It’s been a long, interesting week here. It started with that fairly amazing race at Unadilla
, where the grand old man of American motocross tracks showed a new facelift, brought in their biggest crowd ever, and saw some excellent racing in pretty much all four motos.
Then there was the fallout from the announcement that Andrew Short
will be the third man on Team USA. James Stewart
wanted a real shot at the spot, and if he thought he was going to get that (and I am sure he did), he has a right to be angry about it. But what's done is done. Contrary to what some European message boards are saying (the same boards that said Josh Hill
and Davi Millsaps
and Kevin Windham
were "in" for the USGP, even though none of them had spoken to anyone), Stewart is not going to ride for Team Puerto Rico alongside Zach Osbourne (from Virginia, Puerto Rico) and Kyle Regal
(Texas, Puerto Rico). Osbourne even told the reporter it was going to be him and Regal and an actual Puerto Rican rider, but he must not have wanted to hear that answer and just went with the "Stewart IN for Puerto Rico?" banner headline.
Andrew Short will be part of Team USA in Colorado this year.
Photo: Simon Cudby
There is some smoke, though, just no fire. Larry Brooks and I spoke about it last week, and Gary Bailey went over to the San Manuel Yamaha team rig to discuss it at Unadilla
, but it's not going to happen. Stewart is now focused on Southwick
, and Brooks is headed to Florida on Sunday for some extensive testing in the sand. James wants to put Unadilla
down as getting his feet wet again, and now he wants to move forward.
So what happened to James at Unadilla
? I have two explanations—maybe even excuses—that could make a lot of sense:
The team hasn't been serious about outdoor motocross since 2006, and that was with Chad Reed
. Since then there's been a lot of development and improvement on the motorcycles, but San Manuel was only interested in Supercross racing. It showed in how James' bike seemed to react to Unadilla
: It looked stiff and tight, and the front end seemed to be arm-wrestling with James the whole time.
2. The tracks are much rougher than they were when Stewart stopped riding MX after '08. Back then, the AMA was bent on making things smoother and, the hope was, creating closer competition out there. That's all out the window now. For the last two years, we've asked the organizers to let the tracks get rough (and keep them safe at the same time), so at 'Dilla, James was fastest in his timed practice, when it was smooth in the morning. Then he was still fast in the first moto, but he struggled toward the end, made a mistake, and let the very impressive Clement Desalle by for second. In the last moto, when the track was super rough, he looked really uncomfortable. The bike was not set up right, and he said as much afterward. I believe him.
James Stewart had some problems getting back into outdoor motocross, what will happen now?
Photo: Simon Cudby
As for Ryan Dungey
and Clement Desalle, Roger DeCoster must have been smiling ear to ear. His bikes were 1-2, his favorite counties (U.S. and Belgium) 1-2, and the 250-class winner was one of his Team USA selections. That's an excellent day!
I spoke with Desalle on and off all weekend long, and after the second moto, where he put up a helluva battle—and on a borrowed bike—he was out watching the last 250 moto by himself near the first turn. I told him how much money he made (he was stoked to get more than $2K for his working vacation) and he said everything was great, then added, "But I did not win. Shit!" He also asked that if anyone got a photo of him and Dungey off the big tabletop, to please send it to him for his home. I think I have another rider besides Jimmy Albertson
and Josh Coppins to pull for in the GPs!
So how does Ryan Dungey
's rookie reason in the premier class rank with Ricky Carmichael
's in 2000? Series media man Brandon Short wanted to find out, so he came up with some stats. Besides winning the AMA Supercross title (RC actually jumped to 250 SX in '99, one year before MX, but it didn't go so well), Dungey's now closing in on the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross title, and he's won a whole bunch of races—all in a row.
Moto Wins 10 14
Overalls 6 8
Points 388 418
Podiums 8 8
(All of Dungey’s podiums have been wins; RC had a second and a third.)
Carmichael’s longest moto streak of 2000 was five. Dungey is currently at nine and counting. Carmichael had a total of five moto-sweeps in twelve rounds. Dungey has earned six in nine rounds. Carmichael’s worst result in 2000 was a ninth, with a total of 18 points. Dungey’s worst result is an eighth, with 26 points.
