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Racerhead #43

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It’s an off week, but a busy one. Everyone is in the planning/training/late-signing stages, and it’s gotten so confusing that one of my friends—Shane Gould of Fuel Clothing—suggested we post a list of riders still on the market so that potential sponsors could get an idea of who’s still out there. 

  • Looks like Travis Preston found himself a decent ride for 2009
No sooner had Bad Billy Ursic posted his list of riders still standing in the annual game of musical chairs in Bench Racing Ammo than we got news of a couple new signings. The MDK/Jagermeister KTM team of Travis Preston and Josh Summey was announced, which means Nick Wey is no longer with MDK.

Where’s Wey going? I’m seeing blue here, just not quite sure how exactly. And Wey is likely staying in MSR gear, though he will be joined in next year’s catalog by a new male model with the same nickname as Kenny Watson.

Another rider on the market for a ride is Alaska’s Ben Lamay, who will be running #95 in 2009. We heard that Lamay is looking for a ride in either class, and he has already shown he can ride a 450 really well after a great ride at Steel City in his one-race stint with the Spike Energy/Toyota/JGRMX team.

Uh-oh. Josh Hill’s shoulder injury, which Billy reported on first thing this morning, is sounding harsh. Stay tuned.

Word on the Orange County street is that a certain Kawasaki rider is absolutely killing it on the Kawi SX track right now. No, I am not talking about Ryan Villopoto, who is transitioning into the 450 class and has certainly earned some good reports from how he looks so far. I’m talking about Christophe Pourcel, who hasn’t raced in more than a year since fracturing his pelvis late last season in Ireland. The French import, a former MX2 World MX Champion, already has an SX win to his credit (Phoenix ‘07) and is finally able to take up the chase on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki that Mitch Payton’s team held for him even though it was uncertain he would ever race again at this time last year. But Pourcel is getting himself back into shape and, apparently, blowing some minds out there on the Kawi track.

  • Remember Christophe Pourcel? He won Phoenix in 2007.
Another import on his way across the pond is Tommy Searle, who will race a KTM here in 2009, though not until outdoors, as he wants to learn SX a little more before jumping into the deep end, and thus maybe avoid some of the injuries and pratfalls that plagued the MX careers of Greg Albertyn and Sebastien Tortelli. Jimmy Button was working out the details of purchasing a truck for Tommy earlier this week, plus checking on his AMA number—Searle is hoping for #100, which Josh Hansen has used the last couple of years, but Josh has since earned #67 for 2009.

Meanwhile, over in North Carolina, the Racer X Virtual Trainer himself, Tim Crytser, paid a visit to the JGR Yamaha HQ and came away impressed by the setup and the work ethic he saw in Cody Cooper (Josh Grant was not around that afternoon).

“The system that JGR has fits Cooper to a T!” offered Crytser. “If that kid has the talent, he is going to be fast. Real fast! It has been a long time since I have talked to a pro that is so humble, hungry and eager to learn. He loves the team training/family environment that JGR provides.”

But the real race right now is to see who is going to be Miss Arenacross. The contest they are holding over on www.arenacross.com is shaping up to be quite a battle, what with names like Brentney B. (must-see photos of this Texan are up on the VitalMX.com message board) and Chelsey Bowers (yes, Tyler’s sister) and some other very promising spokesmodels all vying for the crown. They just added videos of each girl.

If Arenacross is attracting this kind of talent, I can only imagine what’s going on over on www.supercrossonline.com where Miss Supercross (and future ex-wife of Josh Demuth) will be named in a few weeks.

I want to revisit something about switching teams. Do you recall all the booing that greeted Ricky Carmichael when he left Kawasaki after more than a dozen years to join Team Honda? When RC was lowered from the roof of the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the 2001 U.S. Open, people were booing at the top of their lungs (the King Vitamin crown and cape certainly had something to do with it).

  • Ricky Carmichael’s regrettable entrance at the ’01 U.S. Open
Well, either the sport and the fans have grown up considerably or switching from green to blue is more forgivable than switching from green to red, because I don’t think I heard a single boo when James Stewart was introduced as a Yamaha rider. Of course, he didn’t come down in a cape and the announcer wasn’t calling him “the new King of Supercross” with Jeremy McGrath standing right there.

