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Racerhead #21

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You know you’re having a good day when you the first text you get in the morning is from JMB. It’s probably going to be all downhill here from here.

  • Round 1: Glen Helen Raceway
Welcome to the epicenter of the motocross world this afternoon: the table of Bevo Forti’s Scott bus, right in the middle of the Glen Helen pro pits, which is right in the middle of the Southern California motocross universe. Of course, tomorrow is the first round of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and there’s more energy here right now that I can remember for any opener since “The Perfect Storm” back in 2005 when Ricky Carmichael came back to supercross, James Stewart moved up a class, and Chad Reed was waiting to take them both on.

Of course it rained and Kevin Windham won that race, but that’s not going to happen here, because K-Dub didn’t make the trip and the weather forecast is beautiful. Also, the track that Jody Weisel laid out is pretty damn cool. You can check it out yourself later this evening or tomorrow morning when the first Racer X Motocross Show of 2009 airs on www.allisports.com, followed tomorrow by live coverage of the first motos for all three classes: Women, 450, and then 250. We will even try to throw in the Two-Stroke Invitational that Glen Helen pulls together.

To watch the second 450 moto, please tune in to Speed TV at 9 p.m. (ET) Saturday night (6:00 out west) and check out David Bailey and Jason Weigandt as they debut together as a TV broadcasting team. Bailey hasn’t been in the booth for a few years, and I can’t tell you how stoked we are to have The Icon back on the box. As for Weege, he’s been waiting and working his way up through the ranks for years—special thanks here to the Feld Motor Sports folks for giving him the gig on Supercross Live! so he could earn his TV chops.

And finally, if you want to listen to the second motos (which we can’t show online due to the TV restrictions) we will start up an audio webcast on www.allisports.com for everyone to listen in. Hopefully, we won’t have any first-day missed gears and this thing will go off according to plan.

  • Will we see the red plate on Reed's Suzuki again soon?
  • Pourcel's green machine
  • Josh Grant and Cody Cooper's Yamahas
  • Fiolek's Factory Honda
Yes, Reed is here, and so is Ryan Villopoto, Mike Alessi, all three of the Honda Red Bull Racing guys in Millsaps, Short and Tedesco, Jason “I Fought The” Lawrence, Justin Brayton (who looks fantastic on the 450), Team Yamaha’s Josh Hill, JGRMX’s Josh Grant, the back-in-action Cody Cooper, and more.

In the Lites class, there’s more top guys here than I can remember in awhile: Dungey, Canard, Stroupe, Brett Metcalfe, Blake Wharton, Jake Weimer, Ryan Morais, and then the new-to-the-AMA-Motocross-circuit world champs Christophe Pourcel and Tyla Rattray, plus England’s Tommy Searle (and rookies Steven Clarke and Max “Getting” Anstie), and the biggest question mark in this class, Justin Barcia.

Who would you pick? JMB checking in makes me think Pourcel—they are so similar in how they approach the craft of racing, it’s ridiculous—and I think until RV gets beat, he’s the favorite. But you can make your own picks, and also support The Warthog Nation, by signing up for the Pro Moto Fan fantasy league. Check it out and see how you would stack up as a manager: www.ProMotoFan.com.

And we can’t overlook the girls. The Women’s Motocross Championship, which I am pleased to report will have its own standalone television show on Versus, boasts defending champion Ashley Fiolek going up against five-time champ Jessica Patterson, plus up-and-comers like Sherri Cruse, Vicki Golden and Racer X contributor Sarah Price, plus longtime favorite Sarah Whitmore, Mariana Balbi (who’s apparently leading the men’s MX3 standings back home in Brazil) and more.

  • Hepler took a blow to the head in Las Vegas and isn't quite ready to go full speed yet
Now the bad news: As reported this morning on Racer X Online, Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry is still a question mark, Team Yamaha’s Broc Hepler had to pull out, K-Dub isn’t going to start the series, and Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion James Stewart isn’t here either. Nothing we can do about the first two guys, but it’s our goal to make the series so much bigger and better that top athletes like James and Kevin will add it to their to-do lists in 2010. In the meantime, we will keep our fingers crossed that we maybe see a cameo appearance by these men.

