Racerhead #13

Racerhead #13

April 1, 2011 5:00pm
Welcome to Racerhead, where you just know it's going to be an interesting week when it starts out with the first-lap leader of the 450 main doing a fist-pump over the finish-line jump ... and it wasn't Trey Canard!

Let's start with Monday. In case you were already in lock-up, you probably know about what happened to James Stewart and his longtime friend Raddo down in Florida. Apparently late for a flight, they decided to put a police light on the dash of James' truck. The rest is Photoshop history. Think about it: April Fools' Day was already sort of a national holiday for Photoshoppers. With this unexpected turn of events, we've seen the whole thing grab another gear. Like, Winning.

Stewart's plight was national news in the sports world, and headline news in Florida. Even Howard Stern weighed in on this, calling him “a #$%@ing maniac.” It was obviously an ill-conceived idea with very wide-reaching effects. It's part of the fishbowl of celebrity, and it’s certainly something James could do without, given his recent run of misfortune on the racetrack. I'm not sure how he and his team are going to handle things this weekend in Dallas, but I wouldn't want to be in his Nike boots. This, too, shall pass—though there will be no embargo on all jokes about it anytime soon. It's his Hugh Grant moment. Except, you know, different.

Can Stewart turn things around in Dallas?
Photo: Matt Pavelek

This is not the only time we've seen some strange headlines from off the track. Check out this week's The List on other interesting motocross mysteries.

You can watch all of the events unfold at this weekend's Dallas Supercross right here on Racer X Online, with our Thor MX Racecenter, beginning tomorrow morning. The lap times, the Breaking News, the practice reports, the track previews—it will all be here. And you can watch the race Sunday at noon on CBS (Supercross) and 6 p.m. on Speed (Lites).

Back to Toronto for a moment. If anyone has been wondering what happened to all of rocks that used to rise up through the soil at Unadilla, they apparently exported them to Canada. It looked like a stone garden out there, but then again, diversity is what we want in our AMA Supercross tracks, and the rocks and weird soil added a whole new element to the racing.

It did not seem to both Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, who finally got the monkey of wearing #1 and not winning off his back with a dominant performance. He also now gets a solid month of telling critics like our own brain trust of Matthes/Weigandt/Pingree that he is capable of winning a race in this series.

And Chad Reed didn’t seem to mind the rocks either. Somehow, someway, the veteran has gone from not being able to find a ride four months ago to now being able to find himself atop the Monster Energy AMA Supercross point standings. As I mentioned before, this could be one of the biggest stories in the history of this tour, though it was kind of overshadowed this week. If the TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Honda rider keeps moving forward, he's going to be tough to beat as this thing goes down to the wire.... He's like Butler in the NCAA basketball tournament. Or maybe even VCU. The longer he stays in this, the tougher he's going to be to beat.

Dungey got his long awaited first win of the season in Toronto.
Photo: Matt Pavelek

Finally, I want to mention Ryan Villopoto. He went from having this thing in the palm of his hand a fortnight ago to now trailing a two-time champion, with the defending series champion right behind him. RV knows how to win titles, obviously, but momentum has swung the other way ever since he failed to qualify in Jacksonville and then hit the deck when Stewart came in up under him in early traffic at Toronto. How he reacts in Dallas—site of his first win as a professional, back in 2006—will go a long way toward determining how this thing might end for him.

In the Lites class, Dean Wilson got some revenge on Canada by winning, and his familiarity to Canadian fans made him a crowd favorite. After all, there weren't many Canadian riders up there participating, as I mentioned here last week. For what it's worth, I do not blame the athletes for that, but rather the confusing setup in Canada between the CMA and the CMRC that's throttled the growth and development of talent up there, in my personal opinion. Until people up there start working together, the riders will suffer, just as the lack of decent support for Team Canada every year keeps our neighbors from having a respectable showing at the Motocross of Nations. On a global stage, they tend to underwhelm, but not for lack of raw talent.

Villopoto captured victory in Dallas in '06.
Photo: Simon Cudby

Finally, before I turn this over to the rest of the crew, you have to check out this exceptional Simon Cudby film with DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha's Ryan Sipes, shot at the Yamaha SX track and incorporating a few GoPro helmet cam videos. It's good stuff!

Okay, let's turn this over here to Ping...

