Happy Thanksgiving weekend. Racerhead is coming to you from the Big Easy this time around, as my mom and wife and I are headed to New Orleans to visit some family friends over the holiday weekend, and then also visit with Kevin Windham in Mississippi for his annual Party in the Pasture, which will feature acts like country star (and moto head) Craig Morgan. K-Dub lives in Mississippi, which means I can mark another state off my list of places to visit. I now have seven to go: Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. It should be a lot of fun. But first, some not-so-fun stuff.
For the second week in a row, we have to start with a farewell. Last weekend, while the motocross world was mourning the passing of Eyvind Boyesen, word came out of California that another member of the motocross fraternity was no longer with us. Rich Eierstedt, a charismatic member of the mighty Honda factory teams of the mid-1970s, passed away in his sleep. Eierstedt was on the Big Red Machine in the days of Marty Smith, Pierre Karsmakers, Tommy Croft, and more. He won a couple of 500cc AMA Supercross races, and he was always a good bet to win the 250cc Support class races during the late, great Trans-AMA Series.
Rich Eierstedt (1954-2010)
Photo: Dick Miller Archives
But Eierstedt also had his fair share of problems off the track, stemming from a long battle with alcoholism. His results suffered after he left Honda, bouncing around to a series of waning teams: Harley-Davidson, Bultaco, Can-Am. He was done by 1980. In the three decades that followed, Rich drifted in and out of the sport, often supported by the MXA gang and Jody Weisel, who did his best to help Eirerstedt out as he tried to stay sober. He couldn't, and a recent relapse left his system weak enough that he fell asleep on the couch one night last week and never woke up. Godspeed, Rich.
And then on the eve of Thanksgiving, Doug Henry and family lost their Connecticut home in a fire.... How much can one family take? When someone gets a fundraiser or donations going to help the Henry family in this terrible situation, count us in. I imagine that every person in the motorcycle industry who's ever had the pleasure of knowing or working with Doug feels the same way.
It was our publisher, Scott Wallenberg, who told me the news of all this on Saturday afternoon, during the AMA Amateur Racing Awards banquet at the very trendy and cool Red Rocks Resort on the outskirts of Las Vegas. We were sitting at the very back of a very packed room, in which the AMA was handing out all kinds of #1 plates and honors to people who race and work around the sport. Rookie-to-be Jason Anderson was there to accept his award from Loretta Lynn's as Amateur Athlete of the Year, as he was the winner of the AMA's Horizon Award at Loretta Lynn's. AMA Amateur and FIM World Champ Jake Pinhancos, plus other LL champs like Cooper Webb and David Jones—the KX125 rider from Cleveland who overcame bad starts and some serious horsepower disadvantages to just plain out-work everyone in the Vet +30 B/C class. Look for more on David in a future issue of Racer X.
I didn't know John and Rita Gregory that well—their JT empire was on the wane by the time we got The Racing Paper going, and all of my resumes in the hopes of getting gear while I was racing never made it far up in their support department. That's because the names they had really didn't need a backup presence on the East Coast amateur circuit! Marty Smith, Bob Hannah, Broc Glover, Kent Howerton, Jeff Ward, Danny LaPorte, Chuck Sun, Donnie Hansen, Johnny O'Mara, David Bailey, Rick Johnson, Ron Lechien, Marty Tripes, Scott Burnworth, Jean-Michel Bayle, Mickael Pichon, Tim Ferry, David Pingree, Mitch Comstein, Johnny O'Hannah,... Everyone who was anyone rode for JT Racing.
David Brozik interviews Fish for this piece as it aired on his screen: