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Supercross riders from the 2006 series in Anaheim

Supercross is a cycle racing sport involving racing specialized high performance off-road motorcycles on an artificially made dirt tracks consisting of steep jumps and obstacles. Professional Supercross contest races are held almost exclusively within professional baseball and football stadiums.


Supercross was derived from the sport of Motocross. While Motocross and Supercross are similar in many respects, there are significant differences as well. For example, the Supercross races are heavily advertised and televised motorsports events held within major cities.

The term "Supercross" was coined as the event name for the first organized Motocross race that was successfully held inside a stadium in the United States. In 1972, racing promoter Michael Goodwin staged what he called the "Super Bowl of Motocross" inside the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. This event was won by Marty Tripes at the age of 16. That initial contest featured many of the top Motocross riders of the time. It was such a commercial success that it spawned many imitators, and the term "Supercross" was coined to identify the similar to Motocross stadium cycling events. Modern Supercross races are sanctioned and governed by motorcycle associations. The main being either the American Motorcyclist Association who is the oldest and most prodigious cycle racing organization, or the THQ series of Supercross Championship events that are in part the work of Clear Channel, who in 2004 contributed expertise in filming on-track gate event competition for Supercross: The Movie.

While growing consistently since the 70's, in the early part of the 21st Century Supercross' popularity really took off. In the United States, Supercross races today are the second most popular form of motorsport (behind NASCAR racing). The American Motorcyclist Association awards three Supercross Championship Champs each year. They are Supercross Champion which until 2006 was referred to as 250 class, Supercross Lites East (which was the 125 East) Champion, and Supercross Lites West Champion. World Supercross Champions are named by other racing organizations around the world. Supercross racing classifications were governed by the displacement of the motorcycle's engine until 2006. In the past, Championships have been awarded in 125cc (also known as "MX2"), 250cc ("MX1"), and 500cc displacement levels (also known as "MX3"). The 250cc Champion has always been generally considered to be the most prestigious.


Motocross events are more grassroots contests, that often are held on small tracks or in rural areas. Motocross "motos" go untelevised and unnoticed by all except a following of devoted fans, who would probably attend a Supercross event also if it were near or in town. Attendance at Supercross races in the United States is typically higher than at the Motorcross events. Typically, a Supercross event consists of a set number of qualifying races, heat races, and semi-finals, all leading up to the finals race for each contest cycle category. The final races is called the "Main Event". The race lengths range from as few as 6 laps for qualifying races to 20 laps for the highlighted Main Event.

Because Supercross events are held in the arena of major stadiums, the track sizes tends to be smaller than in traditional outdoors Motocross. Also, Supercross jumps and obstacles tend to be more uniform and precise on their short track. Supercross courses, being indoors, are much shorter than the average Motocross event; consequently, the races tend to be more brief but also more intense. Supercross races usually last no longer than 22 minutes, while Motocross outdoor races can run in excess of 40 minutes.

The Supercross event winner is specified as the rider who qualifies through preliminary races and finishes first in the Main Event, the final race. In American Motocross, a winner is ordinarily chosen by combining his or her best scores from two races. Supercross champions are ordinarily thought to have superior technical skills, racing on tight tracks and under controlled conditions, while Motocross champions are lauded for their strength, endurance, and courage to withstand the higher speeds and rougher conditions of outdoor tracks. Motocross events resemble other off-road motorcycle contests, while a Supercross main event often takes on the look and feel of the Roman gladiators' Colosseum.

Starting in 2006, engine displacement was removed from any class designations to remove confusion that had arisen from the increasing popularity of larger 450cc four-stroke bikes racing in the 250cc class. Larger four-stroke bikes have been allowed for some time to race against smaller displacement two-stroke motorcycles to ensure fairness, as the four-stroke motorcycles were considered to be at a competitive disadvantage to two-stroke motorcycles. Due to stricter environmental laws and a significant amount of research and development on four-stroke motorcycle engines, by the 2006 supercross season there was an average of less than one two-stroke 250cc bike per main event. The former 250cc racing class is now known as the Supercross class and the former 125cc class is known as the Supercross Lite class.

