Welcome to Racerhead, thanks for stopping by. The weeks are counting down to Anaheim 1 on January 9, 2010, and it just can’t seem to get here fast enough for fans and followers of the sport. Hopefully by then everyone has found a ride, but as it stands now, the list of have-nots is still quite long. More on that below.
Even though it’s still 2009, the amateur season basically kicks off this coming week as the Mini Os get up and running at Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida, as Andy Bowyer explained in yesterday’s Rev-Up. Wes Williams and his merry band of videographers will be down there all week to capture the action for www.vurbmoto.com. In the meantime, we offer you a preview of the race in the form of a look back at some of the many top young stars who came through the ranks at the Mini O’s, from the lens of Thom Veety of Action Photos:
So was anyone else surprised by the fact that Jason Lawrencewon the Cy Young Award in the National League for the second year in a row? (Only baseball fans probably got that joke.)
There was another European KTM rider out and about in California this week that caused some mistaken-identity problems. Joel Roelants, the very fast MX2 rider from Belgium, was out at Cahuilla Creek as well as Perris. Roelants showed podium speed in the MX2 class at the Motocross of Nations and helped his team get there in the end. Now he’s using that momentum to come test the waters here in the States, here he’s a relatively unknown entity.
And that’s what led to the mistaken identity. Joel was going so fast that more than a couple folks on the boards and in emails to Racer X said that none other than Tony Cairoli was in California working out! Nope, not Tony. Just Joel, and we hear he looked pretty damn fast.
One rider going in the opposite direction is Jimmy Albertson, formerly with Valli Motor Sports Yamaha. Albertson has joined the Martin Honda team for a two-year visit to Europe, where he will ride in the MX1 Grand Prix series. Steve Matthes caught up with Jimmy earlier this week to discuss his journey to the far side of the motocross world.
Here’s a video of another out-of-work motocross rider that EJ sent over…. At least he has a job road racing.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcelwas back in California for a few days, where Eric Johnson tracked him down for a Racer X Online interview. EJ asked the East Region SX #1 and outdoors’ 250 vice-champion what he thought of Marvin Musquin, the new darling of the GP set, and the building buzz about him being the faster of the two.
“Pretty much all the people say he’s going to kick my ass, so I’m still waiting for that,” said the always-straight-shooting Pourcel. “I’m waiting for next year and then we’ll see. I think he’s riding pretty good. If he came over here, he would be in the top five, but I don’t see him winning races right away.”
Sounds like we will find out in 2011, though it’s likely Pourcel will be a full-time 450 rider by then.
If you haven’t watched the video of Matt Walker interviewing Mike Alessi yesterday in Georgia, check it out. Alessi has been making the rounds in the Southeast, stopping by Walker’s place on the east side of Atlanta, as well as Mill Creek in Alabama, riding and getting himself in shape for his 2010 season, which will actually begin in Europe with a few GPs to get warmed up for the 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships. If you watch the video, it looks like Alessi is wearing some kind of weight vest while he’s riding (or at least it did to our own Keith Burgie, who runs the Maine Racer X office). So I asked Walker if that was indeed the case.
_“No, he is just a li’l puss that gets cold when it’s below 75 outside,” texted Walker. “It’s only a KTM vest.” Walker did a nice job as the interviewer and hopes to do more and more of that kind of work.
While Alessi is headed to Europe to warm-up, Gautier Paulin is headed here. A press release went out last night that said he was joining the Star Racing Yamaha team, but that was premature, according to Gautier’s agent, Glen Dempsey. “Gautier has not signed any agreement with Yamaha Star Racing and moreover we have no link to their partners as this would be in direct conflict with some of our existing sponsors and partners,” wrote Dempsey. “We are indeed discussing an AMA-SX Lites program for Gautier for the first few rounds with the help of Yamaha and Yamaha Star Racing but separate to their current structure and partners.” The hang-up could be that while Star Racing Yamaha is backed by the DNA Energy company, Paulin is sponsored by Monster Energy.
