Racerhead #11

March 12, 2010 5:10pm | by:

Welcome to Racerhead. The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship participants are making their one trek out of the United States for the international portion of the series, right across the lake in Toronto. The whole tour is coming off of three solid weeks since the East Region kicked off, with massive crowds at Indianapolis, Atlanta, and last Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. As I mentioned in a post on the Vital MX forum, for me, this three-week swing is the real heart of the entire tour.

  • The Ryans finished 1-2 at Daytona.
At Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, we saw a record crowd, the kickoff of the East Region, and a solid main event in the 450 class where Ryan Villopoto cut down the gap on Ryan Dungey to a dead heat, all tied up at the top.

One week later at the Georgia Dome, RV threw away what appeared to be another win with an uncharacteristic crash while leading. Dungey was there to capitalize and retake the points lead (with former co-points leader Josh Hill going in reverse for the second race in a row).

Editor’s Note: DC made a mental endo here and forgot that Dungey was actually leading when RV threw it away in Atlanta; he apologizes for the error. Carry on.

Then came the Daytona race, on the longest, roughest track of the circuit, where RV got back on for another win—a flawless effort by all accounts—while Dungey wisely put himself where he needed to be. The Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider accepted second, which is exactly what Ricky Carmichael used to always preach: Take second when second is what you’re going to get.

Dungey still has a 20-point lead (192 to 172), even though the Monster Energy Kawasaki of Ryan Villopoto has won more races (four compared to three), and while it’s too early to start counting points, Dungey is sitting in a good position with seven rounds to go. He can go for wins when they come to him, but he can also lay back in second. If that happens six more times—Villopoto winning while he rides shotgun—he will still be in the points lead with two rounds left.


Click the image for the new Fox video: Catching up with Ryan Dungey

I seriously doubt that’s the way #5 plays this, though with the killer instinct Villopoto has shown over the years, he’s bound to give it all he’s got to hold up his end of the deal. It should be a fantastic duel from here on out …
… especially when Chad Reed, James Stewart, Josh Grant, and Andrew Short get back out there! Reed was shockingly fast in practice at Daytona—half a second faster than Dungey and RV in this first session—but decided to pass on participating in the main event. We later had a text exchange, and I told him how impressive he was in that first practice back—his first time out since breaking his hand at Phoenix on January 16. He replied, “That’s racing, but getting hurt was the best thing for me,” adding that it allowed him to sort out his stomach issues. “Seeing GL [Grant Langston] crash made my decision worth it… Anything can happen at Daytona!”

  • Honda of Troy's Darryn Durham went from not qualifying at Indy and Atlanta to a solid eighth-place finish in Daytona.
I do wish the AMA would figure out a way to fill a spot on the gate for the night program quickly. As the gang over at Vital MX were discussing, Reed’s spot in the night program was a wasted opportunity for some privateer—actually, it was Jason Langford—to participate. I spoke to Jeff Canfield about this and he explained that while Kawi team manager Mike Fisher told him Chad was not racing after his thumb injury, he did not come over and officially pull out, so they could not go ahead and fill the gate. That’s something that needs shored up, both indoors and outdoors. Suggestions: letters@racerxonline.com.

When will we see defending champion James Stewart? Not quite sure, though adding to his woes was what appeared to be a severe flu last week that did not sound very pleasant. It’s been a tough year for James since winning the opener; here’s hoping he comes back soon, and as fast as ever.

As for JGRMX’s Josh Grant and Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short, they are both in wait-and-see mode … and then we wait and see who goes outdoors! Besides welcoming back Mike Alessi and Ben Townley, we may possibly even see a certain #7 back out there, according to what the sidelined James Stewart hinted at on DMXS Radio on Wednesday night.

DMXS Radio's David Izer said, "James Stewart was on this week for an epic hour long interview that touched on everything from his run in with Reed at Phoenix to the breaking news about his plans to be on the gate for the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship."

"A little birdie told me somebody is going to be there with a single digit on a Yamaha that has a 7 on it," said James. "That's what I heard."

James qualified his wishes to race the outdoors when asked to put a number on the likelihood of him being there in a confident third person quote.

"If James Stewart is healthy and his wrist is 100 percent and everything, 1 out of 10, I'd say that there's a 12 that he'll be showing up on the gate at Sacramento."

