Racerhead #49

December 4, 2009 6:49pm | by:

  • Josh Grant and Davi Millsaps are taking on Chad Reed, Dan Reardon, Jay Marmont and more in the Australasian Super X finale.
Welcome to Racerhead, this time coming from the West Coast. We’re on a pre-run of the Anaheim Supercross, which is now just 36 days away. But there’s a lot going on in the motocross world still as riders and teams are testing, doing their photo shoots, finalizing plans, and just getting ready to get back out there under the lights.

There’s a race at Rynoland this weekend, as well as the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show, and of course the Ride Day to benefit the injured Ross Maeda at Perris Raceway. Next week there’s a team intro/ride day/poker tournament for the DC Shoes team riders at Pala Raceway, followed by a Christmas Party for the KTM folks at the same place. In between there’s testing, testing and more testing.

Unless you’re on the road, of course. JGR MX/Toyota Yamaha’s Justin Brayton is over in Europe still, coming off last weekend’s win in Genoa and looking forward to repeating in Geneva (the difference being one is in Italy, one is in Switzerland). And Chad Reed and all of his Australian friends are welcoming the other JGR rider, Josh Grant, along with Davi Millsaps and a few other imported riders for the last round of the Australasian Super-X Championships.

There’s also been a few teams finalizing their last spots. The Ivan Tedesco to VMS Yamaha team is finally been sorted, though the Grant Langston to J-Law Racing situation is complicated. I will let Jason Weigandt explain more about that later. Ben Townley has a new home, though, so stay tuned for more on that….

Check out this cool video the crew at Taylor just finished up for FMF. It's a quick tour inside the Flying Machine Factory, hosted by none other than Little D himself!

I have mentioned the new Brain Trauma Center being built here in Morgantown, West Virginia, and led by Dr. Julian Bales, former team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Concussions and their long-term effect on athletes is a huge topic in the NFL right now, and it’s been a topic of conversation in motocross for some time—certainly since Travis Pastrana started his string of frightening, head-rattling crashes in 2001 at the Unadilla National. ABC’s Nightline recently featured an in-depth piece on Dr. Bales, as well as the genesis of these studies, which was the strange end-of-lie and death of former Steelers center Mike Webster. Here’s 10 good minutes of information on what’s going on and why.

  • Our girl in Europe Gabi Kneip spotted this familiar-looking font for the after-party flier at the Chemintz Supercross over the weekend.
  • Here’s an early Christmas card from my friend Bill Brazier, who recently found himself riding in Costa Rica.
In related news, former pro rider James Marshall went online with his new James Marshall Project, which is dedicated to providing support and assistance to the brain- and spinal-cord-injured, facilitating a return to productive life work, and reintegration within their communities.

This 501-3 foundation was the idea James, who was injured back in 2006. He suffered damage to his C-2, C-4, and C-5 vertebrae and now lives in a wheelchair. “Since his accident James has reintegrated within his community and now wants to lead an effort to help those who have suffered either spinal cord or brain injuries,” the press release explained. More information can be obtained at the soon to be launched website www.JamesMarshallProject.com or by contacting: jamesmarshallproject@yahoo.com.

Among the members of James’ board are Texas MX legend Steve Wise, Cody Lipps, Ace Burt, Steve Present, Steve Woods, and April Sutton.

Also, unfortunately, in related news, another accident has been reported by reader Stephanie Ferguson:

I am writing to you in regards to a young motocross racer who was in a horrible accident the day before Thanksgiving and was only given a 15 percent chance of ever walking again. His name is Zach Vasseur. He is 15 years old from Union, Kentucky. The accident happened in Alabama. I was hoping maybe you can put this story out there so he can get all the prayers he so deserves, with the power of prayer we are hoping to see him walk again! This is his parents’ website: www.zachvasseur259.webs.com.

  • David Vuillemin's got his old number back.
Got this note from David Vuillemin: “Since I don’t own the 12 in the US and in Europe anymore, I am back with 934. Just did a riding tips DVD for Moto Verte!” Vuillemin will be in the states next week with his old BUD Racing teammate Gautier Paulin, who will use January to worm on his SX skills in anticipation to a future move to America.

