Racerhead #4

January 22, 2010 7:08pm | by:
You just know it’s going to be an interesting weekend when you jump in your rental car at LAX on Thursday night, switch on the radio, and hear Jeff Emig doling out advice to broken-hearted girls and sex addicts on KROQ’s “Loveline” with Dr. Drew (alas, Tiger did not call in). I had no idea that Fro knew so much about, well, everything!

It’s still raining in Anaheim, which is where Racerhead is coming to you from. I just left the stadium, where Simon Cudby was shooting the Monster Energy Kawasakis of Ryan Villopoto and Chad Reed. The track is practically shrink wrapped with plastic as the Dirt Wurx crew has been battling the weather all week. There has been a ridiculous amount of rain here, but this is not Rich Winkler’s first rodeo... Er, race. It should be good tomorrow night, weather-permitting.

  • This image was caught during Anaheim '08 in the mud. What will it look like this year?
If you want to watch the AMA Supercross class on TV from Anaheim II, you’ll have to tune into CBS on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. The Lites class will then air over on SPEED at 10:00 p.m. ET Sunday night. And of course you can listen to it live over on www.supercrossonline.com all season long with a subscription.

There’s a really cool new project involving David Bailey and the guys at One Industries that you will be hearing about later on this evening. Stay tuned—and be ready to help your fellow riders out in a way you will enjoy...

If you can find a person on this planet who pegged the 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series’ top five after two rounds as: 1.) Ryan Dungey; 2.) Ryan Villopoto; 3.) Kevin Windham; 4.) Josh Hill; 5.) Andrew Short... I can hardly type and not shake my head at how far off we all were. We all knew after last year that anything can happen, but with last Saturday’s bizarre turn of events, we now have the proof!

Not to take anything away from Ryan Dungey, who is off to best rookie-season start in the history of the sport—he’s been on the podium in all three career 450 mains (Minnesota ’08 and the first two rounds this year) and he won his first-ever in only his third outing—but it’s shocking to not see #1 nor #22 up there, what with all the hype. And then to see them on the ground together (again) and tempers flaring—Johnny O’Hannah wrote that James replied to the collision with Reed “by going Kaw-tipping after the race”—that’s good stuff!

  • Chad Reed knew right away that his hand was hurt, but didn't know how bad.
After James Stewart barely made it to the main after his frightening crash with the unfortunate Kyle Partridge, who landed on him in traffic. Partridge was okay, though he failed to qualify. Stewart limped off, taped up, and got back on the bike and qualified for the main in the LCQ. But starting from the far outside, James suffered a poor start and then ended up on the ground with Chad Reed. Everyone’s got an opinion, and I think mine is consistent with most: It was a racing accident, not a takeout, and really no one’s fault. But the FIM series official decided to come down on Reed anyway with a $5,000 fine and one-race suspension, only to have the deal wisely overturned by the FIM Stewards (the AMA’s Jeff Canfield and the FIM’s own Dirt De Neve).

But that’s not going to heal the broken hand that Reed incurred in the collision, so now he’s out after having surgery on Monday, as first reported here at Racer X Online. As for James, he was none too pleased with Reed and went to tell him so afterward, reportedly knocking Reed’s race bike over in the Kawasaki pits (Reed was over in the medic’s trailer or there might have been a need for some real suspensions if those two had found one another).

The big winners in all of these of course are Dungey, Villopoto, Hill and friends, as well as the series organizers at Feld Motorsports, Inc., and every single supercross fan who wants to see some drama in what many feared would be a title runaway. And now that it might rain at Anaheim II? Wow.

The always insightful David Bailey had an interesting take on what happened during and after the Phoenix race, which you can check out on his site right here.

And if want to hear James himself discuss the events of the evening, Simon helped #1 and his San Manuel Yamaha team manager Larry Brooks pull this over-the-internet interview together so Stewart could address the controversy himself.

And finally, to read #22 Chad’s 22 minutes and 22 seconds interview with Steve Cox, look right here.

