Racerhead #17


Fifteen down, two to go. The 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship is coming down to the wire as the series returns to Salt Lake City for the first time in a few years. James Stewart is back in charge with a three-point cushion on Chad Reed after a surprising race in Seattle, and Ryan Dungey is sitting pretty in the Lites West class.

  • After last weekend, Reed finds himself between a rock and a fast guy.
It’s really make-it-or-break-it time for Reed, who I think has put up a fantastic title bid against the top-of-his-game Stewart. I remember I watched James when he debuted his new San Manuel Yamaha at the U.S. Open and then the Paris-Bercy Supercross in France, and I really thought 2009 would be a cakewalk for him. I didn’t give Reed that much of a chance, but he’s impressed the hell out of me ever since the first lap at Anaheim 1. Unfortunately, his worst laps of the series came last Saturday night in Seattle; he picked a bad time to have a bad night. Jeff Emig mentioned he was sick on CBS, and Chad definitely wasn’t himself. But after that crash off the start, he caught a lucky break when Bubba stalled and Ryan Villopoto broke through and won his first 450-class AMA Supercross (after a three-week illness). Had Stewart won, Reed would be in really, really deep trouble.

As it stands, both Chad and James still control their own destinies: Reed can win out and win the title; Stewart only needs to beat him once. That drama is great news if you’re a supercross fan!

You can watch this weekend’s SLC showdown Sunday on CBS at noon (450s) and at 2:00 on Speed (Lites).

Bad news from the Motorcycle Industry Council: “The economy affected U.S. sales of new motorcycles in the first quarter of 2009, down a total of 30.5 percent, compared to the same period last year, among 12 of the leading brands. Generally affordable, fuel-efficient dual-purpose motorcycles declined the least, by 24 percent. The off-highway market went down the most, by 39.7 percent, some of which is linked to the government's ban on youth models due to a controversial new law regarding lead content in consumer products.”

Check out what Honda’s doing to help stop the youth bike/ATV ban on their website.

I got this note from my friend Reese Dengler, a longtime motocross enthusiast and race-watcher: The fun fact most quoted by both TV and webcast supercross announcers is that James Stewart has never lost a supercross final in which he did not fall down. At Seattle he did not fall down, but he did stall the bike early in the going. So is Ryan Villopoto the first rider to officially beat James when he did not fall? Or does the stall count as a fall?

  • Villopoto beat Stewart in a manner that no one had done before in Supercross
I don’t think there’s any way to shoot holes in Villopoto’s win or the fact that he was the one to end that rather interesting statistical anomaly concerning James’ self-admitted “wreckers or checkers” aggressiveness. But in a race where he finally lost straight up, without any excuses or crashes to point to, James did come out smelling like a rose. With Reed’s off night apparently the result of a stomach virus, Stewart is now armed with a much better shot at the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship than Reed. He only needs to beat Chad once; Chad needs to beat James twice.

Stewart stopped by Red Bull headquarters this week for a visit and took a few minutes to do an interview for his own site. Check it out.

After some good-natured ribbing here and elsewhere online, James’ manager, Larry Brooks, has decided to stop his blog at MXA’s site, which I think we will all miss on the one hand, although I also fully understand his decision. The things he wrote about were not always popular and were sometimes controversial, but it offered some rare insight into what a championship-winning team manager was thinking in the midst of a title bout. As we wrote in the feature “The Brooks Supremacy” in the last issue of Racer X Illustrated, his winning percentage over the last 11 years, from Jeremy to Red Bull KTM, Reed, and now Stewart has been remarkable. If he had ever teamed up with Ricky Carmichael, he’d almost be undefeated over that period. However the series ends up, I hope he writes at least one more to cap it all off!

  • The latest Great Outdoors DVD
Last week we reported on the half-dozen privateers who were DQ’d from the Jacksonville race after their fuel turned out to be out of compliance with AMA rules. Since then, I have heard from three of the riders in question, and the general vibe was that there is some serious confusion as to what was wrong and whether or not they were fully warned, as we reported here. For instance, Chris Haack wrote, “I would like to say that I was disqualified for illegal fuel at the Jacksonville Supercross but I was never warned at any previous event about my fuel being illegal like it said in Racerhead #16, and I think the AMA needs to supply everyone at the races with the same fuel since they won't tell you what kind of fuel is legal and what's not….”

The AMA staff reiterated to me that there were warnings given, so it’s hard to tell exactly what happened here. I do think the whole unleaded-fuel thing has been nowhere near worth the hassles it’s caused over the years, from Chad Reed and David Vuillemin and Tyson Hadsell being DQ’d in 2004 to James Stewart and Mike Byrne in ’05 to the infamous Ricky Carmichael “Fuelgate” of 2006, and now this…. I’m not sure spec fuels are the answer, or going back to allowing leaded, but I can think of a lot of other things that could use the time and attention and resources this has required over the last half-dozen years.

