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Shop Rag: 2024 RedBud Motocross Research

By Trey Stire

With a 1-2, Jeff Emig won the 125MX class at RedBud in 1992, his first ever Pro Motocross win. Photo: John Raymond
With a 1-2, Jeff Emig won the 125MX class at RedBud in 1992, his first ever Pro Motocross win. Photo: John Raymond

Stats and stories for RedBud! Remember: the 2024 SMX Race Center is packed with info, including rider stat and standings charts, photos, recaps and entry into each week’s Race Center Live. Here are some helpful buttons.

Welcome to RedBuuuuuuuuud!

RedBud MX gets its name from the trees of the same name that line this southwestern Michigan motocross track. The energy ‘America’s Motocross Track’ is known for comes from the ultra patriotic Midwestern crowd that descends upon this rolling farmland on the first Saturday each July.

First opened in 1973 by Gene Ritchie, RedBud MX operated under its original name, Red Bud Track n’ Trail, and hosted its first Pro Motocross in April 1974. The track picked up its second Pro MX in 1976 and has run uninterrupted since (even through COVID).

For more history and the RedBud All-Time leaderboards, Winners, and historical race results, click the button below…

James Stewart Renthal Ad 2002

If you haven’t read (or listened to) “James Stewart vs. LaRocco’s Leap”, this week is a good time to give it a go. Tap the photo above or smash that hyperlink in the previous sentence.

This story is also available as a podcast

3 Riders Separated by 3 Points

Three riders are separated by just three points in 450MX, which is both rare and nearly identical to how the 2024 Supercross season began when the top 3 were separated by two points through five rounds.

Jett Lawrence and the 450MX class at the 2024 Southwick Pro Motocross. Photo: Garth Milan

2024 SX Standings (thru RD05)

2024 MX Standings (thru RD05)

Let’s compare to 2023: five rounds deep, Jett Lawrence had built a 57 point lead over Dylan Ferrandis and a 76 point lead over Aaron Plessinger. Chase Sexton missed rounds 2-4 and was a distant 164 points back.

Don’t let the close competition of 2024 cloud your judgement. This is spectacular, but it isn’t historically normal. We’ve had some recent close battles, but only between two riders…

Recent Two Rider 450 Pro Motocross Battles (through 5 rounds)
  • 2022: Sexton led by 7 points over Eli Tomac, but Roczen was 30 points back.
  • 2018: Roczen led by 6 points over Eli Tomac, but Musquin was 31 points back.
  • 2017: Baggett led by 4 points over Eli Tomac, but Anderson was 19 points back.
  • 2011: Reed led by 8 points over Ryan Villopoto, but Dungey was 21 points back.
Chase Sexton was the red plate holder at the 2022 RedBud Pro Motocross. Photo: American Honda

Dip further back into the two stroke era of history when ‘men were men’ and box vans ruled the paddock and we find three points separating Jeff Ward and Jeff Stanton in 1990 (after 5 rounds).

Here are the closest three-rider battles we could find. Interestingly, two-time World Motocross Champion Sebastien Tortelli was involved in all three:

Three Way Rider Battles (through 5 rounds)
  • 2001: Ricky Carmichael led by 13 points over Kevin Windham and 15 points over Sebastien Tortelli. Carmichael held the series lead for the remainder of the season for a second consecutive title.
  • 2000: Carmichael led by 4 points over Tortelli and 10 points over Windham. Carmichael lost the lead to Tortelli at round 6 in RedBud, but got it back at round 8 and won the title as a rookie.
  • 1999 Tortelli led by 4 points over Ezra Lusk and 13 points over Greg Albertyn. Albertyn won the championship.
Sebastien Tortelli, pictured at Unadilla 2001, was in the title hunt each year 1999-2001. Photo: Frank Hoppen

There’s a few notable things about the previous three rider battles.

  • A rookie won in 2000. Hunter Lawrence could repeat that feat this season.
  • The 1999 champion was in 3rd after 5 rounds. Chase Sexton is in that position now.
  • A champion repeated in 2001. Jett Lawrence is in that position now.

At the end of the day, it’s the fans who win with incredible racing. Speaking of, the next key story focuses on that incredible second moto in Southwick last weekend.

The three way battle for the 2024 Pro Motocross 450 Championship is shaping up to be a potential all-time title fight. (Photo: Garth Milan)

Sexton Shows Strength

Chase Sexton didn’t set the absolute fastest lap in either moto, but his second moto performance showed he’s a different rider in 2024. And that’s on a new bike where they’ve been making changes regularly.

In the first 9 laps, he was 6.2 seconds slower than Jett Lawrence and 7.9 seconds slower than Hunter Lawrence. But it’s what he did in the next 5 laps that boggled the mind. Against his toughest title contenders, he showed speed and fitness that neither Lawrence brother could maintain.

