Peas and carrots. French fries and ketchup. Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen. There are things that are just meant to be together, and I think you can add July Fourth and motocross at RedBud to that list. I’ve been to every RedBud since 1996 and it’s always a great event. I funneled a beer (in the name of good TV), I got a truck stuck going in, and I’ve ridden the track on a Sunday night, so I clearly have some good memories of the place. With a lot of the national tracks switching off their longtime dates, it appears that the powers that be have done the smart thing and left RedBud alone (except for moving it to Saturday). Long live July 4th weekend at RedBuuuuuuud!
You will never hear too many riders ever complain about RedBud. The track is one of the premier facilities we have in the motocross world, and Tommy Searle said it best in the press conference: “This is the best track I’ve ever ridden. It’s almost like a park.” Said Jason Thomas, “Best track and best dirt of the series.” It goes on and on; the riders all love it. If there are any complaints, it’s that once you jump to the side of LaRocco’s Leap, there is only one real turn to do any passing, so the riders pretty much stay the same on that side of the track.
I was speaking to track owner Tim Ritchie about the crowd and whether it was good or not, because let’s face it, with the change from Sunday to Saturday AND the race being on the actual July 4 date, you really didn’t know how it was going to be. Tim said he was scared as well but that in the end, the attendance was better this year than before—he was pretty happy about that.
Joe Gibbs MX/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh “Ulysses S.” Grant has been the revelation of 2009. Many people, myself included, didn’t think the signing of Grant was going to be as successful as it has been. One has never doubted his speed and talent and that he looks great on a bike; it’s just that there always seemed to be something missing from him in his 250 career. I don’t think he was as focused as he probably should’ve been; he made a lot of money at a young age and seemed to be falling into the trappings of so many before him.
I think we can let that go now. After a great Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, Josh is turning into a man right before our eyes in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Moving to North Carolina and getting on a structured team like JGR has been fantastic for Grant—that and probably growing up a bit, I suppose. I mean, who among us maybe didn’t handle things the best way when we were kids? The point of this is to talk about RedBud, which Josh won with a dominating performance, going 2-1 on the day to grab his first 450 MX win to go along with his first AMA Supercross win earlier this year. His riding in the opening laps of the first 450 moto took my breath away. He was about twelfth or so when he just absolutely sliced his way to the front in no time. He was passing fast riders like they were in the C class. He moved into second and chased after Chad Reed, and if there had been another lap—maybe another turn!—the 22 might’ve been in real trouble.
Ivan Tedesco, pretty easily and checked out for the win. He was the best rider and now becomes the seventh first-time winner out of the twelve overalls decided this summer. There was no stopping Tedesco last week, and this week there was nothing anyone could do to stop Grant. Congrats to him and the whole JGR team—that’s a good bunch of guys over there. You watch, from here on out, everyone’s going to see a consistent Grant. I bet the light switch has been flipped on.
The 250 class was as crazy as I’ve seen it in recent memory, with the top two riders in the points struggling to regain their Freestone/Mt. Morris dominance. They had allowed Jake “And The Fat Man” Weimer to win once again, and just like last week, he was pretty damn fast. Weird how someone could be struggling so much and then just turn it around so quickly. Jake’s 2-4 proved that he was the best rider on the day, and he wanted me to make sure I didn’t say “Jake Weimer won with a 2-4” but instead say “Jake Weimer won today,” which I kind of did.
Last week Jake said he had been trying so hard to do well that he was just compounding his problems by riding more, training more, eating better, and getting so worked up over his results. He finally subscribed to the less-is-more philosophy and came away last week with his first win. When asked if he did nothing again last week, he explained that he did ride, but the big thing last week was a bearing going out in his RC car. Ryan Villopoto showed me a video on his phone last week of him and Weimer driving these little trucks around a supercross track, and it was impressive how far these truggies can jump. Yes, I said truggies. Not to be confused with the thuggies, which chased Indiana Jones around in Temple of Doom.
I was impressed with Jake’s ride for obvious reasons, but I was more impressed with the fact that he said he did the math in his head around halfway and already figured he had the overall. I don’t know if he’s homeschooled or not, but that speaks volumes for the Idaho school system (or his home).
One thing no one in the media brings up is how, in his formative years, Jake raced the CMRC Canadian Nationals. If you ask me, the Canadian series is where Jake cut his teeth. Yes, I said that.
Jake Weimer’s Observations.” Did you know Pro Circuit offered him a two-year deal last year and he didn’t sign it? Jake wasn’t really pumped with the money and knew in his heart that he could win, so he said to just give him one year. So he’s up, and after just missing the Western Region Supercross title and now winning two nationals, he’s going to get his money from someone. He did all of this figuring out with no agent, either. And to that, I say: good for him!
