Racerhead #50

December 12, 2008 3:24pm | by:

Hello and welcome to Racerhead #50.

DC is stuck sitting at the Orlando airport, so here’s Steve Cox to get us started with what’s going on in our sport:

If you’re looking for a cool stocking-stuffer, the biographical Travis Pastrana movie 199 Lives is in stock at Best Buy and other retailers now. It’s only $19.99 at Best Buy, though. That’s a steal to watch the story of someone like Travis.

The other TP, Travis Preston, is back on his Jagermeister/MDK KTM 450 SX-F and riding supercross. He rode supercross for the first time yesterday since he broke his hand about six weeks ago, and he honestly didn’t look bad at all. His lanky body is pretty strange-looking at first on the KTM, which seems a bit more compact than a lot of the Japanese 450s.

  • Travis Preston is back on a supercross track
  • Summey looks comfortable on his new KTM
His teammate Josh “Not Charles” Summey looked incredibly comfortable on his KTM, too. He was throwing some pretty fat whips and linking rhythm sections together very well. He even threw in a nice goon-riding session. Apparently, he’s learning well from his team manager Steve Lamson.

It’s pretty cool to see a company like Jagermeister coming in to sponsor a team in our sport. I just hope we don’t run into the morally righteous bunch who will claim, despite selling alcohol at the races and having 30-second-board girls and other scantily clad girls throughout the pits, that this is exclusively a family sport and alcohol should stay out of it.

Ryan Clark was out in California this week with the rest of Team Solitaire, including Phil Nicoletti and Jake Marsack. Word from the test track was that Clark, on his CRF250R (he’s riding the Lites West), was going pretty fast. It will likely never come up, but if you ever have a chance to go go-kart driving with Nicoletti, don’t do it unless you want whiplash. We went to K1 Speed during the week in Ontario and Nicoletti spent more time in contact with other drivers than not. Hopefully he doesn’t ride supercross like that, because he likely won’t finish many races if he does…

Now on to our other Steve, the one from Canada:

I spoke with Chad Reed this week and he just go back into “Americker” on Saturday and was going to be hunkered down in Dade City, Florida, getting ready for the supercross season. I found it interesting that the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team is relocating to his house to test. I know the factories don’t like to pick up and move shop to the East Coast, but with all the different soil compounds that the teams face during the seventeen race supercross series, I think it’s a good idea to see how the bike works in different conditions.

  • RC points his former rival in the right direction
  • Carmichael, Reed, and Izzi
  • RC is still helping out with Suzuki
Another interesting comment was that RC himself was going down to Reedy’s to help out with testing; I bet RC and CR never would have thought that they’d be testing together one day. Sometimes racing makes strange bedfellows, and in no way am I insinuating they are bedfellows … er, you know what I mean. We heard it was a very productive atmosphere with RC and Chad helping each other on the track with riding tips and setup ideas. Nico Izzi and Ryan Dungey were also riding, and Michael Byrne also came down to check on his teammates. Simon Cudby shot a Racer X Film that will be on show early next week.

When I asked him about Mike Alessi, Reed said he’s not coming and has no idea what kind of program Mike is on or if he’s even going to race Anaheim.
It was a quiet move, but it seems that Ryan Dungey has moved himself up to the Tallahassee region of Florida to train with the Carmichaels, Townleys, and Tedescos of the world. I wondered if the Stewart-Dungey thing was kaput because of the U.S. Open incident, but I made a few calls to a few people and they all said that there was no problems with James; it was just Ryan finding some land up there and settling down with everyone. I guess we’ll see.

As far as Townley, I’m hearing we won’t see him racing at a supercross until halfway through, if at all. He’s still fighting some injuries. The Red Riders are adding a new team member for the nationals, however. I hear Ashley Fiolek is going to have a full factory bike and be in the truck for the WMA nationals this year.

I know everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting for some Tim Ferry news. I spoke with him last week (who am I kidding? I speak with him two or three times a day if you count me talking to his voicemail) and the Red Dog is just training and riding, getting ready for the new season. When asked about all this new talent, Timmy told me that every year there is all the hype about these kids, but he thinks this year some of the kids actually will be pretty good. He also said he’s changed “absolutely nothing” in regard to his program from ’08. He thinks the 250 in the 450 class is silly (“they have their own class, why can’t they stay there?”) and that he told Kawasaki to resign him for 2010 but isn’t sure they are going to.

I spoke with Nick Wey and he’s pumped on his new team (YOT) and the new bike. He mentioned that Enzo’s Ross Maeda (brother of Donn) has been a great help to him and to the team in general. He said it’s amazing that Ross can just watch him and know exactly what his bike is doing, even if Nick can’t feel it himself. I think part of why Ross is so good at suspension is that he shares a first name with Ross “Rollerball” Pederson and, therefore, is destined to be great. He is also officially a privateer this year as well, and between him, Heath Voss, and Paul Carpenter and whoever I’m forgetting about, that privateer battle should be a great one to watch this year.

