Racerhead #41

October 10, 2008 3:57pm | by:

  • U.S. Open Track
  • U.S. Open Track
Welcome to Racerhead, coming at you from the penthouse suite at the MGM Grand (okay, really just the 8th floor, right next to the elevators, single bed and roll-away). There’s a buzz building down below as practice is getting underway for the 11th Rockstar Energy U.S. Open of Supercross.

You can listen to the race as Jason Weigandt and Jim Holley make the call (with production help by Mr. Wizard himself, Alan Selk, right here.

The live timing and scoring will be on www.amamotocross.com’s At the Wire.

And if you feel like getting crazy with the Cheese Whizz, enter the asylum of bench racing over at the DMXS Radio Chat Room.

There’s also going to be an MX Sports press conference tomorrow morning that I think will impress everyone who follows motocross. That takes place tomorrow morning. Everyone at MX Sports has been hard at work on the 2009 AMA Toyota Motocross Championships, and it will be nice to finally pull back the cover on a few of the things we’ve put together to take the series and the sport where it belongs.

While the global economy isn't exactly helping matters for anyone in motocross, environmental concerns have also been wreaking havoc – particularly on Supermoto in Austin, Texas and the Red Bull Metallicross in Atlanta. Both were summarily canceled this week – the Austin Supermoto race while half the teams were driving to Texas because it was supposed to run this weekend. As for the Red Bull event, they put out an announcement that it was off, but they are hoping to find another venue to try to make something happen down the road.  

As for this race, in the whole big scheme of things the U.S. Open of Supercross really doesn’t mean a great deal, but what a cool race this is! It’s a chance for the riders and teams to gather a baseline of where they are as they wrap up one season, start thinking about the next, and maybe debut a new bike (this time Honda has its all-new CRF450—complete with EFI and bold new white fender) or a new team rider (James Stewart will ride blue, Chad Reed yellow, Josh Hansen maybe a barstool) or even just a new tailor (someone will be wearing something strange). The race is worth a lot of money to the top guys, but beyond that, it really doesn’t have a lot of prestige or importance….

  • James Stewart will debut his Yamaha tonight
And that’s probably what makes the U.S. Open such a damn good time. It’s a party around a race, and while the race is usually exciting and interesting, it’s about as intense as Moto-X is at the X Games, compared to, say, Anaheim. But industry folks fly in from around the country (or just make the drive up the 15 from the OC, San Diego or Valencia) to participate in the long weekend of bar-hopping and the dirt bike race being held inside the MGM’s Grand Garden Casino. Just last night, as soon as I got here, I ran into a bearded Kevin Windham, who is still not sure what his team setup will be in ’09, Doctor Doug Dubach, who sat down for a cold one, Bobby Regan of Star Racing, and then the Beast from the East himself, Damon Bradshaw came by our table.

This motocross cocktail party was the idea of promoters Eric Peronnard and Mike DiStefano, with Fox Racing as the early backer. Since then the names have changed on the staff credentials, but the vibe remains the same as it was that first night just over a decade ago when Damon Huffman headed back to the 805 with a big trophy and $100K stuffed in his gear bag. It’s an off-season party, with a little on-track drama thrown in from time to time.

Remember when Robbie Reynard almost won? How about when Jeff Emig earned his redemption here on an FMF-backed Yamaha with an upset win in ’99, just two months after Kawasaki canned him. MC and RC both had their troubles here—the cape and the crown must still haunt the GOAT from time to time – but they also had their successes. And the last best race of Grant Langston’s career came here a year ago when he won the whole shooting match after Chad Reed played a risky game of pinball and blew $100,000 before he left the first turn. Jake Weimer won on a race on a 250F, quietly setting in motion the case for the “open” class that we will see beginning in 2009 in AMA Supercross. And somebody is going to do something that you’re not supposed to hear about, but you’re going to….