Andy Wigan sent us a note on the ADB Awards Ceremony, which took place just before the Sydney round of the Monster Energy Australasian Super X Series.

Pretty cool to have Chad, Jeremy, and Burner joining the whole Aussie rider and industry contingent there on the one night!

Knowing Leisk is fond of a drop, I’d appointed a “minder” (a billionaire mining magnate mate of Leisky’s who knew he was about to be inducted and who made sure family and key colleagues were present) to look after Leisky that day, trying the ensure he kept things in moderation. But when Jeff called at 4 p.m., saying what a lovely lunch he was having down on the Sydney harbourside, I soon realized the minder was also on the turps and had let his responsibilities slip. Three hours before the ADB Awards had even began, Leisk was slurring like he’d been on the sauce all day. Thankfully he can hold his booze, and the speeches he and larrikin Phil Lovett made that night was classic. Had everyone falling off their chairs.

Here’s something old-school I shared with my friend Rob Andrews, the former Grand Prix racer from England: a Camel Motocross sticker from the early eighties. Andrews responded with the IDs of the riders—“Sticker porn! Carlqvist (3), Thorpe (37), Dunno, Hudson (3-), and Vromans (4)”—and then he topped me some memorabilia of his own.

Ian Hetherington sent this letter:

I was the guy who put the Irish GP up on YouTube. I have a recollection of you talking about that race (or one of the years the race was held) and how you were there primarily to do a race report for a magazine and lost your notes only to be bailed out by a TV highlights package etc. Anyhow, I am originally from Northern Ireland (now live in Boston, MA) and lived about 30 mins from the track. I didn’t start racing until I moved to America but have numerous great memories as a kid of going to the races held there. Before the Irish GP was held at the track the annual race was known as “The John Donnelly” and was the most prestigious race of the year, typically attracting the top English riders of the time (if memory serves me right Neil Hudson raced at it one year in the mid 80’s). The track is no more but is still remembered fondly by the motocross community in Northern Ireland as demonstrated by someone recently posting photos on the local MX website of Northern Ireland (Ulstermotocross.com):

1. A view from the first corner looking down to the start line.
2. The climb up the hill to Gillie’s Jump.
3. The landing area after Gillie’s jump.
4. The tree section the riders disappear into after leaving the infield part of the track.
5. Top of hill/first corner.

Anyhow, I will get around to making you a copy and and also a copy of the 1990 race held there. The quality isn’t the best given that they have been transferred from VHS to DVD PAL format to DVD NTSC but it tells the story of some good old school races at a great track. Also, thanks for acknowledging the talents of football legend George Best in Racerhead when he passed away a few years back. He is and was a hero to all from back home.

Yours in sport,
Ian Hetherington

Here’s Jason Weigandt with more on the Langston story mentioned above…

In the silliest silly season ever, even when a team thinks they have a rider on their team, they may not. That’s the lesson I learned this week when I jumped the gun on saying Grant Langston had joined the J-Law Racing team for 2010. According to the people involved with J-Law’s team that I talked to, Langston is part of the team and is on the team; he just hasn’t signed his contract yet. They were okay with the post. But then later I heard from some of Langston’s people who said, yes, GL is talking to the J-Law team but until the contract is signed, nothing is official.

  • Whoops! We take that back. Well, they take it back. Somebody takes it back.
Some also noticed that Langston had posted that he had joined team J-Law on his Facebook page. The lesson here, of course, is that Facebook is not a very reliable source for information.

So I retract the news that GL is officially with Team J-Law, even though chances are good it will all work out in the end and he will sign the deal and will race with the squad. When or if the deal is signed, we’ll post it again!