Of course it's what RC did over the next half-dozen years that really set the standards for all of motocross! So when Brandon Short sent those little factoids about Dungey to Matthes, here's how the moto-comic replied:
Number of Summercrosses that happened:1
Number of Summercrosses that the all-time best SX rider, Jeremy McGrath, took part in: 1
Number of Summercrosses that Ferry/Matthes won: 1
Win percentage of Ferry/Matthes in Summercrosses against the best rider of all time: 100
Someone call USA Today.
Changing gears, let me tell you another story about Ricky, as well as one about Sarah Whitmore. Sarah drove five hours last Sunday evening from her home in Northern Michigan to the funeral for future WMX racer Ashlee Soklaski, whose family and friends bid her farewell the best way motocross racers know how: in their riding jerseys, and with their bikes out in the parking lot. The ceremony was fantastic, and Ashlee sounded like a true leader in everything she did, from basketball to motocross to being a big sister.
During the eulogy, her stepfather handed her dad a letter that Ricky Carmichael
himself wrote, explaining how sad he was that our sport lost a great person. RC was there at Loretta Lynn's the Thursday afternoon that Ashlee crashed, and he inquired about her often in the days that followed. He couldn't be there on Monday in Michigan, but he wanted to let Ashlee's family and friends know that he was thinking about her, as did Sarah. Well done, both of you.
Okay, let me hand this off to Steve Cox....
I’m going to speculate—just warning anyone reading this that that’s what I’m doing. Here it goes: Something is wrong with James Stewart
. And I don’t just mean because of his results last weekend, because I think they’ll get better in the next few races. But he hasn’t been himself all year, as far as I’ve seen. So when will we see the old James Stewart
? I don’t know. But I think we’ll know him when we see him.
At the very minimum, though, he’s given us something to talk about for the 450cc class, which right now is being thoroughly dominated by Ryan Dungey
. I think Stewart is capable of winning at any one (or all) of the final three tracks—Southwick
, Steel City
, and Pala
—but I also think if he gets some stuff worked out in the next week, his best chance comes at Southwick
. Florida guys are fast in the sand, and Bubba
’s the fastest among them now.
How much longer can Dungey continue to beat Stewart?
Photo: Steve Cox
It hit me yesterday, while reading Andy Bowyer’s Thursday Rev Up (LINK
), that this 250cc National Championship is starting to look an awful lot like the 1992 125cc National Championship battle between Mike LaRocco
and Jeff Emig.
Emig (riding for Team Yamaha in '92) had a pretty lackluster start to his season, but he won his first national (of the season and of his career) at RedBud
. He was trailing Mike LaRocco
by a lot
in the title chase. But after the first win Emig got at RedBud
, he went on to win a total of six out of the last seven AMA Nationals while LaRocco struggled with some lackluster finishes of his own, and some bike problems that cost him some very valuable points.
The two went into the season finale that year, at Budds Creek
, with LaRocco leading the championship by one point on his factory Kawasaki, but Emig went out and went 1-1 on the day and secured his first-ever AMA National title. It was also the first time Emig was named to the Motocross des Nations team that year. (Remember the famous B Team that won in Australia with LaRocco and Billy Liles?)
Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen with this year’s 250cc title chase, but this does sound eerily familiar, doesn’t it? Canard also won his first national at RedBud
and hasn’t lost one since (so far). He’s won four straight now, and there are three left (making seven total from the date of his first win). His rival is also on a Kawasaki, and Chris Pourcel
has given up some very valuable points as of late himself. And Canard was just named to this year’s MXdN team.
Maybe the weirdest part about all of this, though, is that today Emig is known as a Kawasaki guy, and LaRocco is Canard’s team manager over at the GEICO Powersports Honda team. Strange, huh?
We’ve got three more races to see how this plays out, and for the sake of the fans, I really hope we don’t know who’s going to win until after the final gate drops at Pala Raceway on September 11.
