You know it's a big deal when a guy they call "The Goat" (Greatest Of All Time) decides to endure a long-haul flight to a bike event in New Zealand.
We've welcomed to New Zealand a few "big deals" over the years, of course – Stefan Everts, Joey Dunlop, Joel Smets, Kurt Nicoll and Randy Mamola, to name a few – have all made the trip Downunder.
Just last weekend we were blessed with the presence of Suzuki legend Ricky "The Goat" Carmichael, multi-time US motocross and supercross champion and several times a member of America's winning Motocross of Nations teams over the years.
More often these days he is occupied with conducting his popular coaching courses or working trackside at commentating on national motocross and supercross events in the US, but still he found time to come and take a very active part in the S-X Open Auckland Supercross at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday evening.
"I just came here to New Zealand for fun. I'm happy to be here ... it's my first time," he said the 39-year-old (but about to turn 40 in two weeks' time).
"I'm very blessed in what I'm able to do and what this great sport of motorcycling has been able to give me.
"The reason I've not come here sooner is just that the opportunity to come to New Zealand never presented itself in the past," said Carmichael.
"But the opportunity came along this year for me to be part of the S-X Open Auckland and I have to take advantage of it. I have not really gotten to see much or do much exploring, because I'm here to work, but nevertheless I have enjoyed my short time here."
His whistle-stop four-day stop-over was, sadly, all too short but, he explained, he has so many obligations elsewhere.
"I have to get back to the US. I have a riding camp at my facility (in Florida) next week and I have my own kids and I have to tend to them.
"The coaching in America is going okay. It's not too much work. It's a Suzuki camp, exclusive to Suzuki riders ... it's called 'Camp Carmichael' ... it's for top contingency earners on the Suzuki brand over the year. It's a contest that Suzuki puts together and it's a lot of fun."
On Saturday evening Carmichael climbed on board a Suzuki RM-Z450 to take part in the six-rider Anzac (New Zealand and Australian riders) versus United States Challenge series of mini races.
The novelty one-on-one feature of the night started by pitting New Zealand's Cody Cooper against American Jason Anderson in a two-lap sprint around the supercross track, with winner Cooper passing his "baton" off to Australian Luke Clout, who maintained the Anzac advantage by edging out Suzuki USA's new signing Joey Savatgy.
At that point, the Anzacs held a narrow lead, but then Clout tagged Bay of Plenty's Ben Townley for the final sprint to the finish as Savatgy arrived at the finish line to set Carmichael off in hot pursuit.
Carmichael quickly closed in on Townley and snatched the lead in a daring dive across the front of Townley in a banked corner, but Townley responded two corners later and returned the favour, only for his bike to slide out from under him moments later, giving veteran racer Carmichael the race win and, with it, Carmichael claimed the night's glory for Team USA.
"I got lucky again," Carmichael smiled.
An auction for Ricky Carmichael's bike is now live on Trade Me now and will be running until Saturday, November 23, so get bidding:
Not only will you own the bike of a supercross champion, but all proceeds above the reserve price will be donated to Cure Kids.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com