Racerhead #6

February 5, 2010 4:45pm | by:
Welcome to Racerhead, which is coming to from either the frozen tundra of Morgantown, WV (me), or much-warmer San Diego (the rest of the gang). Today marks the first day in my entire life that I remember school being canceled across the entire state due to the threat of snow, but as of 12:02 p.m. EST, there’s still no snow at all. So I am going to turn my portion in early and go home and hang out with the home team.

First, let’s preview this weekend’s track with our animated track map here.

And we got none other than Chad Reed, the sidelined two-time AMA Supercross Champion and reigning AMA Motocross Champion to take the Smith Track Walk with us. Check it out here.

  • Steve Hudson holding chapel at Anaheim I.
Before we get in too much farther, you should really take a look at this Between the Motos interview Bad Billy did earlier this week with Chaplain Steve Hudson, because while most of the industry was focused on Anaheim, Steve Hudson was focused on Anaheim and Haiti. Can you imagine the dichotomy of going from the Knothole Club to Port-au-Prince?

After the interview was posted, I received clarification that “Chappy” is also the official Chaplain for JGRMX. “He comes to our shop every Monday and shares inspiration during lunch hour,” JGRMX’s David Evans told us. “He’s awesome. He’s actually listed as a team member on our website in the team section.”

Tune into Speed on Sunday to catch both classes from the San Diego SX. The Lites class will air at 12:00 p.m. ET, followed by the SX class at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Also, make sure you check out the Racer X Films editions featuring Mat Rebeaud and Nick Wey, and make sure you stay tuned to Racer X Online for more from the Racer X SX Show throughout the day tomorrow from San Diego.

What Anaheim II lacked in regard to fans (fair-weather or otherwise), San Francisco made up for in spades (not-so-fair-weather and all). More used to forecasts of rain than their fellow Californians to the south, the citizens of the City by the Bay came out in droves for what promised to be a slightly muddy race, only to find another well-prepped track by Dirt Wurx, and it was again the result of them being well-protected with smart use of plastic wraps (There’s a condom sponsorship out there somewhere for these guys!). The fans showed faith in the weather, and the sport, and came out in what the people in Southern California might have deemed Arctic weather (high 40s). It reaffirmed my faith in how the series as a whole will do in this still-harsh economic time, and they did it without the luxury of having three of the biggest names in the sport right now on the starting gate: James Stewart, Reed and Josh Grant (and Jason Lawrence and Mike Alessi have been MIA, too).

Now that I think of it, the San Fran raced appears to be the first of the year in which we didn’t see a title contender drop out afterward. At the first Anaheim, it was Muscle Milk/Toyota JGR Yamaha’s Josh Grant with his “banged up but he’ll be fine” shoulder injury. In Phoenix, we saw Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Reed break his clutch hand when Stewart’s throttle came down on it after tangling out of a sharp right-hand corner. And then San Manuel Yamaha’s Stewart took his leave after taking third at A2 even though his wrist was jacked up enough to forfeit a potential 25 points to series points leader Ryan Dungey in San Fran.

  • Ryan Dungey picks up his bike after his Heat-race crash, in the same spot he would later fall in the main event.
But then it didn’t turn out that way. In a lucky-to-walk-away crash, Ryan Dungey threw away what would have easily been his third main event win in a row. I am sure you saw the highlight-reel crash on TV, or maybe even YouTube, but it appeared his right foot slipped off in between jumps while he was on the hammer, which sent him cockeyed off the back of the bike. It’s been a while since we saw someone throw away a race win like that all by his lonesome, but the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider was up in a hurry, then had to hang on for fourth.

In the process, Dungey lost seven points to the winner Ryan Villopoto, who can now hopefully quiet all of the cynics online complaining that he’s out of shape because he looks a little heavier than he did last year. Dungey also lost four points to runner-up Josh Hill, who is also quieting the cynics who say he lost too much weight since last year. (Josh is also 4-and-0 in the battle to keep his pants up.) And Davi Millsaps gained two points on Dungey, quieting cynics who said he wasn’t going to do as well now that he’s a single man.

Think about this: In the last six rounds of AMA Supercross, going back to Seattle ’09, the main-event winners have been Villopoto (3), Dungey (2) and Stewart (2). That’s why we call it bench racing!

It was also good to see a top ten for Nick Wey, Reed’s replacement at Kawasaki. I saw Nick’s dad, Terry, there under the Monster Energy Kawasaki tent and congratulated them on getting called up. He laughed and said, “I’ve always had a fondness for green,” recalling Nick’s upbringing as a Team Green standout.

