Racerhead #45


Welcome to Racerhead, and a chance to check off a couple of the big off-season boxes for motocross fans and enthusiasts. The Paris Supercross was last weekend, with a surprise winner, and the new/old AMA National numbers are out. Some rides are still up in the air, of course, but we’re now in official countdown mode for Anaheim 1 and the start of the 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. James Stewart was going fast in Paris, and Chad Reed is getting things sorted out Down Under, though he did lose to Daniel Reardon in the Australian Supercross Series. Racer X’s own Steve Matthes was on hand, so I will let him fill you in on the details. We also have the AMA Arenacross season kicking off over in Des Moines, and Weege has more on that.

But first, the new AMA numbers. The annual release is like a holiday for bench racers like Andy Bowyer and myself, but this year they were a little late coming out. The old semi-permanent system is still in place, so there weren’t a whole lot of surprises, though Tommy Hahn earning #10—up from #48—is pretty damn cool. It’s also interesting to see that Ryan Dungey took #5, as I hinted last week, and Team USA hero Jake Weimer is up to #12. Here’s the complete list so you can start getting your head wrapped around them.

  • Kyle Chisholm aboard a Kawasaki at the new Forest Glen track.
As you probably know, Enzo Racing’s Ross Maeda suffered a devastating crash a few weeks back and is now on the long road to recovery with a broken back. Ross is a familiar and very friendly face in the pits, respected for not only his work but for his constant smile. He needs our support now, as his life has been radically changed. You can support him by wearing one of the green bracelets, available with a small donation, or attending the big Ross Maeda Ride Day, being pulled together the first weekend in September by Enzo Racing and Transworld MX, where Ross’ younger brother Donn is the editor. The event promises to be a lot of fun, and it’s for a wonderful cause: the support of Ross and his family.

There’s finally some good news in the ongoing struggles of former Grand Prix star and AMA 125cc supercross winner Mike Healey. After being arrested for robbery and assault earlier this year, Healey has been in jail. We now understand that Mike has been sentenced to two years in the Delancey House in Los Angeles, a rehabilitation home, and five years of formal probation. Here’s hoping the best for a good guy who lost his way some time ago.

As we’ve mentioned before, there’s a new riding facility coming together down near Bradenton, Florida, called Forest Glen (or just The Glen). According to my friend Peter Shirk, who is one of the good folks behind it, the track is about a mile long, and Kyle Chisholm did a 1:45 lap time earlier this week. “Kyle also had some great suggestions in a couple areas, while really enjoying the track,” Peter wrote. “We’re getting closer to Opening Day, continually refining the track and track material—we have several inspections and sign offs from county in the next week or two, and assuming we make it through those, are hoping to Open in early December.” You’ll be able to keep track of the daily improvement on their Twitter account.

  • Ben Townley raced last weekend in New Zealand.
Our colleague in Italy Alex Boyce spotted Tony Cairoli out at Mantova, working out on his new KaTooMs.

According to our resident nearly-Italian, Road Racer X editor Chris Jonnum, what it basically says is, “Tony Cairoli already had the opportunity to try what will be his new bike in the 2010 season. There was more than one test, the 450 with the PDS system on the rear suspension, the one adapted to linkage, and the very new 350 four-stroke.” Interesting….

Meanwhile, Mike Alessi, KTM’s other new signee (though he’s on his third time around with the orangemen) has been down in Florida riding and working out, most recently at Gatorback, according to Alessi Weekly.

Rick Cotton sent across this eight-minute “Power to the Ground” video on Kawasaki’s off-road and motocross bikes for 1980, featuring snippets of Jeff Ward, Jimmy Weinert, David Bailey, Larry Wosick, and Warren Reid.

And while we’re talking old-school, you have to see this news report from 1970, sent over by Pat Schutte. Make sure you have the sound turned up.

Ben Townley made a return to active racing last weekend when the 24-year-old signed up for the Bel-Ray Cross-Country Championships back home in New Zealand. After getting a bad start, he took over the lead on Lap 2 and away he went. Townley is still without a ride in the U.S. and is biding his time, waiting to start on the circuit again come the 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. In the meantime, he could make an excellent replacement rider for anyone who might lose a rider to injury during supercross. That’s worked out well in the past for everyone from Sean Hamblin to Matt Goerke.

And here’s a very brave Halloween costume from our costume contest, as worn by a certain amateur legend from down south that goes by the name Kevin Walker.