I am still scratching my head about Kawasaki letting go of John Mitcheff, Ryan Villopoto’s mechanic and winner of six AMA championships, a winning member of Team USA the last four years (once with Ivan Tedesco and three times with RV), and easily one of the most respected yet humble mechanics in the business. He will find a job—he’s been called by virtually half the teams in the pits—and he will win more championships, guaranteed.

One more big battle I want to mention: Who will get the first-450-moto holeshot? Common sense says Mike Alessi, but recent national opener history says Josh Grant. Too close to call!

As you can imagine, I have been kind of busy out here this week, though not nearly as busy as MX Sports’ Director of Operations John Ayers, nor Jody, who I followed around for a couple of hours yesterday as he showed me the track, talked shop, and did a few nips and tucks on the course. It should be a fantastic race tomorrow.

Okay, here’s the rest of the guys—wish us luck and see you at the races.

Ping:

  • Jet ski racing maybe?
The weather is going to be nice this weekend in California for the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. It’s a good thing we don’t start this series in Daytona, because there is Biblical flooding going on down there in the Sunshine state. John Page sent us these photos of the Speedway, which could double as a watercraft facility right now.

This is one of the worst weeks of the year for many race teams. In a short amount of time, you have to get bikes set up, built, and ready for a new series. In the case of the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil team, we are switching from 250s in supercross to 450s outdoors and continuing to race Supermoto on both bikes. In fact, next weekend we will send our team semi to Sacramento for the motocross national on Saturday and send our testing box van and Sprinter to Las Vegas for the Supermoto national on Sunday. Our entire staff will fly straight from Hangtown to Vegas on Saturday night so we can attend both events. Note to Troy Lee: None of us will be in the race shop that Monday.

Speaking of Supermoto, the second round of the series took place at Sears Point in Sonoma, California, last weekend. Mark Burkhart won the premier class over Sylvain Bidart and Jeff Ward. Wardy was nursing a broken ankle and toe, but his third-place finish keeps him tied for the lead with Burkhart. French rider Bidart trails the duo by one point. The third round of the series should be amazing. It is being held at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on May 31. The underground arena will hold an arenacross-style dirt section, and tunnels at either end of the arena will send riders out and in from the road section in the parking lot. If you need a reason to get to Vegas, this would be a good one. Weekend packages will be available this weekend at Glen Helen at the South Point Hotel and Casino display.

Holy roosting rookies, Batman. Has there ever been a season where so many rookie kids are jumping into the pro ranks? I’m sure it has something to do with the new eligibility rules that just came out, stating that riders will have to be 18 in order to get a pro license. That rule kicks in January of 2011. And kudos to whoever backed that new rule. Maybe now more kids will opt to finish high school before chasing their dirt biking dreams. Local Lube-O-Ramas across the country have been scrambling to find a new employee source since the new rule was announced earlier this week (that last part was just a joke). Max Anstie and Justin Barcia are the two most notable riders starting out this weekend, but by the end of the summer we should see Dean Wilson, Christian Craig, Blake Baggett, Tommy Weeck, Travis Baker, Kyle Regal and many more getting their feet wet in pro motocross. The good news is that there will be a lot of talented riders available. The bad news is that there are going to be fewer and fewer jobs for them as the economy continues to strain the MX industry.

  • He gave it his best effort
I don’t know how true it is, but I keep hearing rumors that several manufacturers will be closing down their in-house race teams starting next year. That doesn’t come as a surprise, really, when you think of how successful certain satellite teams have been lately. L&M has won back-to-back 450 SX titles, Pro Circuit has 9,000 #1 plates, and several other satellite teams run very tidy programs that could easily be a manufacturer’s sole effort. Again, it will decrease the number of available rides, and that sucks for everyone. The next few months could see a pretty major shakeup in the way things have been done with professional racing. Oh, wait … I just read online that Ben Bernanke has a plan to save us all. Woo hooo!

Poor Chad Reed just can’t get a break. I know he is a 2-time supercross champion and all but this just hasn’t been his year. First he loses the supercross championship to James Stewart by a slim margin at the final round in Vegas. And now, just this week, he loses the American Idol title to some hillbilly from Arkansas named Kris Allen. Sure, the kid can sing but I could tell Reedy really put his heart into it because he was totally glamming it up and even coming off a bit fruity just to win over the judges. Tough break, Chad. Good luck this summer.