Then I saw Ryan Dungey in the airport Sunday morning and asked if he was okay. “Yes, I’m fine, thanks for asking,” he shrugged, then added an, “Oh well!” I think that was the exact same conversation we had after he won Phoenix. And Anaheim 2!

  • Trey Canard and his mom celebrate his first win of the year.
In the Lites class, Jake Weimer’s perfect season ended after a perfect run by Trey Canard. The GEICO Powersports Honda rider was just solid in all 15 laps, much to the delight of the partisan crowd... No, he’s not from San Francisco, but the gang at Fox Racing are from right down the 101 in Morgan Hill and were there in force. I was also sitting with my mom about two rows over from Trey’s mom and family in rider seating, and they were the loud ones all night long! Armed with homemade posters and wonderful enthusiasm for #38, the Canard clan was loud and proud. It was pretty cool to see and hear.

As for Weimer, he didn’t get it going in time to race with Canard, but it was better than his teammate Josh Hansen, who would have had yet another holeshot had he not overcooked the first turn and ended up out on the plastic. After that, I thought Hanny rode hard and went fast, but his dead-last start was impossible to overcome. I find myself pulling for this kid now. He really is trying hard, and he really is good. With the right set of circumstances—good start, don’t pump up, don’t fade—he could win one of these. But, then again, that’s what happens to a lot of guys out there.

I saw MotoConcepts Yamaha’s Jeff Alessi after the Lites race in rider seating and he was bummed that arm-pump dropped him from fifth to ninth at the end. “Everything is good with my body, my legs, my conditioning... But my arms just pumped up!” he told me. (See what I wrote about Hansen above, because same goes for Jeffrey.)

And then there’s the other Alessi, Mike (how often do they get referred to in that order?!) who is somewhere in Europe, shaking down his KTM 350 with help from a certain 10-time world motocross champion. Like Ben Townley, Alessi is going to use the first three Grand Prix races as warm-ups to the real objective in 2010, which is the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship. It will give him a chance to see how he matches up with top Europe-based riders like Tony Cairoli, David Philippaerts, Max Nagl and more. Of all the Americans, this Alessi would seem most comfortable racing abroad, and even though he’s been out of serious action since he won the Freestone National early last June, he should be able to run with those guys on their home turf.

The same goes for Townley, who spent a few years in Europe getting up to speed before moving to America and joining the AMA circuit. BT101 was fantastic in 2007, but he’s been invisible here ever since due to his chronic injuries. Now with the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda team, he’s also going to be over there for a few warm-up races in the hopes of finding his own speed, which was ridiculous.

  • Manu Rivas is back on board with the Warthog, starting at A3.
We got a note from the main man at the Confused Clothing/Warthog Racing Academy, Mr. Scott Kandel, about some of “the biggest squad in supercross’” recent milestones. He explained that Manu Rivas is back as the official senior member of the academy. “Amazingly, Manu went to the hospital directly after finishing the main event in San Francisco for an emergency appendectomy!” wrote Kandel. “He wasn’t feeling well all day long and still raced at a pace that would rank him among the top 20 supercross riders in the world. That is one tough dude!”

Rivas was able to battle past Michael Sleeter for an LCQ qualifying spot and then gutted out, er, oops, poor choice of words... Battled through the pain for 17th in the main event, and he now sits 17th in the standings in AMA Supercross. Rivas will have to miss this weekend’s San Diego round, but he should be back for Anaheim 3.

Scott also wanted to mention the “little known but highly talent #251 Josh Clark of Connecticut and the N.E.S.C.” for making his first main event. Also, Jake Canada continued his fine West Region season with his 12th-place finish in the Lites in San Francisco.

By the way, the benevolent band of privateers known as the Confused Clothing/Warthog Racing Academy will consist of 24 riders when the series heads east in two weeks to Indianapolis. According to Scott, it will be 14 big bikes and 10 Lites riders. Good luck to all two-dozen of them!

So what about Stewart? When will he be back? I ask Larry Brooks yesterday, and he explained that James could be back for Atlanta, just four weeks after surgery, but that was doubtful. The next race would be Daytona, and that’s probably not the best spot for a guy with a wrist injury to come back to, either. So it’s most likely going to be Toronto or maybe even Dallas.

In other Europe news, Monster Energy and Pro Circuit worked out a deal to support the Kawasaki factory team of Steven Frossard and Jeremy Van Horebeek. Frossard is French and was very fast at the MXoN. Van Horebeek is Belgian and an extremely nice kid. They should be a formidable duo together.