Speaking of Monster Energy, here’s an early Christmas present from Kelly Louch at The Connection, supplier of the models we see as Monster Girls in AMA Supercross and Motocross, as well as MotoGP grids at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. It’s her company’s funny look back at their season at the races, with some funny (and sometimes bawdy) captions to boot. Without further ado, here’s Kelly’s Krazies.
Ryan Hughes is racing this weekend in Argentina, and then he’s headed to Ecuador to teach a motocross school. Now in his mid-thirties, Ryno is still very, very fast!
And so is Jeremy McGrath. How cool is it that the King of Supercross went out and finished second to Chad Reedat the Australasian Supercross Championships last weekend? It also sounds like Jeremy is going to be the benefactor of James Stewart’s illness and decision not to race Genoa, Italy, because there aren’t too many riders on the planet who fans would like to see just as much as Stewart, but McGrath is certainly one of them, and he’s available. MC will also be racing in Sweden in December, right after Christmas.
How popular is the late Steve McQueen? Well, judging by the displays of Husqvarna, Bell Helmets, and Triumph at the recently held EICMA motorcycle show in Milan Italy, the On Any Sunday star is still a hot commodity 29 years after his passing. Check out these photos taken by Racer X publisher Scott Wallenberg. Other highlights of the show were the unveiling of the new KTM 350 SX-F, the return of Ohlins suspension to the MX GP series and a new super light MX hemet from UFO.
Over 450,000 people attended this year’s show, and you can see a slideshow of some of Scott’s shots. And if you want to see more from the Milan show, our friends in France at Moto Verte have posted two giant galleries of all the trick stuff they saw, and you can check it out right here:
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopotois nearly finished with his preseason testing, putting in two solid months of work to rebuild his surgically repaired knee and build up his 2010 race bike. I talked to Ryan this week and asked if this off-season is different than others, since he’s usually coming off of a long, grueling summer of AMA Pro Motocross racing.
“I guess it’s a little different, I can do a little more now that I have been off for so long,” says RV. “After knee surgery, that’s like the longest I’ve been off the bike ever.”
Villopoto hasn’t had any trouble with the knee while riding, even though his return at the U.S. Open was a bit early. And overall, he feels better than ever on the 450. “I just had to learn to race it last year. It wasn’t just going fast during the week on it, it was learning to race it better.”
Last year I heard some people mention that Villopoto rode most of a supercross track in first gear, which I guess is a rarity. So I asked him about that. “Do I ride a lot in first gear? Hell yeah I do. It’s a 450, and first gear goes like 50 miles per hour!”
I also chatted with Monster Kawasaki team manager Mike Fisher, who is tasked with keeping the Chad Reedand Ryan Villopototandem working as one. Surely a lot of people are wondering how two riders at this level can peacefully coexist.
“Before the season I will sit down with both of them and let them know what’s expected,” says Fisher. “But we would do that with any combination of riders. These guys are racers. Ryan doesn’t even show his super-game at the test track, he shows it on Saturday night, and I’m sure Chad is the same way. It will all get taken care of at the race track.”
So Kawi isn’t expecting take-outs, fights, and finger pointing at the test track during the week, and both Reed and Villopoto have said they won’t keep any set up secrets from each other. And by the way, Fisher wanted to give credit to the rider who preceded Reed, Tim Ferry, for his three years of service to the team.
“It’s going to be quite different,” says Fisher. “Timmy’s such a great person, and you always know he’s going try. He had some injuries last year, but he still tried hard, and we always felt good with him.” Unfortunately, economics meant the team no longer has room for Ferry. (Time to start the Steve Matthes Suicide Watch.)
Reed, even, essentially bought his own money over because Monster just launched in Australia, and having a high-profile Australian like Reed helped unlock additional Monster money. Right now, no manufacturer has the cash to sign both Villopoto and Reed without major help from outside sources.
