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New dad Eli Tomac ready to race again

A conversation with the AMA 450cc Supercross points leader

By Michael Marino

The 2020 AMA Supercross Championship was going well for Eli Tomac. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had won five of the first 10 of 17 scheduled rounds that were held before the coronavirus pandemic put the season on pause in early March.

Heading into lockdown after winning the 50th running of the Daytona event at Daytona International Speedway, the 27-year-old Coloradan carried a 3-point lead over Team Honda HRC rider Ken Roczen, 226 to 223.

“I know the fans miss the racing,” said AMA 450 Supercross points leader Eli Tomac (No. 3). “I think everyone wants to see us out there.” Photo by Jeff Kardas

Tomac, a three-time AMA Pro Motocross 450 Champion, has long been seeking his first 450SX title, and the narrow points gap doesn’t fully convey just how impressive his performances this year have been.

At RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California, round five of the series, for example, Tomac stormed to a commanding 3.5-second win after losing the lead with a self-induced error late in the 21-lap main event. His 0.7-second victory over Roczen at Daytona was another come-from-behind effort.

The unexpected break allowed Tomac to be present for the birth of his first child, daughter Lev, but he admitted that he is anxious to line up for the recently announced final seven rounds—all made-for-TV events with no spectators—that will begin on May 31 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

American Motorcyclist: What have you been doing during the shutdown?
Eli Tomac: For the first couple weeks, everyone was kind of in shock, hunkered down at home. Now, we’re just waiting. Most motocross tracks are on private land, so I was able to do some riding—thankfully. It was a question of how much I should do; I didn’t want to burn myself out practicing too much.

AM: How have you kept yourself mentally prepared for racing?
ET: You realize how much you’re missing when we’re not racing every weekend. That was the hardest thing about this whole situation: not having that target to focus on. Everyone is in the same boat, but not having that set date was pretty tough. I really love racing, and I’m looking forward to coming back.

AM: How is fatherhood?
ET: It’s crazy how time flies. She’s already more than two weeks old, and it’s been a blessing having her during this downtime. We got lucky. I was stressed out when the series was on track. Our due date was two days after the final race [at Salt Lake City], and she was born 10 days early. We had her on a Sunday at 3:50 a.m., so I would have missed the birth. That would have been a huge bummer, but now we’ve gotten past that stressful point.

AM: Do you feel safe racing again?
ET: Our industry is a bit younger, so I think we’re a little safer that way, unless you have an underlying condition. But you also could say we’re running our immune systems down by training every week. A lot of us want to get back to it. There has to be less pit-time interaction and more of a skeleton crew, but I think people will still go for it.

AM: What do think racing Supercross without spectators in the stands will be like?
ET: I think everyone’s goal is to finish this current season. There won’t be fans there, but let’s get this thing done. Looking past that, you hope this never happens again. What makes you want to go racing every Saturday night is that general vibe of having everyone there.