Racerhead #38

September 18, 2009 5:29pm | by:

Welcome to Racerhead. Everyone is easing into the off-season here with the same uneasiness we had last month and for months before. That’s because the beginning of the off-season practically marks the end of silly season. Not so this time around. There are more people looking for motocross jobs right now than any time anyone can remember. Signs of economic rebound are here and there, but until someone signs a big name like Ivan “The Terrible” Tedesco, or even a shorter one like Chad Reed, we’re all on the edge of our seats waiting for some ink to dry.

And that’s just the top riders. There are also mechanics, gear, and brand reps, magazine and website friends, Monster Girls and Rockstar Girls — the contraction is all around us. Here’s hoping some things start happening soon and 2010 turns out to a banner year.

Before I get into some Team USA-at-the-MXoN business, here’s a happy birthday to Eric Johnson, my longtime friend and collaborator. EJ has a big trip coming up to Italy for the MXoN, as well as a visit to his own personal field of dreams, the Monza F1 circuit. Happy birthday, EJ.

Simon Cudby has knocked one out of the park again with a very cool Team USA film, which he shot yesterday afternoon at the Team USA Intro out at Perris Raceway in Southern California. #1 Ryan Dungey, #2 Jake Weimer, and #3 Ivan Tedesco (their numbers reflect their respective classes — MX1, MX2, MX3 — as well as Team USA’s defending champion status) took to the track in their new red-white-and-blue gear. It’s also the first time we’ve seen Dungey on a 450 since he finished second at the ‘08 Minneapolis SX. Check it out.

Look for more Team USA films in the next two weeks as we help get the pot stirred before the Americans try to win their fifth straight Peter Chamberlain Trophy over in Italy. The competition will be epic this time — Australia looks better on paper, Italy will be right at home, and you just never know about the Belgians and the British and the French and…

  • That’s a familiar pose by Team USA ’09.
  • RD or RC? This also looks familiar!
And how about this gem? It’s the current 1-2-3 repeating the legendary 1-2-3 hand-slap of the most vaunted Team USA of all time, the 1986 version featuring David Bailey, Rick Johnson, and Johnny O’Mara. Coincidentally, that was the last time a Motocross des/of Nations was held in Italy. You can download this as your wallpaper, or pick from any of Steve Cox’s other action shots right here.

Simon also shot some fantastic still-life photos of the Team USA bikes — Tedesco’s Honda Red Bull Racing CRF450R, Weimer’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki KX250F, and Dungey’s Rockstar/Makita Suzuki RMZ-450—for your laptops and avatars as well.

Funny thing: When we sent the Ryan Dungey photo in the gallery above to MXGeoff for a post on MXLarge, he wrote back: “I thought you had sent me a photo of RC!” referring to Ricky Carmichael in ‘07 at Budds Creek. Hope that’s a sign of things to come for Team USA!

Must see video clip of the week. Actually, it’s from earlier this summer, and it came from MX Magazine’s Xavier Auduoard, who feels that his beloved French team would have had a great shot at winning the Motocross of Nations if Christophe Pourcel — the rider in this clip — were racing for France instead of skipping the race to have shoulder surgery.

Speaking of the French, they’ve lost another top rider for their MXoN team. According to MXGeoff, Nico Aubin is also out now, joining both Pourcels — Sebastien has been out for most of the season — on the sidelines. The last time the French won the MXoN was in 2001 at Namur, Belgium, a race Team USA bowed out of in the wake of the 9/11 attacks a fortnight earlier.

And after all that turmoil in the wake of Mark Eastwood’s forced exit as the British team manager, past GP winner Billy MacKenzie is back in the lineup for the UK, which means Scotland, where Billy Mac hails from, along with Shaun Simpson, won’t likely be fielding its own team after all.

Okay, let me pass it on to Steve Cox here.