In the Lites class, it’s not much of a surprise that Jake Weimer has taken the first two rounds in the West Region, though I think a lot of folks expected more of a challenge from the GEICO Powersports Honda of Trey Canard, as well as his teammate Blake Wharton. I will admit that last week, even though I was watching the race with Thor/Parts Unlimited’s Sweet, Sweet Lou Lopez and Hylton Beatty, I was openly cheering for Ryan Morais. I don’t think there’s a rider out there right now who deserves a win more than this man. If he puts himself in the right place and makes some good decisions over the course of 15 laps on Saturday night, this just might be his long-awaited first win.

  • Jake Weimer (12) leads friend Ryan Morais (116) late in the Phoenix Lites main.
Meanwhile, down in Florida, KTM factory rider Mike Alessi finished up his tour of the Sunshine State in the Dade City mud. Alessi, who had troubles in his second set of motos and lost to British import Brad Anderson, will now head to Spain, where he will spend ten days working with none other than Stefan Everts. Then he will do three GP races before coming back to the major task at hand: the 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships.

Meanwhile, down in New Zealand, future Troy Lee Designs’ Honda rider Ben Townley scored another win in his domestic supercross series. BT101 is riding a Kawasaki right now but will soon be red—and like Alessi, likely very fast—by the time the outdoors start. Ben will be here this weekend at Anaheim, checking on his new team and new team manager David Pingree.

With Chad Reed now out with a broken hand, and Ryan Villopoto still not quite up to speed, and Ryan Dungey riding lights-out in his rookie fortnight on the big bike, add the absent Alessi and Townley to the mix, as well as already-sidelined Josh Grant, and the 450 class this summer is shaping up as a fantastic series!

Here’s a letter from an old friend, British GP rider Rob Andrews:

Saw RJ’s comment about Reed needing to practice 20 starts a day in last week’s Racerhead... Once, Rick Ryan was at French International race. To determine gate pick the organizers ran a three-lap race after practice. This was announced over the speakers, but in French. Rick didn’t speak French, so while we were all lined up in the pit box for this race he showed up last, not knowing what was going on. As a result he had last pick (for the 3-lap race) and started way outside, on a very one-sided start line.

Of course he holeshot, from a good 20 yards further back than the inside gates! And on a 250 against 500s! He was always a good starter so I asked if he practiced starts much. He said that he did fifty starts a day. Think about that. That’s a solid hour of practice starts. Every day! I doubt that any top rider does that these days, yet it is the most important part of the race.

I asked one top GP rider once too. He said, “Yeah, sure, I practice starts.” When I pushed him he admitted that what he did was practice three or four until he got one right and then he thought, ‘Got that down,’ and went back to riding round the track again.

Interesting huh?

Rob Andrews (Team Great Britain 1985)

Let’s turn it over first to Ping...

Torrential rain, mudslides, tornadoes... what’s going on out here in not-so-sunny California? The traffic is snarled, airports are closed or delayed, and power lines are down all over Southern California. And, most importantly, my pool has spilled over and flooded the meticulously manicured fescue in my back yard. That’s what really matters, right?

I’ve been getting mixed reports about the condition of the track in Angel Stadium in Anaheim. I originally heard the whole track was under water. But then I saw the pictures posted here on Racer X Online and it didn’t look that bad to me. It seems like those guys have a handle on it and the track will be pretty dang good by the time the night show comes around on Saturday. I know they brought in some sand but I suggest that they bring in all the sand they can find. Does anyone remember the Miami Supercross in 1989? It was probably one of the sandiest SX tracks ever built and the racing was epic! Damon Bradshaw crashes, like, 15 times and still comes back to win the 125 class and RJ beats Jean-Michel Bayle and Jeff Stanton in the 250 main. If you’ve never seen it, click this link and check it out. Why not bring something like this to Anaheim?

