Racerhead #28

July 10, 2009 4:14pm | by:

After six races in seven weeks, the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is finally taking another weekend off. The series so far has been full of great races (along with a few runaways), intense title battles (and a few untimely injuries, but really, when is an injury ever timely?), and exceptional racetracks. Chad Reed is out front in the topsy-turvy 450 class, while Christophe Pourcel and Ryan Dungey keep taking turns handing the points lead back to one another in the 250 class. The TV shows have been great (unless you live in Houston and the local affiliate decided to have its annual telethon instead) and the crowds have been bigger on Saturday than they were last year on Sundays—and in a terrible economy to boot.

  • Somehow, it seems the 250 class has been even less predictable than the 450s
  • Wil Hahn stretches it out over Larocco's Leap
Yes, there have been some disappointments: Sometimes the best racing has been in the 250 class, which is not shown on live TV; Kevin Windham keeps hinting that he’s coming back but it hasn’t happened yet (see you at Washougal?); James Stewart decided to stay home all together; The Jason Lawrence Show was stillborn after a press-day injury (there have been three such practice injuries, including title favorites Ryan Villopoto and Mike Alessi); some hiccups with the new safety flags as well as the need to keep getting the bikes quieter have been more difficult than many hope; everyone is looking at an uncertain future as teams face budget cuts....

No one is going to sweep the Monster Triple Crown of Motocross, as Josh Grant and Jake Weimer stepped up to beat Round 1 (High Point) winners Chad Reed and Christophe Pourcel, respectively. Grant became the fifth rider in his class to win their first 450 National this year; Weimer became the third man this year to win a pair of 250 Nationals, joining his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Pourcel and his old Western Region SX rival Dungey in that department.

And even though it was July Fourth, our nation’s birthday, it was the rest of the world that stepped up in the 250 class, as riders holding international passports went 1-2-3 and 5 in the second moto. Pourcel (France), Searle (England), Brett Metcalfe (Australia), and Martin Davalos (Ecuador) were all on the gas, giving the Yanks the business.

Looking to break out when we return at Millville next Saturday is Muscle Milk/MDK KTM rider Tommy Searle, who has been third in three straight rounds after a so-so start, but he’s really going to have his hands full beating both Pourcel (the next JMB?) and Dungey (the next Jeff Stanton?). Searle could have won the RedBud overall with a pass on #377, but Christophe was the epitome of grace under pressure and never faltered after struggling to eighth in the first moto after a first-turn crash. Also, Metcalfe and the spectacular Justin Barcia should be battling for victories any moto now.

  • Think Shorty's sick of us talking about him not winning?
  • Ever think you'd see Ricky Carmichael and Jeff Emig side by side at a race again?
And when is Andrew Short going to win? The Honda Red Bull Racing rider was right there to pick up the lead after the demise of both Villopoto and Alessi, but instead Shorty is having trouble getting up front. He led the first moto for a while at RedBud but then here came Reed and Grant….

The FMF Two-Stroke Invitational at Red Bud was such a cool deal, it’s hard to explain. For Ricky Carmichael and Jeff Stanton to come out and race their two-smokers for the fans—RC could be out front and winning with a few weeks of training—was a salute to the Red Bud faithful as well as the Ritchie family, who once again built a superb racetrack in a world-class facility.

There’s another two-stroke race at Millville, though it will not feature RC or Stanton. This one is open to any former pro or expert-level rider. For additional information and entries, visit www.mxsports.com and visit the Pro link.

The Women’s Motocross riders did not participate on the weekend, as they are all off until the Washougal race. Ashley Fiolek is five-for-five at this point, and it’s pretty cool to see her featured in spread ads in Cycle News.

Of course there are some folks who don’t think the women belong in the program, just as there are those who don’t like the one-day format, the smaller side-panel numbers, or even the Saturday deal, or the fact that live TV means they can only show one moto given the one-hour time blocks. And that’s fine—we will revisit everything when the series concludes and find out what worked and what didn’t work the way we expected. The girls, in my personal opinion, have been fantastic. We just need to find the right spot for them in the program.

  • Ellie Reed supports America while America supports Ellie Reed
Looking ahead to Loretta Lynn’s, there’s some serious star power headed to the ranch for the 28th Annual AMA/Air Nautiques Amateur National Motocross Championships. Jeremy McGrath, RC, Ryan Villopoto, Robbie Maddison and more will be hanging out, watching the motos and enjoying a week of revisiting their moto roots (well, not Maddo’s roots—and I hear he’s up to something big this weekend).