What a week in the fantastical little world of dirt bike racing. As a fan it really doesn’t get any better than this. Our sport doesn’t always provide drama worthy of “water-cooler talk” but the 2011 season has provided more plotlines and suspense than an episode of Desperate Housewives. Oh, that Mike and Susan just drive me crazy with their on-again, off-again shenanigans!

You could make a good argument for at least three (if not five) different riders who could go on a run starting in Dallas and pull this championship off. Villopoto is the guy who has been in control. Aside from the past two weeks, this has been his championship, and if he can get his head back to where it was three weeks ago it’s still his title. Reed has been getting better and better as the weeks wear on. His speed is generally just a tick off, but if anyone has the experience to pull this off, it’s the old guy … Chad Reed. And then there’s Ryan Dungey. After spending the whole series under a microscope and being berated by the media about his inability to win, he scores one in Toronto and finds himself eight points out of the lead. Huh? Really? Don’t count this guy out. His podium speeches may have the same effect as a bottle of Nyquil, but he knows how to get the job done, plain and simple. The pressure just got dialed up to eleven on this series, ladies and gentleman. Every position and every point counts from here on out and all those guys know it.

Reed is the current points leader heading into Dallas.
Photo: Matt Pavelek

I don’t want to move on without mentioning my boy, my dog, The Giant Ginger, Trey Canard. He’s a few more points back but, as this series has proven, anything can happen.

And then there’s James Stewart. I’m sure the motocross media is beating this thing to death, so I’m just going to take a different angle on it. Two words sum it up: silver lining. When life hands you lemons, or handcuffs, as it were, you make lemonade. Or, you know, make a cake and hide a file inside it. What I’m trying to say is earn a few bucks off this thing.

These guys have to be “super pumped” that the race this weekend isn’t in the old Texas Stadium. I know Jerry Jones used to always joke that the hole was in the roof so that God could watch the Cowboys play football, but really, it was just half-assed embarrassment of a football stadium. I mean, really? You spend millions of dollars on this structure and then leave just a fraction of the roof incomplete? Really? This week’s edition of “This Week in SX History” focuses on the Dallas Supercross in 1997. That was a mud race. I had my first supercross mud race ever in that stadium in 1995 and the racing surface had all the traction of a hockey rink. I crashed. Stupid hole in the roof.

Two-stroke fans out west are giddy about the Two-Stroke National coming up this weekend at Glen Helen Raceway. This is always a fun event, and it will be interesting to see what the turnout is like. I know two-stroke sales have been increasing, and I see more and more of them at the track in recent months. I have a YZ125 that I’m thinking about taking out there this weekend. There are classes for every age and ability, but the one flaw they need to sort out is pro-class structure. There is no 125 pro class; it’s an open pro class, which allows everything from 125s to CR500 engines stuffed into 450 chassis. Can we just get a 125 pro class in addition to the open pro class for next year? Word on the streets is that Ryan Hughes has a 125 that he will be racing this weekend. If he can win the open pro class on that, I’ll rescind my suggestion. Check out the flier for all the details.


One more thing: If you happen to live anywhere near Morden, Manitoba, and you want to improve your dirt bike riding skills I have a suggestion (That’s in Canada, for those of you fumbling with a map right now.) On May 21 I am putting on a motocross school there. Capitol Motorsports is the presenting sponsor and we will have an autograph signing there on Friday the 20th from 5pm to 7pm. The first ten people to sign up receive a free Motocross 101 DVD and a set of SkullCandy earbuds. Every entrant gets a set of Eks Brand goggles and will also be entered in a drawing to win a set of CTi knee braces. We will also have a free suspension seminar in conjunction with the class to help get your bike dialed in for you. Cost is $295 per rider. For more information or to sign up, you can contact me at ping@racerxonline.com or Jason at matthesjason@hotmail.com

Here’s Matthes:

So, anything new this week?

Just when you think this series couldn’t get any nuttier on and off the track, James Stewart gets arrested for impersonating a police officer. It wasn’t a very smart thing to do by any means, but from the initial reports to the release of the off-duty officers that he tried to pull over 911 call to some other reports, the infraction seemed to get a little “better” each time I heard it.

Stewart wasn’t trying to pretend to be a cop and pull someone over, he never left his vehicle, it wasn’t some sort of perverse look at trying to be TJ Hooker—it was probably (and I could be wrong) a couple of guys late for a flight, cutting the wrong car off and trying to get through traffic.

I’m not trying to understate this event at all. It is a very serious offense. We’ve all been late for a flight and stressed about traffic but generally we don’t do anything about it. James and his passenger Raddo did, and the poop flew.

