This Saturday is the Salt Lake City round of the 2012 AMA Supercross series. This is the last Salt Lake City round of the contract with the AMA. Until the 2013 schedule comes out we won’t know whether Salt Lake is on the schedule again, and we stand to lose our Supercross like we did in 2005. And that makes me sad.
People wonder what I like so much about racing. For me, there’s a lot to like about racing, but possibly the most exciting thing about racing is the start.
The start in NASCAR is, admittedly, not nearly so exciting as other top-level series, since they do rolling starts instead of standing starts. Still, there is something pretty magical about hearing those engines open up, 14000 cubic inches roaring at 8000 RPMs as 40 transmissions shift as one. The cars move to the far side of the track and it is eerily quiet, quiet enough for a normal conversation with your neighbor, the cars sounding like a distant rolling thunder approaching. Then, the sound hits suddenly, like a thousand power chords over the world’s loudest PA.
Standing starts are even better. Standing starts are the norm in MotoGP, World Superbike, and Formula One, for example. Everyone lines up on a grid, fastest qualifiers at the front. At the green light they all floor it and head into the first corner in a big bunch. The fact that they manage to ever avoid an accident in the first turn is pretty amazing.
But I think the king of the race starts has to be the Supercross start. There’s no grid: Twenty riders all line up side by side, handlebar tips maybe six inches apart. Miss Supercross holds up the 30-second board to signal the impending start. Once the board drops and she runs off the track, the revs come up on all twenty bikes and the riders focus down on the gate. It drops, and all twenty of them rush toward the first corner (almost always a left-handed corner — there’s a good reason for that), pushing and shoving and jockeying for position all the way.
I love that sound, the sound of all twenty of those bikes roaring down into the first turn. It is one of the most exciting moments in sports, like overtime in a college football game. It’s a moment you get eight times at every AMA Supercross event. I sure hope they renew our contract, because I’m gonna miss that sound.
Tickets are only $10. Not doing anything Saturday night? You should come. It’s almost the same price as a night at the movies. And you’ll get to see the absolute best riders in the world doing what they do best (well, at least the ones that aren’t injured). It really is amazing.