July 03, 2006

Carmichael Kicks Ass

Hey, you probably don’t know this, but that guy Rick Carmichael is the best motocross racer the world has ever seen. What’s that you say? You already knew?

I’m just saying, the 2006 season is just at the halfway point and RC has firmly placed his butt in the driver’s seat. Again. And this year against his greatest competition to date.

I want to compare Carmichael to boxer Mike Tyson. That is, the real Mike Tyson, before he was accused of spousal abuse, before he was jailed for raping a beauty pageant contestant, before he lost to Buster Douglas, before he experimented with cannibalism against Holyfield (twice!), before he decided that face tattoos were a good thing… before he lost his mind, basically. Some of you are too young to remember, but there was a time when Mike Tyson was, without a doubt, the best boxer to ever step into a ring. Check that, he was the best FIGHTER to take up the sport of boxing.

Back in those days, when the bell rang for the first round, Tyson didn’t wait to “see” what type of strategy his opponent had in mind… he already knew that his foe’s only strategy would be “survival”. No dancing, ducking or weaving, “Iron Mike” would charge straight across the ring and just punch the guy out. Tyson’s strategy was “I’m gonna kick that guy’s ass RIGHT NOW”… and worked so well that many boxing commentators openly wondered if Tyson had the “stamina” to go more than a few rounds. Ha. Mike figured out early that if he brought the noise in the early rounds and really pummeled his opponent mercilessly, he would be able to get through all of the remaining rounds well ahead on points, if need be.

That, in essence, is Rick Carmichael’s style.

For the past few outdoor seasons, RC started his championship assault by delivering a technical knockout… a 1-1 finish… at Hangtown. Then he would continue pummeling his opponents in the early rounds, in the process amassing a huge points lead. That relieves pressure and allows him to relax a bit for the remaining races in the series.

Funny thing about the way Carmichael “relaxes”, though… he still wins! Even Roger DeCoster, in a interview during the Red Bud webcast, said that he can’t believe how focused RC continues to be. DeCoster is amazed at Carmichael’s tenacity? That says something.

This year, Carmichael was unable to score the overall win at the season opener. But he came back immediately at the second round to apply ungodly pressure on his upstart rival, the young James Stewart. And Stewart did indeed fold, in a horrific crash that, for all intents and purposes, ended his hopes for taking RC’s title. Of course, the series isn’t over yet, and anything is possible. And that’s probably why Rick Carmichael continues to turn it on.

Just look at the great photo above of RC’s second moto pass on Stewart this weekend at Red Bud (photo courtesy Steve Bruhn/Motonews.com). Check the body language of the two riders. Which one is in complete and dominating control? Which one is riding defensively?

RC has emulated Mike Tyson’s “I’m gonna kick that’s guy’s ass RIGHT NOW” strategy since his first days as a pro; he probably used it during his days as a dominant amateur champion as well. And even though motocross will miss him when he goes into partial retirement in ’07, I am confident that he will take that same desire to win to whatever new venture he chooses. I can’t wait to see the next chapter in his life.


Anonymous said...

his name is ricky

Paul said...

You can call him what you want, but with as many championship titles as he has won, I think he deserves to be called Rick. There was a moment in Rick Johnson's life when he stopped being "Ricky", and RC may have a similar moment as well (it will certainly be his choice), but with all due respect, I think that moment has passed.