Some might say dirt bikes shouldn’t fly 30 feet above the ground or that basketball stadiums shouldn’t be filled with coarse dirt.
Those people have never seen Arenacross.
On Saturday, the 2015 AMSOIL Arenacross will arrive at the Smoothie King Center with its handlebar-clanging, engine-roaring and wipeout-filled excitement.
This year’s model features “Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross,” which will begin its “Race to the Championship,” the season-ending playoff to crown a champion racer. The Smoothie King Center also will play host to an amateur race Sunday.
Though the final championship will be held in Las Vegas, the playoffs begin in New Orleans and with it will come a familiar face to Arenacross and Supercross fans: Kevin Windham.
Considered a racing legend, Windham will serve as the grand marshal for AMSOIL Arenacross’s first visit to New Orleans.
“I had a great run,” Windham said. “But age caught up with me — family, injuries and health ... I’m still involved with Supercross as much as I can and turning into a fan. Now my son is racing as well, so I’m just following these guys around and being a big old fan.”
This Arenacross playoff will pit the top 10 racers of the season against each other as they battle for points and attempt to move on to the season finale in Las Vegas.
Some racers will eat dirt while others fly toward victory in this course, which is much tighter than one found in Supercross.
Though Supercross continues to be the second most popular motorized sport in the United States behind NASCAR, it is typically featured in football or baseball stadiums.
Arenacross uses smaller indoor stadiums, typically basketball and hockey venues.
“The riders stay closer, the passing and the racing can be more physical — the excitement level is just amazing,” Windham said. “It’s a lot of entertainment in an arena, and those guys have a lot on the line as the championship gets started.”
For those who don’t know the sport, Windham guarantees a good time. He’s rarely seen an attendee spurn it.
“As we’ve seen with Supercross in the past and racing in this area, obviously there’s a huge following and the people who ride motorcycles know why they come,” he said. “The fascinating part is the people who choose to come for the first time. Generally they become hooked and fans of the sport.”
But Windham is most excited about being back with his hometown crowd, which saw him win the 1998 AMA main event in the Superdome.
To him, New Orleans will always be a special place.
“My dealings with New Orleans, being from nearby Baton Rouge, always make it fun to go down to the city. And if I can see a dirt bike race it makes it that much better,” he said.
“I look forward to seeing all the fans of Arenacross there. Being so close to home, it’s fun to go back and see people I haven’t seen for years.
“I’m excited to be a part of the day there, be around for the entire day, sign autographs and hang out with friends and fans as we watch some incredible racing.”