Racerhead #23

June 5, 2009 5:03pm | by:

  • Freestone, here we come!
Justin Freund’s first pro race is not going according to plan. On the trip to Texas from St. Louis for tomorrow’s third round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the privateer and his family suddenly had a tractor-trailer driver pull up beside them and start waving them off the road frantically. Turns out their motor home had flames shooting out from under it!

“We got off the side of the road and just started pulling everything out we could,” Justin told me over the phone this afternoon. “The fire department showed up and somehow unhooked the trailer—the front was starting to melt—and that saved my bikes and most of my gear and all.” What they couldn’t save was the motor home, which burned to the frame.

So Justin and his parents borrowed a pickup truck, loaded up what they could, and kept on driving to the Freestone National. Now he’s looking for some sponsors: “The cool shrouds I had burned up, so now I’ve got ones with no graphics,” he said. “Anyone who wants to sponsor me for the day, I would be glad to run their stickers!”

MX Sports Pro comped the Freunds’ gate and entry fees, but he’s going to need all the help he can get now. Anyone who wants to help out, email us at Letters@racerxonline.com and we will get it to Justin.

  • Josh won the thrilling second moto at Hangtown, but then was docked a spot for jumping on the new “no-jump” flag
Last weekend’s Hangtown race was the first AMA Motocross race broadcast live on SPEED TV, and it was nothing less than spectacular. The final 450 moto saw a three-man freight train at the front as Joe Gibbs Racing MX/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant led Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi and Chad Reed for all but just a couple of corners, as Alessi passed him twice, only to get passed right back.

Unfortunately, along the way the new yellow-and-red “no jumping” flag came out for a rider who was down on the side of the track at the bottom of the drop-off and was being tended to by the paramedics. Either the flag did not register or Grant missed it completely, as he doubled down, passing another yellow flagger at the top of the jump trying to push him to the left of the accident. Here are three angles of the incident in question.

After the race, the AMA would dock him one spot, handing his first 450 moto win to Alessi, who would have won the overall regardless. Josh was one of seven riders—including 250-class winner Christophe Pourcel—docked for not obeying the flag, and it caused a lot of talk on the internet this week.

  • There will be no mistaking this for a yellow flag.
The penalties will stand, and MX Sports and AMA Pro Racing will continue to try to educate the riders about the meaning of this flag, as well as change out the yellow for white, after feedback from several riders and teams. The red-and-white will be waved this weekend in Texas on the first lap of each practice so the riders know where the flags will be, as well as on the sighting lap before each moto.

The flag could not help series points leader Ryan Villopoto, who shocked the motocross world when he announced, after a 16th place in the first moto, that his knee was torn up from a Thursday-afternoon crash and he would pull out of the series immediately. RV was a 1-1 winner for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team at the season opener, but this week turned out to be the worst of his professional career. He’s already had surgery, but the three-time AMA Motocross Champion is down for the year (and yes, that includes the Motocross of Nations, unfortunately). Everyone here at Racer X wishes Ryan a quick and full recovery.

Everyone knows about the small controversy involving the penalties for jumping on the blind-jump flag (okay, kinda big), but there were a few more little tempests down in the staging area before the start of some motos. The first thing that happened was that the AMA shut the staging area at exactly 1:15 p.m. before the first 250-class moto. At that point, both rider and bike had to be there, and unfortunately for a few guys, including Max Anstie and Kyle Mace, they lost their picks on the gate for not getting there in time.

  • Mace (267) was quick on the draw thanks to the cooling relief of a Racer X umbrella!
At least 45 minutes before the second 250 moto, I noticed Mace down in the staging area, first in line, sitting by himself—he wasn’t going to miss it twice! It was so hot at that point, I went and found the kid a Racer X umbrella to at least have some shade. He ended up getting a pretty good start too!

Next, Villopoto’s transponder fell off because it had not been put on properly in the first place. RV’s mechanic, Mike Williamson, asked permission to leave with the bike and get some zip ties, and one of the AMA officials said go ahead. But leaving the staging area is a no-no, and some of the other team contenders saw the #2 bike roll out. The AMA talked it over and decided that since it a transponder and potential safety issue, it would be okay. RV ended up going down in the second turn and would end up 16th. He did not go out for the second moto due to his season-ending knee injury.

