Red Bull returned to Dade City, Florida for the second running and third attempt at the Day in the Dirt Down South as the 2020 inaugural event ended with a failure to launch when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The weekend consisted of three days of team and solo racing ending in the Coup de Grâce – a 90-minute test of survival. For all the seriousness of the racing, the event also served as a way to give back to the local motocross community and allow novice riders to race against some of motorcycle’s biggest names.
Tyler Bereman, 30, is one of the notable drivers who returned for this year’s event, competing in a pair of two-man team events, a three-member team event and the final survival race. Bereman describes himself as a former Supercross racer turned freerider.
“Last year’s event was awesome, the track was really good, there were a lot of riders,” Bereman told NBC Sports. “(The track) gets really rough. I’m from California so coming out here it’s really a bit different conditions, you’re dealing with the humidity, the weather and the elements and it’s a little bit tougher, since you’re working with really hard, dry dirt out in California and here it’s sand. A bit different for us coming from California, but I felt really good last year and had a lot of fun.”
Sand was a big part of the course, but the unique event also raced on pavement, into a wilderness area known as ‘no man’s land’ and through a barn strategically placed along the route.
Different riders hoped to achieve different outcomes from the weekend’s slate of activities. While on a break from Monster Energy Supercross, Hunter Lawrence’s main objective was to give back to the community and enjoy spending time with other riders and fans.
“It brings everyone together,” Lawrence told NBC before the weekend activities. “This race is obviously different because it’s not as much of a competitive, results-driven event. It’s more ‘Hey, let’s bring the community together, let’s have a great time, let’s make memories.’
“There’s going to be athletes that people look up to, you get to make memories with your own friends. You get to hang out with athletes that maybe you watch on TV and look up to. It’s cool. It’s kind of like a way to give back to the community as well.”
Bereman’s career centers around these types of high-hype events. His weekend was highlighted by a win in the Moto a Go-Go, two-man race with co-rider Josh Grant.
But that win was icing on the cake for Bereman, who returns to California after the race to premiere a movie about his last three years on the road.
“I spent a lot of years growing up racing and trying to be a Supercross champion,” Bereman said. “I had multiple injuries in a row and had to take a step back. Started making a little bit of money and not spending it to go racing.
“I focused on film content and projects and traveling and riding my motorcycle. I’m super stoked and happy to be able to fulfill my dream of riding my motorcycle and traveling the world. That was the tipping point from where I stopped focusing on racing and started focusing more on video and content creation.”
Bereman’s last Supercross race came in 2016.
Justin Sipes, younger brother to Ryan Sipes, who was scheduled to appear but had to withdraw because of a pelvis injury, won the Ironman award for the best combined finish in five races.
Luke Renzland was victorious in the weekend-crowning, Coup de Grâce.
Lawrence? Well, he had fun in the Day in the Dirt Down South.
At the age of 23, Lawrence, is on the precipice of greatness. He currently sits third in the Supercross 250 West standings with one win so far this year. That came in the Arizona Triple Crown race, one week before the West division went on hiatus.
“I’m coming into the season being healthy and fit,” Lawrence said. “I’ve had a great lead up. Last year I went through Supercross healthy, continued onto outdoors and had some health and body things that we had to get under control. We did that. It’s just more time on the bike and being healthy.
“We were five rounds in and on the box every round. In the sixth round, we were fighting for the win and crashed out. I think it would have been an easy podium, but we were obviously going for a win. … (Last year) we were in title hunt, had the red plate, but I definitely not as consistent as I am this year, I think I’ve definitely closed that gap to the top tier, one of the best guys in the class.”