But every year at this time, I tend think back on what was probably my favorite Christmas of all. It was maybe twenty years ago, and my brother Tim and I were both down in Florida to race some of the Winter-AMAs. At the last minute, my dad decided to come down too, and we were staying at the Holiday Inn right outside the Croome riding area near Brooksville. We had dinner on Christmas Eve there at the hotel, then just went back to the room the three of us were sharing—there’s not much to do anytime in that area, let alone on the night before Christmas.
My dad used to read a lot before he went to bed (a trait I definitely picked up from him) or watch TV and he was still up well past when my big brother and I nodded off. After awhile, however, he woke us both up because he was laughing so hard at something he was watching. It was a movie about a kid named Ralphie and his quest to get Santa Claus to bring him a Red Rider BB Rifle for Christmas, and none of us had ever seen it before. We watched the whole thing, and when it started over, we watched the whole thing all over again.
Of course “A Christmas Story” is now a holiday classic for everyone—I think it’s TBS that plays it for 24 hours straight every year—but that first time I saw it remains the best time. My brother and I didn’t get along real well back then, and since we had both graduated college and moved out of the house, we didn’t spend a lot of quality time together with dad like that. So when I see the movie now, which I did on Christmas Eve with my own children Vance and Sloane, and my wife Shannon, it just reminds me of a really special time. That Christmas trip to Florida was maybe the last time my brother and I got to have an adventure with our dad like that, and I cherish that trip from twenty years ago to this very day.
So the off-season is almost over—just eight more days to Anaheim 1—and it’s almost time to shut down the rumor mill and get down to the business of racing. To get everyone in the mood, CBS Sports will broadcast a one-hour preview show in HD of the 2009 Monster Energy® AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Saturday, December 27 at 2:00 p.m. EST. That’s tomorrow!
I also asked Steve Cox to ask around and find out what he could about who was riding where in the Lites class. He responded with this:
One of the biggest questions always surrounds which riders will be racing which coast in the Lites class. Sometimes, teams even enter all of their healthy riders just in case they want to make a last-minute switch – or in case someone gets hurt at the last minute.
But this is what I know about who is scheduled to race the Lites class at Anaheim 1, barring unforeseen circumstances:
Unfortunately, I don’t have good information on who’s riding which coast for Star Racing or any other teams at this time, but this list is interesting because it shows that Nico Izzi will be riding East for Suzuki, and former east champ Trey Canard is riding West just in case he’s forced, by rule, to move up to 450s next year and for good. And as far as the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit team goes, both of their other SX riders – Austin Stroupe and Christophe Pourcel – are mending broken collarbones.
Thanks Steve. Okay, my favorite rumor of the fall has been the one that has Damon Bradshaw interested in coming back out for the AMA Motocross Championships next summer. Now his friend and Idaho neighbor Allen Picard confirmed it for us by posting on Mototalk that Damon is indeed interested and anyone interested in him should contact “Fly Guy” via email.
Damon is 36 and wants to do all 12 rounds if he can find the right backing. Like Allen said, Bradshaw doesn’t do anything half-assed, and after watching him at the U.S. Open in October, I would say he still has game!
Here’s another online motocross game to play: www.teagames.com and scroll down to “Australian motocross.”
I asked Russ Stratton how Sebastien Pourcel was doing after his crash in Guatemala or wherever it was… He told me he dislocated his shoulder and hip but he’s back in France and needs to stay off his feet for a few weeks. According to Russ, he’s in good spirits and still looking forward to his training trip to the U.S. although it will be delayed a bit now.
Speaking of French riders, a Racer X reader named Richard Angot sent us a note about a post that was on former world champ Mickael Pichon’s website about his future racing plans. Pichon, a two-time AMA 125cc East Region champ back in the the mid-nineties, was considering a return to MX3 racing this year, but he has since changed his mind based in part on the economic uncertainties ahead. Here’s some of what Pichon said, translated by Mr. Angot:
“I heard a lot of people were wondering what’s going on for me next year, whether or not I am going to race MX3 GPs. I want to clarify the situation for everybody. I can confirm that, unfortunately, I won’t be racing the world championship as I was scheduled for several months. I talked to a lot of my partners for more than three months and some were really motivated by this challenge. But others were unable to honor their contracts because of the current economic situation or for others various reasons. Honda France could not afford to take the whole budget in charge; I was expecting a little help from Honda Europe, which never came. I initially thought I could gather the whole budget by myself, but finally there is too much missing to pretend I’m going into this championship in good conditions (to win)….”
Pichon went on to cite his disdain for the new entry fees announced for the championship, as well as the uncertainty whether or not travel across the Atlantic to the race in Chile would be taken care of by the promoter or series organizer. He also said the he will do two beach races (Hossegor and Le Touquet), some French Elite championship races and international races, the French Supermoto championship, the Bol d’Or endurance road race and more.
