Racerhead #46

November 13, 2009 6:20pm | by:
Welcome to the Friday the Thirteenth edition of Racerhead. There was lots of news this week, some good, some bad, and a few terribly unfortunate events. Why is Friday the Thirteenth considered so unlucky? Let me go into my history-geek mode….

Back in the Dark Ages—1307 to be exact—the Templar Knights order was rounded up and arrested on October 13, which was a Friday, by order of the church. The Knights, who had protected pilgrims throughout The Crusades, were accused of heresy by the church (though its more likely that that it was a power struggle gone bad) and many were tortured into confession and burned at the stake as heretics. That’s a bad day whether it was the 13th or the 14th.

Okay, anyone who read The Da Vinci Code probably knows what I just wrote, but that’s the origins of why it’s supposed to be unlucky, and it often is, though my daughter Sloane was born on a Friday the Thirteenth, and she’s turned out pretty good … so far.

Hopefully, it was a good day for someone out there looking for a job racing motocross. Yesterday we posted some Bench Racing Ammo listing all the free agents still out there, who’s riding for who, etc., but the list has changed a bit since we first posted it. Some changes include the official name and roster for the Butler Brothers squad. Check it out here.

One unsigned rider to add to the list is Johnny Dunham Jr. He’s a former almost state champ from down south, and he’s got a knack for self-promotion.

To learn about this badass moto man from Louisiainia, or however he spells it, check out johnnyhatesreflex.com.

  • Here it is, the redesigned January 2010 issue of Racer X.
If you subscribe to Racer X Illustrated, then the new January 2010 issue is landing in your mailbox this week. It’s a whole new look for Racer X, created by David Langran and featuring some fantastic articles - everything from behind the scenes with Team USA to a motocross race in Angola to an epic profile on the career of Ricky “Too Hip” Johnson. I really think you’re going to like what we’ve done with what was already the best magazine in motocross!

Speaking of the redesign issue, you can read it right now if you subscribe digitally. Get a load of this limited-time offer: $4.98 gets you twelve issues of Racer X in digital format. That's 42 cents an issue! The real kicker is what we'll be doing with digital editions in 2010 and beyond. Every issue will include exclusive video embedded right into the digital issue. The current issue features a Simon Cudby film on Andrew Short, but we're going to take a different approach starting in February. We'll be including at least two or three different videos designed to complement the magazine features they're run with. The possibilities are endless, and we think it's going to take our digital editions to a new level. Subscribe now for only $4.98.

November 11 was the one-year anniversary of what I consider one of the best marketing tools and productions I’ve ever seen, and that’s Ken Block’s remarkable Gymkhana practice video. If you haven’t seen it yet, that means you aren’t one of the 24 million coolest people on the planet! Anyway, to celebrate, DC Shoes has uploaded two new video clips that feature with lots of the background info about the original video, which was filmed at the old El Toro airbase in Southern California.

Also, 0-60 Magazine has an article up about the top six video emulations of KB’s original video, complete with reviews and rankings. Click through the pages 2-7 from the article’s home page. (Oh, and the Russian chick doing “Hot For Words” on Ghymkhana is pretty damned funny.)

In the ongoing discussion about safety in motocross—and specifically concussions—there’s a similar theme in professional football, where research is starting to show the horrific effects that multiple small hits can have on the brain. The Wall Street Journal ran this article on Wednesday, asking if it’s time to retire the football helmet.

  • Andrew Silverstein on the new KLX110L
Simon Cudby had a busy week editing videos for Racer X Films. First he went to the Kawasaki 2010 KLX 110 introduction at the Fox minibike track in Irvine, California, to film a young Andrew Silverstein and an older Jeff Emig ripping around. Then, a considerably more difficult editing task lay ahead when Nick Wey asked Simon to make a Racer X Film out of his personal Bercy SX footage.

After taking a few Dramamine for motion sickness, the Blair Witch Project of MX videos came together nicely. Finally, Nico Izzi was out this week at the Yamaha track putting in testing laps, so Cudby went out the and made yet another great film.

Here is another great Bercy SX video from Cudby’s Facebook buddy Bastien Roger from France. Music is by none other than Birdy nam nam….

Xavier Audouard sent me a link to a fantastic site that’s chock full of the motocross history of Belgium. My French has gotten kind of weak since college, but I enjoyed the photos as well as the parts I could understand! Take some time this weekend to see how the old school used to be in Europe!

