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Racerhead #42

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  • Lots of guys sat out the U.S. Open this time around.
Who turned the winter on? Racerhead is coming to you from a coffee shop on the road here in West Virginia, but I’m wishing it were from somewhere with a fireplace. It’s been a busy week, and I was mostly out in Southern California, but it was cold there too. What gives?

I did not make it to the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open, as it was just a little too close to my last big trip to Italy for the Red Bull Motocross of Nations, though I did stop by Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki… Wow, that’s a lot of energy. I wasn’t at the Weston Beach Race in England either, which sounds like it just may have had the largest start-stretch pileup in the history of motorcycle racing (I hope everyone is okay over there).

I did hear that today will be a big day with possibly a decision or two made on who will be racing what in 2010, so I am going to sit back like everyone else and see.

But the most fantastic rumor of the week I heard was that Kevin Windham might end up as the second rider at L&M Racing. Now I just know Larry Brooks is going to call later, but that is what I heard out there on the mean streets of SoCal.

And I won’t miss tomorrow’s U.S. Open highlights show and preview of 2010 on CBS tomorrow, which starts at 1:30 p.m. EST. That’s just enough time to watch some SX and then head to the football game!

  • Happy birthday, Sloane Coombs!
Okay, I have a second birthday party to attend to for this little person, so I have to cut this short. Much more next week, thanks for stopping by.

Let’s turn it over to Weege here.

The Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open lost a little steam when Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey chose not to race (Reed had only ridden his new Kawasaki for two days, and Dungey was nursing a shoulder injury throughout the MXoN). Business picked back up when Ryan Villopoto decided to suit up. Kawasaki had encouraged him to sit out of the event since the last time they sent a factory rider, Tim Ferry, he ended up plowed under the MGM Grand Garden bleachers in a wild first-turn crash with Reed. But RV doesn’t want to show up at Anaheim having not raced in seven months, so he went for it.

Friday was a wash for the three-time AMA Motocross Champion since he bent his shift lever and didn’t finish, but he learned a lot on Saturday. After blitzing a fast lap and a practice start during the parade lap (when everyone else was cruising), Villopoto passed the impressive Dan Reardon early in the main and took off. Villopoto may not be ready to match James Stewart’s speed or fitness yet, but he was willing to try.

Halfway through the race, Stewart caught Villo and made the pass, and they bumped briefly as Villopoto tried to get him back. Stewart then pulled away as Villopoto was admittedly tired. “That’s what only riding two weeks gets you,” said Villopoto, who won two of the last three AMA Supercross mains over both Stewart and Reed, who were battling for the title.

  • Villopoto and Stewart banged bars a little bit, but Stewart had the race handled.
As for Stewart, he looked yet another notch more confident and polished than before. A summer layoff probably helped the nerves, as did the fact that his rival Reed wasn’t there. “When Ryan bumped me, it reminded me of that other guy for a second, and now they’re even on the same color bike,” said Stewart, reflecting no doubt on RV’s new teammate.

The next Stewart vs. Reed matchup will come not at Anaheim but in Australia, as Stewart will race the Super X event in Brisbane on December 5, after doing both the Bercy SX in France and the Genoa SX in Italy. Should be interesting.

By the way, Reed 100 percent confirmed on our Webcast that he’s Villopoto’s teammate next year (no separate truck or team) and he will be defending his outdoor crown. Awesome!

As for the Open, Davi Millsaps looked aggressive and took second overall, and Reardon rode great on both nights to take third. Millsaps came through the pack to pass the Aussie with two laps to go on Saturday, but Reardon didn’t give up and tried a last-ditch pass in the last corner. Millsaps held him off, but still, Reardon had finally shown the supercross promise we had heard about two years ago. This was also one of his first SX attempts in the states on a 450. Coincidence? Probably not. Reardon is also headed back Down Under for the Super X Series.