  • Jimmy Albertson on the TLD team last year at Seattle.
We came very close to re-signing Jimmy Albertson this year. I love the kid and when he is in the right place mentally he hauls the mail. Anyway, he got a ride with Martin Honda to race the GPs and it was a great offer for him. I haven’t talked to him since he left the country but I did get this note and video clip from his dad this week:

Hey Pingster,
Thanks for the email! It kills Jimmy to not being able to ride SX... Jimmy said the tracks are not that great in Spain. Many riders go there to be able to ride in the winter. He will go to Italy at the end of the month and eventually to Belgium a little closer to the season starting. He is ready to get somewhere that has better tracks. Josh Coppins showed up the other day so now Jimmy he has a riding buddy. Jimmy said his twin-cylinder Aprilia is bad ass! Coppins says it is the fastest bike and best turning bike he has ever ridden, just a little heavy in the front in some instances. Gregg did this short video of him the other day.
Wow, Hahn was hauling and Seely looked good too. Way to go, boss!
Have a great week!

Any ski fans out there? Daron Rahlves is arguably the best US skier ever and he is also a huge motocross fan. He and I have gone surfing, snowmobiling, mountain-biking and skiing together so I know he has some serious thrill issues. But his latest project is absolutely ridiculous. In Deep is the name of the film he’s featured in and this clip shows just how out there this guy is. Click on the link, it will blow your mind. Daron will compete in the Winter Olympics this winter in Whistler in the Skier-Cross event and he is a favorite to win. After that he’ll be back on his bike to prepare for the Mammoth Motocross and the Crossover event at Hangtown.

Sorry for all the links but they are all worth watching. Remember to come by the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda truck this weekend and say hello to Ben Townley, who will be in town for a few days. Ben actually races Saturday night in Auckland [which will be over by the time this posts] and then jumps on a plane at midnight to Los Angeles that arrives at noon on Saturday. Thanks to the magic of the International Date Line, he doesn’t need a flux capacitor to go back in time. He’ll head home again Tuesday night for another race in his home country.

Thanks Ping. But here’s an editor’s note: Regarding the contingency debacle caused by Ping and Cox, first with Honda and then Suzuki, American Suzuki will indeed have a 2010 Motocross Contingency Program. All program details will be available next week at www.suzukicycles.com/racing.

Okay, here’s some feedback from last week’s RH from Kenny Sievers:

I just got done reading Racerhead and Steve Cox’s point on the semis hit it on the head! They need to bring that back ASAP. I noticed that from the third-to-seventh guys the racing is always closer with more passing. You have your two top guys who run out (I.E. Reed and Stewart) and behind them it’s so much closer. It would be great and make the show that much better. One other thing is the track design. I remember RC saying two or threes years back that the racing will never get better if the tracks get harder. For example, how is a pass supposed to be made when you’re landing in the turn and then putting all focus on jumping out of the turn into a rhythm section? I believe if you open the turns up entering and exiting, more passing would be attempted for sure. Just a thought and maybe that can be passed up to the powers-that-be...

  • Last night was the Tucker Rocky open house in Corona.
Tucker Rocky, distributor for MSR/Answer/ProTaper, held an open house on Thursday night out at their Corona, California, offices. Riders Kevin Windham, Nick Wey, Brian Deegan, Ernesto Fonseca, and the main man Malcolm Smith did a big autograph session for the crowd. Check out the photos here.

Please join Fox MX team riders Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Dungey, Josh Hill, Trey Canard and Blake Wharton at the Valley Fair Fox store on Thursday, January 28, from 6-7 p.m. This is a special opportunity to meet & greet your favorite Fox riders and collect a special-edition team poster. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend.
2855 Stevens Creek Blvd. #1080
Santa Clara, CA 95020

Time for Steve Cox to weigh in on the weekend…

I’m pretty sure it’s kind of annoying to the parties involved that there is so much attention paid to a simple crash and what seemed like an easily explained shove down on the track, which led to a hot temper. But the fact of the matter is, this sport – ALL sports – need conflict. That’s what sport is—it’s conflict! If everyone was riding around talking about how good the other guys are, and how much they respect them and all that nonsense, all we have is a bunch of motorcycles going around and around on a track. There’s no drama there.

