Cooksey Straight To The Point: Daytona "Deathcross"
With the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross series being the most exciting series in recent memory, I anticipated Daytona and the different challenges this race brings. We all know the different soils at Daytona are soft and easily broken down. For this reason, the track layout should be different than traditional Supercross. Typically, Daytona is more of an outdoor motocross and Supercross hybrid. This year, the Daytona track was a mix of Supercross and Straight Rhythm which created “Deathcross” as Phil Nicoletti might say, and here’s why.
The start was extremely dangerous, a high-speed sweeper followed by man-made chop that led into a sandpit turn. Riders who got to the sandpit first covered their competition in roost, leaving them temporarily blinded. In the 250 main event multiple riders stopped and cut the course to avoid the sand after the start. Every race riders in the back of the pack fell, similar to the giant lime-infused puddle at San Diego. Unlike San Diego this was by design. I don’t think beach sand belongs on a Supercross track, but I will make an exception for Daytona. All I ask is common sense when deciding where to place it. Also, can we please have a sweeping 180-degree first turn? 90-degree(ish) turns consistently produce violent pile-ups, like the one in the 250 LCQ that brought out the red flag.
The Daytona track featured a “Straight Rhythm” section where the whoops had a big run in with riders entering at close to 50mph. This nasty whoop section led right into a giant wall jump. Rutted whoops have a tendency to tear feet off the pegs, making it hard to get to the rear brake. Staring at the giant wall jump face while going 50mph with your feet off the pegs is not ideal. A few riders lawn-darted into the wall. Hopefully they’re alright.
Daytona featured the first “quint” or “quintuple” jump. I’ve seen quads and other various monster jumps, but this looked extremely dangerous. Unfortunately for the riders, Ricky Carmichael loves putting a rhythm section at the end of high-speed straightaway. Remember the 2017 MEC in Las Vegas? Justin Bogle and Tim Gaiser had their horrific accident in the high-speed rhythm section coming into the stadium. The crash changed both their careers. At that point, Bogle was coming off a successful outdoor series and was considered a Supercross contender. He has yet to regain that form and Gaiser has not attempted a Supercross since that fateful day.
Tricky rhythm sections with a “quint” do not belong at the end of a straightaway, the bikes are too fast and riders are forced to launch giant gaps. Aaron Plessinger fell victim at Daytona suffering a broken heel. I wish him the best, but everyone I know who has broken their heel never walks the same again. The heel is hollow and has a tendency to shatter, but hopefully Plessinger has a better outcome than others with this injury.
Quite possibly the dumbest obstacle ever placed on a Supercross track is “moguls.” Moguls are what someone who doesn’t race motorcycles assumes would be a good obstacle. Those of us who ride know that after a few trips through them they become one-lined. Why subject the world’s best Supercross racers to this ridiculous obstacle? This promoted singletrack racing and I was disappointed every time I saw a passing attempt thwarted because of the obstacle.
I usually love the Daytona Supercross, it’s a nice change of pace during the season. I think there are some glaring safety issues that were ignored when designing this track. Ricky Carmichael is the best rider to ever throw a leg over a motocross bike, but maybe having a rider of his skill level designing the track is the problem. With his riding ability he might not realize how dangerous it is for riders with less talent. Someone like Trey Canard, who has the credentials, but also gives extensive thought to rider safety might be a better option.
Keeping the stars racing week in and week out should be the priority. The NFL understands this and has implemented rules to protect their star quarterbacks. Don’t think for a minute they did this out of the kindness of their hearts, the NFL did this to protect the on-field product. Without stars, ratings and ticket sales suffer. If we had lost Eli Tomac, Cooper Webb, Marvin Musquin or Ken Roczen, how much money would the series lose? For everyone’s sake can safety please be a higher priority?
Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.