A lot of buzz about Ezra Lusk over the weekend, but Yogi was definitely off on Friday night. Seriously, I was watching him on Friday thinking, “He’s been practicing with some fast guys, right? Did he not realize he would be this far off?”

I talked to him Saturday morning and he said he “pretty much had arm pump all day.” On Saturday, he looked like a totally different rider—much more like the Ezra of old (as compared to an old Ezra). He was fifth fastest in qualifying (after going 20th on Friday), made a couple of textbook block passes to make the main through his heat, and even had a nice battle going with Nick Wey in the main. Sounds like old times!

  • Ezra Lusk is our 10Q subject this month. Look for the 10Q link on the right side of our homepage to ask him a question.
Friday night, Ezra looked like a guy who hadn’t gone over a starting gate in five years; Saturday night he looked like a top-five contender. The riders and fans loved it. Here’s a 5 Minutes with Ezra from earlier this week.

The one-on-one match races were new to the event. They were cool but I think everyone expected a little more bar-banging. The mechanic’s challenge was new too. Wrenches had to change a rear wheel behind the starting gate and then push their bikes to the first turn. Millsaps’ mechanic, Carlos “The Tornado” Rivera, had been practicing at the Honda track, and even when he won in a romp on Friday, Honda’s Shane Drew told us “that was still five seconds off of his personal best.”

I think Carlos pumped up himself on Saturday. Chris Blose’s mechanic, Matt Jory, took the Saturday win in a virtuoso performance.

Not sure what everyone thought of the one-on-one races or the mechanic’s challenge, but I’m all for anything new! And by the way, Feld Motorsports’ Dave Prater told us the original vision for the mechanic’s challenge was to have a pit stop, but they didn’t have room for it. Pit stops? I’m a GNCC guy. Me likes.

For a different view, here’s Steve Matthes.

Well, the U.S. Open has come and gone, and it was a mixed bag. Generally, I’ve felt that this race really delivers on its entertainment value and provides great racing. Who can forget Jake Weimer winning one night after Reedy knocked everyone down? What about Grant Langston winning it with something like 5-2 scores? RC debuting the Suzuki? Reedy same thing on the Suzuki? Jeff Emig?!! It’s always a great show, and the guys at Feld try hard to make the program exciting.

With the uncertainty of who’s riding for whom and so many things undecided in the industry, this year’s Open was certainly a victim of circumstance. Many people I spoke to were hoping to figure something out that weekend, and there are so many more questions than answers out there in the professional motorcycling world right now that it affected the event, and will likely affect more of the off-season races to come…

Saturday night’s crowd was pretty good, and the racing was, in the words of Rachel Zoe, bananas! (My wife makes me watch that show, along with Project Runway. I could just go upstairs to my 50-inch plasma and play video games or watch hockey but that wouldn’t be very good for the whole relationship thing, so I suck it up and watch her dumb shows. (She doesn’t read this column.))

Where was I? Oh yeah, the racing on Saturday night was great – so many crashes, take-outs, and unexpected charges through the pack. Sure, Stewie ran away with it both nights, but on the second night, he had to work for it a little bit when Ryan Villopoto sped off while James dealt with the very fast Dan Reardon. It was a great debut for the 2010 YZ450F, and if all the hype about that bike is correct, then we may see James really blow our wigs back this coming supercross season.

You can read my Observations column for more dirt on that race, and let me just say again, I felt sorry for Heath Voss all weekend long. I was just laughing (sorry, Heath) about that with another guy who was there and we remarked that we’ve never really seen a guy get punted so many times in a weekend. Heath did his share of that as well, but most times he was the guy getting it, not dishing it out.

Guess what: Josh Hansen doesn’t like me. I suppose he read my column from the race where I basically wondered how he got that ride when there are so many other racers out there that need something. Just because I’m putting that question down in writing doesn’t mean that I’m the bad guy; it’s just that there are lots of guys out there who have done more yet have less right now—nothing, in many cases.