And in yet more French rider news, Stephan Legrand dropped a note on us this morning about yet another Europe-based rider headed our way in 2009, only this is a part-time gig starting out:
“While all eyes will be focused on another famous French rider fielded by a factory team (Pourcel), 19-year-old Hugo Dagod, the 2007 French SX vice champion, will compete in the 2009 SX Lites West Coast championship on a privately-entered KTM 250 SX-F, AMA #411. Hugo will pick up where he left of in 2008 where he made the main at Anaheim 2, the second of his two-race U.S. schedule.
“Based in Las Vegas for a month Hugo has been training under the guidance of Johnathan Edwards, a.k.a KTM Doctor (who is currently training Zach Osborne, Matt Goerke, Ryan Morais, etc.) to optimize his chance of success. “All the best riders in the world compete in the US,” says Hugo. “This is where I need to be if I want to improve and gauge my level versus the best in the business.”
Hugo will make his debut at the Phoenix round then Anaheim 2, San Francisco, Anaheim 3 and San Diego.
Okay, our man with the camera, Simon Cudby, shot this video a few weeks ago while he was down in Florida for the Fox Racing website. Check it out here.
Our vidéographer friend Raph did a very cool video with Pierrick Paget, who is getting ready for the Le Touquet beach race in France. It’s very well done!
Here’s your chance to tell us about all your favorite motocross products just before the New Year: Just fill out our Racer X reader survey and we will give you free access to two issues of the Racer X digital edition, as well as enter you in a drawing to win a Concept2 Indoor Rower! Be sure to add your email address at the end of the survey to be entered into the drawing and to get your free issues.
Time for some words from Steve Matthes…
X-mas has come and gone in the Matthes household (I imagine it’s gone in your house also; if not please call 911!) and the gifts were plentiful. My favorite was from my mother-in-law, who got me one of those digital picture frames that holds something like 600 pictures. Anybody who comes over can now expect to see a lot more of Tim Ferry (I actually have pictures of us at a hockey game, eating dinner, at the zoo, at band camp….)
That new 250Fs-can-enter-the-big-bike class rule doesn’t look like it’s going to be used by the heavy hitters. The teams I spoke to all said that they wouldn’t let their riders race unless they were coming back from injury and were completely out of the points race. Keep in mind this is an unscientific poll but it seems to be the prevailing theory out there. As usual, we won’t know until we actually go to the races.
The man who has been managing Moto XXX the last few years, Alan Brown, has found a new calling. Actually, I guess you’d say it was an old calling, as he is now developing engines for teams and riders. He’s always done the motors at XXX (at least since I got him the job working for Kyle Lewis in ‘02) and judging by the holeshots that Lewis, Damon Huffman, Larry Ward and others have pulled against factory guys, he must know what he’s doing. His first team? None other than the Hart and Huntington guys. Want your motor done by Brown? Give him a shout here: email@example.com
Speaking of Hart & Huntington, I spoke to team manager Kenny Watson this week and he let me in on some of the team’s plans for the year and I’m sworn to secrecy but they sound pretty cool. The bikes are going to have some makeovers at some races and they have some big plans on and off the track. One thing I get in talking to Watson and Carey Hart is that this is a serious race team and they want to continue to build it up into something special. The team recently acquired a semi, moved into a new race shop here in Las Vegas and is wearing ONE Industries gear next year. As far as riders, I’ve seen Troy Adams quite a bit over the years and he has mucho talent, he just needs to somehow harness it. And with Hanny, well we all know what he can do and hopefully this is the year he puts it together (I just cut and pasted what I said in 2004 by the way). The riders have both moved to Las Vegas and have an awesome track to practice on and there should be no distractions… errr… scratch that.
Nick McCabe spotted this in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week: “Though Jackass isn’t on the air, it’s brand lives on. Its co-creator, Mr. Johnny Knoxville, is the executive producer for Nitro Circus, an MTV reality show in development that stars motocross rider Travis Pastrana.”
That Nitro Circus show isn’t MTV’s first foray into the world of motorcycle racing. They also filmed MotoGP star Nicky Hayden’s world championship-defending season in 2006 for a series they’d planned, and while they ended up changing their minds and instead airing it as a single, long film (called The Kentucky Kid), they sure didn’t spare any expense. RRX editor CJ says it was amazing to see the incredible amount of footage they collected over the course of the season—and to think what a job that presented for the film’s editor!
For those of you not fighting the crowds at the mall today (or for when you get home from the mall), visit ESPN.com and watch Robbie Maddison guest star on the newest episode of Mayne Street, ESPN.com's new comedy web series starring Kenny Mayne. Kenny asks Maddo to jump over a satellite dish and hilarity ensues.
