Racerhead #29

July 17, 2009 4:19pm | by:

  • Ricky Carmichael lapped the field in the second muddy moto of 2006...
  • ... and then waved goodbye at Millville after his 150th career win in 2007
After a lightning start—and some top riders seemingly struck by lightning—the second half of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship gets underway tomorrow at John Martin’s Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota. The track is famous in America for its notorious whoops, its fallen hero Donny Schmit, and as the site not only of Ricky Carmichael’s last national win (’07) but also the only track in AMA Motocross history where one rider—Carmichael—lapped the entire field (’06).

Television coverage of the 450 class from Spring Creek will air on SPEED tomorrow night in hi-def, July 18, at 11:30 p.m. EST, while the 250 class will also air on SPEED on July 21. Check your local listings for exact times. You can check out the first motos tomorrow live and free, beginning at 1 p.m. Central Time, on www.allisports.com. Get there early and enjoy the Racer X Motocross Show Millville Pre-Show.

When we last left the series, Chad Reed was still out front in the 450 class, while Frenchman Christophe Pourcel and Minnesota’s own Ryan Dungey keep trading moto wins and points leads back and forth in the 250 class. Right now, it’s advantage Pourcel.

Honda Red Bull Racing has another bike under the tent this weekend, as Davi Millsaps’ #18 is on the pre-entry list for Spring Creek. Millsaps, who crashed early in the second moto at Hangtown (Round 2), has been out with assorted ailments, including a severe case of whiplash. In his absence, his teammate Ivan Tedesco won the Colorado round, while his other teammate Andrew Short has been steadily in the mix, though he has yet to break through for a moto win. Short is second in the 450 class standings, 21 points behind Reed (240 to 219).

  • Here’s Ryan Dungey, making his pro debut at Millville back in 2006
USA Today did a Thursday piece on Chad Reed’s summer so far, which you can read right here. (USA Today, Cycle News and a Steve Matthes Podcast.... I somehow hit the trifecta of being quoted during the off-week talking on the series this week!)

There’s another feature in USA Today about a company called Vitrue that tracks the “individual flair” that the world’s top athletes have when it comes to an online presence. They gauge this by tracking media from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. To what should be no one’s surprise, the Twitter-happy Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong is #1, followed by skateboard icon Tony Hawk, and then Roger Federer, the all-time winningest tennis player when it comes to Grand Slam tournament wins. And checking in at #8? Valentino Rossi. The Doctor even got a photo on page 3 of today’s Sports section. To check out the full list of top 25 athletes in its Social Media Index, click here.

Meanwhile, over at the British Open, Tiger Woods missed the cut while the long-past-his-prime Tom Watson shares the lead... That's like Stewart not making it to the X Games main and Barry Carsten winning the whole thing!

As far as motocross goes, everyone knows James Stewart is a regular member of the Twitterati, covering his own moves and events as he goes about the business of being the namesake of James Stewart Entertainment. But when you type the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion’s name in, he only clocks in at #324 on the complete Social Media Index list. After the upcoming X Games, look for James to go way up in the rankings.

  • James Stewart is getting ready to make his X Games debut
  • Will James Stewart be on Team USA this year?
There’s a provocative story and video on Stewart that’s up on the ESPN website, from his E:60 TV appearance, as well as a feature on James in the new ESPN magazine.

Stewart also announced that he would do the Genoa Supercross, as well as the U.S. Open at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in October. After that he's all set for a return to the Paris-Bercy Supercross in early November, according to event organizer Xavier Auduoard.

The U.S. Open even he has commited to happens to fall just one week after the 2009 Red Bull Motocross of Nations in Italy.Which begs this question: Will James Stewart ride for Team USA? I spoke to his L&M Racing team manager Larry Brooks about it on Wednesday, and right now, it’s still up in the air. But with Ryan Villopoto and Mike Alessi out for the rest of the season, Team USA could sure use Stewart wearing the #1 in Italy.

We know James will definitely be riding at Oak Hill in Texas for his second public ride day on Saturday, July 25. Check out his website, www.js7.com, for more information.

