Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev-Up. The 2006 Toyota AMA Outdoor Nationals will be idle for this weekend. Now this is no fun, of course, although personally speaking, I could use a break. So with 10 days in our way until Unadilla, I thought I would do another one of my “State of the Union” articles.
It seems like yesterday that I received the news that he had beaten then-125-class king Steve Lamson in the spring of ’97 at Gatorback to win what was only the second AMA National of his career. Nine years and 14 (going on 15) major AMA titles later, it’s all going to come to an end. What did RC do for the sport? I remember hearing criticism about him not being marketable or really not playing much of a role in promoting the sport. But that was early on. Once he figured it all out, Ricky did much more than sell gear, bikes, and tickets. While he might not have been as good at those things as, say, Jeremy McGrath or Travis Pastrana, he did something else, something I feel is just as important: Ricky singlehandedly increased the integrity of our sport with his work ethic and determination. Just when it looked like there may have been 10,000 mini Seth Enslows running around once the MC era was over, Ricky changed the way you have to ride if you wanted to win. He made it so you have to ride hard the whole moto, you have to train, you have to be disciplined, and you have to want it more than anything else in the world.
So what is going to happen when he leaves? The immediate future is in the hands of James Stewart, although his tenure at the top may not be as long as Ricky’s. The 20-year-old has already made a pile of money, and how long can his body take the beating it has already suffered? I was 60 yards away from him when he stacked it up at High Point; I just saw his Southwick crash earlier in the week on OLN. Both of those were possible career-enders. I mean, those were extremely brutal and dangerous crashes. People have been saying it all year, and I will reiterate: The crashes have to stop, and they have to stop right now. His focus has to sharpen, which means maybe slowing down at times to win, because if the crashes don’t stop, the concussions might start repeating and expanding the damage, or his knees and wrists and shoulders could became as fragile as those of a Pastrana or a Robbie Reynard.
I have known the Stewart family for over a decade, and I would like nothing better than for James to complete his dreams of being AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross Champion. He is so fun to watch,. and he really loves winning. And of course, his marketability is good for the whole sport. He would be the first kid to take it from a title in the 51cc class at Loretta’s to the top of the podium at the supercross banquet in Vegas. It’s going to happen, but how many times? Just as Ricky has been there to capitalize on his mistakes, Reed will be right there next year, and maybe even guys like Millsaps and Tedesco and more. Stewart can run the show all right, but he has to finish, too. Maybe his smooth but still very fast efforts at Southwick (the crash was mechanical) and Red Bud are a sign of things to come, and that certainly bodes well for his long-term future.
Hell, if that doesn’t get you fired up, think about the 250F class at the same race in 2010! Austin Stroupe, Sean Hackley, Dominic Izzi, Kyle Cunningham, Jimmy Albertson, Matthew Lemoine, Matt Boni, Ryan Dungey, Wil Hahn, PJ Larsen, Jase Lewis, Brock Tickle … I could go on and on.
But we have our problems—the biggest and most frightening of which is the same as it ever was: riders getting injured. The math is there: more people riding and more bikes being sold, so proportionally more riders are getting hurt. But that doesn’t make it any better when you hear about the next injury—not like the one this week.
I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to Billy Whitley and his family. Billy’s son Hunter suffered a broken T-3 vertebra, and he had surgery today to try to repair what they could. Billy is about as top-shelf as they come, and I have known him since I was 16 years old. Billy took care of me when I was a rookie on the arenacross circuit and always had my back. Hey, brother, I’ll be praying for Hunter and your group.
People, we have to be as proactive with the safety issue as we can. Like everything else in the world, technology leads the way, then we slowly catch back up. Let’s get caught back up, dammit.
Like Weege said, the sport of motocross is alive and well. It truly is. Motocross has taken care of me since I was 4 years old. I am 29 this year, and I have a job in motocross. I survive on motocross. The leaps and bounds we have made in the past ten years are going to make sure a lot more people are able to live their dreams racing motocross for a living. The Mt. Rushmore of American motocross with Hannah, McGrath, Carmichael, and Roger DeCoster is a grand monument for the upcoming kids to look up to. The state of American motocross is good. And it’s going to get better.
Thanks for reading, see you next week.