Matthes:

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry has been off the scene since Daytona, and I checked in with him this week to see what the status is of the Big One Five. The status is a go for Glen Helen; Ferry has been in Southern California all week testing and been on the bike in total for about two weeks. There’s a chance he pulls out after riding the treacherous Glen Helen track, but he seems to think it will be okay. As far as speed, last week he told me he was “37-DNS” but this week upgraded it to “20-31”. I highly doubt that’s what we’ll see, as he has been keeping in shape by swimming and biking, but like he told me, nothing replaces actual riding.

Oh, and I took a look at TWMX’s site and saw that my guy had Gaerne boots on. When asked about them, he said he was pumped on them and then changed the subject because he knew I would grill him.

It seems we have another longtime veteran returning to the outdoors in the form of Butler Brothers’ Jason Thomas. The team ran a limited schedule last year but is in for all twelve rounds this year. Thomas told me this race should be in the neighborhood of his 125th national that he’s competed in! Seems like just yesterday I saw the #371 Kawasaki at Steel City 1998.
Take a look at Pulpmx.com if you really want to.

It was Podcast Mania this week with the outdoor national preview, Tyla Rattray, and today none other than Broc Glover. I really enjoyed the Golden Boy podcast, and it’s worth a listen.

  • Listen to Matthes' podcast with Broc Glover
Are you wondering where to get your Canadian moto news? Well, wonder no more as you should check out directmotocross.com for everything you need to know as the start of the Monster Energy CMRC Nationals is only two weeks away. There are interviews with Carpenter, Nye and Maier on there for you Americans. Here’s a shot of Teddy Maier on the Monster Energy/Leading Edge Kawasaki team

I’m pumped for the outdoors and think it’s going to be a great series with lots of surprises. Almost everyone I talk to via phone, AIM, or email seems to be as well, and the most popular question is “How is Reed going to do?” I think the two-two is going to be a factor all summer long, and if it wasn’t for him taking some time off and his lackluster showing at the MXoN this past fall, I would have him winning. I think it’s going to take a bit of time (plus the 800 and 2 ride Glen Helen so well) for Reedy to find his outdoor legs, but once he does, let’s not forget that he was the second-best guy more times than not behind the greatest outdoor rider ever on a bike that wasn’t up to snuff. No matter what, it’s going to be a great battle.

DC coined the phrase “The Perfect Storm” for supercross ’05 when James jumped into the 250s, but I haven’t heard anything about this year’s outdoors. I would like to start and throw in a few names, how about “Battlestar Motolactica”, ”Welcome Back Chadder” or “Dyno-mite!” I’ll be quiet now.

Misc

- KTLA Morning News (#1 rated morning show that reaches the entire Southland and SD) came out to Glen Helen on Tuesday at the invite of Tony Gardea and Brandon Short of Next Level Sports Inc. They were there from 6 a.m. til 10, and the live shot generated four segments and several teasers. They also taped a package that ran later in the afternoon.

-Among the riders who helped out were Ryan Villopoto, Jason Lawrence (who banged his ribs pretty good in a crash), rising SoCal fast kid Weston Peick, Women’s rider Sara Price and more. Click here for the video.

  • Congratulation again, Ryan and Hannah
- Last week we ran a photo of the wedding party at the ceremony of Ryan Morais and Hannah Short, but we forgot to run the most important one: the happy couple! Also, we made a joke about Hannah being a "part-time model" but that was a play off a song by Flight of the Conchords, a Racer X favorite.

Hannah is actually a registered nurse with her bachelors degree! She's also a lovely bride, and Ryan is a lucky man.

- Chuck Coulson and David Villalpando both sent this link to a downright touching story about a fellow racer named Jamie Schubert who entered what may have been his last race over the weekend at Racetown. Take a moment this weekend and check it out.

- Watch FMF’s Malcolm McCassy this coming Thursday, May 28, on MTV’s hit show Made. Malcolm has grown up in the sport of motocross and has lived his passion for riding and working with the best athletes in the world including the grass roots of our sport in amateur MX. Watch Malcolm get down and twist the throttle and do what he does best.