  • Congratulations to costume contest winner Grant Egbert.
  • Bill Sevino as Jason Lawrence...
  • And finally, Mr. 30 Second Man, Kevin Walker.
On that note, congratulations to contest winner Grant Egbert, whose Hot Rod costume was picked as the winner in our Facebook poll. Grant has won a $100 gift certificate to MotocrossGiant.com

In other costume news, Bill Savino went as Jason Lawrence, but the “M” can was full of Red Bull and vodka! He asked us to give credit to our AVP for giving him the idea. Steve Cox held a party that a few of our sport’s big names showed up to, and you’ll see his photos below.

Turns out motocross is not the only sport Bridgestone is leaving; according to a report on Autosport.com, they are done with Formula 1 auto racing after the 2010 season. Here’s the story.

The week actually got even worse for Formula 1: Toyota pulled out!

Langston Racing of Lake Elsinore and West Coast Motorsports of Perris have merged to form Langston Motorsports. The two companies have moved into a larger brand-new building on the I-215 Freeway in the city of Perris, between the Ethenac and Hemet off-ramps.

“We are open for business and have completely moved out of our Elsinore building. Most off the West Coast merchandise has been moved over as well,” said Grant Langston, VP of marketing. Our signage is not up yet and our banner outside says ‘Coming soon,’ but we are open.”

Langston Motorsports carries new and used Yamaha, Suzuki, Polaris, Can Am, Sea Doo, and Kawasaki street and off-road Motorcycles, ATVs, utility vehicles, and personal watercraft, as well as a large range off aftermarket products and genuine parts.

Visit Langston Motorsports at 1622 Illinois Ave, Perris, CA, or call 951-471-8205.

  • Kevin Parks June 11, 1981 to October 31, 2009.
  • Kevin Parks was a multi-time off-road champion.
The Northwest lost Kevin Parks, a young off-road legend in the making, last weekend during the annual 24-hour team event at Starvation Ridge near Goldendale, Washington. He had won the race three times, along with three prestigious Desert 100 overall wins and top-tens at WORCS races and National Hare & Hounds. A memorial website has been set up at kevinparksmemorial.com.

There are still some fast folks out there awaiting word on who needs them and where they might fit in for 2010, including Josh Summey and Taylor Futrell. Look for a Racer X list of Riders on the Market next week.

Jeremy McGrath is not on the market, but the all-time King of Supercross is still racing for fun all over the world. Jeremy and his family are in Australia right now, and he will be competing alongside two-time AMA Supercross Champion Chad Reed next weekend. And according to JFS on VitalMX, the seven-time AMA Supercross Champion is headed to Sweden at the end of December to race with none other than Ken Roczen, a very cool and fast German kid who is destined for the AMA circuit in three years. That should be a very fun match-up to watch, as Ken is just starting, and the King has been riding for fun since the end of the 2002 season. Here’s more info on the race.

By the way, did you know Hammerhead Designs is giving away a Troy Lee Designs Jeremy McGrath replica helmet autographed by McGrath himself? It’s free to enter, all you have to do is click the link and enter RACERX09 as the contest code.

  • Enter to win an autographed Jeremy McGrath TLD helmet with promo code RACERX09
That’s it for me, here’s Jason Weigandt.

The 2010 AMA Arenacross tour kicks off in 2009, kind of, with this weekend’s prequel race in Des Moines, Iowa. Des Moines served as the actual points-paying season opener of Arenacross for years, but teams and riders were always struggling to get sponsors and equipment sorted out so early. To help accommodate, the points-paying AX tour does not actually begin until January now, and Des Moines serves as a standalone race. Some riders and teams must have been skeptical last year, because not all of the big names showed up for the prequel, but they learned their lesson, and this weekend’s event is stacked. Defending AX Champion Jeff Gibson will be there on his TUF Racing Honda, as will the fully loaded Monster Energy/Babbitt’s Kawasaki team, featuring multi-time AX Champs Chad “Quattro” Johnson and Josh Demuth, as well as Tyler Bowers, who has been racing supercross for the last few years but can really do some damage on the smaller tracks.

Gibson versus those three would be good enough, but you’ve also got veterans Broc Sellards, Kevin Johnson, and Kelly Smith on the entry list. Throw in AX specialists like Nathan Skaggs, Gray Davenport, and Teddy Maier, who all won races last year, and you’ve got a stacked deck. Robbie Reynard is going to give the series another run since the tour will now race 450s instead of 250s. And Gavin Gracyk and Alex Martin are also on the list. Heck, for some reason, Zach Osborne is entered as well, on his U-Tag Yamaha. This will be crazy!

