Racerhead #4

January 23, 2009 5:04pm

Hello, and welcome to Racerhead. Here’s Steve Cox to start things off:

  • The Houston Supercross Track Map
This weekend kicks off the Lites East, and one would have to figure that the main guys are going to be last year’s Houston winner, Austin Stroupe, and his teammate Christophe Pourcel, from the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad, and GEICO Powersports Honda’s Brett Metcalfe. There will probably be other guys mixing it up, like Martin Davalos on the MDK KTM team, for example, but I’m operating under the assumption that Stroupe, Pourcel, and Metcalfe will be the three battling for the title.

As for the 450cc class, last year’s winner was GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham – although he also designed the track last year. Can he one-up his Anaheim 2 performance? We’ll find out tomorrow night.

How cool was it to see Grant Langston joining Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael to do a parade lap at Anaheim 2? Langston threw some pretty fat whips over the finish line and the triple despite the use of only one eye. If that’s not accomplishment enough, think about the fact that he did it on Josh Hill’s test bike. I caught up with Langston after the race, where he was talking with fellow South African World and National champion Greg Albertyn, and he mentioned that his whip-and-point over the triple was a whip in the opposite direction from what he’s usually comfortable doing. It was great to see him back out on the track.

  • Langston's has trouble whipping it to one side...
  • We're not really sure which side he's talking about though.
  • McGrath and Carmichael were there for the show as well.
I talked to Chad Reed during the week for something for the next issue of Racer X, and I figured we should use the quotes we didn’t use there somewhere, so this is a bit of what he had to say:

“For me, I think this year’s been really strange coming in,” Reed said. “I don’t know if I just feel comfortable with what I’m doing and where I’m at, or what it is. It just seems like this season is kind of boring. There was really no hype about it. Yeah, Ryan [Villopoto] was coming into the class, and JG, and myself and James were moving bikes and whatever, but nothing really was all that exciting. I just felt like I was getting done what I wanted to get done, and achieved what I wanted to achieve in the off-season, and I came in ready.”

He came in ready partially because he changed everything about how he approached the season. “Spending the off-season in Australia was nice, and you didn’t have all of the bullshit in the off-season like you do here in the U.S.,” Reed said. “The industry is massive. I don’t live in California anymore, so I don’t hear the day-to-day crap that goes on, so I think that’s really the big difference. I feel like I’ve gone back to the basics – gone back to who I was when I first came here. That was just someone who had a dream and wanted to do good. I’m the one with the 1 on my bike, so everybody wants that. I’ve never really lost sight of what I felt I could achieve or what I felt I could do on a motorcycle, and that’s really why I’m still out there racing. I felt that I was always better than I was, and in many ways it’s kind of sad, because I spent many years of being really disappointed, and it showed. I got a bad rap, and really for good reasons. I wasn’t happy, and I had to cover that up, week-in and week-out. I’m second on the all-time podium list now.… I have 89 podiums, which means that’s 89 times when I didn’t win, I got up there and was really not all that stoked on it.

  • Kevin Windham had his best ride of this young season at Anaheim II
  • Will we see Windham outdoors this year?
“It’s going to come across eventually that you’ll become a guy that people don’t really want to hear anymore. I’m the factory guy, I’m on the podium, and really, it was a good achievement, but I wasn’t happy. Now many things have changed in my program, and I’m happy. Win, lose, or draw, I feel like I leave the racetrack happy, and I know that I left it all on the table and I had the best shot to win. And if I didn’t, then it’s my own fault. Whereas in the past, I didn’t feel that way, and that’s really it. I’m happy about who I am, what I’m doing, and the choices that I’ve made this year.”

It actually shows at the track. Reed is a pleasant fellow, and as he points out, he wasn’t always so amicable. Actually, our sport is in a great place right now, as all of the biggest stars are very approachable, with James Stewart being a dream to be around, Kevin Windham the same (he always has been), Ryan Villopoto, and Reed too. It’s a good time to be a supercross fan.

Now here’s DC:

Speaking of the #14, GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham is fresh off his first SX podium of the season, but the popular veteran dropped a teaser on DMXS Radio this week that he might be looking to race the outdoors this year as well. When asked about the nationals, Kevin responded, “I actually have some cool ideas that I’m working hard to try and have come together for the ‘09 season. Not sure that I’m riding any, or all, or a few. I don’t know yet, but it’s heavy on my mind and I’m working on it right now.”

Of course we asked for some specifics and his answer was even more intriguing: “Well, I’m not so sure what class I’m going to be riding or what bike I’m going to be riding, but I’m trying to put together a plan right now that is going to have some complete fan interaction on a weekly basis on a couple different things that would be pretty over the top.”

Said DMXS co-host David Izer, “I think there is an overwhelming consensus among the fans that seeing Windham race the outdoors needs to happen. Hell, I’ll even start the petition if it would help.”

In celebration of the AMA Supercross race at AT&T Park, MDK Motorsports will be hosting a pro rider meet-and-greet at two of its northern California locations. Riders from the Jägermeister/MDK KTM Supercross team will appear at MDK Motorsports in Concord, while the Muscle Milk/MDK KTM Supercross Lites team will be at MDK Motorsports in Redwood City. Both locations will be hosting this event on January 29 starting at 5:30PM.

  • What's a short guy to do?
After the race on Saturday night, I ran into Alex Martin, all 5’4” of him, and asked him how he did, and he complained he couldn’t get a good start. He was in the first heat race and there weren’t even any ruts, and he’s not allowed to used any type of starting block or pile up dirt. What if someone really needs help to ride a 250F? It seems like while the use of a block would be unfair to a guy who is 6’ tall, what about someone who really can’t touch the ground with both feet on flat ground? If allowed, he may be violating the rule, but not the spirit of the rule. Is there any way we could revisit this or make exceptions for guys who are truly in need of a starting block? I do know that after the race, Alex did go into the AMA Pro Racing trailer to make his case with Jeff Canfield and the FIM’s John Gallagher. I hope they were listening, and I hope they size the kid up. He’s got too much talent to be penalized for his natural height.

Lost in all of the discussion about Ricky Carmichael’s new truck deal with Kevin Harvick Inc. this week is the fact that he has a car race this weekend in California. Here is the info on Ricky’s race this weekend. It’s at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale and the race is the Toyota All-Star Showdown. It is being shown live on Speed TV, so motocross fans can check it out while also tuning in for the Supercross Live! webcast of the Houston SX. This race a shootout, kinda like our Dave Coombs Sr. East-West Shootout in Vegas, and the top guys from the East and West Camping World series that Ricky raced last year will be there.

  • Suzuki City is helping RC in his last race with Ken Schrader Racing
JH Leale, who’s out there with RC, told us, “This is Ricky’s last race with Ken Schrader Racing before he starts with Kevin Harvick Inc. at Daytona in February.” JH also sent over this photo of RC’s car and one of the MX-related sponsors helping him out this weekend: Suzuki City. Based in Biloxi, MS, Suzuki City is owned by Michael Nasakaitis, and in addition to helping out with RC’s race, their supercross team will be in Houston making a run at the podium with newly signed riders Matt Goerke and Steven Clarke. JH also mentioned that there wasn’t enough room on the car, but it was supposed to say www.suzukionly.com, which is Suzuki City’s website. We noticed a cool little piece on Ricky Carmichael’s budding truck-racing career. It’ll be interesting to see how the GOAT does in the Camping World Truck Series this year.

By the way, if you were at Anaheim last Saturday night, how cool was it to see RC out there doing some laps with Jeremy McGrath and Grant Langston? Carmichael was throwing some insane whips and looked like he had podium speed. McGrath, who hasn’t been riding quite as much (or intense) supercross as Carmichael was still awesome to behold on a motorcycle, but Langston’s time off the bike to heal his eye problem showed, though he was going faster than 99 percent of the people probably reading this!

This weekend’s Racer X Gas Card sponsors are TJ Fontenot and Neil Smith. Here are their letters on why they should be the sponsors:

Hello, my name is TJ Fontenot. I was a privateer motocross racer racing supercross from 1998-2006. I never made any mains, but always gave it everything I had. I have raced my whole life with the support of my parents. My parents gave me everything I needed to succeed in the sport and I would like to sponsor the Racer X gas card and send my mother and father to the Houston Supercross in appreciation of their support. I grew up in the Houston area and started going to the Houston supercross with my parents at age 4. We went every year no matter what the circumstances until I turned pro in 1998. Since then my father has watched the races from the mechanics area and has not gotten to enjoy a race in ten years with out worrying about what heat race I am in or what the bike is doing, etc. It would be a great honor to be able to both contribute to my fellow privateer and send my parents to show how grateful I am for their 22+ years of supporting my racing.

  • Not bad for a retired guy.
From Neil Smith:

I think I deserve Houston, because I am a frail old man that has a very limited number of hours left on this earth (Cough cough, I think I have the black lung). I also have lost most of my memory because of a chemical imbalance as a result of high exposure to alcohol (work related of course). Because of this condition, I can only live for the moment. Just think D.C., this could be the last race I will ever remember.

Have fun, guys, and thanks for helping out.

Anaheim 2’s Racer X Gas Card sponsors, Craig & Dustin Potter, sent us this regarding their experience:

My son Dustin and I got to the track at about 10am and picked up our passes. We were really excited to go on the track walk with the riders and see how they planned to hit each section at 11am. On the way we saw DC in the pits and spoke to him for a minute about the nights racing. Once we got out on the track we saw that Erin Bates and Jeff Emig were interviewing riders for the telecast later that night. We were about halfway through the track standing on the peak of the triple when Jason Weigandt walks by my son, looks right at him, and with a straight face said “Good luck in the main tonight”...then followed it up with “just pin it and you got this section”. It was hilarious and my son was talking about it all night.

When the mains started we found ourselves watching the races with all the teams families, employees and other riders that weren’t racing that night. Michael Byrne was standing next to me and we were talking about how good Reed looked coming through the pack. Byrner was really cool, and just like any other motocross fan watching the race. Hope he heals up and gets back out there soon.

Thanks Again Racer X… and let us know when we can do it again!!!!

  • Jake Klingensmith took this photo of Reed for the 2009 Racer X Calendar
Finally, if you got a copy of the 2009 Racer X Calendar, you will see that it starts out with a cool whip shot of Chad Reed. As the current points leader, it seems like a wise choice for January. Unfortunately, we left off the photo credit! The picture was snapped by Jake Klingensmith of Creative Works, who lays some excellent photos of Suzuki riders on us from time to time. Thanks for the photo, Jake, and look for that care package soon.

On to David Pingree:

I don’t know if Chad Reed is going to read this or not, but I’ve got to say that it has been really fun to watch him ride this year. I have never seen him ride with so much intensity and determination, and he obviously has his bike working great, because he can make it go anywhere he wants. And even though he hasn’t won a race yet, he has been gracious in his interviews. Anyway, he has impressed me and I’m sure I’m not alone on that. Good job, Chad.

I’ve had a lot of people asking about the annual Racer X Flag Football Tournament and we finally have a date and a location. On Sunday, February 15, the day after the San Diego Supercross, we will be hitting the gridiron hard at Balboa Park. Well, not that hard, because it’s flag football, people. Last year we did it after one of the Anaheim rounds, but we have had trouble finding a field because of the staggering number of youth soccer games going on at that time. I thought that sport wasn’t big here in the U.S. Do we like soccer now? Because I didn’t get the memo.

Regardless, Balboa Park is just a few miles from the stadium and it is a much better field than we had last year. If you are looking to join a team, you can send me an email and I’ll try to find a spot for you. Space is limited, though. Special thanks to the presenting sponsors of the tournament including Red Bull, Truth, Dragon, and One Industries. Yes, you heard me right - a supercross-related event that ISN’T sponsored by Monster Energy. Make a note of it.

  • Christophe Pourcel
I’m going to go ahead and make a prediction for this weekend’s race in Houston. The East series for the Lites class kicks off, and I’ve heard from a reliable source that Christophe Pourcel is flat-out hauling the mail. He did some final testing last weekend at the Kawasaki track and was beating the track record by nearly half a second … consistently. Ryan Villopoto held that record on a 450. Christophe has come back from some pretty terrible injuries, so it will be an amazing comeback story if he actually does go out and win. He will have to deal with Brett Metcalfe, Austin Stroupe, Martin Davalos and Nico Izzi, who has turned into an exact replica of his dad but with a spotty beard and a beanie over the last few months. It should be good racing this weekend in both classes.

