Proves Again Why He Is One of the All-Time Best
Mike LaRocco showed up at the Spring Creek Motocross Park with a little surprise. Actually it was the worst kept secret in motocross racing. LaRocco was going to race on the Honda CRF450R. The four-stroke bike had been riden by Honda rider Ryan Hughes with little fanfare. It was an injury to Hughes that opened the door for LaRocco. Now, the racing world was watching.
LaRocco commands attention because of his experience and knowledge. Thirteen years of professional motocross has made LaRocco an expert on nearly every aspect of motorcycles from the mechanics of the bike to the nuances of riding and the skill of racing.
It was Round 10 of the AMA/Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championships, and the AMSOIL/Dr. Martens/Journeys/Competition Accessories pit was a hive of activity. Representatives of Honda from Japan and American Honda were swarming around the bike like bees. They were taking pictures from all angles and making notations on clipboards. The bike was on its side, upright, taken apart and put back together. The chrome and aluminum glistened. The AMSOL logo shined.
Several little discussions were going on between groups of two and three red-shirted Honda officials.
Their arms were folded, some rested their chins in their hands. LaRocco’s long-time personal mechanic, Paul DeLaurier, was relegated to observer for this one. He didn’t seem to mind, saying wryly that he needed a little vacation, but that all the attention was good for the team.
LaRocco was the ring master of the circus. Fans streamed past the team transporter hoping to get a glimpse of Mike and the hyped-up Honda. Media from all over the world hovered about the pit area, asking questions and taking notes. LaRocco took time to discuss the bike and his decision to ride it. LaRocco is the last 500cc class winner in the Outdoor National Series (1993). He seemed a natural pick to carry the torch for Honda. LaRocco called the bike “torque-y.”
He said it was great on straights and powerful on hills. The AMSOIL powerful bike sounds throaty. It has a lower, more guttural resonance. With only two weeks of testing in the California desert, Mike rode the steep vertical hills of the Millville, Minnesota track. The tree-lined course is wrapped around sandstone outcroppings. The track announcer belts out, “Here comes the pride of AMSOIL, Mike LaRocco.” The crowd roared.
Anticipation was high and so were expectations. LaRocco finished the day fourth overall. There was no standing on the podium this day. The bike would not be a magic bullet propelling LaRocco to the top. He definitely made gains and garnered a lot of attention. Scribes that know racing called LaRocco’s racing “remarkable.”
Nothing is definite, but LaRocco is seriously thinking about riding the motorcycle outdoors next year and possibly in the supercross season beginning in January. The team leaves Millville with momentum and memories. LaRocco’s place in motorcycle racing is secure. He is one of the best ever.
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