Racerhead #21

May 23, 2008 1:52pm | by:

The short off-season really is over! It’s time to start racing again, with a whole new championship blasting out of the gate this weekend. The opening round of the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship goes off at Glen Helen Raceway. Ryan Villopoto will be shooting for a chance to chisel his face onto the Mt. Rushmore of 125cc/Lites/MX2 legends who have won the title three straight times: Broc Glover, Mark Barnett and Ricky Carmichael are the only other ones ever to do it.

In the 450 class, we will see a new champion crowned because Grant Langston is on the sidelines with a broken collarbone and (still) eyesight issues; more on that later. But James Stewart is back, and he will be chased by Ben Townley, Mike Alessi, Ivan Tedesco; all coming back from injury like Stewart, as well as Tim Ferry, Davi Millsaps, Andrew Short, Nick Wey, David Vuillemin, and more.

Downtown San Bernardino, noon Friday.

photo: DC

Unfortunately, the normally nasty hot Glen Helen may be a wet one this weekend. A cool front has blown in; that, or I brought the rain with me, because we had 11 straight days of it back East, which would have made it hard to get High Point ready for all of the teams and fans. Anyway, it could be really muddy, or it could be really cool. Either way, it’s time to start the second season! And with Jody out there going nuts on the big dozers, the riders are in for a major challenge no matter what the weather does. The toughest test of the series has become Glen Helen, and now it starts here rather than ending here.

Of course we will be bringing you all of the behind-the-scenes stories, the exclusive race video footage, and our preview and post-race wrap-up shows as the second season of the Racer X Motocross Show on Motocross.com kicks off. The first on-site preview goes up early Saturday evening, with Jason Weigandt joined by special guest host David Bailey, plus all the guests we can muster up! Check back Saturday for that.

You can also listen to the live webcast of the Glen Helen National on Motocross.com on Sunday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. West Coast time (3:30 back East). Jason Weigandt, special guest David Bailey, Steve Matthes, Erin “Leggy Blonde” Normoyle, Ping, and maybe even a few special guests like sidelined GEICO Powersports rider Josh Grant.

Get your free sticker this weekend at the Racer X trailer or Toyota Zone.

You can also find links on Motocross.com to the AMA timing and scoring, or just go to The Wire Live! @ www.amamotocross.com. You can also find lots of general information here: www.mxnationals.com.

This is what the track looked like earlier today.

photo: Eric Griffith

By the way, the final end-all announcement of what’s happening with the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship will likely be forthcoming between now and Hangtown next week. Needless to say, there are going to be a few confused people out there, but the vast majority of motocross fans and industry folks will just be glad to put this all behind them and start focusing on the racing and the future. I even got to have a friendly conversation with Giuseppe Luongo, and we both agree it’s time to focus on the future and work together to make motocross a better sport all-around.

The excitement for this race can be felt all over Southern California. Last night there was a big party at Oakley, as well as the annual WMXF MotoBowl charity event, which brought out a ton of moto people: Jeff Emig, Ron Lechien, Denny Stephenson, Buddy Antunez, Mitch Payton, Victor Sheldon, Mike Metzger, Lex & Amanda from Supercross.com, a ton of Monster girls, and more riders than I could count: Ferry, Villopoto, Canard, Metcalfe, Stroupe, Ramsey, Vuillemin, Coisy, Dungey, Byrne, Osborne, Hackley, Chisholm, Hahn, Grant…..  BrownDogWilson grabbed some photos to share here throughout Racerhead, and so did Steve Cox. 

(There have been press releases going out all week, with everything from the new Ricky Carmichael Hard-Charger Award to the new holeshot sponsor in BTO Motorsports Holeshot and more. We have had a ton of interviews—Stewart, Villopoto, Canard, Izzi, Alessi, even David Philippaerts! And there’s a real sense of excitement both here in SoCal and around the net.

This Monster girl was way over the line

photo: Chris Ganz

There was even some hope that there might be a couple of surprise entries from either Chad Reed or Kevin Windham this weekend, but it appears that it won’t happen--that’s the bad news. Kevin decided to make good on his promise to hang out at home with his family for most of the summer, and Chad is now finally, ultimately, completely broken up with L&M, according to the press release that went out today from the team’s PR firm. So he’s not coming here to race either, even though he did spend a few days in the last couple of weeks showing everyone that he still has world-class outdoor speed and would be a title favorite if outdoors fit into his plans.