  • Feld’s Director of SX Dave Prater’s son, Colton, rockin’ Racer X.
  • Moto Verte Freestyle special issue. Inside, 2 beautiful posters of Levi Sherwood and Todd Potter.
Last year “Quattro” Johnson was the defending AX Champion but decided not to race Des Moines, and he ended up struggling through the first few rounds of the season. No one is taking such a chance this year. It’s kind of like when Ricky Carmichael raced the Toronto and Vancouver Supercross races in December of 2004 and came out swinging in early ’05, while the riders who didn’t race in Canada struggled. The prequel doesn’t count, but it actually kind of does.

Next up is Steve Matthes.

I’m back from Paris and feeling a 100 percent, which was definitely not the case on Tuesday and Wednesday. Whenever you get back from Europe, it always takes a day or two to adjust, it’s a little harder being in the PST. Every night last weekend I was up until three or four in the morning finishing race reports, blogs, and editing pictures, and it was a drain to get up that next day at nine or ten. And on Sunday after the race we ended up going to this little bar until about four in the morning, then getting up early to fly back. By the time I got back home in my bed in Las Vegas at midnight on Monday, I was done.

For those of you who read my Day One blog, you’ll be relieved to know that somehow I managed to get a whole row of seats to myself. Both legs, at that!

The Bercy Supercross is always a good time, and it was too bad that Stewie contracted some sort of illness when we were there. He was the dominant rider there and was fun to watch. Good for Justin Brayton, though—he was clearly the second-fastest guy in the arena each and every night. JGR Yamaha signed him up for the next two years, and the way they locked him up early shows that they know what they have there in “Jammin” Justin.

  • Matthes left Bercy with a new found respect for French supercross racers.
A big thanks to Simon Cudby for editing all the behind-the-scenes footage Nick Wey and I shot this past weekend for a future Racer X Film. It’s going to be funny and sad all at the same time. Sad in the fact that grown adults can act like we did.

It’s looking more and more like Ivan Tedesco will be on this new Kawasaki-based team, called SPR Racing, that he rode for in Bercy. It will be an all-Pro Circuit green bike, and in a way, Mitch will have his long-rumored 450 team.

That SPR Team is an offshoot of the old MDK team. They will be using the old semi, and Danny Paladino will be running it with another backer. Some of you who listen to the podcast know that ex-KTM rider Travis Preston basically went off on Danny and KTM for what he felt was shoddy treatment over there under the orange tent. I’ve reached out to Danny and asked him if he wanted to respond, but he hadn’t listened to the show yet.

I received a Twitter that informed me that Grant Langston was out at the Honda track putting in motos for a tryout. The guy who sent it then sent another one saying he was told that was confidential, but too late on that. I’m not sure if it was a tryout or not, but I’ve been hearing from multiple people that GL and Hamblin’s team will be on Honda, so maybe he was just out there riding some supercross for his new team.

  • Here’s Grant Langston on a Suzuki, but only because he borrowed it to work out on while he works on his 2010 deal.
  • Here’s Trey Canard… Without his leprechaun gear!
  • What do you do if you’ve just won all three world titles and you’re on top of the world? You skydive with your plates! That’s what Eric Geboers did.
Follow me on Twitter if you want to get top-secret scoops like that at @pulpmx. Plus pictures of my dogs lying on the couch.

And check out pulpmx.com if you want, if not, no big deal.

I get a lot of mail about these podcasts. There’s a ton of guests I want to get, but I thought a cool thing to do would be to have YOU on the show. That’s right, if you’re reading this and want to be on a show to bench-race, tell me why Tim Ferry is your favorite rider, or give your opinion on anything, email me at matthes@racerxonline.com and Weege and I will pick the best ones. Put in why you think you’d be a good guest, what you want to talk about, and make it as funny as you can and maybe you’ll get on. I haven’t checked with anyone at Racer X if this is even something we can do, so hurry up before they find out about it.

Some of you may be wondering what Ferry has been up to. I saw with interest a thread on Vital about him racing in Canada next year, and I have to admit, I started that whole thing with a poll over on directmotocross.com. It’s far from happening, but there have been a couple of teams inquire about him racing the nine-round series up there. But as of now, Ferry is still looking for a ride to race the AMA series. He’s had talks with some teams, but here’s the deal with him: if he races, he wants to do it right. He has to buy insurance, get a supercross track built, hire a practice-bike guy, etc. In short, he’s got some serious overhead in order to perform on the level that he feels he can.

