In Supercross, the track designers have
a blank canvas. A stadium – it might be
rectangular, or more of a diamond
shape, depending on what sport it
normally hosts – has many possibilities
once dozens of truckloads of dirt are
brought in. But a Motocross track is
shaped by the land and defined by its
environment, whether it be the trees at
Washougal, Wash., the big hills that Glen
Helen, Calif., and Thunder Valley, Colo.,
are nestled against, or the valley in
which Budds Creek, Md., sits.
“You know, everybody initially was
wondering how you could have a
National on the sides of a hillside,” says
David Clabaugh, the Thunder Valley
promoter. “We’ve been able to carve out
a track, a cool track, that utilizes the hills
and ravines because we have both here.”
Thunder Valley’s signature elements
include an uphill start and a big climb
up the hill, before then dropping down
into gullies. So how did Clabaugh come
up with the final layout?
“I don’t know…” he smiles. “Honestly,
there was some trial and error involved.
‘What will work best over here?’ That’s
kind of how we did it.”
Clabaugh cites the big uphills and the
fact that from many viewpoints, fans
can see most of the track as his favorite
features. In fact, they left one hillside
clear of track for that very reason,
giving it kind of an amphitheater feel.
The site of a motocross track
presents its own limitations, whereas
a Supercross track only presents
possibilities. But those limitations are
what gives each MX venue a personality.
It’s the natural terrain as much as
anything that shapes the layout of
a Lucas Oil Pro Motocross track
(ABOVE) Suzuki rider
Weston Peick heads
the Husqvarna of
Martin Davalos at
Thunder Valley, Colo.
(LEFT) For French
rider Marvin Musquin,
riding motocross and
Supercross in the U.S.
is a dream come true.
(ABOVE) The hills and ravines of Thunder
Valley, Colo., give the track its character and
challenge and make it an MX fan favorite.
FOR MORE ON LUCAS OIL MOTORSPORTS AND ITS RACE-PROVEN LUBRICANTS, GO TO LUCASOIL.COM/MOTORSPORTS
NATURE’S RACE TRACK
riders and teams competing in both
is a big draw for racers worldwide.
“It’s only in America that you can
do that, race Supercross and then race
outdoors, and it’s the best,” says
Frenchman Marvin Musquin, who left
Thunder Valley with the red number plate
signifying the points leader. “MXGP, the FIM
for those who do make it, the experience
gained and resilience learned at the
sport’s grassroots are invaluable.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross’s
complementary championship, Monster
Energy AMA Supercross, held in stadiums
with shorter races on compact, but
demanding temporary tracks, has made
the sport accessible in a different way by
bringing it to the cities. The crowds may be
bigger and the live television brings a touch
of glamour, but the spectators at Hangtown
or Washougal are definitely more
hardcore – they have to work harder to
be there, and perhaps appreciate it more.
“I think motocross deserves more
attention because this is where it all
started,” says Josh Grant, Tomac’s
teammate at Monster Energy Kawasaki.
“As a rider, it places a lot more stress on
our body. It’s a lot more for the team. It’s
None of these riders are taking
anything away from Supercross, and they
are happy to race in both – that’s why
Supercross has it’s Winter/Spring season
and Pro Motocross has the summer. The
fact that they co-exist and it’s the same
outdoors and it was a dream to come here
and be able to do it with Red Bull KTM.
That’s what brought me to the U.S. – to be
able to race in stadiums and outdoors.”
Musquin and Tomac, along with KTM
rider Blake Baggett (who took the points
lead after round four, High Point, Pa.),
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Justin Bogle and Broc
Tickle, and Husqvarna rider Jason
Anderson, were the main players in a tight
450 title fight with two thirds of the season
still to run. It’s likely that one of them will
become a first time champion, as no former
450 champs are racing in 2017.
Three-time champ Ryan Dungey recently
announced his retirement, and two-time
winner Ken Roczen is out with an injury,
meaning it will be someone new who has
made the journey from grassroots racer
to champion in a sport where the two
ends are intrinsically connected.
“It’s only in America that you can
race Supercross and then race
outdoors, and it’s the best”