Racerhead is coming to you from all over the globe—again—as the off-season preps of riders and teams reaches for another gear. Though if last weekend’s Paris-Bercy Supercross is any indication, James Stewartis already tapped out in fourth.
In his first appearance at the most prestigious supercross race outside the United States of America, Stewart delivered a command performance in the Palais Omnisport, marching through three nights of racing without skipping a beat on his San Manuel Yamaha. The three-time outdoor and ’07 AMA Supercross champ was simply on his game over there, and the improvement between his blue debut at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas and this race was noticeable. He never lost a race in France, but then again, he didn’t have his top competition there. The next-best rider was easily Justin Braytonof the MDK KTM team, and he’s riding West Coast Lites in the upcoming 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship.
I spent some time with Justin over the weekend—we flew back on the same flight along with Max Anstieand his dad, Mervyn—and I have to say that he was impressive in the way he handled himself both on and off the track. When David Vuillemin ran it up on him in one of their match races, he waited for him to come back around after the checkered flag and simply said, “Don’t be surprised if I do that to you in the next race.” To read more about the quiet man from Iowa, check out this 5 Minutes With interview.
Kevin Windhamwas also in Paris, for the first time since 1999. K-Dub was on a steady course of improvement all weekend long, as the rust on the veteran showed—he hasn’t raced since last May. Never a big international traveler, Windham and his wife, Dottie, did enjoy the trip abroad, but he told me he knew that he had a lot of work to do when he got home.
Josh Grant looked decent enough on his new Gibbs Racing Yamaha, scoring a majority of the third-place finishes behind Stewart and Brayton, but Bercy has never been kind to Josh, and he crashed pretty hard a couple of times. But the race did provide a platform for what he has to do in the eight weeks that will lead up to the start of the ’09 season. He told me he likes his setup in North Carolina and will be hitting the gym hard inside the Gibbs Racing NASCAR facility with his new teammate Cody Cooper.
There were two other Americans over there, Jake Marsackand Matt Goerke, and while both looked pretty good at times, they were dealing with injuries—Marsack’s ankle and Goerke’s finger. But collectively, the Team USA unit was much faster than the French team, which was led by the veteran Vuillemin and last year’s Honda Red Bull Racing temp Ben Coisy.
Sitting in the stands watching was Sebastien Pourcel, the only man to take a moto from Stewart outdoors this year. Seb is the older brother of the just-moved-to-America Christophe Pourcel, and he told me he will be in the States soon to start getting ready for his run at the 2009 FIM World Championship. He plans on riding this winter out west, but he will not be doing any U.S. Supercross races.
Christophe has been in America getting ready for his return to the AMA circuit for the first time in two years. If you recall, he topped Ryan Villopotoat Phoenix two years ago, then hurt himself the following weekend at Anaheim 2 and returned to France early. According to his manager, Russ Stratton, Pourcel is riding well, but because his injury was so severe—his fractured pelvis almost ended his career—he wants to keep expectations reasonable, even though he’s got some rabid fans in France. Stratton also told me he was staying Paris for a few days before helping to deliver FMXers Todd Potter and Mike Mason to a big event in Moscow.
And speaking of French heroes, Jean-Michel Bayle was there, and as usual, he looked practically the same as he did in 1991 when he was the world’s dominant rider. He hung out with his old friend and rival Johnny O’Hannah (who led Team USA’s introduction as ceremonial eighties’ icon), and he also said he would love to participate in next year’s Legends match race at the U.S. Open, against either Damon Bradshaw or Jeff Stanton—or both! I don’t think they would have enough tickets for all the people who would come out for that match race!
Speaking of selling tickets, the global economic problems were obvious in Paris, as for the first time that I can remember, two of the three nights were not sold out. The price of a ticket for each night was high—85 euros is, what, maybe $110 U.S.?–but the French fans get their money’s worth here. The U.S. contingent was almost as light in the media department, as Shan Moore of Cycle News and our own Simon Cudby were pretty much it for the Americans in the press room.
Grant and Windham and Eric Sorby were all headed for the X Games Dubai, but that was postponed. And you know it’s bad when a sports and entertainment giant like ESPN cancels their NAVY Moto-X World Championships, which was announced last week, and cites the economy as a reason. Ouch.
