Racerhead #31

July 31, 2009 5:48pm | by:
This is an off-weekend for the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, yet it’s one of the busiest of the year. The X Games are going full-throttle in Los Angeles—I couldn’t believe how cool the whips were—and so are the NMA Grand Nationals out at Ponca City. The GP series is starting back up again in Belgium, and down here at Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, we’re preparing for the biggest amateur race of all, the Air Nautiques AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships. Here’s a quick preview of what the new track looks like, once Marc Peters got done working his magic earlier this week.

If you want to follow all of the action from Loretta Lynn’s, practice begins Monday and then the races get rolling on Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. sharp. There will be a total of 99 motos during the week, three per class, plus the additional 20 riders that make up the Masters Class and will go off with the +45s. Live timing and scoring for every moto can be found at www.mxsports.com (on the amateur side) and highlight shows will roll out each day, courtesy of Wes Williams and crew, at www.allisports.com.

I was not at the X Games, obviously, as we have been down here working at the ranch (which some are calling “MILF Island”) and trying to get things ready for the big show, so I will let Steve Cox fill you in on that later. But I did watch the Step Up and some of the Best Whip deal and it was all pretty cool. I thought Ricky “BLEEPin’ BLEEP!” Carmichael was out cold when he landed on that last missed jump. And I would have bet anybody $100 that James Stewart was going to win Best Whip and Josh Grant would be second, but the stuff Todd Potter threw? Ridiculous.

Last weekend at Washougal, you had to be impressed with Chad Reed’s solid performance. That 1-1 was his best national ever, and he’s definitely in the driver’s seat now. In the 250 class, Ryan Dungey and Christophe Pourcel are taking turns handing the advantage back and forth to one another by alternating wins and crashes. The fact that all three of these guys – Reed, Dungey and Pourcel — have a total of 337 points after 16 motos is a really wild coincidence.

  • Jarred Brone
  • Matt Goerke
Beyond that, you have to admit, Washougal was full of surprise finishes - Kyle Cunningham, Tommy Hahn, Clement DeSalle - but you have to give a nod to Suzuki City’s Matt Goerke and Jarred Browne. Goerke recently returned to action from a broken leg and finished a solid fourth in the first moto, and Browne finished a career-high fifth in the second moto. Speaking of Browne, his pro racing career has definitely had some bumps in the road, and we spoke with him about it this week in our Privateer Profile which you can read right here.

Also, there were no questions about DeSalle’s bike after the race. He found it with the help of Tim Fiolek (Ashley’s dad) and Dirt Lab’s Ryan Clark and Jesse "Layne Staley" Black. He brought his own suspension, and there were a few other parts here and there. But after the race, it was one of several bikes randomly torn down by the AMA. After inspecting the engine, one AMA official described DeSalle’s engine this way: “It was bone-stock! If this guy doesn’t get a ride here someday.…” DeSalle definitely did the GP boys proud.

If you missed the Racer X Post-Race Shows from either class at Washougal, check out this link for the 250 class and this one for the 450 action.

  • Tommy Hahn
I spoke to Carl Hahn, the father of two fast but currently beat-up factory-supported riders. Mr. Hahn told me that Tommy is fine after playing the welcome mat for much of the pack in the first turn at Washougal after that first-turn pile-up in the second moto. Tommy had finished a career-best second in the first moto at Washougal, right behind Reed, but then never made it to the second turn. Now he’s taking some time off and visiting his girlfriend up at the University of Oklahoma (she’s studying to be a dentist). As for Wil, he had shoulder surgery and is under the care of Dr. Ting out in California; we will likely see him next season when the 2010 supercross tour begins.

James Stewart’s fall schedule continues to grow. After the X Games this weekend and the taping of his new Fuel TV reality show, Stewart will head to the U.S. Open in Las Vegas the week after the Motocross of Nations (which he will likely not attend), then race the Paris Supercross in France, Genoa in Italy, and now the Brisbane Super-X race, the final round of his rival Chad Reed’s Australian Supercross tour. Had my fingers crossed that he might do a national for old time’s sake, but that’s probably not going to happen – especially after the breaking news that just went up here showing that he injured his shoulder today at X riding his Supermoto bike. The latest as of this posting is that James hit a barrier with his shoulder. He didn't even fall, but it hurt bad enough when he got off the bike that he did the smart thing and went and got it checked out. He may or may not be out of the X Games as of now.

  • Kevin Windham
Kevin Windham is finally coming back for a few rounds of the series. K-Dub will be at Unadilla (where he beat Carmichael in 2003) and Budds Creek (where he won a Grand Prix in 1999), and maybe even Steel City. It will be good to have Windham come out for the fans who have really missed him this summer.

So who is going to the Motocross of Nations for Team USA? I think you’ll be hearing an announcement sometime next week during Loretta Lynn’s.

