The Great Outdoors: The Constant War

December 16, 2005 7:04am

James Stewart talks candidly about his mistake at Unadilla in TGO: The Constant War
“I know most of you people that watch this movie, ride,” says an anonymous rider, a battery of cameras sweeping over the Prairie City OHV Park, site of the opening round of the 2005 AMA Motocross National Championship Series. The film’s music, scored by Carl Moses, slams the military theme of The Great Outdoors: The Constant War home immediately. Sounding like it was gleaned from war epics The Longest Day or even Saving Private Ryan, the music fit the movie well throughout the entire 60-some-minute offering. Not too much of the oftentimes overbearing techno-punk music that finds its way into so many two-wheel-oriented DVDs.

The Constant War clicks into gear with Kevin Windham getting dressed for the Hangtown National. Meanwhile, across the pits, 40-year-old veteran John Dowd speaks of his last year in professional motocross: ”It is kind of hard for me to say this is my farewell tour,” says Dowd, who appears throughout the DVD.

Beginning with Hangtown, the cameras of cinematographers John Rushton, Jessica Young, and Troy Adamitis go to work. So good is the footage that, like the man said, if you ride, you’ll be sucked right in. It is also at Hangtown that James Stewart begins what will ultimately become a series of candid interviews. “When I lined up in the 125 class,” Stewart says, “when I looked to my left, then looked to my right, I’d think, I’ve got these guys covered. Now, when I look over to my right or over to my left, I think, God, please help me right here.” A camera then pans the 250-class starting gate and you know immediately what Stewart means. It’s a dog-eat-dog world.

The "constant" part of the The Constant War is RC's summer of dominance
The cool, green, damp borderlands of West Virginia and Pennsylvania are featured in the Mt. Morris segment of the DVD, as are the coffee-ground-brown sands of Southwick. Far and away my favorite segment of TGO comes at Southwick, where mechanic Mike Gosselaar, on the back of Ricky Carmichael’s bike, talks to the best rider who ever lived about his lap times. A camera follows the duo off into the distance, while Gosselaar (with a microphone on) reassures his rider that, despite the fact that James Stewart was six-tenths of a second faster on the last lap of practice, he is still the man to beat. To hear RC talk to Gosselaar about that fact is fascinating, fly-on-the-wall stuff.

As the film rolls on, various riders and mechanics are fitted with microphones and tales are told. Intriguing storylines include Josh Grant’s first moto win at Budds Creek; James Stewart thinking he’s going to be shot after landing on Carmichael at Unadilla; the levity of Ryan Hughes showing up to race at Binghamton; and perhaps the most amazing story of all, the utter destruction Carmichael inflicts, both physically and psychologically, on the entire 250 field. Says Kevin Windham at the penultimate round at Steel City, “I always hear, ‘Hey, how good is RC?’ He’s great, but I’m doing the best I can do. That’s all I can tell you.”

Much to the fortune of the film, Larry Brooks was miked up for the Glen Helen debacle
The Constant War, I guess much like the film Saving Private Ryan, ends with a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners battle. Whether it was clairvoyance or just plain dumb luck, director Troy Adamitis miked up Red Bull KTM team manager Larry Brooks for the 125 finale at Glen Helen. Having been present at Glen Helen, I was not aware of the shouting and shoving match that ensued between Team KTM and Team Monster Kawasaki immediately after the first moto. But the TGO camera crew was on the spot, as were their microphones. This small section alone is worth whatever the DVD costs!

And the final moto? Well, we all know what happens between Alessi and Tedesco. “What a race to hook me up, dude,” Brooks says to Adamitis immediately after the last moto. Larry looked like he had been through a battle. In fact, he had.

Which is what The Constant War is: a spot at the front of the battle that is AMA National Championship Motocross. In 1966, director John Frankenheimer created a film called Grand Prix. Although fictional, Grand Prix was given carte blanche to use the cars, drivers, and mechanics of that year’s Formula 1 series to make a movie that would help promote the sport. What resulted was (and still is) the finest move ever made about racing. (No, Supercross: The Movie did not surpass it.) It’s been said, on many occasions, that a film like Grand Prix could, due to the politics and money now involved, never be done in the modern era of F1. But you know what? One could be done on motocross. And it just has. The fact that Troy Adamitis and his crew were able to get as close to the sport as they were this past summer makes The Constant War a truly amazing film. There were many occasions throughout it that this fan felt as if he were standing right there, on the side of the track or behind the starting gate. That says a lot!

To get your copy of The Great Outdoors: The Constant War in time for Christmas, click here.