Supercross enjoyed early popularity in Southern California. The contest circuit in its early days began and completed the season in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas area stadiums. Even after many years, Supercross did not have the same popularity in Europe as in the United States. European Motocross event stars don't often compete in European Supercross events. This may change due to an advent of the Supercross World Championship, incorporating most of the American Supercross Championship series and a few races in Europe.


Supercross is not the same as the even newer sport of "Arenacross," which consists essentially of Supercross-style courses that are downsized even further and placed into smaller venues such as ice hockey and basketball stadiums. The popularity of Arenacross is growing however, since smaller cities that do not have large football and baseball stadiums can host Arenacross races. Arenacross held its first open in 2006 which got high attendance. There are currently two arenacross series, AMA Toyota Arenacross and Bookoo Arenacross. The AMA is trying to use the AMA Toyota series as a way for riders to transition from amateur racing to supercross. Many supercross privateers race arenacross. Some of the top racers of arenacross include:

  • Darcy Lange(Kaw)
  • Tyler Bowers(Hon)
  • Brock Sellards(Hon)
  • John Dowd (Suz)
  • Kevin Johnson (Yam)

Supercross World Championship Winners By Year

Year Supercross Class
(formerly 250cc)
2007 James Stewart Jr.
2006 James Stewart Jr.
2005 Ricky Carmichael
2004 Heath Voss
2003 Chad Reed

AMA Championship Winners By Year

Year Supercross Class
(formerly 250cc)
Supercross Lites West
(formerly 125cc West)
Supercross Lites East
(formerly 125cc East)
2007 James Stewart Jr. Ryan Villopoto Ben Townley
2006 Ricky Carmichael Grant Langston Davi Millsaps
2005 Ricky Carmichael Ivan Tedesco Grant Langston
2004 Chad Reed Ivan Tedesco James Stewart Jr.
2003 Ricky Carmichael James Stewart Jr. Branden Jesseman
2002 Ricky Carmichael Travis Preston Chad Reed
2001 Ricky Carmichael Ernesto Fonseca Travis Pastrana
2000 Jeremy McGrath Shae Bentley Stephane Roncada
1999 Jeremy McGrath Nathan Ramsey Ernesto Fonseca
1998 Jeremy McGrath John Dowd Ricky Carmichael
1997 Jeff Emig Kevin Windham Tim Ferry
1996 Jeremy McGrath Kevin Windham Mickael Pichon
1995 Jeremy McGrath Damon Huffman Mickael Pichon
1994 Jeremy McGrath Damon Huffman Ezra Lusk
1993 Jeremy McGrath Jimmy Gadis Doug Henry
1992 Jeff Stanton Jeremy McGrath Brian Swink
1991 Jean-Michel Bayle Jeremy McGrath Brian Swink
1990 Jeff Stanton Ty Davis Denny Stephenson
1989 Jeff Stanton Jeff Matiasevich Damon Bradshaw
1988 Rick Johnson Jeff Matiasevich Todd DeHoop
1987 Jeff Ward Willie Surratt Ron Tichenor
1986 Rick Johnson Donny Schmit Keith Turpin
1985 Jeff Ward Bobby Moore Eddie Warren
1984 Johnny O'Mara
1983 David Bailey
1982 Donnie Hansen
1981 Mark Barnett
1980 Mike Bell
1979 Bob Hannah
1978 Bob Hannah
1977 Bob Hannah
1976 Jim Weinert 500cc Winner
1975 Jim Ellis Steve Stackable
1974 Pierre Karsmakers Gary Semics


  • Supercross: The Movie (2005), the Supercross DVD (2006), and the following High Definition TV version of Supercross, are of a fictional story set in the high drama of the competitive cycle world, and filmed with live racing action photography. The production is being distributed domestically by 20th Century Fox, and with many world-wide entertainment agencies.

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