By Sean Brennen
Monster Energy Supercross Wire Service
The Supercross track whoop section is a long series of small (by Supercross track standards) bumps. The name was coined in the sport's early years in the 1970s as the whoop-de-dos, referencing the rolling nature of a roller coaster as racers of that time would roll up, over, and through the section. But today dirt bikes are much tougher, riding techniques have evolved, and the section is now referred to as the 'whoops,' or sometimes, the 'whups.' The section is a great separator, and has had a play in many race outcomes as well as season-defining injuries over the years.
Skimming is considered the fastest way through. This technique takes rare skill, proper bike set-up, and courage. The rider skims both the front then the rear tire off the tip of each whoop. When done perfectly, the bike stays level, the rider stays centered, and the bike's trajectory mimics racing across flat ground. But if one bump peak is missed by either the front or rear wheel, the bike dips and impacts the bump face with immense force. At best, this is a loss of speed, and at worst this results in a crash.
A safer technique is for a rider to jump through the whoops, usually taking them three at a time. This approach is slower, but it's often the preferred method when the whoops get slippery either from impacted dirt or from moisture coming up during the evening's races, or when the whoop tips break down and get rough, making contact and traction unpredictable. The decision to switch from a fast and risky approach to a slower but safer approach differs at each round, and for each rider's comfort and track position relative to other racers.
Some tracks present the riders with two whoop sections, sometimes one, and they vary from short or long. Whoop bumps themselves range from tall, peaky, and close together to rounded and spaced further apart or unevenly. Making matters tougher still, the nature of building a unique Supercross track for each round leaves the whoop section construction until the end; the riders have the least amount of time to see them as the track goes up on the stadium floor throughout the week.
The next round takes place tomorrow at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and a few of the sports top athletes were able to preview the whoops during today’s media day event. For the remaining competitors, they will get their first taste of what the Georgia clay will have to offer as a whoop section… or sections tomorrow morning.
450SX Class Championship Standings
1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (181)
2. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda (174)
3. Cooper Webb, Clermont, Fla., KTM (155)
4. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., Yamaha (154)
5. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna (139)
6. Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (128)
7. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda (122)
8. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Honda (110)
9. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (105)
10. Justin Brayton, Charlotte, N.C., Honda (105)
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
1. Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda (49)
2. Shane McElrath, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha (49)
3. Jeremy Martin, Rochester, Minn., Honda (40)
4. RJ Hampshire, Minneola, Fla., Husqvarna (38)
5. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Kawasaki (37)
6. Joey Crown, Metamora, Mich., Yamaha (31)
7. Jordon Smith, Ochlocknee, Ga., Kawasaki (28)
8. Joshua Hill, Huntersville, N.C., Yamaha (28)
9. Jo Shimoda, Irvine, Calif., Honda (26)
10. Enzo Lopes, Huntersville, N.C., Yamaha (19)