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Racerhead #42

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Welcome to Racerhead. Still tired, bleary-eyed, feet sore, voice shot…. Man, do I love Las Vegas! The 2008 Rockstar Energy U.S. Open really delivered. There was the pre-race drama between Chad Reed and James Stewart, each switching to new teams, the uncertainty of how it all might shake out, and then, after a slow start Friday night, a fantastic finish on Saturday night. By now you know who won and how it all shook out, but if you don’t and you want to see it for yourself, tune in to CBS tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. EST (10:30 a.m. out West) and enjoy a glimpse of what the 2009 supercross season may look like. And if you really don’t want to know who won until you watch the show, stop reading right here….

James Stewart was racing on something other than a Kawasaki for the first time since he was 7. He was also racing his first supercross (well, “supercross in a bowling alley,” as one of my friends put it) since the second Saturday in January. He looked really, really smooth out there.

James is also having some fun on his MySpace page, as his alter-ego Rick James Stewart has posted an encore performance. Clinton Portis has nothing on this man!

Reed did not look that good at first, but by the time the gate dropped on Saturday night’s finale, he looked like the Chad Reed of old, even though he was wearing Grant Langston’s number and riding a yellow motorcycle. He’s been flying back and forth across oceans, what with his own series underway in Australia, and he also took the summer off, as well as the Motocross of Nations (based on the way he rode), so it’s not surprising that it took him until the second night to get going. It all added up to a very exciting Saturday night and even more excitement in January when guys like Kevin Windham, Ryan Villopoto, Tim Ferry, Davi Millsaps and the rest join them on the starting gate.

  • Chad and James delivered a great race on Saturday night
  • Chad Reed hits the dirt
  • James Stewart sails to victory
Between the webcast, the race reports, VitalMX's Perspective, TWMX’s Monday Kickstart, Steve Matthes’ Observations, MXA’s Mid-Week report and more, the goings-on in Vegas have all been pretty covered, so I want to use this space to discuss a few things you may have missed….

On Friday, I was lucky enough to garner an invite to the Primm Collection, along with Matthes, MX Sports’ Nick McCabe, and Johnny O’Hannah (who also happens to have a few pieces in the collection). Stephan “Le Big” Legrand was there helping Greg Primm move the priceless (to moto people) bikes and artifacts around, and an all-time bench-racing session broke out. Primm opened the door of his fridges and we found bottles of Moto-Brew at the ready, with a handy bottle opener right inside the door.

There’s no way one can fully describe (let alone exaggerate) what the Primm Collection is like. It’s literally ALL there. Marty Moates’ USGP-winning LOP Yamaha. Jeff Ward’s #3x Honda XR75. Jammin’ Jimmy Weinert’s works KX125. Roger DeCoster’s works 1975 Suzuki. Gary Jones’ Amex-made Jones-Islo. Jeremy McGrath’s this, Bob Hannah’s that, and pretty much every motocross bike made from 1970 on—and a few before that!

  • Johnny O’Hannah in front of an original Saddleback sign that probably came out of Stu Peters’ garage.
The thing is, it’s so big and so difficult to take care of, as Greg explained, that it’s impossible to maintain in its current setup. With the hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces—toys, puzzles, posters, models, jerseys, helmets, etc.—came endless hours of upkeep. It’s led Greg, a truly passionate motocross enthusiast, to make some changes. He asked me to post the following statement in Racerhead today:

With a sad heart I want to let the motorcycle fans know that after five years of trying to bring our vision of a full motocross museum to reality, the struggling economy and lack of industry support in helping us bring this project to its full potential has forced us to make the decision toscale back dramatically.

We will reduce the collection to 50-100 bikes in order to scale it back to a manageable private collection. We will be doing this in the next six months or so. It's not a fire sale like the rumor says on the internet. Our heart is still definitely with the sport but we are going to try and take adifferent approach.

To the many fans of the museum, we want to thank you for your contributions of all types. You know who you are, and I am personally very thankful. Thank you for helping to bring all those motocross memories back and keep the history alive.

Greg Primm

  • Greg Primm welcome myself and some friends over to see his collection last Friday
On Friday evening after the race, I ran into Kevin Windham and his wife, Dottie, in the hotel casino. Kevin looks great and says he’s ready to get back on the bike, and while he wouldn’t divulge it to me then and there, he got himself a three-year deal done with GEICO Powersports Honda. I told him about some of the changes that MX Sports was bringing to the outdoors and he seemed very interested. Motocross needs guys like Windham out there riding next summer. KW talked about his new deal in-depth with Eric Johnson earlier this week.
While we were there talking moto, none other than Damon Bradshaw and his wife came walking in, and it was cool to see the old Yamaha teammates from a dozen years ago trading family pictures and racing stories and just enjoying the event.

