style flat turn that exited the field and put riders completely out of sight for several seconds, and a split-start, and things were bound to get interesting quick!

Series dominators Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed both topped their individual qualifiers with relative ease, but the big news from the heat races was that James “Bubba” Stewart, winner of TK main events late in the season, would be sitting the night out due to a brutal crash on the opening lap of his heat. The result of the tumble was a severely sprained thumb, which would keep Stewart from competing in the final. That left RC, Reed and Kevin Windham to duke it out for the last bragging rights of ’05 SX.

When the gate dropped and the pack made its split, Damon Huffman came out on top of the heap and hit the first jump in the lead, earning him the Butterfinger Holeshot Award in the process. Huff Daddy led a freight train of riders through the front straight, with Windham and Voss hot on his tail. K-Dub struck quick and went around Huffman. With both Reed and Carmichael mired in the pack after mediocre-at-best starts, it looked to be Windham’s race for the taking. Kevin continued to stretch his lead over the pack, and soon had built a gap that was just over the length of the entire stadium floor.

It looked like the finale was going to be without a climax when, lo and behold, out of nowhere K-Dub threw his CRF away in a rhythm section. Fortunately Windham was not injured in the incident, but by the time Kevin got going again the lead had been handed over to Reed. Chad had been riding a wickedly fast pace since lap one in attempt to recover from his sub-par start, and once given the top spot he never showed any signs of slowing. Behind Reedy’s YZ250 was Carmichael, who reluctantly cruised to a second place finish. Windham remounted and settled into third, and a hard-charging David Vuillemin followed them to fourth. Heath Voss rounded out the top-five.

The final podium celebration was a bittersweet one for Reed and the Yamaha camp since the title had already been decided a week prior, but it still had to feel great to end such a hard-fought season with a first-place trophy in hand, some confidence heading outdoors, and an honorary fireworks finale that rivaled Disneyland’s. Oh, and don’t feel too sorry for RC or the Suzuki camp, either-you can be sure that there was plenty of celebrating going on in the Suzuki semi afterwards as well considering the team had just taken home their first 250cc Supercross title in TK years.

So in the end, the Las Vegas Supercross final read like a script in a movie, and everyone left the stadium floor under a shower of fireworks with giant grins on their faces (with the exception of Bubba, Tedesco, and Rodriguez). The conclusion of an excruciatingly long 18-round series of bar-banging, a two-week break in the racing schedule, and the bright lights of Las Vegas in the background left the entire motocross industry with only one thing left to do that weekend in May-party!

RESULTS: 2005 LAS VEGAS SUPERCROSS

125cc Main Event

Davi Millsaps (Suz)

Grant Langston (Kaw)

Josh Grant (Hon)

Andrew Short (Hon)

Broc Hepler (Suz)

Nathan Ramsey (KTM)

Jay Marmont (KTM)

Billy Laninovich (Hon)

Josh Summey (Hon)

Paul Carpenter (Kaw)

250cc Main Event

Chad Reed (Yam)

Ricky Carmichael (Hon)

Kevin Windham (Hon)

David Vuillemin (Yam)

Heath Voss (Yam)

Travis Preston (Hon)

Tim Ferry (Yam)

Erick Vallejo (Yam)

Ryan Clark (Yam)

Damon Huffman (Hon)

CAPTIONS:

VEG01: ***NO CAPTION; USED FOR LEAD SPREAD***

VEG02: There was no other way that Chad Reed would have wanted to finish off the season than how he did it in Vegas. Though it was a case of too little, too late for Reedy’s 2005 SX title hopes, Chad’s Sin City victory was a great soother for his second-place series spot. Even after capitalizing on Windham’s mistake and inheriting a solid lead, he continued to nail corner after corner like a man possessed until the checkers. Chad was a worthy competitor for #4 in ’05.

