Welcome to Racerhead, and Happy Halloween to everyone! Be careful wherever you’re driving this week, because if you’re in a neighborhood at dusk, you might not see all the little goblins and ghosts and Power Rangers and Pokemons running around collecting candy. And if you’re in downtown Morgantown, WV, home of West Virginia University, you will definitely see hundreds of coeds doing their best naughty-nurse-meets-naughty-cop-meets-Victoria’s Secret models going up and down High Street collecting stares. Seriously, it’s quite the show.
It’s a big racing weekend abroad, as the Paris-Bercy Supercross is going off over in France, starring James Stewart, the AMA Supercross Champion. From what it says on the website, Stewart will be chased after by Davi Millsaps, last year’s Bercy runner-up Justin Brayton(I believe he is making his Yamaha debut), and Tommy Hahn, whose Canidae Motosport.com team is moving over to Suzukis.
The race will also serve as a farewell salute to David Vuillemin, the all-time King Of Bercy who is retiring after a long and successful racing career. DV12 is one of my favorite people in pro motocross, and I actually wrote my last “Reason for Being” column about him and the career he’s enjoyed, the good and the bad, and how much he will be missed. If you haven’t read the December ’09 issue of Racer X Illustrated, please check it out:
Also, check out the new cover of Moto Verte magazine, featuring a bitchin’ shot of James from the X Games whip contest, courtesy of my friend Marco Campelli. And we are going to try to grab that feature on DV12 and translate for a salute to Le Cobra!
Steve Matthes is over at the race this weekend in France and will be doing his best to update us here at Racer X Online, as well as his Twitter feed and of course www.pulpmx.com. And to follow all the action from the official site of Bercy Supercross XXVII (that’s 27, for those of you who don’t remember your Roman numerals), just keep going here.
Before I forget, this is the last week for voting for Ricky Carmichaelas one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers in the Camping World Truck Series. Voting ends October 31, and you can vote as many times as you like every day from now until then.
Not a good sign as far as competitiveness goes were the first afternoon practice lap times from Bercy:
STEWART James 47.178
BRAYTON Justin 48.810
COISY Benjamin 48.944
MUSQUIN Marvin 49.060
Why isn’t Chad Reedthere? He’s in Australia racing his own series, plus the cost of getting Stewart to come over—likely in the quarter-million-dollars U.S. range—pretty much wipes out most of the rest of the budget for start or prize money. Millsaps, Brayton, and Hahn are probably commanding in the $20K range (my own best guesstimate).
That’s been the problem for the Bercy race every since Jeremy McGrath ascended to the top of supercross: It’s hard to pay the top guy what he wants or deserves and still have enough left to pay his main competition. And when Jeff Emig won the title in ’97, he wanted “champion’s level” money, and it just escalated from there. Now with Stewart commanding a king’s ransom for an event, it’s tough to send along guys like Reed and Villopoto and Josh Grant, as well as the reigning AMA Supercross #1.
It was also said the French promoters wanted to have Christophe Pourcelrace against Stewart for a Franco-American showdown, but Pourcel is taking the entire fall off, and his prize to change plans was sizable.
Was he or wasn’t he? That’s the question as to whether or not Ezra Lusk was going to race the Bercy Supercross in Paris this weekend. Matthes, who has been helping arrange some of the U.S. rider negotiations for the promoters over there, says Lusk broke his hand and will not be there. But then others say it was actually a contract dispute and that Ezra was never actually going….
I think the real explanation lies somewhere in the middle, and so does GuyB, high overlord of the VitalMX.com shooting gallery: “From what I understand, the negotiations with the Bercy guys were dragging on, to the point where Ezra opted not to race,” wrote Guy B. “At the same time, he also figured this would be a good time to take care of a repair on a minor injury. It was a minor procedure that took about an hour to do, and he’ll be back on the bike in 2-3 weeks. Yes, he’s still full speed ahead on his 2010 race plans. Hopefully that puts everyone’s mind at ease.”
