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.
As for the Motorcycle Hall of Fame presentation on Friday night, it was very well done and I enjoyed it a lot. The bench-racing was epic as Mitch Payton, John and Rita Gregory of JT Racing fame, and the late Evvind Boyesen were inducted into the hall. As you might expect, Payton was awesome on the stage, giving an eloquent speech about his life after the desert crash that paralyzed him, the help he received in getting his business going, and just all of the great people he's worked with along the way.
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.
So what happened? In my opinion, they had grown to the point where they took their eyes off their core product and starting getting into paintball gear, just as AXO was starting to ramp up its efforts through a catalog push and very slick advertising, and Greg and Pete Fox were graduating school and starting to have input on the direction of Fox Racing in the mid-eighties. Both AXO and Fox Racing took off as JT Racing started losing sight of what made it so successful in the first place. The Gregorys soon left the sport, more or less, and the brand started to wane. But to hear them both talk about the glory days of their game-changing company was priceless. And see Broc Glover come out in his still-perfectly-fitting '85 JT Racing threads to introduce John and Rita was just awesome.
Matty Francis of Racer X Films pulled together a great piece on the line, its DNA and its heroes.
And speaking of JT Racing, the new incarnation of the gear was debuted at Las Vegas with wonderful response. David Dray, Alain Azizi, and Daniel Sandstedt are behind the new line, which is very complimentary of the company's roots. They also invited the likes of Smith, Glover, Lechien, Sun, Hansen and LaPorte to participate in the relaunch.
Matt Francis and Simon Cudby also went to Carey Hart's Hart & Huntington Privateer Pro Challenge, and you can check that film out right HERE.
Finally, while we were in Vegas, we went to the Endurocross Finals and had a wonderful evening. If you've never been, those gigs are a whole lot of fun, and seeing Taddy Blazuziak just shred everyone on his KTM was awesome, as his eye-popping ability to put a bike wherever he wants to was inspiring. Special thanks to new Dirt Rider publisher Damian Ercole (congrats on that!), his old boss Sean Finley, and Lance Bryson and Becky Koontz of the event for accommodating us with passes.
It was while I was at the EX that I saw Paul Carruthers and he gave me the wonderful news that Cycle News has been purchased and is likely coming back. I sure hope so, because motorcycle racing in America needs a weekly publication to keep us all in touch with what's going on. I know the internet is supposed to do all that, but I have always loved holding that rag in my hands and going through it cover to cover every week.
Over in Europe, Justin Barcia is the new King of Bercy, though the event might be best remembered for all the carnage, including a torn ACL for KTM's Marvin Musquin that may keep him out of SX here in 2011. Also, Max Anstie broke his kneecap, Grant Langston dislocated his hip, Michael Byrne broke his wrist, Gautier Paulin ran off the track, and a couple of FMXers were hurt pretty badly. Our European colleague Geoff Meyer of MX Large caught up to Barcia to discuss his win in his debut Bercy SX. Check out the interview right HERE.
One thing to take away from Bercy: I think Tony Cairoli should give himself another year before trying AMA Supercross as the extremely fast outdoor rider just didn't look comfortable out there, and Bercy is nothing like a real big American SX track like he would see at Anaheim or Atlanta. He could compete for an AMA outdoor title, no problem, but like past interlopers Greg Albertyn, Sebastien Tortelli, Ben Townley and Tyla Rattray, Supercross might be a real challenge for him.
Also, props to KTM two-stroke racer Cedric Soubeyras, who acquitted himself and his smoker very well in Bercy. Not sure how he would do against the 450s on a bigger track like we have here, but over there in the confines of the Palais Omnisport, he showed that a KTM 250 SX in the right hands can still be formidable.
Here in the States, the amateur motocross fraternity has gathered down at Gainseville, Florida, for the 40th running of the Mini O's. For updates and videos, results and photos, check out www.vurbmoto.com as well as www.motoplayground.com.
And how about a congrats to 5-time Nascar winner Jimmie Johnson—AKA "The World's Fastest Motocrosser" Cox's story from January 2010. Johnson came from behind to beat out the brash Denny Hamlin. Now the cover of Sports Illustrated describes this former Suzuki support rider as "The greatest driver ever," and everyone at Racer X certainly agrees.
