Take 40 elite athletes on finely tuned machines and let them loose on a track that can bottleneck down to under 10 feet wide by the first turn. The riders barrel down the straight away with hopes of getting the distinct advantage of being in front of the pack. The holeshot has to be one of the most stressful and fun sequences in all of pro sports.
With the closely matched competition and the fine line between first and second the start becomes crucial and often determines the outcome of the race. Some say the holeshot is 90 percent of the race but the general consensus is that it’s 50 percent. If you do grab the holeshot, continue to ride error free and don’t’ pull an Alessi (known for blowing holeshots), you will most likely win the race.
4 things the pros do to perfect their starts are, body position, throttle and clutch, practice, and utilization of a holeshot device. Your body needs to be positioned forward on the bike with your elbows out for stability, if your body is to far back the front wheel will lift causing power loss. The throttle and clutch are critical, with the throttle at three-quarters open you will need to quickly and consistently let out the clutch so your tires hook up. Without repetition and seat time it is impossible to be elite at anything so get out there and practice. The professionals also use starting devices that lock out their front forks to help keep the front wheel down for the start.
One variable to everything is gate position, depending on the track gate position is critical. Some tracks have a tight turn that leaves riders on the outside boxed out with no chance of getting the holeshot. The gate position is determined by a timed practice session that determines the riders fastest lap time. The riders pick their gate from fastest to slowest with the slower riders getting hung out to dry on the outside with the worse gate picks.
The start in pro motocross is one of the most underrated spectacles in pro sports. Think about all the work that goes into the bikes and hours of practice it takes every week to pull the holeshot against 40 other hungry athletes. Next time you attend a race watch the holeshot closely with a new appreciation for all that goes into it.