A grand total of 46,000 people showed up at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, on January 22 to check out the inaugural date of this year's International Freestyle Motocross Association tour, an event that, for the first time ever, included professional Xtreme Sportbike Association (XSBA) street freestyle riders in the entertainment mix.
Eight exceptionally talented street stunters, each handpicked by XSBA director Ken Abbott, were invited to introduce the street freestyle to this huge, mainstream audience, including: Texas local Patrick Stephens, Chris "Teach" McNeil, Anthony D'Orsi, Grant Sunday, "Crazy" Dan Jackson, Ronnie "Hitman" Hurst, Warren Jamez and Kane Friesen.
Riding conditions under the bright stadium lights varied from bad to worse, with a polished concrete floor covered with dirt blown over by the FMX riders leading to very poor traction conditions that gave the stunters fits. Many slips and tumbles marked the multiple practice sessions on the day prior to the event, but all the riders managed to get it together for the main event, putting on a dynamic, high-energy stunt show that blew the crowd--most of whom had never even heard of street stunting before--away.
When the dust settled it was hometown hero Stephens in first place, followed closely by Teach McNeil and Tony D in second and third, respectively. Crowd response was extremely positive for all riders, however, and the cheering for many of the street extreme stunts rivaled or even exceeded that for the high flying FMX riders.
The Houston event was surely the largest in XSBA history with regard to spectator count, and likely was the biggest crowd ever to witness a street stunt competition anywhere. Hopes are high that, building off the success of this event, XSBA riders will be invited to participate in future IFMA events this season, as well as other Clear Channel-promoted events including the Mountain Dew Action Sports Tour events (formerly the Gravity Games), ramp-to-ramp FMX jump programs and even the popular Monster Truck Thunder Nationals.
Hopefully this momentum will carry the sport of street freestyle to the next level, and allow stunters to enjoy of level of popularity and support similar to the already established freestyle motocross sport.