Racerhead #19

May 8, 2009 4:45pm | by:

  • The last round of the series was quite a show
  • The Stewart and Reed battle was good for the first half of the race, then James wisely got clear of his bitter rival
They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I really hope that’s not the case. A superb 2009 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Series came to its dramatic conclusion with lots of action, intrigue, and fun. The place was packed, the show was excellent, and the fastest rider with the most wins this season came out on top. In James Stewart’s case, it was for the title, not the race win, as Ryan Villopoto emerged as the unlikely race winner — unlikely in the sense that everyone thought it was going to be James or Chad Reed. And the quiet killer Christophe Pourcel kept his comeback story on fast-forward, winning what was a chess match of a main event in the East-West Shootout. Everything from the Air Force flyover to the climactic moment of the main event — Chad running James out wide in a futile attempt to rattle his rival — was worth loud hoots and hollers.

Of course, after that, it unraveled a bit as the trophy ceremony got held up for some time; and the exodus from Sam Boyd Stadium was a mess, as the parking just isn’t there for the general public — all of the 18-wheelers, industry vehicles and pit party areas take up the space normally reserved for fan general parking — but I think everyone left happy (especially Shift Racing’s Rob Salcedo, whom Simon Cudby and I spotted humping bags down Tropicana Avenue toward the bus stop, so we gave him and his friend a welcome lift back to town).

Anyway, I hope all that good racing doesn’t stay in Vegas and some of that magic comes to visit us this summer in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships, because this tour — the first under new owners Feld Entertainment, but the same guys who have been running the shows for years: Charlie Mancuso, Ken Hudgens, Todd Jendro, Dave Prater, Michael Prince, Mark Abernathy and more.

Simon Cudby was out at Glen Helen yesterday, along with a large group of contenders for this summer’s outdoor titles, and he posted a cool video last night from the site of the opening round of the series that you can watch right here on Racer X Films. There’s also a very interesting article on MXA’s website about Jody’s work out at Glen Helen on what is always the toughest test of the summer — the first one!

Here’s a letter:

To whom it may concern,

Chad Reed should be penalized for purposely trying to take James Stewart out of the competition. It’s only fair to enforce rules to all riders equally. Kyle Chishlom did not even slow Reed down and he is in trouble. Reed puts Stewart off the track aggressively trying to make him fall even when Stewart was trying to let him by. This upsets me as an avid fan this is a big part of my life. I would hope this message is sent to the proper people in the AMA.

Thank you, Brandon De Lago

Thanks for the note, Brandon, but I think there were some big differences between what happened in SLC with the lapped Chisholm and the run-him-wide move Reed put on Stewart. Reed was racing for the championship, while Chisholm was racing in support of someone racing for the championship, plus he was a lap down. That said, Reed’s move was not pretty to watch, but the intent was not to knock James down but to rattle him, at which he failed. Chisholm’s move was probably similar in motive, but he succeeded. Had Reed been given another chance to make a pass back on Stewart in SLC, the Vegas race would have been a winner-take-all affair and even more of a thriller.  (And Reed’s team manager had not made a big deal about lappers being penalized for messing with the leaders like James’ did, though I’m sure Larry Brooks probably realizes that was a mistake.)

  • Check out James Stewart's new guitar

So Stewart got to ride the race his way, staying out of trouble with both Villopoto and Reed and earning his second AMA Supercross Championship. He helped the L&M Racing team take its second straight title, but with a different rider, which says a lot about the team and Larry’s managing skills. As we wrote in the recent feature on him “The Brooks Supremacy” in Racer X, he is the most successful SX team manager of the last dozen years and has the championships — five now, plus one outdoors — to prove it. Brooks is a taskmaster, and his way has worked well with first Jeremy, then KTM, and then Chad, and now James.

As for James, he will likely take a large part of the summer off, but we may or may not see him at some of the outdoor races. He has said repeatedly that it’s not his decision to go outdoors, which I believe — L&M Racing is the Supercross-only team he signed with after parting with Kawasaki last year. If he does show up, he will be the immediate favorite for that race, even with RV moving up to that class.

He also may or may not be hurt, as he Twittered this week about the ACL knee injury he was riding with: Stewart ACL Joke? http://js7.com/2009/05/torn-acl-that-was-a-joke/  Now I’m really confused!

Want to know more about Vegas, as we put Monster Energy AMA Supercross in the rearview mirror? Check out Steve Matthes’ Observations (here) or our 250 Words and 450 Words columns.

