FAST TIMES: 2024 Anaheim 1 Supercross Preview

Welcome to the We Went Fast Supercross Preview Doc. Each week we prepare a list of top stories for the NBC Broadcast crew to help them prep for the next race. This first one is a monster!

For members of the We Went Fast Garage, going forward these preview documents will be available every Thursday. This is a new $49.99 subscription service that we’re launching this weekend and, to speak figuratively, we’re putting the graphics on the bike WHILE we’re lining up for the race.

The Garage includes several products (such as this preview doc) that core fans and stats geeks will enjoy.

Bear with us, some of it is free this weekend, some of it is behind a paywall, but if you believe in us enough to get this figured out (and we will), then go register! After round 3, The Garage will be members only.

Click above to check out the Race Center, a component of The We Went Fast Garage

IMPORTANT: We’re capping subscribers at 250 in 2024. The first 50 will be considered “Founding Members” and will get a We Went Fast hat in an exclusive color way.

Links You Need

RACE CENTER

ANAHEIM VENUE PAGE

ANAHEIM RACE DAY INSIDER

Enough ‘splaining. Let’s talk Soupy!


The Golden Anniversary of Supercross

Supercross celebrates 50 years of championships in 2024.

742 total events

66 different winners

62 different Stadiums

Top 10 All-Time Winners

*Active riders

Three active riders are in the top 10 on the all-time wins list.

In 2023, Eli Tomac, climbed from 4th on the all-time wins list (T. Chad Reed) to sole possession of second.

Ken Roczen started the year tied with Jeff Ward for 10th overall. He won the Indianapolis SX and ended the year tied with Cooper Webb for 10th overall.

Ken Roczen, 2023 Indianapolis Supercross
Kickstart Kenny, Ken Roczen, after winning the 2023 Indianapolis Supercross. Photo: Garth Milan

Webb’s two wins in 2023 gave him sole possession of 10th overall for two weeks before Roczen won in Indy.

Roczen is the only rider in the top 10 without a Supercross Championship.

Jason Anderson (14) is the closest active rider not yet in the top 10.

One third (23) of the 66 have just one main event win.

Thirty-four-year-old Josh Hill is the only active rider with a single win (2008). Hill finished 13th overall in 2024 450SX.

🤯 450SX rookie Jett Lawrence was born in August 2003, more than two years AFTER Jeremy McGrath’s 72nd SX win.

🤯 Eli Tomac was two months old when McGrath won his first SX main event in January 1993

Top Supercross Towns

The series has visited these markets most. With Atlanta absent from the schedule for the first time since 1988, Seattle will take sole possession of the #5 spot.

A = Anaheim. Photo: Frank Hoppen

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Chase Sexton to KTM: For the first time since 2009 (C. Reed: Yamaha to Suzuki), the defending Supercross champion will line up at round one on a brand different from what he used to win the title. Sexton moves to KTM from Team HRC Honda after winning the 2023 Supercross title!

Chase Sexton 450SX Career Snapshot

Sexton was fastest qualifier in 48% of his starts aboard Team Honda HRC.

If Sexton repeats, he would be the first to win (at least) two consecutive titles since Ryan Dungey (2015-2017).

Chase Sexton, 2023
Chase Sexton at the KTM Test track. Photo: Simon Cudby

8: Number of times back-to-back (or more) titles have been won in SX history (Hannah 77-79, Stanton 89-90, McGrath 93-97, McGrath 99-00, RC 01-03, RC 05-06, Villopoto 11-14, Dungey 15-17)

#4: Yes, Sexton changed his permanent number from 23 to 4 but since champions are required to run the #1 plate we won’t see #4 on the track until the Pala Pro Motocross in May.

KEY NOTE: For the first time in his professional career, Sexton will compete on a steel-framed motorcycle.

He said the KTM feels completely different than the aluminum-framed Honda, and KTM is responding well to accommodating his settings needs. There has been no shortage of parts to try.

He said the KTM is “planted to the ground” and he loves the way it corners. It also feels stiffer and needs to be “loaded”, which fits his riding style. He’s enjoyed the challenge of learning a new bike but they’re still searching for a “plusher feeling”.

Cooper Webb (back) to Yamaha

After (almost) five seasons with KTM, two-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion Cooper Webb returns to Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha where he spent the first two years of his 450 career (2017-2018).

Cooper Webb Yamaha vs. KTM (SX only)
Cooper Webb, SMX, 2023
Cooper Webb on his way to 3rd overall at the 2023 SMX Finals in Los Angeles. Monster Energy Photo

8-7-3 overall finishes at the Supercross Motocross World Championships in September.

Webb finished 3rd in the moto 2 at LA, 38 seconds behind the winner. Was running a distant 4th when Sexton, crashed out on lap 10.

KEY NOTE: Yes, it’s not the same Yamaha he rode in 2017-2018 but it’s undeniable that all of Webb’s 450 success came on a KTM and the steel-framed chassis. SMX wasn’t an instant turn around but Webb wasn’t worried when we spoke with him in early December: “Once you go racing, that’s when you learn the most.”


