Observations: Anaheim 3

February 11, 2009 4:14pm | by:

We were back at the Big A for the final chapter of the Anaheim trilogy. The first chapter saw an unbelievable action sequence and we got introduced to some new characters (Josh Grant) that would become mainstays. The second time around we watched in awe as a man went real fast while simultaneously almost crashing his brains out every lap. What would we see in the final chapter? Would Larry Brooks take Chad Reed aside and drop the bombshell that he’s actually his father? Would James Stewart crash and reveal to all of us that he actually has a robotic throttle hand?  Would Davi Millsaps grow full body hair and throw rocks at Stewart to knock him off his bike? Do I need to stop watching Star Wars?

  • You know in the 80's, Bo knew everything? Well MC knows sx tracks! I like how God approved of MC's track design by putting a rainbow there to signify he was happy.
  • But I have to say, underneath the rainbows there were some not so pretty things. I think the leprechaun drowned in this puddle.
After a couple of down weeks (in my opinion) the Dirt Wurx guys had a great track this time around, designed by none other than Jeremy McGrath. It was a full-on jumpfest and didn’t give the riders any time to rest and it really showed later in the main when the rain started coming down and the track turned treacherous. It was a survival test and all the riders were whupped by the end. There are two things that MC knows: nac-nacs and supercross tracks. Great track!

It was a weird day because of the rain the decision was made to postpone practice until 5:30 and limit those sessions to one set. So until practice happened there was a lot of hanging around under the tents hiding from the rain and then, right after practice, the night show began. It seriously cut into my hanging out time.

Before I go too far, let me say that this supercross reminded me a lot of that San Diego race a few years back where Reed and RC lapped third-place. The track was super technical, it was sloppy due to the rain, and then got super, dooper sketchy when the rain came down with about eight laps to go. Everywhere you looked, guys were flying off the track like Mexican jumping beans. It made even the best riders look like amateurs at times. No one was immune as even Stewie had some close calls out there.

And he did it again. James Stewart is seriously looking really, really good.  That’s quite an “Observation,” I know. He didn’t get the jump but snuck around the inside and grabbed the lead for good. He’s closing the points race and all the big mo that Reedy had has been transferred to James.  I did notice that at times, the lappers gave him some problems out there (much to Larry “Blogger” Brooks’ chagrin. This was also the type of track and conditions that made James crash away the victory in years past but he’s showing us that sometimes, slower is faster.

Let me make something clear here. No matter what conditions, what is going on with him, what is hurting on him, what bike he’s riding, Mike Alessi WILL GET A GREAT START. EVERY TIME. He didn’t officially get it this weekend but was close enough. With his bad gate pick, you’d think he might not grab the holie but you’d be wrong. After falling on the first lap, Mike ended up with a hard earned 11th.

  • Jake told me that everything he's ever accomplished in his life is due to racing in Canada in 2005.
Weege and I were hanging in the press box and on the scoreboard was a highlight package from last year. The Weege was remarking how every shot of the lead, or guy passing into the lead, or a good battle for the podium had Davi Millsaps in it. It was remarkable and reminded us of just how talented and dangerous this child beast can be. It also reminded us of how he had been sucking this year—his season best had been eighth at that point. Well, the slump might be over as Davi came out on fire this week with a heat race win and a 3rd place in the main. I heard he made some big changes on his bike and if that’s true, it showed. He was really good and you could hear Erik Kehoe exhaling from the press box.

Things just got really interesting in the 250F class. Jake “Oscar Meyer” Weimer put on a show and grabbed the win for the third time this year. He went at early leader Justin Brayton (who I honestly thought was going to win because he’s due and he was fast in practice) with a bunch of attacks. He was definitely faster than Justin and tried to force things a few times, almost falling in the process. He was very aggressive! But in the end, he made it happen on lap 8 and rode to the finish.

His teammate Ryan Morais was closing in during the last few laps and when Jake singled a double before the finish and Ryan doubled it, well things got real tense for Weimer. Jake held off Morais but it was yet another great ride from 116 and I really, really hope he wins one before the end of the year. Heck, he might just pull a Ferry and get a bunch of seconds and win the title. I’m no Tony D but I think Ryan lacks that sprint speed in the beginning of the race because he gets gapped a bit and then has to spend the rest of the race reeling dudes in.