And while we’re talking about what’s in USA Today, this afternoon’s Life section features the Snowshoe Ski Resort in Snowshoe, Wes Virginia, in its Life on Vacation weekly look at the second-home market. Snowshoe is the site of the centerpiece round of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, the winner of which was the newly green David Knight.

  • P.J. Larsen could be back on track this weekend.
Shane Schaefer of Schaefer Tracks, LLC, were contracted to do some track and ground maintenance for tomorrow’s Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Spring Creek. Schaefer got a call from track owner John Martin about coming in and making some nips and tucks to the always-popular Spring Creek MX Park layout. According to a note we received from Schaefer, some of the changes include a widening of the track, re-facing the jumps and all sides of the jumps, and even a little tractor work in the famous whoops and hills.

In other track news, Marc Peters just flew back from a trip to Washougal, where the renowned track builder was going over a plan to move forward with that circuit’s design with owner Ralph Huffman. Washougal hosts next week’s Round 8 of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships.

Another rider we may see back in action this weekend in Minnesota is P.J. Larsen, who has been on the sidelines with a broken navicular. In fact, we caught P.J. as he was leaving Rynoland. “I feel good. No pain, no nothing,” said the Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki pilot. “I went down once today on it and it doesn’t hurt. I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything; my lap times are right where they were before, if not faster. I actually feel a little smoother than I was before.”

Obviously, a big question is his endurance level. “I think my endurance is good,” he said. “The first time out I caught myself holding my breath a little bit, but then I went and did a twenty-minute moto and I felt good. For sure I’ll be back at Washougal, but I’m begging to ride this weekend at Millville. There’s a slim chance you might see me this weekend.”

Unfortunately, Vicki Golden, the fast rookie picked up by the GEICO Powersports Honda team, is out for Washougal next weekend when the girls return for the Lucas Oil AMA Women’s Motocross Championship. According to Miki Keller, Vicki got hurt while practicing at Perris Raceway during the break and is now sidelined.

  • Marvin Musquin’s future is either red...
  • ... or orange, though right now the courts say red.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, the curious case of Marvin Musquin continues. Marvin’s the young man who started the season on a semi-privateer Honda, grabbed the MX2 Grand Prix points lead, jumped over to a paying job on the KTM factory team, extended his points lead, got sued by the old Honda team, lost in court, then lost on appeal, and then couldn’t go back to his Honda for the Swedish GP because he missed the team’s deadline for a decision.... And he’s still the points leader!

So what’s Marvin up to now? With the GPs on a three-week hiatus, he’s been practicing to get back out there—and on a KTM! Here’s a video of the Frenchman practicing in Lommel, Belgium, courtesy of Motocrossplanet.nl.

Hold on: Now someone says that’s not actually Marvin in the video, just someone who looks a lot like Marvin, has the same gear, same riding style, very fast, practicing on the next track that will host a GP... but not Marvin Musquin?

Brian Deegan has been lighting up the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. The Metal Mulisha founder is in his first year as owner/driver of the Rockstar/Metal Mulisha/Lucas Oil Race Team and currently sits in the top three of the point standings. He won at Lake Elsinore a fortnight ago is looking to take home another win when the series returns there on July 25-26. Here are some video highlights of Deegan’s new racing gig.

(DEEGAN Brian Deegan has been enjoying his new career in off-road truck racing)

Matt Wozney’s MXPTV was recently invited to Travis Pastrana’s house to check things out. The video is mostly kids trying to do BMX backflips, but it’s still entertaining.

  • Brian Deegan has been enjoying his new career in off-road truck racing
Wozney added this note on the VitalMX.com message board: “Travis was there in the morning practicing for X Games but I was not allowed to film his practice session. All I have to say is make sure you watch Travis at the X Games in a couple of weeks.”

Does anyone out there remember Kris Garwasiuk? He was one of the OG freestylers back in the late 1990s. Racer X’s own Eric Johnson is looking for information on Kris to round out a project he’s working on for the upcoming X Games. If anyone can help out, please let us know: letters@racerxonline.com

And finally, I got a few calls from people this week asking if the rumors that Ernesto Fonseca had been deported were true or not. What’s going on is that Ernesto is back in Costa Rica, working on getting his work visa renewed. I wrote a letter on his behalf, as did AMA Pro Racing’s Roy Janson and a few other friends in the industry. Fonseca is a great guy, he has a great job in marketing with his longtime friend Tony Gardea’s company, and he will be back soon.