With that, let me turn it back over to the rest of the guys and get back to work out on the infield.

Here’s David Pingree:

The five rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship that I’ve been to this summer reminded me of how difficult it is to put two solid motos together. Washougal was a perfect example: Tommy Hahn crushed it in the first moto to log his best finish ever, a solid second place, and then gets railroaded in the first turn in moto two (looked like Justin Brayton was the instigator there). Kyle Cunningham had a similar experience in the 250 class. Jake Moss posted a solid sixth in the first moto but got taken out in a violent crash late in the second moto. Davi Millsaps failed to score any points in moto one and then pulls out a seventh in moto two. Even the “MX Panda” couldn’t put two motos together to post a good overall. These stats makes it even more impressive when a rider puts together a championship-winning season. And it makes Ricky Carmichael’s multiple perfect seasons completely unimaginable.
The photo that was posted last week of Justin Barcia and Bret Metcalfe almost touching wheels brought up something that has really freaked me out over the last few years. Since Bubba introduced the “scrub” there has been a revolution in riding styles. It is an energy-sapping technique, but there is no denying that lap times drop when you can keep yourself lower off of jumps. That means that the days of going straight off the up-ramp of a jump are long gone. Watch a rider scrub a jump and notice how much of the track he covers while doing it. In Millville, Barcia and Metcalfe came inches from finding out what happens when two scrubs come together. I can’t imagine how gnarly the first lap is over a triple or a big jump on a fast outdoor track these days.

  • Justin Barcia and Brett Metcalfe redux
There’s another similar topic that I wanted to touch on. One of my riders, Jake Moss, was making a pass late in moto two on off-road rider Kyle Summers. Jake was run into by DeSalle on the opening lap and the two of them spent the next 30 seconds trying to get Clement’s wheel out of Jake’s footpeg. They were both well outside the top thirty when they came around the first lap. Moss worked his way to eleventh with only four laps to go when he caught Summers. He squared him up at the bottom of Horsepower Hill and was on his way by him off the first jump. At that point, Summers looked over at him and started moving into his line to block him. Right when both of them landed off the jump, their bikes crossed paths and both riders crashed violently. (Cross-jumping another rider isn’t safe for either person and both riders are lucky they weren’t injured worse.) Summers took a hit to the chest and got a few nights in the hospital, and Moss hit his head and will now have to sit out the X Games event he was scheduled to compete in this weekend.

Speaking of X Games, I got to watch some of the supercross warm-ups and I was really impressed with Josh Hansen. I wasn’t sure if he would be able to find the magic he had last year, but I think he’s going to impress people. The track at the Home Depot Center is awesome. Dane Herron did a great job putting together the course. The finish-line jump is massive and drain plugs are going to be showing all day long. The Supermoto course is fast, narrow, and as slippery as ever. It will be interesting to see if Bubba can keep it on two wheels when there’s no traction. (Editor’s note: See above about breaking news with Stewart’s injury.)

And there’s also Big Air tonight, and you aren’t going to believe what Pastrana’s going to try. Check it out.

For a complete list of TV times, check out www.expn.com.

That’s it from Ping, but if you want to see more of the Troy Lee Designs Honda team manager, we had him shake down the new Honda CRF250R for a special Racer X Film this week that Simon Cudby put together. Check it out right here.

Now it’s Cox’s turn:

The X Games officially kicked off last night, and as far as moto was concerned, it was the Best Whip contest and the Step Up contest, both at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Best Whip contest was won by Todd Potter, which as DC said earlier surprised a lot of moto faithful, as the whips Josh Grant and James Stewart were throwing were massive. We would love to show you photographic evidence of these, but there was apparently a mix-up with credentials at the X Games and I was kicked out of every place I attempted to shoot from.

  • This is RC's final attempt at 35 feet last night.
I did manage to find a spot to shoot Step Up from, though, and it wasn’t until after I started looking through my photos that I saw this photo (left) of RC on the way up in the attempt in which he crashed. He was obviously a little out of control right off the lip, but you have to love RC because he was not going to let off and let Renner win. Just like in his racing days, RC only has one thought – win at all costs.

RC’s crash was very similar to the one he had at the now-defunct Navy Moto X World Championships a couple years ago in San Diego, also during the Step Up competition. In both cases, he was a bit too front-end high and landed that way, which whipped the front of the bike down to the ground and catapulted him over the handlebars.

I’d be lying if I didn’t remark out loud that I wondered how his NASCAR team felt about him taking those sorts of risks a couple of times when he landed nearly off the side of the track. I used to think Step Up was the most boring event, but to be honest, as big as those guys are going now, it has to be the most hairball moto event at X.