Now, having said that, I hope Josh does well, and I’ll be the first guy to write when he has a good race and shows speed. There’s nothing personal with Hanny, but the spotlight’s on him again. He’s on one of the best teams, the equipment is great and, once again, it’s on him to prove me and so many others wrong.

  • Ivan Tedesco’s excellent ride at the Motocross of Nations landed a cover in Italy on Moto Sprint magazine, as shot by our friend Alex Boyce.
The mechanics’ challenge at the Open was an event that hit close to the heart, and I applaud Feld for trying some new things to make it exciting. I just wish the teams had stuck to the “spirit” of the rules and not tried to look for any possible advantage that they could get by running some sort of setup that they would never race with. Oh well, I guess that’s why these guys are in the racing world in the first place: because they’re so competitive!

So the next race on the calendar is the Bercy Supercross in Paris from October 30 through November 1. This is the longest-running supercross in Europe and is always a good time for the riders and fans alike. I was checking out some tickets, and you can still get some pretty cheap ones! If you’ve never seen 15,000 French fans drunk on warm beers, blowing airhorns and freaking out, I suggest you check it out.

Some of the American riders have yet to be determined for the race, but James Stewart is in, and some of the other names tossed in there include Nick Wey, Josh Hill, Ezra Lusk, Jason Thomas, Grant Langston, Dean Wilson, and Blake Baggett.

Speaking of Lusk, I spoke to him this morning about the race, as somehow I got roped into helping to reach out to guys to gently prod them into making a decision. I mean, the race is only two weeks away! Yogi seemed open to the idea and maybe the comeback will continue. No word on an official comeback to supercross but Ezra did tell me after the Open that he would know something in a couple of weeks.

Check out pulpmx.com once you’re done reading everything here on Racer X. Have a good day, I’m out.

Time for Ping:

SkullCandy is working on a new Arenacross series in the Salt Lake City area. If you live anywhere near there and you usually park your bike for the winter months, you might want to hold off for a while.

  • The Beast from the east gets some tips from Bret Peterson before going to the line.
  • Damon aboard a nitro-fueled bike. They are fanning him to keep the fumes from his face.
Last weekend I was in Mettet, Belgium, for what has become one of the biggest yearly motorcycle races in Europe. It is called the Proximus Superbikers, and it very closely resembles the original Superbikers event that Gavin Trippe promoted here decades ago at Carlsbad Raceway. It is a multifaceted event that brings in the best Supermoto riders in the world as well as some of the biggest stars of motocross and road racing in Europe.

Stefan Everts, Mickael Pichon, Josh Coppins, and Frederic Bolley were among the Euro motocross royalty in attendance. I went over with Jeff Ward, Micky Dymond, Mark Burkhart, and several other American riders. The event was amazing and you’ll be able to read about it in a feature story I’m writing for an upcoming issue of Racer X Illustrated.
Damon Bradshaw is back on a bike! No, he isn’t racing motocross either. Damon joined the Peterson family at a hillclimb event in Idaho recently. I didn’t hear how he did but I’ll bet he’s a fan of that sport now.

Today could be a pivotal day in the silly season. Mitch Payton has been holding things up by not selecting his last rider. He currently has Tyla, Weimer, and Pourcel finished, which leaves room for one more guy (Hansen is an additional rider who will be on a 450). He’s been talking to four different riders, and as of last night, he was still undecided about who he would select. The problem is that none of those four riders will do anything else until they know that they don’t have a ride with Mitch. Payton assured me that he would have his answer by this afternoon. Look for a breaking news piece as we learn more.

And then look for the rest of the riders to find a home quickly so they don’t get left without a ride.

And if you get really, really bored this weekend, listen to the anniversary podcast Mr. Matthes did with me earlier in the week--it’ll probably get us both in trouble! Though probably not the vitriol being hurled DC’s way after his DMXS discussion earlier in this week.

