This past weekend was the final Supercross race of the weekend and one of my favorite action sports events of the year. Held at Sam Boyd Stadium just outside Las Vegas, the atmosphere at this race is a little bit NASCAR, a little FMX, a little Southern California and a tad just plain ol’ southern.
This year’s season title race was the tightest in history, with four riders still in contention for the overall when they arrived in Vegas. The AMA was calling it The Greatest Season. In the end, the final race was fairly anticlimactic (although the earlier Lites races were a lot of fun) and the overall title went to Ryan Villopoto, the most consistent rider all season. James Stewart, the pre-season favorite, had a crash-filled year and ended the season crashing in the whoops on lap 7 and taking out Kevin Windham. They were in first and second place at the time — and I had money on both of them.
Back in March, I met Wynn oddsmaker Johnny Avello (you might remember him from this post) and talked with him about why sports books don’t include action sports on their menus. He said he’d be down to give it a try, but he didn’t know much about sports like Supercross and surfing. So he spent the season getting to know the riders and the racing and, the Wednesday before the final race, he put up odds on the final race. (I wrote a story about the odds he placed on SX for ESPN.com and you can check it out HERE.) It was a lot of fun to walk over to the Wynn and put a few dollars on a few racers, just to say I’d done it. I also bet on my friend Kristi’s aunt and uncle’s horse, Shackleford, to win, place or show in the Kentucky Derby. He took fourth. (This is why I don’t bet on sports.) Although, next year, I will have the opportunity to bet on every race. Johnny is going to book the entire season next year and see what kind of response he gets. What’s next? Possibly the ASP world surfing tour season.
The weekend in Vegas was a lot of fun, bookended by a Friday night spent catching up with friends and a Sunday night dinner at the annual SX awards banquet at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. Monday morning, I flew home, unpacked and re-packed. Early the next morning, I took a cab to the airport and flew to New York for one final week in the Mag office, the first ever ESPN The Magazine live issue and a moving-out-of-New-York party. It should be a memorable seven days.