Monday, January 7

Reed's what we need

I'll repeat these two oft-used quotes again:

"The sport needs good racing and close competition to keep growing."

"The sport grew thanks to the dominance of Jeremy McGrath, and then Ricky Carmichael."

So then, is it competition or superstar dominance that makes the supercross dial turn? Right now the sport is positioned for either. Thankfully for everyone involved, Chad Reed brought it at Anaheim, silencing the doubters for probably the 732nd time in his career. Just when you count Reed out, he usually goes out and delivers with a solid ride.

Here's a partial list:

Stewart pulls over and lets Reed pass him at Unadilla in 2002, then passes him back and wins. David Bailey says on TV, "after a move like that, Reed may never beat him again for the rest of his life." Reed wins the very next moto in the series straight-up against Stewart at Millville.

In 2002 Reed talks some trash about not wanting to race the 125 class, he wants to race 250s and go after Ricky Carmichael. No one believes he can do it,when he gets his shot in 2003, but he wins a World SX round in Europe, then wins A1. Carmichael gets a bad start there, though, but Reed is steadfast saying he is working on beating Carmichael heads-up. No one believes he can do that, but he indeed does to the tune of six-straight wins to end the season.

In '05 Carmichael hangs a bunch of wins on Reed early in the season and has all the momentum, Reed fights back to pass RC on the last lap and win San Diego. Then James Stewart re-enters the series, and in the first-ever Stewart/Carmichael showdown on a dry track, in Orlando, Reed wins. He also wins Daytona, the race Carmichael is supposed to own. After RC wraps the championship, the three superstars head to the "gloves are off" shootout in Vegas. Carmichael is expected to uncork it now that he doesn't need to worry about points. Reed wins.

In '06 Reed is struggling bad and losing ground to Carmichael and Stewart. Just when it looks like it's over, he wins big in St. Louis, and when he needs it again he wins in Dallas. He wins just twice all year, but each win comes at the most opportune moment. Last year in Toronto Reed is thought to be struggling since he has just had shoulder surgery in the off-season and has a new team to work with, and he ends up winning the race.

At Budds Creek, twice, Reed comes in with doubt everywhere and expectations on "getting smoked." He promptly takes third overall in the National in June and second in the first moto at the des Nations in September. Then he's supposed to be all fat and out of shape and over it, but he is the fastest rider at the US Open and Bercy, and now he has won A1.

What am I saying here? If the game of racing is mental, Chad has something in his arsenal no one else has, an unwavering belief in his abilities. Maybe it rubs people the wrong way at times, but the guy has won plenty of races that other riders of equal ability wouldn't, simply because he believes he can win every time he rolls to the line.

And if Reed doesn't win some more this year, well, James Stewart's dominance may just take the sport to another level, just like McGrath and Carmichael did before.

7 Comments:

Daniel said...

You make good points about Chad Reed. I have wondered many times why he's a rider people love to hate on. I've been in his autograph line several times, always seemed friendly, so it doesn't come from there. He did say last year that he was tired of being pushed around in SX then in St. Louis he knocked both himself and Stewart down. But any kid in school who has ever been picked on gets tired of it and tries to hold their own. It doesn't always work out. Sometimes the bully beats you up anyway. But with those events aside, he seems like a normal guy. Plus he can consistantly beat all but a few people on SX AND MX. People bag on him, and they seem to be forgetting he is very good at MX too. Usually everyone likes the Austrailian guy, maybe his accent isn't thick enough anymore. He needs to get some of that back and maybe the fans will leave him alone. Maybe....

garyd said...

Well captured on the Chad Reed Deal. I think Bubba knows he is the real deal..!

Gary from the UK

nunley said...

Great article Weege. I love that Reed is that guy who refuses to "take his place". He is not the fastest guy, he is the smoothest, most consistant rider I've ever seen. But behind his McGrath like skills lies the heart of a guy who absolutely HATES to loose.

I've seen the guy in tears, I've seen his wife rip his head off, but he never quits, he never stops battling. For that fighting spirit alone I'll root for the guy for life. And yeah, he gets tired of answering the same question from you guys, he's a little on edge at times, he has really bad hair some days but he is what SX needs.

Jason Weigandt said...

You know guys, I was watching an episode of "Lost" last night (now that season 4 will start on Jan. 31 I need to catch up fast). Many of the scenes are set in Australia because that's where their plane took off from. Watching them, it makes me realize just how far away Australia is. The language barrier tends to disguise how foreign it really is. Chad has come a long, long way to get here and do this, and I think that goes a long way toward understanding his drive. The dude is bad, like him or not.

Sounds like you guys agree. Let's see what he brings in Phoenix--but if he gets second to Bubba I'm not giving up on him.

rocky said...

Great article. I think a lot of people's bitterness about Reed just stems from the fact that he doesn't race the Nationals. Since Americans only started seeing him race in '02, they don't seem to think that he's been at it long enough to earn the right to race Supercross only. I don't think they realize that the dude's been racing almost nonstop since he was 3, it just wasn't in America. Not to mention the fact that he's now tied with Hannah on the all time SX wins list. Reed definitely earned the right to take a break. And if him taking a break is what it was going to take to get his batteries charged and help him put up a better fight against Stewart (which appears to be the case), I'm definitely glad he did it.

I'm so greatful that Reed is out there. As much as the media like to go on about how great Stewart is (and rightfully so), I think SX would be incredibly boring if Reed wasn't out there to at least sneak in a win here and there or, preferably, take the championship battle all the way to Vegas.

lids said...

Reedy is living his dream and carrying Aussie fans along for the ride.The US race circuit is so far removed from OZ that for Chad to be such a large figure in the SX world it is a huge accomplishment.
But to do this without his biggest supporters, his parent, is an even bigger feat.
Sure Chad is married and has Ellie to support him but could you imagine RC or Stewart not having Big Rick or James snr helping them out, let alone living in another country. Chad deserves a lot more credit than I think he gets.
He is a great ambassedor for this sport and has worldwide support for all he has done and all that he continues to do. I think without Chad the gap back to the rest of the field would make SX a little less super.
Stick it to 'em Reedy.

LIDS

SCHUIE said...

JW,

I really admire what you have written. From what I have seen over the years you havent always seen Chad in the light that you do currently and big points for giving credit where credit is due. I actually emailed him your blog just to show him that you were saying great things.
Chad is one of the most humble and down to earth athletes that I have had the pleasure of working with and his work ethic is second to none.He is easier to deal with than alot of athletes that earn 10% of what he does. No pretence and he hasnt forgotten where he came from. Both he and Ellie took a massive leap into the unknown first heading to Europe and then the USA. They are 100% responsible for creating the life they have, and at thier age, it is an absolute credit to them. They havent had the familiar surroundings of thier country or family to keep them going, only the massive motorvation to win and succeed. It is true that he did very little riding whilst home in the off season and did indeed have fun. But all the while he spoke of how he couldnt wait for the 2008 AMA SX season to start and he was going back there to be himself.He returned to the US mentally and physically stronger than ever before.

PS. He was mighty quick in a V8 Supercar(Aussie equivilant to NASCAR) when he tested one in August in Australia. He certainly raised a few eyebrows!!! Let me know if you want to see a video.