On a final note, I want to tip my extra-large hat to the guys at Real Sports on HBO. I don’t know how long ago it was, but it was probably 5-7 years ago when I saw Real Sports confront the issue of the link between concussions and depression. I know I’ve been knocked out racing dirt bikes at least eight times (and on one particular weekend, I was KO’d twice in 36 hours – once at a Friday night race at LACR, and then again on Sunday at Glen Helen). Luckily, I haven’t been KO’d since, but who knows how many other concussions I had? That show left a mark on me to make sure that I paid attention to my thoughts and feelings and tried to make sure I took notice when maybe I wasn’t thinking right. However, that’s a lot harder than it seems, because when they’re your thoughts inside your head, they always seem rational. Still, that show way back when has caused me to look at our racers in our sport with a more concerned eye. It really sort of changed my life in a lot of ways, but mainly due to changing my outlook on the severity of things, and how some seemingly small injuries could result in extremely big problems years later.
Since then, I’ve seen similar studies linking concussions to Alzheimer’s Disease. To be clear, from what I read, it’s not that concussions cause Alzheimer’s Disease, but rather that they think a very large number of people (mostly men) are misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s when they actually have something called "Post Concussive Syndrome", which presents itself in terms of symptoms almost exactly like Alzheimer’s Disease does.
So, because of the first show, I’ve seen concussions linked to depression, suicide (see "depression"), and dementia. I’m waiting for the link between concussions and ADHD…
The reason I’m bringing all of this up is that this month’s Real Sports show (there’s a new episode every month that re-airs for the rest of the month) examines a potential link between concussions and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), more commonly known as "Lou Gehrig’s Disease."
As I know I’ve been quoted as saying before, no sport that requires you to wear a helmet can be deemed "safe," but I think we can update that saying to, "Every sport that requires you to wear a helmet may lead to concussion." For this reason, we need to pay attention to these developments and learn to be more sensitive to the types of injuries or illnesses that may damage our (and our racers’) brains.
"Every sport that requires you to wear a helmet may lead to concussion."
Photo: Steve Cox
According to my guide, this episode re-airs the next time at 10 a.m. EST on HBO. If you look for it in your program guide, it may mention that this show is about those idiotic Salahis (you know, the White House party crashers) who are featured on the current season of Real Housewives of DC. I don’t know why they would be on a program called "Real Sports", unless they’re talking about the sport of making fun of the entire cast of that show. Then again, that’s not much of a sport…
Go to the Real Sports webpage here (LINK
) to check it out, and for a 90-second teaser of the segment, click here (LINK
Oh, and before I go: If you haven't seen ONE Industries' 2011 line of gear, check out the video on their home page over at www.oneindustries.com.
Okay, here's Ping:
I got a chance to ride out at Pala
Raceway this week and check out the new layout for the national. If you didn’t see the photo feature we ran yesterday, check it out HERE
. The new layout is great, with added elevation change, big obstacles, and lots of fresh dirt. They’ve definitely been putting in some hours out there, and it shows. The lap times are just over two minutes, which is pretty standard for national tracks. The only part they can’t control is the weather. Up until this week, we’ve been having an unseasonably cool summer, but this week the heat cranked up, and trying to keep soil moist when it’s 100 degrees outside with a hot wind blowing is pretty much impossible. Let's hope the oven turns off before the race in September. Either way, Kirk and Ryan and the crew at Pala
have been doing an awesome job getting ready and it will be a great event.
I heard this week that Broc Tickle
is finally out of his contract with Star Racing and will make the switch to the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit team for 2011. In case you haven’t been following any of that, Star had first right of refusal with Tickle and they were exercising it after he received an offer from Mitch Payton. I guess it got pretty ugly, and after weeks and weeks of back-and-forth, Broc is out of his contract. Methinks Broc will be fast on one of those green bikes. His teammates will more than likely be Dean Wilson
, Tyla Rattray
, and Blake Baggett
.... Hey, I might have just listed the top four riders in next year’s national motocross series!
We're curious to see what the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team will look like next year, including Broc Tickle.
Photo: Steve Cox
Here's the Weege:
Usually I've exhausted all of my info with Tuesday's ReduX column, /article/racer-x-redux-unadilla-2010.aspx
but things were different this week since so much was going on, and I couldn't wrap it all up in 2000 words or so. And you have to give James Stewart
this: even though he hasn’t been able to race much this year, his name still carries a whole heck of a lot of clout, and I’ve never had a column garner this many reader comments and emails. We used to joke that we could just write a story containing nothing more than the words "Jason Lawrence
" and it would incite a massive love/hate battle with the fans. I think James has reached that same point.
