The crowd was electric at the Denver Supercross Championship on Sunday, cheering home-state hero Eli Tomac on as he led the pack in the final race of the night.
If Tomac crossed the finish line in first place, he could have clinched the 450 Supercross championship, like Jett Lawrence did earlier in the night with his third-place finish in the 250 West race.
Tomac held a dominating lead within the first five minutes of the race, getting out ahead of the pack at the start to race to charge toward the championship win.
After a slightly misjudged tabletop jump that was nearly unnoticeable to onlookers, however, Tomac ruptured his Achilles tendon, causing him to quickly leave the track in noticeable pain.
Chase Sexton went on to win the race and erase Tomac’s 18-point lead in the 2023 series standings. Tomac received 1 point for the race.
Before the news of Tomac’s injury was made public, it was unclear to all in attendance whether his bike refused to work or if it were much more serious, such as a broken ankle.
The shocking end to Tomac’s season was evident in the post-race news conference as one reporter asked Sexton, who now has a 7-point lead in the standings, what he thought about becoming the champion.
“It’s definitely tough to kind of comprehend,” Sexton said. “Obviously, it’s not the way you want to see someone go out, especially someone like Eli. Eli’s so gnarly … and obviously a great competitor, and I love racing him, so a tough way to see him go out, and I definitely wish him the best.”
Sexton also praised Tomac, who has raced neck-and-neck with Sexton.
“Like I said, I love racing Eli,” Sexton said. “He’s super-clean, and he’s a bulldog, man. He won’t give up, and it was a good race.”
Toward the end of the news conference, news became public that Tomac had ruptured his Achilles.
A reporter gave Sexton the news, telling him that Tomac would be out for the final round.
“You are the champion-elect,” the reporter asked. “Are you just being respectful of the process? Or has it not sunk in yet?”
“It hasn’t really sunk in,” Sexton said. “Coming in being so far down (in the rankings) and just hoping that I could put my best foot forward these last few races to make it happen. I don’t really know what to say at this point.”
During the 250 news conference, incoming 450 rider Lawrence expressed his good wishes for Tomac, saying he hoped he would have the chance to race the “legend” in motocross in the future since Tomac’s injury will keep him out of the upcoming outdoor season.
Tomac was taken to the Steadman Clinic in Vail, where he underwent surgery for his Achilles on Sunday. On Monday, he updated his 1 million Instagram followers on his Instagram account to give some background on what happened and give a look into his recovery.
“Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Eli. I just want to give you all an update on what’s going on right now,” Tomac said to start his message.
“I’m basically at a loss for words right now for what happened,” Tomac said.
He explained how he sustained his injury, saying the “G-load” was too much for his Achilles, causing it to rupture.
“I’ve overjumped plenty other jumps, just as hard if not harder, and have been totally fine. So, I guess this stuff happens, and you know, it’s very unfortunate to lose this way,” Tomac said.
“But myself and the Star Racing Yamaha team have so much to hold our heads high, with looking back to 2020 to winning supercross, motocross, the Motocross of Nations … that whole season was truly unforgettable,” Tomac said.
“It was a great season, you know, up until Saturday, and I guess that’s just racing. One thing for sure, I’m not going to make any decisions about my future. Down the road, whether or not I go racing again or what happens, we’re just going to focus on getting healthy. It’s been a great ride,” Tomac said.
Tomac has been racing since he was a child in McElmo Canyon outside Cortez, becoming a Supercross and Motocross legend worldwide.
Over the course of his career, Tomac has become a four-time AMA Pro Motocross Championship 450 champion (2022, 2019, 2018, 2017), two-time Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championships 450SX champion (2022, 2020), 2013 AMA Pro Motocross Championship 250 champion and has racked up 32 career AMA Pro Motocross Championship 450 wins, 51 career Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship 450SX wins and 12 career AMA Pro Motocross Championship 250 wins.
He was also awarded the 2022 Best Athlete award at the Men’s Action Sports ESPY Awards.