Racerhead #45

November 7, 2008 4:51pm | by:
Racerhead is coming at you from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. As I write my small part, I am on a high-speed train, heading east across the French countryside for a short daytrip to Switzerland.

  • James Stewart riding at Bercy for the first time.
  • Kevin Windham is here!
  • David Vuillemin will race his new Kawasaki for the first time, and on his home turf.
  • Matt Goerke is debuting his new Suzuki
  • Bercy will be Josh Grant's first race for JGR.
  • Justin Brayton
  • Jake Marsack
  • ...Davey Coombs
Fortunately, I will return to Gare de Lyon for the first drop of the gate at tonight's Paris-Bercy Supercross. But right now, it’s before dawn and I am going 150 mph. Life is a journey, right? I should be reading my Hemingway book, A Farewell to Arms, and enjoying this more, but having an iPhone means always being at work, so here goes….

It's hard to say who is a bigger star in Paris: Bubba or Obama. This will mark the first time James has ever raced in France, and the fans here could not be happier. They had his bike in the hotel lobby last night to shoot a video entrance for the show, which always includes a lot of razzle-dazzle.

But the election of the new American president is as big a deal here as the American motocross champion. Barack Obama is on the cover of almost every newspaper, magazine, and news program. The changing of our government resonates over here, just as the economic recession does. I am not sure what our new president is going to be able to do to turn things around, but the people over here seem very optimistic.

The optimism doesn’t extend to the riders set to challenge James Stewart. Kevin Windham hasn't raced since May. Josh Grant has never raced a Yamaha before. Jacob Marsack knows it’s not going to rain inside the Palais de Omnisport. And KTM rider Justin Brayton isn't on that level just yet.

The always-fun David Vuillemin is here to debut his new Bud Kawasaki that he will ride in the GPs next season, and he sat in the lobby last night with Larry Brooks, Simon Cudby, Shan Moore, Johnny O'Hannah and myself for an excellent bench-racing session. DV12 looks as thin and fit as he was a half-dozen years ago, and he will likely be the top French rider here, even though he is the oldest.

Eric Sorby is here too, and he is bummed that the big-money race in Dubai was cancelled. That was going to half his income, he joked!

  • Kevin Windham
  • James Stewart
  • Jake Marsack
I also saw two of the co-founders of One Industries, Ludo and Marc Blanchard. They were talking of the Bercy days of old and how much it’s all changed. Gone is the magic of the Jeremy McGrath era, though I imagine there is hope that Stewart and Windham and Vuillemin and Grant will make a show of it after all. Guess we’ll see tonight.

Okay, my train is slowing down as we close in on the station in Geneva, and my punching finger is too cramped to continue (bears got the other one). Look for updates later on, both here and at www.vitalmx.com. Bon voyage!

For live timing and scoring from Bercy, click here.

For results, click here.

Thanks for the update, DC.

Back here in America, the big news in our sport just broke yesterday when we learned Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Michael Byrne broke his wrist. Here’s Steve Matthes with more:

Too bad for the Byrner, as we learned the other day that he suffered a broken wrist and will be out for six to eight weeks. He suffered the injury a year to the day after he tore his knee up, resulting in a Frankenstein-scarred knee. He crashed at home in Georgia when his RM-Z450 kicked out on him in some whoops, causing him to fly into the face of the next jump. Man, I was really looking forward to seeing the friendly Aussie in supercross; he was the surprise of the nationals (to me, anyway) and I think he’s a better supercross rider. Get well soon, Byrner!

  • Michael Byrne at the 2008 Motocross of Nations
There’s only three days left in the eBay auction for the Blair Morgan Recovery Fund. That’s all the time left for you to bid on a set of Chad Reed gear, Nick Wey gear, four VIP tickets to Red Bud ‘09, a limited-edition RC jersey and tons of other goodies. Check it out on eBay by doing a “Blair Morgan” search.

If you want to hear James Stewart like you’ve never heard him before listen to this podcast I did with him.
It’ll change any perceptions you have about Stewie, I promise.

We recently posted a press release about Ryan Dungey signing to wear One Industries gear in 2009. Steve Cox was at the press intro yesterday, and had this to say:

One Industries held a ride day yesterday to introduce their new line of riding gear. Instead of having everyone meet out at somewhere local like Perris Raceway, One gave out GPS coordinates (along with regular directions for those who are GPS-challenged) to a spot out near Glamis that featured both sand dunes and rocky dirt. The company set up camp out there and encouraged many of the journalists to spend the night with them, but I had to get home to watch what I assumed would be another loss by my Denver Broncos with my wife. I hauled butt 185 miles back to my house and was pleasantly surprised.

One started off the day with Danny Dobey introducing the gear, and then Skip Norfolk talking about some technical specs for the pants and jerseys. Then, new One Industries sponsored rider Ryan Dungey flew in on a helicopter, landing just outside camp, was picked up in a Suzuki pickup truck (so as to save him from walking 100 yards or so) and came in and talked about the new gear, the excitement of being in at the ground level of something like this, and more.

