Racerhead #32

August 7, 2009 6:09pm | by:
Racerhead is coming at you from a family vacation down in the Bahamas. After spending the last ten days at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch working on the track and also helping organize the biggest amateur motocross race of all, the 28th Annual AMA Air Nautiques Amateur National Motocross Championship. I left a day early—the races will not end until tomorrow afternoon—but I got the full effect of the place and the people.

  • Eli Tomac has been one of the most impressive riders at Loretta's
  • Adam Cianciarulo has won the 85cc 12-13 Stock class with a 1-2-1 score
Loretta Lynn’s Ranch is just an amazing place for a motocross enthusiast. It seems like the whole motocross industry was there, from all of the OEMs and their amateur support programs, to all of the gear reps and workers, and just a whole campground full of past champions, future champions and well over 1,000 racing families.

Out on the racetrack, the future of American motocross looks really good. There are some extremely fast young men and women rising up through the ranks, and the majority of the race watchers felt that Eli Tomac—the latest prospect from the Factory Connection Honda talent factory that has churned out Josh Grant, Trey Canard, Blake Wharton and Justin Barcia—was the real standout. He was in an early Wednesday mud moto in the 250B class, wearing a JMB-style towel tucked into his TLD gear, and he hit the first muddy turn wide open, both wheels sliding, and somehow kept it up without ever letting off the throttle. For me it was that “Wow, the kid’s got it” moment when you realize that this rider might just be the next big star….   

I would also add the hard-lucked Jason Anderson was just as jaw-dropping fast, but he has his fair share of problems. I ended up towing him back to his pits after his motor let go in one race while leading, then helped pull him up out of the haybales when he fell in one tight corner that have riders fits—especially in the mud. Anderson won’t win a title this week, but he is extremely fast and will be a great addition to someone’s pro team in a year or two.

  • Jesse Masterpool has been another impressive 85cc rider
  • Doug Dubach won all six of his motos to win the 35+ and 40+ classes
Dean Wilson, Justin Weeks, Blake Baggett, Malcolm Stewart, Les Smith, Taylor Futrell, Travis Baker … There’s just too many to name, and those are the big bikes riders. In the minicycle classes, there’s even more fast kids coming up. Jason Weigandt has been down there documenting the racing with daily reports as well as co-hosting MX Sportscenter, which is the daily video recap produced by Wes Williams and his crew from Vurb Moto. Here are the links to catch all of the action:

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday

Beyond that, every night was filled with bench-racing, beer-drinking, a Hank Williams III concert, and just a lot of alumni riders showing up to be a part of it all: Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, Jeff Emig, Ryan Villopoto, Tim Ferry, Ryan Morais, Greg Schnell, Ashley Fiolek, Jessica Patterson, Buddy Antunez, Ronnie Tichenor and more. 

People were already camped out there when Mike Farber and I showed up last Tuesday, and they were pretty impressed by the track changes that they were surprised to find when they got there. Marc Peters once again did a fantastic job as the architect, and he came back to help out Jeff Russell on the dozers, along with top amateur promoters like Sam Gammon, Alan McWilliams and more. A big thanks to everyone who came down to help out.

I could go on and on, but I really am on vacation, so my wife is giving me that close-your-laptop-or-else look, so I better turn this over to the guys who were at the X Games and Surfercross. Oh, one more thing: Team USA for the 2009 Motocross of Nations will be announced at Unadilla… maybe. The Josh Grant injury at the X Games threw a wrench in the works. I did speak to Roger DeCoster about some of his options yesterday, and let’s hope it all comes together and we can go over there and keep our latest winning streak going at five in a row.

I’ll see you next week from retro Friday at Unadilla. Here’s Ping.

