Yamaha's Chad Reed, the 2004 THQ AMA Supercross Champion, opens his title defence at Anaheim, California, on Saturday January 8 – an event that will mark the start of the most highly anticipated season in Supercross history.
What makes Anaheim I so special is that all the superstars of Supercross will meet head-to-head for the first time. Chad Reed vs. Ricky Carmichael vs. James Stewart vs. Jeremy McGrath vs. Travis Pastrana vs. Kevin Windham vs. Mike LaRocco and so on.
"It's one of those rare moments in racing where all the top riders will come together," said Reed, who will be trying to win the Anaheim opener for the third straight year. "If I weren't racing myself I would definitely be in the crowd watching. I'm honoured to be mentioned as one of the top riders in this group."
Stewart's debut in the main 250 class is what many fans are looking forward to seeing. Kawasaki's racing phenom broke nearly every conceivable record in the 125 class and he has goals to do the same someday in the 250s.
In spite of the fact that many past greats, including Ricky Carmichael, never even finished on the podium in their first AMA Supercross season, the pressure and hype surrounding the 19-year-old as he approaches his debut is tremendous.
"It's funny because when most riders come into the 250 class it's cool even if they make the main and just have a decent race," Stewart said. "Now everyone is expecting me to either win or crash my brains out. I've never said anything about where I expect to finish.
"I'm not hyping myself. I'm just excited to be racing in the top class against the best riders," he added. "By listening to people you'd think my entire career depends on how I do at Anaheim I, but I'd be pumped if I have a good race and finish on the podium. It would still be better than almost anyone has ever done in their first race."
Carmichael is returning to AMA Supercross competition after the three-time series champ sat out last season recovering from knee surgery. The one stat that stands out with Carmichael is that the 25-year-old Floridian has never lost a title defence in his eight-year pro career.
RC's anxious to win back the title he vacated after 2003. If he does so he would bring Suzuki its first AMA 250 Supercross Series championship since Hall of Famer Mark Barnett scored the title on a yellow bike in 1981.