  • Chad Reed will run #8 in honor of Grant Langston
So who do you like: AMA Supercross champ Chad Reed on his new Suzuki or AMA Motocross champ James Stewart on his Yamaha? That would have been a serious set of typos just a couple of months ago, but it’s the new world order for supercross. Those guys are the heavy favorites on the MGM Sports Book. Josh Hill’s name comes next in that book, but he really ought to have much higher odds than he does, because the only way one of those two guys aren’t winning is if they end up partying at the Palms too late to make the next night’s show (and no, J-Law is not racing).

And what the heck is going to happen with Jason Lawrence? It seems like the rest of the story should drop anytime now, with either Yamaha clipping him, as we read earlier this week on the MXA site, or him somehow doing a deal with Star Racing/Yamaha of Troy. A photo of J-Law riding in New Jersey popped up online, and he was wearing a Fox helmet. What does that mean? I have no idea.

The J-Law-got-fired rumors (the “Paul is dead” of motocross) got so strong that I called the one person who would not only know, but would actually answer his phone, and that is Jason’s long-suffering agent Scott Sepkovic.

“He has not received anything that says he has been fired, but he’s definitely going to be on a different program,” explained Scott. “Yamaha of Troy still wants to be with him, but with budgets and stuff being what they are right now, it’s hard to tell how that relationship is going to look.” That’s it, that’s all I got on the record.

  • Wife told Steve it was time for a haircut.
Time to turn this over to the man with the mullet, Steve Cox:

The Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open kicks off tonight, and the pre-race press conference took place yesterday inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The press conference started with last year’s U.S. Open champ Grant Langston. Many thought he might be announcing his retirement, and he admitted that he thought long and hard about it, but he said the treatment that he’s undergoing for a cancerous tumor behind his left eye won’t necessarily result in an immediate loss of eyesight. He said he definitely will lose site from the radiation in the next 10 or more years, but in the short term, his eyesight may actually improve. If it does, he is going to explore continuing his racing career, although he also indicated he’d love to race some supermoto and try his hand at road racing.

Weege also discussed this on his blog.

Following Langston came Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed. Reed is a longtime friend of Langston’s and will be running the number eight with the red background in honor of Langston and his inability to defend his title this year. He also said that he would be running the number one during supercross next year regardless of rules saying he has to. He even said in the press conference, when talking about how he’s adjusting to the new RM-Z450, that we shouldn’t be fooled, because his rival James Stewart has been riding the L&M Yamaha YZ450F for months, so that was interesting.

When talking about his performance at the Motocross des Nations a couple of weeks ago, Reed said he was genuinely embarrassed. It was the most genuinely self-deprecating rant I’ve heard in a long time, as he talked about his crashes and getting passed by “guys who I didn’t even know who they are.” He was clear that he wasn’t putting those guys down, but just that he thought he should’ve been battling near the front instead of floundering at the tail end of the top 10.{QUOTE}Reed is hoping to change that this weekend, though. He has one supercross under his belt on the RM-Z450 – last weekend’s Super X race in Perth, Australia – and he won it easily (Click here for the highlight reel).  Obviously, it’s going to be interesting to see how he does against James Stewart (riding for his former team) this weekend, but I put my $50 on another Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider, Ryan Dungey. Dungey had 10:1 odds when I bet on him. That’s really the fun of the U.S. Open, though – the fact that you can bet on the races. It’s not worth it to bet on either Reed or Stewart, but Dungey normally goes fast in Las Vegas, so I threw down some money on him.

  • Bradshaw's YZ450F
Perhaps the most entertaining part of the press conference yesterday, though, was the rivalry race portion, where Damon Bradshaw and Jeff Matiasevich sat only three feet from one another at the front table, and both looked extremely anxious about sitting that close to the other. Both remarked that they had never sat that close to one another before, or even been in the same room. As they recalled their many varied encounters of the past, they both became more agitated, and Bradshaw even said that his back was starting to sweat. When the two hit the track, Bradshaw was immediately faster, but Chicken started picking it up by the end of the session and was even tripling into a rhythm section that Bradshaw wasn’t yet doing. They’re going to run their numbers from 1990: #8 for Bradshaw and #20 for Matiasevich. It’s going to be awesome. Make sure you listen to the webcast of the event tonight, and if you miss it, make sure you check out the photos and race reports here on Racer X Online tonight and tomorrow night after the races.

