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Racerhead #51

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Welcome to Racerhead, and early Merry Christmas to everyone. Let me start out by saying that I don’t know who Lee Sutton is, but he has an early Christmas present for everyone who loves old-school motocross—this amazing slideshow of California motocross races from the 1970s.

On the other hand, I don’t know who Arjun Hattiangadi is either, but he also has a Christmas present for everyone out there:The Smoking Gun’s Top 20 Mugshots of 2009!

  • Daniel Blair will be the Moto-XXX rider at Anaheim
First, I want to thank the several hundred people who have emailed me since my friend Donn at TWMX mentioned this 250-two-strokes-in-the-250-class rumor, then the EternalTwoStoke.com folks posted my email address…. Wow, that was a lot of mail, all positive, all helpful.

On another note, against my own better judgment, I agreed on Monday to pull out a paragraph from last week’s Racerhead in which Steve Matthes wrote, “Moto XXX as we know it is dead.” Jordan Burns, one of the team owners and a longtime friend of mine, was upset because they were trying to pull sponsors and things together for the very capable privateer Daniel Blair, who will now apparently be at the West Coast SX rounds for Moto XXX.

Since my decision to help the team by taking the unfortunate news out, there’s been a lot a sniping online from people who either don’t like Matthes’ style or don’t trust his reports. He does not deserve the criticism or the insults he’s getting as a result of his report and my action. I happen to both like his style and trust his reports, I just wanted to give Moto XXX a chance to make something happen and then announce their new deal on their own terms. Unfortunately, unless something extraordinary happens in the next 15 days, Moto XXX will not be the big-rig, multi-rider, full-season privateer juggernaut that it was just last season. No, it’s not dead, but it’s nowhere near what it’s been in recent years. It’s no ones fault but the economy and the high cost of racing at this level, and I hate that it’s happening to everyone from Moto XXX to Suzuki’s amateur support program.

Okay, here’s some good news in uncertain times: American Honda just posted their amateur contingency and support programs, and they are once again strong. That’s a big Merry Christmas from the Red Riders for everyone. Click here to check it out.

  • ames Stewart got a little help, though his result was thrown out anyway by Team USA because it was the team’s worst of six
The FIM released some supplemental rules for the 2009 world championships, and a couple of them caught my eye. Remember when James Stewart got outside assistance at the MXoN when he could not get his bike started in the final moto after he crashed? That is now a no-no: “Marshals are not allowed to assist riders to re-start their motorcycles.”

Also, “Long hair must be contained within the helmet.” This one is most likely aimed at the girls in the FIM Women’s series, and it makes perfect sense to me, as a spinning wheel or sprocket could potentially be problematic and dangerous with any crash, though it would not in the NFL, where Pacific Islanders like Troy Polamalu are allowed to run their manes as long and fluffy as they want. They just have to remember that their hair is considered part of their uniform, and if they are tackled by it, it’s not a foul!

Vote for Erin Bates for Playboy's Sexiest Sportscaster for 2009.

Jennifer Hughes, Ryan’s much better half, dropped us a note and some very unique photos—for Southern California at least! “We heard it was snowing out at Rynoland, so we picked up the kids and headed out to Anza where our track is. It is 30 minutes east of Temecula and we had so much fun! It was dumping snow when we got there and even more when we left.”

The snow also consumed the practice tracks for the Alessi clan up in Victorville, as Mike told Eric Johnson in yesterday’s Racer X Online interview:

“It’s actually pretty bad. I’ve never actually seen it snow here in California. This is the first time, so it’s actually pretty amazing. There are six or seven inches of snow on the ground. It’s pretty deep, man!” Check out the whole interview HERE.

  • It really snowed!
Mike handled it better than little brother Jeff, who managed to get his truck stuck in the driveway!

Tony Alessi, who sent us the very cool photo of his snow-covered track, dropped me a line to say that the track should be good to go for the weekend (barring another heavy snow) and that any pros who were rained out on their own tracks can come ride. Email him at ktmj@aol.com.