  • Check out this cool collection of vintage photos.
Here’s a really cool find: Photos from the 1974 AMA Motocross National at Appalachia Lake MX Park in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. That was my dad’s first-ever AMA Pro National, and it was won by #2 Pierre Karsmakers (Yamaha Monoshock YZ250) and Tony DiStefano (big fat CZ!). Scott Wallenberg spotted them on Terry Good’s excellent www.mxworksbike.com site. Look closely and you will spot some real gems, like a Noguchi Yamaha, and the late “Gassin’” Gaylon Mosier

The track went away in 1975 when the landowner got caught up in some tax problems, so mom and dad took their motocross races to a place called Keyser’s Ridge, just down the road in Maryland. But that place was so rocky it didn’t last a year, and we landed at High Point Raceway in September ’76... No matter, Appalachia Lake still holds some major memories for me, including the unfortunate attempt of the daredevil Bob Gill to try to jump the lake on a Kawasaki street bike, and winning my first race. And believe it or not, I asked my wife to marry me there one late December day in 1998, not long after we lost dad.

Terrible segue, I know, but Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and nothing says “I heart you” like something for your wife or girlfriend from Vance’s Blues (www.vancesblues.com), which happens to be my wife’s clothing boutique. Order now from my Shannon’s store here in Morgantown (where I am working this Saturday rather than going to A3) and we’ll throw in a free Justin Brayton cover poster for you! Heck, we’ll even give you a couple of free pit passes to the national of your choice this summer (minimum order of $50). Okay, no more commercials.

Okay, let me turn it over here to David Pingree:

  • Wil Hahn's gear, along with his teammate Cole Seely's, is available for charity auction to help Haiti.
I want to remind everyone that there are only two days left in the TLD gear auction for Haiti Relief 2010. The gear and helmets worn by Wil Hahn and Cole Seely in San Francisco are one of a kind and signed by Troy and each rider. Go to www.Troyleedesigns.com and click on the auction tab at the top, or just click here to go straight there.

Also, I’d like to thank Honda for stepping up to help as well. American Honda got behind the effort on Saturday and committed to matching whatever dollar figure that our guys made in contingency money that night. Very classy.

There’s been a lot of speculation as to how or why Ryan Dungey crashed in the exact same spot in his heat and in the main. It was a moderately technical jump but nothing you would expect to force two errors that big from the same guy in the same night. Ryan said in his DMXS radio appearance that he cross-rutted in the heat race and then his foot was ripped off the peg by a rut in the main. Of course, this led to wild speculation that the Nike boots he’s wearing failed him and he could have been hurt, etc. Stop it. Just stop it, people. Those boots functioned absolutely flawlessly during the first lunar landing and I’m sure they are technically proficient as motocross apparel as well. I’m just glad Ryan is okay.

We’re headed to San Diego this weekend and it prompted me to do a little research. After spending some time Googling and studying online I’ve discovered that the coastal city was, in fact, not discovered by the Germans in 1904. Likewise, the city’s name does not in any way, shape or form mean “a whale’s vagina” like we all thought. Now you know.

We’ve gotten really lucky with weather the last couple rounds. Despite the rain, there have been breaks in the storms and our Saturdays have been perfectly clear. I don’t think we are going to be that lucky this weekend. In fact, the chance of rain has increased for Saturday and we are most likely going to have a mess on our hands. Here’s the latest... There’s one simple pleasure I get from a cold, rainy day at the races like that. I don’t know why but it makes me laugh watching the 30-second board girls try to smile and act nonchalant as they near hypothermia in their Monster costumes. It’s the same sense of joy I get when I see some jerk in a convertible sports car with the top down when it’s freezing outside and you know he’s got the heater cranked in there. It just makes me smile.

Thanks, Ping, now it’s time for Steve Cox:

“It never rains in California.” That’s a statement made by non-Californians, as if they watch “The OC”, where it only rains for dramatic effect, and believe that’s how it really is in California. Well, never say never. And as we’ve learned in recent years, chances are really good that, when supercross is in town, it’s going to rain in Southern (or, heck, Northern, for that matter) California.

  • A mud master, can Kevin Windham pull off a victory tomorrow night?
Dirt Wurx has been doing an awesome job, but this is just too much. Enough, already! But it’s not enough, is it? Nooo... Mother Nature has a deluge set for us for Saturday. The last time I looked, it was going to stop raining at about 5 p.m. However, according to Ping’s link above, it’s looking like it’ll be wet right through the entire show.