I also spotted an announcement by young Max Anstie, the very cool kid from England who has been riding for KTM and living in the States for the past two years, that says he’s headed over to Star Racing Yamaha. Anstie wrote on www.MotocrossPlanet.com, “At the moment I’m still training on the KTM but by the time you read this I should be all set on my Star racing Yamaha busting laps with my team mates around the Supercross test track. This month I have just been perfecting some of my skills on the supercross track and have really been feeling good with motos and fitness.”
Anstie and his father have set up something Max calls The Anstie Adventure Program, which is a program where riders from Europe can come over to train and ride with them in California, on a variety of top tracks. Email Devin Mitchell at email@example.com to find out more about the program.
As expected, Yamaha Motor Corp. announced that they will forego having a factory team in 2010, choosing instead to work through satellite teams like L&M Racing, with James Stewartand Josh Hill, and presumably Joe Gibbs Racing MX Toyota/Yamaha (Josh Grantand Justin Brayton) and Star Racing (Broc Tickle, Martin Davalos, and Nico Izzi). It also appears that Broc Heplercould very well spend the entire season on the sidelines, as he’s still recovering from the concussion he suffered in practice at the Las Vegas SX back in May.
As for Grant Langston, who was sidelined throughout 2009 after suffering a knee injury after working through the vision problems he had, he has yet to finalize his plans, though he and Sean Hamblin have been working on their own team for some time.
The new AMA National Motocross/Supercross numbers are going to be out any day now, and there could be some surprises. I’m hearing that Ryan Dungeyused his career pick to grab #5, the number that has been the exclusive domain on the AMA circuit of Midwest legend Mike LaRoccofor the last decade. That means the 300 “Dungey 10” decals the One Industries guys gave us are now instant collector’s items!
If you want one of these decals, free, just send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
Dept: Ryan Dungey Stickers
122 Vista Del Rio Drive
Morgantown, WV 26508
Racer X reader Chad Sparks spotted this timely feature involving lead poisoning from … well, you just gotta read it. Maybe it’s something the AMA can use to help fight the lead law.
Another Racer X reader, Jim Cole, recently stopped by the old Carlsbad track to see what suburban sprawl had done to the once-grand Southern California raceway. “I had been there to see the USGPs from the ‘70s and early ‘80s with my dad, mom and I,” said Coles (“jmc2” on the Vital board). “They are both gone now so it was special to me to have my four-year-old son with me on this trip.”
According to Alessi Weekly, the family is preparing for their first southern motocross tour, planning to visit racing venues in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida during the next six or seven weeks. The new/old KTM rider will visit some of the major tracks down south, including Gatorback, Reddick, Dade City, Sunshine, Hilliard, Lake City, Mill Creek, Echeconnee, and Cycle Ranch. Mike will use this southern tour to prepare himself for his first international appearance in 2010, which will be around the middle of February.
We also got a Gavin Gracykupdate this week, and he’s also been playing with an orange bike: “I have been riding the new 2010 KTM provided by Fun Mart Center out of the quad-cities area. Everything is kinda up in the air right now. Kelly Smith and I have been testing and training hard on SX. Hopefully we can put a program together, unless something else opens up.”
Thanks to “Butch” on VitalMX.com for spotting this gem: It’s the 1964 Motocross des Nations, featuring Jeff Smith, Sylvain Geboers, and the Rickman brothers, from Hawkstone Park in England. Take some time to check out that site, Motorbikearchives.com, as they have a lot of cool stuff from back in the day.
Just as we were putting our January issue to bed, the new Women’s Motocross numbers came out, and it’s a return to the old 1-2-3 system of yesteryear. Ashley Fiolek will wear #1, Jessica Patterson #2, Sherri Cruse #3, and on down….
But the big news here is this change: “250cc two-stroke motorcycles will be eligible for competition in the WMX Class for the 2010 season. The class engine displacement will be 122-250cc.”