It’s not officially spring yet, but apparently, love is in the air. Wow, did you just start singing that ‘70s disco song too? Anyway, Ivan Tedesco and his wife have a little boy on the way. Maybe we can call him Mild Salsa? And Nick Wey has started the countdown to bambino number two. Good news for those couples and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Now here’s some news from our Northern friend Danny Brault:

Well, you Americans went and did it again: you took hold of two Canadian factory rides, as Jeff Northrop and Jacqueline Ross re-signed with Royal Distributing KTM Canada last week. It’s actually not a bad thing. While I’d love to see some more Canadian talent on the big teams, there’s always room for the spirited personalities of both Northrop and Ross.

Last year was Ross’ first in Canada. After signing on late with KTM Canada to race the Canadian National Women’s Series, the Floridian went on to win nearly every moto and the title. For Northrop, however, it marked nearly half a decade of racing in “Toque Territory.” A former MX2 contender, Northrop raced a 450 last year and proved he was a podium contender until busting his hand at Round 7 in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Defending MX2 champ Eric Nye and Kiwi Mason Phillips are already signed to deals with KTM as well. Rumor has it that Canadian kids Ryan Millar and Kyle McGlynn may be racing as well, but nothing has been confirmed.

If this doesn’t satisfy your needs for Canadian MX news, then check out our new site at www.directmotocross.com. Steve Matthes writes on it, so it must be good.

Some food for thought: After the first three SXs in 2008, Ryan Dungey was leading the Western Region with 72 points and eventual champion Jason Lawrence was 34 points back in fifth. In 2009 Dungey is again leading with 70 points, while Lawrence sits seventh with a 36-point deficit.

  • Frank Ippolito and William Shatner
We sent Simon Cudby over to Fox’s Southern California facility to check out their backyard minibike track. The folks at Fox moto a few times a week after work with the help of some high-tech lighting (primarily Christmas lights mounted in the trees). Simon also went to the jersey printing room with Chris “Beeker” Onstott to watch him print up a few jerseys for Factory Connections East Coast Lites riders Brett Metcalfe and Blake Wharton. Blake’s butt patch features the popular Purple Rain font.

Not going to Houston? Join Jim Holley and Jason Weigandt as they call every race live beginning at 7pm local race time on the Supercross LIVE! webcast, presented by Parts Unlimited. Listen to the pre- and post-show, interviews, behind-the-scenes features, and promotions from the comfort of your own home. Fans please take advantage of one of these great new listening options available for the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross season!

Be sure to set your DVR or tune in to the Houston Supercross on Sunday. The AMA Supercross class will be airing on CBS at 12:00PM ET while the Lites class will be over on SPEED starting at 6:00 PM ET.

In the on-again, off-again training saga between Ryan Hughes and Jason Lawrence, Ryno called today to let us know that they have officially parted ways. “It’s hard to train someone when they don’t show up,” Hughes told us. He went on to say that he is still working with a handful of other riders, including Star Racing’s Matt Lemoine and amateur prospect Tommy Weeck, among others.

  • Jeff Spencer and Kin
We got this note from Racer X reader Stan Bruzgulis:

Not sure if you guys are interested but I’ve started using these websites for searches (http://www.goodsearch.com) and purchases (http://www.goodsearch.com/goodshop.aspx) as a donation is made each time to the selected charity of your choice. You may want to spread the word as the RiderDown Foundation is one of the charities available, and I’m sure there are other relevant charities.

We checked out the website and the search engine is powered by Yahoo, so it should work well, and there are almost 75,000 charities to choose from. Plus, new charities can be added easily. The company donates 50% of its revenue to charity. Sounds like a cool and easy way to support causes you care about.

YouTube moto find of the week from Mark Homchick:

Congratulations to Jeff Spencer and his wife on the adoption of their daughter, Kin, who is 10 years old and hails from Colombia. Jeff is well known as a motocross training guru and is currently working with the veterans Kevin Windham and Andrew Short.

Thanks for reading. See you at the races.