On one occasion last year, the Alessi practice track hosted enough riders for a supercross main event: Chad Reed, Josh Hill, Jason Lawrence and a host of others. Sounds like Victorville may be the place to be the week leading up to Anaheim 1.

And speaking of Anaheim, great tickets are still available at Tickermaster, or you can go visit www.supercrossonline.com.

Okay, we are all scared to death that the next motocross movie is going to be Supercross: The Movie Part 2 or Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle 2… But then there’s Winners Take All (which is still one of my all-time favorites) and that Motocrossed movie was actually pretty cute. Now comes High School Musical star Corbin Bleu in Freestyle, which, judging by the trailer here, doesn’t look half bad.

Here’s the thing: I have seen Corbin, a huge star to most of the 8-to-18-year-olds in the world, at lots of races in the last couple of years, along with his dad. He was at several SX rounds, the nationals, and even Loretta Lynn’s for a while. I don’t know that attendance alone gives him street cred, but every time I saw him, he was watching closely, cheering guys on, and really seemed to be a fan. Hopefully, this movie will bring us some new fans and more movie chances.

  • Sno-cross anyone?
My old friend Warren Price is at it again, this time with a blog about his “deep throat” moment, discovering through a friend-to-remain-nameless that he should go ask American Honda factory rider and Team USA star Jim Gibson if he would be racing in Europe in 1983. Gibson was on the move, of course, getting ready to team up with Yamaha, which had world championship success the previous year by bringing another American—Danny “The Door” LaPorte—across the pond.

Ironically, this post goes up the day the real “Deep Throat” (the Watergate-related one, not the Linda Lovelace-related one) passed away at age 95. Mark Felt was the real name of the man who helped bring down the Nixon presidency in the early 1970s, and he was immortalized in the book and subsequent movie All the President’s Men. It was only a few years ago that the man who told Woodward & Bernstein to “follow the money” finally stepped forward and took credit for his actions, which had a huge effect on this nation.

Finally, it sounds like Robbie Reynard is going to be racing in Germany come January. Robbie is expected to ride the three-night Dortmund SX on January 9-11. RR, by the way, still holds an AMA record. FLASH TRIVIA: What is the record?

First correct call gets 2 pit passes to the SX or AMA National of their choice.

  • Jim Gibson went to Europe in 1983
I just talked to Scott Kandel of Warthog Racing fame to find out if things are looking up for the noble privateers. Considering Scott recently underwent surgery to fuse three vertebrae in his neck that were putting a disabling amount of pressure on his spinal cord, he was in good spirits. He was also concerned about how the economic endo will affect this coming season. As of now, the race team, which is one of the most important parts of the overall Warthog Racing Academy, will be kicking off the supercross season with the following 15 riders:

Heath Voss
Tyler Bowers
Sean Collier
Manu Rivas
Tiger Lacey
Mike Horban (West Coast)
Rhett Urseth (West Coast)
Deven Raper (West Coast)
Mitch Rask (West Coast)
Vince Friese (East Coast)
Jacob Saylor (East Coast)
Ryan Mills (East Coast)
Ryan Smith (East Coast)
Tyler Bright (after Arenacross)
Jonny Lindhe (Nationals)

Additional team slots are still open.  If you’re and privateer and you think you have what it takes to compete at the highest level, contact Warthog Racing directly at 310 483-8113.

For the third straight year, MDK Motorsports will be title sponsoring the team, so the team name to date will be MDK/YourNameHere. Scott said they are in desperate need of a co-title sponsor at a time when most companies are cutting back on sponsorship. He said at this point, Warthog Racing will accept any reasonable offer for the Co-title position. If you’d like to review the Warthog Racing co-title sponsorship proposal, click on this link to download it. If you are interested in helping the sport by supporting the privateers, Scott can be reached at 213 268-2659 or scott@wonderwarthogracing.com.

Finally, there's the opening of the Warthog Racing Supercross Complex. Warthog Racing has built a replica of the 2009 Anaheim 1 track to give the privateers the real-world experience they need to compete. It is located on the Honolulu Hills Raceway property located near Bakersfield, CA. It is part of an existing 2,100-acre riding park and the owners were generous enough to provide everything Warthog Racing needed to make the supercross facility a reality. It is open year round to all AMA SX-endorsed privateers at no cost. If you are a qualified privateer and would like to use the facility, please contact Darrell Saldana, the Warthog Racing Race Director, at 310-483-8113 or dsaldana@srtusa.com.

