Racerhead #1

January 1, 2010 7:32pm | by:
We close our eyes and another year goes by...

Thank God. The last year of the first decade of the new millennium was not an easy one for anyone. (Yeah, okay, I know, before the letters pour in, that technically this year, 2010, is the last year of the first decade of the new millennium. Let’s not get stuck on technicalities here.) There’s the economy, the ongoing wars and terror threats, the divisive nature of modern politics in America casting a pall over our country... Tough times, indeed. But there’s a bright horizon for eternal optimists like myself. The New Year means new opportunity, new chances, new adventures... Here’s to future days.

  • James Stewart will be sporting the number one throughout the 2010 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Championship.
The new season starts in a week. The countdown to Anaheim 1 began pretty much the day after the last national at Steel City. James Stewart will be defending his crown against a revitalized Chad Reed, as well as his new teammate, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. Ryan Dungey is moving up to the 450 class, Josh Grant and Justin Brayton will be trying to make it happen for the Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota Yamaha team, Honda Red Bull Racing is counting on Davi Millsaps and Andrew Short to get them back in the title chase – it has been since Ricky Carmichael was riding a Honda that the Red Riders’ factory team has had someone in the title chase – and there’s a slew of kids rising up in the Lites class. The 2010 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Championship should be fantastic.

Yesterday, we posted a tribute to some of the good people involved in motorcycling that were lost in the last year. With a nod to The New York Times, it’s called The Lives They Lived.

In a move that caught a lot of folks off-guard, including myself, it was announced that Roger Edmondson will be leaving his position as Chairman, Managing Member and Chief Executive Officer of AMA Pro Racing effective January 1, 2010, due to health concerns. Mr. Edmondson was the man at the helm of Daytona Motorsports Group when it purchased AMA Pro Racing back in the spring of 2008 after it went out to bid because the AMA wanted out of the racing business. I believe Roger had great intentions, but his ideas and early actions were met with great skepticism from the road-racing world, and a difficult battle ensued between DMG and the OEMs, as well as between Roger personally and the road-racing press. To say it got ugly would be an understatement, and the fallout from the ongoing battles, combined with poor motorcycle sales and an overall terrible economy, proved to be a volatile mix. Both Honda and Kawasaki announced that they were suspending their AMA Superbike efforts in 2010, and it was obvious that something had to give. In the end, it was Mr. Edmondson’s health, according to the press release – which also raised cynical eyebrows, though Roger’s health issues have long been known – that brought his reign to an end.

My own opinion is that Roger tried very hard to make the changes he felt were needed to move road racing forward, but those changes were contrary to the direction the establishment wanted to go, and it turned into a stalemate that diminished everyone’s prospects. I also know that Roger was very supportive of what MX Sports wanted to do with outdoor motocross in America. Had he not allowed us to move forward with our vision, AMA Motocross might have been in the same dire straits that AMA Superbike is in right now. So I want to thank Roger for his help and support over the last two years, and I wish the very best for him with his health.

Here’s another move that might surprise some: Steve Matthes has joined the Transworld MX team after a few good, fun years working with Racer X. We wish him the best in the coming year. Thanks for all the help, Matthes. Also, Keith Burgie, our man here at Racer X Online, is pursuing other interests. We also want to thank him for all of the hard work in the last year and hope his path leads him right back here in the future. Best of luck to you, too, Keith.

I have been on a short family holiday and have been concentrating more on snowboarding than supercross in the past few days, so let me turn it over here to the other guys, beginning with Steve Cox...

  • Christian Craig got a lot of help last Sunday at his ride day at Perris Raceway.
  • The auction took place first on-hand, but then when items didn't get enough bids, they were put on hold for eBay.
  • Steve Cox's wife, Erica, won a bunch of schwag in the raffle. Lots of people did.
The Christian Craig Ride Day seemed like a success last Sunday, although I haven’t seen the numbers. There was a lot of stuff being auctioned off, and raffles being held, and my wife even won a pack of handlebars, grips, gloves and the like, which was really cool. Now I just have to convince her to let me have some of it!

I thought the main problem with Christian was his medical bills, but it sounded to me at the event like it’s a lot of the stuff surrounding the accident that is costing him so much money. For example, he said his mom stayed with him in the hospital 24/7 after the accident, so she lost her job. It’s not all about insurance or no insurance, although Christian said that his insurance only covered so many physical-therapy visits, and after that, he’s on his own, so the ride day definitely went a long way toward helping with that, too. It was great to see him up and walking around, although if he races again, it will likely be at least a year from now.

I just checked eBay, and none of the stuff is up for auction yet, but there was a lot of stuff at the event that will be on eBay shortly, including a Lance Armstrong Tour de France jersey from his first Tour win, signed by Lance Armstrong. How much do you think that will go for? Keep an eye out for this stuff popping up on eBay. You could score some top schwag if you got the dough and a quick mouse finger.

