The motocross world suffered a staggering blow last weekend when Jantz Grodzicki lost his life following a crash at the Mini Os in Gainesville, Florida. Jantz suffered severe head and neck injuries in a crash on Friday, and despite the best efforts of emergency doctors, he passed away on Monday in the hospital. The news of his crash and grave situation traveled fast—Grodzicki was a very popular young rider from the San Diego area and was active on Facebook and in making videos. There were once again calls to figure out how we, as a group—riders, parents, promoters, manufacturers, sponsors—can minimize the tragic consequences of crashes in our sport. I do not know the details of Jantz's crash, but I know his passing has galvanized some close friends in the sport who want to work harder than ever to mitigate such terrible situations. Jantz Grodzicki was 16 years old.
The Mini Os were halfway through when the accident occurred, and the race would continue following a candlelight vigil that evening. By all accounts it was a heart-wrenching service.
Jantz Grodzicki. Godspeed.
“He committed his life to motocross,” a friend of Jantz told NBC San Diego. “Jantz put 24/7 in this sport. He was riding four or five times a week, racing every weekend.”
The thoughts and prayers of everyone here are Racer X Online go out to the Grozicki family. There have several tributes placed online to Jantz, including this.
As far as the rest of the event went, the big winner was Star Racing Yamaha's Cooper Webb, who won six different events at the Mini Os, one of the longest-running events in the amateur motocross world at forty-one years.
The big winner in Florida was Star Racing Yamaha's Cooper Webb of North Carolina.
Rob Koy photo
Ronnie Lechien sent us this picture of him racing in Transborgaro, Italy, last weekend. Dogger’s still got form! He raced in a Heroes & Legends-type event with some other well-known American motocross icons.
“If you were in you prime in the '70s or '80s they wanted you!" said Lechien, the '85 125cc National Motocross Champion and all-time style king. "I went over with Danny Laporte, Brad Lackey and Marty Smith [and his wife Nancy]. Danny and myself rode the '80s class, Marty rode the '70s and Brad was our our team manager!" (QUICK TRIVIA: How many AMA National and FIM World Championship titles were on this team?)
Ron Lechien throws up some fine Italian roost.
The second half of the GoPro Racer X Film Festival semifinals is under way, and for this round, Chris Barnes and Kory Bard are going Bar to Bar. (Get it?) Chris hails from Riverton, Utah, while Kory is from San Antonio, Texas. Both of these guys obviously worked hard on their entries, but only one of them can advance to the finals, and that's up to you. Watch them both, then vote on your favorite, up to once per day. This round lasts until 4:30 pm EST on Dec. 7.
Huge congrats goes out to Keven St-Pierre, who beat out Nick Gust in a close Round 2 duel. Every vote counts, folks, so remember to support your favorite video by voting once every day.
As you may recall, Christophe Pourcel crashed very hard on the second night of the Bercy Supercross, leaving him with a damaged spleen that required surgery. CP377 is still in France, as doctors won't let him fly back to he States just yet. "I am seeing the doctor [today], and then we will see when I can travel," the former two-time 250 SX champ told me in an email. "Spleens are dangerous."
Like everyone else, I have no idea what Christophe is going to do in 2013, but I will say that I can't remember a rider having a worse run of luck and/or disappointments since he broke his arm at Pala two years ago and lost out on the 250 National MX Championship. He has never recovered in the U.S. market and has yet to find a ride that matches well for him. He tried Europe again last year, winning a couple of races, but his heart just wasn't in it. Then he had his bikes stolen from his home in France, then this setback while riding a KTM. CP377 wants to come back to the states and race, he just can't find a good fit.
Christophe Pourcel on the cover of Moto Verte, before his big crash in Bercy.
