Racerhead #2

January 9, 2009 3:56pm | by:

Great news, supercross fans! This afternoon we received a press release stating that the Supercross Live! webcast is back for this weekend’s race in Phoenix! Feld Motor Sports is making Supercross Live! available for a season package or for individual race pay-per-listen downloads. So click here for more information or to sign up. And although the race won’t be broadcast live, you can still watch it the following day on SPEED. Tune in Sunday at 5:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. out West). Be sure to check your local listings.

Although he’s super pumped, let’s turn this over to Supercross Live!’s Jason Weigandt.

  • Broc Tickle broke his jaw and Sean Collier will be riding his bike
  • Broc Hepler can't catch a break, but Sean Hamblin can.
When Broc Tickle went down with a broken jaw while riding for press day at Anaheim on Friday, the Star Racing Yamaha team went scrambling to try to get another rider onto the West Region Lites Squad. First they asked Matt Lemoine, who was scheduled to race East, if he would suit up and race on Saturday night, but Lemoine’s training and testing and practice schedule is based around getting ready for the East opener on January 24 in Houston, so he decided not to. So Star made the call to one of their former riders, and he wasn’t hard to find. After some great runs during the AMA Motocross Championship last summer, Sean Collier was set to run a privateer Honda in supercross. On Friday night, the team asked if he’d like to come back on board and race Tickle’s YZ250F. He said yes, and somehow, overnight, Star had gear, a helmet, graphics, and all of that ready for Collier. Sean rode practice on his new bike, but he decided to withdraw from the race since he basically had never ridden the bike before. He’ll test this week and be ready to race in Phoenix. Remember, a few years ago Collier just missed a podium finish at Phoenix.

But the Phoenix Lites race is known for throwing out surprise results. Last year Jake Weimer won the race after failing to make the main at Anaheim 1 (he did a little better this year). Christophe Pourcel won his first supercross at Phoenix in ’07. And Broc Hepler won his first (and only) Supercross at Phoenix in 2005, after he struggled in the mud at Anaheim 1.

You know who would really like to get that first Phoenix win? Chad Reed. Reedy mentioned in his podcast this week with Matthes that he has never won in Phoenix. Here’s a stat for you: Reed is 0-5 in Phoenix, and that’s the only track on the AMA SX tour in which he hasn’t won in five starts. He’s also 0-4 in Seattle and 0-3 in Minneapolis, and that’s it, he’s won in every other city the AMA tour has raced in (he even won in the 125 class the only time he ever raced in New Orleans).

If you folks are coming to Phoenix, check out the Red Bull DMXS after party on Saturday night. Go to Coach and Willies, 412 South 3rd St in Phoenix. Party starts as soon as the race ends.

Here’s our favorite word nerd, Steve Cox:

So much happened at Anaheim 1 that it left us with more questions than answers. That’s actually somewhat common at the season-opener, though, for whatever reason. It’s like a spring coiled past its point of predictability. When you let it go, it might go like you predicted, but it’s just as likely to bounce off in some weird direction, and that’s what we got at Anaheim.

  • The amateur careers of Alessi and Villopoto didn't exactly carry into the big league.
For example, we were all anxious to see how Ryan Villopoto would do in his 450cc debut with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. After practice, it was immediately apparent that his speed was right there. Then he went out and won his heat race going away. It seemed we had a battle ready to go for the main event, but Villopoto didn’t get a start with Chad Reed and James Stewart, and then fell over after the finish line part way through the main. Still, he recovered for a top-five even through the adversity.

“Obviously, everybody saw the qualifier was good,” Villopoto said after the race. “I rode real well in that, got the start I wanted, but in the main, I got a bad start. The first or second lap wasn’t as good as I wanted, then I ended up falling and had to work my way back up. It’s always rough doing it that way, but overall, it was a decent night. Really, what I’m looking at is the lap times. I’m really close to James and Chad, and that’s important in the big picture. That, and obviously James didn’t get many points, so that’s good for me, too. It’s not so bad.”

