AMA Motocross Championship Returns to Colorado - News - Dirt Rider Magazine

Thunder Valley Motocross Park, in Lakewood, Colo., is set to host round seven of the 2005 AMA Motocross Championship presented by FMF on July 23-24. The race marks the return of AMA Motocross to Colorado for the first time since the 1980s.Ricky Carmichael headlines the host of the nation's leading motocross riders set to compete at Thunder Valley for the first time. The Makita Suzuki ace leads the premier AMA 250 Motocross Championship by 71 points coming into Sunday's race. Carmichael's mid-season lead is the largest ever in the history of AMA Motocross.Carmichael is coming off a record setting 21st consecutive national victory last weekend in New Berlin, N.Y. He won despite a scary crash in which he and Kawasaki's James Stewart came together coming off a jump. Carmichael's last loss came in Washougal, Wash., on July 27, 2003. Kevin Windham was the last rider to defeat Carmichael on a motocross track. Carmichael is looking forward to his first race in Colorado."I've only been to Colorado once in my life," said the defending champ. "I think it's great that we're going to that part of the country. I know the fans there are into motocross big time and hopefully we can put on a good performance for them. The track will be a challenge, especially considering the elevation. It's going to be important to find a good set up there pretty quickly, so that puts a little additional pressure on the teams."While Carmichael is on cruise control heading for his sixth straight AMA 250 Championship, the battle for runner-up in the series is heating up between Yamaha's Chad Reed and Honda's Kevin Windham. Reed held second for the first half of the season, but Windham has come on strong in recent rounds. He won a moto at Unadilla for the first time in nearly two years and hopes to keep his drive going in Colorado."It was nice to get a moto win at Unadilla," Windham said. "I seem to be building a bit of momentum and I'd like to keep that going. Colorado is going to be new to everyone so we are all starting from scratch."Another one of the marquee riders Colorado fans are eager to see in person is James Stewart. The rider who broke many of Carmichael's records in the 125 class is finding the going a little tougher in the 250 ranks. Stewart crashed together with Carmichael last week and did not race in the second moto. He is expected to compete at Lakewood. Stewart is one of the few remaining riders competing on a 250cc two-stroke powered machine. Most of the other teams have switched to the 450cc four-stroke engines. Stewart tested a four-stroke Kawasaki at Lakewood, but is expected to remain on the two-stroke this weekend.Veteran Mike Brown comes to Colorado leading the 125 class on his privateer Honda, but Brown's points lead has been shaved down in the last two rounds. He now leads Monster Energy Drink Kawasaki's Ivan Tedesco by 16 points at the halfway point in the season. Rookie Mike Alessi stands third in the rankings on the Red Bull KTM.Four riders, Grant Langston, Brown, Alessi and Broc Hepler, all have scored victories in the 125 class this year. Hepler scored his first national win last week in New York.Thunder Valley hosted AMA Motocross Championship races in the 1980s. The facility has been greatly improved since the series last visited.Honda factory 125cc rider Andrew Short is a Colorado native and grew up racing at Lakewood. He says the area is more than ready to host an AMA Motocross Championship event."Colorado loves motocross and racing in general," Short said. "Denver is a big sports town, so it has all the ingredients to make a successful event. I think a lot of people from places like Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and all those people that love motocross, but don't get to see their heroes' race - it's going to be easy for them to go now and that's why people are so excited about it."Jillians' at Colorado Mills will host a Toyota Trucks Pro Motocross National at Thunder Valley Presented by Thor Kick-Off Party on Friday, July 22, starting at 5 p.m. The Kick-Off Party will feature two Red Bull Freestyle Motocross Shows featuring Tommy Clowers and Jeff "Full Tilt" Tilton, Pro Rider VIP and Sponsor Party at Jillian's, Colorado Mills: bowl with the pros at the Thor Lanes and shoot pool in the Scion xB Billiard Room and a free concert with the Groove Hawgs.Tickets are available at many Denver area motorcycle dealerships. Call (303) 988-3889 or go the track's website for details.The race will be nationally televised on OLN.