And after that, Unadilla is doing a full-on retro race at their round of the series. Make sure you grow out your mullet, get that neon jersey off the wall of your garage, and start making another Unadilla Boobs Inspector hat, because that race is going to be fun!

Okay, I'm headed to Steel City to do some work and start ramping up that facility for the Labor Day Weekend finale of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Let me turn this over to Steve Cox.

I talked with Trey Canard yesterday for a little while, and he’s handling his downtime pretty well. He’s a really funny guy, and honestly, he’s really smart too. It sounds like he’s spending a lot of his downtime creating a plan for when he’s back to racing again. He did indicate that he feels a little guilty because he’s not training, which is funny. That’s how much of a hard worker Trey is: he actually feels guilty for not training enough while he’s injured and can’t race anyway. That’s good stuff with all the rumors about so many young riders and their supposed lack of training. I know if I was injured, I wouldn’t be upset about not being able to train enough. Then again, I’m not a professional athlete.

Now we head into another weekend off, and for those of us who travel the whole circuit (riders, mechanics, team managers, photo dudes, journalists, infrastructure folks, etc.), it’s a big deal! Our wives (and husbands) get to remember, for at least one weekend, what it’s like to have us home (which can be good or bad), and as seems to be typical, most of us will want to just hang around the house and do nothing while our spouses or significant others will want to go do things with us.

But the time off is also time for many of the riders to start thinking about what they’re doing next year.

Some riders’ stocks are rising, like Jake Weimer, while others are falling, like Josh Hill, or are in freefall, like Jason Lawrence. But if silly season had all happened early this year, like it has sometimes in years past, someone like Weimer may have been left in the cold, as until two weeks ago, he was stinking up the joint pretty bad.

  • Lawrence has shown that he SHOULD be at the top of team's want lists, but keeps reminding us why he isn't.
It’s interesting, the dynamics of silly season in this regard, because sometimes it’s like Pro Bowl voting in the NFL, where you realize if the entire season was taken into account, a lot of the players in the Pro Bowl (like Jay Cutler last year) wouldn’t be there, while others who were left out probably would. Similarly, in MX, the later silly season waits, the more likely the teams are to make the most informed decisions about which riders they’re going to pick up, and what they’re going to pay them.

On that note, here’s David Pingree.

I’ve decided that the worst part about being a team manager is telling people no. I really only have one spot left on the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil team for 2010, and this week alone I’ve had, like, fifteen people call looking for a ride next year. It’s easy if I don’t like somebody. I don’t mind telling some arrogant jackass that there just isn’t a spot for him.

“Yeah, I’m not going to be able to help you out there, tough guy. Mmmmmkay? Here’s a website for the local community college. Good luck.” But when it’s nice kids that you genuinely would like to help, it isn’t fun.

Silly season is starting to pick up, and there are going to be some big changes next year. Ryan Dungey is the big holdup right now. He is checking out his options, and until he makes a move, I don’t think many other chips will fall. Dungey is going to be a great 450 rider next year, and any team would be “super-pumped” to have him. Plus, he sounds exactly like his mentor, RC, in interviews and will have a built-in Carmichael fan base there. I would say Yamaha could use a couple guys. Jim Perry will be bald by Steel City if he keeps pulling his hair out at the current rate. The big blue team transporter has been out of the pits before the second motos conclude for the past two weekends. I wonder what Perry writes down in his notepad under that awning during the day.

  • Could we see more of Ricky Dietrich next year?
  • Tedesco has not been re-signed yet, but he must have Honda thinking
MDK will be racing again, and their current plan is to take Justin Brayton and Ryan Sipes on KTM 450s. They may or may not include a couple of 250 riders as well. It looks like Jagermeister is staying with the team for 2010, which is great for them. And it’s great that an outside-the-industry company will remain involved after what had to be a disappointing supercross season this year.

Honda has Short and Millsaps for another year, but Ivan Tedesco is up for negotiation. He’s riding great at the moment, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him stay put. What will Ben Townley do? Is he alive? I haven’t heard.

Pro Circuit will have at least one vacancy left, by Austin Stroupe. I’ve heard that he hasn’t been getting along with everyone there and might be getting a pink slip. Will Team Green slide one of their fair-haired boys into that slot? Dean Wilson and Blake Baggett would be options there.

Suzuki is definitely staffing down. I think Reed will stay, but who knows what Alessi will do. Is Izzi staying or isn’t Izzi? I just wanted to say that.

Where will Josh Hill go? What about Broc Hepler, Grant Langston, Tommy Searle, Martin Davalos, Will Hahn, Dan Reardon, Nick Wey, Max Anstie, Matt Lemoine, Michael Byrne and the many others who don’t have a signed contract right now? It’s going to be a nasty game of musical chairs, folks. And lots of guys are going to get haircuts.

