How does an athlete end a career that’s made him what he is? It’s especially tough when that 20-year career has made history itself: Two-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion, advanced to the premier class in only his second professional season (forgoing defending his 2002 Eastern Regional 250SX Class championship), leader in most race starts (Sunday’s season finale will mark his 265th), owner of his own racing team, the only athlete to race six different brands in Monster Energy Supercross racing, and fourth on the all-time wins list at 44. The real question on Chad Reed’s mind in late 2019 was this: How do you give back to your fans and show your appreciation to them?
The answer for Mountain Motorsports, cbdMD, CR22 Racing’s Chad Reed was to ride one final full season; it would be called the “One Last Ride” tour, but he’d do it seventeen times in seventeen races, from January through May, in 13 different states, each in front of approximately 49,000 plus fans… But then the season and the farewell tour, like the rest of the world, was interrupted. Ten rounds in, COVID-19 shut down the Monster Energy Supercross series and effectively retired Reed from racing – and not on his terms. Seven races shy, no fanfare, and no celebration. When the world needed sports heroes more than ever, stadiums were shuttered.
Chad Reed unceremoniously sold his race team’s assets and closed shop. A quiet close to a roaring career. He’d live forever in the record books but not get to satisfy himself or his fans with a final farewell done his way. When the sun went down on May 2, the lights inside Rice-Eccles Stadium, the original site for the season finale, remained dark.
Then, the Monster Energy Supercross series announced its return. Seven rapid-fire races, two each week rather than one, to complete the full 17-Round championship in just 22 days (coincidentally, Chad’s race number since 2003). The racing was back. Speedy Reedy was back. But the stadium fans could not be; pandemic requirements meant empty seats surrounding the track.
On reflection, the racing didn’t make Chad Reed who he is, it just revealed it. He’s succeeded repeatedly at the top step of the sport and broken records and preconceptions along the way because of what drives him. Chad is retiring from full-season Monster Energy Supercross racing, but the fire’s not out, and the satisfaction for all sides wasn’t quenched entirely in 2020. So, it should surprise no one to see some more records fall, and thousands of fans to rise in their seats if the number 22 bike comes out for a few more ‘last rides’ when the stadiums fill again next season.
For now, fans can tune in this Sunday, June 21 for the 2020 Championship finale as Supercross becomes the first sport to complete their season amidst the global pandemic while also cheering on the most decorated international Supercross athlete of all time in what may be – his one last ride. The race will be carried live, but split, with the first hour airing on NBCSN starting at 3 p.m. ET and the second two hours, which will contain both class’ Main Events, broadcast live on NBC starting at 4 p.m. ET. The event in its un-interrupted entirety will also be presented live on the NBC Sports Gold app.
Story by: Sean Brennan