The 10th edition of the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross at Daytona offered two days of action, with Sunday heat races and Monday main events, and a low-key experience for all. Yes, some of the top amateur riders with factory support show up for this event, but the real heart of this event is the overall experience—camping out all weekend in the famous Daytona International Speedway infield, watching Saturday’s pro race, taking in Bike Week, and enjoying Florida’s amazing March weather.
At the sharp end of the field, though, the racing gets intense. Here are some highlights:
Jarrett Frye, formerly of Suzuki’s amateur program, is the latest Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha amateur recruit, and at Daytona he showed what his new bike and team can do. He was the most successful rider at the event, taking every single race he entered, sweeping his heat race and main event in 250B, 450B, and Schoolboy 2. He was the only rider to capture three titles at this year’s RCSX and doing it in the B and Schoolboy classes is no easy feat. Many top pros only found their real stride when they hit the B class, so Frye could be on his way.
Frye trains out in California with Gareth Swanepoel, alongside the pro Star Racing riders. It’s a program with proven success, and Frye’s smooth style at Daytona indicates he might have the goods.
After a banner week at Loretta Lynn’s last summer, where he dominated the Supermini classes, Nate Thrasher turned into one of the hottest properties in amateur moto. However, the 16-year-old is playing it patient, and will focus on racing a KTM 125 SX this year instead of a 250 SX-F. As such, he’s really good in 125-only classes, taking the 125cc and the Schoolboy 1 class wins at Daytona. However, he could only snag a fifth in Schoolboy 2 once he had to race his 125 against the 250Fs. You have to respect his commitment to stay on the two-stroke even in the class where he could jump on a 250F.
Seth Hammaker was the biggest A class name at Daytona this year, and he lived up to his billing by dominating his two classes, 250A and Open Pro Sport. He won one main event with a bad start, and another by dominating from the beginning. Hammaker has won at the Monster Energy Cup and Daytona before, so he obviously adapts to supercross-ish tracks, but his real ace at Daytona was corner speed, as he exploded berms left and right on Monday.
That said, Hammaker knows he needs to keep getting better and faster as a pro graduation looms, perhaps after Loretta’s this August. His corner speed was actually too much at one point, and he missed his mark and went off the race track. He quickly jumped back on and barely lost any ground. The first thing he mentioned in his post-race interview, despite leading every lap of the race, is that he needs to cut out the mistakes.
The amateur version of the track arguably offered more passing lines and opportunities than even Saturday’s pro track, as the corners, lines, and bumps formed up perfectly for Monday’s main events. Several battles came down to the wire, like an amazing Mini Sr. duel between Ryder Difrancesco and Nick Romano. Difrancesco led most of the way, but Romano got close and went for a last-lap block pass with two turns to go… he had the line but lost the front end, and Difrancesco escaped with the win. On 65s, Kade Johnson and Tyler Mollett had great battles all day, including one that came down to the final lap. They split the wins in their two classes. The Supermini 2 class featured a wild battle between Gavin Towers and Caden Braswell, who exchanged mistakes and passes until Braswell went down on the last lap trying to make one final pass. Heck, the final race of the event, Collegeboy, offered up a duel between Cory Carsten (Barry’s son) and Tyler Purdon. Purdon made the pass on the final lap of the race to snag the victory.
For years, Hannah Hodges, Jordan Jarvis, and Jazzmyn Canfield were young up-and-comers in the female ranks, and it’s cool to see them all hitting their stride on big bikes together and putting on some good battles. All three hammered the Daytona track late in the day Monday, with Hodges leading, Canfield applying pressure, and Jarvis trying to make up for an early crash. Hodges emerged with the win, riding well with her recent switch to JMC Husqvarna. Hodges said she has sights set on something different for Daytona next year… trying to qualify for the pro race against the guys on Saturday. Hodges, Canfield, and Jarvis all lined up in some classes against the boys at the RCSX, too, so they’re doing all they can to get ready.