Racerhead #43

October 23, 2009 6:06pm | by:
The off-season is humming right along here in the States. Contract deals are finally starting to fall into place—sounds like Josh Hill will be James Stewart’s teammate after all, Dean Wilson was apparently tapped to get the last spot on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, and we’re hearing that Suzuki’s second 450 rider may end up being a familiar face after all, and one of the bigger satellite teams could be switching colors—which means lots more news in the next few weeks.

  • It sounds like things are really starting to move on the Langston/Hamblin project.
We’ve mentioned the possibility of Grant Langston and Sean Hamblin teaming up to form their own team in 2010, and it now appears to be “90% there” according to Hamblin himself. Sean posted this on ProRide this week:

First off thanks for your “support”!! Second, you have no idea what I have been doing as far as training goes. I’m not a cyclist but that is something I have been putting a fair amount of time into as well as being stronger. I’m far from being in “racing” shape but I don’t think there are many that are either!! I have only been on a bike a few times since my GH crash (3 times), but I do feel good to be back riding again and its awesome to be back at the track. As far as the ride thing goes, yes GL and I are working on a new deal with the 2 of us. Its not done, just like 90%of the other teams out there. Its not known who we will be with as far as OEM’s go but we are getting a little closer. Thanks to the real fans and supporters out there. GL and I will be back at A1 and look forward to seeing most of you there.

Imagine if this comes together, and then they find room for Ben Townley in time for the 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship…. That would be one of the most formidable lineups of all!

Jimmy Button hooked us up with this Michael Hall update:

Michael went to Italy a couple of weeks back to ride and test for the Husqvarna factory team after trying out the bike here in the U.S. first. He is going to be racing the European SX Championship, which started last weekend in France and concludes the first week of December, so he is there for a couple of months. Unfortunately, Michael had a good get-off the first day of testing and injured his shoulder, which at the time he did not think was too major. He went on to race in France last weekend and was having a hard time riding the bike due to the shoulder hurting. When Michael returned back to Italy and had another check of it they found that he had cracked his humerus near the shoulder. So, Michael is going to be sidelined for a few weeks and then back for the Milan race the middle of November. Michael really likes the bike and the team and is really enjoying it over there right now.

  • Michael Hall is riding for Husqvarna but recently hit the deck.
Also, I want to clear a thing or two up: There has been some internet chatter about the bike breaking and causing Michael to crash which I can confirm did NOT happen. Michael crashed on his own.

Okay, since I have been working on some magazine deadlines, I don’t have much else to add right here, so let me turn it over to Jason Weigandt first:

David Bailey just keeps adding to his hero status. Two years ago, DB was just pulling out of a vicious battle for his health, to the point where he had just basically worn himself into the ground. He had lost weight, lost hope, and nearly lost everything else. But he got better and decided to go all the way back to compete in the Ironman Triathlon again. This is an impossible task for most people, but it’s even crazier when you’re in a chair and just two years removed from being all the way down at rock bottom, physically.

And of course David didn’t just participate, he competed, battling with another fellow former motocrosser, Jason Fowler, for the win (and note there are no age classes in Bailey and Fowler’s division--David is 49 and was going for the gold; Jason, who raced the 1989 Kawasaki Race of Champions at the World Mini GP, is probably in his mid-thirties). DB led for quite a while and thought he had it, but, as he explained to me, he “picked a bad line” in the swim and got stuck behind some slower swimmers. He lost some time there, and Fowler was able to get the better of him and win it. So congrats to Fowler on his first Ironman win, and congrats to Bailey for taking second. And yes, Bailey, swimming with only his arms, was being held up by slower swimmers in front of him. “Yeah, they were doing their frog kicks and all,” joked DB.

  • The Boise Inter-Am returns for year #3. More info below.
David says this will definitely be his last Ironman. He just wanted to prove to himself that he cold make it all the way back. “I paused for a second at the finish, just to take a snapshot for myself,” he said.