Okay, here’s Steve Cox:

As part of a project for Motocross Magazine in Italy, Steve Matthes had me head on out to Perris Raceway on Tuesday to ride Ryan Villopoto’s factory Monster Kawasaki KX450F supercross bike. It was a cool experience, as I had never ridden a factory SX bike before, and the stories you hear about how rigid the suspension is on those bikes are all true!

  • From a distance, this may look like Ryan Villopoto, but it’s actually Steve Cox.
Overall, though, the faster you ride it, the better it feels... and it felt good. If only I wasn’t six inches taller than RV, it might have been even more comfortable.

While I was there, I caught up with Ivan Tedesco and Davi Millsaps, who were both testing for Honda Red Bull Racing. I interviewed Millsaps here, and as for Tedesco, he looked as fast and determined as ever. It’s impressive to see a guy who was beaten down by injuries literally for years go out and put it all back together again. It’s not small feat, with confidence playing such a role in racing.

And remember, the last time Chad Reed raced Millville, he damn near beat Ricky Carmichael in the first moto. He was battling with Carmichael tooth and nail until his header pipe fell off. Then, in the second moto came the rain, which led to Carmichael lapping the field.

There are a lot of Minnesota boys taking to the track this weekend, with Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey leading the charge. However, you can’t get much more “local” than Alex Martin – son of track owner John Martin – who is racing this weekend for the GEICO Powersports Honda team in a one-off ride. He and his family actually live at the track. He says the biggest thing he hopes to accomplish this weekend is that he hopes he can get better starts on the Factory Connection Racing machine. If so, it can be a big day for him.

Then there’s Tucker Hibbert, who makes his living racing snocross, but still races at the top level of motocross as well.

Time for Mr. Pingree:

The rumors are starting to fly, folks. The biggest one I heard this week, and I heard it from more than one person, is that Mike Alessi is all set to sign with Yamaha for the 2010 season and beyond. What about Christophe Pourcel as his teammate? Maybe Dungey will stay with Suzuki and fill Alessi’s vacated 450 spot, but either way I hear Tommy Searle is moving into Dungey’s slot on the 250F there. I haven’t actually seen contracts, but I’m hearing these things from more than one source. But what do I know?

I’ve also heard that there’s a new drink in town and the buzz is a little different than what you’d get from Red Bull or Monster. Jim Beam is partnering up with a 450 team that may or may not include Kevin Windham and Dan Reardon. Maybe J.C. Waterhouse will let us all know sometime soon.

Speaking of Windham, it’s now looking like we won’t see him at a national until maybe Unadilla.

  • Could Tommy Boy be headed over to the yellow team?
There’s been a lot of talk about the son of former factory Yamaha rider Mike Craig, Christian Craig, lately. The young rider is all set to make his pro debut in two weeks at the X Games on a 450 Yamaha. He’s got Ryan Villopoto’s former mechanic, Jon Mitcheff, taking care of his bikes and helping him get ready, and it looks like he is going to turn some heads. I watched him ride at a local supercross track this week and I was impressed with what I saw. Don’t be surprised if he runs up front in the Moto X event in Los Angeles. Here’s a video that was put together by some of his supporters.

Surfercross is back! After a one-year hiatus where Jeremy Albrecht totally dropped the ball (kidding, J-Bone), the annual dual-industry get-together is back on for this August 4-5. Confirmed riders include Josh Grant, Josh Hill, Jake Moss, Dan Reardon, Justin Brayton and many others. And there’s a long list of top-level surfing heroes and icons including Sunny Garcia that are signed up to compete. I haven’t seen the official flier yet but I imagine that day one will be at Starwest Motocross Park and the surfing portion will go down in San Onofre as usual. Hopefully that great white shark that’s been hanging around there has moved on. Stay tuned for details or blow up Jeremy’s cell phone if you have the number.