But now that the L&M deal is officially over, rumors are swirling: Stewart is taking his place is one that came directly from the team back in Vegas, though when I spoke to James on Wednesday, he told me he was still waiting for Kawasaki to call him, and Reed had a deal with Suzuki in place but then it didn’t work out and people are guessing what may happen. Well, Steve Cox has been working on a piece with Chad for the magazine, and he asked him exactly what was going on. With that, I will turn it over to Steve right here:

What's going on?

photo: Simon Cudby

I got a chance to talk to Chad Reed earlier this week about “the breakup” over at L&M Racing, and the situation is pretty interesting. As it turns out, just like any breakup, there are two sides to the story, and both of them differ from each other pretty greatly.

I asked Chad if he thought the team change had to do with James Stewart’s status as “the fastest man alive,” and he didn’t think that was the case. “I don’t really think it’s anything to do with that, I think it’s very political, and I think maybe some people’s emotions caused them to react to different things,” Reed offered. “I think it’s more of a political decision. For me, though, it’s simplified my life a lot, and I’m excited for the future.”

As far as his plans for next year, Reed had this to say: “Actually, I had a pretty crazy weekend. I had something that I was really looking forward to signing, and it didn’t necessarily work out that way, so right now, I’m really unemployed [laughs].” (That was the Suzuki deal, we’re guessing.)

I brought up that he couldn’t race the Nationals since he has his SX series to run in Australia, and he indicated that it didn’t really matter in so far as the Nationals were concerned. “It [his SX series in Australia] starts in October, so it’s not necessarily during the summer or whatever, but the reason the whole ‘supercross-only’ thing really came about was first from L&M, and them only wanting to do supercross-only,” Reed said. “At the time, I was having a lot of thoughts on what I could do with Australian SX, and as it turned out, it turned out to be a real coincidence that I was offered a supercross-only deal. At that time, I was 23, and I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t won an outdoor title, and I hadn’t won an outdoor overall [on a 450], and I felt like I had a lot left on the table. Part of me, I wasn’t ready to step away. I was ready emotionally, but the racing side of me wasn’t fulfilled.


photo: Chris Ganz

“In my contract, I had a lot of clauses that allowed me to do the nationals if I wanted to – I would’ve had to have gone from the L&M team to the factory team and that kind of stuff. But I felt like I had a really, really rough year in supercross, and I didn’t perform the way I wanted to, and there was just a snowball effect from the two previous years and I felt like the time off was what I really needed. As it turned out, we were able to get some time off, and better still, we were able to get a much more competitive motorcycle. And honestly, this year, the way I feel right now, if I didn’t have a supercross-only deal and I was happy to race for that team, I would be more than happy to show up and go racing. I feel like I’m in a much better position than I was last year. I was just really bummed and wanted time away. I had never had time away from the sport. But this year, I feel really motivated, and I feel like I could go and put my best foot forward and have a shot at that championship, for sure.”

You read that right. Reed says he would race the nationals, but he can’t. “It’s kind of funny,” he says. “I’ve copped a lot of slack and lost a lot of fans, but the reality is that I’m not shying away from the fact that I only wanted to go race supercross, and that’s what I put all my effort into, but a part of me really feels incomplete, and I feel like I have more to offer. I feel like I have better performances outdoors than what I’ve shown, and I feel like I have a championship in me outdoors. Probably the most unfortunate thing for me is that I won’t have a shot at racing James outdoors, even if I were to come back to the outdoors next year or something like that. But just like this year, you’ve got to be on top of your game and be prepared to take on whoever’s the best guy, and if that’s James, that’s James, and if that’s Ben Townley, it’s Ben Townley. You can’t control what happens. Supercross-only is a lot of fun, so I wouldn’t shy away from it, but if I really, really felt comfortable in my current situation, I think I could probably make something happen and go race the nationals – at least maybe for Yamaha [factory team]. But I’m not necessarily happy with what’s going on over there, so you won’t see me at the nationals until that changes.”

“Bad” Brad Lackey parted ways with his team after he won the ’82 world title

photo: Ken Link

Reed isn’t the only rider ever to part with his team following a major championship. Check out some of the ones from yesteryear in this week’s Bench Racing Ammo.

