Racerhead #1

January 2, 2009 4:40pm | by:
The wait is almost over. The 2009 season gets underway just 24 hours from now when the starting gate drops on the new Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship at Angel Stadium. Chad Reed will finally break out the #1 plate on his Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, just as James Stewart finally breaks out his new Answer gear, Ryan Villopoto rolls out on his KX450F, Kevin Windham debuts his new MSR gear, and everyone else gives chase.

  • Anaheim will once again host the series opener.
If you’re not actually going to be at Anaheim, there’s good news: the opening round will be shown LIVE on Speed TV, beginning at 7:00 p.m. California time, and 10:00 p.m. way back east. You can also check the lap times out on www.amasupercross.com.

The bad news, apparently, is that if you don’t have Speed TV or live somewhere outside the U.S., you won’t be able to tune in to Supercross Live! on your computer, as Feld Motor Sports made the surprising move of stopping the live webcast as a result of the economic downturn. As someone who works in the industry but is raising a family back home in West Virginia, I don’t get to attend all of the races. Like a lot of you, I came to rely upon (and downright enjoy) the words and wisdom of Jason Weigandt and Jim Holley. I hope that the decision is only temporary and that a suitable replacement or sponsor for the shows can be found, because come next week in Phoenix, I will be a couple thousand miles away, sitting in front of my computer, hoping to hear what’s going on in my sport.

I know these are hard times, but the webcast was a boon to the series’ worldwide exposure. I also know of at least one international rider who was not very pleased to find out his family and friends will not be able to listen: Ben Townley. He called me last night and wanted to know if there was any way we could pitch in and help out with the webcast, just as we do with the AMA Motocross Championship. If the opportunity arises, I will do what I can to get the show back on the air.

Speaking of BT101, there’s a cool new video of him up over on www.motoverte.com.

  • The 2009 Anaheim 1 track.
Did you catch our new feature earlier this week? It’s a virtual walk-around each track for Monster Energy SX, sponsored by the gang at Smith Optics. Jeff Emig, the four-time champ and current color analyst for Speed TV and CBS, went around our Daniel Ahlgren-illustrated track diagram to preview what the riders might be doing in each section. If you missed it, you definitely want to check this one out.

I mentioned James Stewart’s new gear before. Simon Cudby was the first man to shoot Bubba in his new britches and he posted eight wallpaper images (and this cool Racer X Film) to show you what Stewart looks like in something other than Fox—it’s been since he rode pee-wees and wore AXO back in 1993 that we’ve seen him in anything other than Fox Racing!

If you checked out today’s USA Today, you know there’s no love between Stewart and Reed right now. In a back-page feature, Chad says, “Me and James don’t have a relationship. I definitely don’t care for the guy too much and want to kick his butt.”

Stewart responds, “I have a lot of respect for Chad, we just don’t put a lot of effort into our relationship.”

  • James is now running Answer gear.
  • Get your Anaheim 1 Trading Card this weekend at the Racer X Booth
When Reed blames a couple of the big crashes he had last year on the carburetor of his old Yamaha, which Stewart now rides, and adds about switching to Suzuki, “I needed a fresh start,” James really let him have it: “It’s easy to say that when you get fired. He knows how good the bike is, and I’ve made it a lot better.”

Not sure about you, but right now this is budding rivalry growing more bitter all the time, is something SX needs right now! Add in Ryan Villopoto and the rest, and this year’s opener is one for the books!

Want to watch the race with a bunch of fellow moto fans in Salem, Oregon? If you’re in the neighborhood, the Power Motorsports guys are again renting out a theater and inviting their customers and fellow enthusiasts to come to the Northern Lights Movie Theater in Salem, where the live Speed TV show will be airing on all four movie screens in the theater complex. The show starts at 7 p.m. local time, so if you’re around, go check it out.

As you probably saw last week, we tried something different with the 2009 Racer X Gas Card program: asking potential co-sponsors to write a short essay as to why they should be a part of the program. The contest is well underway, and the sponsors of the first three rounds are as follows:

Anaheim 1: Darren White and Jeff Ray
Phoenix: John Nunley
Anaheim 2: Craig Potter and Todd Snider

Currently we’re still in need of a sponsor for the Phoenix round of the series, as well as any of the other remaining rounds. It's a great way to help the sport, so for more information on the program or to become a sponsor yourself, giving $250 to the riders and earning a VIP weekend you’ll never forget, click here.
So what did the Anaheim 1 Racer X Gas Card sponsors write to qualify for the program?