Someone spotted Kevin Windham doing some outdoor work at the new Piru MX track in Southern California and posted a video of him on the facility’s site, as well as YouTube. K-Dub looks fast, and the track looks like a blast!

Here’s another note I got from my friend Danny Trevino:

“A few weeks ago I saw on message boards someone looking to get in touch with Carey Hart to meet this 12-year-old kid who had a moto accident, then while in the hospital the doctors found that he had a rare form of cancer. I forwarded this out to Carey, who then had his assistant working on it almost immediately! At the Las Vegas SX race, Carey set up young Sean with passes for him and his family and also got Fox Racing to donate a helmet for Sean to get some autographs! Hart set aside some time to meet Sean in the pits at his rig and was able to chat for a bit... All of us in the moto world who have known Carey from day one know how down to earth and humble he is BUT I just wanted to get the word out on how many things like this he does daily without any hesitation!”

Danny sent along a clip of Carey with the boy:

I ended up watching the Vegas race with Carey and his team manager Kenny Watson and his close friend and business manager Steve Astephen. They were glued to the battle between their Hart & Huntington Honda rider Matt Boni and Moto Concepts Honda’s Heath Voss for the top privateer honors. They were totally focused on their guy, yelling and cheering and sometimes oblivious to what was going on with Villopoto and Stewart and Reed. When Voss went down and had a problem with his front wheel, they cheered and then took off for the showroom floor to celebrate their success. It was pretty cool.

  • Hart & Huntington on the podium

Not as cool was Troy Adams’ frightening heat-race crash in the five small kickers that led out of the stadium. He ended up hitting the ground so hard it pulled his pants down around his knees. Adams got up and came back out for the LCQ, but it was obvious he was hurting and he did not qualify.

Does anyone remember when Bradshaw crashed at Red Bud in 1992 and it pulled his pants down? He got up and, upon spotting the MXA photographer (Tim Olson?), he picked up a rock and threw it at him! Actually, I think more people remember it for that than the crash!

Switching gears, once upon a time Billy Fosnock was a playground legend. He was from a tough neighborhood (East St. Louis) and he didn’t have a lot of means, but he rode the wheels off his Yamaha dirt bikes. He blew a lot of minds one summer at Loretta Lynn’s when he beat Mike Brown straight up for the 1989 250 A Stock National Championship. Billy didn’t have a lot discipline, never seeming to take it seriously – he just rode hard and fast – so it was no surprise when he fell through the cracks and did not do much as a professional.

  • Bill Fosnick in '89

Over the years, I would hear about him from time to time, and it wasn’t good news. Now it’s pretty bad. Fosnock was arrested and charged with armed robbery for holding up someone outside a convenience store with a knife. A second charge for another incident at the same station followed. Now I’m sad to say that it looks like he’s going away for a long time...


You know who’s super-pumped this week? The crew at Answer. They got their first-ever 450 AMA Supercross championship with Stewart’s win, and that comes EXACTLY 25 years after Johnny O’Mara won the AMA 250 Supercross title running all-white Answer gear. The O’Show was a style king, and needless to say, so is James. Can’t wait to see what those guys do with the #1 plate in 2010...

The Grand Prix circuit is back on the gas this weekend with the fifth round in Portugal. There have been a few injuries in the last couple of weeks — Shaun Simpson, Kevin Strijbos and more – but the action should be good in Portugal, on what is a very exciting track. Keep an eye on Freecaster.tv this weekend to watch the races live, and to watch the progress of American MX2 title contender. Visit www.mxlarge.com to get the latest.

Check out the new guitar James Stewart was rocking in Vegas. “We built James a custom Guitar Hero Guitar after he started coming out to rider intros with a stock GH guitar,” Red Bull’s Jordan Miller told us. “So, we commissioned a builder to create one from the ground up. It is not to be confused for a championship gift. Not after we gave him a Bentley a few years ago!”

  • Johnny O’Mara was the last rider to win the AMA Supercross title for Answer

Did you know that you can sell old Sidi motocross boots for about $500 in Japan? Motodude did, and he sent me this link: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/jam-ing/g1160/

Motobowl is coming up in a couple of weeks — 13 days to be exact — and none other than Jeremy McGrath has committed to participate, which will make an already classic-and-fun event even more of a classic-and-fun event!