Weird little quirk in the calendar I noticed this week. Over on the American MX Facebook page, we have an ongoing project called "On This Day in Motocross," and we list something interesting about every day in the history of motocross. Sometimes it's race wins, sometimes birthdays. But check out the birthdays of this one particular week, November 23-28, which may be the fastest week ever:
November 23: Six-time FIM World Champion Joel Robert
November 25: Ten-time FIM World Champion Stefan Everts
November 26: Three-time AMA Motocross Champion Marty Smith
November 27: Fifteen-time SX/MX Champion Ricky Carmichael
November 27: 125cc SX main event winner Casey Lytle
November 28: Multi-time national and SX main-event winner Andrew Short
November 23-28 has produced a lot of fast motocross men!
Jeremy McGrath at A Day In the Dirt
Besides the Martin Davalos interview EJ put together, check out what Chad Reed had to say about his search for a second rider in 2013 for his TwoTwo Motorsports Honda team where he explains that he spoke with Ryan Villopoto, though that was a long shot, but he could have had Dean Wilson—twice!—but could not get the support he needed from Honda in the form of a second factory bike.
Meet the 2013 Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad.
Hoppenworld.com/Jeff Kardas photo
Jeff Kardas and Ryne Swanberg have been helping the Hoppenworld.com crew ever since Frank's terrible bicycling accident that Hoppen is still recovering from (get well soon, Frank!). Kardy posted a few photos from the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki shoot yesterday that was unfortunately rained out—everything in California appears to be underwater right now! Here are a few glimpses of the team that Jeff posted on the Vital MX message board.
Simon Cudby has also been busy on the team-photo circuit, and also sidelined by rain, but he did get a snap of himself and Justin Barcia ... Or maybe that's Phil Collins and Justin Barcia?
And just got this from the other side of the building: “MX Sports Pro Racing and Alli Sports are pleased to announce that advance tickets for the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, are now on sale and available for purchase at www.allisports.com. Additionally, advance ticket purchasers will receive $20 off series merchandise and a chance to win the Ultimate Moto Swag Pack, featuring product from series sponsors FMF Apparel, etnies, and Racer X Illustrated, as well as ticket upgrades, and more.”
Okay, here's a good spot to turn it over to Steve Matthes, who is on assignment across the pond:
This Racerhead update is brought to you from the beautiful city of Geneva, Switzerland. I had to come here to do some banking and just figured that I’d throw a visit to the annual supercross as well. This race, much like Bercy a couple of weeks ago, is a longtime staple in European off-season racing and attracts some of the top talent. The track is a bit longer than Bercy, and the dirt is soft but it’s a forgiving track as well.
The track in Geneva is pretty easy, but there's no resting at all.
Steve Matthes photo
Justin Brayton is here on the JGR Yamaha, which makes for a busy off-season with Justin racing the Monster Energy Cup, Genoa, Bercy, and now this race. There’s nothing to get a guy ready for Anaheim like racing, and he and his ace tuner Peppermint Patty are working out the bugs on the new race bike.
“Moving” Marvin “The Martin” Musquin (remember, “Moose (Red Bull) Can.”) is here as well with an all-new number, new gear, new goggles (100%), and was the fastest rider in the first practice this afternoon. Marvin’s here on the 250F compared to just about everyone else on a 450, so that’s impressive. He’s slated to race the 250 SX East Series for KTM and just may sneak in a West Region 450 SX race.
Mike Brown is here as well, taking the place of the injured Kyle Chisholm. Brown’s fresh off the Endurocross a couple of weeks ago in Vegas, and that was on the heels of his stint racing the Baja 1000. So why not supercross? Brownie brought over parts for his 450 SX-F and the guys at WP did him up some supercross suspension. When I asked him the last time he rode a supercross, he laughed, “Last year!” He’s also fighting a bit of a cold as well but looked pretty good in practice.
Justin Brayton and crew are racing at Geneva.
Steve Matthes photo
Gautier Paulin is here on his Kawasaki, Cedric Soubeyras (who gave some Americans fits at Bercy) is back on the Honda, and Fabien Izoird is here on his Suzuki to round out some of the top European racers. Eric Sorby is continuing his comeback, and early on he led the pack around in the first practice. It’s looking to be a competitive night tonight (another night tomorrow) and the guys should provide some great racing. Stay tuned to Racer X on Twitter (@racerxonline) for race updates as well as the quality of coffee over here.