Stewart will be on the gate in Dallas.
Photo: Matt Pavelek

Just add this to what’s beginning to turn out to be a season on the brink for the San Manuel Yamaha rider. He’s won three races out of twelve, had some big crashes, and has to jump three other riders if he’s going to win this title. The good news is that he’s gained six points on the leader in the last two weeks.

Stewart had told me a few days before Toronto that he was going to do a podcast with me for Racer X on Sunday, and when I told him I couldn’t and it would have to be Monday, he replied that Monday it was on.

Well, something was on Monday, but it wasn’t the podcast!

Okay, enough about that. Let’s let everything play out in the courts before we see what the consequences are and we’ll go from there.

Congrats to Ryan Dungey for his first win of the year in a dominating, lead-all-twenty-laps sort of way. Last week on the Racer X Podcast, Ping, Weege, and myself all predicted that the Dunge wouldn’t win a race this year after his dismal (for him) showing at Jacksonville. Goes to show you what kind of experts we are! I don’t like to play the “What if?” game like some of his fans like to do in regards to his chain coming off at Anaheim 2, because every guy in the top five has a “What if?” moment or two in the series.

Still, Dungey’s been most Saturday nights the third or fourth fastest guy in the main events and yet still finds himself only a few points out. If this win triggers a hot streak for the defending champion and he pulls this off, it will be reminiscent of Jeff Stanton’s title defense in 1990 when he only won two or three races and surged at the end of the year. I’ll have to ask his old mechanic Dan Betley (now a motor guy at Honda) to see if he sees any similarities in the two years.

Great round in Toronto, but I’m biased because I’m Canadian and I like going up to the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto. Good times and great crowd this year!


Speaking of biased, I recently acquired, through my friends at eBay, an awesome VHS tape of the Superstars of Motocross that came out sometime in the mid-’80s. It mostly focuses on an arenacross series that traveled the country and features Racer X’s own Davey Coombs with the sweet number RJ-style #5s on a Honda.

The “superstar” of the tape is a guy from West Virginia named Mike Bias, and he’s got the #1 plate and battles with New Jersey’s Micky Kessler a bunch of times. Then the series goes to Vegas and a 15-year-old Shaun Kalos waxes everyone. Whatever happened to Bias? Anyone who knows, feel free to comment below.

DC’s all over this tape—he even goes over the bars at one point in the mud. Another highlight is Davey explaining the safety gear that riders wear, which is fine, and he does a good job of that. What I’m wondering about is the fact that he’s wearing Yoko pants, O’Neal jersey, JT chest pro, and Gear gloves. Clearly the mixed-gear look was big back then!

Working on converting this thing to DVD and then onto Pulpmx.com. Stay tuned.

We had an exciting Pulpmx Show on Monday with Denny Stephenson on as well as Matt Boni calling into the show to tell us about Stewart’s arrest being on TV. Then Eric Sorby called in to chat and things got sideways from there! It made for some good laughs, as Sorby saw it on the news the same time he was on the air. He then excused himself and had to go make some calls.

You just never know what can happen, so make sure you tune in Mondays at 6 p.m. Pacific for some moto knowledge and some laughs.

Here’s Weege:

My English Uncle, Lord Alfred Weigandt, made a grievous error last week when he incorrectly stated that Dean Wilson hails from Northern Ireland and not Scotland. You would think I should edit his work, but I say it's more fun to watch him boil in his own stew. He has sent an apology this week, and here it goes:

Wilson got his second win of the season in Toronto.
Photo: Matt Pavelek

Oh hello. I am very, very, sorry and owe some folks a deep apology. Last week in me letter, I mistakenly bestowed Dean Wilson with the luck of the (Northern) Irish, which then helped power the lad to victory in the most properly spelled Rogers Centre in O’ Canada. O’ Dean-O! Or, should I write, O’ Dean-O O’Wilson in O Canada!

I’m not much for following American Stadiumcross racing and I did not know that the O’Wilson lad hails not from Norn Ireland but from Scotland. Me mum, as she has for the past 80 years, came to correct me, and in celebration we opened up a fine bottle of Scotch. Perhaps information was scarce since he chose to leave his homeland as a boy. Surely, no one would have this information listed incorrectly if he had taken his rightful place amongst the Grand Prix ranks and carried on an epic showdown for the MX2 Championship last summer against Tommy Searle (had either raced in Europe last season I can assure you Musquin the Frenchman would have been a distant third. Tommy Boy left to conquer the Colonies in aught-nine, and suddenly this Musquin character dominates the GPs. Now Tommy is coming back home this year and of course Musquin is running back to the U.S. to avoid him.)