That’s it for me. Here’s Jason Weigandt with an update on Chad Reed.

I had the chance to talk to Chad Reed this week while working on a story for our next issue. As usual, Chad was up front and honest about a lot of things, including the fact that, since he wrapped up the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship in August, he hasn’t been doing that much riding. But don’t call Chad lazy. This is a calculated move to make sure he’s fresh for the long racing season that begins in January.

Last year, Chad said there was no way he could race the summer motocross tour because, combined with AMA Supercross here and the Australian Super-X Series back home, he would be in race mode for fifteen straight months, which would be “career suicide.” So he’s taking steps to avoid burn out—although he made it clear he rode as hard and as long as he could at the Motocross of Nations.

  • Reed has had very mixed results so far on his Kawasaki.
How’s that new Kawasaki working? His new team took a page out of Suzuki’s book and sent Chad’s mechanic, Dana Wiggins, over to Australia with him, and a few other technicians have made trips. But for the most part, the team will rely on Ryan Villopoto for testing, because by the time Chad comes back to the U.S in December, a lot of the works parts have to be made.

“I feel like the Suzuki and the Kawasaki don’t have that close of a similarity,” says Reed of his last bike and his new one. “The Kawasaki reminds me a little of the Yamaha, the suspension components are the same, and maybe that’s it. And the biggest complaint I had at Suzuki was suspension-related, and maybe that was Showa. Not that the bike was bad, but all of us, we’re always looking for more. You’ll never have a perfect bike. But now I’m back on KYBs, and I feel comfortable.”

Factory Kawasaki, Suzuki, and L&M Yamaha are all switching tire brands this year from Bridgestone to Dunlop, as Bridgestone has pulled factory support in light of the current economic situation. Reed says the tire switch is a big deal, and not for the reasons you would think.

“The rear tire is like a second rear shock for us, and the Dunlops are just different,” said Reed. “To be fair to everyone, I’ve had one day of testing on Dunlops in California because of the timing of me coming to Australia. Come Anaheim, we should have it down.”

Reed will race the final round of the Super-X Series on December 5—against James Stewart—and then come back to the U.S. for a final month of testing. Reed has only won two of four rounds in his Australasian Super X Series, and Dan Reardon leads the points. But Chad is happy with his new bike and confident he’s on the right program—this week, he’s ramping his riding program back up to start a two-month blitz to A1. Read into his recent results, his training program, and his bike and tire switch all you want, but at this point, you’ve got to give Chad the benefit of the doubt and assume he’ll be ready in January.

And if you’re going to not win a race, last weekend’s upset in Canberra was one you can live with. When Reed crashed in the first turn of the final race, it opened the door for a dramatic win for Jay Marmont. Marmont had just lost his 7-month-old daughter Lila two days before the race, and emotions were at an all-time high when he scored a dramatic win. There was an outpouring of support for Marmont during the event, and even more after he won.

  • Jay Marmont won in Tasmania after losing his infant daughter.
“If you’re going to lose one, I’ll take that,” said Reed.

Said Marmont after the win: “It’s been a really tough week and I was going to stay at home in grief and watch the race on TV, but the overwhelming support from everyone gave me the strength to come out and race. Everyone here is my second family and I just can’t thank them enough.”

Now from the drama to the comedy. The GNCC Racing crew sent out a press release this week regarding two GNCCers, Josh Strang and Kailub Russell, heading to Japan for the final round of the JNCC Series. But the race facility has moved, from the Sugo motocross circuit to a new place called … wait for it … Cheese Nuts Park! Yes, Cheese Nuts Park. Japan gets pretty silly on their translations, and that’s the name of the track Strang, Russell, and Japan’s best cross-country racers will compete on. We’ve already put in an order for a few souvenir T-shirts.

Um, scratch that Stewart challenge—he just announced that he will not be going to Australia after all, nor Italy for the Genoa Supercross. Here’s the full press release.

With more from Australia, we’ve got a guest contributor this week: Jason Macalpine of MXDaily.com.au.

Us Aussies are right smack-bam in the middle of our second Super X season, and what a season it has been so far. For those of you who have read my 5 Minutes with Dan Reardon following the last round, you would know that we are four rounds into the series and heavy favorite (you guys might have heard of him) Chad Reed does not have the points lead. Woodstock Honda rider Dan Reardon is the man in the driver’s seat of the championship.

