Racerhead #50

Racerhead #50

December 14, 2012 5:35pm

Welcome to Racerhead. Not going to lie—I was having a much better day before I heard the horrific news about the school shooting in Connecticut. We all were. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those families. What a terrible day.

This column is about motocross racing, so let me turn the page. As I was cleaning out some folders in a filing cabinet, I found one that was labeled “1982” and set it aside. Inside the folder were a few slide sheets that someone had taken to apparently get printed. I put the sheets down on the old light box and looked at them through the loop. I almost fell over when I realized they photos were shot at the 1982 Trophee des Nations, and they were all Team USA! David Bailey, Johnny O'Mara, Jim Gibson, and the late Danny “Magoo” Chandler. This was the year Chandler won all four motos in both the Trophee (250cc) and Motocross (500cc) des Nations. It was also the year Bailey got the last-minute call to replace the injured Donnie Hansen on the team. He showed up in Fox Racing gear, but because the tracks in Switzerland and Germany were rocky, he borrowed a JT Racing chest protector and wore it for some of the motos. He ended up in a JT Racing jersey too, and by the end of the trip his deal with Fox was over and he had been scooped up by JT Racing!

Incredibly cool, fast and stylish: David Bailey at the 1982 Trophee des Nations.
Racer X Archives photo

Earlier this week the news was released that the new national venue that is replacing Steel City in 2013 is Miller Motorsports Park on the outskirts of Salt Lake City in Utah. Even as I type this, the foundation is being laid on the infield of the massive road course, just in front of the clubhouse. Marc Peters is the course architect, and he was on site last weekend to pencil out the details of what will be a brand new (and permanent) motocross circuit on the infield. The riders and teams will pit in the garage areas on pavement—you’re welcome, Mitch Payton—and the highly motivated people at MMP have begun moving what they figure will be over 300,000 cubic yards of dirt to build the track out. It will not be “supercrossy,” as some are suggesting, but there won't be any massive hills either. It's going to be a very unique event, and I look forward to seeing what Peters and the Miller folks can build before next August 17.

Besides the annual Salt Lake City Supercross, which has taken place in late April each year for the past decade, way back in the day there were a couple of big motocross races in Utah. In 1973 the Inter-Am tour stopped there, though the results counted for both that series and the newly minted AMA 250cc National Motocross Championship. It was in Tooele, which is the same town as Miller Motorsports Park, and the winner was Pierre Karsmakers of the Netherlands.

One year later, Manning Cycle Park held a combined Inter-Am/125 National, and the winners were once again Karsmakers in the 250 class and Honda factory rider Marty Smith on the 125. But this race was plagued by problems from the opening ceremonies when one of the parachutists coming down lit a smoke bomb strapped to his ankle, only to have it fall off! The smoke bomb landed in some dried brush and started a wildfire that resulted in quite a mess just before the start of the first moto. Here's the results of the 125 National from that day long ago, courtesy of the Racer X Vault.

MXA's John Basher put the new schedule under the microscope and came up with some interesting comparisons of next year's schedule and the previous one, which is measurably shorter. Scroll halfway down in his midweek column to check it out.

Here's a cool helmet-cam video of Malcolm Stewart shaking down in JDR KTM in Hawaii.

And if you want to feel like you're really missing something in your own 9-to-5 life (or school daze), check out some highlights of an afternoon in the life of Travis Pastrana.

We have been counting down the days to Anaheim with the Monster Energy 30 Best Supercross Racers of All Time. It's been a lot of fun, with a lot of series bench-racing brawls, insults flying like elbows in an Arenacross LCQ. But if you had told me a dozen years ago that Chad Reed would be on that list but Travis Pastrana would not, I don't think I would have ever believed you.

Ronnie Lechien on the bike he pulled off a showroom floor to win the 1983 San Diego SX.
Racer X Archives photo

When Matthes wrote about Ron Lechien and how he raced a store-bought yellow Yamaha for the last race of 1983, some readers took umbrage and reminded us that Yamahas were white back then. Yes, they were, but Lechien's bike was a true stocker, and it wasn't an '84—it was a leftover '83!

On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, we put together The List with 12 riders wearing AMA National #12. A few bench-racing quick draws noted a 12 we didn't put on The List, but who certainly deserves some love. Ricky Ryan rode the #12 into some serious history by winning the 1987 Daytona Supercross as a privateer.

