This article is the second in our series on inspiring youth athletes to get involved with action sports. Stay tuned for more on Auto-Racing, Supercross, Motocross, and more!
The 2022 Monster Energy Supercross season has reached full throttle, and we break down how riders step into the world of supercross, prevent injury, and train for success.
Entering the world of Supercross
Supercross racing was created from the idea that motocross races could take place in a 'rock concert' styled setting. Brought to the United States in 1972, Supercross is considered the "Super Bowl" of motocross. This first event, held in the Los Angeles Coliseum, was so popular that by 1974 Supercross had its inaugural season with three American Motorcycle Association (AMA) sanctioned races spread over a few weeks, and the sport has continued for over 40 years now.
Monster Energy Supercross is an indoor racing series with 250 SX and 450 SX classes. If you are new to the sport or a concerned parent whose child expressed they have the 'need for speed' –– the numbers define the size of the engine (cubic centimeters or CC's) that the motorcycle has. These four-stroke motorcycles pack a punch. You'll see younger riders in the 250 SX class just starting their racing careers, while the more established and faster riders take on the 450 SX class. Riders have enough stability and control to take on each jump like dancers, eloquently choreographed and sequenced to land perfectly. After all, Supercross is NOT amateur hour at the circus. It's the main arena for pros to show off their skills.
The thrill of the chase
As the 30-second card is held up, indicating the time remaining before the gate drops, the hearts of each rider race. You can feel the RPMs rev through your body as the stadium erupts in excitement. Monster Energy shows always pack up to 100+ pyro elements for every show. The first rider that crosses the chalk line at the first turn— utilizing traction and throttle control earns the holeshot—is a critical component to winning this race.
With jumps up to 70 feet high in races where 40 qualify, 20 are in the main event—one daring person is a dragon's back jump away from taking the trophy home.
Only the strongest survive
Like gladiators going to battle, riders charge at the drop of the gate, which traps anyone trying to jump the start line. Quick on the draw like a top-notch gunslinger, the fastest can have the most control over a race. So how do these racers avoid crashes in the sport? Wired.com sat down with several top riders to answer what most parents may be asking.
"You fall at a much higher frequency in the beginning because you're learning. You're constantly pushing the envelope. But once you get to the pro ranks, you start learning how to conserve yourself," stated pro rider Ricky Johnson.
The key fundamentals of riding are critical for your child moving up the ranks to Supercross. Many riders start as mountain bikers or BMX tricksters. At the same time, others begin motocross right away on a beginner-friendly two-stroke.
In motorsports guide for kids, they even suggest starting your child out on a motorbike with training wheels to further teach stability and control - something the pros know all too well. Rider Weston Fryar started on a motorbike at just 18-months-old.
Weston's dad Mike, started him on a strider bike with no pedals to get Weston accustomed to moving around on two wheels. Next, Weston rode a small Oset electric motorcycle.
"We worked on fundamentals, but we had no idea what we were doing," Mike told The Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Weston then moved up to a 50cc, shaft-driven minibike. Today, Weston competes in Monster Energy's Amateur Championships among others. Coaches say he's made of Champion material.
Not all racers have the benefits of starting that young and remaining consistent. Many riders get a little help through the off season. Aldon Baker, one of the top coaches in Supercross, keeps athletes in the best shape during the on and off-season.
"As much as I have a plan and we know the bases that we have to cover with the riding, with the cardio, with the strength, even to the nutrition, it still needs to be monitored really well for each individual guy to understand if we are progressing or not," stated Baker in a recent interview.
Whether you're new to the sport of diving into your 20th season as a fan cheering on the greats, the 'show' has something the whole family can enjoy. Perhaps that is the tremendous appeal to Supercross as both a fan and rider—the challenge of having enough mental and physical strength to accomplish a race at high-speed. Learning to accept challenges Supercross provides is all a part of the process.