INTERVIEW: Eli Tomac

INTERVIEW: Eli Tomac

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INTERVIEW: Eli Tomac

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“I thought the supercross series was great, man!” enthused Jeremy McGrath, a seven-time AMA Supercross Champion who is allowed to say absolutely anything he wants about the sport of stadium motocross. “In the end of the day that pass Tomac put on Roczen at Daytona a few months ago could have been worth a couple million dollars, because they may end up not having the races or not finishing the series. If they don’t finish it or whatever, that’s going to be one of the most expensive passes in the history of the sport, I would say. I’m really happy that Eli is riding strong.”

Yes, Eli Tomac is riding strong, hence the P1 position in what has been an odd and abbreviated 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series that has him a mere three points up (226 to 223) over Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen.

With 10 rounds having been run thus far in ’20, Tomac has been surging, winning five main events and with an average finishing position of 2.6. On the podium 60% of the time before COVID-19 darkened everyone’s door, Tomac executed a slick pass on Roczen with two laps to go to win at Daytona International Speedway last March, and cast himself as the lead man in the title chase.

So all that was then and this is now, as 900 members of the AMA Pro Racing supercross community begin to look for their gear bags, suitcases, backpacks and stopwatches for an impending date with history set for Sunday, May 31 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City for round 11 of the Monster Energy Supercross title fight. Making the 349-mile trek to SLC from his current home base of Cortez, Colorado will be Team Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tomac.

While absolutely dominant in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship the last three 450MX seasons, Tomac has yet to win the AMA 450SX Championship. It’s a title he lusts for not only for the championship itself, but to further solidify his legacy as one of America’s all-time supermotocross greats. The morning after the NASCAR ran its first post-COVID-19 event at Darlington Raceway in the Carolinas, Eli Tomac spoke with us about his supercross task at hand.

“No, I didn’t watch NASCAR yesterday,” admitted Tomac. “I was out and about on my property, so I was outside all day yesterday. I was out of the loop.”

For a good reason, though, as Tomac has been putting the finishing touches on pre-championship-fight program he unabashedly hopes will bring him a red No. 1 plate to affix to his KX450 come Anaheim 1 in 2021.

“We’ve just been getting ready,” said Tomac. “I mean, we’ve been getting ready for a couple weeks now. I mean we’ve been on the supercross track probably, oh gosh, three or four weeks now, at least, because we kind of expected this to happen, and it ended up happening. They’re getting us in at the end of May and now it’s just trying to fine-tune it and somewhat ramp it up here in the last two weeks and try to be ready for that Sunday.”

For the past couple of months, the world’s best motor racers across all series have been looking to a firm date to reach for and plan toward. Well, as of this week, that date has come.

“Yeah, that’s what is most important, just having a target to hit,” said Tomac.

“Beforehand, it was just so tough to be motivated when you had no idea of what you’re going to be doing and when you’ll be doing it. I’ll still like to get out and ride and train, but it’s still weird not having a set target date, you know? It’s just so huge for us to have these dates, and I’m just really pumped that we get to finish this series out.

“It’ll still be really good racing. It’s a bummer the fans aren’t in the stadium and we can’t really hear those fans when we race, but there are so many people that just want something to happen right now, so all of us just being out on the track right now is going to be huge for the whole sport. Thankfully, the season didn’t get cut short. That’s what the asterisk really would have been – if the season got cut short. That would have been a bummer.”

Riding, training, researching and developing a full factory race bike basically in exile in Colorado before trying to conquer the entire world is one thing, but being a dad? How does that apply to going after a title?

“Oh, being a dad is so awesome,” enthused Tomac. “I mean, everyone says that. It changes your life, right? But it really does. It all changes your perspective on a lot of things, and that’s been the real blessing in all of this. We’ve had the chance to spend time with our little girl, so that’s been a real positive out of all of this mess.”

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