Another AMA motocross season came to an end on a breezy Sunday afternoon, with a result as predictable as the sun setting over the hills of San Bernardino.
Ricky Carmichael, who clinched his sixth consecutive AMA 250cc motocross title last weekend in Delmont, Pa., prevailed in both motos Sunday to win the season finale at Glen Helen Raceway in Devore and finish undefeated for the second year in a row.
As is usually the case with the diminutive redhead from Havana, Fla., it wasn't a race but a runaway. He finished 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Windham in the first moto and 7 1/2 seconds ahead of Ernesto Fonseca in the second, as about 20,000 spectators watched from the grandstands and hillside dugouts.
What fans of motocross are witnessing in Carmichael, boring as it would seem to be when he leaves the field in his dust, is a sporting phenomenon unlike any other. Roger DeCoster, a motocross legend in the early 1970s, when he reeled off five world championships, said Carmichael was not only the greatest motocross rider ever, but the most successful athlete of his generation.
"To be able to do it every week, every race, and be able to give it 100%, I've never seen anybody come close to that," said DeCoster, manager of Team Makita Suzuki, for which Carmichael rides. For most top athletes or teams in any sport, DeCoster said, "There are good weeks, but there are not good weeks every week."
For other top riders, a good week is finishing second to Carmichael, who has won a championship of some sort every year since claiming the 125cc division title in 1997, his first full-time season as a pro.
"We think a lot about beating him," said Windham, the 2005 series runner-up. "It gets very frustrating. But that's our job, to beat him, and one of these days we're going to get it done."
With Sunday's victory, Carmichael, 25, increased his overall winning streak to 27, dating to 2003. He has finished undefeated three times, the first time in 2002, when he won every moto and became the only rider to go undefeated. He won every moto last year too. This year he was involved in crashes during the first of two motos in two events, but won the second moto in each and prevailed in both events.
Asked Sunday whether he has neared the point where there was nothing left to prove, Carmichael smiled and said he has no plans of retiring just yet.
"It's something to keep me motivated," he said of his 27-event winning streak. "It's fun, and I'm still having a good time."
Murietta's Ivan Tedesco had a rough outing but earned enough overall points in the drama-filled 125cc competition to claim his first national title. Mike Alesi's slim chance of catching Tedesco in points improved markedly after Tedesco crashed and finished out of the points in the first moto.
Alesi won the first moto and in the second needed to win again and have Tedesco finish sixth or worse to overtake him and claim the title. On a banked turn during the first lap, however, the two collided and fell, and after a brief shoving match, Tedesco was able to get off and running first to finish 12th, well ahead of his foe from Apple Valley.