And now Steve Matthes:

This weekend in Millville should be a great one, as the track is also one of the favorites of the riders and is a real challenge to them. Being only eight hours from where I grew up in Canada, it was the only national that was close enough to go watch and my family, and I did just that starting in 1988. I have one friend (G-Force) who has been there something like 25 straight years! I also lined up a few times and attempted to race the mighty 500 there back when men were men. The track has always had perfect soil and great crowds, and I will never forget when hometown boy Donny Schmidt came out of retirement to ride for Honda of Troy and he led the first moto for a little while. The crowd went absolutely bananas and I think Donny went 4-4 on the day or something like that. I also remember “The Beast from the East” making his pro debut there, plus Jimmy Button and many, many more.

  • Surfercross returns!
  • Time's running out for the Pro Circuit Payday contest
Due to the change in schedule, Unadilla will now host the pro debuts like Josh Hill’s a few years ago, but for a lot of guys, and for many years, Millville was the place to see the new kids. It was also a chance to see a grown man dressed in full camo when it’s 100 degrees.

I’ll keep all that in mind when I’m on the couch this weekend chilllaxin’ and watching/listening to the motos. My wife is going out of town to visit some friends in Nebraska, so I drew stay-home-and-babysit-the-dogs duty. To all my Canadian friends reading this, sorry to disappoint you and not be able to get you free stuff from my mechanic buddies. Maybe next year.

It what is purely a coincidence (I swear) Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry will also not be racing this weekend or next. The Red Dog is going to take a couple of more weeks off to rest his heel because after jumping LaRocco’s Leap a bunch, he aggravated it a bit and needs to rest. It hasn’t been a very good year for the one-five, and this makes it worse, but like he told me yesterday, better to heal up and be 100 percent than to be out there nursing it and having people think he sucks. And I wholeheartedly agree with that even though Millville brings back good memories for me and the Dog. There was the second overall there in ’03 and passing Doug Henry and going into the lead in ’99. Of course that was followed by a huge endo in the sand whoops and a busted throttle, but for that brief bit, the Matthes-Ferry team was leading everyone!

Red Dog called me to tell me the news about the missed races but then he asked me what I know about silly season, and I have to say it isn’t much. There isn’t much going on and I know my Twitter buddies (pulpmx on Twitter, and Ping just threw up in his mouth) want me to give them some info, but man, it’s a ghost town out there. The number of riders needing rides and the amount of rides open makes it seem like there might be some really good guys in their pickup trucks. How about this one, though: Mike Alessi to L&M Yamaha on an outdoor-only deal? Discuss.

  • Carl Stone dug out this pic of Josh Hill making his pro debut at Millville ’06
The CMRC Canadian Series picks up the weekend after a two-week break and the riders will be greeted with the roughest, toughest track on the circuit. The sands of Gopher Dunes await, and there is nothing like deep beach sand to see who’s in shape and who isn’t. I’ve raced this track and Southwick, and Gopher has Southwick covered as far as roughness and deep sand go. Think more like the European sand tracks (Lommel, Oss, etc.).

The series is turning into a bit of a snoozer in the MX1 class. Out of the eight motos run so far, the top three have been the same in seven of them: Colton Facciotti, Dusty Klatt and Paul Carpenter have been the guys to beat, with Bobby Kiniry slotting into that fourth spot for now. I think this weekend we might see a bit of a change, as KTM Canada is bringing back the Hungarian Warrior, Kornel Nemeth. Nemeth showed up at the first round and got into the mix, almost running down Facciotti in the second moto. With Nemeth having scored a sixth overall at the legendary Lommel sand track last year, he’s clearly a sand rider and Iook for him to be in the mix this weekend. (Here’s an interview I did with Nemeth.)

In the MX2 class it’s Eric Nye, your defending champion, vs. Teddy Maier as they are separated by only a few points. This class will go down to the wire. The good thing is that there are some riders who had some bad luck at the early rounds who could get in the mix. Guys like Kyle Beaton and Aron Harvey of the Blackfoot team will be looking to gain some ground and do some damage. Harvey in particular got real hot right around this time last year.