With the way things are going, none of these teams can offer him what he needs money-wise, so he’s just sitting it out, riding and training in Florida. Kawasaki has actually let him keep a full race bike to pound out motos on, and that’s mighty generous of Team Green. I’m not sure if he’ll be on the gate at A1 (it’s looking remote right now), in Canada, or at the opening round of the nationals, but I do think we haven’t seen the last of the big one-five on a racetrack.

On to Steve Cox.

Last night was the Oakley Factory Pilot Tour at the Oakley headquarters in Foothill Ranch, California. The company did something similar last year, but at the time the company showed off its Rolling O Lab, which goes from town to town showing off Oakley technology to the masses. It’s quite a marketing tool.

This year, however, the trucks were all on the road, but Oakley still hosted a fun event and demonstrated Oakley optic technology, but they did it in the amphitheater in the back of the lobby at the main HQ. Demonstrations included showing off Oakley optical clarity in comparison with top competitors, where the demonstrator puts a pair of glasses over a projected image of lines and numbers, the follows up to show a pair of Oakley glasses used the same way, showing how much more clarity there is in the Oakley set. Then, the next test is the laser test, which constitutes two lasers fired to a single point across the room, just like your eyes. The demonstrator then puts a pair of competitor’s glasses over the two lasers and you see the single point on the other end diverge into two separate points, which is something they say your eyes have to adjust for throughout the day. Then, the demonstrator replaces that pair with a pair of Oakleys and the laser stays in one spot, just like if there weren’t glasses in the way at all. The final test is just a video test showing shock absorption, with a steel ball shot at two pairs of glasses, and then a steel spike dropped on them. Obviously, in the videos, the Oakleys do much better there as well.

After the demonstrations, the people were let loose to an open bar, and the first 300 people who saw the demonstration were given an Oakley gift bag that included a pair of Oakley gloves, a Factory Pilot Tour T-shirt, and a pair of Oakley goggles of their choosing, many of which were custom designs not available to the public.

  • The Oakley lobby.
  • Ryan Villapoto's goggles.
  • Yesterday...
  • Today.
  • The Oakley Tank
In the lobby sat four factory bikes, including a replica of James Stewart’s 2010 Yamaha YZ450F, Ryan Villopoto’s KX450F, Ryan Dungey’s RM-Z250, and Jeff Ward’s 1987 AMA Supercross Championship-winning KX250, along with a table where T-shirts were being sold to help Enzo Suspension’s Ross Maeda.

After hanging out inside for a while, everyone was shuttled outside to check out a freestyle exhibition from Mike Mason, Drake McElroy, Tim O’Brien, and Greg Garrison, and the dew was coming down. It was slick, and it looked pretty sketchy, but there were no disasters, and Mason even pulled a pretty awesome 360 flip.

I know I’ve got a lot of habits that could be considered “bad,” and one of those is that I proofread everything naturally. You’d be amazed at the spelling and grammatical errors in every restaurant menu, DMV form, etc. It’s crazy. Well, I had one of those moments at Oakley when I walked up to a display case and saw the “Ryan Villapoto” signature goggle box. I pointed it out to GuyB from VitalMX.com, and even he didn’t catch it right away. I took a photo of the box with my iPhone and sent it over to Villopoto, and about a half hour later, I had already gotten word at the event that Oakley’s Anthony Paggio had made a phone call, so hopefully they get fixed soon. I would love a pair of Ryan Villopoto signature goggles, but I wouldn’t wear a pair of signature goggles from Ryan Villapoto. I don’t even know who that guy is.

  • Trey Canard
  • Jake Weimer as Bobby Light
  • Scariest costume winners.
  • Brent Presnell, best costume winner.
  • Villopoto, a possibly loaded weapon, Kristen, and Jeremy Hoyer.
I want to give a shout-out to my man Joe Bond, one of the guys handing out goggles at the event. I’ve known Joe since I was 11 or 12 years old. Somehow, I looked a whole lot worse than back then, but he still looks exactly the same. He’s like the Dorian Gray of the motocross industry. He has to have a painting of himself in his attic that is aging like crazy. I met Joe way back when I was racing 80s. I don’t remember if I met him when I was riding Yamahas out of Montclair Yamaha or Suzukis out of Suzuki Country Racing, but it was around then, and he was a dealer rep for Oakley and JT, among many others. I didn’t ask him what he’s doing now, but he’s obviously still involved with Oakley. It was cool to see him yesterday, although I think he’s like 75 now and a lot of people would guess him to be younger than me, which I don’t appreciate.

Check out this story on the Sports Illustrated website about Jimmie Johnson, including quite a bit about how motocross racing as a youngster developed his skills, attitude, work ethic, and ability to overcome fear through sheer determination, all of which he now uses to dominate in the world of NASCAR racing.

