Article by: Lexi Thompson from The Odyssey
The Monster Energy Cup is the event of the year for Supercross in Las Vegas, Nevada.
# 1: Three Main Event Format
In a typical season race, there is one Main Event per class (250 and 450). In The Monster Energy Cup, there are three races for only one premier Cup Class with both 450 and 250 bikes, and the lowest number of points decide the overall standings. The races are only 10 laps instead of a much longer 20-minute Moto plus two laps norm. The races being so quick makes it imperative to get a good start (this year the start is inside the stadium).
# 2: First Time Seeing Riders on New Bikes
The transition from summer motocross to winter Supercross is a time for the riders to get situated on their new bikes; whether it be a new team, different class, or even just a new number. The Monster Energy Cup falls in the middle of their practice season, so teams are still getting situated with their new riders. This causes some of the top contenders from last season to place below par due to the lack of experience on a new bike; on the contrary, the overall win is up for grabs for anyone. This season, both Zach Osborne and Aaron Plessinger, winners of the 250 classes last year, are moving up to the 450 class to compete against the veterans. In addition to those changes, many of the 450 riders are changing factory teams, such as Cooper Webb from Monster Energy Yamaha to Redbull KTM Factory Racing. Once you get passed the original confusion of “who is that?”, it gets way more interesting.
# 3: Joker Lane
The most suspenseful part of the entire night: The Joker Lane. The Joker Lane is a longer section of the track that the athletes must take once at some point during each Main Event. If it is not taken during the moto, the athletes are penalized positions. In 2013 Ryan Dungey lost the overall win to Ryan Villopoto after not taking The Joker Lane on the last lap. Villopoto had to tell Dungey why he had lost; all riders following that made sure to take it right away.
# 4: Pit Parties
Las Vegas is known for parties in all different venues, and Sam Boyd Stadium is no exception to that. The Pit Parties happen before the events start and give fans a chance to meet riders, get photos and autographs, grab a bite to eat, and get a quick preview of what is to come once the sun sets. With features like a BMX show, a beginner’s learn-to-ride track, virtual reality bike riding, tee shirt shopping, and many more, it helps to get fans pumped up to cheer on their favorite rider they got to meet that afternoon.
# 5: Track Goes Outside the Stadium
Sam Boyd Stadium is the only race leave the stadium and reenter. Outside, there are no fans to see what occurs, resulting many times in one rider leading when they leave the stadium, and a different one leading when they come back in. The track was inspired by Ricky Carmichael, the G.O.A.T. of the sport himself, and is different from years past with two arc turns that go into the stands, and Supercross indoor elements, as well as more high speed motocross terrain on the outside of the stadium.
# 6: Riders Go Faster Than Any Other Race
On the section of the track that goes outside the stadium (1,114 feet in length), the riders gain an immense amount of speed. Coming back into the stadium on the straightaway, athletes’ speeds can be a whopping 75mph, whereas for other Supercross races speeds top out at about 40mph due to the tight turns and frequent jumps. The straightaway allows for riders to show just how fast they can go, all while attempting to make a pass on their opponent.
# 7: $1,000,000 is on the Line
If a rider gets 1st place in all three Main Events, they are awarded $1 Million. Only two riders in the history of The Cup have been able to do so; Ryan Villopoto in 2011, and Marvin Musquin last year in 2017. It is the largest prize offered for the sport and is a huge incentive for the riders to not only win the overall, but to win all three races (and to not forget about The Joker Lane!). If the same rider does not win all three races, the overall 1st place winner still earns $100,000… not too shabby.
# 8: Great Battles Among Riders
With the $1,000,000 incentive and the feeling of needing to succeed on their new factory bike, the stakes are high for the athletes to win. The three-race format gives more chance for stress levels to rise and new battles to form. Some competitions start right off the start to get the early holeshot/lead. The less laps they race, the more congested the track will be, leading to more traffic. Tensions that grew between Eli Tomac, who is coming off the high of winning both the 2017 and 2018 Motocross seasons, and Marvin Musquin, the only racer competing who has won the three Main Events, will be settled on October 13th at The Cup. It will be interesting to see who comes out ahead.
# 9: Amateur All-Stars and Supermini
The Amateur All-Star race is the final step that allows all the up and coming riders to prove themselves in front of the large crowds of Las Vegas with the teams scouting the anxious riders. With riders like Shane McElrath, Adam Cianciarulo, and Cooper Webb all having rode in that race and resulting in huge success, the Amateurs are determined to be on their best game as well. Superminis are composed of 12-16 year olds who dream of being the best and meeting those who inspire them.
# 10: Celebration Dances
Getting to see the excitement riders have when winning makes me want to join in on their victory dance right there with them.
The Monster Energy Cup is in Sam Boyd Stadium on October 13th and airs live on FS2 at 6:30. You do not want to miss the action!