If you are in the Southern California area this weekend, be sure to get out to Pala Raceway and do some riding. The newest motocross park in SoCal is having its launch party this Saturday with open riding on all of their tracks and a minibike supercross race in the evening. There will be vendor displays and live music as well. If you haven’t been there yet, go check it out. It is truly a great facility. For more information go to www.palaraceway.com.

Now onward and upward to the odds and ends.

  • Greg Durivage's abandoned bike
There was a moment at the end of the second 450 moto where a rider’s bike died on the face of the finish-line jump, right at the feet of the AMA Pro Racing flagman. After trying to wave a yellow flag as well as hold the two-lap sign up, the flagman could not pick the bike up, and the rider didn’t seem to be helping either, so a photographer on the jump came over and helped pick it up and get it out of the way. Turns out there was a little more to the story than that, as Larry Witmer wrote us:

“That was a buddy of mine that his bike blew up at the finish line we were watching, Greg Durivage from Ohio. He was so tired he couldn’t pick up the bike, and he told me the AMA official said to get away from the bike. Then he sat on the bike when they got it on the jump to get his breath. His dad is Jim Durivage, who owns Championship Power Sports in Wasion, OH. The kid is very nice and respectful, not at all as the picture looked at that moment.”

In TV news, here’s a note Wes Williams found on the VitalMX.com message board:

“Since the start of the series, we’ve been delivering HD content to Allisports/NBC for Video on Demand. Up until this point, I had no idea what that meant or what it was for. I caught word from one of the alli people this past weekend at Redbud that it was actually available on Comcast ON DEMAND. So my first time to a TV in months, I hit the On Demand button, went to Sports/Fitness, then NBC Action Sports… Low and behold all kinds of content from the Outdoor Nationals this summer. It’s all the same stuff we’ve been delivering for use online, but if you have a chance to check out ON DEMAND it’s in full HD quality, and just really cool to see on television as well.”

Check out Wes’s latest video showcasing the 2010 Fly Racing line and some of their best riders.

  • Keith Nicholson says this is a Greeves 250 Challenger
Racer X reader Keith Nicholson sent in this letter:

“I was looking through Racerhead #18 and came across a pic of a vintage bike looking for a name. It had a BSA sticker on it, but it’s actually a Greeves 250 Challenger from the mid 60s. I’ll try to track down an actual date for you. My dad (Nick Nicholson…inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2005) was the West Coast distributor for Greeves back in the day. Anyhow, just thought you’d like to know what that dusty old bike was!”

We got this from the Wonder Warthog himself, Scott Kandel, on Wednesday morning:

“Dana K has put in a superb performance demonstrating his mucho poker skills by hanging in there at the Main Event World Series of Poker. After two days there have been 4,000 people knocked out, including all the racers Dana plays poker with. Dana is on ESPN through the next round and he has promised to mention Warthog Racing on national TV. Dana K is telling stories about throwing whips on his dirt bike and then taking the other players poker chips. He is baffling the other competitors with bullsh!t. Come’on Dana K, ride it all the way to the top!!!”

The FIM World Championships and Youthstream announced a new TV deal that will bring the GP tour to the states. Information can be found on the Untamed TV Network’s website: www.untamed.tv.

  • Dave Shelton and Scott Rich bang bars (and frames)
Here’s a photo of Dave Shelton (31) and friends Scott Rich (5) and Pete Sansone riding out in Arizona, doing their best “Tony D. and the Jammer” impersation!

Also, in case you missed it, Ricky Carmichael also made a special cameo appearance on the incredibly cool British show Top Gear, which is about a group of very lucky men who get to go around the world driving, racing, crashing, slamming, and just being all about great cars. RC showed up at the request of his longtime sponsor Ken Block of DC Shoes, who now happens to be one of the most high-profile rally car drivers in the world. Block, a marketing genius, made a couple of “Gymkhana” YouTube films of himself racing his Subaru rally car around abandoned air force bases and shore docks, caught the attention of the Top Gear guys. They wanted to take a ride with him on one of his adventures, and the resulting segment is must-see television. Even ESPN picked it up this week; check it out.

Finally, congratulations to this week’s TGI Freeday winner, Vikki Micco of Bessemer, PA. Vikki has won a MotoConcepts gear storage package. Click here to enter this week’s contest where we’re giving away a set of 2010 MSR Rockstar riding gear.

Thanks for reading Racerhead and see you next week.

Clint Bowyer's Daytona Helmet