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The Greatest Gamble in Motocross

This 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.

Broken into easy-to-read, digestible parts, the sections below are filled with interactive trivia, infographics and photos. After enjoying this project, go to and help us continue to tell stories like this one.

RC takes an “unbelievable’ $4.7 million guarantee
Honda snatches Carmichael away from Kawasaki
Ricky Carmichael Athlete Card
Carmichael’s agent drops a bomb on Honda
Honda offers Carmichael 6.2 million reasons to stay
Carmichael is on to ‘thumping’ but injury derails his season
Jeannie Carmichael: “I believe Ricky’s STRUGGLING”
Suzuki reorganizes and prepares for a massive bet
“Would you do it for $5 Million bucks?”
Roger De Coster comes to the table
Final negotiations: “It was just a f—ing business deal”
For Suzuki and Carmichael, the gamble paid off. For Honda…

The Greatest Gamble is also available as a podcast!

Search “We Went Fast” in your favorite podcast player.