Bradshaw, by the way, was very impressive in how good he looked on the Doug Dubach-tuned motorcycle in his grudge match race with Jeff Matiasevich. But what would make this event a little better is if three or four guys were out there at a time, as Chicken seemed tight all weekend long. It would be great to see them continue this event, and I think Matthes already suggested Jeff Stanton vs. Jean-Michel Bayle!

EJ also caught up with Ryan Morais yesterday to go over his new Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki deal, which rounds out Mitch Payton’s quartet of riders for 2009. Congrats to Ryan, and here’s EJ’s interview.
Travis Preston was at the Open, and he was his usual hilarious self. But Preston also did a remarkable interview with Steve Cox where he explained that he has been quietly battling cancer in the form of melanoma, which is the same form of skin cancer that Jeff Ward has been dealing with. Check out more about Travis and his ‘09 plans, and of course what he’s been going through with his health, right here.

Here’s more from Vegas and beyond from Steve Cox:

  • Brett Metcalfe was a slave to fashion as a pee-wee in Australia
I got a photo of Brett Metcalfe debuting his new AMA #24 in competition. It’s not what you think, though. He actually debuted the number when he was just a wee tot riding Y-Zingers back home in Australia. Check out the style points he gets for his goggle-strap position and how far down he has pulled his adjustable facemask…. Turns out, even the fastest racers in the world were complete dorks when they first started. However, I personally really appreciate his mullet from his BMX photo. The MX gloves are a nice touch too.

This year was the first time Metcalfe was able to pick a permanent number by virtue of landing inside the top ten overall of SX/National points earners for the season. Since 24 was available, and he obviously has a history with the number, that’s the one he picked. However, he actually raced most of his amateur career with the number 23 (which is where 123 came from), but Kyle Lewis still owns that one. It’s going to be kind of weird seeing yet another #24 Factory Connection bike, but this will likely be Brett’s number forever, unless he wins an AMA Toyota Motocross title in the future.

The grudge match last weekend at the Rockstar Energy U.S. Open between Damon Bradshaw and Jeff Matiasevich had all the makings of one of the coolest nostalgia races ever – that is until Bradshaw showed up and was probably fast enough to qualify for the actual main event for the Open itself. Too bad he’s busy driving monster trucks, because if he wasn’t, he could actually come back and race supercross. Maybe if a Yamaha rider gets hurt this year, he can replace them. Why not ride for JGR? Bradshaw’s originally from North Carolina, anyway. Be careful, Cody Cooper and Josh Grant; you could lose your ride to the Beast from the East!

  • Damon would have been in the real main both nights
  • Bradshaw and Matiasevich
As for the other grudge match – the one between former San Manuel Yamaha rider Chad Reed and new San Manuel Yamaha rider James Stewart – Stewart seemed to win that one handily. However, on night two, if Reed would’ve been doing the triple-triple on the track that Stewart was doing, it might have been a different race. But anyone who thought Stewart was going to dominate SX ‘09 like he did MX ’08 might want to rethink that…

And from what I’m hearing, the new #2 on the KX450F is getting up to speed in a hurry.

For the second year in a row, the 250Fs got to race against the 450s, and for the second year in a row, they were competitive – well, at least one was. Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider Ryan Dungey was flying. If not for getting taken out by Stewart exiting the first turn on night one, Dungey might have contended. As it was, he still finished third overall. It will be interesting to see how the 250Fs do against the 450s on a full-size supercross track next year when the 250F riders will get to line up against the 450 riders on opposite coasts. It will also be interesting to see who actually opts to do so….

For Reed, though, he has a hectic schedule. While most of his competition is in California, Florida or North Carolina testing, he went from Perth, Australia (on the far west coast of Oz) to Las Vegas for the U.S. Open, then back to Australia this weekend for round two of his Australian SX championship. (Dan Reardon made the same trip, only even quicker—he left the very next day!)

  • Chad’s been the Road (and Air) Warrior this fall.
Chad won Round One Down Under going away. Chad’s series should be over at the end of November, at which point he’ll be heading back to the U.S. to put some finishing touches on his title defense before Anaheim 1 rolls around on January 3, 2009. It’s going to be interesting to see if all of this extra racing pays off, or if there’s an advantage to hanging out in the USA and training and testing for the new season without racing.

From Ping:

The final two rounds of the XTRM Supermoto series were supposed to have been last weekend in downtown Austin, Texas, but it just didn’t happen. There was a vocal tree-hugging neighbor that got a petition going to ban the race and that put a hold on the permits needed to make things happen. It was yet another unfortunate situation in this year’s series, which has been trying for even the most diehard of Supermoto fan. The final rounds will be made up, and they are tentatively being scheduled for November 15-16, and the Horse Thief course at Willow Springs is looking like the most likely venue. Stay tuned for official word on all that soon.

