Racerhead #7

February 12, 2010 6:40pm | by:
  • Here are some iPhone snapshots of this week’s storm.
Thank God for wireless. Racerhead is coming at you from the passenger seat of the Racer X Toyota Tundra, driving across the frozen tundra of Ohio and Indiana as we head to the annual Dealernews Indianapolis Trade Show. The snow has been absolutely overwhelming this past week for much of the Atlantic Coast. How bad? School in Morgantown has been called off every day since last Thursday!

By the way, if you’ll be at the Indy show, stop by to see us at booth 1640. You won’t believe the amount of motorcycle memorabilia we have to put on display. Advertisers can play our trivia game to win a free ad, and dealers who sign up to sell Racer X will also be entered to win some cool prizes!
Thankfully, the AMA Supercross tour is still in California, at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, to be exact. This weekend will mark the end of the California SX season, as well as the one-third mark in the entire series. The 450 class is completely up for grabs, with four winners in five races to date. Will there be a fifth winner come this weekend?

Check out this week's Smith Optics' Track Walk, where former pro Matt Walker takes you on a lap around the A3 circuit. You'll notice a pink theme on the map, to match the Pink Race for a Cure theme from this weekend's race. We'll be seeing a lot of pink at the race this weekend, to honor a truly important cause: the fight against cancer. More on that further down.

Also be sure to tune in to CBS at noon EST on Sunday for coverage of the Supercross class at A3. Lites will be on Speed at 6 p.m. EST on Sunday.

Speaking of A3, here's an animated lap around the track, courtesy of Monster Energy.
  • Jake Weimer earned his first Racer X cover with our brand new April 2010 issue
While the snow has been unstoppable here on the East Coast, the one unstoppable force out West has been Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer, who won his fourth race in five tries last weekend. Weimer now has a great chance of sweeping all three Anaheims as the California SX season comes to a close.

The only rider to stop Weimer so far in 2010 has been Trey Canard, but the GEICO Powersports Honda rider has had his share of problems otherwise. He was in the lead to start San Diego, then went down trying to hold Weimer off. With nothing to lose—Weimer pretty much has this title in the bag—Canard will answer the Honda Red Bull Racing call-up and take the reins on Andrew Short’s CRF450R over the next few weeks while Shorty recovers from that deep-tissue lower-leg injury. It will be interesting to see how Trey does beginning next weekend at Indianapolis, when the East Region Lites series begins and he moves up.

Everyone at Racer X was stoked to see Cole Seely and Wil Hahn on the podium at San Diego, albeit at the expense of the very cool Max Anstie, who might have taken a stab at the lead if not for hitting a late-race road block in the form of Jeff Alessi. Seely and Hahn are, of course, Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda riders, and it marked the first time two TLD Honda riders made the box at a single race.
Obviously, TLD team manager David Pingree is also a contributing editor and columnist to Racer X and Racer X Online, so it’s a little close to home to have interviewed him yesterday for this website. That said, I thought Cox asked some good questions and got some good insight on what it’s like to not only work with Troy Lee, but also what it’s like to run a team that’s been in a constant state of improvement since their first race.
And in case you’re wondering what the “team word” was that Seely offered up for that interview with Ping, it was busboy.

Looking ahead to next week, I am anxious to see how fast Christophe Pourcel is in his second full year on the AMA tour, and I also would love to see Brett Metcalfe finally get a win here. Also, there’s Austin Stroupe, who looked very good on the 450 out West, and the really, really big question mark, Justin Barcia. From what I’ve been hearing from a few folks who have seen this kid on a real supercross track, he’s something else. Maybe he can join recent SX debutant winners Ryan Dungey and Trey Canard in winning their first AMA Supercross main events, though I have a feeling Pourcel—cracked wing and all—might have something to say about that.
  • Langston's supporting the cause this weekend with pink gear, courtesy of O'Neal. Here's guessing he won't be the only one.
Last summer, the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross tour was decimated by injuries in the premier 450 class. First Ivan Tedesco was knocked out of Round 1 with a concussion and Tim Ferry was a no-go with a nagging ankle injury. Then two different points leaders—Ryan Villopoto, then Mike Alessi—were hurt while on top. Later on, Josh Grant and Josh Hill got knocked out. And former world champs Grant Langston and Ben Townley, as well as Broc Hepler, never made it to the starting gate.
I bring all of this up because the 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross tour has been hit by a pandemic of injuries that might even surpass last summer’s. For starters, Townley and Hepler scratched again before the series started, as did Mike Alessi, who seems likely to end his career without ever winning a supercross main event. Grant was hurt the week before A1, followed by Chad Reed (Phoenix) and then James Stewart (same Phoenix crash, though he lasted one more week), and now Andrew Short.

