I’ve covered a lot of sporting events over the years, but this is my first supercross race.
Qwest Field’s not sold out but there’s got to be around 50,000 fans in the stands, many of them pulling for Ryan Villopoto, the Poulsbo rider who leads the series. Villopoto’s won five of the 15 previous rounds and holds a 5-point lead over defending champion Ryan Dungey. Chad Reed and James Stewart lurk right behind as it’s become a four-man race for the championship. After Seattle, the tour heads to Salt Lake City in two weeks and then finishes in Las Vegas the week after that.
The 250cc class just finished its heat races and the 450 guys are in the starting gate. There’s two 8-lap heat reaces with the top nine advancing to the main event, which will start at 9:30 p.m. The rest of the guys will get another shot at the main event by racing in the last-chance race for the final two spots. Villopoto, or RV2 (his Kawasaki is No. 2) rides in the second heat race.
You can watch all of this unfold live on SPEED.
I have to admit I feel a bit like a fish out of water. The press box at Qwest is filled with VIPS and others who spent big money to get in the box. There’s section in the corner for the working media, which I somehow missed. So I’m elbow to elbow with the masses. Interesting, to say the lease. So much for not cheering in the press box. There’s a lot of oohs and ahs and I’m trying to keep up. Like a lot of sports, it’s sometimes easier to follow on televison than it is to watch live.
Of course, the reason I’m here is because of Villopoto’s local connection. He said he came up with about 60 tickets for family and friends. Here’s a story I wrote about Villopoto earlier in the week.
First heat: James Stewart rode his Yamaha to a dominant win. He posted the fast lap of 50.78 seconds. Afterward he said he was headed back to the trailor for a cup of coffee and to stay warm. When Stewart doesn’t crash, he usually wins. The only rider to beat him when he didn’t crash? Villopoto, who did it here in 2009 when he won his first 450cc supercross race.
Second heat: Kevin Windham took an early lead and held it. Villopoto was second and Ryan Dungey third. RV and Dungey gave the fans some nice side-by-side racing at times and swapped second and third two or three times. RV’s fast lap: 53.030.
My supercross expertise is limited (OK, I have no expertise), but the track seems a little gnarly, particularly a series of nine rolling speed bumps. Riders in the 250 and 450 heat races have been crashing during that rhythm section. There’s also whoops (that’s when the riders get b ig air) and triples (three larger hills right in a row). They never duplicate a track while building it, so the riders have to adjust every week.
Villopoto talked about the pounding riders take and you can see why it’s a young man’s sport. Windham, at 33, is the old man of supercross.
FYI: They dumped 1.5 million tons onto the floor of Qwest Field for the race.