The 450 leader, Chad “Upchuck” Reed, had a pretty good 1-3 day. He was my pick for the win before the weekend because he’s been pissed at his riding and the fact the message boards are accusing him of making up the very real stomach problems he’s been having. I thought he’d come out swinging on the somewhat jumpy RedBud track, and I almost looked like a sooper-genius when he won the first moto. I was thinking afterward that something bad had to happen to Grant to help him win the second moto, because JG was the fastest guy on the track.
Second time out, Reedy’s charge was slowed a bit and he couldn’t get around Ivan “Bill And” Tedesco and Grant was checked out. He and Ivan came together in the last turn for an exciting finish but Tedesco got him for second.
It was still a good day for Reedy as he extended his points lead over a looking-to-be-fighting-his-bike-but-when-I-asked-him-he-said-no Andrew “Come Up” Short, and now that we’re halfway through the series, the points lead is what matters. I watched the second 250 moto with Chad up in the announcing tower and he seemed content with his day, and we exchanged some silly-season gossip. You know what? Early on in the race, a lot of the things he said would happen in the 250 moto came to fruition; I suppose he knows a thing or two about this racing stuff.
I still have no clue how Ryan “He’s” Dungey didn’t seriously hurt himself in his second moto crash. You gotta see it on the Racer X Motocross Show. He did a complete front flip and kept his hands on the bars till the very end. His bike went flipping around yet somehow kept running, and he got up like a little bunny and ran to his bike. When he got back into the race he was around twelfth or so. It was an incredible stroke of fortune, luck, and athletic skill that he didn’t get hurt. If it were me, I’d still be in that turn with my thumb in my mouth crying for Mommy.
RedBud exactly the same as when they went into it—with Pourcel in a nine-point lead.
Pourcel is a quiet dude, no doubt about it. He’s pretty reserved, very confident, and doesn’t offer much up for consumption. I did hear he told Weimer that, after he won at Lakewood, he stayed in bed by himself and cried the whole week. After RedBud, he told Weimer he will now lie in bed for two weeks, cry, and think about how to beat him. I’m not even sure what to say right now, other than man is CP fast, smooth, and competitive.
There are four riders right now in the 450s who are separating themselves from the pack: Reed, Tedesco, Short and Grant are a step above everyone else. But what’s weird is that Shorty, the man many picked to take up the slack when RV and Mike Alessi went down, is the one guy on that list yet to win a 450 National. Millville, maybe?
Jason “Saint” Lawrence raced! And he finished a moto! The 338 came out and of course reminded all of us that no matter how much time he takes off, he can still ride a bike with the best of them, securing the second-best time of the day. First moto he pulled off when he broke a wheel on the Leap. Second time out he ate dirt and rocks to get a tenth, and it would’ve been easy for him to pull out again, but to his credit, he toughed it out. A tenth must feel like a win for the beleaguered New Jersey native and has to be a bit of a relief.
The man-child known as Tyler “Fawlty” Bowers is getting a hang of this 450 class. After only getting four points in his first eight motos, he now has thirty-five in his last three and a strong ninth O/A this weekend. He was on the box getting some extra money from Monster Energy in this, the second round of the Monster Energy Triple Crown of Motocross.
Tommy Searle/Tyla Rattray Race Across America Tour” is now on hold, as Searle has been stepping it up lately and Ratters crashed in the second moto and broke his thumb. Searle was third overall (again) and looked great the whole moto. Tommy “Gun” is really getting used to this American racing thing and will be a force the rest of this year. That’s his third straight third overall, by the way. He looks to be in shape, and I notice in the press conferences he always runs his collar on his team shirt up. Maybe that’s a British thing? Should I be doing this? Is it cool? [No, because you would look like a British bulldog with one of those plastic collars that keep it from being able to chew the stitches out after they get fixed. Unless that’s the look you’re going for. –ed.)
Timmy “Take The” Ferry had a frustrating day in his second comeback race. Bad starts (like really, really bad starts) forced the 15 to come from the back, and fifteenth was the best he could do in the first moto. Second moto out he was seriously like thirty-eighth or something and jammed his foot into the ground, which made him pull off. He checked out fine and the “Tim Ferry Comeback Tour: Volume IV, Part VIII” will continue on. I haven’t done the math exactly, but I’m thinking the championship looks to be out of reach.
So I’m in this fantasy league and made my picks on Saturday morning like Denny “Darren” Stephenson does, and I looked at the times and decided that, although J-Law was very fast and was worth double points, I couldn’t depend on him to put in two motos (in this game, a rider has to finish in the top ten overall to get the double points). Timmy asked me who I picked (I didn’t pick him because you can’t pick a dude twice in a row and I had him last week, natch) and when I told him he said I had to pick the 338. His reasoning was, “J-Law is fast, he can do it, he HAS to do it,” and when I expressed surprise at him being so enthusiastic, he simply said “I’m a J-Law fan!” and rode off to practice. Who knew?
