|He was 3-3 at this point |
|photo: Simon Cudby |
and welcome to the Rev-Up. Its break time again. And if there is one person
on the planet that is the happiest about that, it has to be James Stewart
know, I know, we’ve been talking about it all week and it's old news,
but I haven’t gotten my
shot at that particular issue, or the weekend
itself. And now it’s Thursday—wait a tick, Friday—and I have
a lot to say about both. Attending an outdoor national that is 10 miles from
your front door is incredible. Actually, it was perfect.
I peeled my face
off the pillow Sunday morning around 9:30 when the morning sun finally cooked
me into consciousness. It was a rather groggy morning. Clint had wrecked really
badly the night before at Charlotte and I proceeded to hose my anger and disappointment
down with beverages. Man, I was pissed off. But now it was a new day and the
delicious knowledge that it was High Point race day obliterated my sorrow and
hangover in one fell swoop. So I grabbed my Racer X “174” T-shirt
and my wallet and headed out the door with a skip in my step. I was only two
feet outside when the first invigorating rays of sunshine hit me. Another two
steps had the smell of the neighbor’s freshly cut grass floating up my
nostrils. It was perfect.
It was big smiles
for me as I sped down I-68 with 10,000 Days blasting on the radio and
the windows rolled down. As the exit sign reading “Mt. Morris” came
into view, my left foot began matching the beat of the drums on my stereo. My
right foot pressed the gas a little harder. I pulled my beloved black Nissan
Frontier into the free parking section, and before I could shut off the motor,
I noticed it was being drowned out by the thunder of the morning qualifiers.
The skin on my arms immediately shredded into goosebumps. It was perfect.
|Still “The Man” |
|photo: Simon Cudby |
Upon my arrival at
the track, I made my way over to the Racer X tent to say hello to Mike “Fubar”
Farber. He had watched the Busch race with me the night before and I was curious
to see how he was wearing his smile in lieu of the previous night’s drama.
As per the norm, Mike was running around the tent like a madman, passing out
stickers and “zelling suzcriptions.” A nod and a high-five later,
I left Mike alone to continue doing what he does best.
Soon after, I joined
“Bad” Billy Ursic and the rest of the usual RX suspects in the suites
to escape the sun and watch the vintage guys ride a lap on the track. Glover,
Stanton, Chuck Sun, and more, all on their old-school steeds. Glover had a JLS-1
with a fresh paint job, Stanton was riding with that distinguishable style he
always had, and Ryno was cutting a lap on a 1981 YZ400 that would have matched
some of the guys in the 250F class. It was perfect.
Soon, the first motos
were lining up at the gate and stomping their dirt launch pads into submission.
I looked over at Bad Billy and said, “Wanna bet $1,000 Alessi doesn’t
get the holeshot?” He replied by just coolly staring ahead and responding
with a slow shake of the head. In an instant, the gate went down and the thunder
of the 250F riders met the air - quickly followed by Andrew Short hitting the
deck! And rounding the first turn was not an orange fender, but Josh Grant (though
it turns out that Alessi did lead past the Racer X Holeshot line, only to be
passed by Little Goose on the outside and then Josh Grant, but since we didn’t
say or see the holeshot line, the bet is a push). Grant went to work and did
his best to put the pack in the hurt locker. Meanwhile, Alessi and Grant Langston
were locked in a battle for second that was pretty spicy. Mike seemed to be
letting Grant have some room, while the Zulu Warrior was showing some surprising
staying power, what with that bum arm and all.
|As soon as this guy stops crashing, he’ll start winning |
|photo: Simon Cudby |
While all of this
was going on up front, Ryan Villopoto
was on a mission. Number 51 made his way
to fourth, but it looked like that was as far as he would make it. Then the
shit hit the fan: Grant dumped it and gave up the lead to Langston, who then
dumped it himself and turned it over to Mikey Boy. I picked Mike and Ryan to
go 1-2 in last week’s Rev-Up, so I was stoked.
After an incredible
first 250F moto, the stage was set for fisticuffs between the two men, one of
whom is the king and the other who will surely one day be king. It was perfect.