What’s cool is that the event was going on during Saturday’s racing at the U.S. Open, so people were following his progress on their phones and laptops during the race and getting into it since he was leading for so long. People were pumped for Fowler, too, who was once one of the most promising young riders in New England. All in all, it’s a feel-good story, although when I talked to David a few days after the event, he was definitely not feeling too well. He expects it to take about a month to recover physically from the event. Hey, you earned your rest, buddy.

Speaking of Ironman, the final round of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series takes place this weekend, and it’s dubbed the Klotz Ironman GNCC. This is the biggest race of the year as far as spectators go--the locals are absolutely crazy about this event in Crawfordsville, Indiana. It will be fun, and it will finally settle the battle for the ’09 GNCC title, currently waged between GEICO/JG Racing Monster Kawasaki’s Paul Whibley and FMF/Makita Suzuki’s Josh Strang. Whibley has a big points lead and basically needs to just finish to lock up his first GNCC title. Strang will have to win and hope for a miracle. But this is a three-hour race through the woods, so you never know what will happen. Come on out to watch the bikes on Sunday or the ATVs on Saturday, or follow the live timing and scoring at www.gnccracing.com.

  • Whibley and Strang have been going at it all year long.
And here’s a tip of the visor to the U.S. ISDE Team, which had to endure lots of nagging injuries and bad luck en route to a fifth-overall finish in the World Team Trophy division in Portugal. The team took a big hit right off the bat when Ricky Dietrich ran into mechanical troubles on Day 1 and was knocked out of the event, and it seemed like everyone else had to fight through pain, including Damon Huffman, Timmy Weigand, and Destry Abbott. Nathan Kanney rode solid, and Kurt Caselli led the team overall on the way to their top-five. The U.S. Junior Trophy team took third in that division, and the Women’s Cup team had a rough time of it and finished off the podium. They won the inaugural Women’s Cup back in ’07 so no doubt they will be looking for revenge next year in Mexico.

And now Steve Cox has some stuff on James Stewart’s new teammate:

Some of you are going to scoff at this, but I swear it’s true: Josh Hill is a genuine, caring, nice guy. He’s truly a sweet kid. But he’s gone through some tough times over the last year and a half or so, ever since he won in Minneapolis in 2008. Remember that? Yeah, he’s 20 years old, and he won a 450cc supercross race in 2008. That brings up the other point: Besides all of the tough times, Hill has a massive upside--he’s a proven race winner. Think about the list of guys who haven’t won a 450cc supercross race in their entire careers: Andrew Short, Ivan Tedesco, Mike Alessi, Timmy Ferry, Michael Byrne, Travis Preston.... So I was pumped when I heard that the L&M Yamaha team picked up Hill for 2010 to race alongside James Stewart.

  • Josh Hill is joining the L&M squad.
“My personal opinion on Josh Hill, even before we talked about the possibility of him coming to the team to race, is that he’s just a young kid,” said L&M Racing team co-owner and manager Larry Brooks. “He is just young and dumb, and you know how it goes. He had gotten a little bit of freedom from his parents, and he did like any other teenager would’ve done--he went and had a good time and didn’t really realize how good he had it. He might’ve made some mistakes over those couple of years and put himself in a situation where people were talking bad about him. I don’t think all the rumors were actually true, but because of the company he was keeping and the situations he was putting himself into, it made him vulnerable to people saying whatever they wanted about him.”

But this is where the experience of a Larry Brooks comes into play. As someone who has been there as a racer and has seen the inner workings and behind-the-scenes stuff as a manager for over a decade, Brooks sat down with Hill and hashed it out with him.

“I know a lot about the riders just from being in the position I’m in, and I knew that Josh Hill wasn’t this bastard child that people were trying to make him out to be,” Brooks said. “He got to a point where he needed a ride for 2010, and I had a long talk with him, and I realized that I was pretty spot-on with what I thought and knew from the past few years, and I think he’s grown up and realized that he’s an adult now and he needs to act like one and take responsibility for the good and the bad. At the end of the conversation, I felt pretty secure in the decision of hiring him for 2010.”