There's a fun thread going on Vital MX centering on the recent Racer X feature about High School Motocross by Nick McCabe in our January issue: HERE
One last nod to French week: U.S.-based Moto Verte contributor Stephan Legrand had a newly redesigned website. It's a work-in-progress, but keep in mind as the 2011 races start lining up: www.lebigproductions.com
Okay, here's Ping:
It’s been a rough couple of weeks in the motorcycle industry. In just one short weeks we lost Eyvind Boyesen and Rich Eierstadt, both iconic figures in the sport. But there was another man that lost his battle with cancer last week who was very involved in motocross behind the scenes. Dave McElyea spent the vast majority of his weekends at a motorcycle track with his son, Alex. He was the owner/operator of the PJ1/Extreme/Yamaha race team in the mid-1990s that helped riders like Jimmy Button, Sean Kalos, Cory Keeney, and Alex to the races. He also assisted Alex in forming Red Baron Racing, an industry leader in the pit bike world. I’ll always remember Dave as one of the most intelligent, generous, and unique individuals that ever helped shape my life. He was a great guy and I’m really going to miss him. Godspeed, Dave.
We posted the Racer X Tested "Battle of the Brands" this week. Matt Francis shot a video with commentary from some of our shootout test riders including Jeff Ward, Carey Hart, and Micky Dymond among others. The actual results were posted in a separate feature which you can get to by clicking right HERE if you missed it. If you are looking at new bikes, or you will be any time in the near future, this is a great tool to use. All of our test riders give you the positive and negative characteristics of every 2011 450 (KTM 350 SX-F included) and 250F and pick the one bike they would go down and buy if they were pulling out their credit cards.
Here's a cool video we spotted this week: The GoPro HD Hero Cam working the Crossover Challenge at the Pala National:
And don’t forget that this weekend is the final round of Competitive Edge Motocross Park’s four-round amateur supercross series under the lights. Go to www.ridecemx.com for all the details.
Killy Rusk got Broc Hepler’s #60 for 2011. Learn more about Killy by watching this video: HERE
Just in time for the holiday gift season, New England Photo Ace Paul Buckley has updated his classic prints archive, and the shots are worth a look, as there are some epic shots from every era, with a nod towards the 1990¹s and his neighbor Doug Henry: HERE
On Any Sunday is in the 99-cent rental section of iTunes this week (as of 11-24). It's $9.99 to buy.
If you're a Heikki Mikkola fan like we are, you're going to love checking this website out: HERE
Mikkola was my personal favorite rider of the seventies, along with his great rival, Roger DeCoster, and the star-crossed Czech rider Jaroslav Falta, so every time I happen on some new data or photos on the Flyin' Finn, it's a good day. Thanks, Herr Wallenberg!
Wait, there's more! Dueling Mikkola websites: HERE
Looking for something off the beaten path to watch? Check out etnies’ Kyle Loza and Todd Potter passing the mic and interviewing each other. There’s some juicy stuff in there. Todd Potter doesn’t like to bathe because he has aquaphobia? Is that even real? See for yourself: HERE.
5 IMs with... Mike Fisher
The Monday morning instant message gab session went as such:
Here's some first-head footage of RXI designer Mike Fisher racing in Colorado last weekend. Mike finds time racing and trail riding in between going to school full-time, working full-time, and partying part-time. Ahhh the things you can do when you're 22...
David Brozik interviews Fish for this piece as it aired on his screen:
Davd Brozik: Is this your helmet cam?
Brozik: HOLESHOT! where are the trees?
Fisher: They don't exist out here. I wish we had trees out here in Colorado... but only in the mountains, and enviros don't like motocross tracks in the mountains.
Brozik: Did anyone challenge you?
Fisher: Well, it was 12 laps total (that was one lap in that video). I had about a 5 second lead on second place (a WORCS pro), then after 6 laps, I stopped to re-fuel. Unfortunately, my gas can is from Walmart and pours about 1 gallon in 10 seconds. The WORCS guy had the factory $450 quick fuel setup that dumps 3 gallons in 5 seconds. Cost me the race, but oh well... next time
Okay, that's it for a short week of Racerhead news. Thanks for reading, and see you at the races.