Do you know what built NASCAR? The 1979 Daytona 500 fight between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. That’s it. It was the first race on live network TV and it ended in a helmet-swinging brawl. People started to really care about that sport that day. Not just the “hardcore fans” who were already fans, but the public in general. And the hardcore fans started to like it even more.

Now, I understand, if you’re the fastest guy on the planet, why you wouldn’t want it to be this way. I understand why you would prefer just a heads-up race where no one does anything to try and get in each other’s heads. But that’s boring. It’s just a skills competition. And that’s fun if you’re the guy with the most skills, but it’s not fun for anyone else. Ricky Carmichael used to say, “A boring race is good for somebody.” Yes, that’s true. But the sport cannot stand on the head of one person. If the sport is going to continue to be strong in the marketplace, it needs competition. And competition means conflict. And conflict means that sometimes tempers are going to flare and people are going to do stupid things.

  • Hopefully, there's less action inside the AMA truck this weekend.
Ricky Carmichael threatened to kill Tim Ferry once at the Salt Lake City SX, for example. I’m sure Ricky regrets it now, but at the time, he was pretty pissed off! And it’s okay to let off steam when you’re pissed off. It’s okay when you’re Ricky Carmichael, or when you’re Chad Reed, or when you’re James Stewart.

But, in my opinion, these things should be handled by the riders until such a point that it boils over completely. And while James Stewart was mad enough to go to Reed’s pit and apparently knock over a bike (not a big deal), and according to Reed, to yell that he’s going to kill him (empty threats aren’t really a big deal, either), I say all kinds of crazy stuff when I’m angry. Who cares? I don’t think it was unprofessional of either of them to react the way they did. There’s a lot on the line and they both have a right to be angry or upset.

However, I do think it was out of line for the FIM’s John Gallagher to draw conclusions before even talking to Chad Reed, as he handed out a penalty before even seeing Reed based on a “shove” or whatever that Reed gave Stewart while on the ground – as it turns out, according to Reed, to get James off of his broken hand. If you can’t shove a guy while you’re down to get him off your broken hand, we’re going the wrong way.

This situation is the perfect example of why the head officials need to not be so arrogant as to think they have the answer before the question is asked. And, in my opinion, that’s what happened at Phoenix, when Gallagher penalized Reed before even seeing the broken hand or hearing an explanation. Instead, he penalized Chad Reed for being Chad Reed because he can be a hothead and has had other incidents in the past. If the two riders on the ground were Jake Weimer and Ryan Morais, and everything else were the same, the reaction would not have been the same from Gallagher, because those guys are friends. But because Chad Reed and James Stewart hate each other’s guts, I really believe Gallagher jumped to conclusion.

Thankfully, the appeal process worked, and at 3:45 a.m. on Sunday, the ruling was overturned. Hopefully everyone, including the official, has learned something from this so it doesn’t happen again.

As for Stewart, I’m actually really happy to see emotion like that. Emotion is good, and it’s good when you’re happy and doing the sprinkler on the floor, just like it’s good when you’re pissed off and want to rip off someone’s head. Good on you, James. And good job on the video interview, too, as it was apparent that you came to grips with what happened and now everyone can move on.

  • Kyle Chisholm returned to action at Phoenix and grabbed a solid 12th in the 450cc main.
I also have to say that Ricky Johnson, in his interview we ran on Thursday, was dead-on about just about everything, in my opinion, so when he pointed out a different opinion than me about something, I had to reconsider my position. In a quote that I didn’t run in the interview, RJ talked about what happened at Salt Lake City last year between Chad Reed and Stewart’s teammate at the time, Kyle Chisholm, and when I said that the real problem wasn’t the contact, but that Chisholm was a lap down at the time, RJ responded with the following:

“If I’m going into a race, this is just the way I would prepare myself mentally. If I’m Chad Reed going into a race for the championship like last year at Salt Lake, I’m going to expect Bubba to take me out. I’m going to expect it, so I’m not going to be disappointed when he does it. I’m going to expect it, and I’m going to be ready for a good counter. And if I’m around his teammate, I’m going to expect it, too. I’m going to expect him to maybe look to the left and fade to the right, or maybe do something dumb, or maybe stall it, or maybe fall down in front of me… I’m driving around a drunk driver, so I’m the guy who’s supposed to plan for it. Just like Jimmie [Johnson]; let’s watch Homestead and watch how much crap Jimmie got into before he won the championship. So if I’m James Stewart, I’m going to expect Chad Reed to try and take me out, too. I’m going to expect for him to take a shot at me.” So, okay, I may have been wrong about that one. I’ll leave it to RJ.