Darren White: “Those who have traveled a distance and visited many an airport will feel the pain I am about to endure. Five hours in airports and 19 hours flying ahead of me next week and that is just the first of a five-stop SX mini tour. Having missed out on a Gas Card in 2005 and 2007 due to being asleep when the thread was started, I decided to stay up all night this year only for the goal posts to be changed! Yeah, talk about being disappointed. A Gas Card to A1 will help remedy all pain and disappointment, plus a crowd isn’t complete without an Aussie!”

  • Malcolm Smith back in 1974.
  • One of the most famous portraits in motocross history was this MXA image of Marty Smith
Jeff Ray: “We would like to throw our name in the hat for the Racer X Gas Card sponsorship. Truth Soul Armor has been helping riders of different levels go racing for over five years now at a grassroots level. The Gas Card is a perfect fit for us as we know firsthand the difficulties of getting from race to race. Several of our riders are privateers who race for the love of racing, which is why we’re involved in the first place. We would be honored to be associated w/ the Racer X Gas Card.”

Another very disturbing sign of the times.

With all the year-end stuff going on and the salutes to Michael Phelps, I’ve noticed lots of magazines featuring pictures of him with his eight gold medals wrapped around his neck, Mark Spitz-style. Well, back in 1973, after earning his fifth gold medal in what used to be called the ISDT, Malcolm Smith was featured Spitz-style in Cycle World magazine, only he’s also holding his Team USA skunk helmet. Cool stuff.

And who could forget the famous Marty Smith shot from Motocross Action of 1975 MXA Rider of the Year Marty Smith, shopped up to be the “world’s first bionic motocrosser.” I guarantee you that right now, somewhere in Michigan, Amy Ritchie is smiling.
“The Dogger” Ron Lechien’s story is coming to the little screen for the first time this Sunday on Speed’s “The Motocross Files” at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Canada has a new website to fill the void left when Racer X Canada went on hiatus. Check out DirectMotocross.com for all of the happenings north of the border.

Welcome to the world, Jace William Muye, who was born today at 12:11 p.m. He is 9 pounds, 5 ounces and 21 inches long. He is hte son of Feld Motor Sport's Dave Muye, and he and mom are doing awesome. 

We'd also like to welcome Kane Espinoza Tilton, who showed up a little past midnight on December 29 and weighed 7 lbs., 12 oz. Congratulations to proud parents Scott and Michelle Tilton.

  • That’s Kane Espinoza Tilton with his proud parents.
Here’s Ping:
First, I want to just say that Robbie Maddison is out of his mind. That Red Bull stunt he did in Vegas was so crazy that very few people in the world would even have considered doing it. I don’t know how he managed to stay on the bike when he over shot the landing slightly but it was one heck of a save. Good job, Maddo.

Is it just my new job or has this been the most excruciating off-season in the history of off-seasons? It seems like it has drug on forever and between injuries and the holidays being so close to the first round, I’m more stressed out now than when I was racing. Maybe it’s just me. Either way, I can’t wait to get started.

I don’t know what went wrong with the live webcast for the supercross rounds but I am bummed to see those gone. I listened to a lot of the rounds I didn’t go to last year and would have done the same again.

Jiri Dostal had surgery this week and it went very well. The front of his C6 vertebra was completely crushed and they had to build a cage around it. That took about three hours of work. At that point they rolled him over and finished the procedure from the back, which took another three hours. Between the gnarly zippers and the bolt holes in his head Jiri’s Frankenstein costume for next Halloween is a no-brainer. But he is unimaginably lucky to have all of his motor function after such a bad injury. Jimmy Button reminded me that when he crashed in San Diego he didn’t even break any bones in his neck. His spinal cord simply bent further than it should have and that kink was all it took to cause his injury. Dostal is out of ICU and should be headed home early next week. He will more than likely have to have one more surgery on his hand in the coming weeks. Road 2 Recovery as set up an account for Jiri for those able to help. You can get to it here.

Most people have a favorite horse in the 450 class this weekend. Between Stewart, Reed, Villopoto, Windham, Short and the rest of the lineup, it’ pretty easy to find someone you like. If you are having trouble picking a rider to root for in the 250 class, I have a guy for you. For the first time in a long time an FMX guy is testing the supercross waters. Nate Adams has been one of the best freestyle guys for a while now but he wants to see how he will do inside a stadium. So, he’s signed up for Anaheim 1. I haven’t seen him ride a supercross track so I can’t really say how he’ll do. He probably won’t have any trouble jumping the triples. And my gut tells me he isn’t going to be able to resist throwing a few tricks off the finish line jump. Still, supercross whoops and rhythms are a whole different animal. Keep and eye out for Nate this weekend.