Despite the forgettable season this year, XTRM has some very interesting plans for the sport for 2009. If Supermoto can stay alive for another six months, it might finally turn around and start to grow as a series and as a sport.

This week, Thor and Monster put together a championship party for Ryan Villopoto at Lake Elsinore. Sure, the water is borderline toxic and the plain truth is that some of us may or may not have contracted mutant strains of some waterborne virus during the outing, but there was free food, Jet Skiing, and wakeboarding for everyone and we made a good time out of it. Jeremy McGrath showed up and ripped some laps around the buoy course that was set up. And Nick Wey, Blake Baggett, and a few dozen of Ryan’s other buddies, including his new crew at Kawasaki, came out to celebrate his third outdoor national championship.

With McGrath being the obvious exception, even the best riders have struggled in their rookie seasons in the premier class. Remember RC’s first year where he tried to beat up every supercross track with his face? Or what about Stewart’s first year where he crashed at the second round and sat out for a couple months? So, where will Ryan be in the mix in 2009? Personally, I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people. He might not go out and win the title the first year, but I think he will be more consistent than RC or James, and I think he’ll put himself in a position to win some races too. Of course, that’s just my opinion, which isn’t worth a rat’s doo-doo maker. Either way, if you missed Simon Cudby’s video of the festivities over at Racer X Films, check it out right here.

Not sure about which bike to buy? Well, just relax, because next week we start doing our Racer X Tested Shootouts, and we might be able to help you make that decision. We have some great test riders lined up, and the 250F will be the first to get shaken down in a side-by-side-by-side-by-side comparison at Perris Raceway. Stay tuned for the results.

  • Word, yo.
For anyone who owns a computer (which should be just about everyone), there is a great new version of Microsoft Word that just became available. If you haven’t downloaded your new version do it today. You won’t regret it, yo.

Thanks, Ping. Jacob Saylor is back from Germany this weekend after spending the season abroad, doing both the German championships and the FIM World Championships. He plans on returning in 2009, but in the meantime his father tells us he has a deal with BSY Yamaha and will participate in the WWR program to do the East Region 250F class.

Programming note: The Denver EnduroCross will air on Versus Sunday, October 19, at 6:00pm EST.

Here’s a Canadian MX update from Danny Brault:

Like many motocross fans and industry folk out there (and unlike some others), I applaud the MX Sports team for making some changes to the 2009 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship. Outdoor motocross everywhere needs a twist or change to attract more fans, more sponsors, and more TV time. First off, racing on Saturday—that’s a no-brainer to me. Anyone who isn’t on the track racing is there for a good time. I know that whenever I’m having a good time—and watching professional MX is a really good time—the last thing I want do is scramble trying to make it home for two hours of sleep before work on Monday morning. It also gives the riders another day of rest, and the privateers a bigger buffer before driving across the country again. Racing is fun, but it’s nice to have a “weekend” too.

Changing the class names, better television/internet coverage, and requiring defending champs to wear the #1 plate are all great ideas, IMO. (And no, I’m not trying to kiss DC’s ass because I’ve been begging him for a job with RX, but it can’t hurt either, right?) The only change I’m not totally sold on is not requiring racers to run numbers on their side plates. While a moto expert like myself can pick apart riders based on style, gear, bike or hairdo, the weekend fan might struggle a bit to know who is who. I do agree that the extra advertising space will probably entice more sponsorship dollars for the teams, and that’s important right now.

All of these changes to the American series have got me thinking about our Canadian Nationals and how we can improve or “spice up" our series. One wild suggestion I tossed out to series promoter Mark Stallybrass in Montreal was to combine the MX2 (250) and MX1 (450) classes. You know, kind of like a "Race What You Got” class. (“Open” would probably be any easier and simpler name to remember….)

It may sound silly at first, but one problem we have in Canada is our rider entries at the nationals. Normally, you’re guaranteed a full gate in MX2, but at many rounds this summer we saw only 25 to 30 guys on the MX1 starting line. It’s not a pretty sight for fans, it’s not a pretty sight for TV, and it hurts the racing. Isn’t this the same reason AMA Supercross just went to an “open” concept—because there weren’t enough guys signing up on 450s? Imagine watching little Kyle “KD Beets” Beaton and Teddy Maier mixing it up with MX1 racers like Colton Facciotti and Dusty Klatt on their 450s. I think that sounds cool. And how deep would the field be then? I definitely don’t think it would hurt the quality of racing.

