Champions are a long time in the making. More often than not the career trajectory
of a title winner reads like a heroic
tale. Bruised and beaten and backed
against a wall, the central character
somehow rises to the challenge.
Many would-be champions endure
growing pains on their way to eventual success, yet they exhibit the
promise of what might come. Tim
Ferry, the 1997 AMA 125 East Coast
Supercross Champion, followed a
different path. Sure, he won—Ferry
was victorious in Orlando and
Daytona—but those wins came two
years before he captured the title.
All eyes were on Tim Ferry in the
1996 season, but the Team Suzuki
rider was outmatched. He had the
misfortune of racing the same coast
as 1995 AMA 125 East Champion
Mickael Pichon. The Frenchman won
eight races in 1996 and defended his
title, while Ferry was inconsistent
and finished sixth overall.
Tim Ferry was a dark-horse pick
for the 1997 Supercross crown. The
excitement from winning two main
events two years prior had faded
away. It was the final year of his
Suzuki contract, and Ferry was on
the hot seat. He needed lightning to
strike again, or he feared he would
fade into obscurity like so many others who couldn’t convert race wins
into titles. It didn’t help that Ferry
was buried deep in the 1997 depth
chart. All eyes were on established
stars like John Dowd and two aspiring stars—Ricky Carmichael and
The series kicked off at
Indianapolis on February 15, 1997.
No one knew it then, but Ricky
Carmichael would throw away
his opportunity to win the title in
his rookie year that night. Ricky
TIM FERRY’S UNHERALDED 125 SUPERCROSS TITLE
Tim Ferry sporting the
number one jersey.
went down on the first lap and
later crashed with Brock Sellards.
Carmichael finished 19th, while
John Dowd won the race. Tim
Ferry finished second, and Stephane
Roncada rounded out the podium.
Ricky Carmichael didn’t take long
to put his name in the record book,
as he won the Atlanta Supercross the
next weekend. Dowd and Roncada
finished near the front, which wasn’t
surprising; however, Tim Ferry held
on for second place. Instantly, Tim
was thrust into the spotlight, tak-
ing the points lead after Atlanta.
Dowd won the following weekend at
Daytona to retake the lead, but Ferry
kept his string of second-place finish-
es going while Dowd wavered. Tim
Ferry took over the points lead again
following round four in Orlando. It
was a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
The only setback the Suzuki rider
encountered was in St. Louis, where
he ended the evening in fifth.
There were three different
winners in the 1997 AMA 125
Eastern Regional Supercross
Championship. Ricky Carmichael
won the most main events at three,
but he was wildly inconsistent.
John Dowd won at Indianapolis and
Daytona; however, an injury forced
him out of the series after Orlando.
Stephane Roncada was a revelation,
winning back-to-back races in the
final stages of the series, but
Daytona was his demise (Stephane
finished ninth on the outdoor-style
track). When the points were
tabulated after seven rounds, Tim
Ferry won the 1997 East Supercross
title by 11 points over Roncada.
Ricky Carmichael finished third.
The Supercross title was bitter-
sweet for Ferry. He had earned one
point too many under the AMA’s
advancement policy and was forced
out of the 125 class. Ferry was also
dropped from Team Suzuki. It was
rumored that Roger DeCoster wasn’t
happy that Ferry had failed to win
a Supercross race despite capturing
the title. As a result, Ferry was rele-
gated to a Noleen Yamaha privateer
deal. Tim eventually returned to the
factory racing fold and nearly won
the 2007 AMA 450 National title. No
matter what, no one can take away
the 1997 AMA 125 East Supercross
crown from Tim Ferry. ❏