The Big One: Everything Changed At The 2013 Daytona Supercross

Photos by Jeff Kardas

There is no race on the American motocross calendar more historic than Daytona. Anaheim may have the pomp, Las Vegas the after party, and Washougal the vibe, but Daytona is truly motocross. It has been part of the sport for years, longer than any of us at TWMX have been into moto (or alive for some of us), and for good reason. The track is horribly taxing on man and machine and basically turns into one long, bumpy rut that flows through the entire layout. It is a sign of every racer’s fitness level and a precursor to what they and we should expect at the 12 Nationals that will string us through the summer.

The lush Daytona grass is covered by truckloads of clay and sand for a course designed by Ricky Carmichael. After Saturday night's show, it is tamed down for the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross and Monday's RC University.

As you can see, the track use almost every inch of the infield and stretches down the pit lane.

It's been a busy three months in Daytona. First was the Rolex 24 Hour marathon race, then Speedweeks and the Daytona 500, and now Bike Week. Supercross by Honda kicked off this year's Bike Week and the track will host a list of road racing events and flat track (you should check that out if possible) before going dormant until July and the second NASCAR stop of the year.

Fans are welcome to stand on the high banks of the front straight and watch the night's action. Crazy to think just weeks ago that this was the site of Kyle Larson's terrifying Nationwide finish.

If you're ever able to get a moment, make sure to add your name to the finish line at the track.

We kind of miss the old days of the race taking place under the sun. Daytona will be rough regardless of the time it is run, but the heat and humidity added another element for racers to overcome. It was also when the gear brands unveiled their summer lines, complete with vented panels and all-white colorways.

Kevin Windham's draw is massive, no matter the city or state. The "swan song" tour is coming to a close and after that, who knows when we'll ever see another transfer? Better get your tickets.

The pit setup is a bit different at Daytona. Instead of working of out rigs like usual, the teams shuttle all of the necessary equipment into the garage areas, ala NASCAR. Teams still keep fans at bay with their portable fences, but there is no where to hide when things go awry.

Need evidence at how open and uncontained the garage is? Here Ryan Dungey buckles up just feet away from MotoConcepts Racing's area.

It's been a hell of a week for the AMA. The ruling body for Supercross was drug over the coals countless times in regards to the Ryan Villopoto/James Stewart St. Louis main event pass, but they simply stated that the ruling stood and tried to move on. That would prove to be impossible, thanks to SPEED's questioning. The live TV clip showed the pass from an overhead view and one more explanation. Let's move on now, shall we?

Ken Roczen's pre-moto ritual is intense. The Red Bull KTM rider does a quick series of jumps and stretches before he mounts his bike and tears around the track. Must work, since the guy is leading the 250 West Coast championship.

Ken Roczen's ride once again proved that the KTM 350 SX-F can be competitive in the right hands. Yes, the mid-bore machine didn't quite catch on like many expected, but they are a unique and powerful bike that is a blast to hit the track on.

Daytona is just as hard on bikes as it is riders. Here Lance Vincent's Munn Racing KTM gets a fresh clutch before another round on the track.

Whatever the issue was that plagued Ryan Villopoto at the opening rounds of the year has been remedied by Mike Williamson and the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. Villopoto is on small tear with back-to-back wins and is again on his way to a third title.

It took some time, but Chad Reed and the TwoTwo Motorsports team have figured out the new Honda. All it took was dropping the revolutionary air fork and a switch back to the standard spring fork. Reed's team is stocked with some of the most intelligent minds to turn a wrench and they reverted back to the old setup in in Atlanta.

There is little time to regroup with the team before riders are swarmed by the SPEED crew for a live interview.

The pairing of Justin Barcia and Mike Tomlin is one not to be messed with. The two have worked together for years, have netted a pair of East Coast SX titles, and already hit the top step of the podium twice since making the step to the 450.

During Saturday night's broadcast, an interesting fact was pointed out. At last year's Daytona Supercross, there was only one KTM in the 450 class. Fast-forward to 2013, where the field is littered with them. Funny what a championship can do.

Because it is not a Feld even, the opening ceremonies in Daytona are a tad bit different than the other 16 rounds. No matter, the fans are thrilled to see some fireworks.

It may have taken a few rounds, but the Eli Tomac Experiment is starting to starting to pay off. Tomac had a rough go in the first two stops, even coming through the LCQ in St. Louis, but his fourth place run in Daytona was just what many expected. Fingers are crossed that he lands on the 450 all summer.

Davi Millsaps' season has taken a turn. His weekend in St. Louis was a success considering the fact that his arm pumped up almost immediately after getting hit by Trey Canard, then was on the receiving end of controversial pass by Ryan Dungey under the flashing yellow lights. A mid-week crash while practicing had the Rockstar Energy Racing team captain far from 100-percent in Daytona, where he crashed twice in the main event. He would salvage a 10th place finish, but still lost the point lead in the championship.

