Monstrous Million: The Monster Energy Cup in Pictures

Marvin Musquin claimed the top prize of $1,000,000 at the 2017 Monster Energy Cup.
Marvin Musquin claimed the top prize of $1,000,000 at the 2017 Monster Energy Cup.

In sports, million dollar prizes are common place. However, within motorsports the story is very different. Top level motorsports athletes can make well into the millions, but often the prize money awarded at a single event can be laughable. This goes doubly so for motocross and Supercross racing.

Arguably one of the most physically demanding sports in the world (and by this I mean that I will gladly argue with whomever wishes to challenge me on this topic...bring it on!), motocross racing and it’s indoor brother, Supercross, do not typically offer cash rewards that accurately reflect the level of commitment, physical prowess and risk required to compete. I say typically because there are exceptions, and the biggest one by far is the Monster Energy Cup.

Not to be mistaken with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Monster Energy Cup (MEC) is a concoction of Feld Entertainment, which along with properties like Monster JAM, Disney on Ice and (until recently) The Ringling Brothers Circus, also owns the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, that’s a whole lot of monster things. The take away, though, should be that Feld recognized the pay gap for SX athletes, and sought to offer a marquee event to even things up a bit.

What’s on offer? One million dollars to the winner of this single event. The catch? A rider must win three 10-lap main events in a row, all within the course of one eventing. Sounds easy enough, but this requires a lot of things lining up just right. Good starts, superb riding, and probably a little misfortune on your competitors’ parts certainly help, which is why the prize had only been claimed once since the MEC began in 2011. That all changed in the 2017 running of the event when French motocross sensation, Marvin Musquin claimed the honors on a cool night in Las Vegas.

The following images are a look back on this historic event, when a man scored $1 million for riding his dirt bike faster than anyone else.

