DC is in California for some dirt bike race, so today’s Racerhead is brought to you by the rest of the crew. Buckle up - this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Before we go any farther, though, please follow the directions below. (Go ahead, we’ll wait for you.)
1. Go to your television.
2. Grab your remote.
3. Set your DVR to record the live broadcast of Anaheim 1 starting tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. ET (7:00 PT) on Speed. Ricky Carmichael is going to join Jeff Emig and Ralph Sheheen in calling all of the action tomorrow … LIVE!
If you’re not going to be in reach of a television, you can always tune in to the Supercross Live! webcast, which will again be hosted by Jason Weigandt and Jim Holley. You can subscribe to the webcast for less than $5.99 per race, or sign up for the entire season for $39.99. Go to www.supercrossonline.com/supercrosslive to register.
Like we mentioned, there’s a ton of stuff going on in our sport, from Jason Lawrence being released from jail and preparing to race tomorrow night (Simon Cudby will be posting a video of J-Law later this evening) to some shoe company releasing a motocross boot. We’ll cover that and a lot more below….
Press Day at round one of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series always seems like everyone can breathe a sigh of relief in a way. It might sound stupid, but a lot of people are wound tighter in the off-season than during the season, it seems. And this off-season was maybe worse than ever, as a lot of very, very good riders ended up without gigs for 2010. However, most of the riders who do have gigs this year were at yesterday’s pre-season press conference, including Josh Grant, who had a nasty get-off in the whoops only a couple of days before the press conference, resulting in a broken nose and a couple of black eyes (and, one would assume, at least a minor concussion). It’s not necessarily a “go” for him tomorrow, but considering how well he seemed to be riding yesterday on the one small part of the track they were allowed to ride, don’t be surprised to see him suited up and ready to race. He’s the defending champion of this particular event.
The defending champ of the series, though, James Stewart, he seems to be loose coming into A1. At the end of the riding portion of the day, he was pulling some goon riding that might even make David Vuillemin proud. There were rumors going around in the off-season that he was missing some of his off-season races, such as the one in Australia, due to injury instead of illness. Well, if he was injured yesterday, it was hard to tell, although he was coy with David Pingree in the Red Bull Ride Day video about that fact, saying (justly) that it’s rare for any rider in motocross to be “100 percent.”
Ryan Villopoto, his new teammate Chad Reed, Stewart, Grant, Josh Hill, Ryan Dungey, Ivan Tedesco, Andrew Short, Davi Millsaps, Kevin Windham, etc., this has the makings of a really great season. And with the off-season going the way it did, I think some of the top guys who have maybe been underperforming, but who are fortunate enough to have a chance this year, are going to go out and really push, and with all of those guys really trying, and with the anticipated group out front, this season can get really exciting really quickly.
Oh, and look for Ryan Dungey – er, I mean Tommy Hahn – to be a contender as the series gets going. I talked to him Sunday, and he seems pretty close to ready to go, with the exception of a bit of a concussion he got himself when he went down last week in practice.
Yes, practice tracks are dangerous, but one common misconception, in my opinion, is that they’re more dangerous than the racetrack, because people get hurt so often while practicing and testing. It’s exactly like that old statistic that says you’re so much more likely to be in a car crash within two miles of your house than anywhere else. Well, yeah, because you’re more likely to be within two miles of your house than anywhere else! Leaving or coming home, you’re going to be by your house. It’s the same thing with the practice tracks: The riders spend a lot more time on practice tracks than race tracks, so that’s where they tend to get hurt more often. It’s pretty simple, really.
And then what about the Lites class, which is stacked by any definition, with Jake Weimer, Josh Hansen, Trey Canard, Blake Wharton, Broc Tickle, and all of their teammates? It’s going to be a fight. And lucky for you guys, it’s live on TV!
Every now and then in this line of work, I get to talk to someone and it’s just kind of surreal. This happened last Tuesday night (again) when I got to interview Damon Bradshaw. When I was a young teenager, I used to scrounge in the trash at the local supercrosses trying to get a hold of his super-trick (at the time) Pro Taper bar pads and things like that. I always loved his style, his speed, and his attitude, and it’s really a shame his career ended the way it did. But if you have a few minutes today, or over the weekend, check out this interview with him. It was way too long, but he’s the kind of guy you just want to keep talking to. His perspective on the sport is truly amazing. It’s too bad he’s so busy driving those giant trucks, because he would be a serious asset in the motocross industry in a lot of ways. Maybe someday.
