It’s another busy week in the “off-season,” with half of the crew in Las Vegas for tomorrow night’s Monster Energy Cup and the rest of us in Orlando for the AIMExpo dealer show and the AMA’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony, in which Mike LaRocco, Pierre Karsmakers, GNCC legend Scott Summers, and longtime motorcycling ambassador Tom White will all join the Hall of Fame. LaRocco won two AMA Motocross Championships and also started 228 Monster Energy Supercross main events. Karsmakers was the first AMA Supercross Champion and Summers was a pioneer in the four-stroke movement, winning multiple titles on his big XR600 in various off-road series. It should be a really fun evening (and I have the honor of presenting LaRocco’s ring to him tonight at the ceremony on behalf of the MX and supercross promoters).
Of course most of the SX folks are in Las Vegas for what has become a really cool and fun event with the Monster Energy Cup. Lots of guys will be racing their new bikes in a race split into three main events. It airs live on Fox Sports 2 beginning at 9 p.m. ET, with a re-air the next day on Fox Sports 1. The press conference is happening live right now as I type this, and Chase and Steve will have more on that just below.
Speaking of Weege, he broke the big story for the week on Racer X Online. Embattled Yoshimura Suzuki rider James Stewart, winner of the Red Bull Straight Rhythm event two weeks ago, was granted a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) from the FIM and WADA (World Ant-Doping Agency) for the Adderall that has been prescribed for him for the past couple of years. (Stewart was already granted a similar TUE from USADA.) What this actually means remains unclear right now, as Stewart’s actual hearing is coming up in Geneva soon. Until then, it’s all up in the air. But with a TUE through 2016 already in place, hopefully we will see James back on the starting gate sooner than later. Regardless, he is not scheduled to race the Monster Energy Cup—a race he won a year ago.
Before we begin, Happy 75th Birthday to the man who invented the motocross industry as we know it today, Torsten Hallman.
Since I’m not in Vegas, I will turn it over here to the rest of the gang and get back to the trade show! Lots of cool new stuff here, so have a look at the Racer X Films that went up today. Let’s start with Weege and more on Number Seven.
WILL HE OR WON’T HE? (Jason Weigandt)
So late Wednesday night I was tipped off that James Stewart's Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) from WADA and USADA (which handle the drug testing for Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, respectively) have been approved. That means he's cleared to now use the amphetamine he was detected to have in his system in April at future events. The future might not start this weekend, though. The AMA runs the Monster Energy Cup, and James failed an FIM-induced WADA test back in April, so technically the AMA might be allowed to ignore those WADA results and just let him race, but the AMA and FIM generally try to agree on things, and it doesn't appear likely that they'll let him ride.
So no Stewart this weekend, barring something crazy. Like we said earlier in the week, if the AMA hasn't said yes by now, it’s probably not going to. But what about 2015? James has a trial in Europe next week, and that's when he will learn his fate. Having the TUE in place will help his case, but the facts still are that he was supposed to have that exemption filed and in place before the April test. So he'll probably get in some trouble for that. Will he merely be fined? Will there still be some sort of suspension? We should know in a week … I think. This whole process sure doesn't seem to move quickly.
READY FOR THE CRAZY (Weigandt)
Okay, no Stew, no RV, no Roczen. That's some serious star power on the sidelines, but the Monster Energy Cup is still rocking proven 450 winners like Dungey, Tomac, Millsaps, Barcia, and Canard, plus plenty of 250 grads and new rides and such. Regardless of who is racing, the event usually gets crazy, too. Don't forget the "missing the Joker Lane" deal from last year, and Barcia and Stewart emerging with wins the last two years. Along the way we've had bent shifters from Dungey, a race win by Tomac (who was still mainly a 250 rider at the time), huge crashes, and just a general sense of volatility. I can't help but think that the Monster Million impacts this. Last year, Stewart struggled after a crash in the first race and finished eighth, but Villopoto battled him to the death in the second race. RV didn't need to worry about Stewart for the event overall, but he wanted to beat him to keep the million bucks in play—and that led to a wild race and a huge crash.