We’ve got a guest writer this week, and it’s the Racer X Virtual Trainer Tim Crytser, who’s been down at James Stewart’s personal playground. Here’s Tim with the story.

Well, I was finally able to get over to James’ house/compound yesterday and spend some time with him and Aldon Baker. It was pretty cool for sure. James just had a bunch of dirt delivered and a brand new SX track built earlier in the morning. When I got there, James and Kyle Chisholm were pounding out their third of four motos of the day. Of course this was after starting the day off with cycling and some yoga. Getting to actually stand out on the track and watch James and Kyle literally fly over my head was jaw-dropping.

There were tracks all around us - two more supercross tracks (one of which is lighted) and an outdoor track that snaked all throughout the facility. Malcolm and one of the neighbor kids were putting in laps on the outdoor track. Malcolm was hitting this super-kicker jump that just made me cringe every time he hit it. He must have been 100 feet or more in the air. It was the highest I had ever seen a motorcycle in the air!

  • The place is like Disneyland for motocrossers
  • View from the top
  • View from Stewart's door
  • A perfectly sculpted jump
  • The front entrance
Malcolm looked very fast. Word has it that he is training a little and starting to take his racing as serious as his big brother. James and Kyle were all business with Aldon and James’ mechanic taking lap times for the riders.

In between motos it was off to the garage for the bikes to be tweaked and the track watered. As the riders rested and caught their breath, Aldon went over their lap times and talked about consistency and ways to lower the times. Rest was short and sweet and then it was back out to the track.

During the last set of motos I actually had to work a little. While Aldon filmed the riders for later studying, I had to take lap times. All I had to do was push a button on the stopwatch and relay the numbers to the mechanic, but somehow I was nervous. I felt like a part of the team for a few laps as I looked at the stopwatch and barked the numbers to the mechanic to relay to the pit board. Man, I could do this for a living! James was trying for his fastest times of the day and was just shy. I guess I should have hit the watch a little sooner to help him out. Man, I hope I wasn’t late on the trigger!

James was so damn fast. I have never seen a rider with as much confidence on a motorcycle as I saw in James yesterday. When he would stop and talk to Aldon, he was like, “Man, I really think I can quad that section and then triple over there, and hey can we get a water bottle holder put on my bike so I can take a drink over that jump.” He does stuff with the bike that just doesn’t seem possible.

After watching James ride (he was consistently 3 to 4 seconds faster than Kyle, and Kyle was flyin’ too), I can see a runaway season this year. The way he gets to practice and the facilities he has just isn’t fair to the rest of the riders. I guess that’s what you get when you are the fastest man in the world.

Big James didn’t say much but you can be sure he was the first to greet/interrogate me when I came through the gate. He was actually very nice and gave me a ride on the mule out to where the guys were, but he didn’t say much. Just dropped me off and was back to pushing dirt, rearranging gravel, and watering the track. I didn’t get to interview James as planned yesterday; he had to hurry up and get the Lamborghini (or was it the Ferrari?) to Orlando for some new wheels. Aldon took me on a tour of the compound, which is pretty impressive. The houses are modest and very nice, but in true motocross fashion, the garages are much bigger than the living quarters. James and his fiancee built a house right behind the house James grew up in.

Once James bugged out for the day I got to spend the rest of the time with Aldon. We talked about boring trainer stuff for a few hours, and we even went shopping for James’ birthday, which is on Sunday (he turns 23). What does a trainer get his rider who can’t find his wallet because he forgets which of his cars he drove last? Workout clothes, of course! James has invited me back today to sit down for an interview since he had to leave early yesterday. He certainly is a very nice kid with the confidence and drive to stay at the top of this sport for a very, very long time.

Sounds like it, Tim. Now here’s Steve Cox.

