Motocross riders are used to going left, right, straight around the track up to 20 times as they're surrounded by dozens of other riders. Straight Rhythm offers them a completely different challenge: One on one drag racing, one time through a track with no turns.
Motocross riders are used to going left, right, straight around the track up to 20 times as they're surrounded by dozens of other riders.
Straight Rhythm offers them a completely different challenge: One on one drag racing, one time through a track with no turns.
"It's different, but in a fun way," rider Ryan Dungey said. "It's nice to get out of the routine of what I'm normally doing and go head to head with the guy next to me. It's more of a drag race; the gate drops, it's pretty simple, you either win or lose."
Straight Rhythm, which began in 2013 as a demonstration event, is the most unique race in motocross.
Held at Fairplex in Pomona, California, it features elements of a Supercross track unwound into a straightaway. This year's open class will feature 16 riders racing head to head drag racing-style until the finals on a half-mile track filled with jumps, whoops and table tops.
James Stewart's all-or-nothing racing style has been a perfect fit for Straight Rhythm; he's won both titles since the race's inception, beating Ken Roczen in the finals last year.
The course has evolved through the years under the guidance of designer Jason Baker.
The former motocross rider has been a part of designing the Straight Rhythm track since its inception, adding tweaks with each design.
New to this year's course: A rhythm section straight out of the gate and added obstacles that will allow fans to see the whoops at eye level.
In past races, the track featured a whoops section straight out of the gate, which often had one line of racing available. Whichever rider was able to get through that section fastest often won the race.
This year's track will have a rhythm section out of the gate. Instead of blitzing through, riders will have multiple options for racing lines and the more rounded obstacles will leave more room for error.
"I think straight out of the gate, it will be neat to see these guys really mix it up," Baker said. "It will make them step up their game. It's like, as soon as I drop in, I've got a choice to make. What's this guy going to do? Do I need to go big or do I need to stay safe?"
The track also will traverse over two tunnels, allowing fans to walk through and see the whoops section at eye level from both sides of the track. The track will have 74 obstacles in all, including three speed checks — one is made of sand — designed to keep riders from just blowing right through the course.
"We've just continued with that progression, bigger obstacles, rhythm sections that peak to peak are maybe taller and further distance than what they're used to," Baker said. "Speed also plays a big part in all of that because these guys don't have a turn to kind of slow down on."
Straight Rhythm offers riders a different kind of intensity. They have to keep focus throughout a 20-lap race, whether in Supercross or outdoor motocross, but there are times when the intensity isn't nearly as high.
The Straight Rhythm races last less than a minute and the obstacles come one right after another. Let up for a second and the other rider will race off or, worse, a crash could be coming.
"When the gate drops, you're trying to get every little advantage, whether it's getting the bike back to the ground, scrubbing, staying low," Dungey said. "You're constantly working the bike, so it's really intense. Before when we're out there racing, the intensity is high, but not like this. It's definitely a little harder and trickier."