Sometimes you can have all the motocross knowledge you want, but it comes down to how well you understand people.

  • Springtime Motocross Park opens near Billings, Montana this weekend
“Hey, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life,” Brooks said. “I don’t think I’m perfect by any means, and that’s not even just from the racer side, but more from just growing up. Anyone who is over 25 or 30, they can look back and see that they were an idiot when they were 18, 19, 20, 21…. This guy’s 20 years old! He just moved on from being a teenager, and look at what he’s already done. He just got a little freedom and moved a bit away from Mom and Dad, and hey, it’s just like going to college. People go a little bit nuts there, but then they realize, ‘Holy crap, I’ve got to graduate!’ People just need to realize that these guys are kids. They’re not adults. They’re trying to find their way in life, and it doesn’t happen easy. Life isn’t easy.”

The truth is that everyone has messed up, especially around that age, and the only difference is that when we did it, we weren’t public figures who could be talked about on message boards. No one knew but our parents (and maybe not even them).

And for the team, this is really kind of a win-win situation. Hill was probably the only proven 450 supercross winner on the auction block this late in the off-season (you know, besides Chad Reed, and for some reason I don’t think Reedy was really an option for L&M this time around), and if he goes out and stinks it up, then that’s kind of what a lot of people expect anyway. It wouldn’t be good, but it wouldn’t be that bad for the team. But if he goes out and puts it on the box all the time, which he’s perfectly capable of doing, the L&M team is going to look like gold.

“Everyone passed him by,” Brooks said. “Nobody took a second to realize that he’s a good kid who made some bad decisions. They put him out to pasture–-at 20 years old! And honestly, I almost did too, just because of the times and the economy. This next move that I made had to be very well thought-out. And until I talked to Josh--and I had him in here four times--telling him all the things I’d heard about him, and I’m sure it hurt him as a person, I wasn’t completely sure. But once I was able to talk to the guy, I saw something better.

  • It was rumored for a while, and then Reed busted out the Kawi in Australia.
“It’s funny because perception can be reality, so even if he didn’t do all of those things, he may as well have,” Brooks continued. “It happens in high school and college, where if everyone says some girl is a slut, she’s a slut. They don’t know that girl, but they all say it just to be big guys. Or they say that guy’s a partier, then he’s a partier. If they say that guy’s a devil worshipper, then that’s that. It just goes like that sometimes. It goes that way all the way back to when they were burning witches.”

So count on seeing Josh Hill’s bike out there alongside Stewart’s this upcoming season. And, if rumors sometimes are true, maybe a third rider as well.

And congrats to the newlyweds: Brett Metcalfe and Sheena Schaefer tied the knot a week ago in Maui in front of family and friends after dating for about half a decade. Afterward, they headed out to Australia to hang out with Brett’s side for a while. Congratulations again, Mr. and Mrs. Metcalfe. My prediction? Bun in the oven by February….

Time for Ping:

If I lived just a little farther north, I would be all over this like stink on a monkey: It’s a grand prix race just outside of Lake Tahoe that runs all across a ski area and some of the most beautiful scenery in California. It is a fundraiser event for the ski team up there. Check out the news post here, and if you want to see the track, check out this YouTube clip.

  • Race the Elevation Grand Prix Sunday at the Auburn Ski Club
If you do live farther south, check out the AMA Flat Track finals going on at Pomona this weekend. These events are really cool, and if you’ve never been to one, you should do yourself a favor and check it out. These guys will blow your collective minds. Here’s some of the PR:

On Saturday, October 24th, the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship returns to the super fast 5/8-mile track at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., for the first time in a decade. The AMA Pro motorcycle races will be co-sanctioned with Gene Romero’s West Coast Flat Track Series (WCFTS) and will be run under current AMA Pro Flat Track rules and regulations.