The moment I had been waiting for was finally upon me. Ricky Carmichael and
James Stewart were pushing their bikes to the line and preparing themselves
to enter the six-sided ring of fire. I was stoked beyond all recognition, but
something was wrong. I was in the suite checking out James’ bad-ass green
gear through a pane of glass; I was hearing Tim Cotter whooping up the crowd
through a speaker, and I had an empty bottle of water in my hand. Now wearing
a frown, I looked down into the sea of quickly-becoming-sunburned fans and noticed
a rather tall one standing by the fence, wearing a black Racer X Films shirt,
carrying a cooler of beer. It was Dave Brozik.
|It was perfect |
|photo: Matt Ware |
With the drone of
a dozen Racer X
“kids” who were stuffed in the suite with
us beginning to wear me down, I decided to exit stage left and see if Dave needed
any help carrying his cooler. As the 450 machines completed their sighting lap
and lined back up at the gate, I made my down to Brozik – and his cooler.
I was smiling again: 25,000 motocross fans, the bright colors of the track banners,
the incredible track conditions, and the more incredible weather conditions
now surrounded me. There was a 30-foot-tall speaker system pounding out music
and bikini tops as far as the eye could see. In addition, the empty water bottle
in my hand had been replaced by a coozie-covered Miller Lite. It was perfect.
have scripted it better. Carmichael and Stewart got out one and two. Ricky tried
to get away but James was just too strong. With the GOAT riding (comfortably)
about three seconds back, I overheard some fans saying, “What’s
wrong with Ricky?” “He’s just saving it for moto two.”
“I guess James is better.” This was four laps in to the 30-minute-plus-2
moto. I just smiled with the knowledge of the inevitable shit storm that I predicted
would go down a little past the halfway mark.
I was right.
|Battle for the ages |
|photo: Matt Ware |
With the mid-afternoon
sun beating down and lappers becoming more and more abundant, the thunder began
to roll. Carmichael picked up the wick, and he was a-comin’. This was
it. The moment everyone wanted to see. And it was scary. James was flipping
his KX450 pancake-flat on the triple and RC was dragging the radiators off his
RM-Z in the turns. They were pushing it hard
. The two were riding so
hard and going so fast, it seemed surreal. But the noise of the crowd and the
adrenaline in my veins was very real. As RC drew to the rear fender of Stewart,
I was jumping up and down and slapping high fives with anyone that would square
up with me. Brozik and I were screaming, but it was so loud, he looked like
a mime when he looked at me and said, “This is @#!%ing awesome!”
The house was on fire. It was perfect.
All of a sudden, the crowd gasped
so hard it almost sucked the banners off the fences. Carmichael got squirrelly
in a rhythm section and hit everything but the kitchen sink as he tried to get
back on the track. I thought to myself, Easy, boys—it’s hot, it’s
rough, and it's going to be a long summer.…
James now had a comfortable
lead again. Ah, but it wasn’t over. Ricky dug back into the bottomless
pit of determination he has in his guts, brought out the fishing pole, and started
reeling him in again. I looked down at my watch and thought, Okay, 29
minutes in, maybe we’ll see the 2-card. I looked back up and what met
my eyes made my jaw and the Miller Lite in my hand hit the ground at the same
time. Stewart’s KX450 was 20 feet in the air, spinning like a seahorse
in a tidal wave, sans James Stewart. It wasn’t perfect.
|He’ll remember his first outdoor victory for a long time |
|photo: Matt Ware |
It was bad. I was
a racer for a long, long time, and I have taken a crash at the end of a long
moto on a hot day. It delivers unimaginable and unprecedented discomfort and
pain. Imagine running as fast as you can in 90-degree weather, almost to the
point of complete physical breakdown, then jumping in a scalding-hot shower
and asking Royce Gracie to punch you in the face. It’s like that. Only
worse. I hated it for the fans, I hated it for the championship, but most of
all, I hated it for James. Still hate it. Damn kid was going for it and was
this close to doing what has not been done since RC climbed on a four-stroke.
If he was going to do it, he had to be perfect. And he was everything but perfect.
He had heart, he had style, and he had speed. But if you are going be beat RC,
there is no room for imperfection.
James has a week
now to get it all back. After a crash like that, he will need every hour. But
he isn’t done. He’ll stand up, flip the bird to Ricky’s face
(figuratively speaking), and give it another shot. Next week is Southwick, guys.
Thanks for reading,
see you next week.