One of the most unique motocross races takes place this weekend as the top moto riders from around the world come to Las Vegas to put their bikes on the line as they gamble for the top spot and $1 Million.
With so much on the line, the track for the race must match the intensity of the race. Track designer and moto legend Ricky Carmichael knows what it takes to bring together the design of the track along with features that will challenge the rider as well as excite the fans.
Tyler Tate of T Squared Action Sports sat down with the one of the winningest riders in motocross history to talk about the track design.
BNQT: What all goes into the design of the track? What factors do you take into account?
Carmichael: First off let me tell you how excited I am. Monster Energy Cup is one of those races that is always fun and because of the nature of the race, I always have some latitude to build a unique track that pushes the riders.
When I begin the process of designing the track I always look and keep safety first in my mind. Secondly I create a track that will be fun for the riders. You want to create a place that excites the riders, because if you do that, it will translate into the stands and bring the fans to their feet.
I love having more 180 degree turns rather than having 90 degree allowing for more flow to the course rather than single lines.
Once we begin the design between myself and Dirt Works, we build out the track over the course of a few months.
BNQT: This track for the Monster Energy Cup is unique. With two starting lanes, a joker lane and more, how did you come up with this design?
Carmichael: Last year, we had a raised starting gate all the way at the top of the stadium. It was insane and created such a different starting experience for both the riders and the fans, This year, we had to do something awesome like the raised start from last year, so we went with an elevated double start. The whole vibe around the start will create non stop action. What is so great about the Monster Energy Cup and the track is that it allows for the best of the best to compete against each other on a challenging but fun track.
BNQT: How do you feel a rider can take advantage of the track?
Carmichael: A rider needs to have fast tempo. A rider who can lay it open and let it hang out will succeed in this track. The races are short, three ten lap races in total so you have a lot of work to do in such a short amount of time. Whoever can let it loose and take advantage of the small openings will find themselves on the top of the podium.
BNQT: How will the joker lane be different this year?
Carmichael: In years past, the joker lane was a obstacle that slowed you down. This year it will be a faster lane and could give an advatage to riders to build a lead or make up track position as the race is in progress. A rider must complete the joker lane each and every race once and once only. It is required to take it. If it was me, I would take the lane right out of the starting gates and get it over with and use the speed of the lane to build a distance between the rider behind me. With it being faster you have to see what happens. Anything is possible with how the riders choose to use it.
BNQT: How many man hours go into the track design and build?
Carmichael: Over the course of time, it’s somewhere around fifteen hours between initial talks and emails between each other. I don’t do it all at once. I take thirty minutes or so and put something down then I step away and let my mind think about it. Sometimes I’ll be watching an older race and see something that I think will work great so I will add it in. To me, allowing the track to grow organically rather than rushed makes it a better track for the rider as well as the fan in the stand.
Once the team gets to the stadium to build the track, it takes about sixty hours or four days to complete the build of the track.
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