Dean Wilson got injured a few weeks ago at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, and he was going to join Jake Weimer on the West starting a week from tomorrow, but instead he’s moving to the East Coast to join Tyla Rattray and Christophe Pourcel. Josh Hansen is moving down from his slated 450cc ride to take on the West alongside Weimer.

And Austin Stroupe, on the new Yoshimura-backed factory Suzuki team, will be riding a 450 at Anaheim I, and then switching to the Lites bike at Indianapolis. Hopefully, by then, Matt Moss, who was supposed to be the 450cc guy alongside Ryan Dungey, will be healthy and back to racing.

  • Michael Byrne is eligible for the Lites class under AMA rules, but he still doesn't have a 2010 ride. He'll be on his own Kawasaki at A1.
And on the GEICO Powersports Honda team, with Brett Metcalfe’s ankle injury, Trey Canard will be joined by Blake Wharton on the West, and in an interesting twist, it sounds like the whole team is going to be running stock suspension – no, not stock internally, for sure, but basically just Factory Connection-modified stock stuff, set up for supercross. The last time we interviewed Kevin Windham, he seemed to be pumped on the idea for his 450, and apparently the same line of thinking is working out in testing with the 250cc guys. It’s going to be interesting to see how the stock stuff stacks up against the kit stuff most of the competition will be running.

I talked to Kevin Crowther this week from the AMA about the AMA’s Lites eligibility rules, and it was a really interesting conversation. The way the rule is written about 450cc riders moving back down is as follows: Riders finishing outside the top 20 of the Supercross class points in 2007, 2008 or 2009 will be eligible to ride the Supercross Lites class. Designated Supercross Lites riders that competed in the Supercross class in select 2009 events will remain eligible for the Supercross Lites class in 2010, provided they have not exceeded any other Supercross Lites eligibility rules or been advanced to the Supercross class through points or championships won.

Now, when this rule was first instituted, it only had the previous two years considered. Now it’s three. But here’s the thing: the word “or” in the ruling, between “2008” and “2009” means that by the letter of the rule, all you have to have done is finish outside the top 20 in one of the previous three seasons and you’re eligible for the Lites class again. This is why Michael Byrne is eligible, and why Jason Thomas and Ryan Clark were eligible last year. But it’s also why Kyle Chisholm isn’t eligible, because he didn’t finish outside the top 20 in 2008 or 2007, since he didn’t race that class in either season in the first place.

It seems pretty clear to me that keeping Chisholm out of the Lites class isn’t really the intent of the rule. It’s actually intended to keep guys like Byrne out. But as is the case when the letter is followed this way, sometimes things end up backward, and this is one of those times. However, Crowther said they’re continuing to look at the rulebook and address issues such as these, hopefully as soon as the 2011 season.

Here it comes again, folks: Supercross season! I can’t wait.

Thanks, Steve.

  • MC leading in Sweden.
Did you catch Travis Pastrana’s Red Bull New Year’s No Limits jump last night? It’s amazing how he just keeps one-upping himself, and last night’s world-record jump onto a barge in Long Beach was quite a stunt!

Like Pastrana, Jeremy McGrath had himself a working New Year’s holiday – he raced in the Malmo, Sweden, Monster Energy Supercross. MC won the second night, too! Here’s a shot-from-the-stands video we spotted on our mate MX Geoff’s site.

It was also great to hear that Ben Townley was back on the track on the complete opposite side of the world from where McGrath was. BT101 captured the 38th Annual Whakatane Summercross motocross in New Zealand on Monday (yes, it is summer in the southern hemisphere). The 25-year-old Townley rode a Kawasaki KX450F, but he will be riding a Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda when the 2010 Lucas Oil/AMA Pro Motocross Championships start up on May 22 at Hangtown.

Eric Johnson caught up with Ryan Dungey yesterday for a Racer X Online interview on the last day of the best year of Dungey’s career. Sounds like he’s ready for the 450 class! Check it out here.

Also, Dungey will be the first guest on a new online show that Fox Racing is putting together called “The Dirty 30,” with Jeff Emig hosting the live video chat for fans on Thursday after the big press conference at Anaheim. The chat will air on Fox Racing’s website, Facebook fan page and MySpace pages. That’s January 7, 7 p.m. Eastern (4 p.m. Pacific). Viewers will be eligible to win one of Ryan’s new #5 Fox jerseys!

  • Ben Townley killed it in his first race back, down south in his home country.
And now would be a great time to sign up for the Supercross Live! webcasts over at www.supercrossonline.com. They will be airing the press conference live for anyone who has signed up to listen to the 2010 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Series.

Now, here’s David Pingree...