This Sunday, December 28, Robbie and Rhys Millen will be featured on Good Morning America on ABC at 8:30 a.m. ET and 6:30 a.m. PT. But be sure to check your local listings, as the airtime is different in different markets. And don't forget to tune into ESPN/ESPN HD on Wednesday, December 31 at 11:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 p.m. PT for Red Bull: New Year. No Limits.
For all you two-stroke mavericks out there, Paul Harris has written a small piece for twostrokemotocross.com on Billy Mackenzie’s ride on the CR500 at the last round of the British Championships.
Last week, we did a Privateer Profile with Daniel Blair, who will be riding, in part, for Moto XXX as a privateer in the 2009 Lites SX Championship. We got a note from him on Christmas day updating us as to his status for the Lites West:
“Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Xmas and also give you an update on everything that is going on in my chaotic world. Early this week I had an unfortunate bike issue come up that has forced me to make some big changes to my program for the 09’ season. My transmission locked up while training in So Cal and due to the holidays and severity of the broken part I will not be able to get my bike ready in time for Anaheim 1. So after a few phone calls and crunching some quick numbers, we have decided to transfer my entries eastward and I will now be racing my 250F on the Lites East Championship starting in Houston on January 24th. I am very bummed about this because I am physically 100% ready to go for Anaheim and it is pretty hard to just change plans when you have been emotionally, mentally, and physically preparing for something and have to change those plans on such a short notice. However, I do believe in fate and destiny and I am gonna use this as a blessing in disguise.
I will be at Anaheim 1 on the CRF450. I called the AMA and made the transfer so I will still be racing all West SX rounds in the Open class. I want to thank all my sponsors for believing in me and giving me the support I need to succeed. I hope everyone had a great Xmas and I will see you all January 3rd in Anaheim.”
So count Daniel in for a 450 at A1 and a 250F starting at Houston.
California has been a pretty bizarre place the last couple of weeks, with the snow and rain last week, followed by even more rain this week leading up to some showers on Christmas. Because of the weather, a lot of California-based riders have been high-tailing it out to Arizona and other such places just to be able to ride. California’s been a ghost town for supercross practicing and testing.
However, a quick glance at Weather.com shows that the 10-day forecast for Anaheim only shows two days with a 10-percent chance of rain, and the rest are all at 0 percent as of now, so this is good news. Hopefully the weather forecast doesn’t change much in the coming days…
Remember the link to last week’s amazing slideshow by Lee Sutton? If you missed it, click here.
Here’s what my friend Rick Conley had to say about it—that ‘75 Trans-AMA at Carnegie was the first motocross race he ever attended:
“I just wanted to drop you a line and say how much I enjoyed the Vintage Motocross slideshow. In fact I watched it twice before I read the rest of your article (sorry but I have a soft spot like you for Old School). With a major portion of these photos taken at Sears Point, Carnegie Cycle Park, and the old Hangtown track, it’s nice to see the old Northern Cali tracks get some love. The Sears Point track and Carnegie track are on opposite sides of the bay from each other, about an hour or so drive apart. The old Hangtown track in Placerville is about a 30-minute drive from the current Hangtown track in Rancho Cordova’s Prairie City Off-Highway Vehicle Park.
Carnegie Park in Tracy is still open, but only to general riding. The few race events that do happen are hill climbs and some Hare-n-Hounds. The Sears Point track has long been bulldozed over to make way for more parking for the existing road course to accommodate the NASCAR crowd, Superbike Weekend, and other hosted events. However, they recently cut a new, smaller track MX track and they run local Dist 36, a ways away from the parking lot. I’m not to sure about the land that was once the old Hangtown track in Placerville.
Of the three tracks, the Sears track was absolutely awesome, built to take the riders up and down the hills of this big valley. The track also had great traction, it reminded me of a West Coast Unadilla, or as close you could get anyway. The old Hangtown track was a about as sandy as it gets for the West Coast, definitely not a Southwick, but it was fun. The Carnegie track is HARD-BAKED adobe mixed with rocks. In fact our Vintage Club had a race there a few years ago and it was not too favorable with the riders, so we now make our Vintage AHRMA National a permanent site at Hollister Hills.”
Rick Conley also had this to say: “I thought you might be interested with a litle more insight, but have you ever been told why it is called “Hangtown.” Legend as it, that during the Gold Rush Days of 1849 in California, there were so many deaths from hanging, the area became known as “Hangtown.” In 1854 the state made it a legal town naming it, Placervile, making it the third largest town in California, at the time. The Dirt Diggers Off-Road club took a piece of history when naming it “Hangtown”, since the original track was in Placerville, er..Hangtown..pre ‘54.
Okay, that’s it for this week, thanks for reading Racerhead. Stay tuned for a special Monday Conversation with Nathan Ramsey, conducted by our man in Michigan, Jim Kimball. Have a safe and Happy New Year’s, see you at the races.