Steve Matthes’ turn:

I decided to hit up the Canadian National this weekend in far, far away Moncton, New Brunswick. Pull out a map and take a look at where it is—it’s almost on the other side of the world. Should be an interesting race, as last weekend the rains came and absolutely drenched St Thecle, Quebec. It was so bad that the CMRC decided to hold only one moto and cut the MX1 in half at that. It was a Mt. Morris-level mudder, and just like in 2000 when Kelly Smith captured the win (tuned by … me!), it was a KTM sweep with both riders winning their first nationals, Canadian Kyle McGlynn in the MX2 and Kiwi Mason Phillips. The points leaders in both classes, Colton Facciotti and Teddy Maier, could’ve lost their grips on the leads but both survived and actually increased their leads with only three races left. You can check out everything that you want to know about Canadian motocross at www.directmotocross.com.

I happened to check in with two-time 125 SX champion Damon Huffman yesterday to do something for Pulpmx.com and we got to talking about his off-road career. Huffy said he’s been getting some bad starts in the WORCS series and trying to make something happen, but it’s been a weird season for him so far. The opening round of Endurocross didn’t go the way he wanted either, as he got a bad start, crashed (shocker), and actually got lapped. Damon said he un-lapped himself and made it into the top ten, and the biggest problem he had on his 250F was that everything was slippery from the water crossing. Huffman also told me he’s been practicing his tire changing because he’s headed over to Portugal for the ISDE! He said he’s spending quite a bit of money out of his pocket to go and ride for Team USA but that it’s going to be an experience. He’s got a tire change down in three and a half minutes, and that’s with a mousse, people!

Everything I had to say about Washougal, I said in my Observations.

And now some Miscellaneous...

  • Stewart with his replica
  • Windham with his replica
Kenny Baba from New Ray toys sent this over from the Tucker Rockey Dealer show:

The Tucker Rocky dealer show took place in Fort Worth, Texas. San Manuel L & M Yamaha/Answer Racing rider James Stewart did a ride day at Oak Hill track and autograph signing. Geico Powersports Honda Factory Connection/MSR rider also did an Kevin Windham autograph signing. Both James and Kevin came out to meet and greet all of TR’s dealers and fans, and also showcased the new line of die-cast replicas from New Ray Toys and the new 2010 lineup from Answer Racing and MSR. The legend himself: Malcolm Smith stopped by the New Ray Toys booth to check out the awesome new lineup of die-cast replicas coming out this holiday season.

Looking for your very own Racer X skateboard deck? Pat Schutte spotted this one online.

Racer X reader Ted Marriner sent us this note:

Just wanted to drop you a note and say that Josh Summey was spotted at an off-road event in Virginia this past weekend. The Harleywood Trailriders promoted the event in Bristol, VA. It was an Ironman event on July 26th. The information for the event can be found at www.vchss.org under schedule. It seems the weather dumped rain Saturday and Sunday so the course was muddy. It took many folks over two hours to do one lap of the course!

The Icon is back in action on davidbaileymx.com, as DB is now updating and working on the site more and more after a hiatus that he said was him “being lazy.” Somehow I doubt the Ironman Icon has a lazy bone in his body. Make sure you check it out.

Reader Andy Heise just sent us this:

Arenacross competitor Matt Cottrill was involved in a head on collision that resulted in him being airlifted to O.S.U. Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. I just spoke with his dad and he said Matt has many broken bones and a head injury and is in the surgical ICU. Brian is there now of course, but please keep the Cottrill family in your prayers.

Check out this story in today’s NY Times.

On that note, the same blue food dye found in M&Ms and Gatorade could be used to reduce damage caused by spine injuries, offering a better chance of recovery, according to new research.

  • Nico Izzi at last year's Unadilla. It's next up on the schedule.
Finally, looking ahead to Unadilla two weeks from now, the ninth round of the outdoor series is going to be the “retro event” and it’s looking pretty damn cool so far. Following the Monster Energy Fanfest, there will be a special outdoor screening of the Motocross Files, courtesy of Todd Huffman and his crew. They will also introduce the Unadilla Walk of Fame, which will be a special area dedicated to the most famous riders who participated at Unadilla—and the first inductee will be announced during opening ceremonies. There will also be a Retro Village holding a special display of Unadilla photographs, courtesy of the Robinson family and famous New England motocross photographer Paul Buckley, plus scores of vintage motocross bikes.

The legends and heroes set to attend include Tony DiStefano and his rival “Jammin’” Jimmy Weinert, Jo Jo Keller, Jeff Emig, John Dowd (who is actually racing the national!), Danny LaPorte, Erik Kehoe, Mike Fisher, Broc Glover, Barry Higgins, and many more.

Also, some of the current riders and teams are expected to join in the spirit by wearing retro color schemes and perhaps running old-school graphics. I had a look at one factory team’s graphics and they are so cool, you will want to buy them for your own bike.

The guys at VurbMoto.com have been posting updates from Ponca City this week, so check it out if you have a free moment. Registration is free.

That’s it, thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.