And with that, I am done for the week. Here’s Steve Matthes from Paris!
If you’ve checked out my blog, you know I’m in Bercy for the annual Bercy Supercross. As I write this, James Stewart is about 75 feet ahead of me conducting a press conference for the foreign press. At least I think it’s James. There are so many flash bulbs going off, it may be Lindsay Lohan.
Okay, I know it’s James because his buddy Anthony Paggio from Oakley is next to me and reports that that James thinks the track is a little “stop-and-go,” and that after some changes to the bike for the second practice, all is well in JS7’s world.
A little bit of a change in Stewie’s program is the Alpinestars neck brace. Paggio informed me that this is only the third time James has worn it, and that he’s still getting adjusted to it. The L&M squad shipped James’ bike over for Bercy, and it will go onto Genoa, Italy, from here for the next stop on the world tour. Stewart’s new teammate, Josh Hill, is here debuting for the team and is also on a 2010 YZ450, but his bike is decidedly less trick. Some suspension appears to be the only cool part; there are so few parts for this new bike that Hill’s racing with a stock exhaust!
Practice is now over, and James has set the quickest time with a 45:93, then it’s a Frenchman Gregory Aranda with a 47:66, then JGR’s newest rider and Bercy ‘08 sensation Justin Braytonwith a 47:89. The rest of the field is Marvin Musquin, Ben Coisy, Nick Wey on his Kawasaki, Steve Boniface, and then Hill.
The track is tacky and the whoops are huge and nasty and spread apart just enough that you can’t blitz them. This is going to be the real separating point among the riders, as the rhythm sections are both pretty basic and everyone is clearing the finish line. Upon walking the track, Jason Thomaswas just standing there wondering how he’s going to ride through the whoops. Then when he continued on down the track, he actually disappeared as he walked into the middle of them! I might have made that last part up.
As I Twittered yesterday, Ezra Lusk couldn’t make it over here, despite telling me last week that he was in and looking forward to going back. He either broke his hand, had some minor surgery done, couldn’t agree to terms, or was attempting to trick me for a Halloween treat. Too bad, but the Americans who are here are happy to be here. The promoters of the race, along with Eric Peronnard and Xavier Audouard, always treat the riders great and are happy to help out in any way.
Along with the superstars of the sport, there is a 125 SX race and an 80cc race. There are some Americans in those as well, with Jesse Masterpool qualifying in seventh in the 80s and Jacob Hayes on a sweet-looking KX125. Hayes was fourth.
Stay tuned for a blog and results after the night show. For now I’m running off to eat spaghetti bolognaise with NYK and JT.
Time for David Pingree:
The face of freestyle motocross is starting to change. Until now, most events have been competitions where riders are pitted against one another to determine an overall winner. But more and more “shows” are popping up that showcase the riders as part of a synchronized, choreographed performance rather than a competition. The latest buzz I’m hearing is a about a production from our friends at Feld Entertainment called Nuclear Cowboyz. It is a multiple-stop show that starts in Pittsburgh the first week in January and will travel all over the U.S. From what I gather, Micky Dymond is helping produce the show, which will include Nate Adams, Twitch, Mike Mason, Bilko, and about twelve other riders who make up the best FMX guys in the world. But it isn’t a competition - it’s a show. There’s going to be a storyline, dancing, fire, smoke, pretty girls, and apparently guys on dirt bikes doing big tricks. We should know more about it in a few weeks, but I think this is going to be something pretty cool.
Things are shaking down quickly now in the last of the silly season. There’s a new team out of Phoenix that is making quite a buzz. I don’t even know if the team’s name is finalized, but the owner’s name is Tim Foley. They are said to have signed Ivan Tedesco, PJ Larsen, and a couple other riders to debut the new squad. They are rumored to be on Kawasaki equipment built by Pro Circuit. Foley is apparently a big motocross fan who owns a tile company. One of the contracts his company has exclusively is Hilton Hotels. That explains the money. Hopefully, everything comes together as promised.