He was 22 seconds faster than Hunter and 16 seconds faster than Jett. That’s 3-4.5 seconds a lap faster!

Chase Sexton had a lot to smile about after Moto 2 at Southwick. Photo: Garth Milan
Southwick 450 Moto 2

The peak was on lap 13 when he was 7.9 seconds faster than Jett and 5.7 seconds faster than Hunter

Southwick 450 Moto 2 – Lap 13

Now the question has to be asked. Is this ‘yet another Hangtown moto 2’ or is this something we’ll see repeated? We know Jett Lawrence is nursing an injured shoulder.

On the podium, Hunter Lawrence simply said he needs to be better. RedBud, a close-to-home race for Sexton, will be an important proving ground for the second half of the season.

Chase Sexton broke the Lawrence brothers in the second moto at Southwick. Can he continue his momentum at RedBud MX this weekend? (Photo: Garth Milan)

Deegan’s All-Time Season

Haiden Deegan is having a breakout season, but just how good of a season is interesting. Every single stat in the table below leads the 250 class.

2024 Season Stats
Haiden Deegan holeshots at the 2024 Southwick Pro Motocross

Through 5 rounds, here’s how it stacks up against some of the greatest 125/250 seasons ever. Mark Barnett (1981) and James Stewart (2004) both had incredible seasons.

Mark Barnett chases Johnny O’Mara at the 1981 Lake Whitney, TX Pro Motocross, on his way to a third consecutive 1-1 finish. Photo: David Lack

Barnett had a near perfect season in the 125s (7 for 7 and 14 of 14 moto wins but missed the last round with a broken collarbone). Stewart won 23 of 24 motos in ’04.

James Stewart, Unadilla, 2004. Photo: Simon Cudby
James Stewart, Unadilla, 2004. Photo: Simon Cudby
All-Time 125/250 Seasons (thru 5 rounds)

*slide table left for more data

Right now, Deegan’s 2024 season is nearly identical to Jeff Ward’s 1984 championship and it’s a notch better than Jett Lawrence’s final 250MX year in 2022.

Obviously, his season has been stellar, but now we’re talking all-time-amazing.

Haiden Deegan has started the season with 4 overall wins in 5 starts, establishing himself as the top rider in the 250 class. (Photo: Octopi Media)

Vialle’s Missed Opportunities

For the second round in a row, Tom Vialle crashed while in position to make up points and make a statement that he can compete with Haiden Deegan for this title.

  • Thunder Valley Moto 1: Tom moved into first on the 12th lap when Haiden Deegan crashed. Haiden came back, however, and made an aggressive pass just before the start of the final lap. Tom tried to retaliate but washed the front tire with just four turns to go.
  • High Point Moto 2: Vialle moved into first place on the 3rd lap of the moto, then fell on the next lap. He wasn’t in position to make a ton of points, but the statement of winning the moto was critical. Instead, Deegan had an all-time comeback ride and almost won the moto.
  • Southwick Moto 2: Vialle led 10 laps of the race until Jo Shimoda caught and passed him with 3 laps to go. A crash on the last lap while in front of title rival Haiden Deegan cost him another 2 points. Again, the more important part would be simply beating Deegan.
Title Rivals

He’s now 43 points behind Deegan and in third place in the standings headed to RedBud. Deegan went 2-3 last year at RedBud, his first career overall victory. Vialle went 6-5 for 6th overall last year. With the halfway mark upon us, Vialle needs to make a statement.

Tom Vialle hasn’t been able to make up ground on Haiden Deegan after a few prime chances. (Photo: Garth Milan)

Shimoda Shows Potential

Jo got his first moto win with Honda HRC and first since the last round of 2023 at Ironman, where he went 1-1 for 1st overall. This moto win and 3rd overall shouldn’t come as a surprise – Southwick is Shimoda’s best venue – he’s finished on the podium all 4 starts.

Best Venues For Jo Shimoda

RedBud has not been one of Jo’s best venues, but he did go 3-1 for 1st overall back in 2022 – his first career victory.

Jo Shimoda caught fire in the second moto. Will he keep up his newfound speed at RedBud, where he won in 2022? (Photo: Octopi Media)

SMX Playoff Update

The SuperMotocross playoff picture is sharpening and riders trying to lock up a spot in the top 20 or top 30 in overall points are sweating the stats in these next charts.