Stay tuned on Monday on the Pulpmx Show when I’ll be back Stateside to discuss Geneva and all that went down. We’ll have David Pingree in-studio again to offer up his insights and as well, we’re hoping to get Brayton on the show to talk off-season SX races.
Here's the Weege:
I checked in with Andrew Short this week, and he indicated that the all-new 2013 Honda CRF450R actually feels similar to the 2012 model, which has made it easier to dial in the new bike. But then, funny enough, I talked to Trey Canard this week, too, and he tells me the 2013 feels a lot different to him!
Both riders had a bit of a delay in their off-season—Short was trying to recover from a variety of illnesses and ailments, and of course Trey had that big back injury dating to last January. But both are 100 percent and back into their regular racing routine. Trey told me he feels a no ill-effects from his injury, and he's actually feeling much better this year than last, when he was dealing with a broken collarbone. I think everyone would be pumped to see Trey back in contention this year.
Tickle, RC, Josh Hill and Carey Hart at the RCH team appearance earlier this week.
Matty Fran photo
As DC mentioned above, several sources are indicating that team manager Erik Kehoe might be out at Team Honda Muscle Milk. That's the case for now, but insiders tell me there's a chance he could end up back there once his contract gets sorted (his deal expired October 31. It's just like a racer!). I'll tell you, it's still a scary time to be working in this industry. Mike Fisher had the plug pulled on his Monster Energy Kawasaki manager job last year and has yet to resurface at that level. And now you've got to think there are a lot of Jeff Ward Racing employees out looking for a new team. In a pattern that mimics the greater economy in some ways, we’re seeing signs of strength in some sectors (top guns like Villopoto and Dungey are back to making BIG money) but other aspects are still shaky. Hopefully, we see Erik back at the races in 2013, he's certainly a well-respected guy.
On the other hand, new teams are coming in. Cool to see a new effort with Velocity3 Racing, which you can just call Team Junkyard Dog. This new team is headed by Brian Berry, who was John Dowd's longtime mechanic through the privateer ranks and over to factory Yamaha. And Kenny Germain is the other boss over there, and Kenny has been spinning the wrenches for Dowd more recently. Kenny was also the Team Honda wrench for Ernesto Fonseca back in the day. He and Berry know what they're doing and should have a solid team. Plus, this puts Kyle Chisholm back on the YZ450F he loves so much.
Kyle Chisholm will return to Yamaha for the 2013 season.
Simon Cudby photo
I talked to Davi Millsaps yesterday for a status report on his new Rockstar Racing Suzuki ride. Millsaps grew up riding Suzukis, but he says there's zero connection in feel to the old days, because he never rode a Suzuki 450 until now. "I guess it feels like home because there's a yellow front fender out there," he says. "But otherwise, it's totally different." Millsaps knows his second-place finish in the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Championship is going to be tough to duplicate with so many riders coming back from injury, but it still served as a confidence boost. It's telling that, in an interview conducted with Millsaps' mentor Ezra Lusk this week, Lusk said, "The biggest thing is the riding, trying to get him to consider himself a contender. Going into this season is really his best chance." We'll see if Davi can make that last step and get back to a main event win this year.
On another Suzuki front, I talked to Broc Tickle this week to check his progress with RCH Racing. Says Tickle, "You'd think with Ricky here, he's be putting pressure on you, like saying 'You'd better get top ten at your first race or you're out of here.' But it's not like that. He's just motivating."
Tickle is still working with trainer John Louch, but he says Ricky has helped dive into his program as well. "I used to just show up at the track in the morning and then figure out what I was going to do," says Tickle. "Now the plan is laid out for me the day before, every day. I know exactly what I'm doing. And it's less riding as far as just pounding out motos. We're doing some other things on the bike and it keeps it fun. I learned last year, the more fun I had the better I did. I don't think anyone rides better trying to be motivated by anger and things like that."