In the last few years, we’ve seen factory satellite and full-on privateer teams make major strides in competing against the factory teams. But sometimes it’s hard for these teams to secure funding from sponsors until they have actually signed riders. After all, in our sport, a team really only goes as far as the riders it hires. A factory team is a known quantity so sponsors can sign in good faith knowing the team will use that money to hire quality riders and get results. But, as an example, when Team L&M Racing/San Manuel started up a few years ago, signing Chad Reed is what put them on the map. Once you have a rider of that caliber, you can get support from manufacturers and sponsors.

So now that everyone’s budget is so tapped, you get a catch-22 scenario. Sponsors can’t commit money until they know what riders you’ve signed, but teams can’t commit riders until they know how much money a sponsor will give them. I heard this scenario from several team managers and agents this summer, which is part of the reason it’s taking so long for deals to get done.

Anyway, my apologies to Grant and everyone involved here. I was told he was on the team and the post was all good, only to later find out it wasn’t quite there yet.

  • 13 champions were crowned at the ADB banquet.
It’s banquet season this weekend in a few areas. First, we’re hosting the annual Can-Am GNCC banquets this weekend in Morgantown at the Lakeview Resort. I’m heading there as soon as I finish typing this. Let me just say, I know the motocross and supercross guys are the rock stars of our industry, but I’ll put the GNCC crew up against anyone when it comes to having a good time. These banquets have mellowed over the years, but they’re still pretty crazy, especially the ATV riders. Yes, the ATV woods riders can party. Are you really surprised?

Also, the AMA Racing banquet is taking place at the Hard Rock hotel in Las Vegas. Friday night’s banquet is what used to be known as the AMA Sports banquet; it focuses mostly on amateur riders, since the Pro Motocross and Pro Superbike racers had their banquets in conjunction with the final rounds of their series. On Saturday night the AMA will then host the 2009 AMA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, with nine new inductees. Should be a good time out there, as it always is in Vegas.

Now here’s David Pingree with more on Ben Townley.

The big news this week - I mean the stuff that really matters to me, anyway - is the official announcement of the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda race team. As the team manager of that outfit, I couldn’t be more giddy to announce our 2010 roster, which includes former World Champion and 250 supercross champion Ben Townley. Ben will be returning to racing here in the States starting in May at the Hangtown national motocross opener in the 450 class. Prior to that he will be doing some racing in Australia and New Zealand, and he may also sign up for the first couple GPs in preparation for the U.S. series. Anyone want to bet that this guy wins some nationals next summer? I’ve already called the AMA and made sure he has a good number reserved for next year: #102. I’m kidding, Ben, relax. You can keep using my number.

  • Did you catch Simon Cudby's new video with Wil Hahn?
We also have Wil Hahn, Cole Seely, and Christian Craig signed up for next year to ride 250s. I’ll let their riding do the talking five weeks from now. Jake Weimer told me a month ago that there was nobody left I could hire who could get on the podium. We’ll see about that.

Last weekend was the annual Day in the Dirt Grand Prix at LACR. The Day in Dirt is actually four or five days in the dirt, but they are good days. Most people approach it with a very laid-back attitude and just have fun. What was the prize for winning the biggest pro event of the weekend, the Coup de Grace survival race? A custom-painted toilet by Mr. Troy Lee himself. See, it’s all about having fun. The toilet is actually pretty sweet. Timmy Weigand won the race and took home the gold-leaf-emblazoned crapper that reads “King S#!t” on the inside of the lid, and I can’t wait to ask if he actually has it installed.

Lots of stars show up for the weekend, and this year was no exception. Jeremy McGrath was there and had a knock-down drag-out battle with Honda team manager Erik Kehoe from what I hear. Kehoe still rips on a motocross bike if you haven’t seen him ride before (and he has an artificial hip- keep that in mind, Trent Egbert). In fact, one of my favorite photos of all time is of Erik and Jeremy at Gatorback in 1993 as they crossed the checkered flag. Erik hit the top of the hill wide open and bombed out to the flats trying to pass Jeremy. I don’t think he made the pass, but that photo is one of the coolest finish-line shots ever.