Misc

  • Matt Lofthouse spent two weeks on this Trey Canard piece.
Matt Lofthouse sent in a picture of his most recent work:

Using Steve Giberson’s photo of Canard from High Point, Mount Morris, I completed the drawing of the 2008 East Coast Lites Supercross Champion on the 16th of August 2009 after working on it for 2 weeks, with an estimated time of around 25 hours spent all together from start to finish.

I contacted Trey who kindly signed it and was really impressed with the amount of detail involved, and said it will be something he will have framed up forever.

Good news if you have DirectTV. Racer X reader Manny Cordero sent us an email saying: “I just found out channel Altitude #681 on DirecTV will be broadcasting the 2009 Motocross of Nations on October 21 at 1:00 am ET. Set your DVRs for some great racing.”

More good news, this coming from Tom Chandler:

I was unfortunate enough to have two of my personal bikes stolen as well as bikes belonging to other individuals. Due to Racer X and other sites helping to get the word out, all of the bikes were recovered. Many thanks to the entire moto community for the help. I received calls from all across the country regarding the Racer X posting. Again, thank you. It never ceases to amaze me how tight our sport is in regards to us watching out for each other. Thanks to the Richland City Police Department for their work that resulted in putting some scumbags in jail.

If you haven’t already, make sure you check out www.eastmx.com, which is owned and maintained by our friend Jace Wade. Jace has been shooting photos and video in East Coast motocross circles for years, and he’s as die-hard as it gets. Swing on over and check out his videos—he’s got some really cool stuff.

Want to check out what a Monster Energy store could look like in the future?

Or how about an Xtreme Convenience Store?

Check this page out. It’s is full of digital version of the So. California Motocross Newspaper editions from 1974 and ’75.

Reader Terry Cusack sent over this crazy YouTube clip.

  • Suddenly a collectors item! Get your free Chad Reed sticker before they're gone.
  • Roberto Castro beat Antonio Balbi this weekend at a Brazilian supercross.
Want an instant collector’s item? We have a stack of Chad Reed #22 Suzuki number-plate stickers that we’re mailing out. To claim yours just send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Racer X Illustrated

Attn: Free Stickers

122 Vista Del Rio Dr.

Morgantown, WV 26508

Chuck Akin sent us some info and photos from the Brazilian Supercross this past weekend, where Roberto Castro topped Antonio Balbi for the win. “A poor track suited more for 85s than 450s, on a borrowed bike, and Balbi’s error was forced as Roberto was right on him, coming hard. But Brazilians love Brazilians. It was a real nice payday for Latin America, though.”

We got this update from Mark Turner:

Just to let you know it has been decided that there will be no re-running of the Weston Beach race. From what I can gather, the medical services were unable to cover the re-running of the event at such short notice. One of the riders still remains in the hospital in critical condition, and it goes without saying that we all wish him a speedy recovery. I have also enclosed one of my shots of the start just to show how bad the conditions were.

  • The Weston Beach race has been postponed indefinitely.
And finally, there is this sad note we received:

One of our MX brothers (along with seven others) lost his life in Afghanistan on October 3 in an attack on his base in Nuristan province. Stephan Mace was the son of Potomac Vintage Riders member and AHRMA racer Larry Mace. His father posted the following about his death.

“Thanks to everyone for prayers and thoughts regarding Stephan’s loss of life in Afghanistan, October 3rd. Only a few of you knew him well, but he lived life to the fullest in everything he did. He started racing at the age of seven, along with Chris at the age of four. After finishing seventh at the Mini O’s in Florida after only riding a year and a half against the

likes of Millsaps, Lawrence, Hackley, Renner and Wages, he decided to pursue other sports. He loved to fish and hunt and even went on three safaris to South Africa. He will be buried at Arlington national cemetery on October 19 at 10:00 a.m. We have asked for any donations go towards the Healing Waters @ www.projecthealingwaters.org.”


Godspeed, Stephan.

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