Facts: First Time Supercross Winners

With so many rookies and yet-to-win factory riders on the line in 2024, we’ve written and answered three bench racing questions to take to your Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 1 watch parties:

  1. Will we see a rider win his first ever 450SX main event?
  2. How many different riders will earn a win in 2024?
  3. How many first-time winners will emerge in 2024?
Jett and Hunter Lawrence, 2023
You only get one shot at the first shot: Jett and Hunter Lawrence will both line up for their very first 450SX races on Jan. 6, 2024. Photo: Garth Milan

Question 1: Can Jett Lawrence do what has never been done?

We Went Fast says no. And neither does his brother, Hunter. Or Jorge Prado.

We’re also going to simply say history repeats itself; no rider** has ever won their first 450SX on their very first try. Four riders, however, have won on their second try.

Only three riders could reasonably turn the answer to question #1 into a ‘yes’: Hunter and Jett Lawrence and Jorge Prado will line up for their very first 450SX event on Jan. 6.

Jorge Prado
Reigning MXGP champion, Jorge Prado, will line up for his very first AMA Supercross race on Jan. 6, 2024. Photo: Samo Vidic

Four riders, however, won their SECOND 450SX race:

2013: Justin Barcia is the only rider to ever do it in the same year (and on consecutive weekends). Barcia finished 7th at the Anaheim Supercross opener, then won in Phoenix seven days later. He finished 20th at round 3.

2008-2009: Josh Grant finished 6th at the 2008 Seattle Supercross and then won the 2009 opener in Anaheim. He finished 3rd a week later in Phoenix.

1997-1998: At the LA Coliseum, on Jan. 18, 1997, Sebastien Tortelli finished 7th. One year later, he returned to LA and won a mudder.

Sebastien Tortelli, 1998
Sebastien Tortelli at the 1998 Los Angeles Supercross. Photo: Frank Hoppen

He competed in four more Supercross races in 1998 (4th in Indianapolis) before returning to Europe and winning the 250cc World Motocross championship.

NOTABLE: Tortelli’s first 450SX was the second round of the series. He was supposed to race round one in 1997 (also in LA) but returned too late from a ski trip. He attended as a spectator.

1989-1990: Sixteen-year-old Damon Bradshaw crashed out of his heat race at the opening round of 1989 (Anaheim). That’s right, Bradshaw raced the 250 class before he ever lined up for the 125 class!

But then he lined up at round 4 (San Diego) and finished 3rd behind Ricky Johnson and Jeff Stanton. One year later, he moved to the premier class and won the first two races of the 1990 season. He went 19-20 at rounds 3 and 4.

So Bradshaw won his second main event start in the premier class but it was, technically, his third entry in the class.

All-Timers and First Wins

How many 450SX gate drops did the top 5 all-time see before their first win?

NOTE: Start # = the race the rider got his first win (McGrath won in his 9th attempt)

First Race, Second Place

These riders finished 2nd place in their first premier class race.

**Jimmy Ellis and Pierre Karsmakers fans can certainly try to make arguments. These two won their first Yamaha SuperSeries races (Houston 1975 for Ellis and Daytona 1974 for Karsmakers). But it was also the VERY beginning of the sport as a series.

Question 2: How Many Different Riders Win?

I say three riders to control the wins column in 2024 while two more unique names get single wins (think mudder, think mechanicals, think big first turn pileup that puts a few top riders behind).

Were you hoping I’d feed you a clever cliché about the ‘stacked’ field? Sorry. Keep in mind that pyramids are stacked structures and that’s what Supercross wins history looks like.

Jett Lawrence, Los Angeles 2023
Safe money says Jett Lawrence gets a 450SX win eventually. The question is, when? Photo: Garth Milan

Historical data says slightly fewer than five riders will win in a season. Five riders won in 2023 and four riders won in 2022. It’s been as few as one (1975) and two (1996, 2001) and since 2001 hasn’t been more than six in a single season.

