The chip on his shoulder is motivation for Christian Craig

Craig Supercross Chip
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

After getting pushed around on the Supercross track last year and written off by some of the media, the chip on his shoulder is motivation for Christian Craig.

Craig banged bars with RJ Hampshire with only a two laps remaining in the Heat 2 of Round 1 of the Monster Energy Supercross season. He extended his lead to a little more than 1.5 seconds and won, providing him a great gate pick.

In his heat, Craig had led the first two laps and then gave up the top spot to Hampshire for five trips around the track.

In the 250 East Main, Craig rode like a rider with something to prove. He grabbed the lead on Lap 1 and never looked back. He had a one-second lead on Lap 2. By Lap 12 he extended his convincing advantage to 6.8 seconds and then settled into a comfortable pace. At the end of the 20-lap Main, he beat Austin Forkner by a little more than 5 seconds.

Craig pulled to the inside of the track and rested his head on his arms – relief radiated as he threw both arms into the air. Then he gathered his emotions after scoring his first win in five years and climbed the podium.

“If only people knew what I’ve been through in the past two years,” Craig said from the top rung. “This is the most weight I’ve lifted off my shoulders I’ve ever had. I never gave up. I’ve been down to the lowest of lows – to the bottom – and I still kept going.”

In a career filled with peaks and valleys, the lows have lately taken center stage.

After spending four years in the 250 class, Craig had a successful debut in 450s in March, 2018. His first race on the bigger bikes in a field with bigger names netted a top-five at Atlanta. And while he failed to podium that year, he came within one spot of doing so with a fourth on three occasions.

Then Craig failed an anti-doping drug test and was forced to stay off the bike until Jan. 4, 2020.

Returning after his lengthy suspension last year, Craig also got off to a strong start. He finished third at Anaheim 1, but struggled for the remainder of the season.

“The whole day was good, but I’ve had some of these days,” Craig said in Houston 1’s press conference. “Everyone knows my story. I can qualify good, I can win heat races, but then something happens in the main: I make a mistake, I get a bad start, I tip over – just something that I can’t control sometime.

“But it’s kind of like I had this chip on my shoulder today.

“And I still do. I haven’t got rid of it. It’s something I need to prove to myself.”

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Craig hopes the proof comes quickly. Last year after standing on the podium in the opening round of the 250 West season, he failed to crack the top five again.

Riding in the 250 class again over the past two years, Craig is still reestablishing his presence on the track.

“Last year I got pushed around a lot, and I’m older in the class so that shouldn’t be happening,” Craig said. “I should be taking advantage of these young kids who are making mistakes or be smarter than them.

“I did it in the heat race and made an aggressive pass. Didn’t mean to hit RJ, but there were only two laps left and I had to get through for that heat win.”

Older, more experienced and perhaps with greater motivation than the other riders in the Supercross field due to the chip on his shoulder, Craig has an opportunity to capitalize on his momentum with three consecutive rounds at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

Craig and the remainder of the Supercross stars will race Tuesday, Jan 19 and again on Saturday, Jan. 23. The track configurations will be different, but the dirt will be the same – with the same characteristics in terms of how it breaks down and its tackiness.

“I could call a lot of people out, but I just use that as motivation,” Craig said. “I hear on podcasts; I hear little chirps here and there. I used to bug me back in the day, but now I use it as motivation to prove them wrong.”

And Craig knows the best way to call them out, is to win another round in the coming week.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.