Okay, let’s start making the rounds with Steve Cox….

Things are weird all over the country right now, and it’s all tied together. In our own sport, we have a lot of top-name riders who don’t have rides for 2009 yet, as mentioned above. Over at VitalMX.com, GuyB posted an interesting bit about Yamaha of Troy. It turns out the team hasn’t fired Jason Lawrence after all! He is always apparently wearing Fox now. Another interesting tidbit was that the team might be hiring a 450cc rider or two. When we look back to that list of riders without rides that Ursic put up yesterday, there are quite a few top candidates who might love a race-ready YZ450F, and at least one of them is already well-versed in the YZ450F from the Nationals this year (and even shares an agent with Lawrence). It should be interesting to see how it pans out.

  • The competition between these two guys is helping make both faster
Here’s something I’m surprised no one is talking about: Ivan Tedesco and Andrew Short. And no, I’m not talking about their multiple run-ins within a couple of straightaways on Friday night at the U.S. Open, but rather how both of them seemed to have closed the gap somewhat on speed with Chad Reed and company. There were times during the weekend when both of them were able to close the gap on Reed in heat races and the like. This next year can be very exciting taking that into account, then, of course, adding in Kevin Windham on the new Honda, Ryan Villopoto on a 450, Davi Millsaps, and the rest of the usual suspects.

Speaking of Yamaha of Troy, the rumor has been going for months that they were going to merge with Star Racing, but apparently that’s no longer going to happen. Star Racing will field its own team in 2009, while Yamaha of Troy will apparently have Jason Lawrence in the team’s rig along with maybe another Lites guy, and/or, as said previously, one or two 450cc riders. Also, it seems Lawrence has a gear deal with Fox Racing for 2009 as well, although I don’t know if that means his whole team will be in the gear, or just him.

Rumors have been swirling for weeks about Ben Townley’s status with Honda Red Bull Racing. Apparently, Townley has a wrist injury that was taking a long time to heal, and Honda considered looking for another rider to replace Townley, even if just for the supercross championship, while his wrist healed. The new addendum to this rumor has it that the riders being talked to about replacing Townley were all told “never mind” recently when Townley rode and found out that his wrist was fine. He will race supercross in 2009, so as of now, the replacement is no longer needed.

Now we turn it over to Ping, who has more on silly season:

If you didn’t read this week’s Privateer Profile piece on Bobby Bonds, check it out here. The former factory rider was labeled as the next big star in motocross, but it just didn’t happen…in motocross. Bonds won the 2008 WORCS championship as a full-on privateer. I came across this cool video of Bonds quest at the final round; it’s worth look. 

  • Bobby Bonds has made a new career for himself as a WORCS champion
The idea of electric motocross bikes is not as far off and obscure as you might think. Check out this story on KTM’s work in progress. This model is an off-road version but you wouldn’t have to change much to make it motocross specific. The bike, which is being tested by American motocross expat Bader Manneh (check out “The 40-Year-Old Supercross” story in the May ’08 issue of Racer X Illustrated) utilizes parts off of KTM’s 105 big wheel with an electric power plant that offers up 33.19 ft/lbs of torque and can run at race pace for 40 minutes. For those who don’t have a reference point, this thing is pretty dang fast. The lack of emissions isn’t the big plus here. What is exciting is what trails and riding areas will be open to a machine that doesn’t have an internal combustion engine and makes virtually no sound when operating. Anyone with a track in their back yard and an ongoing debate with their neighbors over it should be smiling right now. KTM is predicting production on this bike within two years according to the article. Click here for the full story.

The nightly news out here in southern California is never good, but this week it involved our sport. The state's biggest brothel was busted and over $10 million worth of assets, including real estate, was seized by the IRS to make up for unpaid taxes. That land included four motocross tracks, according to the evening news. After poking around a bit, I found out that one of them is called Palistine Motocross Park in Texas. The owner had one of her franchises in Dallas, TX. Apparently, she was offering a few extra services at her acupressure/massage/chiropractic parlors. The other tracks are right here in Beaumont, CA, and they are used as supercross practice tracks by some of the sport's top riders. Lawrence, Villopoto, Wey, and a bunch of other guys spent most of the winter out there last year. 