My second change, if we went to an Open class, would be to change the race format. Instead of two 30-minute motos, they’d race three 25-minute motos. Shorter motos would allow the guys to sprint, rather than slow down and settle in—something we see far too often in the big-bike class. So how do you pick your champion? You pick two: the top MX1 finisher and MX2 finisher. Thoughts? Am I a genius? Or should I lay off the rum and chicken fingers?

Um, thanks, Danny….

  • Josh Grant and Cody Cooper
People may not like the idea of making the side panels optional, but all week long I’ve been reading stories like the one here—about how sports and sponsorship dollars are now suffering due to the economy.

A lot of teams are having more trouble finding sponsors than ever before, and offering them the side panels to help make a sale and keep their riders out there seemed more important than the tradition. Besides, with speaker systems like we had at Budds Creek and Steel City to inform the fans, as well as maybe an electronic scoreboard, not to mention transponder timing and scoring, it won’t be as difficult to figure out who’s who as some may think. To see a list of some of the initial changes coming to the 2009 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship, here’s the press release.

The Spike Energy/Toyota/Yamaha team has updated the Fan Zone at www.jgrmx.com to include pictures from last week’s annual Fan Fest, held at Joe Gibbs Racing’s headquarters in Huntersville, NC. The hard-core NASCAR fans, many of whom actually arrived the day before the event and slept in the parking lot, welcomed the addition of the motocross team, and autographs from Cody Cooper and Josh Grant. In all, approximately 5,000 people attended the event, which was a huge success for the fans, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s marketing partners.

  • Ludo with factory KTM rider David Casteu, winner of the 2008 Pharaoh’s Rally
Welcome back, Ludo. Our man in rally, Ludovic Boinnard, just returned from Egypt, where he finished a solid ninth in the Pharaoh’s Rally, one year after breaking his arm there while holding down eighth. Ludo’s next rally will likely be the Tunisian Rally, which goes through North Africa’s Tunisia and Lybia. Good luck to our globetrotting friend!

If you’re a fan of old-school motocross and the late, great Trans-AMA Series—the annual fall motocross tour that pitted America’s top guns against the European kings of motocross—I’ve got good news for you. A group of enthusiasts has announced plans to hold a Trans-AMA Reunion in 2009, set to coincide with Mid-Ohio’s Vintage Days in July. World-renowned collector Terry Good posted a preview of the event on his site.

Speaking of the Trans-AMA, last weekend I ended up doing some bench-racing in Las Vegas with one of my all-time motocross heroes, Marty Smith.

He was there with some friends, as well as his teenage son—a dead ringer for Ryan Sheckler. The funny thing is that my big sister, Carrie Jo, had a crush on Marty throughout the seventies, and even now she has a picture of him in her office. That will result in no small amount of teasing from Red Bud’s Amy Ritchie, who was also hanging out at the Rockstar Energy VIP deal.

I remember this from when I was a kid but never thought I would see it again: There was a national television program for kids called Zoom based out of Boston. It was kind of like Sesame Street, only for slightly older kids we now know as ’Tweeners. Anyway, they did a segment on a kid who raced motocross from Texas and I vaguely remembered it, then I recently got a note from my old friend Larry Hughes, a Parts Unlimited man from Houston: “They contacted me after I won a NMA Championship at Rio Bravo near Houston in 1974. After an interview they decided to do a spotlight on me, similar to what Disney did on Sean Hackley a few years ago."

Enjoy.

  • Here’s a photo of imprisoned Mike Goodwin (on the right) with his longtime advocate John Bradley
If you’re reading this from England, Rob Kinsey will be having his first solo exhibition of his motocross art at the Dovedale Gallery, 25 Dig Street, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 1GF, from now until November 13. On display will be original paintings and limited-edition prints of his award-winning art. Rob will be at the gallery tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., working on his latest commission, and he looks forward to meeting people and chatting about his art and inspiration. More of Rob’s worked can be viewed at www.robkinsey.com.

Last weekend the Weston Beach Race went off in England, starring Stefan Everts, David Knight, Josh Coppins and a cast of 1,000 other riders. Chussy posted a link to a very cool video by Moto magazine of the madness on a message board: Take 19 minutes and watch this over the weekend!

Racer X publisher Scott Wallenberg and account executive Jason Berry just returned from this year’s Intermot show in Cologne, Germany. The show featured major displays from all the OEMs, and most aftermarket companies in the moto industry were represented. Could this be the wave of the future for our sport? For a photo tour of the show just click here.

Finally, go grab your sister’s November issue of CosmoGirl, because it has a feature with new WMA #1 Ashley Fiolek on page 55.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.

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