  • The huge Day in the Dirt track.
  • The huge Day in the Dirt crowd.
  • Tim Weigand was the big winner.
  • The event was a must-ride, especially for TLD guys like Jeff Ward.
David Knight was also there having some fun. He’s back on a KTM now, but he did take a crack at the vintage class on a borrowed CZ that didn’t seem up to the task. By the time he finished, the shocks were broken off and something in the engine didn’t seem well. At least he beat his girlfriend, Tarah Gieger. Anyway, good times were had by all.

If you are in SoCal this weekend, be sure to come out to the Rossi Ride Day at Perris Raceway. The benefit ride day is in support of Enzo’s Ross Maeda who was seriously injured recently. For more information go to www.perrisraceway.com.

Also, there is a benefit ride day coming up for Christian Craig at Perris Raceway on December 23. This is a great way to show your support to our industry friends who have been injured. You’re going to ride anyway, right?

Finally, congratulations to Brock Sellards and his wife, Tricia, on the birth of their first child, Brodie Michael Sellards. Does anyone know if Hot Wheels makes Volkswagen pickup trucks in their car line?

Steve Cox is in the land Down Under wrestling crocodiles and having some shrimps and barbies and stuff. He’s also covering what has turned into a pretty exciting conclusion to the Australasian Super X Series. Here’s his update.

I flew out to Brisbane on Monday night (and landed Wednesday morning) to check out the final round of the 2009 Australian Super X Series. Today was press day, and I found some familiar faces, with Chad Reed (the defending champ) on his Dunlop-shod Kawasaki, Dan Reardon on his Woodstock Honda (still sporting the Factory Connection suspension and his trusty mechanic Charlie still on board), Michael Byrne on a Rockstar Honda, and Jake Moss’ not identical (but identical) brother Matt Moss was at press day as well on his 450cc Suzuki. He’s heading Stateside this year, and after wrapping up the 250cc championship after five of seven rounds, he moved up to the 450cc class in New Zealand at the last round and was really fast straight out of the gate. He actually qualified first in his first 450cc race, in front of Reed and everyone else.

  • Chad Reed is looking to successfully defend his championship in Brisbane.
  • Dan Reardon will turn a lot of heads if he can pull off another win.
  • Josh Grant, winner of Anaheim 1 in 2009, is do for an international win.
  • Davi Millsaps was another rider invited to race after Stewart bowed out.
  • P.J. Larsen will try to keep up with this very stacked field.
  • With Matt Moss on a 450, this could be Cunningham's night in the Lites class.
However, also in attendance are Davi Millsaps and Josh Grant, who are essentially taking the place of James Stewart (and Ryan Villopoto). Both of them are sort of debuting their 2010 looks, with Millsaps sporting his 2010 graphics on his Honda along with his new Scott gear (and goggles), and Grant showing off his 2010 bike with Muscle Milk sponsorship, Shift gear, etc.

Kyle Cunningham is here on a Yamaha and looked strong on press day, and PJ Larsen is here on a #27 black-and-white Yamaha YZ450F, looking a bit like Nick Wey. It’s Larsen’s first event, but Cunningham has been racing this series this year.

I don’t know yet how tomorrow’s race format will be, but I do know it’s based on the idea of more races with fewer laps - basically, the exciting parts at the beginning of the races; this series is looking to maximize that and minimize the boring parts at the ends of races. The track is definitely the longest of the year, and someone even said it’s the longest in the history of the sport in Australia. It looks very “American,” that’s for sure.

Racing starts at about 6 p.m. Saturday Brisbane time, which is about midnight Friday PST and 3 a.m. EST. So if you’re an insomniac, check it out. Otherwise, look for a race report on the site here, and a feature in an upcoming issue.