Add it all up, and the top four riders from the 2009 SX tour—Stewart, Reed, Short, Grant—are all out of title contention. That means that, for the first time since 1993, a rider who finished the supercross tour fifth or worse will win the following year’s championship. Taking out Ricky Carmichael (‘05) and Stewart (‘08), each of whom sat out the previous season with injuries, it’s been since Jeremy McGrath’s first title that someone finished that far back and won the title the following year…. 

Actually, McGrath was a part-time 125cc rider in ‘92, so he shouldn’t count here either (and if Ryan Dungey wins this year, he won’t really count in this scenario either). So we have to go all the way back to 1989, the year Jeff Stanton won his first of three AMA Supercross Championships. Stanton rode a white Yamaha in ‘88 to tenth in the AMA Supercross standings, then switched to Team Honda and won the ‘89 title. If this year’s title goes to Villopoto (sixth in ‘09), Hill (tenth), Windham (fifth), Tedesco (seventh), or Millsaps (ninth), any of them would be the lowest-ranked full-time premier-class rider to win the title the following year. 

Sounds like the first Ricky Carmichael University Supercross classes will have a couple of celebs in there, as RC’s friends from the auto racing world Kyle Petty and Rutledge Wood (Speed TV personality) have signed up to spend the day after the Daytona Amateur Supercross learning the ropes under Carmichael’s tutelage. Unfortunately, if you haven’t already signed up to join these classes, it’s too late, as all 100 spots are now full. But there are still plenty of spots open on the starting gate for the various amateur-day racing classes. Click on www.mxsports.com for more information of the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross Championship at Daytona International Speedway, and here's a cool video our own Matt Francis did with the GOAT.

  • Johnny O'Hannah
Who said old rivals can’t become friends? Scott Burnworth, the former Yamaha and Suzuki factory rider, opened his home to longtime nemesis Johnny O’Hannah to camp out before the San Diego Supercross. O’Hannah, who’s been working his way back into moto following a late-eighties scandal of Tiger Woods’ intensity involving Miss Coors and Mrs. Camel Light, is hoping to find a job as a team manager or possible color analyst for SPEED. Look for O’Hannah in the Anaheim pits this weekend, likely wearing a Broc Glover-pink JT Racing jersey, albeit begrudgingly: “Pink was my idea in the first place!” says O’Hannah. “But (JT owner) John Gregory like ‘the Golden Boy’ better. But Broc wouldn’t even change his nickname—I would have been ‘the Pink Boy’ in a second.”

If you're in the Atlanta area, don't mist tomorrow night's Nuclear Cowboyz show. It's freestyle motocross like you've never seen it before. Here's a special offer that's only good for the rest of today (Friday, Feb. 12): follow this link to buy tickets for the discounted rate of $15: http://alturl.com/s2ot

If you want a chance to win six VIP passes to the show, just send an email to online@racerxonline.com with the words Nuclear Cowboyz in the subject line. We'll pick a winner tomorrow morning. Please only enter if you'll definitely be able to make the show.

Here’s Ping:

Looks like I picked a bad week to let my lithium prescription expire. Last Saturday night was one of the best weekends the Troy Lee Designs team has ever had, and then Tuesday Cole Seely crashed and dislocated his hip. I was really excited for Cole because he was building some pretty incredible momentum, and anyone who watched the race in San Diego knows what I’m talking about. He is one of the most down-to-earth, humble, sincere, and just plain nicest kids in the sport right now, and it’s been a breath of fresh air to work with him. Fortunately, his dislocation didn’t cause extensive trauma to his pelvis or the surrounding soft tissue and he should he back on the bike before the west series returns to Seattle.

The first guy I called when I found out what happened was skier Daron Rahlves. Daron is currently recovering from a hip dislocation (his fourth) that he suffered at the Winter X Games in Aspen. He is slated to compete in the Olympics in Vancouver starting on February 18, and he has no intentions of missing it. He got me in touch with his doctor, who explained a procedure they have been performing on Daron. They are called platelet-rich plasma injections, and they speed the healing and recovery of soft tissue many times over. We’re going to find out how Cole feels about needles.