Christophe Pourcel was missing with his recent collarbone injury). It’s a really cool deal that Kawasaki puts on for its employees every year and, from talking to some of the employees, it really creates a family atmosphere where all of them get to feel like they’re a part of something big, which might be easy to forget sometimes. The emceeing was handled impressively by our own Jason Weigandt, and the questions were entertaining. Afterward, all of the employees were treated to a free lunch and autographs/photos with all of the racers. We wrote something up about it earlier today, so check it out here.
Here’s David Pingree:
All right, this is going to be short and sweet. And honestly, it might just be short because I’ve been up really late the past few nights getting things ready for this weekend and I’m a little delirious. Adrenaline will keep me alive through the weekend, and then by midnight on Saturday I’ll be comatose. First, I’m just really glad that Josh Grant is doing all right. The first reports I was getting were not good. For him to be riding press day yesterday is pretty amazing; he’s a tough kid.
Privateer riders got some really bad news this week. Honda is joining KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha and not posting any contingency whatsoever for pro racing in 2010. I haven’t heard what Kawasaki is doing yet, but if Honda’s move is any indication, they are probably cutting their program as well. Contingency money was a significant part of privateer rider income, and this will certainly make things tough for those riders.
Ben Townley won another supercross event down in New Zealand. He had a collision and crash with fellow countryman Cody Cooper in one of the motos, but he won the others pretty easily. Ben will continue with that series through January, but he will be here for several days of testing this month. If his flight isn’t delayed, he will be at Anaheim 2 signing autographs, in fact. According to the guy who stole my number, his fitness is getting better but he feels great just being 100 percent healthy. It’s been a while since he could say that.
Did you see the Red Bull media day video? It was a pretty fun trip, and the photos should be amazing when they start to surface. It was obviously the unveiling of Stewart’s new Nike boots, which, in my opinion, look like they are some of Buzz Aldrin’s leftovers out of the Apollo 11 lunar module. Even more interesting to me was his JS7 Answer gear. The gear he’s wearing in that video is going to be for sale to the public … Red Bull logos and all. That is very out of character for the Austrian company, which has always been very particular about where their logo is placed. Anyway, the gear looks cool and will be available for purchase sometime in the near future.
Okay, I’m so tired my eyes are starting to go crossed staring at this screen. Let’s go racing!
In other News:
Kevin Windham film. Click here to check out the late afternoon action.
Also at the Honda track were GEICO Powersports riders Trey Canard, Blake Wharton, and Justin Barcia. Canard and Wharton were putting the finishing touches on their race bikes for the first West round this weekend, while Barcia has to wait a while to race his first SX event when the series heads east. Bad Billy caught up with Trey Canard yesterday for this 5 Minutes with... interview.
Monster Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has his latest Racer X cover as his profile picture on his Facebook page. His latest post? “Getting late… and closer to A1…”
If you've been paying attention to our website, you probably checked out the East/West Lites rider list we posted earlier this week. On there you may have noticed that the renowned Honda of Troy dealership is returning this season for the East Region Lites series, as well as the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. We've been hearing some different rumors about who is riding for the team, so we called Eleven10Mods' Chad Sanner today to get the scoop, and he confirmed that they have signed Ohio natives Levi Kilbarger and Michael Willard, along with second-year pro Darryn Durham. They're also in talks with a fourth rider, and we heard it may be amateur standout Sean Lipanovich, but we can expect an official press release from Team Honda of Troy/Kilbarger LLC/Eleven10Mods early next week.
The silly season may be over for the men of supercross, but it’s ongoing in the women’s motocross world. Last season’s WMA Rookie of the Year, Sara Price, received some surprising news when Kawasaki Team Green told her they would not have any support for women’s motocross in 2010, which has sent her scrambling. Here’s hoping that this fast and charismatic prospect lands on her feet.
Travis Pastrana in a two-front battle: Monster vs. Red Bull and Ford vs. Subaru. Also, Block will be doing some World Rally events as well, kind of like Marty Smith racing both the AMA 125 Nationals in 1976 and the 125cc Grand Prix Series in Europe. Good luck to both men on both fronts.
We were working through a story of a long-ago race for Racer X Illustrated and were trying to ID some photos from the old San Bernardino track called Arroyo, which was basically where the REM track is now. Scott Wallenberg, once upon a time a top 125cc prospect, sent a photo to FMF’s Danny LaPorte to ask him of he could ID the guy on the Penton (now KTM).