  • Suzuki held an awards function for their many 2009 champions.
It was a busy week for me, and it’s not over yet. Between working on the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open program (coming right up, folks!), the next issue of Racer X Illustrated, and stuff for the internet here and there, our first “week off” from racing started with a function at American Suzuki’s corporate headquarters in Brea, California. It’s amazing. I don’t know the details of Suzuki’s sales, but you’d think a company that won the Lites West title, the 250cc AMA Motocross title, and the 450cc AMA Motocross title (and very nearly won the 450cc SX title) would sell a lot of bikes. On top of that, having ridden the Suzuki 450, it’s a really good bike! I mean, really good. It’s fast, it handles well… I’ve heard good things about the 250 too, although I haven’t ridden it.

Then, add to that Suzuki’s Superbike Championship with Mat Mladin (his seventh), and the ATV MX championship with Dustin Wimmer, and Suzuki was easily the most successful OEM this year. It’s just been an amazing season for a company that many feel is suffering the most hardship from the economic situation. But Suzuki held a get-together for its employees on Tuesday, where they got to see all the championship trophies they helped win and meet the champions who pulled off the feats. The employees got autographs, had a catered lunch, and got to check out the race rigs and machines. It was a really cool event, and with the rumors that Suzuki’s racing effort will move out of the main house there (apparently to Yoshimura), it was really kind of surreal. Suzuki makes a great bike in every category, so it’s not like it’s a situation where the factory bikes don’t reflect the performance of the stock bikes, at least not more than any other manufacturer.

At various points in the gathering, funny things happened: I witnessed Tony Gardea (Ryan Dungey’s agent) talking with Roger DeCoster, while Dungey was looking at a photo of himself in Fox gear in the One Industries catalog with One’s Danny Dobey (remember this year when Dungey quit One after one race and switched to Fox?). Maybe strangest of all, at one point Chad Reed picked up his iPhone and said, “I’m going to check and see if I have a ride yet.”

  • The 2010 Kawasaki KX250F
  • Jeff Emig rides the new bike at Castillo Ranch.
It was all really weird. This off-season in general is really weird.

From there, I drove directly up north for the 2010 Kawasaki KX250F intro at Castillo Ranch. There was a dinner Tuesday night, and I got a speeding ticket on my way back from Costco in Santa Maria – my first ever! [Editor’s note: That dooms you to two more, Speedy Cox.] So I don’t know how much this intro is going to end up costing me yet, but it’s going to be a lot — my Tundra is really fast.

After dinner, I went back to my hotel and got some shuteye before heading up for my first taste of the famous Castillo Ranch the next day, and to be honest, the dirt there was dry and gnarly. You never quite knew what the bike was going to do, but you’ll still see an evaluation of the bike based on the conditions here shortly. Also, look for a Jeff Emig interview for Racer X Films in the next day or so, in which he reveals his plans for 2010.

GuyB from VitalMX.com and I carpooled to the event and back Wednesday afternoon, and it only took four hours to get back to Chino from there, starting at 3 p.m. Fun times. Wonder if we can get Brad at VitalMX.com to kick down for half my fine?

  • Team USA's bikes
  • How will Dungey do in his first outdoor 450 race?
  • Tedesco is always one of the most stylish riders on the track.
Thursday, it was time to formally introduce Team USA out at Perris Raceway, where Dungey (MX1), Weimer (MX2), and Tedesco (MX3) looked pretty loose and were having fun out on the track. If they’re an underdog, you wouldn’t get that impression by seeing the work they’re putting in, or that their teams are putting in, in order to win this event in Italy in a couple of weeks. In honor of the occasion, we got them to do mid-air high-fives just like the 1986 team that went to Maggiora the last time the race was held in Italy. At that event, the U.S. team finished 1-2 in every single moto, including the famous one where Johnny O’Mara finished second to our 500cc rider, David Bailey, in the 125cc/500cc moto, beating the rest of the world’s best 500cc Grand Prix riders.

Funny thing: O’Mara himself was at Perris on Thursday. When I showed him the photo, he smiled, then said, “But when we did it, we were all doing no-handers…” Whoops. Oh well, they tried!