  • Ryan Dungey on a 450 at the One intro
  • Logan Darien at the One Intro
  • Ryan Dungey freeriding
Then Dungey suited up, as did the rest of us, and rode out to the local dirt hits and went nuts with former pro Logan Darien while most of the rest of us took pictures and video before Dungey switched gear, switched to a 450, and we all headed out to the dunes. Dungey said that he had never been out to an area like that to play-ride before, as normally he’s just all business. It looked like old hat to us. Look for more information to pop up about the new line of riding gear any day at www.oneindustries.com.

Here’s some test track updates from Ping:

I’m getting really anxious for Anaheim. First, I was hearing mixed reviews about Ryan Villopoto at the Kawasaki test track. I had heard that he was flying, and then I heard from another source that his dad was complaining about how slow his lap times were. You know, after I type that, I guess it sounds about right. Well, I heard from a couple guys who were out there watching Ryan that he is hauling the mail. Apparently, he looks right at home on the 450 and is turning fast, consistent laps without even pushing the limits. I honestly think he is going to be a contender to win races right away.

I also heard from Tyler Keefe, who just packed up his truck and moved to North Carolina. Tyler is going to be helping out at the JGR facilities, and he gave me an update on Cody Cooper and Josh Grant. He says Cooper looks pretty good but Grant is a rocket on his new Yamaha 450. I then asked if he was top ten-speed, top-five speed, or podium speed, and he believes he will contend for podium spots. That's great news for racing fans if it’s true. Wouldn’t it be great if there were actually more than a couple guys capable of winning races again?

  • Martin Davalos will race in Madrid this weekend.
The Bercy supercross in France is probably the biggest off-season race in Europe, but there are some other really good ones. This weekend there is a race in Madrid that is always a great time. Martin Davalos, Jeff Alessi and Team Faith rider Kevin Johnson will all be boning up their Espanol this weekend as they line up there. There is also a great race in Geneva that usually happens in December. Then there are events in Genoa and Bologna (both in Italy) that can be pretty miserable. They are in December, so it is freezing cold and you have to pit outside or in a warehouse with no heat. If Jason Thomas is healthy, he shows up at every single one of them.

It’s been a bad week for Aussie motocross riders. First Jake Moss broke his back and then Michael Byrne broke his wrist. Both will be on the mend when the season starts in January. At least Byrner has Matthes to comfort and nurture him and write warm, fuzzy things about him. Tim Ferry, consider yourself warned: Matthes is shopping around for a piece of foreign meat. The latest from Moss is that he has fractures to his T3, T4 and T5 vertebrae. One of the fractures is pretty significant and is going to keep Jake in a hospital bed for up to seven weeks. Thankfully, he has no spinal-cord damage and should make a full recovery.

What’s going on in Canadian MX? Here’s an update from Danny Brault:

This weekend marks the opening round of the Canadian Arenacross Championships at Chilliwack Heritage Park in Chilliwack, British Columbia. I wish I were going. Even though this three-round series takes place in Canada, it’s about a 50-hour drive and a too-expensive plane ticket away from my home in Peterborough, Ontario. This exciting little AX series has been around since Kyle Beaton started racing on a PW50, and it's the longest-running indoor series in Canada.

For a multitude of reasons (manufacturers not seeing value in supporting a winter Canadian series, long drives between rounds for privateers, and, well, it’s really cold), Canada finds difficult in sustaining an indoor series. We’ve had many “one-off” races, and some valiant efforts at a national campaign, but they faded quicker than me in a two-lap moto. Give the Hellam family credit, though: they’ve remained consistent year-to-year, running a handful of events in BC for over a decade. It’s helped propel the industry of that region through the winter, keeping riders buying bikes and parts—and ultimately dealers and companies continuing to sponsor their races. It’s also developed many of our best indoor riders, like Colton Facciotti, Kyle Beaton, Brady Sheren, Dusty Klatt, and, most notably, Darcy Lange, the third-place finisher in the 2007 East Coast SX series.

Things are continuing to flourish with the BC AX Championships, as this weekend and next we’ll see Leading Edge Kawasaki’s Teddy Maier and Brock Hoyer, Blackfoot’s Beaton and Facciotti, Ryan Lockhart, and the “King” of Canadian MXm Jean-Sébastien Roy, taking part in the action.

I spoke with Leading Edge owner Jason Hughes this week and he’s pumped for the series. It’s a great chance for his team to win a title (especially with Maier on board), and his dealership, along with help from Canadian Kawasaki, is offering a Factory Rider for a Day experience for one lucky amateur every round. “We’re really pumped on that program,” says Hughes. “It will be a lot of fun. We’ll supply bikes, gear, and everything.” Man, why didn’t anyone have these ideas when I was younger? You kids today just don’t know how good you have it.

If you’re a quick rider and live anywhere reasonably close to Southern BC, I suggest you try out one of these events. You will face some good competition, ride a technical track, and make some good money. Find out more from www.arenacross.ca.

  • Kyle Beaton
I made some calls this week to see if any headway has been made in our silly season.