Tickle also mentioned that his new teammate Josh Hill is riding very well. Like Canard, I think everyone would be pumped if Josh is able to get back to where he was pre-injury.
Who knew Honda had a bike like this with a steel frame?
Steve Matthes photo
I got a chance to see the new 6D helmets this week. I’m a fan of innovation, especially when it comes to protecting our brains in crashes. Helmets haven’t made significant change in a lot of years, so I applaud 6D for seeing a need and trying to create a better product. The idea behind the helmet is to create a “suspension system” that provides better impact cushioning in slow- to medium-speed crashes. Most concussions in our sport don’t come from hitting a stationary object at 70mph; they are relatively slow-speed incidents. However, DOT and Snell standards don’t account for that so all helmets (road, dirt, etc.) are graded by the same criteria.
Broc Hepler came out and talked candidly about his head injuries and Dr. Bodnar of the Asterisk Medical Unit was there as well to offer his expertise. Be sure to check out the images/video of this product because if it works the way they say it does, it will be a game changer. And like DC said above, it's time to think more about safety now more than ever.
The new 6D helmets.
While I’m waiting for my hand to heal (remember, I punched a dog) I’ve been spending some time at the track working with a young amateur rider named Stilez Robertson. He’s a 10-year-old Team Green rider and I believe one of the future stars of motocross. I’ve worked with quite a few pro riders over the last decade or so, but not many top-level amateurs like Stilez. I keep trying to think back to what I was like at 10 and where my riding skills were at, and really it’s not even close. Stilez was jumping the step-up at Pala yesterday on a stock 85cc! That’s a pretty large jump, for those not familiar. Anyway, it’s been a lot of fun to work with him and see what one of the fastest 10-year-olds in the sport is like. Remember the name. Which, by the way, was taken from the movie Teen Wolf. Van surfing, anyone?
Who wants to race a two-stroke series? The MTA 2-stroke Championship is coming up April 1, but they are going to make a three-race series out of it. The first two rounds on February 24 and March 24 will be held at local SoCal tracks, and the final round will be the 2-Stroke World Championship at Glen Helen. There will be a series champion and also a two-stroke world champion crowned after the final round. There are classes for all ages and sizes, and there is even talk of a 125 Pro class being added. I hope they are serious about that. Go to www.glenhelen.com for more details and then find yourself a two-stroke.
Here's Chase Stallo:
Privateer Derek Anderson rose to prominence in 2012 with steady results in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. The Colorado native would develop a cult following thanks to the highly acclaimed Driven to Ride web series, which trailed Anderson and longtime friend and fellow racer Tucker Saye around the country showcasing the hardships of the privateer life.
Now, armed with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i, Anderson is set to embark on another adventure in 2013, documenting his first professional season of Monster Energy Supercross.
Anderson will be documenting his first professional season of Monster Energy Supercross.
Simon Cudby photo
“It’s a lot more personal than Driven to Ride—this will be more about the story,” Anderson said. “Driven to Ride was more about the grassroots of the sport, while this will showcase everything from what I buy at the grocery store, how I work out, how I go about securing sponsors … just the everyday life of a privateer trying to make it.”
The new web-based documentary series, Breaking Supercross, will be shot and edited by Anderson and his girlfriend, Shilah. The series will follow Anderson for the duration of the 250SX West Region, with episodes appearing weekly on Vurbmoto.com.
“I figured since we had such a good thing with Driven to Ride, and I acquired such a fan base from it, why not keep it going?” Anderson said. “I think it’s really important to market yourself, because if you don’t do it, you won’t go anywhere.”
The bright lights of Monster Energy Supercross are typically shone on the giant factory teams and their massive entourages. But there is a different side of racing, hiding in the shadows, which many don’t typically see. Something Anderson is hoping to show the viewers.
