Racerhead #12


  • Jeff Ward signs on the dotted line
Malcolm Smith stepped up yesterday to fight for our rights as motorcyclists and parents, and he had a few friends with him: Jeremy McGrath, Jeff Ward, Mitch Payton, Scot Harden, Larry “Supermouth” Huffman and more. Smith opened his dealership in Riverside, CA, and sold units that the CPSC have basically banned as a result of the “lead law.” Risking heavy fines, Smith’s act of civil disobedience is just the kind of example we as citizens must rally behind, because if we don’t keep up this fight, the motorcycle industry as we know it will be damaged forever.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, state representative Tom Self will be at the Edward Jones Dome as a special guest of Feld Entertainment for this weekend’s St. Louis round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. Self, an early and active leader in this cause, was present at yesterday’s media day activities, which included a certain #199 flipping for the local camera crews. Self will have a booth in the stadium to garner signatures for the cause, and he has also been invited to speak during tomorrow night’s opening ceremonies.

This is not the first time the St. Louis SX became a hot spot for political activity: I remember back in ’99 or 2000 when John Ashcroft was running for the U.S. Senate. He billed himself as an outdoorsman who loved riding motocross bikes, much like Utah Gov. John Huntsman is now. So before the race, the series organizers had him come out and take a little ride around the starting area on Greg Albertyn’s factory Suzuki! To his credit, Mr. Ashcroft, who would go on to be a very controversial Attorney General in the Bush administration, handled the bike well, though I thought he was going to loop out the first time he cracked that RM250 open! I got to interview him for ESPN2 and he was very knowledgeable—he knew exactly whose bike he was riding.

  • Tom Self is fighting the lead law in Missouri
Anyway, we should all applaud what Malcolm and friends did, and also applaud by Tom Self and the gang at Feld Motorsports are doing in St. Louis to help raise awareness to this boondoggle that is crippling dealers and putting the whole industry in jeopardy. And for more on Malcolm’s sale, here’s a report from Guy B, including interviews with Jeremy and Troy Lee, over on VitalMX.

So what will what I now think of as “the Pastrana Factor” mean to the turnstiles at St. Louis? I know I have friends here in Morgantown who, upon hearing that the Nitro Circus star would be racing this weekend, jumped in their car and headed west on 70.

Wow, remember when we used to refer to Pastrana as “former AMA 125 National MX Champ”? Or “Team Suzuki rider/Team USA member”? He’s turned the Nitro Circus into a youth-demographic franchise!

Add the once-again-closing gap between Chad Reed and James Stewart at the front of the pack, plus a will-he-or-won’t-he-show-up appearance by Jason Lawrence in the 450 class, and this is a really, really interesting night! If you aren’t going to the St. Louis Supercross, you can listen to it on the Supercross Live! webcast on the Supercrossonline.com, starring Jason Weigandt and Jimmy Holley, or you can tune in to to the next-day coverage on SPEED on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. ET for the AMA Supercross Lites class, followed by the AMA Supercross class at 6:00 p.m. ET. Be sure to check your local listings.

Speaking of Stewart, he’s got a whole new website going right here: js7.com. Bookmark it and keep checking it out as James and friends get things rolling on this new site.

  • Did Stewart’s starting device stay on at Daytona?
So why did Stewart crash off the start at Daytona? Was it the slick grass, as many think, or was it also because his starting device may not have released, because he basically rode a one-inch wheelie all the way down to the first turn and then, when he finally touched the grass, his device was still engaged and helped him wash out? Just throwing that out there.

The NASCAR folks seem to be impressed by not only Ricky Carmichael’s two-wheeled background, but the fact that he still puts his boots on and goes out and rides his Suzukis. Here’s a story from earlier this week on NASCAR’s official website.

By the way, how cool is that Oakley truck RC will be driving at the Martinsville race in April?

Did you see F1 has decided to radically change the way they award the championship? Rather than tally up the points at the end of the 2009 series, they are going to base the overall championship on number of race wins, only keeping points in case of a tie. To me that sounds really strange and might compromise the racing: get a bad start, just coast, because if you can’t win, what’s the use of battling for fourth or fifth?

