By Mark Haas
LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– Pro Motocross made its yearly stop in Colorado this weekend with the 13th annual Thunder Valley National in Lakewood.
One of the sport’s biggest stars is local rider Eli Tomac, a 24-year-old from Cortez, Colorado, who is a top contender to win his first points title in 2017.
“One thing is for sure, I don’t like getting second (place),” said Tomac. “If I get 2nd there is nothing satisfying about that.”
For those that don’t know much about the sport: “I like to describe motocross as the ultimate battle between man and machine,” Tomac said.
The battle between the riders is 30 minutes of racing plus two more laps.
“All the guys are great athletes, and we are basically going to war with each other out there,” said Tomac.
The battle with the machine is to try to get the most out of the 450cc motorcycle without crashing.
“This is basically a rocket underneath us,” said Tomac. “You can jump 80 feet in second gear and then before you know it you are all the way to the next corner.”
Two years ago, Tomac seemed destined to win his first points title at his sport’s highest level. He swept the first two races of the season, but when the series came to Colorado, Tomac was on the losing end of a big battle with his bike.
“Everything was going the right direction and in the blink of an eye it can end,” said Tomac.
Tomac was leading the second race at Thunder Valley, when he lost control and crashed, injuring both shoulders and ending his season.
“It just goes to show that you can be way up here and it comes crashing down like that,” said Tomac
The injuries kept Tomac out six months, but Eli says the time away actually did him good.
“It is tough to sit at home but when I was at home I realized just how much I love what I do,” Tomac said. “There were times when I am out there practicing and not wanting to be there but when I had that happen I realized I really do love what I do. So I am actually taking some good out of (the lost season).”
Tomac returned to action in 2016, but he is still chasing that first title. He finished 2nd overall in the points standings last year, and after a 5th place finish on Saturday at Thunder Valley, Eli is sitting in 2nd place in the points standings once again.
“We kept grinding and we kept fighting,” Tomac said after the race on Saturday. “We have a weekend off now but we will come back and see if we can get on that top podium next time.”