Out front, of course, we all know what happened now from both the video of the incident as well as the interviews of both Stewart and Reed that I did earlier in the week. Reed thought maybe he hit neutral, and Stewart said what actually happened was that he missed a shift. Either way, it’s hard to fault either guy completely. First off, it was Stewart’s fault that he missed the shift, but at the same time, the person in front does have the right of way. Stewart’s mistake was missing a shift and Reed’s mistake was not leaving room for that sort of an error. Both were understandable with the way they were battling at the front of the field. There wasn’t much of a room for error from either guy, so one mistake was all it took. Reed had nowhere to go, though, as he had committed to a certain speed while counting on Stewart to run a similar speed.

But that’s also why brake checking works, for example. When I raced, I was always taught that it was the guy in front who had the right of way – you know, just like driving – and it’s up to the guy behind them to find a way past. Although it’s considered “dirty” by today’s standards – for reasons I don’t really understand – brake checks have never been very uncommon. It’s a great tactic to get someone to back off of your rear wheel. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s when a rider gets into a racing line and then stops – or nearly stops – throwing off the following rider’s timing at best, or causing that rider to fall over at worst. It works because the rider in front is setting the pace. It’s also why I always thought that Kevin Windham’s taking out of David Vuillemin at Phoenix in 2004 was just as much Vuillemin’s fault as Windham’s, as Windham was “in front” at the moment of contact. In other words, it wasn’t a “T-bone”, so no foul.

After the U.S. Open, I honestly had my doubts that Reed would be able to put up a fight from behind, but I was completely wrong. When Stewart got away a bit, I assumed the race was over, but Reed immediately began gaining on Stewart. It’s going to be extremely interesting to see if the two of them hit the test tracks this week and found anything else with their bikes for this weekend, or see how the undoubtedly different conditions in Phoenix will lead to different results. In his interview for the website, Reed told me never to doubt him, so I’ll take that advice from here on out.

  • Chad Reed wasn't on his game at the U.S. Open
  • Morais and Weimer are happy with their new green team
A lot has been said of Jake Weimer’s performance, as well as Jason Lawrence, Ryan Dungey, and the problems that Trey Canard had in the Lites class at A1, but one guy who didn’t catch a lot of looks was Weimer’s equally new teammate Ryan Morais. He was on it all night, finishing second to Weimer in both their Heat and the main event. He was a far cry from his performances last year, when he was sick for most of the year.

In their heat battle, it looked like Weimer actually got into the side of Morais a bit after the on-off section, but Morais said he didn’t.

“He came in a little hot, but he gave me a rev to let me know he was there,” Morais said. “We never hit, and I went up high, and it was good. Jake raced clean, and I couldn’t ask for anything more from him. He’s a great teammate and I couldn’t ask for more. We hang out and he’s a funny kid and we joke around. It’s nice when we go out there and race to know that neither one of us will do anything stupid to knock each other down.”

Morais also said that he had a feeling that there would be carnage at round one. Chalk one up to experience.

“I think I came out like sixth off the start, and I was trying to get by Sipes for fourth, and I was trying to push it but also be smart,” Morais said. “I knew it was a long race and there was going to be carnage. I just tried riding smart, got into fourth, and unfortunately Brayton ended up going down with Reardon – I don’t know what happened – and after that, I just put my head down, put my charge on trying to catch Jake, and went from there.”

So what’s in store for Phoenix? After last week, and also last year’s racing at Phoenix, I think it’s going to be epic.

Here’s Matthes:

I was joking with Sean Hamblin a little while ago about how he can just wait until somebody gets hurt and he’ll be back on a factory team again. Cue the Twilight Zone music because with Yamaha’s Broc Hepler breaking his collarbone this past weekend at Anaheim (scoreboard: California 1,435 Broc 0) Sean is back on the factory Yamaha team once again this weekend in Phoenix. Click here to read the official PR from Yamaha.