The best video of every year, in my opinion, is now out: Troy Adamitis, Jessica Young,and their crack crew have released this year’s version of No Fear’s The Great Outdoors. They once again prowled the pits and infields of the AMA Toyota Motocross Series to shoot the series in their own unique way, and then really bring out the soul of motocross. This year’s version is 90 minutes in length (though the coverage of the second 250 moto at Thunder Valley is worth the $24.95 alone!) and you can order it right here. The Great Outdoors Destroyers DVD ships on November 24.
Does anyone have some video of Mt. Morris '83? Mark Barnett, the Bomber himself, is looking for some footage from what was arguably his greatest race ever—it’s the one he crashes off the start, gets up waaaaaay behind everyone else, then races through a 125 National pack that included Johnny O’Mara and Jeff Ward to pass Ron Lechien with just a few laps to go. If you’ve got some video of that, or know where to look, the Bomber needs you! Email Racer X Online here.
Mark and his partner Glen were done in Australia recently to build the tracks for the first two rounds of Chad Reed’s Australian SX Series, as well as to work on Chad’s practice track, and he says he really enjoyed the series. “It was pretty cool, though some of the venues were kind of small,” said the former AMA supercross champ. “I had a lot of fun and look forward to going back next year.”
David Izer, one half of DMXS—the Cagney & Lacey of motocross—wanted us to make sure we mentioned this: “Two of the most premier riding locations in the country are joining forces to help raise money for the A-T Children’s Project. The charity ride will be held on Friday, November 21st, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Georgia Practice Facility and Millsaps Training Facility in Cairo, Georgia. These elite tracks are normally reserved for members only, but will be generously open to the public for a great day of riding while raising money for a worthy cause."
Okay, that’s all I've got from Europe. Let me turn this over to the rest of the crew for more on this week in our sport, beginning with Steve Cox.
Good news keeps piling up. On Monday came the news that Ricky James won the Foster Grant Half-Ironman World Championship in the hand-cycle class. I’ve met Ricky a few times, and he’s a class act in every way, and it’s amazing the level that he’s excelling at everything he does – from winning in roundy-round racing to winning in triathlons. It sort of makes you wonder what he would’ve accomplished had he never gotten hurt before his prime racing motocross.
Thankfully, it looks like our president-elect is going to move forward with funding for embryonic stem-cell research, which will likely help people like Ricky (and possibly even Ricky himself) in the near future, so that’s a win-win. Hopefully, someday we won’t have to wonder “what if?” anymore.
Yesterday, Shoei Helmets held an intro of the new Shoei VFX-W off-road helmet. Brett Milan of Shoei had some of his compatriots from Japan come out, and they told us all about the new lid out at Perris Raceway. I would tell you how it fits, but I have a head that is in the running for the world’s biggest, and the only helmets that are done being manufactured and in the States are mediums. All of the guys who could fit into them seemed to like them, though.
The focus of the presentation on the new helmet was on two related things: First, that there are fully four different shell sizes (one for XS, one for S and M, one for L, and one for XL and XXL), and the reason for this is that the thickness of the foam inside the helmet is specifically built for the size of the head in it. Even the couple of sizes that share a shell (S and M or XL and XXL) do not share the same inner foam. This way, Shoei isn’t making a larger helmet fit a smaller head with the clever use of a thicker helmet liner. The Small helmet is actually a Small instead of a Medium with a thicker liner. And that’s not all, the foam in the different helmets is divided into an inner and an outer, and the inner foam is actually a different density depending on the helmet size. It goes to assume that if you were an XL (or bigger) like me, you’re probably not small. And even thin, I’m barely under 200. And if you wear a Small, chances are good that you’re not that heavy. So, when you hit the ground weighing 125 pounds, on your melon, you’re going to carry less inertia than a guy in the same crash who weighs 250 pounds. So, fittingly, larger helmets have denser foam than smaller ones to handle the different forces at play during crashes for different-sized people.
That’s the main big deal, although other features include quick-release cheek pads (for easier helmet removal in a bad crash to protect the neck), an open ventilation system (who closes theirs anyway?), and a more flexible and harder to break visor.
The helmet will be anywhere from $399 (for plain white) to about $529 and will be available before Christmas.