Let’s turn this over to David Pingree:

Guys are starting to get hurt. I hate this time of year because it just always seems to happen. Like clockwork, riders start to get injured in December. They are starting to do more sprints to get their speed up, and they are testing new parts and spending a lot of time on the supercross tracks. Just the odds alone on the amount of time they spend on the track would make a gambling man quit racing.

Well, this week, both of the Hahn brothers took a seat on the sidelines with injuries. Wil’s was much worse and involved just about everything about the chest, shoulder, back, stomach, arms, and neck area. His brother had a scary crash at the Kawasaki track, according to bystanders. I got this email from Korey Heess, a concerned spectator:

“Hey, what’s up, Ping? My buddies were at the Kawi track and said someone crashed real hard and they had a couple fire trucks/ambulances out there and somebody was under a emergency blanket on the track..i was wondering if you knew who it was? The said they saw Villopoto’s boots in the back of his truck but couldn’t see where he was.”

It turns out that rider was Tommy Hahn. He thought he injured his back, so he erred on the cautious side. He does have a broken bone in his hand, though.

Jimmy Albertson crashed at the Honda test track and broke a toe. It hurts to ride right now, and it frustrates Jimmy pretty badly. He was riding well and looking forward to the season. He’ll be ready for Anaheim but it will probably be with limited time on the bike.

  • There will be no Retro Night at Anaheim 2 this year
Is everyone out there getting psyched out of their minds about retro night at the second Anaheim race this year? Not so fast, Johnny O’Hannah - you might want to leave the JT Racing jacket in the closet. Feld Entertainment media man Denny Hartwig confirmed the rumor that retro night is a thing of the past. Apparently, one of the manufacturers wasn’t cooperating with them in the whole production and Feld decided to squash the whole thing. It’s a bummer for the fans who get a kick out of it, and it’s a major bummer for the gear companies who have spent a lot of time and money designing gear for the event. I’m sure the companies will still run the gear at Anaheim 2, but it will probably leave some people scratching their heads in the stands.

If you are looking for a moto gift, look no further: the Asterisk Supercross Superpass for an event at the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross Series is a great gift idea! Our first set of eBay Superpass auctions (for the first seven events) begins Wednesday, December 10. The Asterisk Superpass VIP experience package includes tickets, special access and opportunities, rider gear, and a product package from top companies and fellow Medical Center supporters.

Go to www.asterisksuperpass.com for more details.

Don’t forget about the Asterisk Medical Unit charity mountain-bike ride this Saturday at Vail Lake. The cost is $30 to ride with a big group of industry folks and raise money for a great cause. If you are super lucky you’ll be right behind me on a big climb and get to watch me vomit as we crest the top. Awesome.

From Warren Price:

“Just read the post about Johnny O’ on MX Files. Really bummed that I don’t have Speed Channel but will have a friend make a DVD for me. I’ve attached two images of Johnny O’Mara from my archives.”

Price, by the way, has added another ode to old-school motocross on his website, this time riffing on a trip to the Grand Prix series in the early ’80s and motocross photography back in the day.
“It’s about the hook and Marty Tripes,” wrote Mr. Price. “And do you remember Mike Guerra? He rode for Husky in the ‘81/’82 GP series. Not many people know that Mike turned down the Yamaha ride that Danny LaPorte rode to the World Championship. I’ll include that in a later installment of the blog.”

Justin Sprugasci sent us a link to this very impressive website: www.svmmx.com.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the gang at No Fear MX released The Destroyers. Well, Troy Adamitis and his crew have been working overtime, because right on its heels comes The Battle of Britain, which details Team USA’s victory (four in a row now) at the 2008 Motocross of Nations. Here’s a trailer (Quicktime format) to show you what’s next in your video collection. If you want to purchase it right now or grab it for a Christmas gift, just click here.

We’ve had some cool features on Racer X Online recently, and Bad Billy had this to add:

We’re still getting feedback on the Bench Racing Ammo we ran last week about some of the top Suzuki standouts over the years, and most recently we got a call from Ohio’s Greg Rand. “Man, I won three championships for Suzuki,” he said. “I was riding for Kawasaki for a long time, but Reynard and I had a few run-ins at the Mini Os one year and they told me to back it down. After that I decided to switch brands when moving up to the big bikes and Pat Alexander and Suzuki hooked me up and I loved those bikes. Ahh, the good old days.”

  • The calendars have arrived!
Yesterday we found a pretty cool old photo and posted it for Flash Trivia. The guys over at No Limits said they’d offer up ten free 2009 calendars to the first ten people who answered correctly! Well, in the photo, which you can check out by clicking here, #281 on a CR125 is Ty Wallace pulling the holeshot over David Pingree (90) and Jeff Emig (6) at Unadilla. You can also see Honda of Troy’s Craig Decker (141) in fourth. Thanks to all who participated and thanks to No Limits for the calendars! Oh, and here are the winners: Paul Waslin, Dave Sayers, Aaron Kopp, Sergio Steel, Jim McIlvaine, Michael Hayes, Brian Simicsak, Eric Purdy, Shawn Norfolk and Chuck Coulson.