<strong>The Flash. </strong>Jason Anderson is no slouch on a dirt bike. In fact, he nearly won this event in 2015. This time
The Flash. Jason Anderson is no slouch on a dirt bike. In fact, he nearly won this event in 2015. This time around he was second fiddle to Musquin.
<strong>Boggling. </strong>Justin Bogle debuted his new JGRMX ride in Vegas. While his speed was very good, a mishap with ano
Boggling. Justin Bogle debuted his new JGRMX ride in Vegas. While his speed was very good, a mishap with another rider in the first main event sent Bogle to the ground and out for the evening.
<strong>Bobbleheads</strong>. No these are not living bobblehead dolls riding dirt bikes. They’re the kids of the KTM Junior
Bobbleheads. No these are not living bobblehead dolls riding dirt bikes. They’re the kids of the KTM Junior SX Challenge and got to live out their Supercross dreams at MEC. Led by KTM’s Bryce Maxwell (on the right in the background), the KJSC is one of the most popular sideshows at any Supercross race.
From left to right are Tim Gajser, Broc Tickle, Marvin Musquin and Jason Anderson. The first three riders chose to triple-dou
From left to right are Tim Gajser, Broc Tickle, Marvin Musquin and Jason Anderson. The first three riders chose to triple-double through this tricky rhythm section, doing so required scrubbing the ramp of the double; the highest peak in the section. Gajser, known for his scrubs, was able to maintain the lowest trajectory compared to Tickle and Musquin. Anderson opted to take the section differently, going double triple, which few riders utilized in the main events as it threw them higher in the air, thus losing time.
<strong>Barcia is Back</strong>. Justin Barcia was once the can’t miss kid, partially because his wild and aggressive riding
Barcia is Back. Justin Barcia was once the can’t miss kid, partially because his wild and aggressive riding style simply could not be ignored, no matter where he was on the track. However, a few lackluster years left “Bambam” without a ride for 2018, so he put his own deal together for the MEC. While he did not get any wins, Justin did show that he’s still ready to race, even if it’s not on factory equipment.
<strong>No Joke</strong>. Prepping the average Supercross track is no small feat. Typically taking about 500 truck loads of d
No Joke. Prepping the average Supercross track is no small feat. Typically taking about 500 truck loads of dirt, the MEC requires closer to 550 thanks to the extra segment outside of the stadium and the Joker Lane, which must be used once per main event by each rider.
<strong>Ball of Nerves.</strong> If you were a world champion motocross racer yet had never competed within the much tighter
Ball of Nerves. If you were a world champion motocross racer yet had never competed within the much tighter confines of American supercross, you would be nervous too. Granted Tim Gajser always has his game face on when it’s go time, but the Slovenian two-time MXGP champ was visibly pensive before the gate drop.
<strong>Meeting of the Minds.</strong> Since there is no championship on the line, the MEC serves as a fun warmup before the
Meeting of the Minds. Since there is no championship on the line, the MEC serves as a fun warmup before the long off-season and heavy testing that takes place from October to January for factory racers. Behind the scenes, the racers were pretty relaxed compared to the regular season races.
<strong>Granted.</strong> Josh Grant made his comeback after taking much of the summer off to heal from knee surgery. While h
Granted. Josh Grant made his comeback after taking much of the summer off to heal from knee surgery. While he didn’t set the world ablaze, his speed was there. Grant has quietly become a formidable veteran amongst younger peers.
<strong>Spotlight.</strong> All eyes were on Eli Tomac, the freshly crowned AMA 450 Motocross Champion. One of several riders
Spotlight. All eyes were on Eli Tomac, the freshly crowned AMA 450 Motocross Champion. One of several riders to turn down representing the USA for the Motocross of Nations, Tomac claimed preparations for the MEC made it difficult properly prep for the MXoN as well.
<strong>Ticklish. </strong>Broc Tickle has been steadily proving his worth aboard 450 machinery since moving up to the class
Ticklish. Broc Tickle has been steadily proving his worth aboard 450 machinery since moving up to the class in 2012. Tickle was able to take the vacated spots of Red Bull KTM’s recently retired Ryan Dungey and Trey Canard. The payoff? Broc came away with fourth overall at MEC.
<strong>Short Lived.</strong> As fast as Tomac was in Vegas, it still may not have been enough to take on a charging Marvin M
Short Lived. As fast as Tomac was in Vegas, it still may not have been enough to take on a charging Marvin Musquin. Unfortunately the crowd was unable to see more than a few laps of dicing as Tomac crashed out hard in the first main event.
<strong>Fast and Foreign.</strong> Tim Gasjer’s MEC lasted only a few laps longer the Tomac’s, but during that time, he showe
Fast and Foreign. Tim Gasjer’s MEC lasted only a few laps longer the Tomac’s, but during that time, he showed that he could be competitive in Supercross…with practice. A mistimed rhythm section put an end to Tim’s American SX sojourn.
<strong>Resurgence.</strong> Last year at this time, Dean Wilson was without a ride. In the last 52 weeks, the Scotsman has r
Resurgence. Last year at this time, Dean Wilson was without a ride. In the last 52 weeks, the Scotsman has regained his composure, factory rider status, and podium finishes including the MEC where Wilson finished third.
<strong>Movin’ Marv. </strong>Marvin Musquin began to hit his stride towards the end of 2016 Supercross. Now the friendly Fre
Movin’ Marv. Marvin Musquin began to hit his stride towards the end of 2016 Supercross. Now the friendly Frenchman is in a full sprint for MX dominance.
Following Tomac’s high-speed crash, he was able to run off the track immediately to avoid further harm. Here, Eli walks back
Following Tomac’s high-speed crash, he was able to run off the track immediately to avoid further harm. Here, Eli walks back to the pits, beaten but not defeated, with his father John Tomac.
<strong>Hammering. </strong>The Monster Energy Cup has helped launch the careers of several riders since its inception, thank
Hammering. The Monster Energy Cup has helped launch the careers of several riders since its inception, thanks to the Amateur All Stars and Supermini classes. Last year, Seth Hammaker was a virtual unknown from Pennsylvania, but came away with two a convincing overall win in the Supermini class. The win helped him gain sponsorships and this year he parlayed that newfound support into another win in the Amateur All Stars. Hammaker just may have a future in Supercross.
<strong>RAD.</strong> A BMX-style downhill start is unusual in a sport that does not require gravity to go fast. It created a
RAD. A BMX-style downhill start is unusual in a sport that does not require gravity to go fast. It created a unique setup that was foreign to most of the riders.
<strong>Aller!</strong> In the final of three races, Musquin did exactly what he needed to do: get a good start and win the d
Aller! In the final of three races, Musquin did exactly what he needed to do: get a good start and win the damn race. After coming out of the first turn in first, all he needed to do was ride as he had been, and the $1,000,000 was his.
<strong>Red Rooster.</strong> After spending a few years on various other brands, Justin Barcia returned to the brand on whic
Red Rooster. After spending a few years on various other brands, Justin Barcia returned to the brand on which he found so much success during his amateur and earlier pro days: Honda. Justin came away with sixth overall, improving his finish in each subsequent main event.
<strong>Tried and True. </strong>Grant’s comeback race didn’t blow any minds, but he showed that he has a solid base going in
Tried and True. Grant’s comeback race didn’t blow any minds, but he showed that he has a solid base going into 2018 Supercross prep.
<strong>Gloat.</strong> Wouldn’t you if you just won a million smackers? Musquin threw inhibition to the wind following the b
Gloat. Wouldn’t you if you just won a million smackers? Musquin threw inhibition to the wind following the biggest payday of his career.
<strong>Worth It. </strong>Musquin’s mechanic, Frank Latham has been in the MX game for a long time. A big win like the MEC i
Worth It. Musquin’s mechanic, Frank Latham has been in the MX game for a long time. A big win like the MEC is one of those days that makes all of the endless hours making spent wrenching on race machinery well worthwhile.
<strong>Pay Gap.</strong> $965,000: That’s the difference between first and second place at the Monster Energy Cup. Still Hus
Pay Gap. $965,000: That’s the difference between first and second place at the Monster Energy Cup. Still Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson probably was not complaining about a $35,000 payday, nor was his teammate Dean Wilson with third place and $20,000.
<strong>Celebrate.</strong> Musquin is one rider who clearly appreciates all of the people around him who make his career pos
Celebrate. Musquin is one rider who clearly appreciates all of the people around him who make his career possible and he celebrated with all of them following his big win.

Follow Bayo Olukotun on Instagram: bayodome.

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