by Brett Smith, WeWentFast
The checkered flag stopped waving an hour ago but in a grassy parking lot in Tampa a crowd was still growing, Coors Light still flowing and commemorative t-shirts were still being passed out and pulled over heads. Aside from one subtle clue it could have easily been mistaken for a championship celebration: the person responsible for the party – the reason for the gathering – was struggling to have a good time. Chad Reed just wanted to go home.
It was 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, February 24 and three dozen people were gathered around Reed’s Team CR22 truck as his four crew members packed up, working around the revelers. Children played, running with the elated enthusiasm one possesses when fighting the urge to fall asleep. Selfie-seeking spectators loitered with their screens aglow, ready for the chance to grab a moment with Reed. He obliged every request.
Wearing street clothes – dark work shorts, a navy blue t-shirt and team hat – his smiles revealed both gratefulness and grimace. For a professional motorcycle racer, a two-time Monster energy Supercross Champion competing in his seventeenth consecutive season in the series, the 2018 Tampa race wasn’t a good night. He was nineteenth in seeding, transferred through the last chance qualifier and didn’t finish the main event because of an electrical problem. After his bike cut out for the third time, he pulled into the mechanic’s area and handed the motorcycle to Mike Gosselaar. Instead of heading back to his truck in warranted frustration, Reed stood in the dirt and watched the rest of the race.