Eli Tomac pulled off one of the most dominating wins Saturday in the 47 years of the Hangtown Motocross Classic at Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area.
The high-flying Tomac, a 22-year-old Geico Honda rider from Cortez, Colo., won the first 450cc moto by 22 seconds over defending Supercross champion Ryan Dungey. Tomac won the second moto by an astonishing 91 seconds over Dungey and the rest of the field, which Tomac lapped up to ninth place.
“Round 1 is always an unknown coming out here (to Hangtown),” said Tomac, who in 2010 at Hangtown became the first rider in motocross history to win his professional debut. “I had good starts and was connected on the bike (Saturday). I struggled here the past couple of years, so this is a huge improvement.”
Tomac and Red Bull KTM’s Dungey were among the few riders to go wide open on the accelerator and conquer the imposing Fly 150 jump, now the longest in the 12-race Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships. The crowd-pleasing jump starts with a 35-foot hill that launches riders as far as 150 feet down the track. The jump is located approximately two-thirds of the way around the 1.2-mile track. The jump is 30 feet longer than the previous record holder known as “LaRocco’s Leap” at RedBud National in Buchanan, Mich. That jump is named after pro rider Mike LaRocco, the first to clear it in a race.
Will the new jump at Hangtown be named “Tomac’s Triumph”?
“I don’t know if I deserve that,” the always modest Tomac said of the suggested name change. “It’s a cool jump, though. I was wide open in fourth gear on a 450, and I was on the seat.”
Tomac sported a Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club logo on both sleeves of his jersey. Tomac said he was honored to wear the colors of the club, which has put on all 47 Hangtown motocross races. That connection made the presentation of the first Hangtown Motocross Classic commemorative championship belt buckle that much more special. The buckle went nicely with Tomac’s trophy, which featured twin replica 1861 Civil War-era revolvers.
Dungey, who went 2-2 last year for second overall at Hangtown, never has won at Prairie City. Hangtown is the only mainstay on the circuit that Dungey has failed to win. Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna rider Jason Anderson went 3-7 to take third place overall.
Defending Hangtown Motocross Classic 450cc champion Ken Roczen, who is battling a stress fracture in his lower back and is admittedly not 100 percent, finished 19th in the first moto but improved to fifth in the second to take 12th overall. The Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s Suzuki rider’s first career victory onboard a 450 was last year at Hangtown.
Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin, the defending 250cc Pro Motocross champion, took second in the first moto behind Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. But Martin took a huge lead in the second moto to repeat. In 2014, the Millville, Minn., rider went 1-1.
“I am the defending champion here,” Martin said. “But all the hype coming in (to Hangtown) was on Marvin (Musquin) and Cooper (Webb) because of their great Supercross seasons.”
Musquin went 1-2 for second overall, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christopher Alldredge was 5-3, good for third overall. Finishing first in the second moto is worth more than winning the first. Martin and Musquin flipped positions between the first and second motos, but Martin’s Moto 2 victory gave him the overall title.
Local riders – Carmichael’s Keith Knight and Modesto’s Preston Mull, both privateers, qualified for the 250cc motos. Knight finished 32nd and 28th for 29th overall, while Mull went 22-22 for 25th.
Wheatland-based Herrera Ranch Racing’s lone rider, Deven Raper, failed to qualify for the 450cc finals.
Stewart absent – Three-time Hangtown champion James “Bubba” Stewart, always a crowd favorite, missed Saturday’s race because of his suspension for testing positive in 2014 for amphetamines other than his prescribed Adderall. His suspension for violating the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme anti-doping policy kept Stewart from competing in the last Supercross series and will keep him out of all but the last two races of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.
Stewart earned his first 450cc victory at Hangtown in 2006 and added titles in 2008 and 2012.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at email@example.com or @editorwriter001.