VEG03: Davi Millsaps was all money in the Las Vegas Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial East/West Shootout, taking home the glory for the right-hand-side of the states. If Millsaps could have only ridden like he did in Vegas throughout the 2005 East Coast 125cc rounds, things might have been a little more difficult for Langston. Millsaps secured a commanding lead early on after passing holeshot winner Jay Marmont and never looked back. Davi looked perfectly polished en route to his series finale victory, which he celebrated in style with a whip over the finish line jump.

VEG04: Josh Grant and the rest of the pack meet up at the end of what was quite possibly the weirdest start in motocross history. The field of riders blast out of the gate and down a very short straight, after which half the pack heads left and the other half right. Next comes a supermoto-style turn that is exactly identical for both groups (they just turned in opposite directions), followed by a fast straight on opposing sides of a locker room. The riders then meet back up in this spot after one more corner, where they come together to jump into a tricky rhythm section. Only in Vegas…

VEG05: The desert hills ahead of the riders made for a stunning backdrop at the se without a climax when, lo and behold, out of nowhere K-Dub threw his CRF away in a rhythm section. Fortunately Windham was not injured in the incident, but by the time Kevin got going again the lead had been handed over to Reed. Chad had been riding a wickedly fast pace since lap one in attempt to recover from his sub-par start, and once given the top spot he never showed any signs of slowing. Behind Reedy’s YZ250 was Carmichael, who reluctantly cruised to a second place finish. Windham remounted and settled into third, and a hard-charging David Vuillemin followed them to fourth. Heath Voss rounded out the top-five.

The final podium celebration was a bittersweet one for Reed and the Yamaha camp since the title had already been decided a week prior, but it still had to feel great to end such a hard-fought season with a first-place trophy in hand, some confidence heading outdoors, and an honorary fireworks finale that rivaled Disneyland’s. Oh, and don’t feel too sorry for RC or the Suzuki camp, either-you can be sure that there was plenty of celebrating going on in the Suzuki semi afterwards as well considering the team had just taken home their first 250cc Supercross title in TK years.

So in the end, the Las Vegas Supercross final read like a script in a movie, and everyone left the stadium floor under a shower of fireworks with giant grins on their faces (with the exception of Bubba, Tedesco, and Rodriguez). The conclusion of an excruciatingly long 18-round series of bar-banging, a two-week break in the racing schedule, and the bright lights of Las Vegas in the background left the entire motocross industry with only one thing left to do that weekend in May-party!

RESULTS: 2005 LAS VEGAS SUPERCROSS

125cc Main Event

Davi Millsaps (Suz)

Grant Langston (Kaw)

Josh Grant (Hon)

Andrew Short (Hon)

Broc Hepler (Suz)

Nathan Ramsey (KTM)

Jay Marmont (KTM)

Billy Laninovich (Hon)

Josh Summey (Hon)

Paul Carpenter (Kaw)

250cc Main Event

Chad Reed (Yam)

Ricky Carmichael (Hon)

Kevin Windham (Hon)

David Vuillemin (Yam)

Heath Voss (Yam)

Travis Preston (Hon)

Tim Ferry (Yam)

Erick Vallejo (Yam)

Ryan Clark (Yam)

Damon Huffman (Hon)

CAPTIONS:

VEG01: ***NO CAPTION; USED FOR LEAD SPREAD***

VEG02: There was no other way that Chad Reed would have wanted to finish off the season than how he did it in Vegas. Though it was a case of too little, too late for Reedy’s 2005 SX title hopes, Chad’s Sin City victory was a great soother for his second-place series spot. Even after capitalizing on Windham’s mistake and inheriting a solid lead, he continued to nail corner after corner like a man possessed until the checkers. Chad was a worthy competitor for #4 in ’05.