Here’s The Weege…

My Supercross Live! webcast partner Jim “Hollywood” Holley has just returned from a three-week trip to Europe, where he helped organize the Duells International Freestyle and Supercross in Goteborg, Sweden. Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short took the win this year over Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Michael Byrne and longtime privateer hero Jacob Marsack. Last year’s race winner was Broc Hepler, but he had to skip this year’s event since he’s been out since supercross with an injury. A big contingent of American riders went, including Alex Martin, Christian Craig, Michael Hall, Cole Siebler, Daniel Blair, and Heath Voss. Congrats to Shorty on the win. You are now Scott Wallenberg’s favorite rider!

  • Andrew Short was the big winner in Sweden.
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series resumed after a summer break with a round at the famed Unadilla Valley Sports Center. Scott’s Bevo Forti made the trip and celebrated his 60th birthday at the track on Sunday. It was a pretty fun event overall, as it’s the first Unadilla GNCC that didn’t feature torrential rains at any point during the weekend. The main bike race featured a crazy battle between Thad DuVall, Josh Strang, Charlie Mullins, Nathan Kanney, and Paul Whibley, and Whibley won out at the end. Check out Monday Conversation with Whibley for more on him. Shock Doctor KTM’s Kailub Russell won the XC2 class and is closing in on a championship there. Click here for a wallpaper gallery from the race.

But maybe the best story of the weekend came from the start of the race, when New York local Ben Bouwens grabbed the $250 MotorcycleUSA.com holeshot award around the outside when a bunch of the top talent tangled in turn one. Bouwens was riding with an open-faced helmet and a Moose Racing enduro jacket on over a wife-beater. Had to be the first open-faced holeshot in a race this decade! I’m guessing maybe even since Scott Plessinger? Plus, he was running a big Batman sticker on his front number plate. So, of course, he soon became known as Batman for the rest of the race!

Here’s David Pingree:

There’s not a whole lot going on here in California. Our MXoN team is getting ready to head to Italy. I watched a bit of their team practice/test session this week and all of them look ready to do their best for the USA. I was forwarded some comments posted by Mototalk/Motodrive regulars who were bashing our 2009 U.S. team. They were basically implying that our guys were going to get handled this year, but at least the bikes looked good… You message-board experts need to get a life. These three guys have been chosen to compete in the most prestigious event of the year because they deserve it. Show some respect. I think our guys have a great chance, and here’s wishing them good luck.

If you’re waiting for some big news about which riders are going where, you might want to find a chair or couch and get comfortable. The manufacturers are still sorting through budgets and most likely arguing with accountants about how much money they can get for next year. As a result, nobody knows anything yet. I’ve been involved in the professional side of motocross since 1993, and I’ve never seen things this far behind. It’s a little scary.

Some random thoughts:

I’m not sure “J-Law” is such a funny moniker for Jason Lawrence anymore. The troubled racer is currently locked up right now. Seriously, I hope Jason realizes that rock bottom is a good place to turn things around. Usually a stint in jail would mark the end of a racing career, but he is talented enough to come back and make good on his potential. But he will have to change. We’ll know in six or seven months, I guess.

The Montreal Supercross is coming up, and those lucky enough to be invited will get $1,000 start money. Out of that they will have to pay for their own flight, hotel, and food. So, basically, it will cost them money to go race if they don’t finish well. This is the same race that used to pay $3-5K for the very same guys. Tough times in Canada too, I guess.

Who’s racing the U.S. Open? I’ve seen the entry list, but that can hardly be set in stone. I can’t see how riders and teams are going to prepare for that race when nobody has a contract yet, unless the managers and everyone were smart enough to run their ’09 deals through October. It will be a good opportunity for someone to have a breakout ride and win some cash, and it’s always a great party for everyone else. And it will be worth it just to see Ezra Lusk on a supercross track again. See you there!

And here’s Scott Wallenberg with some business news….

Racer X Ice Hockey will return at Indy trade show in February! The Pan-AM Ice Center is still standing and ice is reserved during show time. The Canadians are already trash-talking, but American Honda’s Bill Savino and Fly Racing’s Doug Riipinen (both Minnesota boys) and New England motocrosser Pat Barton have vowed to show those Canucks that Team USA is a force to be reckoned with! (Hey, didn’t they say that last year?)