Dan Reardonhas signed with Moto Concepts. He was hoping to get a 450 ride at Factory Connection, but that spot went to Kevin Windhamagain. The rider who has been killing it down in Australia in the 250 class, Matt Moss, will move over and fill a seat at factory Suzuki under Roger DeCoster’s tent—the “familiar face” DC mentioned last week fell through at the last minute, and that rider was mentioned above in joining a new outfit.
Back to Moss the younger: My money says Matt will end up over at Motosport/Canidae/Rockstar Suzuki with Bill Keefe. Bill has already inked Ryan Morais and Blake Baggett, and his latest recruit is Austin Stroupe, who was originally slated to ride a factory bike but is now said to be heading over to this program. I haven’t heard anything official about the last 450 ride at Suzuki, but I’ll take a guess and say Tommy Hahn gets the job.
Tommy Searlewill indeed ride supercross this year. It was questionable for a while, but he has decided to race the West Region on a 250. He will be KTM’s only in-house rider, though Sean Borkenhagen has a support ride through Mike Sleeter and his company, Haven. Borky will be wearing WAR gear, which flies in the face of his sweeter-than-apple-pie demeanor. Every time I see him, I just want to squeeze his cheeks and give him a hug.
The next couple weeks should take care of the rest of the riders who are still without jobs.
Steve Cox’s turn.
GuyB, Simon Cudby, and myself went out to Pala Raceway yesterday to do some motocross riding. It’s a funny thing about this industry that most of us get into it because of our love for riding motorcycles, but then don’t have time to really do it anymore. But I got the itch, and GuyB and Cudby did too. It would’ve been fun, but Cudby faked some sort of calf cramp and loaded up, like, an hour after he got there.
But while we were out there, we saw PJ Larsen still wearing his Scott gear but riding what looked like a Pro Circuit KX250F with Monster stickers on it and some flo-green hubs and other parts, so that seems to confirm the rumor Pingree was talking about. We also saw Borkenhagen on a KTM, along with Sleeter, and even Vicki Golden was out there. Vicki said she doesn’t know yet what she’s doing for next year, but that she hopes to be back on a Factory Connection CRF250R like she was last year for one race before getting hurt.
We also ran into Scott “Hollywood” Sepkovic out there riding Jason Lawrence’s #338 YZ450F. He was out there with ampm’s John Brata, and according to him, Lawrence is taking his incarceration really well, considering. He’s working out as much as he can to stay in shape, and apparently, he gets along with basically all the other inmates. That seems to stem from the fact that they get Racer X, Transworld Motocross, and Cycle News at the jail, and have since before he got there, so he was well-known already. This is a good thing, because it has stopped him from having to “pick a side” among the jailhouse gangs.
There’s no official word as to when Jason will get out, but according to Sepkovic, Lawrence is finding a lot of motivation right now and wants to come out and win. Apparently, he looks at Daytona, where he finished second, as his big failure, because he thinks he should’ve won. These are all good things.
Rumors are still persisting that Suzuki will not have 2010 models shipped over for sale, or something like that, and if they’re not true, the latest development at Suzuki, where Suzuki laid off basically the entire media-relations department (a lot of good people there) doesn’t help to squash the rumor. After all, why have a media department if you don’t have new bikes to market?
But as I said before here, it’s crazy to me that they don’t sell way more bikes. They won three out of five AMA Championships this year! That just seems nuts.
And the other thing is, if they’re not going to have 2010 models, I don’t understand the racing, as I thought racing was supposed to promote your products. We still have the factory effort with Dungey, maybe Tommy Hahn, and maybe a 250F rider, but we also have the Motosport team switching to Suzuki. This may have bigger implications, as the team is owned by Bobby Hewitt, who also owns the Extreme Team Green amateur racing effort. Suzuki has cut way back on its amateur racing, so does this leave Extreme Team Green out in the cold? Does it stay Kawasaki? Does it restart Suzuki amateur racing, but on last year’s models? We don’t know for sure yet, but this year’s silly season has been crazy like that.