This just in: Cox just called from Yamaha’s annual Race Team Media Day, which is being held at their headquarters in Cypress, and he said that there was absolutely no mention of Jason Lawrence’s Yamaha of Troy team for next year. He also said they made a pretty big deal of Star Racing’s 2009 program. Beyond that, Yamaha presented Grant Langstonwith his championship-winning 2008 YZ450F as a gift.
Here’s David “Ask” Pingree:
I spotted Jason Lawrencethis week practicing at Competitive Edge Motocross Park’s supercross track. The current West Coast champ looked a little rusty, but he still has the same style and skill that got him that #1 plate. It was weird to see him decked out in Fox gear instead of the usual Fly garb, although he still had his trademark red gloves on. He’s got six weeks to be ready to go, and I think he’ll get there. He’ll have to prep without the use of the Yamaha test track though. Apparently, they aren’t letting him ride there.
All right, this is your last chance to see Supermoto racing in 2008. This weekend at Sonoma, California's Infineon Raceway is the season finale, and the titles are coming down to the wire. Australian rider Troy Herfoss has a narrow lead over the current champion, Mark Burkhart, going into the weekend. This weekend’s double-header format offers enough points to make anything possible. The Unlimited championship will also be a nailbiter as Hart and Huntington’s Steve Drew and Aprilia’s Daryl Atkins fight over the last 50 points in the series. Even fewer points separate these two than in the premier class, and both of these guys have been working on a national title their whole lives.
It will be a dramatic finish for sure. I know most people don’t need an excuse to head out to wine country and partake in a little bit of the sacrament, but if you do, this weekend would be a great time. Racing is Saturday and Sunday with practice starting at 10:00am and opening ceremonies at 3:00pm. Come check it out. I promise that you will love the racing and the atmosphere at a pro Supermoto event.
I got these results from my buddy Luis in Spain. His English is not so good, but you can get the general gist of what he’s trying to say:
Madrid SX results
November 8 1. Jeff Alessi
2. Jonatan Barragan
3. Javier Garcia Vico
4. Mike Hall
5. Kevin Johnson
Mike Hall come and he race, very good, and he race in 250F, and the main go 450 and 250F riders…and this is the results…..Martin Davalosdon’t have the Visa to come….only 3 American riders...
I wait you are ok. LUIS
I got this picture from a friend who does a lot of trail riding. Can you believe this is in California? The trails are out there, people. We just have to find them.
I spoke to Nick Weythis week and all is good on his new Yamaha. Not many people know this, but he went out and paid full retail for a 2009 CRF450R after his KTM deal was up and started riding that. Not too many riders I know would just go to a dealership and buy a bike like that. Nick got the suspension done, put on a sprocket, a pipe, and footpegs, and started practicing! If you want to buy a 2009 CRF, call Wey and make a deal.
Looks like the GEICO Honda team is going to be switching gear sponsors for 2009. Word on the street is that they are leaving No Fear and going with Fox for next year.
Don’t forget to check out the third wave of cool things we’re auctioning off for the Blair Morgan Recovery Fund on eBay. Included is some Fox Yamaha gear that Stewie wore at the U.S. Open, CTi braces, DV gear, and much, much more. Just search for “Blair Morgan” on eBay or read my blog from earlier today.
Here’s the WMA’s Miki Keller to get us all caught up on Women’s MX:
Some big news for women’s pro motocross this month came in the form of ESPN’s announcement about offering equal prize money for men and women in the 2009 Summer X Games. This is a big boost to women’s motocross. Not just for morale – being treated as equals and recognized for their skill - but also for making it more viable for women to have a career in racing. I spoke to Ashley Fiolek, Sherri Cruse (silver medalist), and Vanessa Florentino (second fastest in qualifying) about it and they are all very excited about the announcement and are looking forward to dedicating even more time training for the event. You can bet, with what will likely be the biggest payday of the year, the women racers are going to push the sport of Women’s Moto X to whole new level. If you didn’t catch ABC’s coverage of the inaugural women’s moto X racing at X Games you can check out here.
While you're on EXPN’s website, you might want check out the photo gallery on some of the top women athletes in action sports, including Tarah Gieger and Vanessa Florentino.
