Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA — September 23, 2023
The first-ever motocross race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was on July 8, 1972, and 16-year-old Marty Tripes took the overall win on his Yamaha.
Tonight, the first-ever SuperMotocross World Championship final race will run at the famous venue that has seen everything from the Olympics to Super Bowls to NASCAR racing. The motocross track is genuinely unique, taking riders outside of the stadium and then back in using the grandstand seating to fashion a significant elevation change.
Jett Lawrence scorched Chicagoland for an overall victory and a great shot at winning the 450 SMX Championship, as he is only two points off the red plate, emblematic of the points lead. The victory was his 39th career AMA victory (13 250SX, 11 450 Class, 14 250 Class, 1 SMX Playoff). He is now alone in 17th on the all-time wins list. A 40th win would make him just the 17th rider in the history of AMA racing with 40 career victories. Cooper Webb sits above him in 16th with 40 wins. Jett is making his 80th AMA start.
Hunter Lawrence stole back the red-plate in Joliet while scoring his 21st career AMA victory in 1-1 fashion. He carries a three-point lead on Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda going into the L.A. finale. Hunter moves into a tie for 31st on the all-time wins list with Blake Baggett, Jason Anderson, Dylan Ferrandis, & Ezra Lusk. It was Hunter’s 85th AMA start.
Jo Shimoda scored another podium in the 250 SMX Playoffs with a second overall in Joliet. He was making his 80th AMA start and is only three points off of the red plate going into the finale in L.A. Shimoda now has 23 career podiums.
With Triple Points on the line tonight, there are a lot of riders still alive for a shot at the 2023 World Championship.
250 SMX Moto #1
Hunter Lawrence(96) went over the handlebars in a crash during practice Friday. He aggravated the injury today and has withdrawn from the Championship final. During a television interview prior to the first moto, it appeared Lawrence had trouble even walking. He had to shuffle his feet to move about the team hauler.
At the start, Tom Vialle(128), Haiden Deegan(238), and Jalek Swoll(38) rode off to the early lead. Jo Shimoda(30) was trapped mid-pack after a bad start.
Five minutes into the moto, Vialle held off several challenges from Deegan, and Shimoda held the seventh position but was seven seconds behind the leaders.
Nearing the halfway point, Jordan Smith(58) and RJ Hampshire(24) had passed Swoll and were staging their own personal battle for the final podium spot.
Smith quickly dispatched with Hampshire and rode to the front. Vialle and Hampshire were battling for second as Deeganhad dropped to fourth and into the clutches of Shimoda in fifth.
The championship competition was a virtual dead heat. Until Shimoda collided with Deegan as he passed “Danger Boy” for fourth.
On the final lap, Shimoda got beside Vialle, and the two collided as Vialle held him off. Hampshire had a late run at Smith but came up short also.
Shimoda will enter the final moto of the year with a three-point advantage over Smith and seven points ahead of Deegan.
250 SMX Moto #1 Results
450 SMX Moto #1
Adam Cianciarulo(9), Justin Barcia(51), Jason Anderson(21), and Ken Roczen(94) were trading places at the front of the pack early. Chase Sexton(23) and Jett Lawrence(18) were just behind. That turned out to be a good thing as Barcia passed Cianciarulo and almost immediately crashed into the upslope of a jump.
Anderson went to the lead as everyone scrambled to avoid Barcia lying on the track. Unable to get up after the accident, the race had to be red-flagged to provide medical assistance to the downed rider.
The decision was made by the AMA to restart the race in a single single-file staggered fashion. Anderson out front, followed by Roczen, Sexton, Lawrence, and Cooper Webb(2).
Lawrence was the first to make a move, passing his teammate Sexton for the third position.
Fan favorite, Aaron Plessinger, crashed and was out of the moto in 20th position.
Roczen caught Anderson and made the pass in a corner, forcing Anderson high and almost off the track. The move allowed Lawrence to get past Anderson also.
Lawrence stalked Roczen and made a move to his inside. Roczen bumped him and held onto the lead. However, Lawrence had the faster bike and blew past the leader the next time he got close.
Sexton ran in the third spot and began to pressure Roczen during the last five minutes of the timed portion of the moto. Lawrence managed the lead and began to stretch the interval.
Coming in with the points lead, Sexton will be 13 points behind Lawrence if they finish in their current running order. Which is exactly what happened. Don’t put his name on the check yet. But Jett Lawrence is likely to pocket the million dollars for the 450 SMX World Championship by the end of the night.
450 SMX Moto #1 Results
250 SMX Moto #2
Haiden Deegan got the holeshot, but it was his teammate Levi Kitchen(43) who rode to the early lead. Justin Cooper(32) and Jo Shimoda ran third and fourth. Jordan Smith and Tom Vialle both got punted off the track in heavy traffic by Dilan Schwartz(85) and dropped to the rear of the field.
Deegan hung with Kitchen while they built the interval on Cooper and Shimoda. The running order translates to a five-point lead for Deegan over Shimoda in the Championships points race. No other riders have a mathematical chance unless something drastic happens to both leaders.
At the halfway point of the race, Shimoda trailed Kitchen by over six seconds. Cooper was just over three seconds back, and Deegan was a second and a half behind the leader.
What does a 17-year-old rookie do with a half million dollars in his pocket? If we catch up with Haiden, we will ask him.
Deegan took the overall victory with results of 5-2, Shimoda’s 4-4 gave him second over Hampshire’s 2-6.
250 SMX Moto #2 Results
250 SMX Final Points Standings
450 SMX Moto #2
Lawrence, Roczen, and Sexton will all start next to each other for the final 450 CC race of the year. Who comes out of the first turn with the lead will be important.
Give it to Chase Sexton, who crossed the line first, for getting the start he needed to put the pressure on Lawrence in third and Roczen in fifth. Adam Cianciarulo ran second early but gave way to Lawrence and Roczen in the first few minutes of the race.
Sexton tried to run away and hide as he built the interval over Lawrence and Roczen. However, Lawrence holds a seven-point lead over Sexton and 23 points up on Roczen as they run.
Cooper Webb passed Cianciarulo for fourth. At the halfway point, the interval was Lawrence 4.5 seconds behind Sexton, Roczen 5.5 back, and Webb 16 seconds off the past.
As has happened so many times this year, Sexton crashed out of the lead. Coming down the grandstand hill, he lost control and hit the dirt hard, taking him out of the race.
Unless Lawrence makes a similar mistake, he is going to ride away with the title. All through the ProMotocross season, Lawrence has shown the ability to manage the lead interval late in the race. Tonight he has a million reasons to ride out the final two laps in spotless fashion.
Of course, Lawrence wins the overall, going 1-1, Roczen goes 2-2 for second, and Cooper Webb’s 5-3 gives him the third podium spot.
Back in January, who would have thought two rookies would win their respective classes in the first SuperMotocross World Championship? Congratulations, Haiden Deegan and Jett Lawrence.