Speaking of calendars, have you been checking your mailbox frequently in search of your 2009 Racer X Calendar? They are at the printer now and will be shipped out over the holidays. We’ve included January 2010 to make up for the late start. Sorry for the delay, and happy holidays from Racer X!

This past weekend, Scott USA’s John Knowles got married to longtime girlfriend Jillian. Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Knowles!

Mike Farber spotted a really old-school video of the 1977 High Point National—the first national the Mt. Morris, PA, track ever held.

It’s astonishing to see how rustic and quaint it all used to be, with dusty conditions, hardly any banners, and what looks like 8mm footage (and silent at that). What’s really cool is the lineup: Marty Smith, Tony DiStefano, Danny LaPorte, Bob Hannah, Jimmy Ellis, Chuck Sun, Jimmy Weinert and more. Back then, more than two or three guys could win any race, which is something we may get back to this summer—especially in the 250 class, where the top two Grand Prix riders, along with former MX2 world champ Christophe Pourcel, have made the move to America to join the pack and find for the leadership role left behind by Ryan Villopoto.

David Bailey is back from the big banquet over in Monte Carlo and sent us this:

  • Monte Carlo
  • Monte Carlo
  • DB's rental car?
“Just a note to let you know this weekend would a good time to veg in front of the TV or set your VCRs and Tivos.”

Danny Brault gives us an update from up north:

As Machine Racing’s John Nelson said to me this week in an email, “Tough times at Ridgemont High!” They certainly are. From the New York Times to Good Housekeeping, you can read it on headlines everywhere. And the racing world definitely is not exempt from this recession, especially considering the amount of sponsorships. (Oh, and good read on Weigandt’s blog regarding the economy, titled “Binge and Purge.” Read it here.)

In fact, the richest motorsports in the world, Formula 1 and NASCAR, are both being devastated weekly, with sponsors, teams, and manufacturers bowing out. The latest is Honda’s departure from F1. I found it interesting that the FIA series is trying to cut costs and make things more affordable for teams. For instance, they’re putting a limit on engines that each driver uses for the season (8) and testing (20 per team) and cutting down on manpower, eliminating the need for “spotters” for sharing info on tires and fuel. Read more here.

I think our sport could really learn from these moves. Why do teams need to test every single day during the week? Why do they need to change their tires every moto? Why is there a motor, suspension, and sandwich guy? It reminds of what my high-school gym teacher told my buddies and me about drinking safely: “Moderation is the key, fellas.”

Despite constant talk of firings, layoffs, and budget cuts within U.S. motocross, everything seemed somewhat rosy in Canada. Billy Whitley announced two months ago that Cernic’s Kawasaki and Atomic Racing were joining forces for AMA AX and Canadian Nationals, while Blackfoot is supporting four riders and has added Red Bull to their sponsor list. KTM has re-signed MX2 champ Eric Nye, and Suzuki OTSFF hired MX1 rider Kyle Keast. Yes, things seemed just peachy … until this week.

  • Suzuki OTSFF has pulled the plug in Canada
After pulling out of their U.S. amateur-support program, Suzuki pulled the plug on their Canadian factory team in Canada. “It’s unfortunate, for sure,” said OTSFF’s Andre Laurin. “We were so close to winning a title this year with Tyler [Medaglia], and we had a great team lined up for next year. But that’s a sign of how tough things are right now. I own a company as well and I’m making cuts everywhere.”

I was a little surprised to hear this, especially after I had just conducted an interview with Medaglia and he didn’t show any signs of worry. “I will make sure he’s okay for next year,” added Laurin. “We’ve been working together for a long time and I’ll definitely get him to the races, on whatever brand.”

As for Tyler’s younger brother, Jeremy, I’ve heard talk about Leading Edge Kawasaki making room for him. It would be a tight fit, as they already have Teddy Maier, Nick Evennou and Brock Hoyer on the block, but JM is a proven race winner. We’ll see. The heartbreaker goes to Kyle Keast, unfortunately. After signing on for his first “Big Tent” experience with OTSFF this fall, Keast will most likely return to Honda and Machine Racing. “I’ve talked to John quite a bit, and I’m open to working with him,” said Laurin. “I have a lot to offer, but it would be up to see what Honda what’s to do.”

A quick note about Ricky James' NBC appearance this weekend: The Life Rolls On Foundation has just announced that their new commercial, a spinal cord injury awareness Public Service announcement with Ricky James, will debut during his 2008 Ford Ironman World Championship coverage on NBC Sports this Saturday, December 13 at 2:30PM ET (11:30 Pacific).

James will be featured attempting a stunt that is a “first-ever” for a paraplegic on a motocross bike.

Finally, here’s something to do during the holiday season in the office (while on your lunch break, of course!).

Have a good weekend. Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.