The other big story so far this month for women’s MX is that the 2008 WMA National Champion Ashley Fiolek is on the cover of the December issue of Transworld Motocross - another milestone for women’s motocross. Fiolek is the first woman racer in history to be featured on the cover of a nationally distributed U.S. motocross magazine in action (noting that, 21 years ago, the legendary Mercedes Gonzales made history by being on the cover of Dirt Rider for a bike-test shootout). Also, Tarah Gieger had a breakthrough by being on the cover of regional publications MotoPlayground and Holeshot Magazine, after winning the WMA Cup in 2004. In addition, you could say Fiolek achieved another milestone by being featured on two nationally distributed U.S. motocross magazines in one year. (Fiolek was an inset photo on the cover of the September issue of Racer X.) These are big hits for the sport with hopefully more good things to come.
Speaking of good things to come, Sara Price was spotted racing the Lake Elsinore GP last weekend. The Monster Energy Team Green Kawasaki racer is looking to turn pro in 2009 and is already expected to be a podium contender. She won both the Women's class and the Intermediate class at Lake Elsinore.
Lastly, congrats to Lindsey Scheltema on being the new Miss Arenacross. Lindsey raced the WMA Pro Nationals in 2006 before a suffering some pretty rough injuries from practice crash and finished an impressive eleventh at Hangtown.
Our northern friend Danny Brault sent us this update:
Attention, Canadian motocross fans, it’s finally here: the new Destroyer Films DVD Crossing The Line, which covers the 2008 Monster Energy CMRC National MX Championships. Chris Griffiths and Cody Bradley, the duo behind DF, introduced themselves to the Canadian national circuit last summer while shooting their first DVD, This Is It. The film showcased our national series like never before with an artsy flair and unique perspective on racing.
The second helping, Crossing The Line, is another masterpiece, but with a more round-by-round, narrative feel, similar to the Great Outdoor series. “We wanted to keep everyone happy," says Griffiths. “You know the hardcore guys are going to buy it, but we wanted to cater to everyone, and I think it turned out really well.”
I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time traveling with the Destroyer boys this summer as we covered the Canadian nationals online with our weekly Moto Shows. And let me tell you, these guys put their heart and soul and more into their work! They love moto, they love music, and they love meshing the two together. Check out a clip from the video here.
Both the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series and Canadian Arenacross Championships kicked off in their respective countries, and both featured winners who have something in common: they’ve all won Canadian MX2 nationals. Ohio’s Michael Willard, a two-time Canadian MX2 East champ, won three of four main events in Des Moines, while Teddy Maier and Kyle Beaton grabbed the wins in Chilliwack, BC. Beaton has three wins, but Maier is leading the Open series and some sources say he was the faster rider. There are only two rounds left in this short series, so it will be a battle of consistency more than anything between these two.
Just because we won’t see Jean-Sébastien Roy racing another Montreal SX, doesn’t mean he’s finished racing. The “King” flew out west for Chilliwack to take part in the race and also to teach an indoor riding school. His highest finish was a second behind Maier in the first Open main. Check out James Lissimore’s race report and photos here.
Pat Schutte dropped off this bitchin’ photo from Dirt Wurx’s Rich Winkler’s collection of a cherry Rupp Roadster minicycle. If you’ve ever wanted to know how the track builders for the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series spend their downtime, this is it!
We were showing some friends the video of the cover shoot of Travis Pastranabackflipping over Subaru Rally USA teammate Ken Block’s flying car when we spotted a new video that really blew our minds. It features Block showing off his driving skills in his “gymkhana” Subaru STI, which is dressed to look like his Subaru Rally Team USA rally car. Turn up the volume and prepare to be amazed.
Here’s a much different and still exceptional item that came across our desks this week, courtesy of Motocross Action’s Jody Weisel and The Motocross Files’ Todd Huffman. It is a moving tribute they made to some fallen heroes from the history of motocross world, with an introduction by Jody about days and friends gone by, followed by timeless photos of the likes of Gaylon Mosier, Steve McQueen, Wyman Priddy, Donny Schmit and more. Take a break and watch this one over the weekend.
EVS is offering everyone a chance to win an RC Evolution neck brace. Just click here and give them why you'd use one, and you may get lucky.
That's it for this week. Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.