They are doing this on the heels of a dramatic season that saw Lewis Hamilton win the championship by a single point over Philip Massa, even though Massa had one more win (6) than Hamilton (5). Has it ever happened in AMA Supercross where the man with fewer wins ended up taking the title? Absolutely. In fact, MXAhas a cool article about the ‘92 season, where Damon Bradshaw won nine races to Jeff Stanton’s three but lost the title by three points, which relates to this new F1 rule. Check it out.

  • RC's new NASCAR truck
And if AMA Supercross had that system right now, James Stewart would be on the verge of clinching the championship via his eight wins – one more win for him, or one more loss for Reed and it would be over, even though Reed still leads by eight points!

David Vuillemin looks ready for the MX1 world championships, which begin next weekend in Italy. He took the French National over the weekend at Pernes le Fontaines, and you can read more about that (if you read French) right here.

I was bragging about Morgantown being a good town to be in during this recession because it’s a college town, with a strong hospital system and pharmaceutical industry. NBC also picked up on this and posted this report.

That’s it for me, here’s Steve Cox.

Time for some political activism, huh? In protest of the lead law, yesterday at Malcolm Smith Motorsports in Riverside, California, Malcolm Smith sold kids’ bikes and a kid’s quad to three people, including Jeff Ward and Troy Lee, who bought them for their kids, despite the law that might prohibit such a thing. It was a big turnout, to say the least. I had to park about a quarter-mile away, but it was worth the walk. Kids were lined up outside with picket signs, and all three of the machines sold were really sold. Now we get to see what the government chooses to do about it, if anything.

Head injuries were in the news with the recent injury, and subsequent death, of actress Natasha Richardson, who hit her head on a bunny slope while skiing, seemed fine, then took a turn for the worse. The relationship to our sport is obvious, and to be honest, I think we push the limits a little too much sometimes regarding concussions and things like that. I read in the past that, in a study of retired NFL players, players who had three or more concussions were exponentially more likely to suffer from depression in later life than those who had fewer than three, and I think a lot of us who raced for any period of time have had well over three, so keep an eye out. Related to the Richardson death, CNN posted an interesting article in their health section. Read it.

  • Travis Pastrana is back in the house!
Adam Jones is in primetime with a commercial for Axe Body Spray doing a new trick – the Double Pits to Chesty. It’s pretty cool to see dirt bikes get that kind of attention. Check out the commercial at www.doublepitstochesty.com.

For the second time this season, the drug-test folks showed up at New Orleans. The first time was at San Francisco. The testing goes for the FIM racers – in other words, the 450cc guys. It sounds like they tested second, third, and fourth place, and while I didn’t hear of Chad Reed having any problems, both Broc Hepler and Kevin Windham had a tough go of it. Neither could produce enough liquid for the pee test for quite a while, and it was especially bad for Windham, who was at his home race and had tons of fans waiting for him back at his truck.

“I hate racing with anything in my bladder,” Windham said a couple of days later. “I went in there to do my drug test – I was randomly picked, or whatever – and I filled out all my paperwork, which is quite the process, and they said they needed 90 ml, and I go to take a leak, and I could only give 20 ml. It was nothing. Of course, the guy’s just staring at you, and I’ve got my jersey off and my pants are down to my ankles, and the guy’s just checkin’ me out, right? And I’m trying to go, and I can’t go. I’m like, ‘Dude, that’s all I’ve got.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, that’s no problem,’ talking about a partial sample, so I’m thinking I can go hit Bourbon Street. But he starts to tell me that it doesn’t matter if it takes until six o’clock in the morning or the next evening, but I’m not leaving until I give 90 ml. So I started pounding waters and Gatorades and whatever else, which is also a problem because if it’s too diluted, they won’t accept it as a sample either, so….

“Lo and behold, it was the worst race of my life,” added Windham. “It was 1:30 in the morning before I was finally finished producing my sample, and I walked outside and it was a ghost town. The guys told me there were 200 people around my truck, and then 175, and then 100, then 50…. By the time I got out there, everyone had given up on me. It was pretty aggravating. I’m totally a fan of the testing – I think it’s important for the sport – but I think everyone knows when the nerves hit you [before a race], you have the urge to go, and it’s a little confusing on how they expect you to regain hydration so that you have the urge to go after the race. It’d be really cool if they could find a different way to do it than that. By 1:30 in the morning, needless to say, I was ready to get out of there.”

I don’t know the rules on why they have to pick riders after the race instead of before, but maybe the right thing to do would be to randomly test riders before they race?