Remember last week when I reported that Weimer forgot his prescribed CTI knee braces, got some off-the-shelf Asterisks and would now not go back after winning in the new braces? Well, I was right as Jake is sticking with the Asterisks after some serious soul searching and testing.

Chad Reed got second. Again. He didn’t grab the start and he kind of knew he wouldn’t. How did he know you ask? I texted him on Sunday and he replied that he didn’t like any of the available gates but wanted to get one inside of Stewie. He said it was a six-inch height difference from the ground to the gate and he knew he had to have a good first turn. He sure took a long time in the heat and main to get going his usual speed and so I asked him about that and he said he was just being careful and didn’t want to crash. He closed in on James at the end, had a faster lap and generally felt good about his ride.

Reed crashed pretty hard on press day and I heard he was limping a bit. When I asked him about it, he said he was all good and wouldn’t give me anything. He just changed the subject to how he hates his new Blackberry Storm. I have one and love the Canadian-designed device so I dunno...

So Weimer is now in the points lead by three over the favored Ryan Dungey. What happened to Ol’Dungerous? He got pinched off going into the first turn and then tried to “Stewie” it around the inside but he fell, resulting in a dead last starting position. I thought he did great to come all the way up to 4th and was in the same second, lap time wise, as Weimer and Morais.

As long as Seattle is on the SX schedule, you never really know how this thing will turn out. Jason Weimer (the dad) told me that Jake isn’t the strongest mud rider out there as the Idaho residents didn’t get a lot of time in the mud growing up. However, I think if the Seattle track was made of potatoes the series would be over.

  • T-Hahn came back! He was good in the whoops but had some problems in the main. He's kind of been forgotten a bit in the
Feld is on a roll with the opening ceremonies videos but I’ve got the best idea ever: Have a rider dressed in full beer salesman costume and walking up and down the aisles pitching beer when his name is called. He sets the tray of beers down, rips off the costume and waves to fans. I know you’re sitting there thinking ‘That’s yet another awesome idea, Steve’ and it is. The obvious rider is J-Law but since he’s on suspension, it could be Paul Carpenter or KW. They remind me of men that would drink some beers here and there.

I was honestly sitting there in the press box thinking, ‘What happened to Tommy Hahn?’ and lo and behold, he rode out for practice. T-Hahn looked pretty good for his 450 debut as he was great in the whoops and finished third in his heat. He then got sucked into the Dagobah pit and DNF’d the main.

What was the Dagobah pit? It was the backside of a berm where the dozer pushed all the slop off the track. No big deal except it was a popular spot for riders to fly off the track after they missed their brakes after bouncing off the jumps. So they would fly over the berm, land in this Dagobah pit and just sink into the slop. It got Shorty, Hahn and a few other guys.

Look for Michael Byrne to make his debut next week in San Diego. I can’t wait, because I can soon talk endlessly about him.

In yet more trainer news, I saw Dungey and his old mentor Johnny O’Mara walking together. Ryan’s agent, Tony Gardea, says they are just friends but how much you wanna bet they reunite and add to the ridiculous total of trainer/riders break-ups/make-ups?

Josh Hansen had, what I think, was his best ride of the year in his heat. He collided with another rider, shot off the track on the first lap and was pretty much last. He got on his horse and charged through the pack, grabbing the last transfer spot on the last lap. Good ride for the 100. The main didn’t go as well as he went down in the exact same spot as in the heat and finished 18th.

I was watching the track walk and saw #643 Jake Oswald come out in full gear and walk the track with his helmet and goggles on! That’s dedication, folks. Seriously, I know he had to practice right away but did he have to have his googles on? Wouldn’t they fog up?

I feel like I have to inform you people of something. Weege is not really there to announce the race. He doesn’t care about bringing you guys the action. Nope, he is only there to watch the races so he can make good FANTASY MOTO PICKS. That’s it. That’s all he cares about, as he is constantly asking media members and riders if so-and-so can get such-and-such position and get him the elusive “double points.”

