Anything but a “regular” supercross race, this year’s three-event Monster Energy Cup (now in its seventh year) was different for a few reasons. Not only was the prize money absurd ($250,000 with an additional $1 million for a triple-win), but there was a chance for a fan to win the same amount.
Prior to the Las Vegas event, a sweepstakes was held with 10 winners from around the country receiving a VIP experience at the one-night event. Each winner took part in a Grab-For-Cash challenge in a money tank, and the contestant who won became eligible to win the money if a rider pulled off the challenging feat of three straight wins.
The hybrid-style track was designed by five-time champion Ricky Carmichael, and included elements from outdoor racing, as well as original sections like the double Talla-Vegas, banked turns that go up into the stands, and a Joker Lane. The latter is an extended section of track that each rider must take at least once during the main event or will otherwise be penalized positions. As 2018 Supercross Champion Jason Anderson says, “All you have to do is win. If you fall over it doesn’t really mean much. You’re just kinda going for it.”
Moments after the gate dropped for the first main event of the night, Eli Tomac moved quickly into the lead and pulled a small gap on the field to take the first win. As the second main event lined up, all eyes were on him again. After an even better start, Tomac distanced himself in front of his competition and easily took the win. As the energy inside the Sam Boyd Stadium built, it came time for the third main event. All eyes moved from Tomac to Jesse Hebert—the Maryland-based fan who could win the million if Tomac won this last event.
Once underway, the crowd took to their feet because Tomac was set uncomfortably in seventh position. He charged for every inch of every lap, barely getting by some of his fastest competition ahead of him. With two laps to go Tomac found himself in second place, with only his teammate Joey Savatgy ahead of him. Savatgy looked over his shoulder to see the train coming up his inside. Rather than take the inevitable contact coming, he swung wide and Tomac cleanly went on the inside of his teammate. The stadium erupted as Tomac crossed the finish line becoming the first two-time Monster Cup Champion, and third-ever Monster Million Dollar winner. He was joined on the podium by the happiest person in Las Vegas: Jesse Hebert.
When the young sweepstakes winner took to the microphone during the post-race press conference he gave a heartfelt thank you, saying, “Honestly, the money is great and everything, but I am the biggest supercross and motocross fan. For all you guys that are watching me, who are racers, if I come up to you and just give you a high five… That would mean more to me than the motocross million. These are my idols.”
Images by Tyler Emond