Every season, we'r blessed with great visuals from the races to create stories. This year we're working with Garth Milan and Ryne Swanberg from Octopi Media and wanted to highlight some of their work, along with share a few storylines from the first round at Anaheim. Enjoy.
Some Sense of Normalcy
After missing Anaheim 1 in 2021, for the first time in what felt like an eternity, the sport feels like things are finally becoming somewhat "normal" again. Fans have returned in droves, restrictions have been loosened, and the energy really returned with the opening ceremonies at the big A. It really felt like Supercross was back after over a year of what was almost just racing to go racing. It's a little tougher to get stuff signed and the fans are still a couple feet farther away from the beautiful semis in the pits, but we're almost there.
The Big A was surely missed...love or hate how many rounds of racing are held in Southern California, this is where Supercross begins. PERIOD.
The sight of riders pouring down the tunnel and onto the floor at Anaheim was a sight photographers are quite used to and the riders themselves surely miss that familiar slope down to the first Supercross track they see all year.
More Than Just the Factories
Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing has truly become the powerhouse squad of the 250 class and the new generation that Pro Circuit once was. For a bit there, it sure seemed like if you weren't on a Star 250, your chances at a title in that class were thin. Over the past year or two however, we've watch Pro Circuit and HRC battle their way back into the limelight of the class and take the battle to the Blu Cru. However, come Supercross, there are others outside of the big factory programs showing they have the equipment now to battle the best.
Vince Friese put the field on notice and showed that it isn't only HRC that has the red machine dialed. Pulling two large holeshots against the some of the fastest machines out there. Some have voiced displeasure with Vince returning to the 250 class but here's the simple facts, you get out what you put in. Vince, MCR, and XPR know how to get starts and have put in the work to make it happen.
BarX Suzuki and the Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha team have also put out equipment to give riders such as Carson Mumford and Garrett Marchbanks their chance to leave a mark on the 250 class. This many teams stepping up in a class that is often touted as a war of money/horsepower is exciting. Along with giving so many up-and-comers hope that you don't have to be on a factory team to wage war in this class.
Justin Brayton's Last A1
2021 was set to be Justin Brayton's last ride. But due to circumstances outside of his control, the year was cut short and so was his opportunity to go out his way. JB10 has returned for 2022 for one lat go, one more time. The best part? He's back with the team that gave him his best result to-date, a great personal friend as his mechanic, and the opportunity to race in front of fans again and give his kids memories that'll last a lifetime. This was JB's last A1 and we're glad we go to see it.
The Lows of the First Round
Sadly, not everyone will walk away from Anaheim 1 in 2022 with great memories, as for some it ended with blood and tears. For others, it wasn't just A1 that ended, but their season as whole. Above, Carson Brown left the floor missing something he surely didn't expect to lose. However, he will have the chance to redeem himself next weekend at Oakland.
Initially, the outlook for Jalek Swoll was grim as he was one of two riders to suffer what appeared to be a season ending crash in the first heat races of the season. While we're not sure on Jalek's timeline, things are looking up a bit for the young Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider. He has announced that nothing is broken in terms of bones but that he also doesn't remember much of A1 as he did suffer a fairly extensive concussion. The bright side for Jalek, is his season will not be a total loss but it's not the way he had hoped his year would commence.
The other victim of the opening round, heck the opening heat race of the season, was 2021 East Coast 250 champ Colt Nichols. Just days before the opening rounds, his teammate and West Coast defending champion Justin Cooper announced he has suffered an injury that would remove any chance he'd have at defending his title. After just a few laps, Colt joined him as the injuries he suffered will eliminate any chance of defense or likely even another opportunity to race Supercross this season. Early reports point towards injuries to both arms, a large puncture to his abdomen from his footpeg and some painful burns delivered by his own machine. Get well soon Colt, you're a champion and you will be back.
A Fire Inside
Over the years, many have questioned Malcolm Stewart's conviction and commitment to the sport. Mookie is a 250 Supercross champion and clearly he has the talent to be a winner at the premier level aboard a 450. But does he want it bad enough? Deep down is he willing to go all in? At 29 years old and arguably for the first time in his career, he's been given the chance by a team that's capable of delivering him what he needs to do so. So now, he's surrounded by the right people, has the right equipment, has the talent...Heck, he even has the name of a premier champion! Everyone in his corner is all in on him and based on his reaction towards Marvin Musquin after the main event, I'd say he's all in too. A fire has been lit inside Malcolm Stewart and yes, he does want it.
New Experiences and Making Memories
Coming into the first round, there was a bit of talk relating to what would happen if certain riders or crew members were to test positive for COVID 19. A few privateers experiences positive results and a couple staff members from different teams. The most notable however was Jordon Troxell or the HRC Honda squad. This left Ken Roczen in an unusual predicament to kick off the first round as the man he's trusted to keep his bike in line for the past few season would not be by his side for the first gate drop of the year. However, it also led to a new experience as Ken's longtime practice mechanic, Payton Stevenson, would take up the duties at A1. Payton has been by Ken's side during the week for over five years now, and has truly seen the best and worst of times with Ken. but together they added a new memory as Ken would notch a huge win and stamp his aim at the title with a smooth main event, while pure chaos happened out of his view. Congrats to Ken and Payton and to Ken, good luck the rest of this season.
Seth Hammaker and his mechanic Jacob Martin are two young guys making their way through the sport. In their fourth season together and second in the pros, they're back on the box. Young talent like this is what made Pro Circuit what it is today and hopefully it's what puts them back on top.
Another year older, another year wiser, and another bright start to the season for Christian Craig. Something about 2022 just feels different for Christian. As we stated before, the sport is almost back to what it once was, and it would appear that the stars may be aligned for CC to finally notch that elusive championship. There's still a lot racing to go but Craig is showing his family every step of the way that never giving up will pay off.
Words by Michael Lindsay
Photos by Ryne Swanberg and Garth Milan / Octopi Media