Here’s Jason Weigandt

At this point, I don’t think there’s anything left to say about the Phoenix SX, but if for some reason your computer locked up on Tuesday, go back and check out our new Racer X Redux column that was posted then. The author really doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but that may make things fun for you.

This year has to be considered the year of the online video. Yes, the technology has come of age already, both to the masses with YouTube and within our sport with shows like the Racer X Motocross show, and the originator of it all, MX SportsCenter from Loretta Lynn Ranch. But while these have been around for a few years, video has suddenly exploded everywhere. I’m guessing there were easily 100 videos made at Anaheim 1 this year, and we even had a few Racer X Supercross Show clips on our site, and there were plenty of others elsewhere. Myself and Jim Holley even put together some clips for the supercrossonline.com site every Saturday, and last weekend in Phoenix we chatted with Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto, Josh Hill, Davi Millsaps, Grant Langston, Max Anstie, Tommy Searle...

And we were just a small fraction of what was going on out there. Anyway, now that everyone is doing video, I wonder where this will all end up. Will the riders get burnt out on doing 15 interviews every weekend? Will the fans eventually say, “I can’t keep up with this anymore?” Or by the time we get to, say, St. Louis in the middle of April, will a lot of the video makers have dropped by the wayside? We’ll see. As for me, the riders are already sick of me sticking microphones in their face so I’ll try to leave them alone as best as I can. And if it’s annoying, I’ll just hide behind the classic “just doing my job” barrier.

That’s all I have left this week, but please check in to our webcast at supercrossonline.com/supercrosslive. Not only will we cover every minute of this weekend’s action from Anaheim live on the web, but we’ll conduct plenty of addition interviews with the riders, and yes, some will be on video. Just what you were looking for!

Okay, guys, and just on to some miscellaneous things:

  • The new Pro Taper clamp.
Here’s a new product to check out: Pro Taper is pleased to present the latest in System-Performance-Innovation, the Pro Taper 4.3 Fork Clamp. This is the lightest, strongest fork clamp we have ever made, offering 4 bar mount positions with 3 different bar mounts to choose from 7/8”, 1 1/8” and our exclusive AVS rubber mount system. Precision CNC machined from 6061 Billet Aluminum for a precise fit and clear anodized for a durable finish. A first in performance is the radius edges, lending a perfect blend of flex and rigidity for optimum traction and bike-to-rider feedback. The 4.3 Fork Clamp comes complete with a pre-pressed stem, bearing, seal and mounting hardware. Click here for more info and pricing.

Reader Scott Williams sent us this:

Urge Congress to hold hearings regarding the CPSIA lead ban affecting youth-model off-highway motorcycles and ATVs I just took action on this issue and thought you might find it interesting too. Please help spread the word on these important issues. Click on this link to take action now.

Racer X reader and CNN staffer Sean Kelly sent this YouTube link over:

I posted a profile that we did for CNN 10 years ago about Doug Henry and his family. Our stories could only air a couple of times and I thought that folks might want to check it. Seeing his new “cage bike” set-up made me remember what a great guy he is and what drive he has.

Good luck to our friend Andy Wigan, who is leaving Australasian Dirt Bike magazine after a decade. He’s decided to move on and take up an exciting opportunity with a new cross-media brand.

Also, Brandon Roberts has resigned as the CEO of Metzger Unltd. to pursue a new venture. To find out more, you can visit his website at MainLineMediaOnline.com or you can reach him by email at info@MainlineMediaOnline.com.

Here’s a video from Round 3 of the Winter MX Series at the AMSOIL Sandbox Arena.

