Racerhead #26

It was supposed to be a long vacation week off. After maybe 18 months of working on our new responsibilities with the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships, I took my family off to the New England shore to take it easy and hang out. Halfway through the holiday, I found out my mom’s house had been broken into—with her there and asleep in her bed. The thieves made off with some prized possessions, fortunately without ever awaking her. But to say she was shaken up by it is an understatement.

The only thing we have to go on is the fact that these two burglars ended up on the home-security camera in her house. So I’m asking anyone reading this to please take a moment and watch the clips of this crime. If anyone can help us solve this and get back the things she lost, my whole family would be eternally grateful.

And for those who already knew about this and called or email us with their support and condolences, I really appreciate it. My mom Rita is an amazing person who has been through a great deal in the years since she beat cancer—including the loss of her husband Dave, my father. If we could help her get through this and bring some closure, well, it would mean a lot to all of us.

  • Last year's Lakewood track.
In the meantime, I am off to Denver with a plane full of motocross folks based in the Pittsburgh area. Tomorrow night is the Thunder Valley National, which will be held under the lights and which marks the fifth round of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. The second 450 moto will air live on SPEED TV on Saturday night beginning at 11 p.m. ET (8 PT). And as always, the first motos will showm live on www.allisports.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET, including the Women’s Motocross class.

David Bailey will not be in the booth this time, replaced by another four-time AMA Motocross and Supercross champion in Jeff Emig. And as a special guest to join Fro and Jason Weigandt in the booth for the 250 motos, look for none other than Trey Canard, the now sidelined GEICO Powersports Honda rider who broke his wrist in a spectacular crash while leading the second moto of the High Point National two weeks ago.

There’s no way Canard can ride, and I really thought there was no way Mike Alessi could ride either, but the super-determined Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider is going to go for it after all. As you know, Alessi was the points leader before High Point, having won at both Hangtown and Freestone, only to crash and shatter his kneecap into four pieces while practicing before High Point. He was operated on in Morgantown last Tuesday, then flew straight home to California to begin some intense rehab in the hopes of staying in the title chase—he’s 19 points behind the leader, his teammate Chad Reed. If he can manage the pain (and there will be pain) and keep the knee from getting clocked with a rock, well, more power to him. If it doesn’t work out, it could turn real ugly in a hurry.

While we’re talking about Suzuki riders, here’s a nod to a cool kid named Ken Roczen. He rode into the record books last Sunday as the youngest rider ever to win a Grand Prix, taking the German GP in the MX2 class at the ripe old age of 15 years, 53 days. (In Europe, you only have to be 15 to get a pro license.) Roczen, who said earlier in the year that he wants to come to America soon, will have to wait until 2012 because here in the States, the age limit is going from 16 to 17 next year, and then from 17 to 18 in 2011. And the even-younger (and said to be just as fast) Jeffrey Herlings of Holland may have to wait until 2013 to come to the AMA circuit.

  • Justin Barcia is the latest of a dying breed of pre-adults to make the move to AMA National competition.
Now there are some that are already complaining about this new age limit, and understandably so: James Stewart, Ron Lechien, Damon Bradshaw and Travis Pastrana were proven winners at age 16. However, the insurance liability situation in America is different than in Europe—they basically ruled that minor releases are meaningless in Florida, for instance. Also, the trend of kids dropping out of school is getting more and more frequent here, and while it’s impossible to make a high school diploma or GED a requirement to get a license, this change at least is a step in the right direction, in my opinion. The youth and amateur system here is so high-pressure and expensive that some families risk it all in order to make a go at turning their kids into future champions. Raising the age may mean having to wait a little while longer to see the next Justin Barcia or Blake Wharton race an AMA Supercross or outdoor national, but for everyone of those guys that make it big, there are dozens that don’t make it at all—and often have little to fall back on.

The new AMA Pro Racing age limit, by the way, was conceived through a consensus that something needed to be done by the factory teams, the supercross series organizer, and the outdoor promoters. Remember, some minors were in jeopardy of not being allowed to race in the two Monster Energy/AMA Supercross rounds in Florida due to the minor-consent litigation that came up last winter.

Oops, scratch that on Trey Canard: Denny Stephenson of Connexions just let me know Trey had surgery on Tuesday on that broken wrist and isn’t up for traveling just yet. Hopefully the very nice and funny kid will make it to RedBud to help out. Get well soon, TC.

With that, I will turn it over to the rest of the guys, starting with Steve Matthes, who’s over in Europe enjoying a well-earned vacation in some giant beer tent in Germany. If you missed his Observations from last Sunday’s German GP, they’re a gem. Check it out here.

This week, the series heads to Colorado, which just happens to be a night race and allows a west coast based guy like myself to fly in Saturday morning. Which is pretty sweet, I must say. I usually don’t care about going on the road, but on Monday I just got back from a eleven day trip on the road that included a stop-off at Mt. Morris to watch the national there and then off to Europe for the next week. Thanks to all those people that read my blog and sent me nice emails. I enjoyed the Teutschenthal Grand Prix immensely and to all those people that are reading this over there, it was nice to meet you or maybe catch up with you again (Wobbles, DV, Coppins and Reuben).

  • Antonio Cairoli is no joke.
I have to say that with a week to reflect on the GP and having had a bunch of calls asking me how so-and-so would do over here, I still stick to my guns that it’s just different over there. It’s very hard to compare and place how a rider would do in a new series. I will say this, though, guys like Antonio Cairoli, David Philippaerts and Josh Coppins are no joke. They look to me to be in shape and pushing hard all moto. They would do well no matter where they raced. Also, all of us should brace for the second French invasion (the first being DV, Roncada, Tortelli and Pichon) because kids like Gautier Paulin, Stephen Frossard and Marvin Musquin are coming soon to a stadium near you.

This weekend’s national will be another experiment in cool. I know there was some complaining last year about the light and whatnot, but with a year under their belts, I’m sure the Lakewood track will have it spot-on this year (get it? Spot-on?). I like the idea of a night race. It’s something different and spices the series up and gives the riders another factor to think about out there.

The Monster Energy/CMRC Canadian Nationals are in full swing right now and this weekend is round four in Morden, Manitoba, which happens to not be far from where I grew up in Winnipeg. The series is losing Scottish/Canadian Dean Wilson but getting another top rider in Tucker Hibbert. I caught up with Hibbert to get his thoughts on his Canadian racing HERE.

Last week in Edmonton, the reigning champion Colton Facciotti suffered his first moto loss when Paul Carpenter and Dusty Klatt won motos with Carpenter getting the overall. Here are the points standings after three of nine rounds up there:


Wilson- 150 (but he’s done up in Canada now)
Teddy Maier- 120
Eric Nye-105
Kyle Mcglynn-94

Check out directmotocross.com for all the happenings in Canadian moto.

While you’re there, we’re having a little deal where, for three rounds of the Canadian nationals, a rider will get the full factory treatment for a day. We’re basically selecting riders that don’t have a ton of support and giving them some for a day. The folks at CTi Canada have donated a pair of off-the-shelf knee braces that we have put on eBay and all the proceeds go to the FRFAD program. Check them out HERE.

Happy bidding!

Check out pulpmx.com for more... stuff.

With that, I’ll turn it over to our other Steve, Cox:

  • James Stewart poses with a couple fans at his JS7 ride day.
  • Stewart signs autograph for a bunch of motoheads.
  • Paul Delaurier was twisting throttles instead of wrenches.
  • Stewart (left), his guy Rado (right, in the gray cap) and Answer's Roger Larsen (far right) talk over the on-track action.
  • Red Bull's Jordan Miller.
  • Rado gets his game face on.
Last Saturday, James Stewart held his JS7 Entertainment ride day out at Milestone MX Park in Riverside, California. It was a pretty cool event, and to be honest, it made me wonder why nothing like it had been done before. Most of the top riders genuinely like and appreciate their fans, but the way race days are scheduled, they’re really worried about the upcoming race more than fans when it’s early in the afternoon or whatever. So what ends up happening is they do their 45-minute autograph session, but can’t give many people the attention they probably feel they deserve. Normally, after the race, guys who didn’t end up in the medical rig or otherwise really pissed off (which normally includes the winners) are out and about signing for as long as people want autographs. I’ve seen Stewart, Chad Reed, Ricky Carmichael (back in the day) and the rest signing after 1 a.m. before.

Unfortunately, most of the fans bail immediately after the race, so sometimes they’re left with the impression that their favorite rider is a rockstar or doesn’t have time for them.

Stewart fixed that last Saturday, though. Since he’s sitting out the nationals, he has a bit more free time on his hands, and with the help of his team, crew and the guys at Red Bull, he got everyone in free at Milestone, then awed them with his skills on a stock YZ250 two-stroke (factory suspenders, though) in between signing autographs and taking pictures with all of the fans in attendance. The fans got free food (provided by Red Bull) and James Stewart Ride Day T-shirts, and the ultimate fan, Big Lenny, even got a signed jersey.

Class move, James.

An interesting press release came out earlier today announcing that WMA rookie Vicki Golden is taking Trey Canard’s ride on the GEICO Powersports Honda team, so that’s a very interesting move by the Factory Connection Racing squad. And in a lot of ways, it’s perfectly logical. The girls race during the actual program now, and considering the 250cc men that were available, the team will probably get a lot more exposure from Vicki than from a man, assuming the male racer wouldn’t be able to break the top 10 in the 250 class (which you nearly need to be superhuman to do).