  • My guy Summey is having a tough start to the season. He'll get better or at least bend a lot of bars trying.
  • Poor Preston. He's having a worse start to the season than Summey. Somebody needs to go up to Danny Paladino and give him a hug and tell him it's going to be ok.
He even went into the KTM truck to talk to Josh Summey to make sure Josh could get 15th and get him the double points for his fantasy league of dorks. Josh was distracted by his GNCC jacket and then they started talking about that. They now text each other and I’m on the outside looking in.

Summey had another tough night, crashing hard in practice, crashing in the heat and then breaking a chain. That led to a bad gate pick in the LCQ and a DNQ. Guess who else had a tough night? His teammate Travis Preston, what a bad season it’s been for the one-one. He was in qualifying spot in the heat and took a huge header in the whoops and got carted off. I’m guessing we won’t see him for awhile, he is really getting beat up.

Ryan Villopoto didn’t qualify. He now joins the list of “Really Good Guys Who Didn’t Make the Main.” Nick Wey and Kyle Chisholm are in the club, Tim Ferry recently joined and Paul Carpenter is doing everything he can to not get in, although he’s come close a bunch.

Carpenter is riding pretty solid this year, one thing about him is never, ever, ever gives up and is tougher than a two-dollar steak (a tip of the hat to Larry Huffman).

RV went down hard in the whoops and was knocked a little silly, got a bad gate pick in the LCQ, didn’t get the start in that race, fell again, and wisely packed it in. Guess who won the LCQ? Andrew Short. If I was a big-bucks factory rider and on the line in the LCQ, I would be adding up the dollars spent in getting me to the race and pooping my pants in fear of not making it.

That’s the thing with this no-semi races world we live in: if you don’t finish well in the heat, you get a bad gate pick for the LCQ and you’re done. My advice to any rider reading this? Unless an appendage is broken or you can’t remember your name, finish the heat! You’ll thank yourself when it comes to the LCQ.

For the second time this year, Ben Lamay took the Racer X Gas Card. He is also on the list of really fast riders who have failed to make a main.

  • Hill rode pretty fast this weekend, must be all that practice at Albany when it was muddy. I dunno how he's so clean here, must be first lap of practice.
Once again Josh Grant was really impressive; this guy was all over the place just trying to make it happen. He crashed while in second, dropped back to sixth, came up to fourth, then while going for third he did a 2½ but, unfortunately, the jump was a triple. He shot off the track and ended up fifth. His fifth might’ve been the second best ride of the night.

Ivan Tedesco was good again. He’s solid now again after two years of getting hurt and not being around much. I really thought he would end up third, not his teammate Millsaps.

Red Dog had a tough night, he got tenth in the main which isn’t that bad but it was by attrition more than anything. He said the track was great—“best one of the year”—but it was sketchy in the mud and got worse when the rain fell. He’s battling some injuries and trying his best out there people, so lay off him!

Ferry said that in the heat Josh Hill was yelling and swearing at him in the tunnel to get out of the way when he sees blue flags. Only problem with that is Ferry was in 5th and Hill was in 6th! So his mechanic told Hill that Red was actually in position and Hill started yelling “Sorry!” Ferry was laughing and thought it was funny, and Hill even told Monster Tom McGov., the Kawi PR guy, to tell Timmy sorry again.

Josh Hill rode great, he fell early in the main and was 19th at one point but he charged hard and finished eighth. Like Millsaps, it was his best ride to date. I spoke to his mechanic Jared Coles and he was happy with the ride, mentioning that Josh passed 20 guys which would put him first except for the fact that he passed the same 10 riders twice.

At one point I was verbally assaulted in the Pro Circuit pits and almost broke down in tears. First Ryan Morais comes by and says, “What, I’m not on the box so I must be garbage?” in regards to last week’s column. Then Randy Lawrence (man who once had matching blue hair with his rider) said I never wrote about last week’s third-place rider, RV. Which I guess for some reason I didn’t. Then Weimer jokingly starts in that he wants more coverage. Luckily, Erin Bates walked in and everybody stopped talking to me.