So, as Andy Bowyer alluded to in his Thursday Rev-Up here, where he said maybe we’ll see a Kevin Windham win, it could be that Bowyer a regular Nostradamus (with the difference being that he may actually be right about this one). Windham was going fast at San Francisco, as evident by the fact that he was the fastest rider in practice, but he “rode like shit” (his words) in the main event for some reason. Hey, it happens, but Windham has always done well in the mud. Combine his speed this season with his prowess in the mud, and he might be a great choice for a win inside Qualcomm Stadium tomorrow night.

I know the goggle builders and mechanics hate the rain, and some of the riders do, too, but I think it’s awesome. It’s the ultimate change of pace. It’s the ultimate leveler of the playing field. Remember when Rick Ryan won the Daytona Supercross? He’s still the only privateer to have ever won an AMA Supercross in the 450 (then, 250) class, and it was muddy, which negated a lot of factory advantages.

I kind of wonder if Gautier Paulin is wishing he hadn’t gone home after Anaheim II, though. French + Mud = Fast, most of the time. Ask Sebastien Tortelli, who won his only AMA Supercross in his first try at the muddy Los Angeles Coliseum race in 1998.

Let's not embarrass ourselves this time, though, SoCal! I encourage the fans reading this who are in the area to not let us down the way the fans for Anaheim II did. As DC mentioned above, the NorCal faithful set what may have been a record crowd for the event last weekend in San Francisco, and maybe they’re tougher than the SoCal folks, but I’d like to think that isn’t true.

  • Broc Tickle got his first podium of the year. What's next for him?
For other stuff to read, check out my Monday Conversation with Ryan Villopoto here, and 5 Minutes with Trey Canard here, Josh Hill here and Broc Tickle here.

Thanks, Steve.

A call to arms by Engine Ice’s Dave Kimmey from Florida was posted on the VitalMX.com message board here, so make sure you check it out because this is a very big deal to the sport of motocross, not just in Florida, but nationwide. If parents can’t legally sign consent forms for their children to ride or race on a motocross track, imagine the precedent that sets, and imagine the damage that does to our sport, our industry, and our economy. Take part. Make your voice heard.

If you’re wondering who #110 is this week in the AMA Supercross class, let us tell you now—it’ll be “The Sleepwalker,” Tommy Hofmaster. That’s right, the full-time EVS Sports employee and former Arenacross standout is coming off the office chair to fill in for the Rock River Yamaha team.

To correct an omission, when we first posted yesterday’s injury report, we mistakenly forgot to add Jake Marsack to the list, who was injured back in December at the Chemnitz SX in Germany. Jake broke his C2 and C7 in his neck, and he’ll be on the sidelines for quite some time. Fortunately, he’s under the care of his chiropractor, Dr. Steve Navarro. However, we just wanted to take this opportunity to give Jake and his family a shout out as the industry misses seeing the Marsacks at the track every weekend.

The 3rd Annual Racer X Boise Inter-Am Vintage Motocross is set for the weekend of March 27-28. This event has become one of the most popular Vintage events in the Northwest. It is the only Vintage MX event to run on the same track that hosted an Inter-Am back in the day! Entry forms can be downloaded here. A few names rumored to be appearing at this year’s event include Mike Bell, Chuck Sun, Ronnie Lechien, Jim Domann and Fly Racing’s Terry Baisley!

And speaking of Mr. Baisley, we got this in an email from him:

We are in a small “family” as an industry and it is not often that I refer people for jobs and opportunities, but I would like to present Cody Pinkston to you if there are any opportunities out there for a mechanic or driver. He is a local motorcyclist from Boise, Idaho, that is passionate about what he does. A fire took his rented home and all his belongings last year, along with several other homes in our area. He scrimped and saved and is putting himself through MMI (Motorcycle Mechanics Institute) in Phoenix, Arizona. I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of MMI and it is a very impressive operation that brings talented people into our great sport and industry. Cody has been noted as one of the top students and wants more than anything to be a part of our sport/industry for his career. He is also very interested in working for a good motorcycle shop and he will bring some solid credentials from MMI with him. If anyone has an opening that Cody can apply for, I know you will find him to be a very talented, dedicated and hard working team member. You can reach Cody Pinkston at codypinkston@yahoo.com.

And finally, check out this video we just got from Russ Koza and the gang at One Industries. "The photo shoot was a lot of fun and the same girls will be painted up and in the Hart & Huntington pit area tomorrow putting on temporary tattoos, signing posters and taking pictures with fans," Koza says: