Expect intense racing when motocross stars visit High Point Raceway on Saturday

Motocross is one of the most physical and intense sports out there, but it’s not like your average stick and ball sport.

Davey Coombs grew up watching motocross and is president of MX Sports Pro Racing. He knows that motocross racing is a sporting experience like no other.

“Motocross racing is an incredibly dynamic sport. It’s not a ball or a puck or anything like that. It’s 40 motos all racing together,” Coombs said. dead. There are no red flags. There are no precautions where everyone slows down. It’s all out for 35 minutes, so it can be intense when you first watch it.

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship celebrates its 50th season in 2022 and takes place Saturday at High Point Raceway in Greene County.

Last year, motocross gained popularity as it was one of the first sports to allow fans after the pandemic. The popularity of the sport continues to grow.

“Last year was an amazingly successful year for us and especially for bike sales across the board,” Coombs said. “In 2022, we’re three rounds away from the series, and we’ve seen a jump of about 20% with each event up to where they were last year and then before the pandemic.”

Coombs was introduced to the sport at a young age because his father, Dave Coombs Sr., was an influential promoter. Beginning in 1972, the elder Coombs helped promote the series into what it is today.

In 1998 Coombs Sr. died and Davey and his sister Carrie Russell continued the series. They took over the full series rights in 2009 and are excited to start the fourth round of 12 this season at Mt. Morris.

“Mt. Morris is one of the real showpieces for the series, and for motorcycle racing and activities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” Coombs said. “This whole area of ​​the three States has always been very strong, and this event is the center of that.”

Brock Papi of Venetia in Washington County is one of the 250 class riders competing at High Point. Papi, who has raced the track twice before, is thrilled to race in front of his hometown crowd.

Although he’s only 21, Papi is no stranger to the spotlight. In 2013, at just 13 years old, Papi competed in the KTM Supermini in front of 40,000 fans in Las Vegas.

Papi started running at the age of 4 and was influenced by his sister, Rhea, and father, Dave Papi, who also raced competitively. Every time he runs, he thinks of all the times his family sacrificed for him, so he continues to work on his craft.

He hasn’t raced the previous three rounds, but is on the verge of getting back into shape and preparing to take on the best in motocross. Papi is looking to be in the top 20 drivers, who count points towards their total for the championship.

“The main thing is to get as many points as possible,” said Papi. “If you’re in the top 20 as a privateer rider, especially in the 250 class, I think that’s a big achievement because those factory riders have amazing bikes.”

Papi rides as a privateer, which means he’s not backed by manufacturer brands. The privateers buy all or part of their parts and are paid according to their performance.

The 250 class is teeming with talent, and Papi recognizes that there are some great factory riders and privateers out there. Papi is looking to run in five to seven rounds out of the 12 in the championship. He tries not to burn too much energy in training before the 35 minutes of non-stop action.

“You just have to start slow, get points and keep getting points. You get five points the first weekend. Well, let’s try to get eight next weekend,” said Papi. “That’s the goal: right at the end of the course, being able to fight for a top 10 would definitely be the goal.”

In the 250 class, Papi will face a talent pool that includes Jett Lawrence, who is first overall in 2022, Jo Shimoda, Levi Kitchen and Hunter Lawrence, who is Jett’s older brother.

Jett Lawrence, who is only 18, won the first three rounds of the series.

Brandon Short, the series’ media relations manager, said he was impressed with Lawrence’s success at such a young age.

“He is a very young athlete. It is only in its third season. This is all still very new,” Short said. “He’s still figuring out who he is as a rider and figuring out his skills, which is why it’s even more impressive what he’s doing.”

Lawrence is from Australia and is the defending champion of the series. Dylan Ferrandis won the 450 class last year, making it the first time two international riders have been the defending champions.

“Having international talent is what makes this sport really special,” Short said. “Having two international champions has never been done before, and it’s really very exciting to see the global footprint and the energy we’re getting from this series.”

Ferrandis has missed the opening rounds this season, and it’s uncertain if he’ll return by the end of the year. Short said the sport is physically demanding as riders race two motos for 30 minutes and two more laps after that.

“You go over jumps. You are riding on very rough terrain. You go through turns. … And so the athletes themselves are incredibly fit,” Short said. “They must have a very unique skill set, in terms of cardiovascular capacity, since you’re basically pushing your maximum heart rate for a sustained number of times up to 40 minutes for these runs.”

The streak is also unpredictable and runners can have a tough run very easily. For the 450 class, there were three winners in the first three rounds. Jason Anderson won at Carson City, Chase Sexton won at Fox Raceway National and Ken Roczen won at Thunder Valley.

Short is looking forward to the next nine rounds and knows anything can happen as the points pile up.

“Last week we had a rider who looked set to win the race and with about two or three corners to go he kicked and he crashed and he gave up the win,” Shorts said. “That’s the kind of thing that can happen in our sport. It goes all the way, and you really never know what might happen.

Wiley C. Thompson