Everybody’s favorite little racer, Jason Thomas of the DNA/Butler Brothers team, is going to be getting out his step and then using that to step back up on the horse. You may remember that the pint-sized warrior broke his leg at the U.S. Open and has been busy rehabbing it since. He’s become quite proficient on a 110 and claims that “Costella has nothing on me.” JT is looking to start riding maybe today (after a long night cheering on his Florida Gators) and then in a few weeks join the tour where he will, no doubt, start finishing in the 10th to 15th range.

If you're wondering about what’s going on in Canadian moto, check out www.directmotocross.com.

  • FMX great Nate Adams left Anaheim with a broken arm.
From Ping:
I’m afraid I might have jinxed Nate Adams. Last week I mentioned that he would be racing and that he would surely not have any problems jumping the triples. Well, Nate miscounted his shifts coming out of the whoops and hit the triple in first gear instead of second. For those of you who have never hit a supercross triple, you should know that second and third gear will get you over most triples but first gear will get you an ambulance ride. Nate cased the jump and buckled his left arm. He had surgery this week to plate the broken bone. His dad sent me this message this week:

Mr. Ping, this is Tandy Adams, Nate “the destroyer’s” dad. (He hates that nickname in case you don’t know.) Your last article combining the best of and the worst of riders is another classic. It rates up there with the demise of the 2 stroke “thumper boy” article a year or two ago. I have that one on my pegboard over my workbench. I was in my “library” laughing out loud making all kinds of crazy noises. Good luck on your new team manager position and keep the funny articles coming. Yours is the first thing I read, after I thumb thru the pages looking for pictures of Nate. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tandy, stop by Racer X Online every Friday for my weekly column, Ask Ping. It’s much more difficult to read on the crapper but with wireless Internet and a laptop anything is possible.

There were a lot of people that were surprised with Chris Blose’s ride to fourth place in the 250 main event. I’ve been watching him ride during the preseason, so it wasn’t that big of a surprise to me. You will see more of him this year - trust me. Not bad for a guy who was recruited to fill in for the injured Jake Moss in late November. And up until that point he had been working construction to pay bills.

Speaking of Chris, he is the latest in a pretty impressive list of riders to come out of Arizona. His uncle is Chappy Blose, a former factory Kawasaki rider, so his talent runs in the family. But Robert Naughton (125 SX vice champion), Sean Kalos, Jimmy Button, Bobby Moore (125 SX champion, 125 world champion), Jimmy Gaddis (125 SX champion), Nate Adams (FMX champion), Destry Abbott (off-road champion) and even myself (vice champion of vice champions) have all beat up the desert tracks in the valley over the years. Even Jim “Bones” Bacon of Pro Circuit suspension fame hails from Tucson. For a state that has unbearable heat, crappy soil, and a limited number of tracks to ride, those are surprising stats.

Here’s Bad Billy:

First off, I wanted to clarify something I overlooked on the Sign of the (Lap) Times earlier this week, and the credit goes to reader Chad Sparks, who said, “Thought maybe since you did the lap times column this week there should be at least an asterisk by J-Law’s time. The ‘track cutting’ incident came on lap 7, which was the same lap as his fastest lap. Take that out and his next-fastest time put him in seventh instead of fourth.”

  • Marsack was the fastest rider not to make the main event.
The first recipient of the Racer X Gas Card in 2009 was Brawndo Honda’s Jake Marsack. It’s bittersweet for Jake. Although he missed making the main event, Jake still received an extra $750 for his efforts, and one-third of that came from Anaheim 1 Racer X Gas Card sponsor Darren White, who came all the way from Australia to take in the opening round of Monster Energy Supercross. Here’s what Darren had to say about his experience:

Well after first trying for a Gas Card in 2005 and again in 2007 without any success, my time came for the opportunity at A1 and it was worth every cent – sorry, penny – for the experience.

After making a bit of a hazy start to the day, due to the beer monster at Dave and Buster’s the previous evening, we headed to Angel Stadium at about 10:30 a.m. We picked up our passes and continued through to the pits, and just quietly not that it is a surprise, but that is the time to take a look around, when the place isn’t packed. We saw quite a few of the riders walking around, but not wanting to disturb them on a day when they are quite possibly on edge – we didn’t stop them for a photo or anything.