Here’s something to chew on. Pat Schutte posed this question to me earlier today: So Weimer wins this weekend, Dungey finishes fifth. They tie in overall WSX points AND they both have four wins each. How do they decide who gets the title? The answer is at the end of Racerhead, but for now, let’s talk supercross….

The Great Outdoors Destroyers “Special Edition” DVD trailer is up and it’s awesome! It covers the 2008 Toyota AMA Motocross Championships and, after watching it, you’re going to want this one in your library!

It retails for $24.95, ships 04/27, and you can grab it right here.

Dear Racer X,
Back in the late ‘60s early ‘70s, my father Davey Davis and his brother Marty rode for a motocross shop by the name of Unicorn Bultaco. The shop was located in Vista, California, and owned by Dick Roll. It was a fairly popular name in the motocross business along the west coast, but closed in the mid 70’s. If you have any information about the shop, my father, or the owner please let me know. Thank you very much.
Sean Davis

Anyone know anything? Letters@racerxonline.com

Here’s Steve Matthes:

I spoke with super-trainer Randy Lawrence this week, and as most of you reading this know, he parted ways with longtime client Ryan Villopoto the Monday before Seattle. RL was upset at being let go and doesn’t fully understand all the reasons why, but he does realize that after four years of listening to somebody tell you to do something, sometimes a different voice is needed. Like a coach in hockey, eventually, the message needs to be different, even if it’s a good message.

He said it was a little weird after Ryan won, as he was happy for RV, but at the same time, it was a little bittersweet that he couldn’t be there to celebrate. He did appreciate Ryan thanking him on the podium, however. I don’t think RL will be out of a client for long, as his track record is proven and he knows what he’s doing, no doubt about it.

Let’s go to Ping:

  • Things were just starting to look better for Langston...
It’s been a bad week for injuries. In Seattle, Ryan Sipes cased a triple and ejected pretty hard. It was ugly. Word out of the Muscle Milk KTM camp is that it’s a major dislocation of his wrist and he’ll need surgery. That’s really a bummer for Ryan, who has already had his share of injuries. Sipes’ teammate, Justin Brayton, injured his ankle in a crash, though his injury isn’t nearly as bad. Then there’s the missed shift from Jake Weimer that sent him over the bars at the Kawasaki test track. The good news is that there weren’t any broken bones in the x-ray. The bad news is that it hurt bad enough that he thought it was broken. That generally means there’s a significant sprain/strain to the area. Jake is a tough dude, and I’m sure he’ll suck it up and do the best he can this weekend. Still, the crash added injury to insult (that’s a little twist on a common expression there) after his fourth-place last weekend that gave Dungey more of a cushion in the points chase.

And then the news broke about Grant Langston injuring his knee. I’ve never seen a guy’s luck do such a 180. Grant is one of the coolest guys in the sport, and I was pulling for him to make a comeback this summer. Heal up quick, GL.

I guess I should stop being surprised when I see things like the new legislation our government is fast-tracking to close 23 MILLION acres of land to OHV use in the Northwest. Is anyone else concerned with the overwhelming quantity of crap bills aimed directly at motorcycle enthusiasts since January? Is it just me? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. This one really chaps my backside because some of those millions of acres are in my home state of Montana. It probably won’t help, but feel free to click this link and voice your opinion. I did, and I doubt they are going to like what I had to say. 

Jimmy Albertson and Sean Hamblin are joining forces with Valli Motorsports to race the Lucas Oil Motocross Nationals this summer. The team started out in the WORCS series and is now dipping its toe in the MX waters. Yamaha is going to back the team for both its motocross and WORCS racing efforts. Jimmy will stay with the Troy Lee Designs Honda team through Las Vegas and then make the transition. Jimmy burst into tears when I told him I wouldn’t be able to come over and manage his new team. Sorry, Jimmy. Good luck.

From Steve Cox:

With the Salt Lake City Supercross coming up, I did a Between the Motos interview with Bill Weppner of FactionMX (www.factionmx.com) and afterward, we were just talking on the phone, and he mentioned that the location of Rice-Eccles Stadium (up on a mountainside) actually makes for some weird weather, where sometimes it will rain, or even snow, while it’s dry everywhere else. Well, Weather.com is saying that we have a 40 percent chance of rain on Saturday, while it’s 50 percent today, so I don’t know what that means for the race, but I’m betting on wet weather, which can be a huge difference-maker in both classes, potentially.

  • Jimmy Albertson will ride a YZ450F outdoors
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey should be great in the mud, coming from Minnesota, but he has had trouble in mud races in the past. So, too, has his closest championship rival, Jake Weimer, of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. Anything can happen.

