1. What a weekend, what a track and what an atmosphere. Red Bud is a huge, vast, undulating circuit that takes your breath away when you first see the scale of it. The legendary circuit hosted what appears to be the biggest MXoN in history, it was an honour to be there and an unforgettable experience.
Track owner Amy Ritchie became understandably emotional on Friday when she said her father bought the ground at the end of the 70s because he saw the potential for a supreme motocross track and that he always dreamed of hosting the biggest race in the world, the Motocross of Nations. Although he has sadly passed on, he would have been immensely proud of what his family have pulled off this weekend to create a very raceable track despite the rain, with the huge global crowd on hand to witness one of the best Nations in history of the sport.
2. The huge crowd – The fans were electric all weekend, and it wasn’t just the US fans! The amount of fans from other countries really gave it that international feel you get when a Nations is hosted in a European country, and when you have that combined with immense US support and pride, it really was something to behold. Even the Friday had a lot of fans already revved up – you knew it was going to be something special at that point! And, credit to the US fans, once they figured out who was who they had nothing but respect for the likes of Cairoli, Herlings and the other MXGP riders.
3. Puerto Rico – To get to see the legend and former US champ Travis Pastrana ride in person for the first time was a privilege, and to see Windham’s raw natural talent come out one last time even if he was self-admittedly a “ full-figured man” was something you can’t forget – the man can still ride a bike! Pastrana and Windham actually got more cheers than team USA themselves, and they added a real extra sparkle to the event that didn’t even need it!
4. The muddy car parks – Getting in an out of the event was an entertaining ordeal for most! Cars getting stuck, bulldozers pushing them out, tractors pulling them out, cars making a wheel-spinning hopeful, pinned charge for it, all while being cheered on by the Red Bud faithful and, when needed, helped out with with a push – it was almost as much craic as the racing! The amount of motorhomes at the event was also phenomenal.
4. MXGP and Dutch domination – This was a pivotal day in the US perception of the quality of the world championship. The truth came out on America’s home soil about just how fast and versatile “ the Europeans” really are especially on imperfect track conditions and the top World championship guys weren’t shy about making the point after the race. To individually beat the Americans straight up in America when the USA had every advantage was a huge statement for them.
For years when the USA win the Nations the unfortunate narrative has been that the Americans are better and have beaten, “the Europeans.” Even though Europe’s best individual riders didn’t get to race as a team and are split into countries. That in turn created a false perception of the level of the world championship in the States despite many of America’s best rider never even racing the world championship series to really know the truth, but reality was restored at Red Bud, with an emphatic exclamation mark.
The clues have been there for a few years, especially when Ryan Villopoto didn’t find the MXGP series a cakewalk. But this felt like all those years of disrespect and lack of exposure in the USA, all came out over the course of one weekend on the Red Bud circuit. The GP riders had a point to prove and finally let loose with their thoughts after they had backed it up with action. The world championship is undoubtedly the place to be to prove you are the best all-round outdoor rider in the world and as I overheard one patriotic American fan admit today, “ it’s official, the Europeans are the best motocross riders.”
Hopefully now the world championship will get the same respect as AMA racing in the USA. The riders deserve it.