Editor’s Note: Eli Tomac will make the jump to the 450 class in this year’s Monster Energy Supercross series. Here’s an excerpt from Larry Lawrence’s profile of Tomac, which was published in the December issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Eli Tomac has been exceeding expectations his entire career. The son of mountain bike racer John Tomac, Eli burst onto the scene in 2010 by winning in his AMAPro Motocross debut at Hangtown. He instantly became one of the leading AMA Supercross and motocross stars of the 250 class.
His progression continued in 2012 when he captured his first Supercross title by dominating the AMA 250 Supercross West Region. The GEICO Honda rider won five of nine races that year and had only one finish outside the top four. This year, Tomac finally broke through to win his first outdoor title in the 250cc class in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, where at one point he strung together an amazing eight moto victories in a row.
Tomac feels he has accomplished what he set out to do on the small bikes and is setting his sights on the 450 class and hopes to be one of the front runners right out of the gate.
GEICO Honda has an enviable reputation for developing young motocross riders into champions, while also providing legends like Mike LaRocco and Kevin Windham a place to cement their legacies. The 2014 season will mark a significant transition in this established philosophy as GEICO Honda owners Rick Zielfelder, Jeff Majkrzak and Mike Grondahl expand their stable to include two 450cc riders, both of whom are being promoted from within the team’s ranks.
“Moving to a 450 is a big enough step as it is,” Tomac said. “I would imagine that the transition would be a lot harder if you’ve got to learn a new motorcycle and a new team. I won’t have to do that. I already know this inside and out. I’m excited to get started.”
Tomac has some experience on the big bike, riding select Supercross races in the 450 class last season. He said he felt comfortable with the direction of Honda’s 450 machine and saw an easier transition to a new class by sticking with a bike and team he already knows well. A pair of recent GEICO Honda graduates — Justin Barcia and Trey Canard — have become consistent top-five riders since moving up to the 450s. Tomac appears poised to follow in their footsteps.
2013 was a season of ups and downs for Tomac in his final year of 250 Supercross.
“I started off winning the first three races,” Tomac said of his season in 250SX West. “That was the high. And the low would have been the Oakland crash and maybe even the Seattle crash. I had a really good race in Las Vegas, but couldn’t quite clinch the title.”
But Tomac was resilient and bounced back with an outstanding performance in the Lucas Oil Motocross Championship. As the season wore on, Tomac got stronger and eventually took firm control of the championship battle.
“Everything just started clicking,” he said of his championship-winning campaign.
Tomac knows he faces a daunting task now moving up to the big bikes, but underneath it all he still exudes the confidence of a champion. Even squaring up against the best riders in the country, including Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey and James Stewart, Tomac thinks he’ll be equal to the task.
“I don’t think the speed is going to be a problem for me to run up front in the 450 class,” Tomac said. “It’s all about just making it happen, getting your bike setup and getting the good starts. You have to be able to tell yourself mentally that you’re ready to do battle up at the front. I think it’s realistic for me to expect to go out and get a few wins and hopefully I’ll be close in the championship and be a regular on the podium throughout the season.”