Time for Steve Cox….

A little over a month ago there was an earthquake in the Abruzzo region of Italy that claimed more than 200 lives and also caused quite a lot of devastation. The Italian government has pledged billions to aid in the rebuilding, but that doesn’t fix much for some of the families who have lost loved ones or suffered severe injuries in the quake, nor those who need to find a place to live while their houses and neighborhoods are rebuilt. Well, enter More Than Dirt. They have gathered up gear from many of the GP stars to be auctioned off on eBay to help the earthquake victims. It’s endorsed both by the Italian arm of the Red Cross and Youthstream. You can find gear from riders such as Stefan Everts, David Vuillemin, David Philippaerts, Rui Goncalves, Antonio Cairoli, Josh Coppins, Marc de Reuver, Zach Osborne and many more. To check it out, go to the link here. It’s for a good cause.

Last Friday before the Las Vegas Supercross, and after the controversial Press Day at Sam Boyd Stadium, I headed over to Las Vegas Motor Speedway to meet up with the gang from One Industries, who invited out a few motocross stars to spend the day driving supercars at a road course just outside the main oval at the speedway. The cars included a couple Ferrari F430s, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a couple Aston Martins, a couple Porsche 997 Turbos, and a couple Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black Series. The riders (Kevin Windham, Mike Sleeter, Dan Reardon and Billy Laninovich) and the guys from One got to whip those ponies around the road course all day, culminating in a drift challenge at the end of the day (and the favorite cars for that turned out to be the AMGs). If you want to drive these insanely prestigious (and fast) cars out in Sin City, check out this link.

  • Sideplates are fair game this summer
  • K-Dub was ready for action
  • Sittin' sideways?
  • The whole crew

I was out at Glen Helen yesterday for the first big shakedown for many of the factory teams. Stars there included Ryan Villopoto, Christophe Pourcel, Ryan Dungey, Jake Weimer, Tyla Rattray, Tommy Searle, the Hahn brothers, PJ Larsen, Chris Blose, and more. It was like a mini-national, except that most of the guys were testing so they’d do a few laps and then head back in to make changes and report their findings. However, Villopoto was going really fast (predictably) as were Rattray, Pourcel, Searle, etc. The 250 class is going to be something else—especially with some of the best GP riders of the past few years joining the ranks.

After hanging out at Glen Helen for a bit, I headed over to take some photos of Searle and new Jagermeister KTM 450cc outdoor rider Justin Brayton out near the KTM test track. Check out the sideplate on Brayton’s 450. It looks like at least some of the big teams are going to be utilizing the outdoor rule of allowing the side plates to be used for sponsor placement.

And last but not least, a small commentary: Before the Las Vegas race, Chad Reed was making threats, implying that Mike Alessi might help him out in Vegas the way Kyle Chisholm helped out James Stewart in Salt Lake, except possibly on the lead lap with Alessi’s frequent holeshots. However, before the race, Alessi made it clear that he wasn’t planning to do any such thing because he didn’t want to drag his own name through the mud any more than he already had over the years. That’s all fine and dandy, but I started thinking about it: In the race, Alessi did nothing dirty to Stewart, even though Alessi did holeshot.

  • Mikey was hoping to keep his nose clean but…

However, late in the race, Alessi took out Andrew Short in a brutal move in the turn between the two whoop sections for sixth place. I’m not saying he should’ve taken out Stewart, because obviously that would’ve been a bad move, but it just seems to me if he was going to do something like that anyway, it’s surprising he wasn’t willing to do anything to help out his teammate in the championship chase. It’s just a weird sort of deal there. I don’t get it.

Time for some of Team Custodian of the Year David Pingree’s notes….

Ryan Hughes has a new venture that he is introducing called Ryno Organics. He’s partnered with a buddy in NorCal and together they are producing organic snacks geared towards racers and anyone that lives a healthy lifestyle. They have some snack bars and some small trail mix bags that are great for a between-motos snack. Where do they get their organic almonds? From former AMA 125cc National Champ George Holland, of course. Holland was a bad man in the late ‘80s and early before taking over the family almond farm business following the ’89 season. Anyway, it seems like Ryan is onto something cool here. Look for more info coming soon.

Speaking of Hughes, his track called Rynoland is now open to the public every Tuesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are looking for a good, old-school motocross track this is where you need to ride. Scott Bell (brother of 1980 AMA SX Champion Mike Bell) is doing all the track maintenance and prep and he knows what he’s doing. This is the perfect place to prep for Mammoth.