  • Mick Doohan.
  • Doohan's trophy room.
After the Press Day stuff, I jumped in my rental car and drove mostly on the left side of the road, only side-swiping one irate semi driver on the way, and followed Reed, his mechanic Dana Wiggins, Josh Grant, his mechanic Alex Ewing, and more to the legendary Mick Doohan’s place. It’s 45 acres on an estuary that leads out to the ocean and has a couple houses and, most importantly, an insane go-kart track, which was the primary reason we headed out there. Doohan’s karts have electric-start KTM 450cc engines in them. They’re insane. Reedy looked good, though. Doohan didn’t put on his kit and go karting because he had to head back into Brisbane for a function, but he did give us a quick tour of his trophy room, which held the trophies for his fifty-four GP wins and his five consecutive world-championship-winning road-race machines.

Apparently, being a hero like Doohan for so many years, and beating yourself up so bad, makes it so that you can have 45 acres on the water with a private karting track, two helicopters, etc. Give and take, huh? Truth be told, he couldn’t be a nicer guy, which is always refreshing when you meet someone who has achieved what he has.

Look for more from the races in the coming days, and interviews and photos from the races next week, here at Racer X Online.

Billy Ursic received this note from Racer X reader Derek Egbert, who wants to give a shoutout to his brother, Trent, who has been through a lot lately. Read on:

My little brother could probably use a little boost from you guys. His name is Trent Egbert and he just got home from spending two years in Buenos Aires, Argentina doing missionary work and service for our church. He left when he was 19 (he’s 21 now) and went without motocross (and a lot of other things) for 24 months. For a kid like him, that was asking a lot, but he willingly gave up riding and magazines to fully dedicate himself to improving people’s lives down in Argentina.

Trent just got back from Argentina on Tuesday afternoon (the 24th), and the whole rest of the family flew out to California to be with him for Thanksgiving. A couple of us went riding Thanksgiving morning (it was Trent’s first time back on the bike) and had a blast out at Carnegie for a few hours. Trent was riding great but ended up getting arm-pump going into a turn on the MX track, lost control and ended up getting launched and landed about 30 feet past the berm. The fall completely snapped his femur at the femoral head (one of the worst places to break a bone because they only heal about 50% of the time) and he cracked his pelvis in four places. It was a really bad fall, but we are so lucky it wasn’t more serious. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was treated by one of the best hip-surgeons in the bay area, but he has a long road of recovery ahead. He just got back from the hospital (after 3 nights) and is in really good spirits considering the severity of the injury.

  • Here's a rare gem that Nick McCabe picked up for us on eBay -- a decal of the legendary Jaroslav Falta.
All of the plans that Trent had before coming home from Argentina changed in a heartbeat. He will not being going to school in Idaho for the Winter semester like planned, and he will be on crutches for 3-6+ months and a full recovery could take years (full recovery will happen only if the bone re-establishes the blood supply to the femoral head). If he ever gets back on the bike, which will most likely happen at some point (don’t tell mom!), he won’t be riding tracks like before. If the bone doesn’t heal right, he’s gonna need an artificial hip, which will dramatically change his lifestyle, but we don’t like to think about that right now.

Anyways, the kid eats, sleeps, and breathes motocross and is not going to be doing much of anything (aside from sitting on the couch) for a while and will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time on Racer X Online (He is looking forward to catching up on two years of Pingree’s articles)! If you guys could do some type of a shout-out on Racerhead for him and maybe post this picture I took of him (about 2 minutes before his crash), that would seriously make his day and would really mean so much to him. It’s gonna be a tough Holiday season for him with a long road of recovery ahead, and he needs every bit of encouragement that we can give him. It certainly is heartbreaking to see this happen to him right after he got back from 2 years of selfless service, but he’s a trooper and will make it.

Alright, onto the miscellaneous section.

Here’s a first: Grave Digger smashing the world’s largest pumpkin for Conan O’Brien.

If you’re wondering what really happened with Tiger Woods last weekend, you’ve come to the right place for answers. Or at least you’ve found someone in Japan with mad computer skills and too much time on their hands.

Pro Circuit has decided to get a little more proactive with the GP tour in 2010. They are helping Frenchman Stephen Frossard and the Belgian rider Jeremy Van Horebeek, both of whom could be contenders in the MX2 class. Here's more from MX-Pure.com.