Motocross legend Damon Bradshaw is inviting you to attend a very special event called Share in the Dream on Friday, Oct 2. This is a benefit for Camp River Run, a nonprofit company that was founded to give kids with life-threatening illnesses a summer camp experience. Damon, with the help of Fly Racing and WPS in Boise, Idaho, has lined up some incredible prizes for auction both live at the event and online. Share the Dream will be held at Woodriver Cellars Winery, formally known as The Winery at Eagle Knoll, in Eagle, Idaho, from 6:00 pm – 10:00pm. Tickets can be purchased for only $25 in advance by calling Camp River Run at 208-286-1078 or emailing info@CampRiverRun.org. Tickets will be available at the door for $30. A limited number of tables are still available for sponsorship (a table of 8 is only $250).

Come enjoy the evening outdoors with Live & Silent Auctions of special prizes from not only Bradshaw, Fly Racing, and WPS but a host of other donators as well, plus food, prize raffle, wine tastings from famous Idaho wineries, and live music from my band, The Acoustaholics. For those of you who cannot attend but wish to participate, you can bid on special Bradshaw items online at www.CampriverRun.org. Camp River Run is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization. Through fundraising and donations, the camp is able to remain free to campers and their families. Call the camp at 208-286-1078.

And Happy 50th birthday today to Fly Racing - WPS President Craig Shoemaker!

Thanks Scott, better get back to rehearsals.

Here’s a Lead Law article my friend Rich Balzer spotted. Apparently, unless something happens otherwise, individuals reselling those items that have been recalled or banned are also subject to the law. It’s craziness run amuck. Great quote from the story: “I mean, a child who eats the wire binding from a notebook is going to have significantly worse health problems than lead.”

  • The power delivery looks a little unpredictable...
  • The
Austin White is selling his national bike and built this dyno chart for one unsure buyer. Looks just like Pastrana’s bike!

The IGNITION3 crew had their cameras out at the ISDE Fundraiser for Timmy Weigand and Kurt Caselli at Piru MX Track last Friday and put together a little video about it. Get the goods here.

You like poker? You going to the U.S. Open? If so, go early and play in the Fifth Annual Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em Charity Poker Tournament, promoted by the good folks at the Road 2 Recovery Foundation. The event will be held on Thursday, October 8 at 5:00 p.m. However, there are a few major changes for this year’s event that may have caused some confusion. Road 2 Recovery first planned on holding the tournament at the Hard Rock Casino and even ran an ad in Racer X promoting that. Those initial plans fell through, and the tournament has been moved to the M Resort Spa and Casino.

Another major change is the buy-in, which has been lowered from $300 to $200. And unlike years past, where the winner got a $10,000 seat into the World Series of Poker, this year’s winner will get a $10,000 seat into the 2010 Sports Legends Challenge, which has a prize purse of $10 million. If that’s not a good enough reason to enter, remember that all the money is going toward a great cause, the Road 2 Recovery Foundation. For more information or to enter, click here.

The Dirt Diggers’ John Allen and Ed Santin sent the "Carcycle" gem. It’s from a Lowe’s in McComb, Mississippi. This “carcycle” is actually registered as a car, anbd there’s no engine on the motorcycle, as the car was a front-wheel-drive Ford!

All kinds of cool vintage stuff.

Cooking with Lance Coury.

  • Motorcycling lost a great man in Mike Traynor
And if you’re anywhere near Michigan on October 11, check this event (and video) out.

Any teams out there looking for a nice semi truck all set up for moto, visit www.cernicskawasaki.com and check out the pics!

Finally, our condolences go out to the family and friends of Mike Traynor, president and co-founder of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and co-founder of the Ride for Kids motorcycle charity program, which have raised more than $50 million for research and programs to support the families of sick children. Mike passed away on September 12 in Asheville, North Carolina, after a brief illness. He was 70.

Thank you for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.