Not more than 10 minutes later, Summey tells me that Will Hahn thinks I don’t like him for some reason. Not true at all, I like Will. I’m just upset with him because he quit writing his “Wilbur” column in Racer X after, like, two issues.

It was interesting to hear Jake and Jason Weimer talk to me about Jake’s time in Canada racing the MX2 West series. Jason told me that he honestly thought his son was going to go up and win easily and when he didn’t, they were a little shocked. We spoke about how the guys in Canada are fast in their own right and it’s a different deal up there (hence, me bringing Wey up last year and finishing 4-5). Jake also said he can’t understand why Dusty Klatt failed down in America as he was so fast and confident when Jake was there. He was very complimentary towards the “Campbell River Crusher” and Jason said that those guys go fast up there.

  • Here's
  • Now he's probably thinking
  • For sure now he's thinking
Ping said that Jake Moss is nuts and after watching him in his first practice at Supercross this year, I tend to agree. All of the TLD riders made the main and that’s a good job by the early favorite for the Team Manager of the Year… Oops, never mind, there’s no banquet this year.

So I’m standing in the pits, there’s fans everywhere, and what do I see? Factory Yamaha’s Broc Hepler carrying a wheel to the tire truck. He was with another dude but he was actually carrying the wheel. He wasn’t even racing so I have no clue why he was getting a tire changed but there he was, just delivering a wheel to the tire truck. I guarantee you that he the first factory rider to EVER deliver his own wheel to the tire truck.

I headed home to Vegas right after the race and stopped at the local McDonalds to fuel up for the drive and who did I see walking in there? None other than WWR’s Eric Sorby, and he was telling me that he might be racing J-Law’s bike on the East Coast for Lawrence’s team. He said that Scott Sepkovic asked him if he wanted to do it that weekend and that he said no, but it might go down in Atlanta. Stay tuned… Oh and Eric? Trust me on this: You might want to skip the Mickey D’s late night visits for the 250 class! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

I called Wey on Sunday to tell him about our mutual friend Justin blowing a gasket at Albertson’s grocery store and after we laughed about that, he told me that he’s testing a ton of stuff and is close to having his bike the way he wants. At Anaheim, he was in ninth with one lap and one corner to go when he got a little crazy and stalled his bike. It would not restart for him and he dropped to 15th and like he said, those six points could come back to haunt him.

The 450 results were a bit late as the AMA was looking to see if Kevin Windham cutting the course actually hurt him. As Kevin was going to make a pass, he stalled and didn’t get the bike fired until James had crossed the finish line. KW just rode across the infield and made the right hander and crossed the finish! After reviewing the tape it was determined he didn’t gain anything but relief from crossing the line.

  • This looks like a cool track,let's hope that Skip doesn't go out there and ruin the whole thing by falling asleep on the dozer and plowing everything flat.
I’m running out of words here (I just wasted six of them telling you that) but Alex Martin was really fast and probably deserved a main event spot but crashed in the heat and LCQ when he was in qualifying position. His times were just outside the top ten in the main but he couldn’t stay up. It was a crash fest for Alex but he deserved better in my opinion.

That’s all I got. We’re done at Anaheim, the ushers can now relax and put away the goofy straw hats they wear and we’re onto San Diego, which means “whale’s vagina” in Spanish. Don’t forget you can go to pulpmx.com for more things Matthes and thanks for reading. Send me some mail if you want at matthes@racerxonline.com

[Steve's wife steals Steve's laptop]Pookie’s observations: My second (and possibly last) appearance on the circuit for this year. What a waste of a credential.  I got to finish the book I was reading while waiting (and waiting…) in the press box for Steve to “get quotes for my Larry Brooks Feature, babe”. Caught up with “The New Sheriff” Dave Dye who is always comedy. Don’t like rain, DO like rainbows! (Hi Patrick!) Heard a funny Fubar story, listened to Weege and Stevie make each other laugh and Weege always has “announcer-voice”. Guy B-the friendliest guy in the business. Fended off the always popular “you should have kids!” comment with my usual “oh those hound dogs are enough for us, hee hee.” Got a hug from Timmy(swoon). Rocked my Hello Kitty 15 earrings again. I was really bummed to see that the 30-second girls no longer gyrating, wonder what happened there?