Silly season update time: Just insert the sound of crickets right now. There isn’t much happening right now as teams figure out budgets or if they are even going racing next year. Ryan Dungey will be the first domino to fall, and I hear he has an offer right now but it’s not what he’s looking for. Yamaha is going after him hard as well. Pourcel told us that he’s “90 percent” sure he will be in 450s next year, and he’ll be the next guy. Then Ivan Tedesco. If you hear the Josh Hill-to-JGR rumor, it’s not going to happen. And I hear Davi Millsaps already has his Honda Red Bull Racing deal done.
July 4 means a lot of things to a lot of people, but for the foreigners racing motocross in America, it must mean freedom, and I think they’re all happy to be here. So happy, in fact, that there was only one American in the top five of the second 250 moto!
Tommy “Lend Me A” Hahn had been one of the good stories in the 450 class, but he had a tough day at RedBud: a crash in the sand whoops gave him some minor whiplash and he was forced out of the day. I checked in with him on Monday and he’ll be all good for Millville. Tommy went on to say that he broke his wheel on the Leap on the previous lap, and that may have been why he crashed.
JGR had a great day with JG winning, but their other rider, the perpetually confused one, Cody “Bryan” Cooper, also had a very good day. Two ninth-places on the first lap and he went 6-5 on the day in a show of speed. Coops went down in the first moto when he was in fifth; it could’ve been even better, but the two fastest guys on the track in that moto were both Joe Gibbs riders, as Coops ended up with the fourth-best lap time and, as we’ve covered, Grant was flying.
Roger Larsen’s prodigy, Kyle “Spotted” Regal, is an amateur who made the jump to pro this year. He started out in the 250 class but for RedBud switched to the 450s. You won’t read this anywhere else, but he was very impressive in the first moto, climbing from 17th to 10th and staying there for a long time before running out of gas on the last lap (told you, Top Jimmy!). No matter, it was still a great ride and, hopefully for him, a sign of things to come. Funny thing: I heard DC ended up pushing his bike back to the pits for him.
Hmmm, the Jagermeister semi wasn’t at RedBud and Justin Brayton was pitted with the Muscle Milk 250 guys. I’m just sayin’.
Jimmy “Fat” Albertson was also on my fantasy team, and he was double points. I wasn’t going to pick him, because earlier in the day he told me he was going to run the stock gas tank and I told him to not do that because RedBud is a gas eater. He didn’t like the WR big tank but managed to get a works Yamaha oversized one and finished ninth in the first moto. Second moto out he was sixth and I was looking like a genius for a.) picking him, and b.) recommending that tank, but then his motor let go and that was it for my double points.
You want heartbreak? Here’s heartbreak for you: on the last lap of the morning LCQ, Troy “Nate” Adams was winning when his bike broke on the last lap and he was a DNQ on the day. That’s a real kick in the nuts, I tell you.
Dungey was wearing some special Fox Racing gear made in honor of the start of the Tour de France and American hero Lance “Seven-Time” Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation. Recently, Ryan got a chance to meet Lance, and they both thought this would be a cool idea. Dungey’s gear will be auctioned off to help Ryan’s foundation that he’s starting up soon. Lance and Dungey: American heroes!
Man, Ricky “Bobby” Dietrich can ride a dirt bike fast for a long time. In what was a real weird deal, his second-moto fastest lap time was a second faster than his second best time and almost two seconds from his third best. Clearly, RD found some magical line for one lap, but if you take away that one fast lap, the difference between his second-best and his worst was only three seconds. The usual drop is around five to seven seconds for most fast guys. It’s just a weird anomaly that I found when I was studying lap times.
What would Observations be without a Canadian update of some sort? The last seven days were real big for my country, as we celebrated our independence from England on the 1st. And, more importantly, the NHL free agency kicked off also. Big, big day in my country, and I had buddies who stayed home from work to see who signed with whom. We’re pathetic, I know.
We had a Canadian at RedBud as well. Jeremy “Jer-Bear” Medaglia, who is Canadian national #16, came down and rode 450s. He qualified easily but had some crashes in the first moto. Second time out he came from the back to get 21st and that’s one position out of the points. Good for Jeremy, who has had a frustrating season up north with bike problems and bad starts.
There was a halftime two-stroke race and Ricky Carmichael added to his win total when he beat Josh Lichtle and Mandingo Pickle's Josh Woods on his #4 RM250. The real impressive guy to me was Jeff Stanton, who at forty-some years old, finished fourth and looked awesome on one of MC’s old 250s. Stanton has stated that he would never race again many, many times, and you really had to treasure his ride out there, as it might’ve been the last time we see Six-Time on a bike. If you missed the video, check it out right here.
That’s it from RedBud, where the weather, track, and racing were as close to perfect as you could get. Thanks for reading, and you can email me if you want at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can be email buddies!