Well this is just unfair. You really want me to come up with my best memory of 2023!? Between supercross, motocross, SMX, and just clowning around with my Racer X colleagues, there are countless memories to choose from, and as soon as I write one down, I’ll invariably come up with another one that seems better.
One of my favorite parts involves someone who doesn’t even race anymore. As you might know, former WMX superstar (not the biggest star, to be clear), Sarah Whitmore, has joined the crew and has been a huge help in keeping the wheels turning on the online side of things. She’s also, albeit unwittingly, served as an endless source of comic relief. People who know me know I’m a big fan of Jessica Patterson, or seven-time, as I like to call her. Well, Whitmore and Patterson weren’t exactly buddies on the track, so it’s been great to be able to constantly remind everyone, especially Whitmore, of just how great Patterson was in her very long prime. When Whitmore does something especially well, I wonder out loud just how much better Patterson would have been at that task. When she makes a mistake (I admit, it’s not very often), I’m always sure to point out that “JP$ would never have done that.” It’s truly a rich source of amusement for me, and I’m glad Whitmore is such a good sport about it. I’m sure there’ve been times she’s been seething at her keyboard though!
My favorite racing moment came at the A1 press conference. When it ended, I found myself in the stands looking out at the track. Another reporter, who worked for a non-racing publication (I can’t remember which one), knew nothing about racing and we got to chatting a little bit about supercross. At one point she asked how long it would take to get around the track, to which I answered, “About a minute.” Her reaction was priceless. First came a blank stare, then annoyance, thinking I was messing with her because of her lack of knowledge. Try as I might, I couldn’t get her to believe the boys would be turning 60-second lap times—in her mind it was simply impossible to get around that track, with “all those huge bumps,” that quickly. The conversation ended with her shaking her head and walking away, with me doing my best to hold in laughter. When you’re used to this sport you sometimes forget just how amazing it, and its athletes, really are, and that interaction with that reporter was a reminder of just how badass racing is.
As for predictions, I’m betting we see six different main event winners in 450SX, Haiden Deegan will, or will be perceived to be, involved in some sort of drama (while winning multiple races), the nationals will be intense and somehow not turn out the way anyone thinks, and Whitmore will be reminded over and over that the scoreboard doesn’t lie. You can stamp that last one!
I guess I am chiming in here too, thanks Hansel! Last year started with my son having the audacity to show up three weeks early, the Wednesday before Anaheim 1. This was only hours after I had told Mitch Kendra I would work during my off days that weekend, because of all the extra work that comes with the opener. I recently realized my son’s first birthday (and every birthday hereafter) will coincide with an A1 party as well, so I hope he continues to like racing as much as mom (and dad).
This leads to my favorite racing memory this season. Even though we took Finn to Red Bud, he was only six months old. By the time SMX in Chicagoland rolled around he was much more alert and may or may not have already gone for a ride on a pit bike. So, he seemed to understand, or at least he was excited by the noise of the bikes. Watching Ken Roczen absolutely hauling and then take the win (from our vantage point in the stands we could not see “the wave” and the crowd was too loud to hear if the announcers mentioned it) was such a cool memory to share with him.
Finn even picked out his favorite rider in Chicagoland, as every time Jo Shimoda went by, he would cheer and wave his arms in the air. Which leads to our 2024 predictions that Jo will win his 250SX regional title AND the motocross championship as well.
My second prediction is that I will repeatedly have to remind Hansel that even though I am old, washed up, and have an eight-level spinal fusion I could still kick his butt on the track. Easily.