  • That’s David Bailey from the ‘83 USGP at Unadilla, where he battled Brian Myerscough (42) and Danny LaPorte in an all-time classic race.
Warren Price has posted another fantastic essay on his days as a reporter on the European motocross circuit. This time he recalls the first time he met David Bailey, which came right after Bailey was drafted onto Team USA following Donnie Hansen’s career-ending crash at Rolf Deiffenbach’s practice track in West Germany. Check out the story on what David and Team USA overcame in what would become the second consecutive sweep of the Trophee and Motocross des Nations, led by Danny “Magoo” Chandler

Are you a pro living on the east coast that wants to do some supercross racing? If you missed this earlier this week, check it out. PR is really cool and it might be a good warmup race.

“I’m looking for some A or pro class riders from the east coast (Atlanta, Orlando, FL) that would be interested in racing the event in Puerto Rico, january 23 & 24th. Interested riders should contact Gaby Catala.”
e-mail – gcatala20@hotmail.com

The first sponsor my brother and I ever had was Fairmont Cyclery, a Honda shop in Fairmont, West Virginia. We were maybe 10 and 8 years old, respectively, and we both raced XR75s at Appalachia Lake MX Park—not exactly the high-profile class for potential sponsors. But Allen Smith, then the owner of Fairmont Cyclery Inc., took us under his wing and on to his small race-support team. Over the years Allen was a motorcycling enthusiast of the highest degree. He rode, his son Kevin raced, and he supported far more up-and-coming riders than his little shop had budget for, but that never seemed to matter. He was good people, and he enjoyed helping others.

  • The old Appalachia Lake MX Park near Bruceton Mills, WV.
  • Allen Smith was a pillar of the West Virginia motocross community.
Allen Smith passed away on December 18, 2008. With that loss, the central West Virginia motocross community lost its second pillar in less than a year—longtime track promoter Tom Stout was killed when he rolled his tractor over on the first day of the 32nd new season at Pyramid Valley Raceway. It’s hard to explain what each man meant for all us motocross dreamers in this part of the country, other than the fact that they supported those dreams for many of us.

Here's something from Bad Billy:

It is with great regret that I admit that I have been defeated in a Rose Bowl bet I had with Mark Rodgers of Factory Connection West. Mark is a huge USC fan and I am a huge Penn State fan, so needless to say we had to lay something on the line for yesterday's Rose Bowl game, in which Mark's Trojans manhandled my beloved Nittany Lions. Mark definitely got a kick out of it and added insult to injury with this press release:

USC Flexes Muscle Against Penn State
Pasadena, CA

In an expected, yet thrilling display of domination, USC throttled Penn State 38-24 in the 95th Rose Bowl Game. It was close early on, then in the second quarter USC flexed their muscle and opened up an insurmountable margin. At the break Penn State tried valiantly to regroup, but to no avail, as USC held on to keep control and take a commanding 38-24 victory for their third straight Rose Bowl win--a NCAA record. This continued USC's domination of the Big Ten and in the end Billy Ursic (of Penn State love) was defeated and will be wearing a Mark Sanchez USC jersey (the namesake of the agreed to, Mark Rodgers) at the Anaheim 3 supecross. 

  • That's a cool Christmas card!
The Christmas card-of-the-year award goes to Todd Huffman and the gang at the Motocross Files TV show. They sent out this simply stunning photo of a kid getting an autograph from The Man himself, Roger DeCoster, likely at the 1975 Carlsbad 500cc Grand Prix of motocross. The photo came from the Dick Miller Collection, and it speaks volumes as to why motocross was cool back then, and holds so many great memories for us now…

MX Donations is proud to announce the 2009 Van Andel AX After Party presented by Schwagon at McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon across from the arena on January 3, immediately following the races. Make sure you download the 2-for-1 VIP passes that get you and a guest in with no line and no cover! Drink specials from 10:00 PM-12:00 AM 21+ (sorry kids)

Robin Hartfiel sent us this very funny video compilation of lucky moments in order to wish us all good luck in the New Year. 

Take ten minutes and watch this YouTube find of the week: The 1976 Battle of the Network Stars debut

That’s it. The off-season is finally, mercifully over, welcome to 2009. Are you ready for supercross?!!!