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Ep. #24-25 The Greatest Gamble in Motocross

By Brett Smith

Ricky Carmichael’s shocking switch to Suzuki.

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Eighteen months in the making, this two-part story covers one of the great mysteries of our sport:

How did Suzuki convince Ricky Carmichael to switch teams for the 2005 season? How did Honda let him walk?

The basic surface details of this story are not a secret. Carmichael has discussed it often over the years but during the reporting phase of this project, we learned that his memory isn’t perfect, even his knowledge of the deal wasn’t 100%.

Carmichael and I chatted on and off for over a year and his memory sharpened the more we talked. And thanks to his inner circle, we unearthed documents and communication from the time period that led to the most accurate retelling of a pivotal period in Carmichael’s life and career.

It’s called “The Greatest Gamble” because three different parties put everything on the line with their decisions. For Carmichael, it was his reputation as a winning machine. Suzuki literally bet the farm to retain Carmichael’s services. Honda gambled by drawing a line. And that line cost them the winningest rider in the sport.

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