While I was waiting in the ER, I looked over and saw a familiar face: Tyla Rattray had crashed at the Kawasaki test track and was getting checked out for pain in his side. I think he is going to be fine, but that was the last thing he needed just a week away from his supercross debut. This sport is such a meat grinder. I swear, the list of injured riders looks like the preentry list for A1.

Have you seen this video? The Keep A Breast Foundation is partnering with Troy Lee Designs to raise money for breast cancer awareness. This foundation makes molds of breasts (in this case supercross announcers Erin Bates and Ashley Phillips), has them painted by an artist, and then auctions them off. I caught a glimpse of the finished product earlier this week as I walked through the paint department at TLD and they are very cool. This fundraiser is taking place in conjunction with the pink theme this weekend at A3, obviously.

I want to give everyone a little heads-up if they hear some random word or phrase coming from one of the TLD riders or myself in the coming months. We started playing a game where you have to work a certain word or group of words into any interview. The word is chosen by another team member and can be absolutely anything as long as it’s clean and won’t get anyone in trouble. I’ve started a little list in case Wil gets on the podium tomorrow night. I’d be really curious to see how he could work in sperm whale in between talking about his start and the way his Dunlops hooked up. Hey, everyone always says the podium speeches are boring - I’m just trying to be proactive here, folks. Listen for it. And if you have any suggestions, post them in the comment section below. [Ed. note: Doesn't telling everyone about the game sort of defeat the purpose, Ping? -B]

Now we’ll turn it over to Steve Cox:

  • Max Anstie is only 16, but he carries himself like an experienced professional.
Sometimes, a rider comes along who is just astounding, and not just because he goes fast on a motorcycle. Sometimes a rider just has an astounding grasp of his job from very early on and can easily keep things in perspective. In May of last year, that rider came along. It’s Max Anstie. I’d only spoken to him in passing until two days ago, when I emailed him to interview him for this website. I got a call back an hour or two later, and when I told him I was about to be in the middle of something and that I’d call him back at about 5:30 or 6 p.m., he said cool. We hung up.

Then, at 6 p.m. on the dot, he called me back. This almost never happens. At that point, I was about ten minutes from home, so I told him I’d call him right back, When I did, the interview was so much fun that we just kept talking and talking until I realized I was going to have to type all of that out and had to cut it short.

It’s going to take you a few minutes to read, but it’s worth it. Anstie is a fun kid, and he turns 17 in May. And he almost won the San Diego Supercross (although it’s certain that Jake Weimer would’ve had something to say about that before the end of the race, pass or no pass). On top of that, he got his high-school diploma in England and in the U.S., just in case he wants to go to college!

This weekend is big for two reasons. First we have the last race in the beginning West Coast swing, and after this weekend, all of the Lites West riders will be taking the next nine weeks off while the Lites East guys get at it starting in Indy next weekend. But this is also the Breast Cancer Awareness weekend at Anaheim 3, and a big chunk of the industry is taking part. Look for a lot of pink at Angel Stadium tomorrow, and if you’re attending, man up and wear pink. Men get breast cancer too. It’s true that only about 1 percent of the cases are men, but don’t let that stop you. If you don’t feel comfortable in pink, pretend you’re Broc Glover in 1988. You’ll be fine.

And here’s Jason Weigandt:

My wife and I decided to spend the week between San Diego and Anaheim 3 enjoying the weather in California, and it seems like a pretty good move since Morgantown has been pulverized by snow. Could someone please go check on my house to see if the roof caved in?

It’s amazing how much industry stuff goes on out here. Last Friday I went riding in the desert courtesy of Kawasaki. They invited a few media types out to Ocotillo Wells to ride with multi-time AMA National Hare and Hound Champion Destry Abbott and Speed TV Superbikes! star Jason Britton, and their families. Britton is more well known for crazy stunts on Kawi street bikes, but he showed he can ride in the dirt pretty well too. Funny, when Simon Cudby and I interviewed him, he said on the street he usually only has one wheel on the ground at a time, but in the dirt, he keeps then both on the ground. Then Simon and I went out to follow him into some canyons, and he did a wheelie and roosted us within about 30 seconds! Habits die hard.

Kawasaki had the Abbotts and Brittons camping in the desert on Thursday and Friday, then the gang rode more on Saturday morning before packing up and heading out to Qualcomm Stadium to catch some supercross. This weekend, Kawasaki has another cool program going on, hosting a 24-hour riding school starting at 8 a.m. today at their headquarters. With a donation, riders can learn to ride with such star instructors as Jeff Emig, and all the proceeds go to the massive pile of money that will be raised this weekend at the supercross.