He knows that missing last year and the youthful surge in talent will be a challenge, as he added, “I know I’ll have my hands full for it, buddy. I’ll tell you that. I feel like I definitely will be working for it this year, but I think it can be done.”

You can listen to the archived show right here.

So what has happened to Josh Hill? The San Manuel Yamaha rider has not been the same rider since he was tied with Ryan Dungey for the points lead following the end of the “California supercross season.” In fact, he’s dropped 30 points off Dungey’s pace in just three races. At Daytona, he faded to ninth at the end, suffering the indignity of being lapped by two guys he’d been battling with for the series points lead just 60 laps ago. Who knows what’s going on, but I hope he either gets healed or focused enough to get right back up there. As my colleague Steve Cox has mentioned here, he’s a great kid.

And then there’s Langston, who suffered that frightening crash at the start of the main event that hushed the crowd of 52,000 for several moments after the race was red-flagged. I spoke to GL on Monday and he was fine, and he wanted to express his sincere gratitude to the Asterisk Mobile Medics, the Daytona infield crew, the AMA, his team, his fellow riders, and of course the fans for rallying to pray for and support him in what could have been much worse than it was. Turns out it was his knee that was hurt, not his back or head. Jason Weigandt spoke to him earlier this week for this update. Grant will likely be out with three weeks after the arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent.

As for the Lites class, the top two constants are obvious: Christophe Pourcel has been the smartest and fastest all three times, and Austin Stroupe is right behind him—all three times! The wild card in all this—Justin Barcia—is still just that: wild. His main-event performance at Daytona left me scratching my head.

Watching Christophe up close over the past three weeks has shown me that he’s as strong as he is versatile, but like Jean-Michel Bayle himself, he’s so fluid and effortless that we don’t really know just how strong he truly is, because he appears to put far less effort into his riding than the speed he’s going would require from mere mortals. And like JMB before him, he really does appear to go only as fast as he has to in order to win. The one time I saw him go beyond that was at Unadilla last year, a track Christophe recently described to me as his favorite of all. The 250cc riders on the AMA circuit may be in for a very long summer.

Check out the animated Toronto track map below, and read our Smith Optics Toronto Track Walk by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer

In what may be a Racerhead first, I want to talk about Women’s college basketball for a second. The University of Connecticut Huskies just broke the NCAA record for consecutive wins, now up to 72 (that’s a big number in AMA Supercross – Jeremy won that many races in his career). But rather than discuss just how great this team is, we’re starting to see stories about how bad this is for women’s basketball.

What the heck does that have to do with out sport? Nothing, except for the fact that it’s refreshing to have a series going on right now where we don’t have a foregone conclusion as to who the winner may be each Saturday night. It’s a big difference from, say, 2001 through 2006 in AMA Motocross, where Ricky Carmichael won, what, 90 percent of the races? Or even back in the mid-nineties, when McGrath was at his dominant best in AMA Supercross. We may miss our heroes when they’re out or retired but good, close racing is a huge asset to the sport moving forward, and no matter who lines up this summer or next season in the 450 class, I don’t see another dominant era starting up that would rather Ricky’s and Jeremy’s, let alone the UConn lady hoopsters.

I got an update from 1980 AMA Supercross Champion Mike Bell on his brother Scott’s condition after his automobile accident of a fortnight ago. His doctor has removed the breathing tube and Scott appears to be making good strides. By now he should be out of bed and walking around. He’s got a rough road ahead of him, but he seems willing to do whatever it takes—typical Scott Bell! Thanks to everyone out there for their thoughts and prayers.

In a major move in the motocross industry, designer extraordinaire Marc Blanchard decided last Friday that the time is right for him and his family to back off the throttle after more than twenty years of solid work. Blanchard moved here from France to pursue his motocross design dreams, landing a spot with JT Racing and helping lead them for many years. He then cofounded what I believe to be this generation’s JT Racing, One Industries. But I am biased: when we started Racer X Illustrated, we went straight to Marc to ask if he would be interested in designing it on the side. He was, and so Chris Hultner and Eric Johnson and myself started setting up camp every other month in a corner of the crammed One Industries’ warehouse down on India Street in San Diego and worked with Blanchard to build the base of what we have today.