  • Dan Reardon holds a 7 point lead in Australia with just a few rounds to go.
Reed is seven points down on Reardon in third, and MX Champ Jay Marmont is in second by one point! Speaking of Jay, my condolences to him, his wife Abby, and their families. After a seven-month battle with a rare condition, their beautiful Lila Marmont passed away last Tuesday before the Canberra event. Jay was not going to race the Canberra round but somehow gathered up the courage to get on the plane to Canberra and race.

In a later interview, Jay said he did it for all the people who have supported him this year through the hard times, and he was rewarded with one of sport’s true fairytale moments. From the first heat race, it was clear that Jay was riding for Lila, and the massive crowd, along with the TV audience that watched the event live, were in awe of what he was doing.

Jay went on to holeshot every one of the three sprint races and win the event after Chad fell. The win not only showed the true champion and amazing athlete that Jay is, but also the brotherhood and respect that exists in our sport. As soon as Jay had come to a stop, team managers and officials rushed over to congratulate a very special athlete on an awe-inspiring win.

Each rider wore a special sticker for Lila on their bikes or helmets, and all paid their respects in their on-air interviews. Ryan’s younger brother Jay was also able to put his bike on the podium for second overall in the Lites class.

Matt Moss was the man once again taking two out of three race wins, but it was Suzuki development rider Lawson Bopping who finally broke Mossy’s streak. Lawson has been riding really well this year and is young and will only get better. He will be a force in 2010 with Mossy gone.

Technically, though, Matt is still undefeated, and he has locked in his deal for next year, signing with Rockstar/Makita Suzuki on an Open bike. It is going to be great to see Matt finally over in the States, as he is a great guy with a fun personality who should do well with his work ethic and a solid team behind him.

  • Kyle Cunningham has been riding a Yamaha in Australia.
Everyone thought American Kyle Cunningham was going to be the man to step up and beat Mossy, but so far, his starts have let him down. We found out in round one that he had the speed, but he has not been able to start up the front with Matt to really challenge since the first round, where he battled hard with the current champ. To Kyle’s credit, he is on a new bike, team, and in a different country, so he is doing pretty well if you ask me.

Now Steve Cox.

This starts on a bit of a somber note: A couple weeks ago, I sold my 2008 Honda CRF450R to a young man from Camp Pendleton. He and a couple of his friends came to my house and picked it up. One of those friends who came along that night was Sergeant David Cho. He’s a huge motocross fan, and he had recently bought a used bike from the Star Racing team and was really into it.

Almost two weeks to the day later, on Wednesday – Veteran’s Day – I went out to Pala Raceway to ride a bit and hang out with this group of Marines. David was out there having a good time until he took a trip over the bars. He was knocked out for quite some time, and when he came to, he couldn’t feel his legs. He has a fractured T5 vertebrae.

While the Marines are covering his direct medical costs, there are a lot of ancillary costs that he and his family are going to incur related to the injury, and for the time being, the Marines in his unit have given the following instructions for donation to help out one of our veterans who was so badly injured on Veteran’s Day:

Please send checks to:

David Cho
4613 Mardi Gras St.
Oceanside, CA 92057

  • Sgt. David Cho is seriously hurt after a bad wreck this week.
I wrote a blog entry earlier that goes into further detail about who David Cho is, and I’d really like you to take the time to read it. Sgt. Cho a young man who certainly could use your help right now, and he certainly deserves it.

On to other things. I forgot to mention last week that I met up with Josh Hansen at the Oakley Factory Pilot Tour last week, and he was really straightforward about a lot of things. His deal is like this: Monster really wanted him on Mitch Payton’s team for this year, and although he hasn’t figured out if he’s going to race a 250F or a 450, his deal is going to be to race the AMA Supercross Series, and then also go and do one-off races such as the X Games, which he’s won twice, and maybe races in Europe, Australia, and things like that. He may even do some rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.

When I brought up the fact that he can race nationals and go fast, and that he just chooses not to, he said perhaps the most honest thing I’ve ever heard a racer say: “Yeah, I know I could, but I was always too lazy.” How about that? He may have a future as a racer after all.

Here’s David Pingree.

There might be some very cool news about a new motocross facility being built in Corona, California, soon. There are a whole lot of riders in Orange County who have to drive along ways to ride, and this place would be perfect for them. Stay tuned.