And then there’s Jason Lawrence. Before the start of the second 450 moto, he decided to go cruise around on the infield on his #338 Yamaha. Oblivious to the rule about leaving, as well as the idea that you can’t ride around on the infield before the moto, Jason lost his pick on the gate and was told he had to line up 40th. That did not go over well, so he squirted some water at an official (which I thought was funny because whenever you see someone like Randy Moss or an NHL hockey player do it, I always laugh). So Lawrence lined up on the far outside, then seemed to decide that he was going to go on three and time the gate perfectly.

But the gate didn’t go until maybe four and a half seconds, and Lawrence ended up jumping the gate and nearly causing a red flag. Fortunately, he did not interfere with any other riders, but the AMA officials, having heard about him turning the MiniMoto SX into a demolition derby, decided not to risk any more of his shenanigans and just black-flagged him. (AMA Rule #3.14 a: Jumping or fouling the gate may result in a penalty or disqualification.)

  • See that cloud of dust on the outside? J-Law rides again!
  • Tommy Hahn passed at least 35 guys last Saturday in the 450 class
And there was one more small problem: After the sighting lap of the second moto, Glen Helen’s top privateer Weston Peick had a problem with his clutch lever. The 30-second board went up as his mechanic was trying to put a new clutch lever on. He held up his hand and waved frantically. Unfortunately, there is no “Two Minute” grace time rule in the 2009 AMA Rulebook for Motocross or Supercross, and the race went off. Peick tried to make a go of it with his faulty clutch, and finally pulled out after four laps.

Tommy Hahn has been having an exceptional summer so far. The Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki rider has climbed into fifth in the 450 rankings, even after suffering two terrible starts at Hangtown. He kept his head down and fought through, passing 17 guys in one moto and 18 in the next. The latter earned him this week’s Ricky Carmichael Hard-Charger Award from MX Sports, which always goes to the rider who passes the most competitors from the end of the first lap (when they are first scored) to the checkered flag.

Hahn’s fine effort begs this question: Why wasn’t Tommy bumped up to the Monster Energy Kawasaki factory team when manager Mike Fisher went looking for help after both Villopoto and Tim Ferry bowed out? Rather than bring Hahn under the tent, the team invited Branden Jesseman and WORCS star Ricky Deitrich to give it a shot. Apparently, Hahn’s locked in with the Canidae team’s sponsors and a deal couldn’t be worked out.

  • Here’s that notorious moment from 2001 when Grant Langston shut down then-rookie Bobby Bonds’ upset bid with a little brake check...
  • ... and Bobby Bonds today
Deitrich isn’t the only WORCS rider making a great impression on the motocross riders. Bobby Bonds, the defending series champion, looked really fast and strong at Hangtown on his Honda, though bad starts relegated him to 18th overall. It’s hard to believe how different Bonds’ career turned out after his infamous battle with Grant Langston at Hangtown eight years ago. That was the day he hounded Langston throughout on his 125cc Kawasaki (remember those?), only to get something of a brake check at the very end and go crashing out of the races.

By the way, the 450 class will run first tomorrow, according to the schedule. The 450s ran last at Hangtown because of the live TV window. The Freestone National will not air live; instead it shows at 9 p.m. ET tomorrow night, so the 250s will go after the 450s, which means a rougher track for that class.

After you check out the Racer X Pre-Race Show on Allisports.com, come back for the live streaming video coverage, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET and run throughout the first motos. And then you can watch the 450 finale on SPEED TV’s Saturday night motocross show! (Every time I type that, I smile….)

Every time Justin Barcia shows up on the track, he reminds me of the rookie Damon Bradshaw, or maybe even Bob “Hurricane” Hannah, as AMA Pro Racing’s Roy Janson pointed out to me while we were watching him blitz through the pack in the second moto after a bad start. Unfortunately, the rookie wonder got tangled up with Austin Stroupe and went down in the middle of the moto, which led to a DNF for #151 and a cracked pelvis for #981 Stroupe.

Fox Racing came to Glen Helen with video cameras to document Barcia’s first day as a pro for their website—which means they picked a pretty good day to follow the kid! Check out the short film right here.

  • Chris Pourcel will be chasing after Ryan Dungey on a rougher track tomorrow in Texas.
  • Justin Barcia has been a constant presence at the front of the pack, except for the second moto at Hangtown
James Stewart is planning a ride day for all his friends and fans at Milestone Raceway out in California, according to a post GuyB put up on the VitalMX.com message board. More details on that when they come available.

Meanwhile, down in Florida, in between Twitter sessions and golf outings, James put together a pretty funny video where he answers this question: Can you ride a Segway around your supercross track? Turns out he can, though he does have some trouble in the triples. (My favorite headline of all time came from The Onion, on the release of the up-to-then top secret Segway people mover, something to the effect of: Segway Will Revolutionize the Way Pedestrians are Hit by Traffic.)