In addition, the team’s sponsors will likely get exposure during the female Moto X portion of the X Games, as Golden is racing for them there, too. She’ll have her first race on Canard’s screamer tomorrow night in Lakewood.

Andy Bowyer just called me from Lakewood, and he says it’s raining cats and dogs right now, so how about a nighttime mud national? We may have another first! According to weather.com, it’s supposed to rain more through the night, then have a lesser chance of more rain tomorrow (although still 30 percent). It’s good that the lighting is supposed to be better this year, because it sounds like no matter what, it’s going to be quite rutted to say the list. Ruts plus lighting from the side equal shadows.

So, if it’s muddy, or if it’s rutty, it can be a very interesting race tomorrow night. It's good that at least they'll have all morning and into the afternoon to straighten things out before practice.

Thanks, Steves. Now it’s Keith Burgie’s turn. He’s down in Texas for the Red Bull X Fighters this weekend:

  • Nate Adams at the Red Bull X Fighters.
  • Jeremy
The Red Bull X-Fighters have rolled into Fort Worth, Texas, for the only United States stop on their five-round championship tour. The best riders from around the world are here, including Mat Rebeaud, Eigo Sato, Robbie Maddison, Thomas Pages, and of course, the powerful American duo of Nate Adams and Jeremy Stenberg. The days of FMX courses designed with three ramps and two 180-degree berms are gone, and the guys are stacked up against a technical monster with somewhere around 12 jumps, rhythm sections, dirt hits, and a quarter pipe all crammed inside an area about the size of a football field.

The course was designed to force these guys to get creative. Not every landing leads directly into a berm or another jump, and you can tell that after two long rounds of practice no one is sure exactly how they’ll piece together their 90-second run. It’s also clear that some riders are thriving on it and others are a little nervous. One tabletop jump in particular has been giving riders fits. The takeoff is very steep, the landing is a little flatter, and it looks hard to time. Jeff Kargola was the first victim of the jump, flat-landing and completely crushing his bike before falling off the back. He was shaken, but okay.

A second scary moment came when Robbie Maddison over-jumped it, landed back on the seat, and whisky-throttled off the huge multi-purpose mound that followed. The mound serves as a berm, a hip jump landing, and has a culvert pipe that the riders may enter through. Robbie went off it, cleared the culvert, somehow flat-landed, missed a bulldozer and a wooden fence, and eventually hit a metal fence that stopped him. It was sketchy, and the bulldozer and fence have been replaced by plastic barriers.

Red Bull has taken over this town and you can’t walk down the street without seeing a Red Bull Mini Cooper, posters, or a billboard. The company puts on a great show and I cannot wait to see the arena all dressed up for its big night. Check back later for blog-style updates.

Thanks, Keith.

And finally, we always hate to report these things, but it’s part of the sport—a part that needs to change: On June 9, amateur rider Kent Stephenson, 22, of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, crashed while riding at Underground MX in Kemp and broke his back, resulting in severe damage to the spinal cord, according to Jenny Coombs of Road 2 Recovery. “Kent had surgery on June 12th at Parkland Hospital in Dallas to remove bone fragments and fuse his T3, T4, T7 and T8 vertebrae. Kent is currently paralyzed from the mid-chest down and has been transferred to Craig Hospital in Colorado to begin his rehab. A guest book and donations for Ken are being accepted at Caring Bridge, a non-profit web service that connects family and friends to share information, love and support during a serious medical condition, treatment and recovery. Please send your prayers to Kent and his family HERE.

With a nod to “Mac Daddy” on the Vital message board for pointing this out, Australia has it’s own version of the Racer X Motocross Show, and it’s really good! Check out “Motocross Show Wanneroo” right HERE.

The 2009 Comp Edge MX Park Asterisk Demo Days! Asterisk will be having free knee-brace demo days at Comp Edge MX Park. Open practice starts at 8am June 27th, and Asterisk personnel will be on site from 10am-2pm. Tell a friend. For more info please call asterisk at 1-800-459-2999.

  • This is Dennis Jonon, and his mechanic needs a job.
Anyone in need of a mechanic? Check out this letter we just received from Matt Winters:

Hello. I have been working with Dennis Jonon for this season and unfortunately after RedBud Dennis might not be able to continue racing the series do to the thing that every privateer struggles with: money. Unfortunately, that leaves me without at job after RedBud. If there is any way to get the word out that I’m looking for a job, I have gone to MMI and have been working under Jacob Saylor’s mechanic Shane Sanft for the past three years. I have worked with riders such as Michael Blose, Zach and Chase Bell, and Chad Wages for the 2009 Arenacross Series. If there’s any rider or team or even shop out there, feel free to contact me either by email at Mw21784@yahoo.com or by phone at 410-507-7181. I am willing to move anywhere I have to in order to continue chasing my dream.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading Racerhead and see you next week.