Hopefully, most of our online readers have had a chance to check out our January 2010 issue, available on newsstands now and in the mailbox for subscribers. I got to write the big story on Rick Johnson, which is just surreal. It was like, “You mean I get to talk to Rick Johnson on the phone and retell the story of his career? You call this work?”
RJ says he was proud to share a little bit of the cover with Ryan Dungey, who he really thinks “is going to be the next guy. Beating James Stewart in supercross? That’s going to be pretty hard, and I know a lot of people are big on Reed and Villopoto, but don’t count Dungey out. He has the height to ride the 450. He’s a skinny kid, but height equals leverage, and that can make you fast if you use it right. Just look at Lechien. And Dungey had a great ride at the des Nations on the 450. I think he can be right in there.”
Also, just a reminder from last week, the last round of the Japan National Cross Country Series (JNCC) is taking place this weekend in—wait for it—Cheese Nuts Park. Best track name. Ever.
Here’s Steve Matthes.
I’ve gotten a few tips and heard a few rumors from some people about silly season, but I’m not going to write them down. I give up—silly season has won. I can’t figure out what’s going on out there any more than you can. I hear everybody and everything happening and can’t figure out what has a chance of happening because really, in this crazy world that is motocross, anything and everything can happen. So let’s just wait it out and we’ll see soon enough, I guess.
I checked in with a guy who has a ride and hasn’t been heard from much, and that’s Andrew Short. The entire Short clan has all moved out to California for the winter, and Shorty’s hunkered down and burning laps. You may remember that last summer he was dogged by some sort of funky adrenal/thyroid condition where he got tired and basically could only manage to race on the weekends and do nothing during the week. Well he’s cured of that and working hard to make the final, big step up and get to the top of the box. He’s reports that the bike is much improved over last year, and he’s been riding with Trey Canardand his teammate Davi Millsapsat the Honda track. Look for an interview on here as soon as he gets off the bike and finds ten minutes to talk to me.
Actually, Ferry has been talking to people but as of now doesn’t have a deal. Maybe one of these teams has an injury and needs a guy to fill in, ala Travis Prestonor Billy Laninovichor Matt Goerke. I know that Kawasaki has let Ferry keep a bike and he’s been riding a bit with Jason Thomasat his palatial estate.
Did you listen to that David Thorpe Podcast? It’s a real good one. I have a list of guys I want to do a show with and always arrange a few days ahead to sit down and record the show (still waiting for that text back, Stewie…). It was a little different with Thorpey, though. I had been emailing David Bailey some photos of the 1985 MXDN in Germany that Will De Clerq took and DB was reminiscing with me on that day (yes, Bailey and I are email friends and he tells me stories. Yes, I’m lucky) telling me that Thorpe was the man and beat all 63 riders in one moto.
That got me thinking about the English codger and about how he was the man in ’85, yet one year later he lost to Johnny O in Italy and was a bum in the eyes of some of the American media. How can this dude go from so good to the “World’s Fastest Novice” in one year? I thought a podcast was in order STAT. I emailed my buddy Sean Lawless in England (who’s the editor of the largest magazine over there) and he gave me David’s email. I sent the mail and lo and behold, ten minutes later a response and phone number! If only it was this easy for me to get chicks’ numbers back in the day.
Thorpe mentioned that he could do it anytime in the next hour. So from an email with Bailey to actually talking to David Thorpe in England took about an hour. Just thought I’d share that with you lucky readers.
You can read Mike Harnden’s take on the ’85 MXDN as well as an interview with Sean Hamblin and much, much more on the Canadian moto scene at directmotocross.com.
You can also read pulpmx.com and I’d appreciate it.
You guys should sign up on Twitter and follow @Emig47, as he often has some cool thoughts and posts on there. After you sign up and follow the four-time AMA champion, follow me (@pulpmx), a four-time Manitoba champion, as well.
Next is David Pingree.