  • Alessi is returning to the Lites
  • Ben Coisy (left) and Jeff Alessi (right)
  • Coisy will ride the 450
Last Tuesday, I literally drove through snow to go to the MCR MX team intro in Victorville, California. Since my wife is from there (she’s a high-desert hottie), usually when I head up there, it’s for family stuff that I normally go to begrudgingly. Originally, the intro was going to happen at the supercross track at Competitive Edge MX Park just a few miles up the road, but the Sunday and Monday prior brought extremely cold weather and snow to the area, so they moved it the Hilton Garden Inn.

It was actually a pretty cool event (no pun intended). The two team owners – Mike Genova and Andy James – are good friends and businessmen that always wanted to have a motocross team of their own, and now they do. MCR stands for Moto Concepts Racing. Genova owns a company called Leisure Concepts, which he says is the world’s largest spa accessory company, and Moto Concepts is a bit of a spin-off of that company. James owns a company called Northwest Steel Fabrication, which fabricates steel structures like bridges and buildings. They both hope to bring their business savvy to the moto world.

On board for 2009 are five-time French SX champ Ben Coisy, Aussie SX star Daniel McCoy and Cole Siebler on CRF450Rs, and Jeff Alessi on a CRF250R. Alessi will be riding the Lites West and then probably staying in the 250cc class outdoors, although that’s not a definite. All four riders are planning to ride the complete AMA National and Supercross Championships in 2009.

Moto Concepts is the major sponsor, although both Genova and James hope that changes by 2010 or sooner, once people see how well their team is run, and what kind of results they can pull down. Other sponsors include MDK Motorsports, FMF, Fox Racing Shox, Fly Racing, Pirelli, DeCal Works, Smooth Industries, Vortex, Alpinestars, Motion Pro, Utopia, Guts Factory Grip Seats, Boyesen, VP Racing Fuels, Sunline, TCR Wheel Lacing Specialists, RK Excel, Motorex and Gold Fren.

  • Olson riding at the TTR intro
  • Steve Cox in knee pads and sneakers
  • The TTR family
Last Saturday, Yamaha held a TT-R ride day at the Fox Design Center in Irvine, California. Warren Johnson from Fox was on hand, as well as Yamaha’s Tim Olson, who brought out the electric-start TT-Rs for the invitees to ride. They left out the TT-R230 this year, as the track was in the courtyard at the Fox building, and the 230 was deemed too big. However, the TT-R125, TT-R110 and TT-R50 were all on hand. I wasn’t planning on riding, but I was talked into it. The track was really fun, actually, and I only hit one fence. The 2009 TT-R125LE (big-wheel model) retails for $2999 this year, and TT-R125E retails for $2699, the TT-R110E for $1949, and TT-R50E for $1299. And as was already pointed out, they all feature electric starters, which is a fun feature.

Olson also didn’t seem to be planning to ride, until Johnson brought out a Ricky Carmichael helmet for him to wear. Then, Olson couldn’t resist. Even Cycle NewsJean Turner was goaded into riding despite a hurt shoulder, although there was no such luck for Transworld’s Kyle Cowling. I thought I heard him say something along the lines of the bikes being too big for him….

The weather was nuts in California this week, making the guys who train in Florida look like geniuses. It snowed all over “sunny” southern California, and rained everywhere else. Sheena Schaefer, Brett Metcalfe’s fiancee, sent over a few photos showing what they were doing while the snow had basically shut down all of the tracks and Brett couldn’t ride. Check them out. The one photo looking over a lake, that’s Lake Elsinore! It’s just nuts to see snow that low in California. Metcalfe is back riding again after his ankle injury, too, but on the day Sheena snapped these photos, he was only riding sleds!

The weather made it tough for all of the California-based racers to practice, as Mike Alessi said in his interview. It’s especially hard, as Alessi points out, on riders who have been injured and need all the time they can get to get ready for the ‘09 season. Hopefully, the crazy weather clears up by A1, although I’m not sure we’ve ever had a snow race in supercross before….