    The woman’s name is Jong Ock Mao. Here’s a couple excerpts from the official news release:

    SANTA ANA, Calif. A woman who ran brothels out of spas, tanning salons and chiropractic and acupuncture clinics in Southern California and Dallas has pleaded guilty to felony charges in the prostitution scheme. Jong Ock Mao pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to use interstate commerce to promote prostitution and using brothel proceeds to buy real estate. The 50-year-old Mao will also forfeit $12 million in property she amassed, including four private motocross tracks in California, Texas and Florida

    The Racer X Tested crew got through our first shootout of 2009. This year’s 250cc offerings have officially been taken through their paces. Check it out right here.

    Branden Jesseman has signed with Motosport Outlet for the 2009 season. Jimmy Albertson will ride for the Troy Lee Designs/Honda/Red Bull team and his teammate could be Jake Moss. Stay tuned for more on that.

    • Jimmy Albertson has a new home with Troy Lee Designs Honda for West Coast SX
    And there has been a lot of talk about Yamaha of Troy making a comeback. Apparently, the guys back in Ohio weren’t quite ready to throw in the towel, and they are going racing with Jason Lawrence as the YOT/Boost Mobile/Monster Energy team. They are in talks with a couple of riders to compete in the 450 class, though nothing has been signed yet.

    Nate Adams to race supercross? This was posted October 21 on his personal website:

    Do you still have plans to ride in the 2009 Supercross Series?
    That is definitely in the works. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on right now with Yamaha. I don’t know if I’m going to ride Factory Yamaha or Yamaha Troy or Star or just be under my own rig. You know, there’s a lot that goes in to it. Like, who’s going to do my motors and all that stuff, what team I’ll be under; all those little things. Also, I need to get my AMA license. If all those things fall into place I’ll definitely be doing it. Basically, that’s where I’m at right now. I don’t have any more Freestyle contests until December. So from now until January 1st all I will be doing is riding Supercross and one Freestyle contest and that’s it. So, that’s the plan. I hope it works out; this stupid finger just needs to heal up (laughs).

    Are your Supercross buddies helping you out a lot with training?
    Well, I haven’t really been riding much lately since I’ve been dealing with finger injuries. Hansen’s been kinda in-between bikes, but I’m sure once I start riding, me and Hansen are tight so I’ll definitely be calling on him a lot to go out to the track with me and teaching me little things. You know, it just helps to have someone there who’s “been around the block” so to say, I guess. The whole thing is just different from freestyle. It’s a way different atmosphere and feeling and you know it’s just totally different. I’ll be calling on all my racer buddies: Ryan Morais, Josh Hansen and LoganDarien once I start riding for sure.

    That’s it from Ping.

    Here’s a quick update on Mike Alessi. The Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider has been heavily into training his upper body while his broken tib-fib heals up. According to Tony Alessi, Mike’s put on 10 pounds of lean muscle. He’s still not sure when he will get back on the bike, but they are not rushing it.

    DNA Energy/BTOSports.com/BBMX’s Jason Thomas, who suffered a broken leg in practice at the U.S. Open and now has some spare time on his hands, has put together a riding school that will take place on Sunday, November 2, at Hardrock Cycle Park in Ocala, Florida.

    Hardrock Cycle Park is located at the north end of Ocala on C-25A, 3/4 mile south off SR326 (Exit 358 from I-75). Deposits are required to hold a spot in the class. (They do not want to over-fill the classes.) The price for the school including lunch is $225. For reservations and information, email jasonthomasmxschool@gmail.com.

    Prince William and Prince Harry have begun a 1,000-mile motorcycle ride across South Africa to raise money for charity. The brothers are taking part in the eight-day “endurance test” to raise money for UNICEF, Nelson Mandela’s Children Fund, and Harry’s own charity Sentebale (which helps disadvantaged young people in Lesotho). Riding Honda CRF230cc bikes and wearing KBC Super-XF helmets, they will cross more than 70 rivers and ride through “rocky and hilly” terrain as they navigate their way from Durban in the East of the country to Port Elizabeth in the south.