Eight more days and we can finally put this ridiculous off-season behind us and get down to business. Seriously, this has been the worst few months leading up to January that I’ve ever seen. Teams are operating on a fraction of the budgets they’ve had the past several years, contracts, bikes, parts and everything else got a late start and it’s absolutely shameful how many good riders don’t have any support whatsoever going into the season. Don’t believe me? Michael Byrne has nothing. That guy is top ten every weekend and could easily land himself in the top five all year long. He’s had to put together his own deal riding Kawasakis. Kyle Cunningham got second in a national moto last year and he has absolutely nothing in the way of support right now. It sucks. These are just a couple examples. Trust me, there are many more out there. Hopefully all of them can scrape something up and make the best of it.

So, how about that Jason Lawrence video? The first thing that popped into my head was, “Wait, is this a clip from American History X?” Jason is barley recognizable with his shaved head and the extra weight he’s put on over the past four months. Beyond that, his attitude and demeanor were completely changed from the kid we saw the last few years. I’m ditching my typical, cynical attitude here and I’m going to say that J-Law might just have turned a corner. He’s obviously gotten some perspective while sitting in his cell and hopefully he’s realized how talented and fortunate he is to be in his position. I spoke with someone that hung out with him a little bit this week and they said he seems totally changed. He isn’t just sliding back into the same bad habits he had before. Man, I hope that’s true. Good luck, Jason. Show us what you can do with a clear head. And yes, he’s racing Anaheim 1.

  • Kyle Cunningham is a contender in the Lites class, but he's without a ride for 2010 so far.
I know a lot of people have been waiting for the debut of rookie Pro Circuit rider, Dean Wilson. But like Steve Cox mentioned, you will have to wait a little bit longer. Deano crashed while riding a track out in the hills and injured his thumb and shoulder, so he’s been switched to the East Region 250 series.

Finally, a big thanks to everyone that came out and supported the ride day for Christian Craig last week. He and his family are very grateful and the money raised will go a long way toward his very long recovery.

Thanks, Ping. To follow him, here’s the online voice of supercross, Jason Weigandt:

Not too much for me to report this week, as the California test tracks are far away from the snow-capped hinterlands of Morgantown, WV. So now I get to play the roll of the excited fan, basically just counting the hours until A1 and waiting for that race to give us some answers.

We can talk and make predictions all we want, but there’s no way to know what’s going to take place next weekend, or over the 16 additional rounds that follow. Now sure, it’s tempting to curb your enthusiasm. After all, every year we wish for 10 winners and a super-deep unpredictable series, and soon you realize only two or three riders are fast enough to win races (and, sometimes, there’s only one). But take a real look at what’s supposed to happen each year and you’ll realize that it very rarely pans out that way. For example, I remember buzz about a potential perfect season for James Stewart in 2008 and 2009. But he ended up completing just two rounds of the 2008 tour, leading to a highly dramatic battle between Kevin Windham and Chad Reed that no one would have expected.

  • Chad Reed won't be running the #1 until outdoors, but he will be on a green machine similar to this one - without a polished frame.
Last year, Stewart was back and expected to dominate again, but that lasted all of about seven laps, when he found himself down on the ground and in the back of the standings. That set up a comeback for the ages, and a battle with Reed that delivered even more drama than the previous year. The last two seasons were supposed to be runaways and ended up coming down to the wire in Vegas. Why not do it again?

I can’t wait!

Thanks, Jason. And finally, some miscellaneous items:

The world’s top extreme-sports athletes will face off against one another in a unique event at Pole Position Raceway in Corona, California, on January 12. The best motorcycle racers, skateboarders, rally car drivers, stunt riders, personal watercraft racers, off-road truck stars and more will compete head-to-head at the legendary indoor kart track in the 2nd Annual Monster Energy Extreme Sports Indoor Kart Challenge. Doors open at 4 p.m. and Opening Ceremonies kick off at 7 p.m. Admission is only $12. Last year’s event included AMA Supercross Champion Chad Reed, World Record Motorcycle Jumpers Robbie Maddison and Ronnie Renner, factory motocross star Kevin Windham, freestyle rider Todd Potter, AMA National MX Champion Grant Langston, off-road truck stars Kyle and Todd Leduc, NASCAR’s Stanton Barrett and skateboarding legend Ryan Sheckler. For more information, check out www.PolePositionRaceway.com. The event is sponsored by Monster Energy, Corona Motorsports, Impact Video, Dirt Alliance, Race Tech, and ZLT.

Reader Keith McGarvey sent this over:

I thought you guys might like to see this. Last year, I sold my ‘06 CRF450 to a rough, logger-looking guy that said he was going to make a chainsaw out of it. I told him he was crazy, but to have fun (he had cash). I never thought it would happen, but he sent me this link the other day. It looks like a handful. Thanks for putting out a great magazine. Click the link here.

Lastly, here’s a cool slideshow video that the Throttle Jockey boys put together previewing the 2010 Honda Red Bull Racing factory team, featuring Andrew Short, Davi Millsaps and WMX #1 Ashley Fiolek. Check it out here.

That’s it! Thanks for reading Racerhead. Happy New Year. See you at Anaheim!