By Broc Bridges
Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California hosted one Supercross race in 19 seasons from 1976-1996. The stadium underwent renovations and returned to the Supercross schedule in 1999 with two races on the schedule which created Anaheim 2. In 14 seasons from 2000-2022 there were three Anaheim’s on the schedule giving life to the acronyms “A2” and “A3.” On February 6, 1999 Angel Stadium hosted their first “A2” in Supercross history. By the the fifth round of the season, there had already been three different winners. Ezra Lusk won the Anaheim Opener, and then the following round, before a 16th and 11th-place finish in Phoenix and Seattle. Lusk came into Anaheim 2 with high expectations and a chance to creep back into the Championship battle. Jeremy McGrath and Larry Ward won Phoenix and Seattle, but it was the steady 3-3-3-2 finishes of Mike LaRocco who held the points lead going into A2. McGrath was -3 points off LaRocco with a larger gap to third (Mickael Pichon -16). Lusk was down 17 points after his two abysmal performances following his surprising victories to start the season. In the 250SX Class (then 125cc Class) it was Anaheim Opener winner Casey Johnson with a comfortable points lead over Casey Lytle (-16), Michael Brandes (-18), and Nathan Ramsey (-21). Ramsey struggled to an 18th-place finish in the Anaheim Opener but scored a podium in San Diego and back-to-back wins in Phoenix and Seattle. Ryan Clark won the first ever A2 Heat Race with Ramsey scoring the Heat 2 victory. Unfortunately points-leading Johnson broke his arm in Heat 2 ending his Championship caliber season.
Jeremy McGrath and Robbie Reynard won the 450SX Class Heat Races while previous week winner Larry Ward and Jimmy Button clinched Semi-Final victories. Kyle Lewis (450SX) and Erick Vallejo (250SX) won their respective LCQs and the field was set for the first A2 Main Events. In the 250SX Class, Ramsey worked up from a sixth place start to steal the lead away in the fifth lap and would be uncontested from there on for his third straight victory. Lytle’s second-place finish was good enough to steal the points lead from the injured Johnson, but Ramsey would only be two-points behind him going into the final three rounds of the Western Regional 250SX Class season. He would eventually win the title by a mere six-points over Lytle, but it was A2 and the injury to Johnson where everything changed. Ramsey winning A2 and the title would begin a trend for both classes that carries statistical weight to this day.
After being caught in a first-turn pileup in Seattle, Lusk was lucky enough to score a massive hole shot in the 450SX Class Main Event over Pichon, Button, McGrath, and LaRocco. He led wire-to-wire, immediately building an insurmountable lead over some of the greatest riders of the 90s, scoring the first ever Anaheim Sweep. The victory pushed him right back into the Championship chase; and new points leader McGrath only held a one-point advantage over LaRocco and 11-points over Lusk. While McGrath would go on to win the title convincingly, Lusk would score two more victories and finish in second place in the Championship by a mere six-points over LaRocco. Lusk winning A2 but not the title has turned into a rarity, occurring only six more times in A2’s 450SX Class history. 2024 will host the 25th A2 for both classes which gives A2 its own statistical grounding separate from the standalone Anaheim’s, Anaheim Openers, or Anaheim 3. Statistically there are multiple intriguing data points calculating A2’s history dating back to the original round won by Lusk 25 years ago.
In 24 previous A2s 17 of the winners went onto win the 450SX Class Championship. This is the highest percentage of all 2024 venues with a 71% clip. Arlington’s AT&T Stadium (10/16, 63%) and San Francisco’s Oracle Park (5/8, 63%) are tied for a distant second in this category. On the 250SX Class side, the number sits slightly lower at 15/24 (63%). This is also the leading percentage of all 2024 250SX Class venues, excluding San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium which sits 1/1 (100%) after 2023 Champion Jett Lawrence won last season. Daytona International Speedway is a close second in this category with a 24/39 (62%) clip. Combined between both classes, A2 blows all venue Championship percentages out of the water with a 32/48 (67%) mark well above Daytona International Speedway’s 48/89 (54%) mark and AT&T Stadiums 17/32 (53%) mark.