In the 450cc class, Dungey’s teammate Chad Reed may be getting some mud at exactly the right time – or at least that’s what I’m hoping. I’m selfish, and I want the title to come down to a winner-take-all race in Las Vegas. I’m sure points leader James Stewart disagrees with me, but then again, he’s selfish too, and he wants to win the title.

How about Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, huh? Yeah, he won his first main event of his career in the 450cc class, and ended Stewart’s perfect streak of never losing an AMA big-bike main event in races where he didn’t fall, but more than that, I thought it was really classy of him to thank his now former trainer Randy Lawrence, with whom he had split just days before the race, on the podium. Breakups happen, but Villopoto was classy about it. Good job, Casper.

If Villopoto keeps it up, Reed and Stewart are going to have yet another redhead to worry about, and if I remember correctly, they didn’t like having to deal with the last one very much.

I know Ping can’t really say this, since he does double duty with his real job being the team manager for the Troy Lee Designs Honda team, but his team was seriously impressive in Seattle. Jake Moss won his heat and either got the holeshot, or very nearly did so, in the main event on his way to fifth place. It’s hard to imagine he had a broken back just a few short months ago. Then there’s Jimmy Albertson in his first race for the team, following numerous injuries, finishing an amazing sixth, right behind Moss, then Chris Blose in eighth and Sean Borkenhagen in 12th. No other team even brought four guys for that class, but not only did Ping bring four, he put them all in the main event, and three of them in the top ten! That’s solid stuff, folks. It’s almost like Pingree knows supercross racing.

Governor Jon M. Huntsman of Utah made an appearance at Thursday’s press conference for the upcoming 16th round of the Monster Energy Supercross in Salt Lake City this Saturday night. Accompanying the Gov was the Director of the Utah Sports Commission President & CEO Jeff Robbins.

  • Governor Jon Huntsman is a great guy to have on our side right now
Also in attendance was Andrew Short, who presented the governor with a jersey and made him an honorary member of Team Honda Red Bull Racing. Governor Huntsman, an avid fan and fellow rider, remarked that what Shorty doesn’t know is that his son has a poster of Shorty hanging in his bedroom at the governor’s mansion and looks up to Andrew as a role model.

When asked about the economic impact the race brings to the local community, the governor beamed and spoke of the positive aspect the race will bring, and around $9 million to the local economy.

From Weege:

Broc Hepler stopped by our Supercross Live! Presented by Parts Unlimited webcast on Saturday night in Seattle, as he had checked out of the hospital Saturday afternoon after crashing hard on press day. Jim Holley and I peppered Hepler with questions about Jason Lawrence, and Hepler said he had never had trouble with J-Law before their Jacksonville run-in.

“Last year here in Seattle I helped him win the title for Yamaha. I was closing in on him in third and backed it off to help him and make sure no one else was coming through, and I was the first person to high-five him after the race,” said Hepler. “So I don’t know what happened - maybe he’s just mad at Yamaha guys. I’ve read on the internet that Short and I are the smiling assassins, but I usually don’t start anything, I’d like to think I only retaliate.”

So will Broc look for revenge the next time he sees Lawrence? “I don’t know,” he said. “If I tried to talk to him about it he’d probably try to fight me or something, so I’d rather not get into that.” Broc also told us this week that he rode for the first time on Wednesday since his get-off at the Seattle press day, and he plans to race this weekend in Salt Lake City.

Don’t forget to tune in to this week’s show at supercrossonline.com. We cover the races, put together a half-hour preshow with interviews with a bunch of riders, and interview all six podium finishers from the night as soon as the races end. In Jacksonville we even had Ricky Carmichael stop by and interview James Stewart! You never know what you’re going to get on Supercross Live!

More from Matthes:

  • Colton Facciotti
In some Canadian news, James Lissimore was in Georgia last week for the Blackfoot Yamaha photo shoot and we got to see the new Canadian champ, Colton Facciotti, with his big #1 plate. For more Canadian moto news, don’t forget to go to www.directmotocross.com.

If you’ve read everything on RXI, go to www.pulpmx.com and see what’s happening there. One of the things that bothers me in the sport is the way yesterday’s heroes don’t really get properly recognized a lot of the time. They just kind of go away, no big press conference or recognition for their great rides over the years - they just don’t show up that next year at Anaheim and we all shrug our shoulders and move on. Sure, MC and RC got their proper goodbyes from the fans, but ironically, they are still both around quite a bit! I’m talking about riders who didn’t win as much but were badasses nevertheless. I was thinking about this after last week’s race because RV’s win reminded me a lot of Larry Ward’s 1990 Seattle win. Larry just kind of went away, y’know? What about Ezra Lusk? Yup, just checked out and playing tennis in Georgia somewhere. I caught up with one of the guys, Micky Dymond, last week for a podcast and my goal is to talk to all these old warriors and give them at least one more day of recognition. That’s my rant for today.