    • That’s Harry and William, real Princes ride dirt bikes!
    • That’s Harry and William, real Princes ride dirt bikes!
    • That’s Harry and William, real Princes ride dirt bikes!
    Jason Weigandt fills us in on what’s going on today in off-road racing:

    America’s off-road championships are getting wrapped up, with Russell Bobbitt claiming his second AMA National Enduro title on his Red Bull KTM, and un-retired ex-amateur motocross hero Bobby Bonds winning the WORCS title in a last-race showdown with Ricky Dietrich. Jason Raines and Brian Garrahan are the East and West AMA Hare Scramble Champs. The Can-Am GNCC Series already handed out its titles, with David Knight in XC1 and Thad DuVall in XC2.

    David Knight has figured out an odd way to celebrate his second straight GNCC triumph: he’s racing a quad at this weekend’s GNCC finale in Crawfordsville, Indiana. It’s hard enough to imagine the big man even fitting on a quad, let alone racing one, but he’s signed up for the XC1 pro class alongside Bill Ballance and the best in the business. Can Knight be a factor? No one knows, although Barry Hawk, the only man to win both bike and ATV GNCC titles, doesn’t think even he could hop on a quad today and finish up front. So he says Knight should just try to have fun with it. Either way, it should be a sight tomorrow.

    Knight won’t be eligible to race Sunday’s bike race, so that one is wide open. Look for Paul Whibley, Josh Strang, Charlie Mullins, Nathan Kanney, and Hawk to be in contention there.

    And in more quadcycle news, Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA) opens motocross track and off-road trails.

    From our friends up North:

    Last Saturday, Sean Hamblin and friends gathered at Moto Park in Owen Sound, Ontario, for the Blair Morgan Ride Day to raise money and support for the injured Canadian racer. The event saw a great turnout of riders looking to improve their skills from instructors such as Hamblin, Colton Facciotti, Tyler Medaglia, Ryan Gauld, and Zeb Dennis, and many more who took part in some free-riding sessions and an opportunity to show support for Morgan. “It went awesome,” said Ride Day coordinator Ryan Gauld. “$8,500 was raised, the sun was shining, the track was awesome, and we had 43 riders signed up for the school. It was a hit!”
    Photos and notes from the Ride Day can be found here and here.

    • We’re going to crack this open tonight!
     Morgan continues to work on his rehabilitation and strength training in Saskatoon, and I’m sure he can’t thank everyone enough for standing behind him. Blair’s wife, Terri, friends, and supporters have been keeping everyone informed on updates and fundraisers for “Superman” at www.bmrt.com.

    Want to drink with the Hurricane? Highway 12 Vineyards and Winery (www.highway12winery.com) has released a 30th anniversary wine to commemorate Bob Hannah’s historic accomplishments of the 1978 season. That’s the year Hannah would then become the first American rider to win the Trans-AMA series, after running off with both the AMA National MX and Supercross titles. This special bottling of 2006 Napa Valley Merlot is called Hurricane Merlot.

    Speaking of Hannah, he will be part of the Monsters of Motocross Halloween bash next Friday in San Bernardino, CA. If you want to dress up and visit a bunch of motocross heroes, check out: www.monstersofmotocross.com.

    I got a note this week from Shae Bentley, the 2000 AMA 125cc West Region Supercross Champion, updating his health and his growing Shae Bentley MX Schools:

    “Life is treating me better. Not only do I have Chrone’s disease, they found out that I have a disease called Hypothyroidism that controls your thyroids. That’s why I never recovered from the races and that’s why I had a heat stroke at Loretta’s. It causes my face and eyes to swell, slur speach and many more things. I’m on medicine now to treat that and I’m a ton better. I had my last seizure two weeks ago and I’m on seizure medicine now and almost didn’t make it. I feel good and I have been riding and doing tons of schools so life is good.”

    • Derek Shae Bentley beat Ping by two points for the 2000 AMA 125 West title, as we like to remind Ping from time to time.
    Our friend Rob Harris sent us this sad note: Ryan Didone, a fellow motocrosser, friend, and member of the MDRA, was recently killed in an automobile accident. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Ryan’s family at this sad time in their lives. 

    Memorial contributions can be made to: 
    Road 2 Recovery Foundation 
    23623 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite D 3420 
    Scottsdale, AZ 85255

    Godspeed, Ryan.

    Thank you for reading Racerhead, see you at the races. 
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