Wil Hahn is one step closer to claiming his first professional title. He tracked down and passed Dean Wilson in the main event before finishing second place to Marvin Musquin. While second place may not be a victory, it did push his lead over Wilson to five points in the standings.

There is no questioning Zach Bell's speed or skill, but the GEICO Honda rookie is finding out just how steep the learning curve is at the professional level. He has hit the deck in all four of his first SX races. It started with the gruesome free-fall in Arlington, another crash in the main, a cased double in Atlanta, a washed out after winning the St. Louis LCQ, and now two tip overs in Daytona. Bell was laid over in a corner much like this before his bike caught the ground, stopped in its tracks, and pinned him beneath. Once he figures out the perfect mix of all-out speed and control, he will be a contender.

Bell's first fall in the main actually wasn't his fault. He and Dean Wilson were engaged in a close battle when the veteran Wilson leaned in and clipped the rookie's handlebars as they crested an off-chamber turn. This rattled Bell's front-end and dropped him deep in the field.

Marvin Musquin's technique prevailed on the technical and rutted Daytona course. The Red Bull KTM racer wasted no time building a lead over the rest of the pack in the main event (seen here) and maintained nearly the same pace for all 15 laps. His ability to navigate through the constant ruts already have many picking him for a outdoor title.

The win is monumental for Marvin and his wife, Mathilde'. The couple has been together for years, through two World titles, a move to the US, and a few setbacks and injuries. Things like this make all of it worthwhile.

Jeremy Martin has already come a long way since his first Supercross race in Arlington. The Myplash/Metal Mulisha/Rockstar/Star Racing Yamaha rider went from failing to make the main event to finishing on the box just three weeks later. Martin's training program is one of championship caliber, as he rides at the Carmichael Farm in Tallahassee, Florida, under the eye Momma Carmichael.

Villopoto's Kawasaki might have had too much power in the sands of Daytona. He twice blew out corners, once in the heat and once in the main, and briefly off the track before settling down and taking the win.

It's Daytona. How else would one celebrate a win other than a burnout?

Ryan Dungey's second place finish at Daytona was incredibly quiet but well-earned. The Red Bull KTM rider picked off riders and climbed up the rankings, but was never within striking distance of Villopoto. This podium finish puts him 14 points out of the championship lead.

Trey Canard's mistake and save in the heat race made the Daytona crowd gasp. Canard whiskey-throttled into the oncoming lane with this air-wheelie, but luckily there were no riders nearby.

Daytona may be Ken Roczen's lone race in the 450 class, but the German proved that he will be just fine when the fulltime switch comes. Roczen tracked down and passed Andrew Short in the heat race before a bobble in the long mogul section and a late-race charge by James Stewart dropped him to second. His main event would be eventful, as he inherited the lead from Villopoto momentarily after the Kawasaki rider made a mistake and fell back to seventh.

Seven and Red Bull designed a special set of a gear for James Stewart at Daytona to showcase the new Red edition energy drink. The cranberry flavored version is part of a set of three new drinks made by the Austrian giant and James Stewart is not lying when he said that it is good. Look for it in stores nationwide soon.

You undoubtedly saw how prominent the Honda marketing was at Daytona, but it is for good reason. The Japanese brand made their debut in American motocross at the 1973 running of the event and this year marked their 40th year as part of the sport.

Another way the Daytona SX differs from the rest is the up-close look the fans get at the racing and riders. Spectators can view the event from the front straightaway or in the stands, then are invited to the podium for the champagne.

Dean Wilson's main event was harsh and uncharacteristic of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider. A severe case of arm pump dropped him from second to fourth, despite his best attempts and block passes to keep riders behind him. In the SPEED broadcast, he revealed that between Arlington and Atlanta he crashed and suffered a minor concussion. Any concussion is a major issue and one must assume it is affecting the 250 title favorite.

The heat race battle between close friends and riding partners Andrew Short and Ken Roczen was entertaining and what one must assume was a daily occurrence when Roczen spent his summer in Texas.

The first 450 heat race of the night was a thriller, as it featured close racing, three lead changes, James Stewart's massive rhythm section choices, and a last-lap pass that gave Stewart the win.

We love the way Jeff Kardas caught Zach Bell and his black Alias gear against the black and white upper deck seats.

Do you dig Chad Reed's limited-edition red Shift kit? It is now up for sale at Fox dealers, but you'd better act fast. Reaction to it was overwhelmingly positive.

If this photo was pulled back just a bit, it would be way less awkward.

See you in Indy…