The test tracks are buzzing with riders starting to get ready for Anaheim. Once you account for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, we really only have a few weeks left. It will be here before we know it. Teams starting with new bikes are going to be at a huge disadvantage this year. For example, the Kawasaki teams are riding practically the same motorcycles they did last year. And they were good bikes back then. The Yamaha 450 teams, Suzuki teams, and Honda 250 teams aren’t so lucky. After the late start from the manufacturers, it’s going to be a mad dash to get everything put together, tested, and prepared for the opener. Watch: it will pour rain at A1 and screw everything up. Stupid weather. We wait all year for rain out here and the one day you want some sunshine, it dumps like Seattle on, well, like Seattle at any time, I suppose.

  • Christian Craig switched to the TLD Honda squad after the U.S. Open, but will be on the mend for a while before racing again.
Christian Craig has been moved out of the hospital he was in and into a rehab facility. This is his first step toward recovery, and I’m sure he’s as happy as the rest of us that he’s out of the hospital. You should see the scar on this kid’s back. If chicks really do dig scars, then Christian is going to be a regular Don Juan when he’s back on his feet. Keep working hard, dude, we’re all pulling for you.

There’s a lot of talk about the Susan G. Koman breast cancer awareness theme going on during one of the upcoming Anaheim rounds. One idea that is coming together is part of a project called Keep-A-Breast. This company makes molds from women’s beasts, decorates them as art, and then sells them and donates the profits to charity. This version would obviously include the women of the motocross world, including some WMA stars and others. Um, yes please. Hey, it’s for charity! More on all that as it gets closer.

Staight out of Canada (just fifteen years ago), here’s Steve Matthes.

Just terrible news this morning when DC informed me that Honda’s Dave Chase died this morning after a sudden illness. I know the old thing to say when someone passes is that they were the nicest guys ever, but with Dave it’s sincerely true. He always had a smile on his face and was ready to laugh at a moment’s notice. I first met Dave when I was Nick Wey’s mechanic and he worked at Pro Circuit. As I usually did when I was a mechanic, I was struggling and trying to make a clutch last in the ol’ YZ250. I didn’t know Dave at all but started talking to him and he gave me some useful tips to help me out. Things he learned from his desert racing days. From there he went to Honda and I almost always sought him out each and every weekend to crack a joke, listen to him tell me I was his favorite Canadian while Shane Drew stood there, or just talk moto.

There are so many more things that I want to say, yet there’s nothing you can really say in times like this. Ping and I spoke this morning, and we agreed that the image of Dave we’ll have from now on is him standing in the rain at a motocross race with a smile on. Godspeed, Dave.

  • Sean Thomas of Goongraphx sent over a couple shots of Langston out at Perris on a Suzuki RM-Z
This week was a quiet one in the Matthes household, as I got back from Bercy and was supposed to travel up to British Columbia to take in the Nex-Trax Arenacross series but my wife was under the weather. With me leaving to go to France while she was on vacation, I figured the prudent thing to do was stay home and nurse her back to heath.

From what I understand, today is D-Day for a decision on whether the new SPR Kawasaki team is a go or not. There has been a lack of sponsorship dollars for the new team, which was supposed to have Nick Wey and Ivan Tedesco on it. I guess we’ll see what happens, but if it doesn’t work out, I think Wey will go back to J-Law Racing and Ivan will still be looking for a home.

I heard through some sources (and they could have been drunk) that Honda might be auditioning some riders for a fourth spot on the team. Seems that Red Bull wants to have four bikes on the track, and with Short, Millsaps, and Fiolek already set, that leaves an open spot. So why wouldn’t Ivan go there? Well, if my sources are correct, it’s because it’s for really no money. Just a bike-and-expenses type of deal. Of course no one should pass a hat for whoever gets this supposed fourth spot, as they can make at least 100 Gs to wear someone’s clothes.

And that is why I got a Twitter from someone who says they saw Grant Langston out there riding a Honda. But then GL is supposed to be going to J-Law Racing in a merging of GL and Sean Hamblin’s purported team, along with Ryan Newton, who is bringing some funding into the team. So I guess it will be Lawrence, Wey, Newton, Langston, and Hamblin? I really don’t know at this point, details are sketchy on all of the above. I do know that Anaheim 1 is coming up quickly!