To my surprise, there was some. The biggest being Team Toyota Yamaha/BlackfootDirect.com/Fox Racing’s acquisition of Kyle Beaton. Team manager Dean Thompson informed me of it earlier this week, and he sounded quite excited and relieved to make the deal. “We’ve been working on this for a while,” said Thompson. “We like Kyle. He’s Canadian, and I think with the right support behind him, he can reach his potential.”

Beaton fans weren’t too happy when they learned the team had hired Nevada’s Aron Harvey instead of little “KD Beets” for their MX2 position last year, but Thompson says there won’t be any issues between the riders: “I’ve spoke to both Aron and Kyle, and both are dedicated to working together to bring this team a championship, because, ultimately, that’s why our sponsors pay us.”

Blackfoot is going to be a powerhouse next year in MX2, with Harvey and Beaton signed up. Between the two of them, they won eight motos last summer (four each), and Beaton finished second overall in the series. Harvey was closing in on points leader Eric Nye before breaking his femur at Round 8 in Moncton. The team is going to be equally strong, if not stronger, in MX1. Defending champ Colton Facciotti was committed long ago, and I’m pretty sure they are just waiting for the ink to dry on Klatt’s contract.

Leading Edge Kawasaki will bring back Maier and Hoyer for the MX2 series next year, and it sounds like Nick Evennou is in talks to resign as well. Normally, Canadian teams don't make any decisions until the New Year, so it’s reassuring and nice to hear that riders are already getting signed up. Aw, we’re growing up.

One last thing before Canada leaves. The CMRC has been working hard, trying to figure out a new schedule for `09, and here’s the latest format that I’ve heard:

Morden, Manitoba
Kamloops, BC
Edmonton, AB
Calgary, AB
Gopher Dunes, Courtland, ON
Quebec (track TBA)
Moncton, NB
Sand Del Lee, Munster, ON
Walton, ON

Thanks, Danny.

Bad news for motocross in Mid-Ohio: Mid-Ohio Motocross Park, which sits on 20 acres at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, just closed its doors. The space, circuit manager TrueSports told a local business paper, is needed for parking and camping space to accommodate visitors at racing events. The article quotes TrueSports spokeswoman Rebecca Ackford, who explained that the company “opened the track in 2006 to attract the ‘two-wheel crowd’ but since then, many tracks in the motocross circuit have closed. Historically high fuel prices and a slumping economy in recent months haven’t been kind, either,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to make money with them, and we really needed the space.”

One more note from Ping:

The 2008 Supermoto season is coming to a close next weekend in Sonoma, California. It has been a long and strange year for Supemoto, and after the cancellation of the Austin round, everyone is hoping that the two-day Sonoma event at Infineon Raceway is a success. One thing is for sure: the racing will be great. Troy Herfoss is closing in on his first major championship, as he has a slim 8-point lead over Mark Burkhart in the 450 class. The Unlimited title fight has been just as close, and Darryl Atkins has a scant 5-point advantage over Steve Drew going into the weekend. If you live anywhere near Sonoma, be sure to come check things out. If you are a motocross or road racing fan, you won't be disappointed with the racing. Practice and qualifying starts at ten on Saturday and Sunday, with the opening ceremonies starting at 3:00 p.m. For more information, go to www.xtrm.com.

If you are looking for a supercross track to practice on in Southern California, get in touch with Adam Chatfield. Adam is renting a facility in Beaumont and is opening it up to a limited number of riders. Call him at 951-570-0689.

We crossed online paths with Jacob Saylor, who has been back in the country for a few weeks but is now on his way to Europe, where he will be doing some supercross races in Zurich, Switzerland, and Stuttgart, Germany, with temporary teammates Matt Boni and Paul Carpenter. To keep an eye on the globetrotting Saylor’s adventures, visit www.jacobsaylor.com.

Sad news: Alex Booth of BR1 Suspension was in a street motorcycle accident on October 31. As a result of the accident, he was in a coma, in critical condition with brain and spinal injuries. On Monday, Alex passed away. According to his friend James Saechao, the choice was made to donate his organs. “Alex was the type of person anyone would like to be around, his smile every weekend out of his BR1 Suspension box van made every day a sunny day,” wrote James. “He took the time to perfect every single bike whether BR1 Suspension or not, He never had a bad attitude about anything and was one of the most gifted guy to work on suspension.” Godspeed, Alex.

How would you like to have this bike in your garage? It’s Marty Smith’s works RC125, the bike that won the 1974 AMA 125cc National Motocross Championship. It’s still proudly displayed in the Honda arsenal at the company’s HQ in Torrance, California.

Check out this cool compilation video from Kicker that was posted on Mototalk with the X Games 14 Best Whip contest set to a Devo soundtrack.

Racer X reader Chris Sleater spotted this PSA from Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, talking about staying on trails with Chad Reed and Travis Pastrana. It’s further proof that Gov. Huntsman is the single coolest politician in the world (and not just because he’s running a Racer X shirt).

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

Monster Tattoo