Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac began his Monster Energy AMA Supercross career in 2011 and was then often thought of as the son of downhill bicycle legend John Tomac. Today, fans know him as the two-time and defending Supercross champion as well as one of the most exciting racers on the track. Tomac’s name sits in prestigious spots in the record book; fourth in all time Supercross wins (45), fifth in all-time Supercross podiums (85), third in all time Supercross and Motocross wins combined (77), and he is one of only six riders to win a Supercross Main Event over the age of 30. But a 450SX Class win at the opening round at Angel Stadium of Anaheim had eluded him…until this past weekend.

Eli Tomac had this awkward crash while leading the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season opener…but this year things were different. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Tomac’s speed has rarely been in doubt. His foibles at the opening round have more often been caused by simple mistakes, unfortunate race incidents, or in the case of 2018, even a malfunction with his race pants’ buckle! Over the years Tomac’s average 450SX Class finish at Anaheim 1 had been tenth place.

But on Saturday night, on a track choppy and rutted due to rain-soaked dirt, Eli Tomac put himself and his Yamaha into the lead early inside Angel Stadium. The number 1 on his number plate signified his 2022 Championship, and the red background behind it designated that he was the current points leader – with zero points in the books at the start of the season, the red plate is worn by the defending champ at the opening round.

Eli Tomac set the fastest lap time in the 450SX Class Main Event enroute to his first season opener win at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Things looked different for Tomac this year, right up until they didn’t. Near the midpoint of the 20-minute plus one lap race Tomac crashed on the bridge jump over the starting line. Tomac flew low and perfectly sideways in a crash that deposited him on the dirt flattop at the highest point of the track. Malcolm Stewart jumped over the downed Tomac and took over the lead. Tomac remounted in fifth place. It looked like another failed attempt at an Anaheim 1 win.

But raw speed counts for a lot in Monster Energy AMA Supercross racing. And it may have factored in that 2023 kicks off a brand-new series that melds Supercross, Pro Motocross, and three SuperMotocross Playoff Rounds at the end of the year. Points for the 17-round Supercross season and the 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship™ series were on the line with a $10 million combined prize for the year. Maybe because of this, or maybe just from a champion’s instinct to win, Tomac put in a masterful charge forward. He re-took the lead with just over two minutes left on the race clock and added one more distinction to his career: Anaheim 1 Winner.

All wins are sweet, but some ripen a little longer before you snatch them. Eli Tomac after winning his first Anaheim Opener in Anaheim, Calif. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Tomac had been considering retirement last year. Now he has the first win of 2023, the points lead in the Supercross season as well as the SuperMotocross World Championship™ series, and he is in position to capture the top share of more total prize money than any other off-road motorcycle series offers, including a one-million-dollar bonus to the SMX World Championship winner.

All 2023 races are broadcast live on Peacock (domestic) and SuperMotocross Video Pass (international) with select events also airing on NBC and USA Network. All races will be re-aired on CNBC every Monday night at 1:00 am ET. For the complete story on the Anaheim 1 race, full results, video highlights, and the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season schedule go to SupercrossLIVE or SuperMotocross.

Anaheim 1 450SX Class podium (riders left to right) Chase Sexton, Eli Tomac, and Cooper Webb at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.