All of that money is part of this weekend’s Pink Race for the Cure, where supercross will generate funds to support the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Not every part is quite as, um, eye-catching as the Troy Lee busts Ping mentioned above, but suffice it to say the stadium will be overwhelmed with pink this weekend.

Yesterday I hosted a press conference at Angel Stadium to announce more details on this weekend’s fundraising efforts. Feld Motor Sports supercross manager Dave Prater started it off by presenting a $10,000 check courtesy of the series, and then Angels baseball chairman Dennis Kuhl matched it with a $10,000 check as well. The fact that the Angels are donating ten grand at an event that has nothing to do with baseball shows how strong the connection is between supercross and this stadium.

On Tuesday you’ll have your chance to donate, as an eBay auction featuring all of the gear from all forty riders who make the main events this weekend will begin. Just go to www.supercrossonline.com for details.

Supercross superfriend Shasta Johnson is putting the fundraising together, and she says when it’s all through, she believes the supercross race can become the biggest breast cancer fundraiser ever that was not organized by the Susan G Komen foundation itself. That would make a huge statement about the community of our sport.

  • Don't be surprised to see Justin Barcia on the box of an East Coast Supercross round sooner than later.
Last week on our webcast, Justin Barcia stopped by to chat about East Region SX Lites. Barcia regrets to admit that he has turned the overrevving part of his game down, and he doesn’t expect to be hitting the rev limiter in every corner like he used to. It’s part of that “slow down to go fast” thing. But fans, fear not, because he said the scrubs and whips will be there, bigger than ever!

Jim Holley and I asked Barcia how he thinks he will stack up against defending East Region champ Christophe Pourcel. “I know Pourcel will be fast, but I think I picked up on something about him at the end of the nationals, and I think I can win,” Barcia said with a huge smile on his face. The rest of the interview went on with lots of talk about Barcia being “pumped” and wanting “to win” but no mention at all of “just wanting to get top-fives” or “getting his feet wet.” This is no ordinary rookie, and it’s really going to be cool to see him in Indy.

We get cool interviews like this all the time on the Supercross Live! webcast. Sign up now at www.supercrossonline.com.

Time for a few other notes:

Remember Steve Hudson's mercy mission to Haiti a couple of weeks back? It inspired us to pull together some Racer X swag for Hendricks Motorsports and Motor Racing Outreach to take to Haiti for people who need this stuff a hell of a lot more than we do right now. All told, we pulled together 156 pounds of clothing for the people down there who were affected by the earthquake. Thanks to Steve Hudson and Motor Racing Outreach for inspiring us to help out and for following through by taking the items directly to those who need them.

If you have stuff to send to the victims, please send it to this address:

Missionary Flights International
ATTN: Steve Hudson
3170 Airmans Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34946

  • The AMA crew conducted some sound tests earlier this week.
AMA Pro Racing’s Jeff Canfield headed to Anaheim early, not just to get out of the blizzard here in West Virginia, but to do some informal sound testing at Angel Stadium. “A handful of teams showed up to participate in the ‘two meter max’ sound test,” Jeff told us on Thursday. “The two meter max is the sound test that they currently employ in the FIM, and we just wanted to show the teams how the process worked.” No word from Jeff on who passed and failed.

I just stumbled upon this YouTube gem, which appears to be the 1974 or ‘75 250cc Grand Prix in Malpensa, Italy, starring Jaroslav Falta, Gennady Moisseev, Gaston Rahier and more. The thing is, it’s poorly titled (for English, anyway). It’s called “Enduro Motocross Vintage” but it’s all motocross, and the Richard Clayderman piano music is pretty cool too!


And here’s another: Heikki Mikkola at the ‘79 500cc Italian Grand Prix (and you have to see the crazy start stretch jump at the 1:40 mark)


Congratulations to Alex Boyce, our colleague in Italy, who scored the cover shot for the February issue of MX Motosprint, one of the big MX mags in Italy, of Antonio Cairoli on that new KTM 350 prototype—likely the first mag cover of the bike anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, two of the five 350s KTM had at the Starcross in Mantova were reportedly nicked after the race—including Cairoli’s! We are trying to get confirmation from Europe, but until then, think of Alex’s cover photo as the “missing” photo that the Italian police are going by.

That’s it for this week. If we don’t see you at Indy, we’ll see you at the races.