Ricky Ryan en route to winning the 1987 Daytona SX.
Moto Verte photo

It didn't exactly open the floodgates, though, because Ryan stood alone on the privateer SX win list until Chad Reed won San Diego in 2011 on his TwoTwo Motorsports Honda (this was before Reed started getting a factory Honda under his tent). Of course, the difference between Reed—who had ridden factory-level bikes for a decade at that point and was backing the team with the money he made from those years—and Rick Ryan's support is staggering. So Rick Ryan still kind of stands alone. And we'll celebrate Reed's win sometime in the future, maybe February 22, 2222.

Jim Pomeroy was another #12 that could have been on our list, as well as #12 Marty Smith...
Racer X Archives photo

And here's another #12 we missed: Jim Pomeroy. The late, great American hero of Grand Prix motocross, Pomeroy was #12 in 1975, and he made a few cameo appearances on the AMA circuit while stationed in Europe, chasing after the 250cc World Championship. We spotted this old photo of the Bultaco-backed legend from Daytona '75.

There will be two Martins on the gate in 2013, both on Yamahas: Alex Martin is the top gun for Eleven10 Mods and little brother Jeremy has a gig with Rockstar Energy/Star Racing Yamaha. But few probably remember that their father, John Martin—now the owner of Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota—was also a factory rider back in the day … for Can-Am! Martin was a very good off-road racer, and he can still bang around in the woods at speed. Here's betting that when the clock strikes midnight years from now for either Alex or Jeremy in pro motocross, they will immediately set out for the woods and a second career in off-road racing.

That's John Martin, the dad of Alex and Jeremy, doing his best Blue Steel.

And speaking of off-road, I heard from a pretty reliable source that Jessica Patterson is going to try her hand at GNCC Racing in March when the series opens at River Ranch in Florida, March 9-12, after she races the Monster Energy/Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross at Daytona International Speedway. Someone let Maria Forsberg know that she's got some fast company heading her way!

There's a special place in the hearts of American motocross fans for Maggiora, Italy. That's where Team USA's David Bailey, Rick Johnson, and Johnny O'Mara put on an epic display of motocross dominance at the 1986 Motocross des Nations. I was lucky enough to attend a race there in 1999 with Ryan Hughes, back when he was racing for the PAMO Honda team on the 250cc world championship circuit. The place was just amazing, and you could feel the significance of the place even thirteen years after that wonderful day. And it had history for other visitors too, as Belgium had won a couple of previous Trophee des Nations there back in the day. But over the years the track fell into disarray. They quit holding races there and it was soon overgrown with weeds.

Johnny O'Mara lofts his CR125 off one of the many hills at Maggiora, Italy in the 1986 Motocross des Nations.
Racer X Archives photo

Recently a new group took over operation of the place and Youthstream's Giuseppe Luongo—the promoter of that epic '86 race—has already awarded them the 2016 Motocross of Nations. The track is getting some serious work done, and you can follow the progress on the Facebook page they have now set up: Pista Motocross Maggiora. I already can't wait to go there in four years!

How about a little early Christmas present? The annual CBS preview show for the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season will air Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. ET as part of the CBS Sports Spectacular programming. The 60-minute preview show will provide fans an inside look at the top riders and teams. It's quite a commitment from our friends at Feld Motorsports to promote the sport in such spectacular fashion every December, but no doubt this will be a season worth promoting.

You probably could not find three top riders with backgrounds as diverse as those of Ricky Carmichael, Chad Reed, and Ken Roczen. RC was a minicycle prodigy in Florida and almost singlehandedly moved the motocross base concept from California to Florida. Reed packed up and headed to Europe as a teenager with his girlfriend, racing one year on the GP circuit before moving to the U.S. for good. Roczen won a world title in Europe then moved house here as a 16-year-old, bringing along his family to California. I bring all this up because the three got into a small debate on Twitter, each opinion 144 characters of less, of course.


so meny good amateurs out there, know why? cos of the parents. then parents are gone and look what they do. slacking.


@KenRoczen94 I disagree. Kids either make it or they don't.. Right or wrong kids need to make own decision. Only way to learn IMO


@CRtwotwo @kenroczen94 I agree one hundred percent reedy...



@RickyCarmichael @CRtwotwo maybe i said it wrong. i just think if family and rider plus the people u chose work together is the best

Okay, not exactly a huge disagreement, but very interesting that two veterans would offer a very different opinion of how things work to the kid who could be king someday....

