Motocross: A Pro Nationals primer
This Saturday, the population of Millville will balloon to 100 times it’s normal size as more than 20,000 fans descend upon Spring Creek MX Park for the 36th annual AMA Pro Motocross national championships.
Saturday’s races – Round 8 of the 12-round championship series – begin with qualifying and practice at 8:30 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 12:30 p.m. and pro motos at 1 p.m.
The racing will showcase some of the world’s most talented riders, on a track considered by many, to be the finest in the United States.
DATES BACK DECADES
Motocross started in Europe back in the 1940s, when riders began racing their motorcycles over the ungroomed countryside to test both the motorcycle and the rider. The sport made its way to the United States in the late 1960s.
Races are held on a closed course over a wide variety of terrain, usually the rougher the better. Riders in AMA Pro national championship series events compete on either a 450cc machine or a 250cc machine. Each race day consists of two championship points-paying motos, lasting 30 minutes, plus two laps. The rider collecting the most championship points over the two motos is given the overall victory for that round.
The motorcycles the riders compete on are a technical marvel.
They are fuel-injected with adjustable mapping. A 450cc engine produces more than 60 horsepower, while weighing in at a mere 230 pounds. The 250cc machines are close to 50 horsepower and weigh slightly less than the bigger bikes. Fourteen inches of suspension grace both front and rear of the motorcycle, allowing the riders to traverse the rough terrain and land from huge jumps of more than 100 feet.
STRENGTH, ENDURANCE REQUIRED
Racers competing at the professional level can be considered some of the finest athletes on the planet. Their physical fitness is second to no athlete; a motocross racer will attain a heart rate of about 200 beats per minute and maintain that for the duration of the race.
The strength and endurance needed to do that takes thousands of hours of training. Most racers have personal trainers and live on a very strict routine of diet and exercise.
The excitement of a motocross race is hard to match. It all begins with the start, with riders lined up side by side behind a backwards-falling gate.
When that gate drops, riders are funneled toward the first corner on a quickly narrowing track. The rider who completes the corner first is said to have the “hole shot.” With each lap, the track gets rougher; riders must adjust constantly, looking for a smoother line to aid in acceleration, while saving their energy.
There are strong local connections to Saturday’s race, including Rochester’s Henry Miller. He races the No. 48 Yamaha 450 for Triggr Racing and now sits in 17th place in the points standings in just his second full year of racing in that division. Miller missed the first two races of the year and his improving results have opened a lot of eyes in the industry, which could lead to a contact to ride for one of the national race teams.
The Martin brothers – Jeremy and Alex – of Millville have reached that goal.
Alex, the older of the two at 29, rides for Troy Lee Designs KTM in the 250 class is currently in second place in the series and looks to use a home-track advantage to close in on the points lead.
Jeremy Martin races for Geico Factory Honda in the 250 class. He is a multi time champion, who was hoping to collect his third title this year, but a severe back injury at round six in Tennessee has him sidelined for the rest of the season.
Among the other local riders competing will be Byron teenager Ben Adamson, who at 19 years old, is making his professional debut in the 250 class.