And guys, can we actually come up with some sort of a strategy on the Joker Lane? A few riders played it brilliantly in 2012, like Tomac using it early and then cruising into the lead when the other riders still had to take it. But last year it seemed like everyone just waited until the final lap. This is a chance to outsmart your competition. Use it, please. Thank you.
PRESS CONFERENCE (Chase Stallo)
Today at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Feld Motor Sports announced that it would be bringing back the Monster Energy Cup on Saturday, October 17, 2015 in Vegas. The event also featured Chad Reed, Davi Millsaps, Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac, Trey Canard, Justin Barcia, and Blake Baggett speaking with the press. If you didn’t have a chance to watch it live on MonsterEnergyCup.com, here are some of the key talking points:
Reed, who is returning from vacation in Australia, is still unsure if he is going to race tomorrow night. He said he was going to practice today and see how he feels and make a decision at that time. Asked if he could jump right back into supercross after a long delay, Reed joked, “Yeah, when I was younger.” He’s still dealing with a leg injury from the Motocross of Nations but said if he does line up, don’t count him out: “If I'm going to line up, don't second-guess that I’m going to give it a shot.” If Reed is unable to go, his Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports team will still be represented as new addition Josh Grant makes his debut. "We are excited to have Josh Grant on the team,” Reed said. “Takes a little pressure off me."
Dungey’s lapse in judgment last year at the MEC cost him a main-event win when he forgot to take Joker Lane. He’s making sure it won’t happen again this year: “It's etched in my memory this year not to miss it again.” Dungey, who was chasing Ryan Villopoto—who also forgot to take Joker Lane later in the night—said he was focused on catching RV and didn’t see him enter. “Last year I was really caught up in doing good,” Dungey said. “I was caught up in chasing Villopoto. I didn't see him go into Joker Lane. If I would have saw him it may have been different. I missed it. It was a little embarrassing, but it didn't feel so bad after Villopoto missed it the second moto.”
Millsaps has missed the last eighteen months of racing due to injury but will make his Monster Energy Kawasaki debut tomorrow night. “It's been a long time since I've been behind a starting gate, but I’ve been doing it my whole life," he said of his return. The Monster Energy Cup track, unlike your typical supercross course, does not feature a long set of whoops. In the case of the taller Millsaps, that could be a disadvantage. “I feel like whoops work in my favor—it's where I feel like a gain a lot of my time.”
After the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season finale in Utah, Eli Tomac took a couple weeks off and then jumped right back in to prepare for the Motocross of Nations. “I feel good right now,” he said today. “I haven't had a whole lot of an off-season. My body feels good.” Tomac also said he pretty much got right back into supercross training upon his return from Latvia.
Honda Muscle Milk’s Canard will make his Monster Energy Cup debut tomorrow night. When asked if he was thinking about the $1 million up for grabs, Canard said, “Obviously you think about it. I think the biggest thing, if anyone is going to get it, is good starts.” Canard, who won four of the last five motos in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, is one of the hottest riders entering the race, but he doesn’t necessarily think that will play a factor. “It definitely helps, just to have a race win under my belt. But it's been a long time since Salt Lake, and we're in a whole different game here.”
Baggett will make his Yoshimura Suzuki debut at the Monster Energy Cup and is using tomorrow night to see where he and the team are. “Just basically be steady on the bike and see where we’re at,” he said of the team’s plan. “A1 is still a ways away, so just use this as a judgment race.” Also in attendance was Justin Barcia, who will make his Toyota/JGR Yamaha debut this weekend. Barcia is returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross but says the ankle is fine and he’s had some time on the bike to get ready.