If you don't follow Roczen on Instagram, by the way, you should—he's a very positive and funny young man who seems to be enjoying his motocross life more than anyone.

Musquin, Dungey and Roczen will make up the 2013 Red Bull KTM team.
Simon Cudby photo

If you want to get your Anaheim bench racing on as we wait for January 5 to get here, you can find the results of every race held in Anaheim in the Racer X Vault. But you may need this guide, as the stadium has undergone a few name-changes over the years.

It was originally called Anaheim Stadium and it hosted official AMA Supercross races from December 4, 1976, until 1996, when it was closed for remodeling.

When it was reopened in 1999 it was known as Edison Field, and it stayed that way through 2003.

When Edison dropped out the field became Angel Stadium, which is what it's still called today.

Want to see something really cool that we spotted in The Vault?

Yes, it's THAT Troy Lee. Talk about street cred. Other notable industry folks you might want to check out include Matrix's Eddie Cole, Asterisk's Tom Carson, X-Brand's Rich Taylor, Moose Racing's Dick Burleson, Jim O'Neal of O'Neal Racing, Jeff Surwall from Alias, Chris Carter from Motio Pro, Gear Racewear's John Ayers, plus our own Scott Wallenberg.

Congratulations to the round-four winner of the 3rd Annual GoPro/Racer X Amateur Film Festival, Dayton Daft. The finals have begun and our four finalists, as determined by popular vote here on Racer X Online, are:

Round 1 winner: Jeff Scott

Round 2 winner: Keven St-Pierre

Round 3 winner: Chris Barnes

Round 4 winner: Dayton Daft

Now it's up to you to determine our winner and runners-up. Over the course of the next week, you can vote for your favorite finalist up to once per day. The contestant with the most votes will be our champion, the person with the second most votes will finish in second place, and so on.

The filmmakers will be competing not only for bragging rights, but also for great prizes from GoPro, Unit, and of course Racer X. Now watch the entries again and get to voting!

Brian Myerscough at the original Anaheim Stadium back in 1978.
Racer X Archives photo

Okay, here is Jason Weigandt...

It's boot-camp time for most riders, as this last month before the season represents the best time to get in high-intensity training before the grind of racing and travel begin. For some analysis, check out our man Jason Thomas' 450 Words on racing life in December.

This week I also talked to Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer, who is at Ryan Villopoto's place for Aldon Baker's Florida boot camp. How does training now compare to training a month from now, when the season has begun?

"I wouldn't say it's different, it's just more," says Weimer. "Yeah, this is hard work. Every day is hard, and you wake up sore the next day, and it's hard to go riding. Obviously, you can't feel that way on a Saturday during the racing season. You can't be sore on race day. So we do the same stuff we do during the season, but we just do a lot more of it."

Blake Wharton was out testing earlier this week.
Carlos Aguirre photo

Lots of activity in Florida right now, with James Stewart also into boot-camp mode not too far away. Nowadays, riders seem to have separated testing to California and training to Florida. And right now, most testing is done, so training is almost the full focus.

Also talked to Davi Millsaps, who is pioneering the 450 program for Rockstar Energy Racing. Millsaps admits there's a lot to learn for the team, and with such stiff competition, winning won't be easy. But he thinks they can get there.

"It's gonna be tough to win for anyone out there this year because there are so many guys," says Millsaps. "For the 450 side of my team being brand new and stuff, there's a lot of room for us to improve on both sides. We haven't had that much time to do a ton of stuff, but I'm happy with what I have right now. I think with what I have, I can be competitive."

Millsaps endured a few down seasons, but his strong surge through the second half of supercross in 2012 has made him start believing in his chances to win again. As always, the mental side plays a huge factor in taking that last step. "It's extremely hard to think that way [that I can win again] because I haven't done it in a long time," says Millsaps. "But I feel like if I can get there once, it's gonna' be easier from then on. I think that is how it is for a lot of people. You go out there not knowing to expect, and then it happens once for them, and then they know they can do it time in and time out."

Davi Millsaps will be Wharton's teammate under the new Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki 450 program.
BrownDogWilson photo

Thanks, Weege. Now here’s Steve Matthes:

This week I headed down to SoCal to check out a couple of the test tracks and basically bother riders and teams. It was an interesting couple of days and you can read all about it in today’s Insight column.