MTV is hitting the extreme world of motocross racing with its latest episode of Made. Watch Kaitlin, a homecoming queen who wants to shed her girly image and be Made into a fierce motocross racer. With the help of motocross master Malcolm McCassy, Kaitlin will endure four intense weeks of mud, sweat and tears. Will Kaitlin’s training be enough to prepare this pink loving princess for one of the biggest motocross events in the Midwest? Find out on MADE! Plus, look out for a special guest appearance by racing legend Travis Pastrana.

Made airs Thursday, May 28, at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time and 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

- A new website dedicated to Bruce Ogilvie is now live at www.bruceogilvie.com. Friends and admirers of Bruce can post stories and photographs to be shared with others.

Additionally, there will be a open ride day in Bruce’s honor on Saturday, June 20 in the Bell Mountain area of the Mojave Desert, very close to where Bruce spent many years testing and developing motorcycles for American Honda. More information is available on the site.

Ogilvie passed away on April 13, 2009 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was a multi-time Baja champion who loved off-road riding and racing with his friends and family.

- Hannah Sexton, a young motocross rider from Jacksonville, Florida, had a tragic accident on March 15. She was practicing at the Dirt Farm track in St. George/Folkston when she collided with another bike. She was life-flighted to Shands where an operation was performed, but unfortunately, she did not make it. The local motocross community along with her family and friends have arranged for a benefit ride in her name with all the proceeds to go to Action Sports Medical Foundation.
Hannah’s ride will take place on June 7 at 8:30 a.m. at Murray’s Grille SR 200–Hwy. A1A Yulee, FL. The cost is $20 per bike and $5 per passenger. For more information contact Wayne at 904-225-2333 or WAYNEANDELLEN@BELLSOUTH.NET

  • Tommy Hahn and Sara Lipert
  • Nate Ramsey and Denny Stephenson
  • Kristen Cunningham from Leatt (and Kyle’s big sis)
  • Dano interviews Joe Oehlhof
- WASHINGTON (CNN)—President Obama has selected Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to be his ambassador to China, sources tell CNN. Utah Republican Gov. John Huntsman will reportedly be named U.S. ambassador to China. An official announcement is expected soon.

Huntsman, who speaks Mandarin Chinese and has adopted a daughter from China, had been tipped as a potential rival to Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

- Run, Fanboy! Run!

In case you missed it, David Bulmer, the brains behind A Year in MX, where he drove a Ford Fiesta or something to every round of the AMA Motocross Championships, is back, and this time he brought his running shoes. Bulmer is going to be the first person to run on foot the whole way around all 12 tracks on the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships, from the hills of Glen Helen to the deep brown sands of Southwick. He’s doing it for two fantastic causes: Wings for Life and the Rider Down Foundation, while also working the sidelines for Vurbmoto.com and the Racer X Motocross Show.

So we are doing our part to help this cool cause out, working on a Bulmer Helmet Cam, customized “A Mile in the Shoes of the A Year in MX Guy” trainers, producing an extended remix of the Rocky theme for start-to-finish inspiration, and installing a catch net at the bottom of Mt. St. Helen (just in case). My biggest concern is this: How is he going to keep the ice from falling out of his drink through the whoops?


- Rich Van Every is once again living La Dolce Vita (or whatever they might be calling in that Burning Man world) and he’s off on another Gumball Rally adventure. Apparently, Dennis Rodman (he of cross-dressing NBA fame) and Adam Barker (he of Frezno Smooth fame) are along for the ride. Stay tuned for some updates.

- Moto Magazine is reporting that the 1998 Glen Helen winner Mikael Pichon is making his racing return - not at Glen Helen this time, though. Pichon will be filling in for the injury-burdened Team MX Honda Martin as the GP series heads to Mallory Park next weekend. If you’re in France this weekend you can see Mikael getting up to speed in the French Elite Championship.

This is the first week of our new weekly online giveaway, TGI Freeday. Every Friday we’ll post a killer new prize that’s up for grabs, and all you have to do for a chance to win is enter. This week’s prize is a DeCal Works T-6 Series Semi Custom graphics kit, valued at $268. For your chance to win, sign up at http://www.racerxonline.com/contests/tgi-freeday.aspx.

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