THE NUMBER: 6 (DC)
Over the weekend I ran into Jeff Gibson out at High Point, where he was doing some motos along with his little boy. I told him about the Really Hard Trivia we did a few weeks back on Maxima's 927 weekend and told him he was one of the answers to the question as one of just a few riders in The Vault who scored points on six different brands of motorcycles: Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM and Cannondale! He got a kick out of that, especially since he's the most recent rider to have done it:
REX STATEN: CZ, Maico, Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki
JEFF GIBSON: Kawasaki, Honda, Cannondale, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM
BILLY GROSSI: Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki, Carabela, KTM
MICKEY KESSLER: Yamaha, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Montesa, Maico, Honda
JEFF JENNINGS: Suzuki, Bultaco, Maico, Honda, Husqvarna, Yamaha
FRANK STACY: CZ, Maico, Can-Am, Penton, KTM, Yamaha
DAN TURNER: Husqvarna, Honda, Bultaco, Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM, Maico (seven brands!)
Well, then earlier this week I got an email from my old friend Lance Smail who also had six different brands in the record books, but we missed it. Rather than Cannondale, his sixth was on a Husaberg! Sorry, Lance, we will get it cleared up. Lance says it was at Hangtown and Washougal in ’98 that he rode the Husaberg.
CELEBRATING CAIROLI (Andras Hegyi)
The annual Tony Cairoli Fest was held last Saturday. The whole day was a celebration of the eight-time world champion, a tradition at Patti, in Sicily, since 2005. Every fall, Cairoli Fest celebrates the most successful Italian motocrosser ever. Patti is Cairoli's hometown and it has become one of the most important biking events in Italy over the years, as thousands of people visit the city. There were karting and minibike races, with Cairoli himself taking part in the karting race. There were also enduro and fishing events, plus charity auctions. There was also an exhibition rally race, of which Cairoli is a big fan. The highlight of the day was the beach motocross show starring the guest of honor.
Among the celebrating crowd were a lot of famous guests, including his team boss Claudio De Carli, KTM’s Pit Beirer, and his teammate, the Belgian Ken De Dycker. Rui Goncalves and Alessandro Lupino also came out to celebrate. Here’s a video of Cairoli Fest.
MEC DAY (Steve Matthes)
In case you didn’t hear, the Monster Energy Cup is right here in my hometown of Las Vegas, and as I type this out the riders are getting ready to hit the track for some press day riding. It’s Vegas so you know it’s hard-packed dirt, and there are a few different things thrown in for this race, like no whoops, going into the stands, and of course, the Joker Lane.
It’s pretty amazing that one rider missed it last year, nevermind the fact that two riders in two separate races missed it. There is one thing for a racer to remember in each main event, and they just couldn’t do it. I love the Joker Lane concept; it’s a home run. And when riders miss it, that’s even better! Can this year’s event top the drama last year?
Chad Reed admitted that he’s got a bit of jet lag from coming over from Australia and that he’s only here “because I have to be,” but otherwise he’s in fine form. He’s still not 100-percent decided if he’s going to race or not, and if I’m a betting man (hey, it IS Las Vegas), I’m thinking the TwoTwo will be out.
Then again it’s Chad Reed. He may race and win the whole thing.
Davi Millsaps is actually out there riding on a dirt bike right now. It’s incredible! We haven’t seen the #18 for over a year and he’s got new gear, a new bike, and a new team. He’s also now completed the incredible feat of having ridden for Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM, and now Kawasaki.
No, I don’t know if James Stewart is racing or not, but his number 1 Yoshimura Suzuki machine was up here.
All of the guys are basically doing the same thing, but I see a couple of potential big jumps I think these guys will do tomorrow. It looks weird to see Justin Barcia on a blue bike. I’m going to need some time to adjust to this.
And hey, this just in: Trey Canard is flying out there.
Now some links that I beg you to click on:
Swizcore called up his buddy Broc Tickle for an update on how he’s doing here.
Jason Thomas talked about why so many top pros in our sport have taken up cycling as a method of training here.