Last night, there were two industry gatherings going on at exactly the same time in SoCal. First, there was the annual MotoBowl that the Women’s Motocross auxiliary puts on every year before Glen Helen, and then there was the Oakley Factory Pilot Tour, where they toured attending people through their Rolling O Lab, where they demonstrate their eyeglass and goggle technology for the public at events around the country. They also took us through the main hallway museum in the building, and fed everyone in attendance as much Mexican food and Red Bull (mixed with other things, in many cases) as we could eat and drink.

They also had members of the media build their own goggles. We picked whatever frame, lens, crowbars (for the Crowbar goggle) and strap we wanted, and put them all together. I have to say that I think the goggles I created should be marketed by Oakley, as I think they look really bitchin’.

Steve Cox made these with his eyes closed!

photo: Steve Cox

In the Rolling O Lab, Oakley demonstrated their glasses’ optical and safety characteristics when compared to other popular glasses manufacturers, and it was quite an experience. Oakley makes all of their glasses in-house at their headquarters, and they all have to pass a very stringent set of tests before being released to the public, some of which you can see on www.oakley.com.

Then, it was off to MotoBowl, and I showed up just at the end of it. Apparently, Nathan Ramsey won, and Jean Turner from Cycle News was bummed that she almost won the award for Worst Score but scored too high for that….

Here's a few pics from Oakley:

Here's a few photos from the MotoBowl:

Concourse Bowling Center


Nate Dogg


Erin Bates

Congratulations to Davi Millsaps and the future Mrs. Millsaps.

That’s it from Steve.

Who’s going to win this weekend? That’s what Billy Ursic asked a bunch of folks in the office. I learned a long time ago to stay away from too many predictions, but I will say that I like Andrew Short as my long shot for the title and Mike Alessi as my near shot for this weekend’s 450 win. And this might get you in the mood for motocross even more.

From Ping:

Last weekend was the inaugural Asterisk Superpass Ride Day. Over 100 people bought a ticket to ride at the famed Castillo Ranch facility just north of Santa Barbara. It was originally scheduled for a couple months ago but heavy rains postponed the event until now. The track was still in great shape but, sadly, the rest of the property was feeling the effects of the early spring rainfall. The 700 acres of normally golf-course-looking terrain was covered in head-high mustard weeds. I tried leading one of the tour groups through it and in the process lost about ten people. My apologies to those still pulling weeds out of their radiator shrouds and spokes. Still, a good chunk of money was raised to support the Asterisk Mobile Medical unit and, hopefully, the event will continue every year.

Max Anstie is fast!

photo: Simon Cudby

What’s going on over there in England? First Steven Clarke steps on the amateur national scene and is immediately a contender. Now, Max Anstie has proven himself to be one of the best schoolboy-age riders in the world. There’s something in the water over there and I’m pretty sure it isn’t fluoride. (And Tommy Searle is signed, sealed and delivered for next year.) I saw Max at Perris this week and the kid was flying. He was jumping back and forth between his supermini and a 125 throughout the day. His first time out on the 125 he jumped a triple down the front straight that only a handful or pros were doing. I don’t think there has ever been a British rider that was comfortable on a supercross track but this kid could change all of that. Anstie is the real deal and as a KTM rider I’ll bet Kurt Nicoll is already working on a contract to keep him for the next decade or so.

It looks like Great Britain is the new Australia (which was the new France). First we had a rush a New Zealanders, then Aussies, and in the next few years there will be at least a three Brits hitting the U.S. scene. Groovy, baby! Yeah!

I got this letter yesterday from the Hibbert family. Snocross champion Tucker Hibbert is hitting the road as a privateer and racing all over North America.