“That has to be me!” wrote back LaPorte, then a future AMA 500cc National MX and 250cc World MX Champion. “I remember doing okay at that race (a per-AMA 125cc National Championship) but I crashed out of one of the motos. I was nervous as hell with so many legends in one race all coming together! What I remember most about that day was a rider named Jeff Vidic (first fast guy I knew that wore dark, thick-rimmed glasses) crashed out and he was sitting in the back of his van, moaning. I asked him what was wrong, so he had to show me that his ball sack got ripped off and his nuts where hanging out! All I remember is asking him how he did it. He crashed not far off the start in a fast dusty section and got sucked into his rear wheel! I think the throttle was stuck? Can’t get that image out of my mind….”
That makes a bunch of us now!
The trophy Don Emler is holding in the photo below was the one given to Ray Lopez, who won the 125cc class that day and was sponsored by FMF.
EnduroCross and trials rider Phil Smage was out at the Amsoil Sandbox Arena recently and we got a video of him doing trials on the Zero Electric Motorcycle.
Xavier Audouard, the French motocross journalist of MX & Moto Verte magazines and www.mxbooks.com, as well as one of the organizers of the Paris-Bercy Supercross, told me he can’t wait for Anaheim 1 to see what the French do. We know what Pourcel is capable of, but what about some of the others?
“Out of the new French faces, in the 450 class, I think Greg Aranda has some serious speed (he is coached by Jacky Vimond too, and that can’t hurt) and the two-time European Champ Fab Izoird is obviously solid (though maybe not quite as fast),” Audouard said. “Izoird’s teammate under the French team ‘Le Top Racing’ is Cyrille Coulon, who comes out of a not-so-good SX season, but he has potential too. Gautier Paulin has the potential to do very good on the 250 class (especially with DV on his corner), but from somewhere in Italy, Michele Rinaldi is watching his new protégé (& MXDN moto winner) while praying that Gautier won’t take it too seriously and rather stay focus on the 2010 MXGPs coming next April…. Will Gautier obey the orders? Not too sure, we’ll see!”
For a glimpse of Paulin getting ready, with David Vuillemin in his corner, check out LeBig’s Moto Verte video right here.
Mototown USA, the biggest indoor riding facility in the country, reopened its doors for the ’09/2010 winter riding season on December 12 with a strong turnout. According to David Olcott, Northeastern riders were delighted to see even better dirt (sand/loamy mix) than years past, a fun track layout, and friendly faces both in the office and on the track. Mototown is open Wed–Fri (12-9), Sat (9-9), and Sun (9-6). Call 860-919-6711 or go online at www.nesupercross.com.
Here’s a cool note from RedBud’s Amy Ritchie:
RedBud] was Elkhorn-inspired… My dad met up with an old racing buddy, Stellan, a couple years ago, and he recently received this photo from him of the “old man in Elkhorn” Jack Morgan of the Slow Pokes, wearing a hat like a French artist. That’s him with Torsten Hallman and Bengt Aberg, and the guy in orange overall is Eje Skarin, Hallman’s mechanic and also teammate to Hakan Andersson from the Uddevalla Motor Club.” Now that’s old-school!
Speaking of Pentons, Roddy MacLeod spotted this gem online.
Rich Van Every sent over this cool clip he made in 1999 of Travis Pastrana while shooting for one of the Fox Racing Terrafirma videos. Check it out: http://vimeo.com/8494489
Reader Tom Bender sent us this:
In response to your latest issue’s Racerhead, where Mitch Boehm waxed nostalgic over Carlsbad Raceway, here’s a website (out of a few when you use “The Google”) that has a bunch of information about the facility, including pics of the place then & now, and recent aerial pics that have overlays of where the drag strip used to be, and bits & pieces of what still remains of the motocross tracks and other items. For anyone interested, check it out.
Speaking of Boehm, he's the man behind Moto Retro Illustrated, which is a fantastic magazine for all things old-school. Check it out at www.motoretroillustrated.com.
Finally, if you’re in Anaheim and are looking for something to do, head down to The Doll Hut in Anaheim to support former Miss Supercross Sara Lipert and her band, One Less Zero. They plan on hitting the stage around 10:30 p.m., so go check them out!
Thanks for reading, and be sure to stay tuned to Racer X Online or any of our social networks (Twittter/Facebook/MySpace) all weekend long for updates, news, and results. We’ll see you at the races.
Kira Savino is an Anaheim Ducks fan!
photo: Matt Ware