By Michael Antonovich
Photos by Jeff Kardas
It was obvious during the preseason that a new Eli Tomac had emerged from the ashes of his 2011 season. After losing the West Coast Lites Supercross title to Broc Tickle after an eventful, even controversial main event in Las Vegas, Tomac switched his focus to the coming outdoor season. But the summer held even more difficulties for the GEICO Powersports Honda racer, which included lackluster results, a massive get off during practice at Red Bud, and the DNQ that followed. Tomac spent the offseason refining his technique and skill, and debuted an aggressive riding style that looked very similar to that of teammate Justin Barcia.
Though this season was not easy by any means, as Tomac was forced to come through the LCQ at Anaheim One, suffered a DNF in San Diego, and lost the points lead, he never lost his composure and instead looked to the next race as motivation. We talked with Eli just after the Salt Lake City event and discussed the thrilling night with the new West Coast Lites champion.
After a long season, you wrapped up the championship in Salt Lake City. How does it feel? Does it feel sweeter after all that happened in San Diego?
Yeah, I definitely feel better than I was after San Diego (Laughs). After last year, coming so close, it bothered me all year and was like a hole in my stomach. So to do this is everything I have wished for. During the day, I wasn't really feeling it, but a light switch must have come on during the night show. The heat race was a little bit wild and I was buried, but somehow I came through and the track was flowing. In the main event I was bumped on the start but got through the first corner better and made clean passes.
This is redemption for you, isn't it?
Yeah, definitely (Laughs).
Did all of last year motivate you for this year and how bummed out were you after it happened? Now can you put that to rest?
Absolutely. I have the number one and last year is just last year, we can forget about it now.
Coming into Las Vegas, what do you do? Do you hope to put an exclamation point on the season and give Justin (Barcia) a run for his money?
Yeah, I would love to get five wins and it is going to be cool to see the whole GEICO out there with both number ones.
What does this do for you and the outdoors? Is this even more motivation?
Totally! I was not stoked on my outdoor season last year and this is extra motivation to get my act together for that.
How will you celebrate this week?
I am going home. I am stoked to go back to Colorado to be with my family and friends, because for me that is the best way to do it.
You had quite a few family members and friends here, didn't you?
Yeah, my Grandpa, aunts, and cousins were here. It was good to get it in front of them.
Did you know when you crossed the line that you had won the title and that Dean had gone down?
No, I had no idea! I knew that Dean had gone down but Musquin was in there, so I didn't know where he was at and how he finished. Then they told me I was only 25 points up and that I needed one more point, but then I guess they figured it out.
Was it tense down there for you and the team?
Yeah, it was. But once I knew, I was like, "This is awesome!" It was an awesome night for me, for sure.