For all your Canadian moto news, go to directmotocross.com and read updates from the races on Sunday. Saturday is about Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross and Sunday is for CMRC motocross. It’s that simple really!

It was podcast crazy here at my house, as I managed to somehow get Johnny O’Mara, DC and Stefan Everts all on the phone and talking to me for a little while. The DC and O’Show ones are on the site now, and look for Everts next week. Stefan was, as usual, a great guy and very open and honest about everything. Well, everything except for the Marvin Musquin thing, which I got a sense that he didn’t really want to talk about it.

  • Tim Ferry is on the sidelines again.
  • Aron Harvey is a rockstar in Canada
  • Ladies and gentlemen, Team Canada!
  • Can Facciotti defend his title? We’ll know in five weeks.
Go to www.pulpmx.com... please?

The Pro Circuit Privateer Payday contest is coming down to the wire folks and the entries are still open for your chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to go and race a national. Riders have to submit a 250-word (or so) essay on why they should be picked, and the winner will get his expenses paid as well as a new Pro Circuit exhaust system. Oh, and I can even wrench for the rider if they so desire. That last part is the coolest thing, if you ask me.

Thanks, Steve. And readers, you gotta check out Matthes’ Tell Us A Story with Denny Stephenson. It’s about Denny’s BRUTAL crash at the 1988 Kawasaki Race of Champions at Raceway Park in Englishtown. Denny’s crash was immortalized by the omnipresent Thom Veety, and he ended up on he cover of Crash & Burn. Must-reading for this weekend!

Sign of the Times: There was a recent eight-person layoff at Valencia Sports Group, and among those now looking for a new job is our longtime friend Erick “Big E” Bartoldus. He’s got some excellent credentials: 12 years at GT Bicycles, a two-year stint at Transworld Motocross, five years at Answer and Pro Taper, and then the SixSixOne and Sunline brands for the last 18 months. Looking for a good motocross man? Shoot us an email and we will get you in touch with Big E. editor@Racerxonline.com

Shayne Rice, Gerry O’Kane, Scott Wilkins, and Tim Gould are all here from New Zealand, driving some 10,0000 kilometers across the USA over 17 days, with two Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross races on he schedule. During the trip they will be updating the www.holeshot.co.nz site daily with news on their adventures. Check it out right here.

  • Kenny Day
  • Ayla Cabus
  • Kristine Wright
  • Michael Heingartner
  • Nicole Madsen
  • Jacqueline Strong
  • Allison Nicole Vrba
Warhawk MX is helping some AMA Motocross/Women’s Motocross privateers. Team manager David “Burrito” Villalpando says: “We are honored to have the following riders on our team. We are helping out Kenny Day for the last four AMA Nationals in the 250 class. Kenny has the desire and speed to make the big show. Mike Heingartner is our ‘Rocky Balboa’ rider; he is a former AMA Pro who is going to make a one-race comeback at the Budds Creek National on a RM 250 two-stroke!

“With all of the exposure that the WMA is getting we felt that the girls needed some help getting to the races to keep the series going,” added Burrito. “Our WMA rider Lindsey Scheltema is this year’s Miss AX and will be racing the last two rounds along with Jacqueline Strong, Allison Vrba, Nicole Madsen, Ayla Cabus and Alyssa Fitch. And Kristine Wright (along with Scheltema) will be representing us at Loretta Lynn’s.” www.warhawkpowersports.com

If you’re following the Tour de France here’s a gallery of awesome images from a fellow called Brent Humphreys, who happens to live in Lance Armstrong’s hometown of Austin, Texas.

Strange Moto Photo of the Week.

Finally, congrats to Elliott Olson and his new wife, Jenn, who were married last week in La Jolla, CA. Now it’s back to work for Elliott on the new MX vs. ATV Reflex game.

That’s it. Like Matthes, I drew stay-at-home duty, only I am with the kids (real ones) while she’s away on a business trip. So I will also be watching/listening on www.allisports.com, and then again on SPEED TV tomorrow night. Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!

 Elliott and Jenn