Now is your chance to welcome the AMA Pro Grand National Championship back to California and join seven-time Grand National Champion Chris Carr, three-time Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth, current Grand National Championship points leader Jared Mees and over 150 riders from across the country for the last race of the 2009 season.

The races are part of the third annual California Bike Week and 26th Annual Love Ride, which attracts over 20,000 motorcyclists from across the country. The Fairplex will have plenty to do for three big days with motorcycle racing, demo rides, concerts, a vendor village and stunt shows. The event is set for October 22 – 24, with racing beginning at 6:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, October 24th.

Our man in Idaho, Scott Wallenberg, weighs in:

The 3rd Annual Racer X Boise Inter-Am Vintage Motocross returns March 27-28, 2010. DeCal Works returns as a presenter and designed this cool sticker for the event. The race will be held at the famous OMC track that hosted a real Inter-Am back in 1972. (Check out the scenic view!) In addition to DeCal Works, Boyesen Engineering and Scott USA have signed up as sponsors. If you wish to get involved e-mail: scottw@racerxonline.com.

  • Mike Bell sent these great old-school shots today.
As a bonus, the first 100 entrants will receive a free one-year digital subscription to Racer X. Pick up an official entry form here.

Rumor has it that former factory motocross stars Mike Bell and Ronnie Lechien are marking this event on their calendars!

Speaking of Mike Bell, he sent us these awesome old-school shots from his personal collection. Here are a few shots from the local SoCal MX scene in ’74-’75 era:

1. Irwindale 1974 #2A/Mike Bell, #76 Jeff Jennings, #6 Tim Lunde & #60 Brian

2. LA Coliseum 1974 #25/Mike Bell at 1975 HS MX Finals

3. Saddleback 1975 Wheelie/Gary Denton, #1/Mike Bell, Railing outside/Dave Eropkin & #H4/Danny LaPorte (Franks Honda) –

4. Saddleback 1976 #6/Mike Bell (Franks Honda)


Twenty privateer pros are all staying at Honolulu Hills Raceway in Taft, California, preparing for the 2010 supercross season while fighting for a spot on the Warthog team. Chris O’Neal has been documenting the whole thing on YouTube.

Check out this YouTube motocross gem Eric Johnson spotted:

Jean-Michel Bayle at the Chesterfield Masters of Motocross Series.

We got this from reader Derek Egbert:

I started a blog a little while ago and just wrote an article summarizing some of the involvement that Red Bull has had in the sport of motocross. The article is more of a commentary but I thought it might be of interest to some Racer X readers. The title of my blog is Action Sports Review and you are welcome to forward the link as you please. Thanks!

  • TP and The Wheelie Wizard at Motoxtremes
These pictures are from the twelfth annual open house at Motoxtremes in Harrison, Indiana. Travis Pastrana signed autographs for six and a half hours and then still had time for an impromptu wheelie session. Travis is the man!

We ran this before, but it merits another look—possibly the best mountain bike video ever.

Here is a behind-the-scenes ISDE car chase, with Team Green Kawasaki’s Jason Shmegal.

Want to see the world’s fastest tennis ball? How about the track that James Stewart will be racing on in Genoa, Italy, next month? “Rilyemx” from the VitalMX.com message board spotted this very cool 3-D video of the track.

Stewart will be joined on the gate there by Josh Grant; he will be joined by Ezra Lusk on the gate in Bercy (and possible Josh there too).

Finally, the good folks are Gaerne have donated a set of their top of the line SG-12 boots to our weekly TGI Freeday contest. These puppies run just a hair under $570, and one lucky reader will snag a pair for free next Friday. By the way, we've changed our policy regarding this contest, and you no longer need to re-enter every week. If you've entered before and you receive our newsletter, you'll automatically be entered for every giveaway. If you haven't signed up yet, click here to subscribe to our e-newsletter and enter TGI Freeday.

That’s it--enjoy your weekend. Thanks for reading Racerhead! See you at the races.