Here’s a Christmas Party with KTM:

Celebrate the holidays while riding orange with KTM staff and enthusiasts. KTM North America, Inc. would like to extend a Christmas invitation to all KTM riders to come and ride at Pala Raceway on Friday, December 11, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. absolutely FREE. Plus, see Mike Alessi and the new KTM motocross bike!

Each year, the KTM west office holds an internal Christmas party exclusively for KTM staff. This year, in spirit of the holiday season, KTM President, Jon-Erik Burleson, along with the promoters of Pala raceway and presenting sponsors Jagermeister, FMF, Powersport Grafx, Motorex, Thor and GE Money have decided to open the invitation to all KTM riders for FREE!

KTM dealers and presenting sponsors will be on hand to show their new product and give you great gift ideas for your family and friends this holiday season. KTM riders Mike Alessi, Tommy Searle, Ronnie Renner, Mike Metzger, Nate Kanney, Cory Buttrick, Mike Brown, Kurt Caselli, Russell Bobbitt, Kacy Martinez, Brenden Ritzman and Michael Sleeter will be present to turn laps before the start of their 2010 racing season. Renner and Metzger will put on an afternoon freestyle exhibition. In addition, Jagermeister will bring a live DJ to blast rockin’ music through the pits all day. Jagermeister/KTM Factory rider Mike Alessi will be out there with his new motocross bike, and to top it off, Santa Claus will be on hand to take pictures with riders young and old before the Christmas holiday.

A lunch will be served between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. with all proceeds going to the local Fire Department Toys for Tots program. Raffle prizes from the presenting sponsors will be awarded throughout the day, including one to the person with the most holiday spirit. No RSVP is necessary. Mark your calendar now for this exciting event and show up at Pala Raceway December 11th “Ready to Race.”

  • Geoff and Bob Fox are being inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame
The sport of motocross as we know it today would be much different if it wasn't for the contributions of these two ingenious brothers - Geoff & Bob Fox. This weekend, both are being inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame, and we would like to congratulate them on their contributions to the sport we love! Click here to view a commemorative flipbook of Geoff Fox and Fox Racing.

Here’s a question from reader Chad M. Deegan:

“There is a motocross-related movie I saw about ten years ago, something with a troubled teen/young adult who was living in a barn and was a standout motocross rider. Ringing a bell at all? I can’t find anything on the internet with info about it, so hopefully someone can help.”

If anyone knows what Chad is talking about, email us at letters@racerxonline.com.

Twitch’s Metal Mulisha X-Mas List contest comes to an end in ten days, so if you haven’t entered yet, now is the time! Enter for free for a chance to win a package that includes a one-year Racer X Digital subscription and a Metal Mulisha jean, jacket, hat, and T-shirt package. Click here to enter.

  • Enter Twitch’s Metal Mulisha X-Mas List contest on our Facebook page.
Have you checked out our Holiday Buyers’ Guide yet? We added about 30 new products yesterday, so even if you’ve already browsed it, it’s worth another look.

Do you tweet? If so, head to http://wildfireapp.com/twitter/233/contests/14110 and sign up to win the Racer X / Skullcandy Headphones Bonanza. You'll get a chance to win four pairs of Skullcandy Ti headphones, for you and three of your friends. Even better, when you sign up, you'll get your own unique contest link, and for everyone who enters through your link, you'll get an extra entry for yourself. So spread the word and win!

Finally, there have been bad weeks and scandals in our industry ever since Marty Tripes got DQ'd for winning an Inter-Am race in 1972 when he was younger than 16. But I don't quite remember there being one as blown out as the Tiger Woods deal (insert 3-iron joke here). What do you think were the all-time biggest scandals in American motocross history? Write to letters@racerxonline.com and we will share them next week.

Jam Sports? Fuelgate? Kevin Windham's 10-point penalty? Mike Craig tripping on his gear bag and missing Gainesville ’94? J-Everything? Send us yours, and the best-written one (under 100 words) gets a free copy of the new Nitro Circus DVD.

Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.