Still the coolest race ever

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Racing

This is something I’ve previously written. The race date was August 13, 2011 and I wrote this just a couple of days later.  All of the emotions, excitement and disbelief contained within this document are all very vivid to this day when I reread it.  I have grown up around sprint cars and have seen countless auto races in the Northwest, California, Montana, Kansas and Nevada.  I have also been witness to SuperCross, Mickey Thompson Off-Road, monster trucks and the NHRA “big boys”.  However, this Saturday night is still the coolest racing event I have ever experienced in my life…

When asked prior to leaving for the arena if I was excited, my response was a simple, “It’ll be interesting”. I knew, however, that it was going to be awesome. I had a definite idea of what it was all about and a vague pre-notion of what to expect. It was just a matter of physically seeing it in person to make those “ideas” and “pre-notions” transform into “knowing”.

I now know that EnduroCross is beyond awesome; more so borderline amazing. My inaugural event was Saturday night’s (official) opening round here in Everett for the AMA EnduroCross series. I represent the third generation of my family to be involved with racing and I have never experienced anything like what I witnessed inside of the arena. Easily the most fun night of racing I’ve ever had.

It’s always added pomp and pageantry when it’s a season opener. This night was sort of mixed in that respect though because it was technically the second round for the Pro class (having competed as part of the XGames two weeks prior). That actually added a pretty cool element as with this night we got to bask in the glory of the hype from that event. It was a bit of an extended celebration from Los Angeles that none of the other rounds will get to really experience.

Then came the racing. It’s almost futile to try explaining it. Even after seeing it the whole thing seems hard to believe. From the local amateurs to the internationally decorated pros – dirt bikes were being manhandled into doing things that even the bike didn’t know it could do. No examples were more evident, more extreme than Taddy Blazusiak. Heading into the event, I kept saying that I couldn’t wait to see Taddy in person. To merely hear and read about the guy makes him appear to be almost mythical. I can now say from firsthand experience that the man is on a whole other planet.

That’s not to take anything away from the other riders, however. Every single one of them rode their butts off and not one of them could be accused of quitting. It was truly an inspiring act of determination to watch all of the riders bear down and gut it out until they passed under the checkered flag. It didn’t matter if they had been out front, falling and swapping the lead lap after lap, or if they were in last place and finishing several minutes behind the winner. Each rider was treated to a victor’s celebration from the fans as they crossed the line.

The race that most vividly exemplified this notion was the Women’s class. They too were a part of XGames and received a mixed reaction to say the least. Their race this night was a mere two laps for the handful of ladies who took to the gates, but the event was a remarkable demonstration of rider versus bike and track. Physically, the toll was quickly evident. Emotionally, they never wavered. Mentally, they only got tougher.

I don’t know the official numbers, but I would venture a safe guess that their two lap main took right around the same time duration as the Pro’s ten lapper. That’s not a knock on the ladies. That’s wherein the compliment lies. Their “never give up” attitude was intense. The crowd interaction that came as result was unlike anything I have ever been a part of. Whether they had to drag their bike across the finish, or whether they were trying to get the crowd to make some noise to help will their bike into starting back up, every lady got a thunderous – more importantly a very sincere – standing ovation as she gutted her way home. It was very cool. It was the signature moment for what was ultimately the underlying sentiment of the entire night.

I will quickly admit that I have extremely little experience on bikes. But, I have enough to understand how incredibly impressive the skill level is to be able to compete in this version of the sport. With each race you could see not only the differences in experience levels, but also in fitness. Which is an example of one of the most overlooked features of this racing: any local rider with whatever level of experience could very well find himself lined up along side one of the nation’s (or even world’s for that matter) best in only his first event. That’s pretty cool.

It’s definitely not the only cool thing though. At the start of the night, I knew it was going to be awesome. I now know that was stupid of me. When it comes to EnduroCross, there are no words. Just one hell of an experience.

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