  • Metty's a romantic
  • Brett, Snowbrett, and Sheena
(David Pingree pushes Steve out of the chair and starts typing)

While the rain out here makes it difficult to ride a supercross track, it does make for some of the best motocross riding all year. I had one of those amazing days this week with all of my Troy Lee Designs/Honda riders. We headed up into some secret hills to a secret spot and cut in what I believe to be one of the best natural terrain tracks I’ve made in years. Dunlop’s Jay Clark was there too, as was Factory Connection’s Trey Canard. It was epic. With Anaheim only a couple weeks away, all of the guys need to be riding supercross. So, like a whole bunch of other pro riders, my guys headed for the desert. There a track called Moto Land in Arizona that has a full-scale SX track and they are open for business. The folks in Casa Grande, AZ should do some autograph collecting this weekend.

Feel like a trip to Puerto Rico? I got this email from my buddy Gabby this week:

Travis Pastrana & the Nitro Circus along with the MTV crew joins us in Puerto Rico in an event for the ages.We are having a SX track with a small oval car track inside, ready for some really tight racing (Nitro demolition derby) some freestyle by the man himself, and SX racing, all under the lights. The track was designed and built by the Professor Gary Bailey specially for TP. None other than David Bailey “The Icon” will be in the house along with his son Sean for his first off-shore SX race.”

For info or sponsorship contact Gabriel (Gabby) Catala: 787-627-0150 gcatala20@hotmail.com.

Might be fun.

If you were planning on attending the FMF Whiskey Tango ride day, well, you were disappointed this week. The snow in the area put the brakes on the Flying Machine Factory’s plans. But they have rescheduled for next Tuesday so don’t be too upset.

I wanted to include a couple pictures of what I want for Christmas. I was a big fan of Guitar Hero but this version just has so much more culture, pluck, and pizzazz, you know? Check it out for one of your loved ones.

I’ve been hearing that Yamaha and L&M Yamaha both are going to use Tag Metals handlebars. I called my buddy Shawn Norfolk and he was tight-lipped. Now I’m not Nostradamus, but now that I’ve seen the ad (which is very cool), I’m just going to guess that Tag Metals has indeed signed Yamaha and L&M Yamaha to use handlebars. This is huge news in the handlebar world as no Japanese factory team has ever switched handlebar brands. If this is the case, it is also great news for that company as the guys in Valencia, CA are putting a ton of effort into the “New Tag Metals”. Good luck guys.

Finally, baby news…. Congratulations to Asterisk Medic Eddie Casillas and his wife, Michelle, who are expecting their first child. They are just out of their first trimester, which means they will be racing “Factory” Phil Lawrence and his wife for the first birth. Both wives will probably be upset when they learn that I’ve just made a race out of the birth of their children. Oh well. Congrats to both couples. Now, sell all of your toys and say adios to your hobbies because you will be on diaper duty for the next couple years.

And now from Steve Matthes:

We heard a rumor this week that Austin Stroupe was in trouble at the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit team. The word “fired” might have been even mentioned. So with a few calls, we found out that it wasn’t true but that the “in the woodshed” thing was kind of true. And we also found out that Seth was still alive, Tyler Evans had been shot, and nobody broke their femur at the test track. Ahhhh, the off-season. Good times.

It’s that time of the year again, the time when the riders send out their Xmas cards (or at least the wives do) to their ex-mechanics, man-friends, and cool guys like myself. I have to say, we get quite a few, and the winner so far is the Weys. They really went to town on the personalized pictures and the nice things written inside. I have yet to get one from the perennial champs, the Ferrys (Lil’Hanny also), but they are going to have to step up big time to top NYK and Nicole’s. Stay tuned for the final verdict when I actually get a life.

*Update*

Okay, stop the presses. We have received the Ferrys‘ card and, although pretty good, it does not top the Weys’. We have a new champ. Congrats to the Weys on this honor.

Who are the all-time top women in motocross? Here’s a list of all the past champions, compiled by the WMA’s Miki Keller.

And finally, another Christmas present: a Flash motocross game that I stumbled upon while trying to figure out who the national champion of Ze Germans is this year.

That’s it. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. Thank you for reading Racerhead, and here’s to future days.

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