AMA Supercross kicks off Daytona Bike Week

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Next week Supercross will hosts its 46th Daytona race in the 450 class and its 34th in 250s. This is a race that through the years has become interwoven into the fabric of the sport.

The 1974 450s race inaugurated the series with a victory for Pierre Karsmakers. In 1985, the 250 class got underway for the first time with a win for Eddie Warren.

Daytona has never fallen off the schedule – it is the only venue that has hosted a race every season – and with its unique position on the frontstretch of Daytona International Speedway, there is ample room to create one of the longest and most grueling tracks the riders will face all year.

Designed by NBC analyst Ricky Carmichael for the 12th consecutive year, the course features long straightaways, tall jumps and a variety of surfaces as the course transitions sand to dirt. The course stretches 3,100 feet in length.

Making this one of the most prestigious events to win is that it is part of Daytona’s famed Bike Week.

Seven riders have won their first Supercross race on this track, including Carmichael in 2000 and Justin Brayton last year.

Earlier this year, Blake Baggett scored his first win in Round 2 at Glendale, Ariz. Cooper Webb got his first career win at Anaheim II and has gone on to dominate Victory Lane.

In 250s, Travis Pastrana won his first race in 2000. Marvin Musquin followed in 2013.

Still, because of the uniqueness of this track, this is not a harbinger of the season champion. The winner of the Daytona Supercross has taken top honors only 21 times in 45 seasons. Ryan Dungey was the last to do so in 2015.

The action continues after the Supercross riders leave the track.

When they pack up and head for Indianapolis, the best in amateur racing hit the track for the 10th annual Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross scheduled for Sunday and Monday. In turn, that is followed by Vintage Supercross and ATV Supercross on Tuesday.

Finally, the American Flat Track series will kick off their season next Thursday with a dirt and asphalt TT track. This third annual event will use the tri-oval at the start / finish line. Jared Mees won that race last year by only .462 seconds over JD Beach.

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Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.