  • Marc Blanchard
In the meantime, One Industries grew by leaps and bounds, first with graphics and numbers, then casualwear, helmets, and ultimately riding gear. Blanchard was the man at the design helm throughout, and like Ricky Carmichael after the 2007 Motocross of Nations at Budds Creek, he knew the time had come for the next phase of his life—spending more time with his wife and kids. If his last major project was the new David Bailey riding gear, not to mention the entire 2010 One Industries line, Marc Blanchard went out on top.

Merci beaucoup, Marc, bien fait!

Oh, and speaking of the limited-edition David Bailey racewear, it's now available for purchase over on the One Industries website! Click here to buy a set or two, because I'm sure they won't last long.

Here’s Jason Weigandt:

I drove up to Toronto yesterday with Jeff Canfield, who works in our MX Sports office during the week. Feld Motor Sports had completed a bunch of paperwork so I wouldn’t have to pretend I was a fan coming across the border - I actually told them I was here to work and showed them my papers. So then they made Canfield and I get out of our truck and go into a building for some grilling.

Ten minutes later, they told us we were good to go. Whew!

  • Reedy was speedy in Daytona practice.
After we parked the Racer X Toyota Tundra and checked into the hotel, the big buzz was that Chad Reed would indeed not be racing this weekend. I texted Chad myself and there didn’t seem to be any messing around: he is out for the weekend. That’s a big bummer, and Chad agreed with “When it rains, it pours.” If I were to guess when he would come back, I would guess Jacksonville, since that’s close to Florida and should give him time to heal. But after that race comes a weekend off….

Reed may not be back yet, but Nick Wey is back on his original team, TiLube/Foremost Insurance Kawi, with Allan Brown. Check out this interview with Nyk that we posted earlier today.

There was also a rumor that Ivan Tedesco had broken his hand in Daytona, but we now hear he only had a cut. After some stitches, he was pronounced ready to go and is on his way to Toronto right now. Justin Brayton also told me this week he is banged up but will be fine to race this weekend.

Track should be fine too. Feld Motor Sports found a better place to store the Toronto dirt, so it didn’t get assaulted by rain and snow like it often does. In the past, the dirt got wet, then froze, then thawed inside the building, leading to a strange, soft, rutted track. I’m hearing it will be drier this year. Think of the progress in Indy and Atlanta, which have transformed from soft to hard-pack.

  • Though he's bruised and battered, Valli Motorsports' Ivan Tedesco is a go for Toronto.
As DC mentioned earlier, James Stewart was a guest on the DMXS Radio Show on Wednesday night. It was a hilarious interview that went on for a good hour, and toward the end James talked about how badly he wanted to race outdoors this year in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. On a scale of 1-10, James said he’s a “12” as far as going to race motocross this season. Wow! Of course, I’m sure a lot of logistics have to be worked out, first including Stewart healing up from his wrist injury properly, and then his San Manuel Yamaha team will have to set up for the full series, which they have never done before. But I have a feeling James is super motivated to show everyone he hasn’t lost anything outside. I would call this the perfect storm, but that term has become way overused in this sport, and that movie came out ten years ago. Let’s call this summer’s outdoor tour something new. Crazy Heart? Avatar? The Hurt Locker? The Blind Side? Clash of the Titans?

The Action Sports Medicine Foundation, which is essentially the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit for the amateur set, will be hosting a cool fundraiser Friday night in Jacksonville. It’s a good way to meet some of the stars of supercross. Check it out

And Speed will have live SX coverage again from Toronto - that’s four straight weeks. Our little webcast is back, too, after a week off in Daytona so tune in to hear myself and Jim “Hollywood” Holley at www.supercrossonline.com/supercrosslive we will have some good guests, scoops, info, the race call and a chance for you to win prizes by calling in!

Here’s Cox:

The real question regarding Chad Reed’s return is if his teammate Ryan Villopoto or points leader Ryan Dungey can keep him from winning. At this point, if Villopoto won out and Dungey finished second in every race, Villopoto would win the title by four points. But if Reed begins winning everything and Villopoto gets second and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Dungey gets third (in every race), Dungey would win the title by four points. And this isn’t even including the other X-factor who has yet to return: San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart. It’s going to get interesting.