VEG03: Davi Millsaps was all money in the Las Vegas Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial East/West Shootout, taking home the glory for the right-hand-side of the states. If Millsaps could have only ridden like he did in Vegas throughout the 2005 East Coast 125cc rounds, things might have been a little more difficult for Langston. Millsaps secured a commanding lead early on after passing holeshot winner Jay Marmont and never looked back. Davi looked perfectly polished en route to his series finale victory, which he celebrated in style with a whip over the finish line jump.

VEG04: Josh Grant and the rest of the pack meet up at the end of what was quite possibly the weirdest start in motocross history. The field of riders blast out of the gate and down a very short straight, after which half the pack heads left and the other half right. Next comes a supermoto-style turn that is exactly identical for both groups (they just turned in opposite directions), followed by a fast straight on opposing sides of a locker room. The riders then meet back up in this spot after one more corner, where they come together to jump into a tricky rhythm section. Only in Vegas…

VEG05: The desert hills ahead of the riders made for a stunning backdrop at the start of the 125cc East/West Shootout. The riders actually lined up completely away from the stadium and could only be seen by spectators through the magic of gigantic television screens.

VEG06: Despite the fact that Carmichael didn’t get the start he wanted, you could tell that Ricky had nothing but Hangtown on his mind in Vegas as he did little to chase down race winner Chad Reed. Though RC didn’t win the battle, he won the war and is smart enough to know that an entirely new clash will begin at Hangtown in only two weeks. Ricky played things safe with a runner-up finish to Reed.

VEG07: If Las Vegas is any indication of what lies ahead in the upcoming outdoor series, you might want to start placing your bets on Grant Langston now. If you combine LLCoolG’s raw speed with his years of experience in previous National and World Championship series, you have the formula for what could be Grant’s second stateside tiddler title.

VEG08: After spending a frustrating year chasing down RC and Reed, Kevin Windham looked like he was going to put it all past him in Las Vegas when he rocketed to an enormous lead early on in the 250cc main. As luck would have it, though, not long after building up such a solid lead K-Dub threw it all away in a difficult jump section. By the time he got his CRF fired up and ready to go, Windham was forced to settle for third in the race as well as the series.

VEG09: The stage was set for a showdown of epic proportions for the 250cc four-stroke greats, with both series victors healthy and ready for battle in Vegas. Unfortunately, the performance was cut short after West Coast Champ Ivan Tedesco went down hard on lap one of the main event, surrendering any hope for a #1-plate battle for the lead.

VEG10: ***NO CAPTION; USED FOR LEAD SPREAD***

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he start of the 125cc East/West Shootout. The riders actually lined up completely away from the stadium and could only be seen by spectators through the magic of gigantic television screens.

VEG06: Despite the fact that Carmichael didn’t get the start he wanted, you could tell that Ricky had nothing but Hangtown on his mind in Vegas as he did little to chase down race winner Chad Reed. Though RC didn’t win the battle, he won the war and is smart enough to know that an entirely new clash will begin at Hangtown in only two weeks. Ricky played things safe with a runner-up finish to Reed.

VEG07: If Las Vegas is any indication of what lies ahead in the upcoming outdoor series, you might want to start placing your bets on Grant Langston now. If you combine LLCoolG’s raw speed with his years of experience in previous National and World Championship series, you have the formula for what could be Grant’s second stateside tiddler title.

VEG08: After spending a frustrating year chasing down RC and Reed, Kevin Windham looked like he was going to put it all past him in Las Vegas when he rocketed to an enormous lead early on in the 250cc main. As luck would have it, though, not long after building up such a solid lead K-Dub threw it all away in a difficult jump section. By the time he got his CRF fired up and ready to go, Windham was forced to settle for third in the race as well as the series.

VEG09: The stage was set for a showdown of epic proportions for the 250cc four-stroke greats, with both series victors healthy and ready for battle in Vegas. Unfortunately, the performance was cut short after West Coast Champ Ivan Tedesco went down hard on lap one of the main event, surrendering any hope for a #1-plate battle for the lead.

VEG10: ***NO CAPTION; USED FOR LEAD SPREAD***

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