The most ever? Eight different riders won races in a series only 11 races long! Ron Lechien won the most (3) but finished 3rd overall, six points out of a tie for the title.

1985 Supercross Winners
1985 Supercross Winners Chart
In 1985, eight different winners won a Supercross main event. All 8 riders above are in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Question 3: How Many New Winners?

Simple math says we get 1.3 new (first time) winners each season. I like two new names for 2024.

In 2021 and 2023, no new winners emerged but for 13 straight seasons (2008-2020) there was at least one new winner.

BENCH RACING (OPINION)

Straight Up: Who wins the 2024 Anaheim 1 Main Event?

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Thirty three races have passed since Chase Sexton won San Diego in 2022. With the Lawrence brothers moving up, Justin Cooper going 450SX full-time and Malcolm Stewart (who finished third overall in 2022) returning from a knee injury, pre-race gamblers can make strong arguments for saying 2024 has at least two new winners.

Chase Sexton, San Diego 2022
Jan. 22, 2022 – Coming into the 2024 season, this was the last time a new rider was added to the all-time SX wins list: Chase Sexton led all 23 laps of the San Diego Supercross.

But can we get FOUR new winners? That’s the most all-time in a single season. Of the riders who finished 7th-20th in the 2023 Supercross points standings, all but one are still looking for their first 450SX win. That includes names like Aaron Plessinger (so close in Detroit 2023), and Adam Cianciarulo (led 20 laps at San Diego 2020) . And don’t forget about two-time 250SX champion Dylan Ferrandis, who exited the 2023 season after 4-6-5 finishes.

Four new winners in a season is so rare that it’s only happened twice and, surprisingly, neither of those times happened in the 1970s or 1980s when the sport was still new. Yet, it’s been so long that none of the notable 2024 450SX rookies (Lawrence bros., Cooper, Prado) were even born.

Seven different riders won in 1997, four of them for the first time.

Greg Albertyn, 1997
Greg Albertyn won the opening round of the 1997 Supercross Series, the first of four new winners that year. Cycle News Archives

Greg Albertyn was absolutely NOT the Suzuki rider anyone expected to win the opener in LA; Damon Huffman, Ezra Lusk and Kevin Windham–still a full-time 125cc rider–also grabbed wins. Lusk actually won twice.

1997: New SX Winners

In 1990, three teenagers and a two-time world champion took their first wins. Seventeen-year-old Damon Bradshaw and two-time 125SX West champion Jeff Matiasevich were expected to dominate the sport through the decade.

Bradshaw won the opening two rounds and took a massive 18-point lead into round three in San Diego where he crashed out of the main. He won five total races but finished 8th in points.

Damon Bradshaw, 1990
Damon Bradshaw won the opening round of the 1990 Supercross Series, the first of four new winners that year. Cycle News Archives

Matiasevich was the most consistent rider through the first eight rounds, won in Las Vegas, but lost the title by 21 points when his consistency waned.

Jean Michel Bayle returned to America after winning the 1989 250cc FIM World MX title and, like Bradshaw, won five rounds in 1990 but lost to his teammate Jeff Stanton. He missed rounds 2-3 with a hyper-extended elbow and finished 20th in Charlotte (pulled out of the main), yet only lost the title by 7 points.

1990: New SX Winners
Jean-Michel Bayle, Jeff Matiasevich, Damon Bradshaw
Jean-Michel Bayle (left), Jeff Matiasevich and Damon Bradshaw (right) made up the podium at the opening round in 1990. All three got their first wins that season. Cycle News Archives

If four new winners is a stretch for you, maybe just three new names get added to the all-time wins list. When was the last time that happened, exactly? Forty years ago! And it also happened three years in a row (1978-1980)

1984: New SX Winners

1980: New SX Winners
1979: New SX Winners

*This happened on Wise’s 22nd birthday!

1978: New SX Winners

*Tripes won the 1972 and 1973 Super Bowl of Motocross events in the LA Coliseum but didn’t win a points-paying Supercross Championship race until 1978