Over the last two seasons, a pair of the AMA Arenacross Series’ biggest stars suffered major injuries that not only forced them to the sidelines away from competition, but also left them with a very long road to recovery.
Now, both Tyler Bowers and Jeff Gibson are back in action and running at the front of the Arenacross class field and ready to challenge for the 2011 championship.After a remarkable campaign in his first full season of AMA Arenacross Series competition, Gibson and his TUF Honda team captured the 2009 title and appeared to be the forthcoming of a new powerhouse in the sport. However, at the tail end of the summer racing season that same year, Gibson experienced a big crash that ultimately led to traumatic internal injuries. After an emergency surgery to save his life, Gibson was on the mend and ready to ride just a couple months later.As the defending series champion, the bulls eye was definitely on Gibson’s back, but he never seemed to have anything for his rivals, going winless and finishing fourth in the championship. As the season moved on throughout the winter, it became evident to Gibson that he wasn’t physically where he needed to be to race up front. His road to recovery was much longer than expected and despite being far from 100% throughout the entire 2010 campaign, he still soldiered on to take home an impressive result considering the obstacles he was facing.While the 2009 champ was finding it difficult to defend his crown, Tyler Bowers’ new tenure at Babbitt’s Monster Energy/TiLUBE Kawasaki presented by Maxxis seemed like a match made in heaven. The young rider took the AMA Arenacross Series by storm, effectively dominating almost every week and capturing nine wins on the way to who many critics thought would be the Arenacross class title. However, just weeks before the season was to come to a conclusion, Bowers’ season came to an abrupt end.The riders of the AMA Arenacross Series are known to take a beating and are often nursing some sort of injury at various points in the season. Unfortunately for Bowers, he suffered a broken leg – a catastrophic injury for a rider. As a result of his practice accident, Bowers sat and watched as the 2010 championship he was so close to capturing went to his teammate Josh Demuth.After months in a wheelchair and slowly regaining the ability to walk, Bowers began his preparations for the 2011 season, but his road to recovery was enduring and based on what Bowers had said, still isn’t over two rounds into the championship.In two weeks of action, both Gibson and Bowers have quickly reasserted themselves as the top riders in the AMA Arenacross Series. Despite respective injuries that could have altered their entire careers, both riders fought harder than ever to come back and arguably compete at the same level they were at prior to their injuries.Both riders are inspirational stories of fighting through adversity and refusing to give up on their passion to ride and compete. Their will to win is unwavering and it’s showing in the early stages of the 2011 AMA Arenacross Series season. Gibson has won the first two rounds of the season while Bowers boasts a runner-up finish and a long stint at the front of the field last weekend while sitting in a tie for second in the championship. Each rider has established himself as a title favorite and is looking for more this weekend as the series heads to Dayton, Ohio’s Nutter Center for Round 3.The latest member of this inauspicious club is reigning AMA Arenacross Series Champion Josh Demuth. After suffering a broken wrist in preseason testing, Demuth is also looking at a lengthy road to recovery. As one of the most prolific riders in AMA Arenacross Series history, Demuth’s absence weighs heavily on his competitors who wanted their fair chance to take away his crown. However, his similar work ethic and passion for competition means much like his friends Gibson and Bowers, Demuth should ultimately come back stronger than ever and his competitors, along with the thousands of arenacross fans hope it’s before season’s end.It’s an unfortunate truth of the sport, but injuries happen in the AMA Arenacross Series and how a rider deals with adversity not only shows his commitment to success, but also shows he has the mettle to be a champion. Jeff Gibson, Tyler Bowers and now Josh Demuth are evidence of this.On a more positive note, the young Foremost Insurance/Spinechilers/HondaofFairfield.com lineup of Nathan Skaggs, Zach Ames, Willy Browning and Arenacross Lites competitor Patrick Massie is off to a strong start early on in 2011, highlighted by Skaggs’ runner-up effort last weekend in Kansas City.This weekend, the intimate and exciting action of the AMA Arenacross Series will be showcased at the Ervin J. Nutter Center on the campus of Wright State University. Serving as southwest Ohio’s premier sports and entertainment complex, the Nutter Center is home to NCAA Division I Wright State Raiders athletics and the ECHL’s Dayton Bombers hockey team.Opened in 1990 and named for famous Ohioan Ervin J. Nutter, the main arena of the center seats a maximum of 12,000, but the facility also houses four basketball courts, a recreation running track, a fitness center, classrooms, and 60,000 square feet of exhibit space.