There are only 9 Freestyle Motocross riders in the sport's most exclusive club, the Red Bull X-Fighters Hall of Fame. It is reseerved only to the winners of Madrid, the most important FMX stop each year since the inaugural event in 2002.
Defending World Tour champion Josh Sheehan admits he is desperate to join the Red Bull X-Fighters Hall of Fame after coming a tantalizing second here last year. But the Australian has a daunting challenging of winning in Madrid on Friday night in a field packed with three active riders who are members: Tom Pagès, Levi Sherwood and Dany Torres.
"Winning the Tour is great but to win in Madrid and get my name in the Hall of Fame would be awesome," said Sheehan, who was barely beaten in a dramatic 2014 final by Pagès. "I was really hoping I had the run to get my name in there last year but it's always tough against Tom."
The Hall of Fame in Madrid features plaques hanging on the walls with the names, Spanish nicknames, and portraits of each year's winner, framed in the style of famous bullfighters who have also graced the grounds of the Las Ventas bullring. The Hall of Fame starts with Edgar Torronteras (2002, 'E.T'), Kenny Bartram (2003, 'El Cowboy), Travis Pastrana (2004/06/07, 'El Prodigioso), Nate Adams (2005, 'El Destroyer'), Mat Rebeaud (2008, 'Air Mat'), Torres (2009/11, 'El Pajarillo'), Robbie Maddison (2010, 'Mad Dog'), Sherwood (2012 'El Chico de Goma') and Pagès (2013/14, 'Mr Flair').
"It's great to have a Hall of Fame," said sporting director Tes Sewell. "There are a lot of the biggest names who have won here and that pretty much charts the history of FMX – Pastrana, Adams, Maddison, Torres or Pagès. This is the one they all want to win."
Torres, the 2011 World Tour winner, calls his two victories at home in Madrid in 2009 and 2011 the brightest moments in his career and he is looking to try to make it three on Friday and move alongside the legendary Pastrana with the most wins here. He is the sport's Iron Man with a record 43 starts in the 52 Red Bull X-Fighters to date and has made it to at least the quarter-finals 21 straight times.
"If you win the tour, it's obviously important but this place is special for me and all the other riders," said Torres, who always has the sold-out crowd of 23,000 cheering on their feet and on his side. "It's an amazing event."
Torres has more experience than any rider in the field – this is his eighth season in the Red Bull X-Fighters - but plans to continue as long as possible. "I would like to keep going for another three or four years at least," he said. "I feel good and as long as I don't break anything I'll be here every year."