I still have my fingers crossed that we will see James somewhere this summer other than the X Games; those three live-on-NBC Monster Triple Crown races would be a nice place to line up for the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion….

Jeff Hain was at RC’s truck practice yesterday at Texas Motor Speedway, where RC blew a tire in practice and almost put it in the wall…. RC qualified eighth yesterday evening for tonight’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 400 (167 laps, 250.5 miles) at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. The race starts at 8 p.m. central time tonight.

Ricky isn’t the only multi-time AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion racing on four wheels this weekend. Jeremy McGrath has on off-road truck race that will air on Sunday at 5 pm (ET) on ABC. McGrath, who also now has a deal with Hammerhead Designs, was on the box at his last race, and Eric Johnson got up with him this week for this Between the Motos interview (LINK)

  • Ricky Carmichael qualified eighth at Texas Motor Speedway
Hammerhead Designs is also sponsoring all of the flagmen at the remaining Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Nationals with some cool swag, so be looking for that beginning this weekend at Freestone.

And speaking of the King of Supercross, a cool suit of customized Team Honda gear by Thor Racing is being auctioned off on eBay for a charity called Music For A Cure. It’s the same type gear he wore on that trip to Ocotillo Wells for some free-riding with friends that we covered in the April issue of Racer X Illustrated. Check it out and make a bid! 


Let’s hand off here to David Pingree…

Hangtown is a completely different facility than it was just a decade ago. The last time I raced there, quite honestly it sucked. It was totally hard-packed, narrow, and it had a downhill, right-hand first turn. I hated it. When they watered it, the track turned into a sheet of ice and after twenty minutes it was dusty again.

So it’s good to see that the Dirk Digglers have been putting in the effort. They brought in rice wholes, a byproduct of shelling rice, and covered the track with those and sandy material that made for a great racing surface. The track crew was as vigilant as ever when it came to their assigned duties, though; if you didn’t have the right pass, you simply were not getting in.

Beyond that it was an entertaining weekend. My highlights included watching Pourcel ride to the front in the first moto, watching Millsaps cartwheel in the second 450 moto (it was gnarly), and finally having my guys inside the top ten where they belong.

  • Mike Alessi is now the points leader in the 450 Class.
  • Duke Millsaps caught a ride back to the pits on the back of Doc Bodnar’s ambumule.
And of course there’s the Jason Lawrence show, which has gotten more out of hand than North Korea lately. Now he’s “borrowing” parts out of other teams’ transporters? I did laugh pretty hard when he told one of the race officials that they were the “gAy-M.A.” That was right after he squirted the guy with a bottle of water. How many laps has he actually completed in the motos this summer? Two? I think that is the current tally. Maybe that should be our next online poll: How many laps will Jason Lawrence actually complete during this series? I would offer up something in the 20-lap range. Just 18 to go, J-Law, and I’m a winner!

The Pala Motocross Park is open and running, and so far, it looks like they are planning on carrying out all the plans they proposed. The main track, vet track, and kids’ track are all completed and open and there are plans for at least another six tracks in the master plans. If you haven’t checked out the website, do it. The tracks are great for any skill level. The main track is pretty loose and choppy and the jumps can get pretty rutted. If you are an intermediate or pro then you’ll love it. If you aren’t then the vet track will be more your speed. It has some tabletop jumps, and it is much tighter and slower. They both have great soil. It is definitely one of the best tracks in Southern California right now. And with plans for a retail shop, restaurant, BMX track, Supermoto track, and even a road racing course in the future, it could become one of the coolest facilities in the country: www.palaraceway.com

With Bridgestone exiting the sport there is definitely going to be a void in the tire department. No doubt companies like Pirelli, Maxxis, and Michelin will be trying to gain some market share in the next few years, but you might even see some new companies entering the fray as well. For instance, Mitas Tyres is a company out of the Czech Republic that has shown interest in sponsoring some American race teams in 2010 and beyond. The company is massive in Europe and they have some connection to Trelleborg tires, though I can’t tell exactly because much of the text is written in Czech. Oddly enough, I used to use Trelleborg tires when I was an amateur kid on 80s, and they worked awesome.

