Houston supercross enters its 29th year. PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Richard Nixon was president, Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" was the No. 1 song, CBS's All in the Family was the top-rated television show and Jeremy McGrath was being potty...
Houston supercross enters its 29th year.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Richard Nixon was president, Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" was the No. 1 song, CBS's All in the Family was the top-rated television show and Jeremy McGrath was being potty trained when the Houston Astrodome hosted the first indoor AMA Supercross race in March of 1974. This Saturday, March 23, the Astrodome will host the series for the 29th time. The vast majority of today's AMA/EA Sports Supercross Series stars were not even born when Jim Pomeroy (now a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame) rode his Bultaco to victory before an enthusiastic crowd of racing fans in Houston 28 years ago.
Defending Houston winner Ricky Carmichael leads the series coming into this Saturday's race and has won four straight coming into the Astrodome. "I've always liked Houston," Carmichael said last week after winning in New Orleans. "I've had some good races there and I'm looking forward to getting back there this year."
Carmichael is shooting for his second-straight AMA Supercross championship, but this year has been a bigger challenge for the 22-year-old than his dominating 2001 season. The Honda factory rider didn't lead the championship until two rounds ago when then series leader David Vuillemin sat out of the Daytona Supercross after suffering a shoulder injury. Vuillemin, who rides for Yamaha, returned to racing last week in New Orleans and earned a strong third-place finish despite riding in obvious pain. Vuillemin's brave ride kept him within 10 points of Carmichael coming into Houston, which is round 11 of the 16-race series.
Ezra Lusk won Houston in 1998 and is hoping to get his first win of the 2002 season Saturday. Lusk is tied with his Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki teammate Stephane Roncada for third in the championship behind Carmichael and Vuillemin. Not far back in fifth is five-time Houston Supercross winner Jeremy McGrath. The owner/rider of the Bud Light Yamaha team got off to a slow start this season suffering from arm pump, but he's scored three straight top-five finishes and is aiming to score his sixth win in the Astrodome this weekend.
After more than a month break, the AMA 125 West Series resumes in Houston. Floridian James Stewart Jr. leads the series with two wins in the previous five rounds. The 16-year-old rookie sensation who rides for Kawasaki has always shown spectacular speed, but has suffered a number of crashes so far this season. If he can keep his Kawasaki on two wheels he'll be tough to beat.
Travis Preston, Brock Sellards and David Pingree are the three other riders who have won in 125 West competition this season. Preston, who rides for the Factory Connection Honda squad is second in the point standings and won the 125 race at Houston last year.
Local fans will be rooting for Travis Elliott who hails from the Houston suburb of Alvin, Texas. Elliott, who rides for Team Shark Plano Honda, has been one of the more consistent riders in the AMA 125 West Series this year. He's scored four top-10 finishes in five rounds and comes into Houston ranked ninth.
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for professional motorcycle sport in the United States. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Astrodome, Houston, TX
SATURDAY MARCH 23, 2002
9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Rider registration and Tech Inspection at the Venue
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon - Bonus Awards Participant/Mechanic registration at the Venue
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon - Rider Track Walk
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon - Junior Supercross Riders Meeting (Mandatory)
12:00 noon - 12:15 p.m. - Riders Meeting (Mandatory)
12:15 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Junior Supercross Practice
12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. - 125cc Practice
1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. - 250cc Practice
2:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. - Track Maintenance
2:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. - 125cc Practice
3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. - 250cc Practice
3:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. - Qualifying Heats
5:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. - Junior Supercross Practice
5:45 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. - Track Maintenance
7:00 p.m. - 7:20 p.m. - Opening Ceremonies
7:30 p.m. - 7:40 p.m. - 125cc Heat #1 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main)
7:40 p.m. - 7:50 p.m. - 125cc Heat #2 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main)
7:50 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - 250cc Heat #1 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 1)
8:00 p.m. - 8:10 p.m. - 250cc Heat #2 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 2)
8:10 p.m. - 8:25 p.m. - Junior Supercross Exhibition- 3 laps - 15 riders
8:25 p.m. - 8:35 p.m. - Track Maintenance (10 minutes)
8:35 p.m. - 8:40 p.m. - 125cc Last Chance Qualifier - 4 laps - 22 riders (1st - 4th to Main)
8:40 p.m. - 8:50 p.m. - 250cc Semi #1 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ)
8:50 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. - 250cc Semi #2 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ)
9:00 p.m. - 9:10 p.m. - Track Maintenance/ EA Sports Challenge Main
9:10 p.m. - 9:20 p.m. - 250cc Last Chance Qualifier - 6 laps - 22 riders- (1st & 2nd to main)
9:20 p.m. - 9:25 p.m. - 125cc Rider's Parade Lap
9:25 p.m. - 9:45 p.m. - 125cc Main Event - 15 laps - 22 riders
9:50 p.m. - 9:55 p.m. - 250cc Rider's Parade Lap
9:55 p.m. - 10:15 p.m. - 250cc Main Event - 20 laps- 20 riders