One of the things I didn’t touch on in the column was going down to the L&MC offices and talking to team manager Larry Brooks. Brooks and I sat down to do a Pulpmx Classic Commentary and talk about the new bike and his team for next year. The teams also got some new sponsors that we talked about and we hashed out his fix to a problem the team was having with the seat on the new CRF450 when riders are seat-bouncing. Larry’s ready to get going with Andrew Short and hoping to collect another supercross win for him and co-owner Jeremy McGrath.

After each visit to the tracks, I sat down and talked to the people involved, except for Mitch Payton, who I caught back at the Pro Circuit shop. It’s almost a 30-minute interview with Mitch about a variety of topics and as usual, he’s a great interview. Check out the podcasts here.

Dean Wilson has returned to Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki for 2013.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit photo

One of the things we talked about at Pro Circuit was who was racing which coast, which is always a closely guarded secret. I accused Mitch of already knowing but not wanting to say and he denied it. Again. We got into a big ol’  argument about him keeping things secret, but in the end, he swayed me. He really doesn’t know! BUT I will say that in talking to him, I’d guess that Martin Davalos and Tyla Rattray will be in the West Region and it’s a toss-up between Dean Wilson or Blake Baggett (who are just both starting to ride) as to the third member of the West. That leaves Justin Hill (just back on the bike) and Darryn Durham (should he recover from his Achilles injury) and then either Baggett or Wilson on the East.

GEICO looks to have Wil Hahn and #1 Eli Tomac in the West and maybe another rider. The East will have Zach Osborne, Zach Bell and Justin Bogle. Or like I said, one of those guys on the east jumps over for more support on the west side.

Some people are never happy... Swizcore and myself argue about the new supercross class names here.

Weege and I took the top ten career supercross win list and broke it down by the numbers (with a few notables), which is a nice bookmark for the Racer X Top 30 All-Time SX riders that’s currently going on.

In regards to the Racer X list, we had a conference call this week with some staffers and things got heated. It’s funny to hear the different view points on which guys should go where and it says something to the passion of all of us that we would really care who was #21 and who was #20 on that list. Like, does it really matter? Yes, yes it does! Keep checking Racer X daily for our final countdown. And yes, I threw some Tim Ferry votes in there, despite him having no wins, but I just couldn’t get anyone else on board.

Thanks for listening to the Pulpmx Show all year. We’re done for the year and going to have a Year in Review Show this Monday. I know there’s some frustration out there in regards to getting the show on iTunes. The site and the Pulpmx App as our server can’t handle the requests due to an Apple iOS bug that is causing havoc with people’s data plans and podcast shows.

So if you’ve had some data issues with your cell phone as in, massive jumps in your usage, check this out and maybe it will explain things. So yeah, we’re as frustrated as you guys with our shows not being readily available, but it’s not us. We’re hoping Apple gets this thing fixed ASAP. This goes for the BTOSports.com Racer X Podcast show as well.

Check out Ryan Dungey on the cover of the new KTM calendar.

Now over to David Pingree out in California:

I don’t want to dump on Matthes’ theory about the GEICO Honda guys, but their West Coast lineup will be Eli Tomac and Zach Osborne. Hahn, Bell, and Bogle will tackle the East Region, according to my sources. I chatted with Eli this week at Milestone, where he was polishing up his prep for A1 with his coach Buddy Antunez, and he sounds ready and confident about this year. He looked incredible on the track, and even compared to some other great riders who were there, he is clearly on another level. Sorry, but if you are betting on anyone other than Eli at Anaheim, your money is not safe. I couldn’t help but notice he’s also grown. His voice is deeper and I would guess he has hair where he didn’t have hair before. Our little supercross champ is becoming a man! He also bought his first house up in the Corona area, as did his teammate Wil Hahn. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present for those guys, I’m thinking a Big Mouth Billy Bass would look great on their walls.

Mike LaRocco was there with them also, and he wasn’t just standing around with a stopwatch. Mike was in full-on test mode and hammering laps. I think the fact that he can still suit up and and help the team with testing duties and bike development is a huge advantage, and I’m surprised some of the other team managers don’t do the same thing. I know Nathan Ramsey could jump on and still go fast!

Cole Seely is back on the bike after a long layoff recovering from an injury.
Simon Cudby photo

Speaking of Ramsey, I spotted his JDR KTM riders out at their test track at the Lucas Oil MX Park this week. Malcolm Stewart was doing motos and new pro rider Joey Savatgy was there as well shaking down his ride. It was the first time I’ve seen Savatgy ride, and he looked like he’s getting the hang of supercross.