Before we dive into the projections, let’s refresh this whole SuperMotocross system:

  • Combined Supercross and Pro Motocross points determine how the SMX Playoff seeding points are allocated. Example: 1st gets 25 points, 2nd gets 22 points, and so forth.
  • The top 20 in combined points automatically line up for the motos at all three SMX rounds.
  • NOTE: If a rider in the top 20 is injured, retired (AC9) or opts out of the SMX Playoffs, that opens one more transfer spot in the LCQ. It does NOT give the 21st rider an automatic spot in the motos.
  • Top 21-30 in combined points get a spot on the LCQ gate and have to finish 1st or 2nd to earn a spot in the motos.
  • Anyone who wins a Supercross main event or Pro Motocross moto gets an automatic bid into the LCQ at each SMX round.. Keep in mind, they MUST race the LCQ at every single round of the playoffs to earn a spot in the motos.
  • NOTE: The 250SX West region had one extra round in 2024 so they will drop their worst round finish before calculating combined points.

Now let’s get to the projections.

450 SMX Projections
  • Remember: These are PROJECTIONS
  • The current cutoff projection is 141 points but expect this to rise over the next few rounds as riders return to action and the competition for the last two spots gets heated.
  • 13 riders have already scored more than the 141 points and have likely secured a top 20 playoff berth: J. Lawrence, Sexton, H. Lawrence, J. Cooper, Anderson, Plessinger, Barcia, Stewart, Ferrandis, Webb, Tomac, McElrath, and Roczen.
  • These 4 riders are all on pace to secure a spot in the top 20. Again, the projections are based on 141 points, but remember, it has the potential to increase.
    • Freddie Noren: likely clinches at RedBud.
    • Christian Craig: Spring Creek.
    • Phil Nicoletti: Unadilla.
    • Grant Harlan: Budds Creek.
Ken Roczen
We’re not going to see Ken Roczen on the line until the Charlotte SMX. But he’s guaranteed at least an LCQ spot because of his Glendale SX win. Photo: Garth Milan
  • Riders to Watch: LOTS of potential here…
    • Dean Wilson is racing this weekend at RedBud and will do a few more with the intent of securing a top 20 spot. He will likely be the #1 reason the cutoff increases to more than 141 points.
    • Colt Nichols may only have 62 points and be currently ranked 25th, but he’s signed with HEP Suzuki and will likely return to action at Spring Creek. He’s reason #2 the cutoff may increase.
    • Justin Hill will race 4 more rounds of Pro Motocross and we’ve got him grabbing the final position in the top 20, but… there’s another 6 or 7 riders with potential…
    • Marshal Weltin is a projected to score two fewer points than Justin Hill after scoring ZERO points at Southwick (23-40 for 34th overall). He finished no worse than 16th overall at the first 4 rounds.
    • Garrett Marchbanks returned to action and scored 17 points, even after losing positions when he ran out of gas on the last lap.
    • Derek Kelley went 22-33 for 28th overall and scored no points at Southwick, but he scored good points in 5 of the previous 8 motos.
    • Never count Kyle Chisholm out. He had a season best 21-15 for 19th overall at Southwick.
    • With a breakout moto or two, Cullin Park has the potential to challenge for that final position.
    • Harri Kullas has top 10 potential but funding for only another 2 rounds. If he can race the entire series, he has the potential to charge for 140-145 points.

Seven riders have an automatic LCQ Bid = Jett Lawrence, Cooper Webb, Chase Sexton, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Aaron Plessinger, and Hunter Lawrence

The next few rounds will be pivotal for riders to watch. Those that stay in contention with good, consistent motos, will make for an interesting battle in the final few rounds. With 13-14 450 riders in contention for the last 7 spots in the top 20, the fans are going to be treated to some great racing at the final rounds of Pro Motocross.

250 SMX Projections
  • Remember: These are PROJECTIONS
  • We’re currently projecting the top 20 cutoff at 147 points.
  • 14 riders that have already scored more than 147 points and we believe have likely secured a top 20 playoff berth: Deegan, Vialle, Kitchen, Shimoda, Hymas, Swoll, Brown, Smith, Beaumer, DiFrancesco, Bennick, Thrasher, Hampshire, and Schock.
    • Anticipate Max Anstie and Ty Masterpool to clinch at RedBud this weekend.
    • Joey Savatgy and Nick Romano are on pace to clinch at Spring Creek.
RJ Hampshire is guaranteed an LCQ spot in the SMX Playoffs. Photo: Simon Cudby
  • We’re projecting 2 riders (Casey Cochran 24th and Dilan Schwartz 32nd) who are currently outside the top 20 to finish 19th and 20th. Cochran likely secures a spot at Unadilla and Schwartz at the final round.
  • Riders to Watch: Mark Fineis and Jett Reynolds both have the potential to have a couple of breakout motos and challenge Dilan Schwartz for that last spot in the top 20.

These 11 riders have an automatic LCQ bid = RJ Hampshire, Jordon Smith, Nate Thrasher, Levi Kitchen, Austin Forkner, Haiden Deegan, Tom Vialle, Cameron Mcadoo, Max Anstie, Jo Shimoda, and Ty Masterpool