As the opening ceremonies finished for round three of the Monster Energy Supercross series, the 37,789 fans that packed Angel Stadium in Anaheim were left in shock, seemingly out of nowhere.
It was during the ceremonies that fan favorite rider Kevin Windham announced unexpectedly he was retiring from the sport and would not be competing in Saturday night’s events.
“To the fans of Supercross, this might seem to be a hasty decision, but I've been talking to a lot of people for a lot of months,” Windham announced. “With every passing lap -- be it at the test track, my home track, or the stadium -- it became more and more difficult to ride with the clarity I needed to be safe, fast, and successful.”
Windham had been flirting with the notion of retirement for quite some time and on Jan. 9 he even hinted at it in a Cycle News article but assured, “I’m stubborn and I don’t want to quit yet.”
Three days later – round two of the series in Phoenix – would mark the final time Windham would compete professionally. His career ends with 207 starts, 18 wins and three runner-up finishes in Supercross. In addition to his 450 SX victories, he also won two 250 SX East Regional titles and holds the sport’s record for consecutive starts with 102, while his 207 starts are the second-most ever.
“I would love nothing more than to ride forever,” the 34-year-old said during his retirement announcement. “The choice was going to be hard no matter when I did it.”
Windham hoped to ride through 2014 and overtake Mike LaRocco’s 228 main event starts but the passion simply wasn’t there. Well that and perhaps the injuries that sidelined him for most of 2012 were still on his mind. It’s unclear what lies ahead for Windham, as he begins life after Supercross.
Photo Credit: Getty