Anyway, the Mitas tires are more of a price-point tire (roughly half what you would pay for a brand name) and my guess is that the Trelleborg is designed to be the upper-end brand. “Czech” them out at http://www.cgs.eu/?jazyk=english

  • Could Texas be the place for Trey Canard’s first moto win?
Did you read the Future Shock feature a couple issues ago about the new breed of electric motorcycles? There are several companies that are building off-road bikes that will play a part in the future of motorcycle racing. If you don’t believe me, check this out.

This company appears to be way ahead of the curve and they are entering one of these in a race on the Isle of Man later this year in the world’s first electric bike road race. It goes 150 mph and produces 100% torque at all speeds. Um, that is pretty cool!

That’s it from Ping - here’s Steve Cox:

I’ve talked a lot about the heat over the last week or two mainly because it’s been on my mind a lot. Why? For multiple reasons, but the first reason is that it was unseasonably cool at both Glen Helen and Hangtown. The second reason? Well, it didn’t strike me until Southwick last year how much of a different climate riders in the GPs are used to racing in compared to the USA. Dutch sand specialist Marc de Reuver showed up at Southwick last year and while he was definitely fast, he dropped out part way through the second moto, citing the heat as a reason.

But here’s the thing: It really wasn’t very hot at Southwick last year at all. Compared to Texas last year, Southwick was the North Pole. I don’t remember the exact temperature, but it must have been in the area of 80 degrees, which is the ballpark that the last two rounds were in as well. However, in Texas this year, Weather.com says it’s going to be about 95 degrees. This is significant because we have three riders racing their first season in the USA after spending most of their careers in the GPs in Christophe Pourcel and Tyla Rattray from the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad and Tommy Searle from the Muscle Milk/MDK KTM team.

  • We’re guessing that’s Miss Motocross, Erin Normoyle
If it’s anywhere near as hot in Texas this year as it was last year, it’s going to tell us a lot about how the former GP competitors are going to fair as the weather gets nasty this summer.

As far as Pourcel in particular, we talked a little bit in his Monday Conversation this week about the heat (LINK), and the thing is that he has been taking pills to help his digestive system because the paralysis he suffered a couple of years ago still affects him, just to a lesser degree, obviously, than it used to. He says he has some new pills for this weekend, but it sounds like it’s going to be a bit of a trial run for the new meds. As a fan, though, what I don’t want is for his stomach problems to stop him from being at the top of his game for this championship. The whole may-the-best-man-win thing sort of goes out the window when one of the top guys is prevented from riding at his best because of circumstances outside of his control.

Speaking of circumstances outside of your control, a lot has been said of Jason Lawrence already this summer, and it’s safe to say that his championship hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts, but his newest teammate – or rider, I guess – Max Anstie isn’t having a great start to his pro career either. The 16-year-old British expatriate ended up in the hospital after round one and then did a bit more damage in moto one at Hangtown before putting it together for a solid 12th-place finish in the second moto. Hopefully we’ll get to see his true potential sooner rather than later because Slaw tells me the kid is the real deal.

Honda Red Bull Racing’s Davi Millsaps had a tough crash at Hangtown coming down a hill into an off-camber hairpin when he went down hard and was hit by his bike. I saw him in the pits after the race and to say he looked stiff is an understatement. His neck was very sore, but he seemed in good spirits otherwise, so my bet is that he’s on the line in Texas.

  • Suzuki City's Matt Goerke went 5-9 for 7th overall in the 450 class
  • In celebration of opening day in Canada, here’s Torsten Hallman on the cover of a Canadian mag from 1968, courtesy of Uncle Moped!
Steve Matthes Time:

I won’t be in Texas this weekend for the AMA Motocross National, as I’ve decided to go up to beautiful Kamloops, British Columbia, and the first round of the Monster Energy (Canadians can’t escape the green claw either) CMRC Nationals. I can remember the first round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship like it was yesterday and the anticipation and tension filled the air. I’ll be going through it again up there as the teams and riders have been working just as hard as their American counterparts in trying to get ready for the nine race series that stretches across Canada.

Last year Blackfoot Yamaha’s Colton Facciotti ran away with the series, winning every moto he entered but one. That one moto was won by Dusty Klatt (remember him?), and Klatt has rejoined his BFFs at BF. It was at Blackfoot that Klatt first made a name for himself and earned himself a Star Racing ride down here.

Dusty will be in the mix, but most people are betting on the 2007 champ, Paul Carpenter, to give “Lighting Bolt” Colt a real run for his money. There’s also Tyler and Jeremy Medaglia, Cole Siebler, Kyle Keast, Bobby Kiniry, Jeff Northrup and a few others that will be in the mix.