To try to address all that as best as I could, some stuff had to get edited out, such as the following:
After battling down to the wire in the first moto, Brett Metcalfe
and Andrew Short
hooked it up again in moto two, and this time Metty
got the spot, which gave him third overall with a 5-3. This is really a season-long battle, as just 14 points separate the two Honda men for second in the series. They should be facing off at the MXoN in the MX3 class, too.
I’m going to nominate Metcalfe and Dean Wilson
for biggest stock-increase this summer—both are running third in points, and I think both exceeded expectations by a long way. Metcalfe was a bit under the radar entering his first 450 campaign, and now he’s got a good shot at second in the series, which I’m sure no one was predicting back in May (except maybe him).
Same with Dean, who’s a threat in every moto, every weekend. In Dean’s case this just means another shot with Monster Pro Circuit Kawi next year, which is great. For Metty
, who knows where he’ll end up? There are rumors every year that the GEICO Honda team is on the verge of stepping up big time in the 450 ranks, and Metcalfe would make a great candidate there. But if they don’t, hopefully some other teams notice how strong he’s been. Remember, Metty
was the last-ever factory 125 two-stroke rider, so until this summer, his abilities on a 450 were completely unknown.
Today, David Vuillemin (@cobra934
) tweeted that he heard (with both ears) that Christophe Pourcel
was going to Honda next year. Maybe the French know each other’s prospects better than others? If so that’s cool for CP but it’s unfortunate for that new kid Team Honda gave a shot to this summer. What’s his name … Kevin Windham
? Yeah, that kid’s done really well for them this summer and I heard he’s good at supercross, too. Oh well, hopefully this Windham guy has other deals in the works if factory Honda really lets him go after Pala
DV12 heard a rumor...
Boy, Clemente Desalle really jacked up the silly season works with his awesome ride at 'Dilla. A dozen years ago, Stefan Everts came to Unadilla
and rode well, but even he couldn’t match the MX Panda's 2-2 scores. If this were three years ago, teams would be throwing money at Desalle right now, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen now. Like Everts, SX may not be his thing, and that's at least half your value here in the U.S.
I reunited with my old buddy Steve Matthes for some comedy at Unadilla
. Ah yes, The Bottom Line Show, taking me way back to the good old days of 2007 and 2008. Click HERE
for our Unadilla
hijinks with a yellow caution flag. And a tip of the hat to our producer/director Teen Wolf Robb Swiatek, who never shot a scene he really liked.
Okay, time for me to go. The wife has asked me to redesign the furniture in the living room so we'll have more space for the baby. As it turns out, our old TV won’t fit in the spot we need to move it to, so this means I'm finally going to go and buy a new HD TV. I've never really understood the need for a heavy duty TV, but everyone I know in the television business tells me HD is way better. You'd think I’d know more about this.
This week's Sign of the Apocalypse:
Here’s a very cool video from Shift Racing, featuring breakthrough Loretta Lynn's minicycle stars Jace Owen and Dakota Alix. Check it out:
Please join us for the first JL59 Ride Day, brought to you by PanicREV/Forgiven Energy/Rocket Exhaust/On Track as we join together and celebrate the life of Jeagher LaFountaine. Jeagher was a top amateur racer who passed away in May of this year. The purpose of this ride day is to celebrate and honor the life of Jeagher LaFountaine and to pull together to support the entire LaFountaine family. Moreover, all proceeds from this event will go to the LaFountaine family!
The day will also feature a BBQ brought to you by No Fear, auction items, a raffle, and event t-shirts and merchandise.
Event Date: Tuesday August 24, 2010
Event Time: 9am-3pm
Cost: $10.00 per rider, spectators are free
9:00am – Gates Open
10:30am – Memorial Lap
11:30am – BBQ brought to you by No Fear
1:30pm – Silent Auction closes
3:00pm – End
The one and only Simon Cudby was out at Pala
Raceway today and decided to send us some photos of how the track is coming along, thanks Simon!
Thanks for reading Racerhead—see you at Southwick