  • David Pingree? Who's that guy?
  • Michael Sleeter: Surfercross or ONE photo shoot?
Surfercross made its triumphant return this week at the scorching-hot Starwest Motocross Park and the sunny beaches of San Onofre, California. The annual event went on hiatus last year when co-founder Jeremy Albrecht moved to North Carolina to run the Joe Gibbs Racing program. He said something about not having time to organize it or something. Thankfully this year Toyota, Fender and Muscle Milk got behind the event and it ended up being one of the best in a long time. There was a very impressive entry list even though a handful of riders bowed out at the last minute with injury including Josh Grant, Jake Moss and Sean Borkenhagen. There was still some star power that included Justin Brayton, Cody Cooper, Ronnie Renner, Trigger Gumm, Jeff “OX” Kargola, X Games hero Josh Hansen and World and National motocross champions Greg Albertyn and Grant Langston. And the surf industry was well represented by Sunny Garcia, Josh Sleigh and several other Australian WCT regulars.

When it was all said and done Justin Brayton and Ryan Sakal just beat out the team of Butler Brothers rider Lucas Crespi and Mark Gabriel. It was a great time and everyone was stoked that the event is back on the map.

Okay, I’ve got a new slogan for the folks at ESPN: “The Summer X-Ray Games.” What the heck happened this year? Step-up was a massive crash fest and just about every other discipline followed suit. Best trick is usually one of the coolest events because you get to see the evolution of FMX. After a slew of riders were smeared into the ground attempting their latest and greatest the medal was given to Kyle Loza for doing the same thing he did last year. Now, I like Kyle, and anyone shorter than me to be honest, but this was a swing and a miss by the judges. Bilko stuck a new and unbelievably difficult trick that was an Indian Air 360 backflip. He should have won gold in that event without question.

The Supermoto course was the worst one they’ve ever had. It was narrow and had no run-off and the dirt section was just stupid. Stewart hurt his shoulder when he hit a water barrier (which are for cars and have no business on a Supermoto course) and he was out for the weekend. Jeff Ward also hit a concrete barrier wall (which again, had no business being on a Supermoto course) with his foot and nearly pulled out of the race after running second. Max Anstie and Blake Wharton crashed together and scared everyone watching. It was a dirty crash and Anstie got the worst of it with an injured shoulder. Josh Grant rounded out the E.R. ensemble when he jumped over the bars through a rhythm section and injured both of his ankles. The bearing behind the countershaft sprocket went out and caused the crash. His team manager Jeremy Albrecht said that Josh had injuries to one of his ankles already and he is optimistic that the final prognosis will be better than what they originally thought. Look for a PR from them very soon.

  • Your eyes aren't deceiving you. That's Grant Langston on a YZ125 at Surfercross
  • Greg Albertyn is still very impressive
The worst part of the whole weekend was the performance of the medical staff. This crack team of idiots looked like Curly, Moe and Larry walking around on the stadium floor. Just after Grant crashed and dragged himself to the side of the track it was obvious he needed some medical help. The flaggers were doing an average job of directing traffic to the opposite side of the course but either way, none of the medics would help him. There were two standing directly across the track from Josh and another two just down the track that wouldn’t have even had to cross a track lane. They all stood there and watched as he writhed in pain. Finally his dad and mechanic ran across the track, picked him up and carried him off the course. I’ve never wanted to punch someone in the face so badly. I ran down to the nearest EMT flunky and told him that if he wasn’t going to do his job to just go home. I said some other things too but they aren’t suitable for print. I spoke with the folks that coordinate the motorcycle segments of the X Games and told them that if they don’t have the Asterisk Medical Team there next year they would probably start losing participants.

Matt Goerke will be riding a factory Yamaha at Unadilla. I made a couple jokes about the replacement riders in Washougal and took some heat for it. Let me be clear here that I think it is awesome any time a deserving rider gets a shot on the very best equipment. I just think there are guys that have paid their dues and deserve that shot. Matt is one of those guys and I can’t wait to see how he does. Goerke was already posting top five moto finishes on a privateer Suzuki so there’s a good chance he could end up on the podium. It sounds like there might also be a fill-in rider for Kawasaki at the last few nationals as well but nothing is finalized just yet. To round this week out, we’re also hearing that Christian Craig has been approached by Joe Gibbs Racing.

