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An Ode to the Ironmen of Moto

By Brett Smith

Chad Reed stood on 190 AMA series podiums in his 21 years but he will not stand on this one. In this metric, he may forever be fourth place. The future AMA Hall of Fame member will not line up in Houston on January 16, 2021 but he’ll be remembered as a true Ironman of Moto. He ends an historic career with 386 starts between the Monster Energy Supercross and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships. It’s an astonishing count that started with the 1999 San Diego Supercross, when Bill Clinton was president, the dot com stock bubble was still growing, and two strokes still ruled. 

In his 21 years, he got to compete against his hero, Jeremy McGrath, outlasted his rival Ricky Carmichael by 13 seasons, and went pro almost 10 years before Ryan Dungey but raced three more season after Dungey retired. 

Chad Reed AMA Career Stats (125/250/450 Combined)
Chad Reed AMA Career Stats (125/250/450 Combined)

Is It Really Over?

And with the 2021 season upon us, we’re all realizing it’s over. “I’ll for sure miss everyone,” Chad Reed said on Twitter. “Was a weird ending but unfortunately I don’t believe ’21 will be any different so no SX races for me.”

With 386 races between the 125/250/450 divisions, Reed’s run ends 40 races behind Mike LaRocco (426) who, like Reed, spent a notable chunk of his career racing only Supercross. Between LaRocco and Reed sits Larry Ward (399) and Nick Wey (395). 

Most AMA SX/MX Races All-Time (125/250/450, Combined)
AMA Supercross Top 20 All-Time Starts
Most SX Main Events all-time (125/250/450 Combined)

The true number of professional motorcycle races Reed entered, however, is well beyond 400. Before coming to America he spent a season on the MXGP circuit, competing in 14 races en route to second overall in the 250cc class. Before that he raced in the Australian National motocross and Supercross championships. And as far back as 1997, he competed against Josh Coppins in New Zealand, simply because it was legal there to race pro as a 15 year old. Reed has watched a lot of gate drops. 

We’re going to miss Reed’s strong opinions, his graceful riding style and his willingness to line up every weekend even when his body said ‘why tho?’ He’s among the small handful of riders whose AMA careers extended beyond 20 years.

Among the top 20 of most AMA MX/SX race starts all-time (125/250/450), Justin Brayton (8th) is the only active rider. He only competes in Supercross. To catch and tie Reed, Brayton would have to line up for every single main event through the end of 2024 when he’s 40 years old. To pass him, he’ll have to show up at round one in 2025. It’s unlikely, but not impossible given how much Brayton loves lining up behind the gate. 

Can Anyone Catch Reed?

Looking only at Supercross starts (125/250/450 combined), Reed leads with 274, 34 races ahead of LaRocco. Brayton (7th) will pass the King, Jeremy McGrath at round one on January 16, 2021 and sit fifth by the end of the season. 

But to pass Reed? He’ll need to line up for every single main event between now and round three of 2025. Kyle Chisholm is the only other active rider within the top 20 of all-time Supercross main events (148). He’s tied with James Stewart and must race until almost halfway through 2027 to reach 275. 

Most SX Main Events among active riders (125/250/450 combined)

Among the current field of riders on the all-time chart, it’s almost comical to mention how far they have to go to break into the top five or surpass the absolute Ironman, Mike LaRocco (426). Eli Tomac (257) would have to compete in every single MX/SX race (29 a season) until the end of 2026 to pass LaRocco. But that’s not realistic even with Eli’s 26-races-a-year average, the highest among all riders with over 200 races. If he maintains his career average race rate, it would take him almost to the end of the Supercross season in 2027 to pass LaRocco. He’d be 34 years old. 

Fun Facts

  • Chad Reed is the only foreign born rider in the top 20 of the all-time SX/MX races chart.
  • Of the top 10, five of them won 1 or fewer Supercross main events in the premiere class.
  • Of the top 20, 12 won 1 or fewer SX main events in the premiere class. Eight of them never won at all.
  • Holy consistency: In Supercross, Ryan Dungey scored 20.4 points per main event, slightly higher than Jeremy McGrath (20.2) and more than one point higher than Ricky Carmichael (19.3)
  • For a deeper dive into Reed’s career, read the We Went Fast Original “Against The Current”. It’s a longform piece about how he clawed his way to achieving his goal of racing in America. Also available as a podcast, search “We Went Fast” in your preferred podcast player.

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