Bad news for Nick Weyand Ivan Tedescothis week: that team that looked like it was coming together under the management of former MDK manager Danny Paladino appears to be crumbling. Wey has already been riding a Kawasaki in anticipation of the New Year, and Ivan was close to going out and buying one himself just to get started. From what I hear, though, the funds didn’t come through and things are a no-go. I don’t know what that means for Nick (maybe back with J-Law Racing?) but the word on the streets has Ivan testing with Valli Yamaha today to see if things could work there.
If you haven’t made plans for next weekend and you live anywhere near the West Coast, you need to check out Day in the Dirt at LACR. This annual event is unlike any other, and it draws a unique group of stars from racing and the film industry. The GP course is always a blast to ride and the events range from fun to serious to grueling depending on what you sign up for. The last event of the weekend is an endurance event called the Coup de Grace. It separates the men from the boys, and I’ve never even had the stones to try it. Troy Lee always designs a special trophy for the winner, and this year is no exception. I’m sure you’ll see photos of it after the event, but lets just say it is not a “crappy” prize. Go to www.adayinthedirt.com for entry forms and information on all the different events throughout the weekend.
Finally, some miscellaneous notes to close the week:
Over 180 Classic Motorcycles are on sale from the Bettencourt collection, which started in the 1950s. This collection is being sold at NO RESERVE to help Dave Bettencourt fight Leukemia. Large Honda collection from 1959 to 1984, Norton, BSA, Bultaco, CZ (including Dick’s “Red Tank” CZ), Triumph, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Suzuki, Ossa, Yamaha, Jawa, Francis Barnett, Rickman, Vespa, Laverda, Yankee, NSU, MZ, Bridgestone, Montessa and Bicycles. Conditions include: Low Mileage Originals, Restored Bikes, Average Bikes and Project Bikes. http://www.bettencourts.com/
Ever want to sit on a Factory works bike? Suzuki will be doing just that with their new Champions tour promotion at the IMS shows. They will have their Championship winning bikes and ATV’s on display and a chance for you to sit and get a photo-op as well!
With 10 remaining IMS shows on the schedule, the next chance for consumers to check out this display will be at the IMS show in San Mateo, CA November 20-22. For more information on the International Motorcycle Show tour visit www.motorcycleshows.com. To learn more about Suzuki events visit www.suzukicycles.com
Congratulations to industry veteran Bob Maynard on the announcement from Scott USA this week naming Bob the GM of their Motosport Division Most recently Maynard was CEO of Thor MX. Here’s what he has to say about this new announcement
“It’s very exciting to have joined Scott USA at a time when the company is uniquely positioned for exceptional growth. This is the ideal situation for me to leverage my experience in sales and product development to build Scott’s market share in motosports.” Good Luck Bob!
From Kyle Cannon, a photographer from Carlsbad, CA:
I wanted to submit some photos to you guys to take a look at. The rider in the photo is 14-year-old Kristers Teko from Latvia. I met this kid at Pala Raceway and had a chance to shoot some photos with him. I was amazed with this kid’s speed. For 14, he handled himself really well on the track. If you do some research about this kid you will find that he just moved over to the United States two months ago and is friends with Max Anstie, so he was riding Anstie’s bike. He barely speaks any English, but he is practicing every day. He hits the gym every morning before all day long practice five days a week. I really encourage you to look into this kid. He is flying under the radar right now, but not for long. Kyle Cannon www.kylecannonphotography.com
This Day in History Trivia: Ten years ago on this day, a “World Supercross” event was held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, but it was a weird one: there was a $3,000-per-minute fine for any noise after 7 p.m. and a promise of $4,000 to reseed the grass used for parking. It’s all here in the Pasadena city council minutes.
1.) Who won that race in the 250cc class?
2.) Who one the 125cc class?
3.) What Racer X employee started his first day at Racer X there?
(Answers at the bottom)
Reader Tony Natola: A fellow rider, 17-year-old Ryan Cox, went down while riding at Sunset Ridge MX in Walnut, Illinois. He has been in an induced coma for the past week. Readers can send Ryan an e-card or sign his guest book at the hospital’s website by visiting the links below.