Epilogue: For Suzuki and Carmichael, the gamble paid off. For Honda…

Carmichael continued to win. In 2005 he returned to Supercross and regained his title, giving Suzuki its first since 1981. In motocross, he won all 12 overalls for the third time in his career, falling two motos shy of yet another perfect season. In 2006, he won double championships again. In 2007, he cut his schedule in half and raced a partial season. He was first or second place in every single race he entered. 

Ricky Carmichael, 2005, Supercross
In 2005, Ricky Carmichael gave Suzuki its first premier SX Championship since 1981. Photo: Frank Hoppen

For Honda, 2005 started on a high note. Kevin Windham won a very wet and sloppy Anaheim Supercross opener. All the hype was on the new champion, Chad Reed, Suzuki’s new rider, Carmichael, and the premier class rookie James Stewart. But it was Windham and Honda that stole the headlines. 

But Honda didn’t win another race – motocross or supercross – until July 2007, when Windham won the Unadilla Motocross, the first round Carmichael didn’t race in his retirement season. Honda was once the most dominant brand competing in the sport, a complete dynasty as the Yankees, Patriots and Celtics have been at times in their respective major league sports.

FAST TRIVIA

How many AMA Pro Motocross races did Carmichael NOT win in his career? (He won 102 overalls)

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When Chase Sexton fell seven points shy of winning the 2022 Pro Motocross title, Honda’s premier class drought extended to 18 seasons and set a new record among brands that have been active since the 1970s. Suzuki owned the old record at 17 seasons. 

OEM Droughts

Johnny O’Mara, who won his championships with Honda in the 1980s and now works with brothers Jett and Hunter Lawrence as a riding coach says Honda has definitely paid a steep price over the past two decades. He’s optimistic though. “It’s going to happen in the near future,” he says. “But they still can’t move forward without thinking about Ricky.”

Chase Sexton wins the 2023 Supercross Championship in Salt Lake City. Photo: Octopi Media
In 2023, Chase Sexton gave Honda its first Supercross Championship in 20 years. Photo: Octopi Media

On May 13, 2023, it finally happened. Honda’s agonizing drought ended a few months shy of 19 years. Throughout the Monster Energy Supercross season, Sexton stayed in the hunt despite a series of inexplicable, win-robbing late race crashes and a costly mid-season points penalty. When disasters befell two championship rivals, Sexton was close enough to capitalize. 

The Curse of The Goat is finally over.

Thank you for reading “The Greatest Gamble in Motocross” and thank you to the dozens of people who made this story possible. Help us tell more stories by visiting shop.wewentfast.com where we have We Went Fast branded apparel and art and a selection of officially licensed Ricky Carmichael swag.