The Book of Eli: Next Chapter

SOMETHING “SPECIAL”: Eli Tomac pays attention to where he is among the all-time greats of the sport.

“It’s great to be in that territory,” he said when asked about moving into 2nd on the Supercross wins list.

He admitted it felt “special” to move into the top three on the list.

Eli Tomac, Anaheim 1, 2023
Eli Tomac on his way to victory at Round 1 in 2023. It was Tomac’s first ever opening round win.

WOAH: In May 1995, when Jeremy McGrath passed Rick Johnson to become the all-time Supercross wins leader, Eli Tomac was two and a half years old.

Now 31, Tomac is an all-timer himself. In 2023, he leaped from a tie for 4th to 2nd in Supercross wins (51). While he’s probably not catching Jeremy McGrath’s record of 72, he is within reasonable reach of most combined SX/MX podiums.

He is currently 4th with 166 podiums and needs just 11 top 3 finishes to pass Ryan Dungey, Ricky Carmichael, and Chad Reed (176) to be first all-time.

For reference: In his 10 years of 450SX, Tomac has finished the season with 11 or more podiums six different times.

MOTIVATED: When Tomac ruptured his Achilles tendon while leading on the 4th lap of the Denver Supercross, he abruptly saw what the end looks like.

After recovering from the anger and emotions of the unexplainable, he asked himself “do I have time?” as in, can I heal well enough to return to racing in 2024?

When he determined he could, the next question he asked himself was “Do I want to do this again? Yes,” he told himself. “It was sickening to think of going out that way.”

Tomac came to the pre-season Media Days at Anaheim with excitement and energy in both his eyes and voice. He went through each station as if it were his last time, which it very well could be. He originally called 2023 his last season.


First Time’s (Not) The Charm

NBD: True 450SX rookies Hunter and Jett Lawrence have an opportunity to pull off what skaters and snowboarders call an NBD (never been done). On Jan. 6, each will line up for their very first 450SX event.

Jett and Hunter Lawrence
Jett and Hunter Lawrence compete in a Skills Challenge at their compound in Dade City, FL. Photo: Garth Milan

No rider* has ever won their first 450SX on their very first try but four riders won on their second try

2013: Justin Barcia is the only rider to ever do this 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 at round two. One year later, he returned to LA and won a mudder.

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

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

NOTABLE: Tortelli was supposed to race Supercross 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?

First Race, Second Place

There’s a few notable riders that finished 2nd 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.

Jett Lawrence, 2023
To make it fair for the competition, Jett Lawrence has decided to race Supercross on a quad in 2024. Photo: Garth Milan

New 250SX Champion

Both 250SX Regional champions have moved to the 450 division, leaving an opportunity for a new champ (Recently happened in 2022 when Jett and Craig won their first SX titles and 2019 when Sexton and Ferrandis won their first SX titles)

Jo Shimoda enters his fifth season of 250SX racing. He has switched to American Honda after three seasons at Pro Circuit Kawasaki.

Shimoda has 31 250SX starts and 1 win (2021, SLC 1)In late Jan. 2023, he broke his right collarbone while testing for the upcoming 250SX East series.

He returned for the final four rounds (4-9-2-4).

On the Honda: “First time I went on the bike, I said, ‘This is crazy. Now I get why Lawrence brothers can do so many crazy things at the track.’”

RJ Hampshire begins his 10th season in the 250 class. In 57 races, he has 2 wins, 14 podium finishes and 30 top five placings. His best overall season was 2022 when he finished 2nd in 250SX East.

Austin Forkner, 24, will make his 8th attempt at winning a 250SX championship. He has lined up for 39 250SX races.

His 2023 season didn’t make it to the first corner of the Anaheim 1 main event. Coming out of the gate, Forkner banged elbows with RJ Hampshire, then drifted into the rear wheel of Cameron McAdoo. He was catapulted into the air and landed violently on his right leg, which tore his right ACL and fractured his tibia and fibula. All in the middle of the start straight.

Forkner has 12 career 250SX main event wins. He’s tied for 5th all-time, just one win behind Jeremy McGrath and the Lawrence Brothers and 6 behind the all-time leader James Stewart.

Note this includes non-points paying East/West Showdowns.

His last win was at Foxborough 2022.

FUTURE: Haiden Deegan (East Coast) turns 18 on January 10. With 26 professional starts (including SMX), here is where he sits among other 250 SX/MX greats after the same # of starts.

Deegan has matched Jett Lawrence and Eli Tomac in wins and is ahead in podium count.

Haiden Deegan after 26 Career Pro Starts

Deegan won the 250 SuperMotocross World Championship in 2023 (3-3-1 finishes) and his best Supercross races in 2023 were his three 3rd place finishes (Daytona, Detroit, Atlanta)


KTM Juniors Insight

This is the 25th anniversary of the KTM Juniors program and the 42nd time these 7 and 8 year olds have raced in Anaheim.

They’ve raced A1 twelve times!

Blake Baggett won the 2001 A1 Juniors race (450SX podium was McGrath, Lusk, RC). Baggett went on to race with the #4 and get 4 250SX wins and 1 450SX win not to mention a 250MX title in 2012.

