Every once in a while, a story comes along that captivates not only the industry, but legions of new fans around the world.
When Ken Roczen was preparing for the 450SX main event in Angel Stadium of Anaheim on the evening of January 21, 2017, everything was going his way. The German had won the first two 450SX main events of the season in convincing fashion aboard his new Honda. He was so fast there was even a little idle chatter of a season sweep. As grandiose as that may sound, the No. 94 was firing on all eight cylinders and he had the Supercross world in the palm of his hand.
When the gate dropped on that evening, he suffered a mediocre start and began to climb through the pack at a rapid pace. Perhaps too rapid, but defending champion Ryan Dungey had stolen the lead and Ken knew, if he wanted to win, he needed to turn on the afterburner. It was a choice Roczen had to make; settle for a podium or go for the win. He chose the latter and, unfortunately, it came with dire consequences. The sold out crowd looked on in horror as Ken was kicked off his machine 20 feet into the air and landed with a sickening impact. The damage was a severely broken arm.
Now, 11 surgeries and almost a year later, Ken Roczen is poised to make his return to Monster Energy Supercross.
The endemic has read his social media posts of wanting to not only race again, but win Anaheim 1. This proved to be polarizing among the fans, some of which question his overconfidence. But, based on our own Twitter polls, the majority believe Roczen will actually pull off the unthinkable and win this thing. Here is a fact on Ken: In his past 30 races of Monster Energy Supercross and Pro Motocross, he has won an amazing 25 times. Clearly, he was on top of the sport before his demise on that cold California night last January.
That said, this is the type of story that truly makes us all feel lucky to be fans of Supercross. We admire the stars because they are common men, who do uncommon things. They are the last true gladiators of motorsports and are some of the most physically fit in all of the world. However, the story of Ken Roczen’s return is unique. Never in Supercross history has a racer won the first two races of the season, gotten injured, then had the chance to come back and emerge victorious in his return.
Pundits who have watched him claim he is as fast as he was before the crash. But, that isn’t what matters as much as the fact that Ken Roczen himself believes he can win. Sometimes that is enough.
The world is watching. In three days we will see.