And finally, I bet Racer X’s Keith Burgie $5 that Travis Pastrana will beat Justin Brayton this weekend. I was saying how I thought Pastrana would be fast, and he’s the one that pulled Brayton’s name out, so I figured it would be worth $5. This is nothing against Brayton, of course, who was ripping in New Orleans, but it’s a genuine bet because I think the odds are kind of against me on this one.

But I’m a Pastrana fan, and I got an epic sequence of his header at Daytona in 2006. Although reports of his speed prior to the race aren’t outstanding, this is a track he designed, plus he tends to step it up – many times to his own detriment – in the races, so I think he’ll be fast. No matter what, it’s nearly a guarantee that as many eyes are on him as anyone else on the track. I know I’m excited.

Next up is Billy Ursic.

  • Brian Deegan
On Tuesday we posted a little St. Patrick’s Day Flash Trivia for you, asking you to identify the Kawasaki rider in this picture. Monster Energy Kawasaki PR guy Tom McGovern stepped up and supplied us with some Ryan Villopoto-autographed Kawasaki swag to give away (you know, since green is the color of St. Patrick’s Day.) The answer was Brian Deegan, and the winners are Alex McElyea, Terry Gaskell, William Stewart, Jeremy Riesenberg, Mark Webster, and Michael Briscoe.

Special thanks to Thomas Bradley and Michael Spencer for stepping up and supporting the Racer X Gas Card for this weekend’s St. Louis SX!

The Rockstar/Hart & Huntington team showed up in New Orleans with some very trick-looking bikes in honor of The Pink Project. So while most of the attention was devoted to The Pink Project, it was easy to overlook the fine ride by new team rider Matt Boni, who had the best finish of his season in only his second race for the team.

“I feel like Hart & Huntington took a risk on me,” Boni told us after his impressive tenth-place finish. “I had decent results in the beginning of the year, but they weren’t to the best of my ability and I didn’t think they were enough to raise any eyebrows. I’m simply ecstatic with the way my results have picked up and the way the entire team has mended together around me. The entire program at Hart and Huntington is perfect. I couldn’t ask for more. They all work their hearts out and it shows with Troy’s and my results. I’m confident that my results will continue to get better and I will be able to get the top privateer.”

Boni now sits 14th in points.

Regarding New Orleans, did you check out the Track Walk Matt Walker did? He sent us an email this week saying, “Everything I said in the track walk they did! It was crazy! Watch the 450 main and then read my report!” Thanks, Matt!

  • H&H went all pink for New Orleans
Here’s Steve Matthes.

I got this in my inbox, pretty cool of BT101 to help out a fellow countryman. Sixteen-year-old Cam Dillon, from Mangakino, 30 minutes north of Taupo where Townley is from, is in the USA courtesy of the Jim Hall Memorial Scholarship:

The scholarship is named in honour of Jim Hall (father of Geoff – President of the Taupo Club) who passed away in October 2008. Jim was an inaugural member of the innovative Club and an important figure in New Zealand motocross. As a feature of the Scholarship, Ben Townley will select a young New Zealand rider he believes is capable of racing internationally. For this year that was Cam Dillon. The Taupo Motorcycle Club funded the airfares for Cam and his mechanic (DikDog) to America. BT is providing accommodation, transport and assistance with the bike and race selection. Dillon competed in three different classes the weekend before the regional qualifier for America’s premiere amateur race, the AMA Air Nautiques Amateur National Motocross Championships which known as the “Loretta Lynn’s” after the track the race is held at.

It has been pretty amazing so far – Ben has been helping me work on my riding style and I feel like I’ve improved in my turns already. I’m blown away with how it all works over here – the kids I compete against spend all day riding and living at the tracks in motorhomes so they can just concentrate on riding.”

Due to my injured shoulder, I’ve got some spare time on my hands and have been able to spend some time with Cam at the track refining his riding technique – he is really eager to learn and improve and he’s taken a lot of constructive criticism from me so far.

  • An illness will sideline Villopoto this weekend
Monster Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto will not be racing this weekend in St. Louis as he tries to find out what this virus is that he contracted sometime before the Indianapolis Supercross. Ryan was not up to speed this past weekend and looked like a ghost when I saw him. Hopefully, he comes back soon, as Kawasaki all of a sudden finds itself without either of its chosen riders for this weekend. No pressure for Billy Laninovich!