Jason Weigandt will take over here….
The last of the American off-road titles were wrapped up last weekend, with Paul Whibley finishing a safe fourth and locking up the ’09 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Championship. “Whibs” is a hardworking guy from New Zealand who made it his life’s goal to make this happen. After working his way through the ranks at home, then Europe’s World Enduro Championship, and then four hard years of steady improvement here in the U.S., he’s made his dream a reality. What’s interesting for Whibley is most of the previous GNCC Champions this decade had already had success elsewhere and then adapted—Shane Watts, Rodney Smith, Juha Salminen, and David Knight had been winners the world over before they decided to focus on the American woods. For Whibley, this is his moment.
The part that always blows my mind about Whibs is his robotic work ethic. In a normal year, he will race on ALL 52 WEEKENDS of the season, sometimes racing a local race on both Saturday and Sunday. As soon as he’s done with one more race in the U.S. this weekend, he’ll be flying back to New Zealand to start racing there, where it’s summer during our winter. Then in the spring he’ll be back in the States. Paul says he never gets burned out, despite his back-breaking two-a-day training regimen. If I could pick one past GNCC star to compare Whibley to, it would be five-time champion Scott Summers, who won races on grit, determination, and fitness. When age finally caught up to Summers, he actually brought Whibley over from Europe in 2006 to ride for him. Summers saw the same championship qualities in Whibley, and even though they have both since moved on to different brands and teams, the similarities are still there, including the fact that they’re both GNCC Champions. Congrats, Whibs.
Out west, another rider who has won all over the world, Mike Brown, wrapped up his first major off-road title with this year’s WORCS crown. Mike, of course, is a Tennessee boy, and at the beginning of the year he wasn’t shy about saying he would have liked to race the eastern-based GNCCs instead of the WORCS. But now Brownie’s the champ, so I guess you can’t complain too much!
It’s not motocross, but it is cool: Frank Hoppen went to the World Jet-Ski Finals at Lake Havasu and made this cool video.
If you’re looking for some rare old footage, check out this clip of Jean-Michel Bayle battling the late Donny Schmit at the 1991 Masters of Motocross race in Villars Sous Ecot, France.
Rock’s Racing Services (www.rocksracingservices.com) will be at the Vet World Friday though Sunday, offering muffler-repacking services throughout the event, plus exhibiting a range of products in a booth on Vendor Row. RRS will also have Injectioneering’s Wade Wilcox in the booth to talk about his EFI throttle body reengineering, along with Nuetech’s Tubliss and Pro Grip Tip www.nuetech.com and Bristol Core www.bristolcore.com products. For more information or to schedule a repack appointment call 310-387-1889.
For photographers, sports really does have it all. And among sports, motocross is the complete package. High-speed action, risks, rewards, and, above all, drama. This blend of passion and power equals amazing photos. Imagine the action and drama at the Olympics … with your life’s work on the line. Yes, please.
Allison Kennedy has entered to win the opportunity to experience the energy and drama of it all while covering the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games as part of The Globe and Mail’s editorial team. Vote for Allison and her amazing photos of the sport we love.
In The Moment Media is offering a new video service for Southern California riders to improve their training and technique, in which they film the rider doing motos for two hours. They put together the raw footage of each session on a DVD or online, and the rider can review the footage and see their problem areas or improvements. For more information, email matt@InTheMomentMedia.com or click here.
Lastly, congratulations to our Gaerne SG-12 boot winner Andy Thompson of Wentzville, MO. Andy has won the most valuable prize of any TGI Freeday offering so far. Next Friday we'll give away a Smith Optics goggle, glasses, and hat package to another lucky winner.
That’s it! Thanks for reading Racerhead, everyone! Happy Halloween, and see you at the races.