Tucker and I were doing some local racing this weekend and ended up in Mandan, North Dakota. On our way, we came across a small town named “Pingree!” I imagine it’s not a very exciting place because nothing in North Dakota is very exciting. I thought you may want to add that to your box of random facts…

Tucker Hibbert will be privateering it this summer.

photo: Simon Cudby

It’s Tucker’s first summer as a privateer since 2003 but we’re really excited. I’m not so excited about the price of diesel! I think privateers are going to fall off the face of the earth. I’ve even noticed local racing taking a dive with fuel prices. Perhaps we should have bought a Toyota Prius instead of a new garage coach. We’ll make it work. We’re pretty fortunate to be able to do it on our own. Hopefully we’ll catch up at a race this summer. You and Ed C will have to come hang out with us and I’ll cook some dinner.
Take Care,
Mandi & Tucker

We got this Ricky James update from his father earlier this week:

Ricky is six races deep in the 2008 West Coast Pro Truck series and is leading the points as a rookie with two second-place finishes, three first-place finishes and a 12th place finish (a little problem with the officials) he has qualified on pole at all six races even setting a new track record at Havasu speedway on April 19th. He now has his sites set on the 1⁄2 Ironman in Hawaii on May 31st as a warm up to the world finals in October. Here’s a link to an article on the Ironman website.

Ricky is also going to be featured on ESPN and in ESPN the Magazine in the next few months and I will be sure to let you know when to watch for it once we have the exact date and time. We recently updated his website at www.rickyjames824.com.

GOAT Update:

Ricky Carmichael competed in his second Camping World East event this past Sunday in Iowa. He went up against Kasey Kahne, who had flown over hours removed from winning $1 million in Charlotte. While Carmichael didn’t fare as well as his maiden voyage where he scored a top-five, Ricky was fast all weekend and brought his car home in 22nd place, one lap down. That is a pretty stout feat given the fact that he spun (or was spun) into the inside wall on lap three. The impact broke his steering box, snapped his track bar, and moved his rear end over 3/4 an inch.

Carmichael said he was back in the pack because of a poor qualifying effort: “I had some miscommunication with my crew chief on my qualifying set up. We just missed it.” RC did a good job fighting on with an injured race car and will now head to South Boston Speedway on May 31.

Here is a cool story that lead into the race.

Check out this short story written by our friend Michael James from New York. It’s called “Jennifer Aniston is Dead.”

Here’s an update on the Road 2 Recovery’s Jenny Coombs:

Jenny is doing better. She had another surgery on Saturday. They had to do some pretty heavy reconstruction of the eye socket and ended up fixing the cheek bone too as it was pretty crushed as well. She ended up needing a metal plate underneath her eye and then some careful bone bonding. She has no brain damage so that is great news. It’s just going to be a long recovery. You can send cards to her at the following address, but she is still in ICU and can’t receive flowers or visitors:

Jenny Coombs Room 280
Scottsdale Healthcare
7400 E. Osborn Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Our Japanese friend Yuichi from Mechanix Wear Japan sent us this flyer (below) that he designed for the next round of the Japanese Nationals.


From 500guy: “Wide open all the way to Glen Helen.”

Motocross.com was already in full swing before we started posting the Racer X Motocross Shows this week. Check out their highlight videos of the 2007 AMA Toyota Motocross Champion, Ryan Villopoto.

And also one of Grant Langston.

While you’re watching motocross videos, be sure to swing by DefinetheMoment.net and check out Mike Flynn’s cool video on the Alessi brothers.

The latest issue of The Racing Paper made it on to Shift’s website. Bad Billy is stoked!

The staff over at Leatt-Brace dropped us a note and wanted to wish a belated Happy Birthday to Dr. Chris Leatt, who turned 40 yesterday. If you don’t already know (or have been living under a rock for the past year), Dr. Leatt is the inventor of the revolutionary Leatt-Brace Prophylactic Neck Brace system, designed to help prevent potentially devastating motor sport injuries to the cervical spine (neck). The reaction to the brace from inside the motocross industry has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s hard to find a rider who isn’t wearing one these days. We’re very lucky for Dr. Leatt’s contributions to our sport, so again, Happy Birthday!

Shane Schaefer is selling a 2007 Kawasaki 450F that he bought from Pro Circuit that Brett Metcalfe rode last year to prepare for the Outdoor Nationals. Click here to view.

Click here to listen the what JT$, The Weege and Matthes have to say about the upcoming AMA Motocross season.

Simon Cudby just launched his newly redesigned www.cudbyphoto.com website. Check out galleries of some of Simon’s best work, and also another look at Simon’s MXoN 2002 Competition Park shots.

Simon also posted yet another cool preview video after he caught up with a bunch of the top guys - Ferry, Brayton, the Hahns, Bowers, J-Law, etc. - at a place called Milestone Raceway. It's up on