More recently…

Hudson Deegan, Haiden’s younger brother, won this exact race back in 2019.

In 2022, Easton Grant, son of Josh Grant (who won his 2nd premier class start at A1) got 2nd.

Jett Rau of Big Sky, Montana won last years A1 Juniors race.


Ricky Carmichael’s Insights

Each week we collaborate with the color analyst on their ‘keys to the race/round’. These insights are written specifically with RC’s philosophy in mind.

450s Recommendation

You don’t have to win the first round to win the title.

The champion has won the first round 17 of the 50 years

The champion averages 4th (3.7 to be specific) at the first round

The champion has been top 10 in 47 of 50 years…

The other 3 times were RC 2002, Stewart 2009, and Villopoto 2013

250 West Recommendation

Top 5 is critical for title contenders

The champion has finished top 5 in 28 of 31 years – 88% of the time – basically 9 out of 10 times.

The champion has won the first round 14 of 32 years

The champion averages 3rd (2.9 to be specific) at the first round


Race Day Live – Fast Fact

We also prep stats for the Race Day Live crew. Here’s an insight that they will take into Round 1’s qualifying sessions.

250 West Recommendation

The fastest qualifier at round 1 has won the title 10 of the last 21 years!

  • James Stewart 2003
  • Ivan Tedesco 2004
  • Ryan Villopoto 2007
  • Jason Lawrence 2008
  • Jake Weimer 2010
  • Cooper Webb 2015
  • Cooper Webb 2016
  • Dylan Ferrandis 2020
  • Justin Cooper 2021
  • Christian Craig 2022
450 Recommendation

Eli Tomac can become top the all-time SX-MX podium list with 11 podiums!

— OR —

The fastest qualifier at the first round has gone on to win the title 4 times in the last 21 years (2003-23 as far back as we have records).

  • Chad Reed 2004
  • James Stewart 2007, 2009
  • Chase Sexton 2023

Potential Milestones

These are “things to watch for”. Sort of a if-this-then-that list of scenarios to keep an eye on.

450 Class

Ken Roczen (113 sx+mx podiums, 11th all-time) will tie Jeff Stanton (114) for 10th all-time with a podium

Justin Barcia (2,231 sx pts) will pass James Stewart (2,236 sx pts) for 13th all-time points with a 16th or better

Chase Sexton (7 sx wins) will tie Jimmy Ellis and Ron Lechien (8 sx wins) for 25th all-time with a win

Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen are tied for 10th all-time with 21 sx wins. Either of them winning bumps the other out of the top 10!

Cooper Webb (22 sx+mx wins) will tie Kent Howerton (23 sx+mx wins) for 15th all-time with a win

Cooper Webb and Justin Barcia are tied with 60 sx+mx podiums, 25th all-time. With a podium, either breaks the tie and moves to 22nd all-time and tied with JMB, MX Kied, and the O’Show.

Jason Anderson (276 total starts and 20th all-time, sx+mx, both classes) will tie John Down (277 total starts, 19th all-time) with one more start

250 Class

RJ Hampshire (921 sx pts) will tie Josh Hansen (946 sx pts) for 12th all-time with a win

Jordon Smith (58 sx starts) will tie Jeremy Martin (59 sx starts) for 20th all-time with a main event start

Jordon Smith (889 sx pts) will pass Christian Craig (913 sx pts) for 14th all-time with a win

Jordon Smith (19 sx podiums, tied 23rd all-time) will tie 5 riders (Forkner, Sellards, Tedesco, J-Mart, Mike Brown) for 18th all-time with a podium

Austin Forkner (12 sx wins, tied 5th all-time) will tie Jeremy McGrath and Jett Lawrence for 3rd all-time with a win


Random Fun Facts

Countries on the 450 entry list at A1

USA

Spain (Prado, Cros)

France (Ferrandis, Ramette, Cleremont)

Australia (Lawrence Bros, Wightman)

Germany (Roczen)

Scotland (Wilson)

Sweden (Noren)

Venezuela (Rodriguez)

Countries on the 450 entry list at A1

USA

Canada (Thompson, St. Cyr, Benek)

Japan (Shimoda)

France (Bourdon)

New Zealand (Walsh)

Australia (Stapleton, Olander

World MX Champs in Supercross

MXGP Champion Jorge Prado has committed to racing the first three rounds of 450SX!

The last time the reigning premier class MXGP champion came to America and jumped straight to 450SX was Greg Albertyn in 1995. He crashed in his heat race at round one in Orlando and separated his shoulder. He was running second place on lap four.

Reigning 125cc World MX champs who came to American and went straight to 450SX:

Sebastien Tortelli: 1997 (7th at the LA Supercross )

Stefan Everts: 1992 (5 rounds. Best: 9th at Houston and Anaheim)

Jean-Michel Bayle: 1989 (7 rounds. Best: 2nd at Miami)

Notable Rule Change

43 different riders scored 450SX points in 2023, down from 45 in 2022. This likely drops in 2024 with the rule change that the 22nd place ride will no longer receive 1 point.