By Michael Benninger
On February 7, new heroes will emerge, and onetime champions will seek reclamation of the top spot as the Monster Energy Supercross makes its debut at Petco Park. After kicking off its season on January 3 to a sold-out audience at Anaheim's Angel Stadium, the 17-stop world championship Supercross tour will arrive in East Village, marking the end of a 30-year relationship with Qualcomm Stadium .
Since 1985, Qualcomm Stadium has hosted the city's two most well attended motorsports shows, the Monster Jam truck show and the American Motorcyclist Association's Supercross. But Feld Motor Sports, the owner of these events and the world leader in stadium-based motor sports, chose not to return to The Q after last year, citing logistical concerns and increased complaints about the facility's quality. San Diego would've lost both Monster Jam and the Supercross had Petco Park not stepped up to the plate, offering to have its bases buried in a bit more dirt than usual.
Feld Motor Sports will haul in more than 15 million pounds of locally sourced soil before the biggest names in the sport line up at the starting gate, competing for the purse payout and their names in record books. Four-time champion and current title- holder Ryan Villopoto retired from Supercross last year, exiting the sport on top and making it anyone's game this season.
Ken Roczen was Supercross World Champion in 2013 and seeks to recapture the title this year. He started the season strong by finishing first in Anaheim after securing a lead in the opening lap and staying out front for the remainder of the race. The German-born racer is hoping to dominate at Petco as well.
"Coming to Petco Park for the first time is something I've been looking forward to since it was announced," says Roczen. "I went out to the Padres game to throw the first pitch a while back, and I'd like to be the first guy to win a Supercross race there as well. If I do win, there are a lot of places down there to celebrate."
February 7 will also be Military Appreciation Night at Petco - the Supercross season will honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and raise awareness for Operation Homefront, an assistance program that specializes in helping injured vets who served post-9/11.
"With all the ties to the Navy ships and Navy SEALs training down the road, it's a really special place to have the sport rally around them and show their appreciation," Roczen says.
2/7: Monster Energy Supercross
@ Petco Park; Main event begins at 6:30 p.m.