It looks like a lot of changes are in store for Brett Metcalfe. First, he’s switching teams to the GEICO Powersports Honda team for 2009, and he has also asked his girlfriend of four years, Sheena Schaefer, to be his wife. Their first date was almost exactly four years ago at the U.S. Open in 2004, when they went on the New York New York rollercoaster together. He apparently popped the question while hiking in the hills of Idyllwild, California. Congrats, Mr. and (soon to be) Mrs. Metcalfe! Oh, and don’t let the size of that rock fool you; her hands are about the size of a chihuahua’s paw.

  • Brett and Sheena
That’s it from Mr. Cox.

Now on the Canadian beat it’s none other than Danny Brault:

The Canadian silly season finally got a little silly this week as the Suzuki/OTSFF/ Rockstar Energy Drink Team signed on Kyle Keast. The Lindsay, Ontario native was the top privateer finisher in the Monster Energy CMRC Nationals this past summer, earning national number 5. “He’s worked hard as a Canadian rider and had a phenomenal upbringing with Machine Racing and John Nelson,” says OTSFF team owner/manager, Andre Laurin. (Funny, I don’t think I’ve seen “John Nelson” and “phenomenal” in the same sentence before.)

Keast’s highlights this past season include a second overall at Gopher Dunes and third overall at Sand Del Lee. He was a consistent top five finisher, no matter where he started from, and regularly battled with the “Superman” Blair Morgan.

The deal will see Keast racing the full nine-round MX1 series and Ontario Provincials for Suzuki, alongside Tyler Medaglia, who is back for his third year with the team. Laurin says they plan to hire another MX1 guy but nothing has been settled. He does, however, admit that he’s offered his MX2 position to Kyle Beaton. “I’d love to have him,” says Laurin. “I want to have an all-Canadian team, but I know Blackfoot has interest in him as well. If we don’t sign Kyle [Beaton], we’ll probably fill that spot with an American.”

Now back to Davey to round this thing out.

Remember Matt Bigos? He was the young man injured in that speedy Corvette crash with Travis Pastrana a few years back, injuring his spine. Talk about turning a negative into positive, Matt has used his rehab over the years to get himself into shape—really, really good shape. Olympic shape!

David Vuillemin is back on the bike, getting ready for some international supercross races before going after the MX1 World Championship next summer. Here’s his blog if you want to keep up with le Cobra: http://dv12.blogspot.com/

  • Ludo Boinnard rallies across the Sahara Desert
Our friend Ludo is over Egypt, enjoying the hell out of his post-One Industries life as a part-time rally racer. He just started the Pharaoh’s Rally, and itwas 116 degrees on the first day, causing more than 40 out of the 160 riders entered to drop out. He was 13th heading into the fifth day (yesterday), with the rally finishing up tomorrow.

By the way, former world and AMA Motocross champion Danny LaPorte once won this rally on a Cagiva. “It was long ago but he left a mark with the Italians,” says Ludo of LaPorte’s ongoing popularity in the rally world. “They still love him!”

Check out the folks at Fox Racing enjoying a little stress relief at the annual Gump Cup Men’s and Women’s Ping Pong World Championships.

Women’s Final:

Men’s Final:

500 Guy TV is at it again with 4.5 Minutes of 500Guy Mayhem in Jolly Old England and some riding too:

  • Open Expert A winner Phil Nicoletti raced his Kawasaki KX250F with his # 178 but he had to borrow an Open bike.
  • 250A race winner Taylor Futrell
  • Iron Man classic race winner Cody Robbins
  • Kessler Cup winner Alexander Frye
  • Zachary Bell Top Gun Minicycle Shootout winner
  • Barry Carsten was running the # 31
  • RV and Ferry were also on hand.
We’ll close this edition of Racerhead out with some cool photos from last weekend’s Kawasaki Race of Champions from our man in New Jersey, Carl Stone.

Thanks for reading Racerhead, check back tomorrow for some news about American motocross.

See you at the races!