So the Scottish Mr. Wilson is racing in the U.S. now and dominates in Canada. Does this not show the hierarchy of the monarchy? Americans worship Canadian Page 3 girls like that Baywatch bird, but the Canadians pay homage to the best of the UK—the hot Scott! I now predict a late-season offensive from Wilson which shall result in the unseating of Jason Barcia from the championship lead.

As for Wilson being from Scotland, I should have known. Did you know that, in 1707, Scotland volunteered to turn from separate nation to instead join Great Britain? Of course—if you can’t beat them, join them. O’Wilson has followed in his forefather’s footsteps by making sure he’s a part of Team GB—as I like to call it, “Great for a Reason.” Team he and Searle up with Max Anstie and we’re looking at World Trophy des Nations dominance for years to come.

Canard is still very much in the title hunt.
Photo: Matt Pavelek

As for the rest of the racing in Toronto—bloody fair play, Reedy! After hearing Wilson had taken control of the one-two-five race, I then saw Reedy stalking the American Champion Dungey in the latter laps. I thus became so overcome with joy that I conveniently forgot to sip my scotch! I instead guzzled at the malt in the same manner in which the Aussie has gobbled up championship points, and woke up several hours later, laying in some of my own malts in the parlor floor. I didn’t catch who won the race, but I do know that Mr. Reed is leading the series. Let everyone remember that when the Canadian event wreaked havoc on your series, said havoc was created by two men with proper roots in Great Britain. Great for a reason, indeed!

And finally some miscellany:

Really Rad Fox Racing Heritage Timeline.

Some interesting news from Europe. If you're a fan of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships, your Saturday nights are looking good this summer!

Saturday marks the 4th Annual Racer X Inter-AM vintage motocross in Boise, Idaho. You can add former AMA Pro Ryan Picard to the list of celebrity riders in attendance. Ryan will be Can-AM-mounted in a tribute to his dad, Allen Picard, who raced the Canadian brand back in the day. He joins Damon Bradshaw, who will ride a Husky 125 like his dad once rode.


The cool thing is not only to see, hear, and smell the old bikes but to see some of the old-school riding gear. Metro Racing, the vintage apparel specialists, sent Ryan and Damon Bradshaw new race gear just for the event. Chuck Sun will be sporting new JT apparel. The Swedish Motocross Federation SVEMO sent over special Team Sweden jerseys for Scott Wallenberg to match with his Team Sweden Shoei Helmet.

Former 500cc Nat'l champ Darryl Schultz, while not riding, will be in attendance and hanging out at the post-race video party sponsored by Fly Racing, which features a showing of the 1980 Carlsbad movie and live music from the Blues Addicts. Look for photos and a report next week

By the way, the first 500 people right now who subscribe or renew their Racer X subscriptions will get a FREE Racer X Brand T-shirt. Get on that!


Here is a Lead Law update:

As you know Congressman Rehberg (MT) has introduced HR 412 “The Kids Just Want to Ride Act” that exempts Off Highway Vehicles from the CPSIA.  This bill is moving through the House and gaining support every day.

The new development is Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has introduced the same type of language in the form of a Senate Amendment (S.A. 264) to the Senate’s Small Business Program Reauthorization Bill (S.493).  If successful, this amendment would be attached to the much larger Small Business Program Reauthorization Bill that has a ton more item in it.  Then it would have to be passed in the senate and the house and signed by the president to become law.

The problem here is the amendment is to be offered very soon and we do not have much time to get the word out.  It is most important that we call our Senators and ask them to support the Amendment (S.A. 264) offered by Senator Klobuchar.

I know this sounds like an uphill battle in a time when we all are focused on is this weekend’s racing but we MUST make the call. Ed Moreland and the team at the AMA has made it very easy for you to make the call.  Use this link to find your Senator’s contact information:

I also urge MX families to get involved in the AMA’s Capitol Hill Climb event scheduled for May 26 in Washington.  This is a great opportunity for our youth to get an unforgettable civics lesson.  For more information go to this link:  AmericanMotorcyclist.com/KidsJustWantToRide.aspx

That’s it for now. Have a good weekend, and see you at the races.