There’s always excitement surrounding the opening round of a race series, and that energy settles mostly on the pre-season title and race-win favorites.
In the 2021 Western Regional 250SX Class season opener, which kicked off Saturday night at round eight of the Supercross series in Orlando, two of those racers happened to be brothers.
Jeremy Martin looked like the title favorite. With five previous wins over seven years he was looking to capture the title that eluded him, then move up to the bigger-displacement, premiere class in 2022. Jeremy admitted that he was past due to move up, and with a title he could likely transition into full-time 450SX class racing with a good contract. ‘Title or bust’ were Jeremy’s own words in pre-season interviews of his must-win season.
Older brother Alex Martin has had more of a journeyman’s career, but with 68 starts over 11 seasons he seemed primed for a great run in the Western Regional Championship that’s packed with inexperienced rookies. He also looked forward to battling with his brother in the same division, something that hadn’t happened for seven seasons.
When they lined up for the 250 SX Class Main Event on Saturday night at Camping World Stadium, it not only represented their years of dedication to honing their racing skills, but also the scramble each racer faced during the offseason after both rider’s teams closed shop abruptly at the end of the summer without warning. They each landed with good support, both on Yamahas, though on different teams.
Jeremy Martin’s race lasted only one corner. Exiting the first turn at the start of the race, with tension high, adrenaline spiking, and 22 racers trying to occupy the same space at the same time – at speed – Jeremy was landed on by another rider. He was knocked off his bike and driven into the dirt. He was up fast but just as quickly assessing a shoulder injury, looking ready to yank it back into position had he thought that could have kept his title hopes alive.
Just two corners after that, Alex Martin smashed to the ground in a 180 degree bowl turn. He looked shaken from the impact and his condition prompted a red-flag that temporarily halted the race in the interest of safety.
When the 250SX Class riders re-loaded the steel-grate starting gate for the re-start of the race, neither Martin brother was astride his race bike. The gate dropped, and this time only 20 riders funneled into the first turn.
Racing can be cruel and that is amplified by the extreme sport of Supercross. The Martin brothers fortunately have a two-week break before round two, in Daytona, to get evaluated and see if they can race, and if so, if they can find a way to make up a point deficit on their top competitors. It’s been done before, and more than that, the wild opening lap proves that anything can happen in the unforgiving world of Supercross.