Nick McCabe on the Daytona Amateur SX:

  • The first-ever Ricky Carmichael Amateur Daytona Supercross was a success.
Daytona Bike Week is all about history. The event is anchored by a few key events that have been going on for years – the GNCC race on Tuesday, the flat track on Thursday, the Daytona 200 and the Daytona Supercross on Friday and Saturday nights (along with the ever important post race visits to the Ale House). But for 2010, the Speedway wanted to add something new to the mix – amateur supercross. Daytona International Speedway thus partnered with both Ricky Carmichael and MX Sports for the first Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross Championship. With the exception of a long pre-event registration line on Saturday (all participants will be receiving a "make good" email with discount certificates from the event sponsors), the event was a huge success, attracting riders from all over the world. The weather was perfect and somewhere around 800 competitors took to the same Mark Barnett-designed track that hosted the stars of the Monster Energy Supercross series the night prior.

For complete event results, click here.

Check out this video by Matt Francis on the race, and here's one from RCU.

Also, Matt Wozney from MXPTV was put these two videos together, including a cool helmet-cam video with New Jersey rider Frank Lettieri:

Video 1
Video 2

  • The RCU Class of 2010
Another first was the inaugural Ricky Carmichael University event, which was held on Monday and limited to 100 lucky participants. With Ricky himself as lead instructor, the school also boasted Jeff Emig and Jeff Stanton as tenured professors and offered students countless national championships’ worth of experience. The school also had Dunlop test rider and privateer hero Clark Stiles and Jeannie Carmichael rounding out the five “classes.” The weather was again perfect, and riders had well over five hours of riding time and instruction, in addition to two classroom sessions. Also enrolled in the class was NASCAR legend Kyle Petty (the son of Richard Petty) and Speed TV’s Rutledge Wood, who both enjoyed taking lessons from the GOAT. Read about Kyle Petty's experience in the Daytona News-Journal right here.

At the conclusion of the day’s activities, riders received diplomas and gift bags full of swag in Daytona’s famous victory lane. In addition, parents and friends were treated to seminars by none other than Pro Circuit’s Bones Bacon (suspension), Robb Beams (fitness and training), Andrea Leib (education), and the crew from Fox Racing (riding gear).

Photographer Hoss Sharifi of www.FactoryPhoto.com was at the event, and snapped over 6500 from the two days of racing and the school. Click here for his shots.

For Carmichael, it was a big weekend – on Saturday, he achieved his best-yet NASCAR Camping World Truck finish in Atlanta with a sixth. He then hopped on a plane and flew to Daytona, where he ran color commentary for the supercross race, then hosted his amateur race and school.

Check out this link from Racer X videographer Matt Francis. This didn’t make his recap video, but it’s way too funny to not give it some props. These two RCSX riders somehow took each other out, and instead of coming to blows, one guy just decided to roost the other:

Thanks, Nick.

Here’s Ping:

  • DMXS Radio's Kevin Kelly and David Izer did a fantastic job calling the action in Daytona.
It’s a shame when a parent’s behavior and influence directly affects the reputation of a young rider. The Kyle Regal/Valli Yamaha debacle is going to get much uglier before it gets better, and it’s nothing a little common sense and communication couldn’t have prevented. I had Kyle and his stepfather come out last summer for a tryout with the TLD/Lucas Oil Honda team, and while we were impressed with his riding, it was pretty clear that things weren’t going to work out with him. I wanted him to be in California during the preseason and they didn’t want to leave Texas. They believed they had all the answers out there in the Lone Star State, and despite the fact that he had never raced a supercross at the time, they didn’t seem interested in the direction and advice we had to offer. There’s no question that Kyle works really, really hard and is talented, but you can’t burn bridges in an industry this tight-knit. And you really shouldn’t ever burn a bridge while you’re still standing on it. Hopefully it’ll all get sorted out soon. I feel bad that just four rounds into Kyle’s young career, he already has a reputation for being difficult.

I got some disturbing news this week about Johnny Campbell Racing rider Timmy Weigand. Apparently, he had a small stroke this week. After some tests, it sounds like he is going to need open-heart surgery to repair small holes in his heart. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him directly yet, but here’s wishing Timmy good luck and a speedy recovery.