And finally, thanks for everyone in the industry who showed up to my first annual Halloween Bash here at the casa. We’re planning on doing this every year now, so make your plans now if you know me or would like to. We had a lot of family and friends show up on Halloween night but also got to see some pretty original costumes from some relatively famous racer types. It was a good time. Jake Weimer dressed as Bobby Light from Rob and Big, and Jarred Browne and Weimer’s buddy Donny Vawser from Idaho dressed as Teletubbies. Then they got on mic for karaoke and sang the Hokey Pokey, and if I were on mushrooms, I think I would’ve run screaming for my life down the street. It was bizarre. Trey Canard came as a leprechaun, which isn’t a big stretch, and Ryan Villopoto and his girlfriend Kristen came as a cowboy and a saloon girl. No one was brave enough to try to take Villopoto’s sidearm, because we were all pretty positive it was the real thing.

But where it gets funny is that my wife, Erica, made awards to give out: Sexiest Costume, Best Couple, Funniest, Most Original, Scariest, and Best Overall. They were voted on by the people at the party, and my wife, who dressed as Elvira (thus fulfilling a fantasy I’ve been carrying around since I was like 7) tied for “scariest,” but the tie went to the guests, and the Scariest Costume award went to the Teletubbies. So it wasn’t just me. Then RV and Kristen won for Best Couple, and my sister won for Most Original (she was poor white trash). But the rest of the awards were swept by the Canard clan, as Trey won for Funniest, the wife of his mechanic Brent Presnell won for Sexiest (she dressed as Lady Gaga), and Brent himself won the best overall costume, as he dressed as Jackie Moon from the movie Semi-Pro. See you guys next year, and hopefully for many more.

Finally, here’s David Pingree.

  • David Pingree aboard the 2010 CRF450.
Honda introduced their 2010 450 to the media this week. The aim with the new CRF450R was to refine some of the rough edges that the 2009 bike had. The fork valving has been stiffened, the ECU has been reworked for easier starting, the shock has a larger piston, and the cam has been redesigned for more tractable power. The bike won’t be available to dealers until February, and it will retail for right around $8,000. Simon Cudby and I made a video of the new machine that you can check out right here.

Other than that, this has been a terrible week. First I watched our newest rider, Christian Craig, crash and break three vertebrae in his lower back. The whole experience was one of the worst and most emotional days I’ve had in a long time. His L2 and L3 took most of the damage, particularly the L3, which was displaced and spun nearly 180 degrees. I haven’t talked to one doctor, nurse, or neurosurgeon who can believe he has feeling below his waist; it was that bad. Miraculously, Christian is doing great. His surgery lasted over twelve hours, and although the procedure was complex, it went really well. He has no loss of movement or feeling. Doctors expect him to get up and walk himself out of the hospital in the next several days. Amazing. Still, he has a long road ahead of him to recover fully, so keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

As always, let’s wrap it up with some miscellaneous notes.

Former Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki, and KTM factory rider Sebastien Tortelli will be teaching a two-day motocross camp at Pala Raceway on November 16-17. For more info, try www.champfactory.com, or you can email: steptortelli@mac.com.

Steve Matthes got this note with a funny video clip:

I’m sure in your far and wide moto experience, you’ve seen this, but in case you haven’t check it out. I could see you and the Racer X crew doing this.
Dave Grove
Winlock, WA

  • Want to buy a whole collection of Racer X magazines?
  • Designer Sergio Bravo spotted this Toyota bike at the SEMA show. Looks like a 2010 Yamaha with lots of added shiny bling.
Craigslist find of the week.

Robert Pastrana is a badass, and a Good Samaritan too.

Lastly, a note from Creative Works:

Due to the recent staff reductions in PR and the restructuring of the racing programs at American Suzuki, The Creative Works is sadly ending its longstanding relationship with Suzuki racing. Jake Klingensmith and his Creative Works crew have been pumping out posters, press kits, team photography and the like for nearly 20 years and have been handling all of the race PR for the Suzuki factory race teams for the last five. They also have been producing Suzuki's product photography, product brochures and POS materials since the mid-nineties.

The Creative Works is now wide-open to provide "factory" quality PR, photography, video and support materials at "privateer" rates. See their website, www.thecreativeworks.com, for a sample of their work and capabilities. You can contact Jake directly at jake@thecreativeworks.com or at 714-546-2088, ext 102.

I’m out in Northern California visiting some friends, staying right by Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. Man, I wish I were old enough to have been able to attend one of the old Trans-AMA races they used to have here. Anyway, thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.