“The big teams are the biggest part of the sport,” Anderson said. “But there is also another side and I want to document it and show what it’s all about. If I make it, it’s [the documentary] going to be sick. If I don’t make it, it will still be sick. So it’s kind of a win-win for me.”
And now over to our new contributor, Jason “$” Thomas:
Hallo, Bonjour, Conechewa, Origami.... However you wanna say it, greetings from the winter wonderland of Eastern Germany. Round 2 of the ADAC German SX championship takes place in Chemnitz. As a former Eastern Bloc Communist area, this part of the country gives you a real look at yesteryear. Century-old buildings with graffiti and broken windows eerily reminds me of how bad things were here not too long ago....
Hopefully JT can make it back home after this snow storm in Germany.
After the chaos of round 1 at Stuttgart, the series starts to take shape after this weekend and points are at a premium. With the smallest arena of the series (and the weirdest dirt as well), this race is sure to have some inconsistent results. The dirt is tacky yet has an oily surface, and everyone will be talking about it after first practice, no matter how many times we have raced here. Most everyone feels lucky to be here at all, as the first snow of the year turned the roads into a parking lot for hours yesterday. Luckily for me, my years of snow-driving experience in the Florida tundra has equipped me to handle any weather.
With the Geneva SX taking place to the south of us, Europe is treated to some great racing this weekend. As I write this we are in between practice and tonight’s racing, and I am in the hotel watching an incredible documentary on African women’s rights on Channel 4, which is the Huffnerslavidungenan Network. At least I think it’s incredible, because I can’t understand a damn word they’re saying. Watching TV in Germany is a lot like being a toddler: you have no idea what is going on but pictures are pretty and keep you from crying.
That’s it from here in Checkpoint Charlie. If you guys don’t hear from me, call Jason Bourne or Brad Pitt or someone and send help.
If not, at least he has this great view.
Okay, let's close out with some random stuff:
If you are looking for a cool retro MX gift for yourself, how about these GP replica gloves made from genuine goatskin, just like they were when introduced in 1971? Go to www.cosmicracing.com for details.
Here are some cool snocross highlights from the Amsoil Snocross Championships in Duluth, Minnesota, last weekend. It all looks like fun—except for the Tucker Hibbert-takeout where he almost gets speared!
If you were planning on racing the Erzberg Rodeo in Austria next June and haven't signed up yet, you need to make some other plans for May 30-June 1. The 1,500 starting spots were snatched up in less than an hour, according to the promoter. While I have never been there, the Nitro Circus' Travis Pastrana, Andy Bell and Greg Godfrey have and they all swear it's the gnarliest, toughest race in the world. Coming from those adventurists, I would take them at their word!
The world's toughest race, the Erzberg Rodeo, starts in a rock quarry and then gets worse by the bike-length!
He's also offering coupon code that'll save his fellow moto enthusiasts $10 off any order: "RacerX" (Good though December 7, 2012).
Ryan Dungey is back in his native Minnesota doing some promotion work for the Minneapolis Supercross, and as part of the deal, he's learning to drive a monster truck. So who better to teach than multi-time AMA Supercross winner Damon Bradshaw, who now drives a truck for a living?
Remember Tommy Hofmaster? The former pro and longtime Arenacross star has launched new e-commerce store, www.MxStuff4u.com, and can hopefully help you out for your Christmas moto-gift giving.
"Our e-commerce first started with a highly successful eBay store," Hofmaster said in a press release. "We have now made the transition to a larger website loaded with many aftermarket items for dirt bikes, motocross, off-road, street bikes, atv's, utv's, scooters and snowmobiles with the best parts and accessories available on the market today.
“Free shipping on all orders over $200. Right now we are having our GRAND OPENING SALE and if you use promo code ‘mxstuff’ at check out, you will get a 20% discount off all goods. They also have a Facebook page you can check out.”
Good luck, Tommy!
Finally, congratulations to our longtime contributor and good friend Andy Bowyer—he's a dad for the first time!
Thanks for reading Racerhead, see you at the races.