Last week I asked what ever happened to Alan King and I got a bunch of responses, but nobody actually knew him and what he was doing now. I suppose he’s probably building houses in Michigan, because that seems to be what everyone said he used to do. So Alan, if you’re out there, let’s give you your five minutes in the sun: email me at matthes@racerxonline.com.

Oh, and what ever happened to Jeff Frizs?

{QUOTE}Also in the rumor department, Reedy is seriously thinking about riding the nationals and KW will race a 250F at Glen Helen in a one-off ride. Strictly rumors, folks.

That’s it from Steve. Here’s a WMA update from Miki Keller.

  • Catch Tatum Sik at the 2009 Maxxis MiniMotoSX
The Wonder Warthog Racing crew along with Moto Concepts is putting a rig on the road just for the WMA pro racers. Considering that the majority of the women pro racers are privateers, this will certainly help the class. Bike transportation and a professional place to pit out of during the Nationals is some of the best support around. Thanks to WWR and Moto Concepts, racers like Elizabeth Bash, Tatum Sik, and Vicki Golden will be all set for the Nationals.

The newest KTM rider, Sarah Whitmore, got her first win in WORCS racing last weekend at the Hollister race and also posted the fastest lap time in her class. Jessica Patterson led most of the race and had some fast, consistent lap times but couldn’t recover her lead after a last-lap crash.

Sik was also racing, and she picked up third at the WORCS race behind Kacey Martinez. Tatum is heading to Vegas next weekend to defend her title in the women’s class at the 2009 Maxxis MiniMoto. Looks like she might have some stiffer competition this year as WMA Champion Ashley Fiolek’s name is on the start list, along with WMA pro newcomers Sara Price and Jackie Ives (2008 WMA Amateur Champion), 2001 WMA Champion Tania Satchwell on the JessicaPattersonRacing.com-backed bike, and Miss Motocross Erin Normoyle.

I came across this video of Ashley Fiolek at the new Pala Raceway that was posted on Vitalmx.com. Looks like the Factory bike fits her very well.

The Grand Prix series is back after a one-week hiatus with the GP of Benelux, which is held in Valkenswaard, Holland. Our favorite sand rider in any sand race over there is Marc “Calimero” De Reuver in MX1, and Zach Osborne should have a good shot at another win (or at least a podium) against all of those French riders, who do better on the hard pack (and look for Shaun Simpson to start moving forward after a mediocre start). You can watch this round of the series live online via Freecaster.tv, with the first MX2 moto going off Sunday at 5 a.m. EST and 3 a.m. out west, and the last MX1 moto will be 9 a.m. EST/6 a.m. West.

With the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship quickly approaching, there is nothing better to get you pumped up than old-school footage. The summer of 1994 was a great time for outdoor motocross. Did you forget how fast Doug Henry was? How about Robbie Reynard’s raw talent? John Fox e-mailed this over.

Our man from yesteryear, Warren Price, was blogging on a recent U.S.-versus-Europe race he went to featuring some great international riders from yesteryear.

Take a moment this weekend to check out the new and improved Etnies website: www.etnies.com.

My friend Chuck Wymore dropped us me this note: "If ya get a chance, check out my TV debut on Saturday, 9 p.m. EST on the Discovery Channel. It’s not MX, but the show is called Meth Nation and people can see what my drug task force does everyday. Hopefully, I don’t ‘loop out!’"

  • And the winner would be... Ryan Dungey
After you’re finished reading Racerhead, be sure to click on over to www.roadracerx.com - we just finished building a brand-new website for our pavement-focused colleagues. The new site is great-looking and features much-improved navigation, and readers now have the ability to comment on stories and sign up for an RSS feed. We definitely like it, but what we’d really like to know is what you think, so give those guys your feedback by commenting there or by emailing letters@roadracerx.com.

On, regarding the earlier question, the first tiebreaker is most wins. They would both have that. Second tiebreaker is second-place finishes. Dungey has one of those, and Weimer has none, therefore Dungey would win.

Make sure you catch Salt Lake City on TV this weekend. The AMA Supercross class will air on Sunday at 12:00PM ET on CBS while the Lites class will broadcast at 2:00 PM ET on SPEED. Times are tentative and subject to change, so check your local listings.

And finally, the Maxxis General GNCC bike race on Racer TV in High-Definition will debut on Saturday, April 25, 2009 on the Versus Network at 2:30 p.m. EST.  Don’t miss GNCC Racing action as it travels to Washington, GA for round two of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series at the Aonia Pass MX. Pro and Amateur bike riders compete in the distinctive Georgia red clay, with stars like Paul Whibley, Josh Strang and Charlie Mullins battling for the win. The half-hour show will re-air on Tuesday, April 28 at 4 p.m. EST on Versus.

Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!