  • The David Pingree Hair Spalon

Jeff Ward had a scary get-off this week at a local motocross track. He hit a false neutral going off a jump and had to step through the bars mid-flight. The bike was absolutely destroyed in the crash and Wardy broke a bone in his right ankle and a toe on his left foot. He is still determined to race the next Supermoto round which is a week from this Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Jeff is currently leading the points chase ahead of Sylvain Bidart and Mark Burkhart.

Earlier this year I made a bet with a few of the riders on my team. Basically, we agreed that if any of them got on the podium in a main event during supercross they could give me whatever kind of haircut they wanted. But if they failed to do so, then I got to hold the shears. Well, as close as Jake Moss came this year, it wasn’t close enough. I gave Jake a clown haircut and I designed Borky a nice set of SKULLCANDY headphones. These two had to walk around for two days with this setup. Jimmy Albertson was in on the deal too but he already left for Oklahoma to start getting ready for the nationals. Look for Jim to be sporting a sweet new hairstyle when Glen Helen rolls around.

And now Steve Matthes:

I kind of made a goof when I wrote my Observations column this past week. It was a long night afterwards and on Sunday, the day I usually type it, I was chilling on the couch trying to get fluids and aspirin in me. So by the time I typed it I must’ve still been foggy because how else can you explain me not congratulating the Hart & Huntington team and Matt Boni on getting the top privateer award? This award is close to my heart and I championed the cause to get the rules changed a bit a couple of years ago and going into Vegas, there was one point separating Heath Voss and Boni.

It didn’t look good for Boni as he went down early in the main and had his work cut out for him if he wanted the $25,000 from U.S. Smokeless Tobacco. In an amazing race inside the already amazing race, Voss went out with what I think was a broken wheel and Boni won the whole shebang. So I just wanted to say congrats (and besides, more people read this column than mine anyways!).

  • Bobby Kiniry
  • Paul Carpenter

In some mechanic news, it appears that Canadian national number 17, Ryan Lockhart has hung up the boots for now and will wrench for Sean Hamblin on the Valli Motorsports Yamaha team. Hambone and “The Newf” have been friends since Sean first made his mark as a pro by racing (and winning) in Canada. Lockhart broke his kneecap in an off-season arenacross race and wasn’t sure if he was going to race this year when his good buddy Sean called up. These two might not win the race but they’re going to have a fun time along the way!

Still on the trail of Alan King, getting close… have some leads. But in the meantime, whatever happened to Eric Eaton?

Check out directmotocross.com for all your Canadian moto news, including an exclusive interview with Lockhart.

Also on the Canadian front, DMX was able to secure the first shots of the Monster Energy Cernic’s Kawasaki team. The team is Paul Carpenter, Jack Carpenter and Bobby Kiniry and you may be saying ‘Hey, that’s the Cernic’s Kawi team!’ and you’re right, just for Canada the team adds Monster Energy to its name. A couple years ago the same team won the whole shooting match with Carpenter and its hoping history repeats itself. I think the Canadians are going to be surprised by Bobby’s holeshot skills! The team also switched from Moose gear to Shift for the northern series.

  • Flash trivia answer: Pedro Gonzalez

Check out some of these Kinney Jones shots of the guys. And Look at pulpmx.com if you want.

Yesterday we threw out some Flash Trivia, presented by our good friends over at Fox Racing, who hooked us up with ten hats to give to ten lucky readers who answered correctly. We asked you to identify the rider in the photo shown here. The rider is Pedro Gonzalez in 1995 riding a NCY-backed Yamaha YZ250. Congratulations to Brian Chakedis, Todd Black, Jason Behunin, Nathan Rivera, James Jarman, Joel Younkins, Jim Decker, Brian Stapleton, Charles Hamilton and David Mattei. Your hat will be in the mail soon.

If you didn’t win the hat, maybe you could get lucky and win a chance to ride with RC at his private track in Florida. You can enter at www.foxracing.com, or just click here. http://www.foxhead.com/us/contests/?id=16467

Our Virtual Trainer Tim Crytser spotted some very cool Time Warp clips on the Discovery Channel site featuring Ryan Hughes. Check them out.

That’s it for Racerhead. Take a deep breather now that supercross is over, enjoy the off-weekends, and start getting ready for Glen Helen! See you at the races.