Oh, and if you haven’t heard of the race coming up on August 29th and 30th at Powder Mountain, just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, you need to check this site out. The track was designed by Jeremy McGrath and it looks like it is going to be epic. As you can see the track is laid out right on the ski slopes and the après ski condos are basically trackside lodging. I checked with Jeremy about it and he says it is the real deal. He’ll be there racing and there’s no way I’m missing it. Seriously, take a second and watch this:

Now here’s Steve Cox.

This week, Kawasaki held the intro for their 2010 Kawasaki KX450F, and a video and full write-up will be up later today and tomorrow, but suffice it to say that the bike, at least on the track we were on, is truly awesome. We were out a Pala, which is a new, sandy track south of Temecula, and to demonstrate how good the bike is, I think I fractured my scaphoid (getting an X ray today, I hope) on the second lap of riding, and I was still able to take some Advil, put some ice on my left wrist, borrow some athletic tape from Cycle News’ Jean Turner, and then ride the rest of the day, doing all of the jumps and going at a reasonable clip even though I could only really hold on with one hand and couldn’t use the clutch.

  • Steve Cox enjoys being on the other side of the lens on the 2010 KX450F
You know a bike is good when you can ride it basically one-handed and still go pretty fast, and the Kawasaki is that good. More details later.

The only other thing I have to add today is about Josh Hansen. Just like Jason Lawrence, the truth is that despite all of Josh’s problems he’s had the last few years, he has always been a nice guy who was usually pretty easy to like. He’s nice, he’s fun to be around, and he’s funny.

However, things get out of hand sometimes. Last year at this time, I remember talking to Hansen after his win at the X Games, and he was adamant about how he was changing his ways and things were going to get better, and he knew what he did wrong, etc. Unfortunately, he still went out and had more of the problems resurface during the supercross championship. And this year at X, his story was the same, so on one hand that makes me (and others) skeptical about how realistic he’s being with himself. But on the other hand, a lot of us know what it’s like to truly want to change, and even to know what to do in order to change, but then be unable to actually pull it off on the first try. I know I was that way with my “weight problem” (yes, I just did finger quotes on my end like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy). I knew what to do to fix it, but it doesn’t all come together right away sometimes. A lot of other top riders have run into similar situations and made it out the other side. So I’ll say this: I honestly think that Josh Hansen is and was genuine when he made these comments about wanting and needing to change, but I think now is the time when he’ll actually do it. If he can get on a top team for 2010, I truly believe he’s going to do some damage.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before…

  • After winning his second X Games gold medal in a row, Hansen was on hand for some fun at Surfercross
And before some of you internet folks go nuts about how he has had “too many chances already” and other such hater-talk, this sport isn’t about how many chances you get, it’s about how fast you can go and what kind of results you can put in. Josh Hansen can put in great results. The only real question is whether or not he actually will.

Here’s some odds and ends.

In a reverse Ricky Dietrich type of move, Current 250cc pro MX’er 144 Alex Martin raced the OMA off road race last weekend at Spring Creek Park in Millville, MN. The gnarly course laid out by Bill Gusse gave the racers all they could handle and Alex Martin gave Whibley all he could handle as the 2 swapped the lead several times prior to Whibley making a last lap pass that stuck. Martin finished second behind Whibley. Considering that Whibley is touted as one of the top three or four best off-roaders in the world, that says something for Martins performance. In talking to Alex at the end of the race he said that once Whilbley got around him on the last lap his raw and sore hands just wouldn’t take any more abuse. “Cardio wise I feel good and felt good during the race, my hands are very raw and sore at this point.” Not bad for a motocross guy racing in the woods without a Quickfill gas tanks or bark busters on an old worn out 2008 practice bike.

Tommy Searle has apparently filed a suit against KTM. tcannon521 of the VitalMX messageboard accidentally stumbled across this court filing.

Finally, Jennifer Clingan is a 17-year-old female motocross racer from Florida. She publishes a small magazine for Dade City Raceway and she recently was featured on a local news station in Tampa for their Athlete of the Week. Click here to check it out.

So that’s it for this unusually short Racerhead. Thanks for reading. We’ll see you at the races.