Congratulations to One Industries’ co-founder Ludo Boinnard on accomplishing a longtime dream by participating in and finishing the Dakar Rally, which is held in South America. Ludo ended up 40th overall, and he sent along this link of amazing photos from the world’s toughest rally event.

EVS Sports’ Athlete Marketing Manager Tommy Hofmaster and his wife Kara, of Janesville, WI, have added an incredibly wonderful addition to their family. Deaken Thomas Hofmaster made his entrance into the world at 12:22 am on January 20, 2010, in Freeport, IL. He weighed 7 lbs. 3 oz. and was 20 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing very well and daddy is one proud papa! Deaken is the first child for the Hofmasters’.

Zak Mashburn MX Schools will be holding motocross schools before the 2010 Lake Whitney Spring Classic on March 8-13. Two different three day classes will be held at Lake Whitney MX Park, the first is February 17-19 and the second is March 1-3. The fee is $750 for each 3 day class and they are open to all ages and abilities. You can call Zak at (254) 592-5131 or email zakmashburnmxschools@gmail.com

Finally, let me turn the floor over here to newcomer Aaron Hansel, who wanted to preview Anaheim 2 in Andy Bowyer-Rev-Up! fashion…

Fans would be blessed if the 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season is able to come close to the incredible bar-banging action and drama that the ‘09 version delivered. Fortunately, after just two races, this year is already promising to be packed with even more great racing, drama and surprises.

  • Kyle Partridge survived a tough night in Phoenix.
You know all about the opener, with Stewart having to chase the surprising Ryan Dungey down, and Chad Reed going out with a busted front wheel after colliding off the start with Austin Stroupe. Then at Phoenix, the drama started early when Stewart and Kyle Partridge had a nasty midair collision that left them both lying on the ground in pain (fortunately, Red Seven Ride Company’s Partridge only had the wind knocked out of him). After slowly walking off the track in obvious pain, Stewart came back to win the LCQ. Then the main went off and within five laps we had a brand new season on our hands!

Now the points race is wide open. Dungey leads Ryan Villopoto by nine points, while Kevin Windham and Josh Hill sit tied for third, each just three points behind Villopoto. Stewart resides in seventh place, 16 points back of first, while Reed’s championship hopes are completely ruined. All this after just two races!

So what can happen from here? Stewart showed everyone last year that he is fully capable of handling the pressure of a large points deficit. Then again, the situation is slightly different this year. Last year, not even Reed could race with Stewart for than a few laps at a time. This year, at A1, Dungey proved he has the speed to run at Stewart’s pace for more than two or three laps. If Dungey keeps riding like he is, Stewart is going to have his gloves full trying to retake the championship lead—and we still don’t really know for sure the extent of James’ injuries. Dungey has put himself in a great position, and if he continues to ride like he already is, he may not even need any help from anyone.

Another threat comes from Villopoto, who kept Dungey in sight for a good portion of the race in Phoenix. If he finds just a little more speed (remember, he was out all last summer) he will be battling for the title. And after coming off of a bad year in 2009, Josh Hill is on a new team and so far, has done what’s necessary to give himself and San Manuel Yamaha a fighting chance to take it all home. Like RV, if he kicks it up a notch, he will find himself vying for wins as soon as Anaheim 2. And of course, don’t count out Windham. Jeff Emig may have jokingly referred to him as an old man, but Windham has found all sorts of speed in the past when properly motivated. Maybe sitting third in points, ahead of both Stewart and Reed, will be Windham’s trigger this year.

As good as the season is turning out to be, there are still 15 races left and the best is certainly yet to come. The stage is set for another amazing season so strap yourself in and get ready for Anaheim 2!

Oh, by the way, the Road 2 Recovery Foundation's Anita Button told us that today is the tenth anniversary of her son's career-ending accident. "It's hard to believe it’s been that long," Anita said. "I'm so grateful and proud of how far Jimmy and Road 2 Recovery have come."

That’s it, thanks for reading Racerhead... Oh, and Fro, thanks for the, um, holeshot advice last night on the radio! Just kidding. See you at the races.