I called up ‘Willie Motocross’ AKA Wil Hahn for a quick little interview here.
The great Paul Buckley shot this photo of Mike Kiedrowski and Blazier and I talked about it.
GNCC EUROPEAN INVASION (Jared Bolton)
If you tuned into this week's Racer X Show, then you've heard the news that World Enduro superstar, Alex Salvini, will be racing Ironman aboard a JCR Honda. Also joining him will be another European rider, Kari Johnnsen.
Salvini claimed last year's E2 class championship (basically a 250 class) in the Enduro World Championship and also put himself up front at the ISDE. A few weeks ago when I mentioned Daniel Milner, Salvini will fall into a similar category. He's absolutely blazing fast, however, the long three-hour GNCC afternoon race is a bit different than the sprints he's used to running at World Enduros and the ISDE.
Regardless, it's awesome to see Salvini coming to race, along with Johnnsen. Both of these guys are really big deals back in their respective series', so let's all make them feel welcome at their first GNCC. It's pretty cool that Johnny Campbell has been able to make this happen for these guys and hopefully we'll see some similar scenarios play out in the future.
Don't forget, all this action and more will be going down at The Ironman GNCC October 25-26 in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Don't miss out on all the action! Be there or catch it live on RacerTV.com. The show goes live both days at 1pm with ATVs on Saturday with UTV racing to follow at 4:30pm, and all the bike action at 1pm Sunday.
Here’s this week’s Racer X Show, hosted by Greg White and featuring Justin Barcia and his move to the JGR Yamaha team.
Here’s a look at Rockstar Racing’s Jason Anderson and his new Husqvarna—and congrats to him on winning last weekend’s Stockholm SX.
Husqvarna caught up with Torsten Hallman.
Have you ever wanted to be a part of something here at Racer X? Here's your chance! Each year we ask our readers for their participation in our Racer X Survey. This time around, those who help us out will be eligible to win a Sony POV Action Cam, valued at $300! The camera features advanced image stabilization that adjusts to vibration and a new splash-proof body with tripod mount. All you have to do is take a few minutes and complete our survey. We'll pick one winner at random in a couple weeks, contact you via email, and send your camera at no cost to you. Visit rx2014survey.questionpro.com to participate.
One of the premier amateur motocross events in the country, the Suzuki Top Gun Showdown, invades Muddy Creek Raceway for the 27th annual event October 17-19. The season finale in the Thor United States Mega Series, a sixteen-event series that runs in Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, will feature hundreds of top amateur riders from across the nation competing in forty-two different classes, with competitors as young as 4 taking part in the event. The legendary track, which for the past two years has hosted an AMA Motocross National, has welcomed numerous motocross stars over the years for this special event. With a $10,000 purse on the line, Sam Gammon, the four-time national promoter of the year who owns Victory Sports (which runs Muddy Creek), is looking forward to yet another spectacular event.
“It’s the series finale, so we’re expecting another great weekend,” Gammon says. “As always, we’ll have some of the top riders in the country competing, and we’re looking forward to getting them out here to see who ends up winning the championships.” In addition, this year the event will feature a round of the Women’s Professional MX Championship on Sunday.
Fox Head Inc. is proud to announce a full collection of 40-year anniversary products this weekend at Monster Energy Cup. To help celebrate Fox’s 40 years of innovation, we created a throwback tribute to one of the original designs of custom racewear. Originally designed for the 1977 AMA 125 Nationals Team Moto-X Fox, this new collection of 360 racewear stands alone with an articulated fit engineered to excel in rider attack position. A matching graphic V3 helmet features a multi composite technology construction, dual density EPS liner and MIPS™. Also available, a full line of 40-Year Anniversary t-shirts, hats and hoodies to commemorate everyday causal wear. For more information, check out your local authorized Fox dealer or foxhead.com
That’s it from Orlando and Las Vegas. Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!