Is anyone else a little confused by the homologation rule? I don’t know of a Suzuki dealer anywhere that has a 2010 250F, but Austin Stroupe is racing one. And Mike Alessi is planning on riding a KTM 350, but I don’t think dealers have even been told when they are getting them. I thought the rule was that there had to be 300 of them in the country before they could be raced. Then I heard that the rule was 100 in the country by the end of the series. Are the rules changing? And if so, why? There are teams still running 2009 models (Rockstar/Canidae Suzuki, Hart & Huntington) and they are doing just fine. It just seems strange to me that I can’t get a straight answer about it, that’s all.

And finally, a tip of my cap to one of my favorite French guys, Marc Blanchard. I met Marc in 1992 when I rode for JT Racing. Marc was the designer there, and even though I’ve butchered his name intentionally for the past eighteen years [I like to overpronounce it), he has always been one of the nicest guys in the sport. Good luck with your next move, Blanchwah. I’m sure I’ll see you at the races.

If you missed it, check out this week’s Your Collection. It features a small sampling of DC’s event program collection.

Here's Bad Billy:

Man, it's been awhile since I been to a supercross, but luckily I got to go to two in a row. First off, I was invited to Atlanta by the fine folks at Red Bull to participate in the Red Bull Re-MX event, which took place the day after the supercross out at Bremen Race Park. Though I wasn't on the winning team, I still had a blast riding with my teammates, Justin Dawes from MotorcycleUSA.com, and Hunter Hobbs. Look for more on this event in the June issue of Racer X. For now, check out this video.

Next I headed to Daytona to compete in the inaugural Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross Championship. I competed in the Plus 25 class aboard a BTOSports.com/BBMX/Palmetto Suzuki, so I owe Forrest Butler and the team a big thanks for helping me out. I also want to thank Mark Giannatonio for being my mechanic on his day off. You can look for more on my experience as a BBMX rider as well as a story on the event in a future issue of the mag.

You also have a chance to be a factory rider for a day. All you have to do is subscribe or renew your subscription to Racer X, and you'll be entered to win a chance to ride for the Rockstar Energy Drink Suzuki team on amateur day at the 2010 High Point National. Click the image below for details.

In other news:

Are you happy with your subscription to Racer X but wondering what happened to your Racer X Films DVD? Well, they are at the duplicator right now and will be shippinng soon. Don't worry, it will be worth the wait!

A Marty Smith MX Clinic is scheduled for April 9 in Houston. This clinic will be held to a ten-rider limit. The class is scheduled for Friday, April 9 from 9:00 a.m. to approximately 3:00 p.m. Instructional and practical training will be provided by Marty Smith. Both night track and main tracks will be utilized for conducting this class! Darrel Penkert will have both tracks prepped-to-the-max for this event. Marty has graciously provided this opportunity, since he will be in town for the Houston Supercross on Saturday, April 10. To contact the Marty Smith MX clinic, click here.

Gary Bailey is in a contest to design a custom Sprint Cup car for Team Toyota drivers. If Gary gets enough votes, we may just see his design in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Click here to vote for Gary’s design.

From reader Tom Coleman:

“About a month or so ago you guys reported that the Pontiac Silverdome was sold and was going to be redeveloped into soccer fields. Well I just wanted to send you this link so you can see what has actually been done with the former supercross venue and the only place that still gives me chills to see in the distance! Here’s hoping for a return to supercross in Michigan. I guarantee the first race will be a sell-out!” 

After getting numerous requests, Troy Racing is announcing the return of its highly successful rider-support program. Click here or visit the main page of www.hondaoftroy.com to fill out an application. Riders who are accepted will receive discounts on everything Troy Racing offers including motor and suspension work from Eleven 10 Mods.

Check out this blog post about Ken Block’s latest rally race.

Don't forget to sign up to win a new Kali AATMA(R) helmet in our TGI Freeday contest.

YouTube video of the week: Jason Doyle, Jeff Doyle, and Kevin Walker perform a musical parody in talent show at the 2009 Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championship. Check it out below: 

That's it for Racerhead. Thanks for reading, and we'll see you at the races.