A while back, I met a legendary figure in Canadian motocross named Will De Clerq. Will has been around for a long time shooting Canadian motocross and was a contributor to the Hi-Torque guys back in the day. He then lived in Belgium for a few years and secured a gig as Eric Geboers’ personal press secretary. That’s a pretty cool deal, and Will shared some amazing stories with me, as it seems that “Mr. 875” was a rock star back in the day. He flew helicopters, lived in Monaco, and was basically the man.

  • The GP legends, Geboers and Jobe chat.
  • Will took this iconic shot of Ross “Rollerball” Pederson in 1984. Man, what a warrior.
  • Here’s Eric in what I think is 1983 with his works RM125.
  • Will went to the ‘85 MXDN in Germany. Here’s a start shot of Thorpe (7) and The Little Professor racing down the German hard-pack.
Along with those stories, Will shared some photos from his personal collection of Canadian and GP stuff, and I’ve been a scanning fool this week. Last week I put a picture of Eric sky-diving with all three of his World Championship plates, and this week I thought I’d share some more. Thanks, Will!

And oh yeah, from the new-job department: MotoConcepts Yamaha recently hired ex-pro rider Michael Young to be the assistant team manager to Steve Lamson. Congrats to Michael on the new job!

Okay, some miscellaneous notes as we close this out:

A tip from a reader named Mark:

“It seems like about every other week there is a note on Racer X about bikes being stolen. The simplest way to keep your bike from getting stolen it to take off the front wheel. It doesn’t matter if you have a lock and chain on the bike or not, if someone wants the bike, they will get it. But if there is no wheel on the bike, how do they push it away? You could take off the rear wheel because it is easier, but then the thief could grab the swing arm and roll it away. But try and do that without the front wheel; it isn’t going to happen.”

  • Future motocrosser Ryan Bussen, age 3.
Todd Hoffman is requesting your help for Barona Oaks: These people are trying to get Barona Oaks MX track shut down. They got an article posted today on the local paper about them trying to make a protest on the local access roads: Homeowners to Protest Noise from Racetrack

Writes Hoffman:

Their site in infuriatingly inaccurate. The woman they interview is a renter that doesn’t even own the house in question. She says she has been next to the track for not much more than a year, while it has been there for 30+. They don’t show how close the track is to “her” place, but judging by the sound, it is one of the ones on the ridge right above that they put in about two years ago. So if I move next to the SD Airport, can I complain about the noise and get them to move it? Their site says the noise goes until midnight, but there have never been any lights at Barona, so they will never have bikes past 5 p.m.. My father and I were riding there yesterday, and there was maybe six bikes that afternoon. We had the track to ourselves many times, and when we left around 3:30, there was one bike on the track. The woman in the video says she had no problem with living next to a major freeway, but says the MX track puts out too much pollution. Her complaint is her baby can’t nap in the afternoon, despite the track only open Fri-Sun until 5:00 p.m. at the latest. And she surely had to have seen the track before she moved in.

But there is no way to contact them through their site, so I ended up using their own links to the local representative to explain how this group is lying, exaggerating, and trying to use terms like “assault” and “devastating” on their site to sway public opinion, rather than facts. Maybe getting more local riders emailing them contesting these claims will get them shot down. We already lost El Cajon MX track, this is the only one for San Diego without driving a couple hours.

Going to the EnduroCross next weekend? Make sure you stop by Pole Position Raceway with this very coupon, courtesy of our friend Ken Faught.

MOTO The Movie is hitting the shelves. Go to your local dealer and request that they stock it, or order it online. For more information, and to view the trailer, visit www.moto-themovie.com. Order online at www.motoxcinema.com and be the first to have it at $27.95.

  • Next week's TGI Freeday prize is a set of Fly Kinetic racewear, complete with helmet!
Congratulations to this week’s TGI Freeday winner, Mike Cromwell of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Mike won our most valuable prize yet, a $695 Oakley Holeshot watch! If you subscribe to our newsletter, you’re automatically entered for a chance to win each week’s prize. Next week we’ll give away a set of Fly Racing Kinetic racewear to a lucky reader. Head over to our TGI Freeday page to learn more about that.

We're happy to have teamed up with our friends at the Metal Mulisha to give away Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg's X-mas List. You can win a pair of Metal Mulisha Twitch II denim jeans, a Twitch II jacket, a Twitch II New Era hat, and a Twitch Hood Series t-shirt. Sign up for free here.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading Racerhead, have a good rest of your Friday the Thirteenth, and see you at the races.