American amateur sensation Dean Wilson is racing the first three rounds of the MX2 class as well. Dean-O is just like Wardy: you know, where you spend the first six years of your life living in Scotland then you and the fam move to your adopted country. Then we “claim” you. That’s what the Canadians have done with Dean. Canada will take its heroes however they can!

You people in the Southern Hemisphere can follow some of your heroes. Canada has South Africans Liam O’Farrell, Kerim Fitz-Gerald and New Zealand’s Mason Phillips all racing up there.

In between all of the live stuff on Allisports.com from the States, you can follow the race by clicking on www.directmotocross.com, a Canadian moto site. We’ll have after practice updates on Saturday and then on Sunday, moto updates.

  • Jeff Northrup is such a great starter, he led both practice AND the first moto at Hangtown. Now “NorCal” is headed north—way north.
I’m on Twitter now. Check it out at twitter.com/pulpmx

So far it’s been cool to talk to people, and hopefully I don’t come to and realize how dorky it is anytime soon. Still waiting for js7 to reply, however…. Please check out pulpmx.com. I need the hits like Ferry needs to decide on some boots.

I had a real good time doing the podcasts this week. I got Ping to actually come over to my house and we did an hour of talking about stuff. My real source of pride however is getting the elusive (and very cool) JMB to do one as well. Thanks to LeBig and Moto Verte for making that happen. LINK TO JMB podcast

Okay, here are some closing notes:

Want to see another angle of Pourcel’s performance at Hangtown? Uber-photographer Frank Hoppen was on hand to shoot the whole Monster Energy Kawasaki team and he produced this gem for Kawasaki.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtVvls57rtY&feature=channel_page

Here’s the same movie but in real 720p HD:


Here’s a Sean Hamblin update:

“I high-sided down the drop off before Mount St. Helen on like lap four or five of the second moto. I ended up going to Loma Linda Hospital in an ambulance and spent a full work day of 8 1/2 hours in the ER, stayed in the hallway all freaking night until 1:30 in the morning! So the injury list read as: sprained left wrist, fractured left radius and ulna where it meets the elbow, both collarbones separated from my sternum, bruised sternum, and separated right shoulder. Just a few small scratches really! So now I am a little over a week into my healing and everyday is getting better and better. My goal is to be back hopefully for Lakewood.”

  • Barry Carsten on green!
Here’s something nobody has ever seen: Barry Carsten riding something other than a Suzuki. Rob Harris sent us this pic from Broome-Tioga. Apparently, Barry was riding green because Kawasaki was the only manufacturer paying contingencies at that particular event.

Here’s some cool PR from the Orangemen:

KTM and FMF have partnered together with MX Sports Pro Racing to bring motocross fans the ultimate viewing experience: The "KTM/FMF Motocross Fanatic Paradise" which will take place at two rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship Series.The KTM/FMF Motocross Fanatic Paradise is a KTM exclusive trackside seating area and all-day VIP access offered to KTM fans and owners. The events will take place at RedBud's Monster Energy National on July 4, and the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship season finale at Steel City on September 5. Tickets are available for purchase at select KTM dealers, and the event is open to all fans regardless of what kind of motorcycle owned.

With each ticket purchase fans will receive:

  • All day admission pass
  • All day pit access
  • Free parking for all participants - includes special motor home parking for the first 30 KTM/FMF fans that show up on the day of the race.
  • Free catered lunch
  • Access to KTM exclusive trackside seating area with Live Timing Screens
  • Special Autograph Signing with KTM Factory Riders
  • Post-race Track Walk with explanation of the various elements of the racetrack
  • Free KTM T-shirt

  • Know a fast girl looking for some sponsorship? Warhawk Powersports wants her!
Warhawk Powersports is looking for a WMA pro to sponsor for the last two rounds of the WMA Nationals. They have come to terms with their 250 rider, who will be racing the last four nationals, and their two-stroke rider for Budds Creek. They would like to have a WMA rider to complete their lineup; any WMA Pro can email burrito@warhawkpowersports.com.

Got a question for Chad Reed? He’s the subject of our next “10Q” in the September issue of the magazine. Submit a question right here: /article/got-a-question-for-chad-reed.aspx

Finally, I wish to dedicate this Racerhead column to my good friend Chris “Beeker” Onstott of Fox Racing, who lost his father this week after a long battle with cancer. From all your friends at Racer X, we send our deepest sympathies to you and your family.

Click to read the new Impound MX with embedded Glen Helen highlight video
Read the new Impound MX