I also talked to Kyle Chisholm, who was riding his Velocity Yamaha for the first time since injuring his ankle in Bercy. He knows he’s going to be a little behind his competition going into the first round so look for Chiz to pick up steam as the season progresses. The good news is that he’s back on the same exact bike (Enzo suspension, Yamaha engines) he rode at MotoConcepts, so he knows the bike. At the very least he’ll win another car when his wife goes on The Price is Right early next year.

The 450 class is a no-brainer. Ryan Villopoto is the guy to beat. He has the #1 plate and he’s healthy and he proved at Monster Energy Cup that he didn’t lose speed. Hot on his heels will be Dungey, Reed, and Stewart, who are all looking to get that plate back. Hopefully there is a group that gets right up in there that includes Canard, Weimer, Milsaps, Brayton, Grant, Alessi, and more.

The 250 West is shaping up to be a grudge match between Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, and Cole Seely. These three guys have more speed than anyone else in the class right now. Baggett, Craig, Rattray, and others will be fast, but the podium will be largely occupied by those three. Of course I’m not sure exactly who else is riding the West Coast either. One thing is certain: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being totally awesome, this year is looking like a 14.

Here's Aaron Hansel from NorCal:

We’re still a few weeks away from the gate dropping at A1, but the off-season has officially ended for just about every single rider that will be lining up to kick off SX in January. James Stewart is one of those riders, and thanks to a side job I have with Red Bull, I had the opportunity to check in with him a few days ago to see how his supercross preparation is going. And by the sounds of it, things are going much more smoothly than they were last season—which, let’s face it, didn’t go as anybody in the Stewart or JGR camps had hoped. They switched forks just two weeks before the season and they didn’t even receive their race tires until one week prior to Anaheim 1, which put them behind. As James says in the interview, they were forced to do a lot of their testing at the races, which as you can imagine, is not ideal. It’s impossible to speculate on whether or not a more prepared Stewart would have won the championship anyway, but when you’re going up against the best guys in the world, preparation is key.

Stewart will debut his new Suzuki in supercross at Anahiem.
Simon Cudby photo

If there’s one thing that I took away from our conversation, which you can check out right here, it’s that Stewart is coming into 2013 much more prepared than he was last year.

Of course at this time of the year you always expect to hear all the guys talk about how pumped they are on the bike and how well things are coming, but Stewart mentioned that he’s had the same basic bike setup dialed since October and has been testing out west roughly three times as much as he has in Florida. Those are key pieces of information right there, and it truly sounds like Stewart is going to be more comfortable than he’s been in a while when the gate drops this January. That’s good, because he’ll certainly have his work cut out for him when he goes up against guys like Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard, Justin Barcia and the rest of the gang. No matter what happens, with that many fast guys (four dudes with 450SX championships) on one track at the same time, the fans will be the true winners every Saturday night.

We will close out with some random notes:

When Miller Motorsports Park was announced earlier this week as the newest venue of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, and will hold the 11th round of the series. Both the Salt Lake Tribune and ESPN.com covered the story. Check out what they had to say.

Looks like the guys at 6D got the attention of Fox News with their all-new helmet.

Matthes' dog Hogan wishes everyone a Merry X-Mas.

Team Green prospect Thomas Covington and part-time GEICO Honda rider Jimmy Decotis got in some international racing last weekend in St. Martin, which is an island paradise in the Caribbean. They raced the Island SXM Super Cross Association race in Marigot. Here's a report from the local newspaper.

If you live in California and are looking for a fun way to ring in the New Year, don’t miss the New Year’s Day Grand Prix at 408MX in downtown San Jose. The event will feature an extended track layout, longer motos, and a 200% pro purse payout. For more information, check out www.408mx.com. Discounted event pre-entry is available.

In addition, the track is open the day before (New Year’s Eve) and is holding an open practice on the enhanced and extended track for only $10. 408mx is known as one of the best-prepped tracks in NorCal, and is located at the Santa Clara county fairgrounds, where motorcycle races have been held continuously since 1910.

Here’s a cool Christmas card from Matrix Concepts.


Here’s the cover for Stanley Leroux’s Motocross GP Album 2012.


And check out what Kona Bicycles in Canada created for a Christmas video.

That's it for this week in motocross. Thanks for reading Racerhead, see you at the races.