The Weege has some GNCC news.

The Can-Am GNCC Series returns after an off-weekend with the FMF Steele Creek GNCC. This event usually marks the return to typical GNCC terrain, hills, rocks, roots and mud, after running through the sand of Florida and the red clay in Georgia. Like Ping said of the WORCS Series above, the front of the GNCC pack has huge depth, with about ten riders thinking they can win races right now. Throw Paul Whibley, Charlie Mullins, Josh Strang, Nathan Kanney, Jimmy Jarrett, Barry Hawk and Kurt Caselli into the blender together, for starters, and you have the recipe for one heck of a race. Plus GNCC rider counts are actually up through the first two rounds, so spirits are high at the track. You can follow live timing and scoring on www.gnccracing.com all weekend. The Pro, A and B classes for bikes race Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

Also, the GNCCs will return to Versus in two weeks, April 4th at 2:30 p.m. This year the shows air in HD and they look awesome.

Take it from here, Ping.

The opening round of the XTRM/AMA Supermoto championship gets started this weekend at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. If you are in the area you can come check out round two of the new DMG/AMA Road Racing series as well as the Supermoto opener. The main events will be staggered on Sunday so fans can catch both. Both series have definitely had their share of management problems the last couple years but hopefully they are headed in the right direction now. Come out and support both series and see some great racing this Sunday.

If you just can’t bring yourself to watch bikes race without knobbies, then you could head for the desert. The WORCS series heads to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, this weekend and that series is just getting interesting. Former motocross champion Mike Brown has a win under his belt already and is proving to be a very real title threat. Current champion Bobby Bonds is struggling with injuries but still gutting out decent rides. And there are at least five or six other guys that can win on any given weekend; that is the great thing about that series. Personally, I’m putting my money on my guy Jimmy Albertson. Jimmy has been off for a while with a broken navicular but he is back looking for any kind of race while he waits for the Seattle SX. He will be a contender this weekend in Arizona.

Congratulations to Billy Laninovich for landing in Tim Ferry’s spot at Kawasaki. Billy has had his share of injuries and some subsequent rough years but he is crazy talented and just a great guy. I hope he surprises some people in the next six weeks. Get some, Lano.

Okay, let’s finish up with some other items here….

SoCal Racerhead readers should consider taking part in Broc Glover’s Breathe Easy Ride, which takes place next weekend. There will be three rides—dual sport, cruiser, and sport bike—and all start and finish in Temecula. It’s all for a great cause, as all proceeds go to help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, a terminal illness that Broc’s son Dayne has. A ton of national and world champions will be on hand (there’s even a rumor that David Bailey will take part in the ride), and it promises to be a great time. The folks over on the Road Racer X side of the office have an interview posted with Broc right here, and you can also visit www.breatheeasy.net for more information. And if you’re not local, check out the memorabilia the ride is offering on their eBay page.

Archview MX Park will be holding an open practice on Sunday March 22. Track is located just 6 miles east of St. Louis on Interstate 64 in Washington Park, Illinois, from 10:00-5:00. Any pro rider racing saturday night will be able to come out and ride for free, by just showing their pro license. Also, any pro rider wanting to do some riding Monday before head up north will be welcome to ride again on March 23. Just call Paul Willis at 618-719-3438. (www.archviewmxpark.com)

Donnie Hansen will be teaching schools at the following tracks this Spring: March 27th – Riverfront Park, Marysville, CA, April 3-5 – Private Track, Colorado Springs, CO, April 10-11, LACR, Palmdale, CA & May 30-31 – Washougal MX Park, Washougal, WA. For information, contact the Donnie Hansen Motocross Academy at 877-883-7260, email Donnie@DHMA.com or visit www.DHMA.com.

We thought we would be able to keep a wrap on this until the opening rounds of the Monster Energy Triple Crown if Motocross, but the cat’s out of the gear bag: here is the Ricky Carmichael comeback expose.

Warren Price has another nice piece on his blog, this time on AHRMA. Check it out.

How’s this for old-school?

Finally, how have you been personally affected by the new lead law? Do you work at a dealership? Do you own a track? Are you the parent of a child you can’t buy a bike or parts for? Let us know how the lead law has affected you, your business, and your customers. Send an email to letters@racerxonline.com

Malcolm Smith Motorsports