Right now the sport of professional motocross is simply on fire. The talent pool is deep, the competition is fierce and the racing is absolutely incredible. Current champions are being challenged, legends are making comebacks and new heroes are popping up everywhere. With so much going on at the forefront of the sport, it is hard to see how things could get any better. And after a weekend at the 2005 World Mini Grand Prix in Las Vegas watching moto after moto of the nation’s most talented young racers battling for their shot at the top, it is clear the future of motocross is in good hands. Of the young racers in the amateur ranks, several are on a succinct path to the top where they will eventually overthrow the reigning rank of riders who just a few quick years previous did the exact same thing to their heroes.To judge the impact that events such as the World Mini GP have on the sport, you need to first take a look back on the significance of the races to the amateur motocross scene. The Las Vegas event, for example, has long served as a gauge for the rest of the season as it is one of the first stops on the amateur tour. From the quick newcomers to the familiar fast guys, everyone is there to establish his place and make his mark, as others have done before.Considering recent advances in motocross, it is pretty impressive to see how far things have come in an incredibly short span of time. It was not long ago that minicycle prodigy Shawn Kalos was rolling in a converted bus-the biggest and most posh rig ever seen in the pits of yesteryear. But now, thanks to ambitious, construction-company-owning parents, the pits of a race such as the World Mini look more like an RV parking lot. It seems almost every kid, from the fastest pro to the pack-trailing 65 rider, has a full-factory setup. (Pretty ironic considering heroes Doug Henry and Shane Watts will pit out of pickup trucks!)The advances in the actual programs of the racers are also mind-boggling. Back in the day, racing was taken seriously but was far from the obsessive level where the sport rests today. While a now-retired National rider may have practiced hard when he was on minis, the level of commitment from his smaller years is nothing compared to what the riders of today must show. Kids now are trained, drilled, coached, motivated and practiced beyond belief. Dads spend countless hours and obscene amounts of money so their children will be able to compete against the other 85cc pilots as if they were racing for a World title. The lives of most young racers are completely consumed by the sport, with only the goal of winning in mind. Forget about school-when you are serious about racing, things such as study hall and Spanish class take a backseat to corner drills and start sprints.So when did this change in dedication occur? After all, the shift from fun hobby to career mode must have taken place at some point. The matter of when, though, is up for debate. In the minds of most, the level of intensity began to rise during the Jeff Emig-Damon Bradshaw mini era, when the two young guns were first beginning their charge on the track. With the inception of Team Green and the development of amateur support, the competitive nature began to explode hand in hand with the popularity. Of course, once something is popular, people will flock to it like bees to honey-and some of those bees have very, very big bank accounts. The technological aspect of the sport also went through the roof, thanks to intricate engine-building techniques, advances in suspension and the miracle known as testing. Each year, equipment is improved and knowledge is gained-both of which can’t help but advance the sport.But even through all of the changes and transformations that have taken place in motocross, the basic attitude and motives remain the same and a distinct connection can be drawn between the new breed of racers and the established veterans. A day of spectating at the World Mini revealed several examples of this. For instance, in the prime of his mini career Damon Bradshaw was one intimidating kid. Faster than sin and with a style and demeanor that were the envy of each of his competitors, Bradshaw would arrive at the races in his bad-boy gear and proceed to kick butt. In Las Vegas this year, a young racer named Dominic Izzi did the same. Armed with an overflow of speed and a set of Thor’s edgy Punk gear, Nico laid waste to the competition in the 85 class and was the official bar-raiser of the weekend. Another little rider by the name of Adam Cianciarulo made news at the WMGP, where he rode his tiny Cobra to some five Pee Wee-class championships. Ricky Carmichael, arguably the most dominant Outdoor rider of all time, had a similar career arc when he was a youngster.Some of the connections between new and old racers are not as obvious, but if you look hard enough, they’re there. Just outside of the top five in the Supermini class was a kid by the name of Justin Mulford. Even after a series of freak crashes left him bruised, battered and slightly concussed, Mulford soldiered on to a solid finish in front of several better-known riders. Sound familiar? Both Grant Langston and Ryan Hughes have been known to tape up and brave an injury just for the sake of getting a solid finish. And check out Suzuki ace Eli Tomac, who worked his way to the front of every World Mini moto with the same flawless, easy-looking style that Kevin Windham uses to win pro Nationals. Heck, the similarities can be drawn right down to the smallest details: There was one rider in Vegas who had the exact funky elbow positioning as French Yamaha import David Vuillemin!Seeing the resemblances of yesterday’s and today’s mini scenes is a solid reminder that no matter what changes take place or how big the scene gets, amateur racing will always fall upon a similar cycle. The rigs may get bigger, the bikes may get faster and the riders may turn into absolute animals, but the same grit, determination and talent will continue to run throughout the years. It is important-and at the same time fascinating-to watch this cycle, and to see where it is taking the sport. Although the surface may show something wildly different than what many of us knew, the core of motocross and the racers who keep it alive will forever display the key characteristics that make racing what it is. Our sport is living proof of the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.