We then caught Davey Coombs, and he escorted us down to the track walk, introducing us to Eric Johnson and Fro along the way. It was good to talk to Fro; last time I spoke to him was at the Des Nations in Australia in 1992, which he obviously remembers fondly, and it was good to hear from a former pro something that a lot of us locals from West Aust already know and try to tell people, and that is just how brutal the Manjimup track is. Just then, Chad and the Suzuki guys walk by to take a look. I was considering going over and offering some line choices too him, but after thinking twice about it, I kinda thought he might know a bit more about what he is doing than I would, so I let them be. I am finding it hard to put into words on how different the dirt looked close up. It just seemed tackier and harder than what it does from the stands, and to try to just slowly walk down the backsides of some of the jumps, well you do so at your own peril as before you know it you are running down the back of them! They are that steep.

We got to the third-base-line rhythm section and spotted Troy Carroll, a Pro from Oz, and after chatting to him for a few minutes found out he is doing the first seven rounds! We wished him luck and let him get back to working out the best way to navigate the straight on two wheels. The rider’s meeting was next and that seemed to go on for quite a long time; we ended up chatting to Carl Stone for most of it.

After another trip to the pits and watching some practice from the stands with some friends, we thought we would try out some perks of the VIP Pass and headed to the Press Box to watch some more practice. There wasn’t too much going on there at that time but the view was neat, and David Bailey was there and once again not wanting to bother him we didn’t ask for a photo or anything. We’re regretting it now.

With the Knothole club not opening for another 90 minutes or so, we went for another walk and caught up with people we have met from previous journeys.

Five o’clock came and it was time to check out the infamous Knothole club. Saying it was easy on the eyes up there is an understatement; there was probably as much plastic up there than there was on the bikes. (Okay, I know, I know… Plastic surgery isn’t the same plastic as a fender on a bike, but you get my drift, not that we were complaining.) The amount of former and current pros that were up there could almost fill a grid for a race, on memory they were as follows: Grant Langston, Jeff “Chicken” Matiasevich, Danny LaPorte, Mike Bell, Denny “Snoop” Stephenson, Buddy Antunez, Rick Johnson, Jason Thomas, Ryan Hughes, Greg Albertyn, Ernesto Fonseca, Gary Jones, Kurt Nicoll, throw in a couple Road Racers in Nicky Hayden, Max Biaggi and I think Ben Spies, and also add in Robbi “Maddo” Maddison, and you have your grid. My mate also spotted some bird from Cold Case. I think they interviewed her but I don’t know her name.

The atmosphere was great in there, especially down one corner where there was a group of people watching the Chargers game, and going by the cheers, the majority of them were Chargers fans.

After the Lites main event, I laid witness to something a lot of people probably don’t think is possible. J-Law, as we know of late, is usually in the news for all the wrong reasons, but I saw him make some young kid’s night. He came up to watch the 450 main still in his riding gear and sat with the Yamaha folks when all of a sudden he starts taking his jersey off, signs it and hands it to this young kid. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I thought he was coming up for a beer.

There is no need to talk about the race, as you would have either watched it or read about it by now, but the last cool thing to happen up there on an awesome night was watching it with GL next to us. About halfway through it, he started talking to my mate. He was genuinely on a high telling my mate how happy he was that one of his closest friends was about to win his first 450 SX. And then Josh decided to make it interesting by towing a Tuff Block cover around and to see GL literally crossing his fingers was quite funny but also cool to see. He was elated when he made it to the checkers.

And so that was our night with the Gas Card. It is going to be hard to lose all those privileges for the next four rounds, but I am sure we will cope.

Thanks to Davey, Fubar, and Billy for making it all possible.

Cheers mates!

The Gas Card sponsors for Phoenix are John Nunley and Daniel Gonzalez. We still have opening for Anaheim 3, San Diego, Indy, New Orleans, Toronto, Salt Lake City and Vegas. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, click here.

