Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Winter Motorsports Mecca of MN

By Jason D Searcy

The activity at our local short tracks has cooled down with the onset of the winter season so, many race fans attention shifts to the Metrodome where tens of thousands of  fans stream inside to witness the awesome power, agility and aggression on display.  Once every year the finest rivalry in all of sports is renewed under the Teflon roof at the Metrodome...... no, no not the Vikings and Packers.

I'm talking about Dennis Anderson and Grave Digger vs Tom Meents in Maximum Destruction at Monster Jam.  These two have been at the top of their game for the past decade and they will renew their yearly battle at the Dome on December 1st for the Speed TV show, giving all the drivers a bit more incentive.  Monster Jam returns again on Jan 19th, the Grave Digger truck will be in attendance but most likely with a different driver behind the wheel.  These shows are a great break from the winter depression, they are well run, entertaining and the 1,400 horse power Monster Trucks are damn cool rigs.

The modern day dare devils of the AMA Supercross will return to the Metrodome on Saturday April 13th of 2013 after being absent since 2008.  This series is some of the most intense racing you will find, they have had a nice talent surge the last few years, which is partly a product of their superstars getting injured on a regular basis and opening the door for new guys.

Our local fans can be proud of a home grown talent Ryan Dungey from Belle Plaine MN who has had the opportunity to race at the Dome only once since turning pro in 2006, he finished second in 2008 behind Joshua R Hill.  Dungey had a dream season winning the title and had six Supercross wins in 2010, he finished third in points both in 2011 and 2012.  Last year he scored KTM their first ever Supercross win and fought through injuries that saw him miss five races.  Now Dungey seems to be back at the top of his game, he finished second in the Monster Energy Cup at Sam Boyd Stadium a few weeks ago to kick off the new winter season.

I remember another Minnesota rider who raced at the Dome for many years, Heath Voss (above) from Prior Lake who was a pro from 1995-2010, he had a career best Supercross finish of 5th six different times and best overall finish of sixth in points in 2003.  Fifteen years is a long career in a rough sport.  What does a Supercross rider do for a living after a career flying over triple jumps?  He becomes a Helicopter pilot of course, at least that is what Heath is doing now.  He lives in Mico Texas with his wife Sarah and his two kids Ryker and Ellie.  He does sightseeing tours near San Antonio, has a repair shop and does crop dusting. 

Heath had some good memories of racing at the Dome, "Racing at the Metrodome was fun because I got to see all the people I knew from racing in the Midwest growing up.  Which was an awesome experience" said Voss.  And he has some high praise for Minnesota's newest star in the sport "Dungey is an awesome rider & it's nice to see good people like him do well in life," said Voss.

The AMA Supercross has a great history at the Dome, racing from 1994-2004 in front of great crowds, in 1997 a record 60,049 fans packed the place.  The series was absent from 05-07, then returned in 08 and then was off the schedule again until this Spring.  Jeremy McGrath dominated early, winning the first six years at the Dome, David Vuillemin won in 2000, then RC Ricky Carmichael won the next three years, Kevin Windham won in 2004 and Joshua Hill had his first career win in 2008.

Our Minnesota Motorsports Mecca in the cold weather is the Metrodome, and I guess the Vikings get to use the facility too, between the Motorsports shows, that is.

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