2024 will only be the second time A2 will be the fourth round in its 25 seasons on the schedule. 2022 was the only other time and Eli Tomac won both A2 and the 450SX Class Championship. Christian Craig won the 250SX Class Main Event and the Western Regional Championship that season giving Round 4 A2’s a 2/2 (100%) mark between both classes. While it is a very small sample size, the history of A2 winners churning out titles, along with Round 4’s having a 24/49 (49%) Championship percentage in the 450SX Class, and 40/78 (51%) score across both Western and Eastern 250SX Class regionals, this statistical anomaly can’t be ignored. Round 3 is generally a better indicator of Championships, this year won by red-plate holder Aaron Plessinger and long-shot point standings contender Nate Thrasher. In the 450SX Class, Round 3 holds a 53% (26/49) score while the 250SX Class holds an incredible 65% (51/78) score.
With 67% of A2 winners across both Classes being eventual Champions, first time winners are left out of opportunities to scoop up maiden victories. Of 86 possible Supercross venues (IE- Anaheim 1, 2, 3 or Seattle 1 and 2 counting separately) these are the venues with the most combined rounds held without a first-time winner.
1. Anaheim 2 – 48 Main Events without a first-time winner
2. Anaheim 3 – 28
3. Pontiac Silverdome 2 – 26
4. Sun Devil Stadium – 10
4. Giant’s Stadium at the Meadowlands – 10
Other Anaheim Main Events (Openers or standalone races in the season) there have been 10 first time winners, most recently 2016 with Jason Anderson. Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium leads the way for active venues without a first-time winner with 10 Main Events. Angel Stadium and the Silverdome have first time winners in other races and the Meadowlands is demolished. Supercross has not been to Tempe since 1998, the year before the first A2 and instead has opted for Glendale’s State Farm Stadium. Glendale has seen a first-time winner in each class with Craig in 2016 in the 250SX Class and Blake Baggett in 2019 in the 450SX Class. Speaking of Baggett, he finished ninth out of 15 riders in 1999 A2’s KTM Jr. Supercross challenge only a week after turning seven years old.
Anaheim 2 will host their fourth Triple Crown, the most of any other venue for both classes. Previous 450SX Class Anaheim 2 Triple Crown winners are 2/3 in winning the title while the 250SX Class winners are 0/3 oddly. The eventual 450SX Class Champion has won at least one Triple Crown overall in all five seasons that have held Triple Crowns (2018-2020 & 2021-2023). 2024 has seen some crazy racing through the first three rounds culminating in three different winners. Research concludes this has only happened 18 times in 450SX Class history, but four times already this decade. Only three times in 450SX Class history have there been four winners in the first four races, the first time being 1976 and the other two occurring in 2021 and 2022. 2024 could be the third time this has happened in four seasons after not occurring for 45 seasons in-a-row. The 250SX Class has seen 15 seasons with three or more winners to start a season. 2024 marks the eighth time both classes have had three different winners to start a season and fifth time since 2018. There has never been a season where both classes had four different winners to start a season but 2024 has been full of surprises and statistical anomalies to this point. Along with the magic of A2’s statistical fortress we could be in for some interesting results in this season’s first Triple Crown.
Dylan Ferrandis, Jorge Prado, Adam Cianciarulo, Hunter Lawrence, Malcolm Stewart, and Craig are among the 450SX Class riders still looking for their first 450SX Class victory. Mitchell Oldenburg, Julien Beaumer, and Ryder DiFrancesco are a few Western Regional 250SX Class athletes still searching for their first victory. Can one of them break the A2 “curse” or will we see A2’s number of Main Events without a new winner hitting 50 by weekend’s end? Could we see the first time in Supercross history four different winners in both classes through four rounds? The first Triple Crown action of 2024 will bring in the 25th time Supercross has held an A2 and it stands to be just as exciting as the first one 25 years ago when Lusk and Ramsey took home the trophy.