Check out the Type 2 RC125 Replica that Scott Steger of Vintage Factory just completed. Check out more of Scott’s stuff at www.vintagefactory.com.

  • Here’s another one from the old school: That’s Andy Leisner, getting ready to go all Roger DeCoster on the class, circa 1978 (and yes, his chest pro is a Heikki Mikkola replica).
  • Jack Carpenter and James Stewart: Separated at birth? Villopoto or Stroupe? Too close to call!
  • The Cobra is back!
Fresh off a solid fourth (Chris Blose) in his debut as the Troy Lee Designs Honda team manager, Ping got online and found something that truly piqued his interested. It’s a concept bike by someone who a deep affinity for the old Bultaco Pursang motorcycles. WARNING: Stunning Charlie Morey moto photos but ethereal tripno-pop soundtrack…. and it’s in Spanish.

Racing Optics manufactures all the laminated tear-offs you see in motocross and the shield protectors and tear-offs for the road racers. (They also doe all of the windshield tear-offs you see in NASCAR, and for all the Humvees in the military.) Racing Optics has a new site and has added a store, newsletter, and blog so customers can post their stories. Check it out: www.racingoptics.com.

The Cobra is back! DV12, Gautier Paulin and former world champ Jacky Vimond are now in California training on different tracks all over the place for the next three weeks. They are also doing local races on Sundays. According to our friend Dogfish in France, DV’s staying in his house, though it is actually rented by Ben Coisy. So there is quite a big French community around now, what with Christophe Pourcel getting ready for the East Region and Hugo Dagod present. There’s also David’s father’s team, Soubeyras and Musquin. It’s the Lafayette Brigade of supercross!

If you are experiencing cabin fever and need to get in practice laps but there is two feet of snow and no indoor track where you live, there is an alternative: the 2moto snow cycle conversion kit. Bolts on to your 450MX in a few hours. Racer X publisher Scott Wallenberg went out on a quick test ride last week and was totally blown away by both the easy learning curve and the absolute fun. This does not feel like riding a snowmobile, ATV, or personal watercraft - this is motocross on snow! 

There will be a first 2moto snow cycle race in McCall Idaho on Feb 7 featuring invited guests Mike Metzger, Robie and Bret Petersen, Darrell Schultz, John Dowd, Malcolm Smith and son Alex Smith, Steve Hatch, and Johnny Unser. The race will be held on a golf course! 

  • Racer X publisher Scott Wallenberg on a 2moto Snow Cycle
For more info on the race and the kits, go to www.2moto.com.

Get your SLAYER autograph in Anaheim! Kerry King will take part in a special meet-and-greet at the Jägermeister Pit Area at Anaheim on Saturday, January 17 at 4:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around for a free live performance from the Strung Out at 5:00 p.m. on the Jägermeister Mobile Stage.

Remember Teddy Maier? Unfortunately, he is currently on the sidelines, as he suffered an injury while preparing for the opening round of the AMA Arenacross Series in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His agent, Eric Staton, told us, “Teddy was practicing at the Sand Box Arena, an indoor facility in Wisconsin, where he went down. Teddy suffered a compound fracture to the tib/fib. They were able to do surgery that same night, installing a rod, and Teddy is looking to have a full recovery very soon. Bummed about being sidelined, Teddy would like to give a big thanks to everyone that stepped up to help out with this year’s arenacross tour. Look for Teddy back to racing soon. Thanks to Moose Racing, Pro Circuit, Renthal, Kawasaki Sports Center of Little Rock, Leading Edge Kawasaki, Alpinestars, UFO Racing and Dunlop.”

Finally, before you move log off, you may want to check out this new giveaway. Monster Energy and Kawasaki have teamed up to give away a Kawasaki KLX110 to one lucky Racer X reader. Register now to win a Monster Energy/Kawasaki Triple Crown of Motocross KLX110 right here on Racer X Online. No purchase necessary to win, just click here to enter!

Well, that about does it for Racerhead this week. Go Steelers!