Anyone not up to date on the world of freestyle motocross may be surprised to see what is taking over the New Orleans Arena this weekend. Nuclear Cowboyz ("the only high octane-fueled freestyle motocross touring production in North America," according to their press release) will bring their part-WWE, part-X-Games-style narrative stunt show to New Orleans for the first time.
The world of freestyle motocross is still in its relative infancy compared to other motorsports and, at first glance, you could dismiss Nuclear Cowboyz as sideshow. Their promo video sells itself heavily to a younger audience and there's no doubt that anyone under the age of 16 will be dazzled by the combination of aerial stunts with pyrotechnics and laser-light show. But anyone with even a flimsy grasp of physics can appreciate the athletic skill and fearlessness of the show's team of riders.
Yes, there is a story about two futuristic motocross tribes that engage in battle and combat (at least, according to this video) but really that's secondary to the fact that the performers are actually world-class athletes. Among the cast are Mike Mason - who won a gold medal in an X-Games event where he had to out-race and out-trick an opponent - and Japanese rider Taka Higashino - who won a gold-medal in a more traditional motocross event seen below:
The tour also features the young Colten Moore, another X-Games Gold Medalist who is perhaps as famous for a personal tragedy as he is for his competitive achievements. It was just two months ago that Colten's brother, Caleb Moore, died after a crash during a Winter X-Games freestyle snowmobile event. Colten Moore, it should be noted, is no stranger to dangerous crashes. Recent history certainly puts safety into the spotlight at events like the X-Games and exhibitions like the one this weekend at the New Orleans Arena. But you'd be amiss to look over the fact that Caleb Moore had become dedicated to his craft and had forgone drinking and partying in order to win a gold medal in a sport with far lower mortality rate than traditional motorsports.
The key thing to remember is that this weekend's show is an exhibition, not a competition. So the tricks that the riders will only be pulling off tricks they know they can land every single time. That being said, just because it's seems easy for them to do it doesn't make back-flipping over 50-foot gaps - sometimes on fire - any less incredible.
The Nuclear Cowboyz perform March 8 and 9 at the New Orleans Arena, shows start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available through TicketMaster.