Welcome to Racerhead, this time coming to you from a post-Monster Energy Cup jaunt to California. I’m not really sure if this is the end of the off-season or the beginning of the preseason for 2015—Matthes says it’s finally the off-season—but I just know it’s been a busy week for everyone.
Sadly, there’s tough news from the test tracks: privateer rider Todd Krieg went down hard, fracturing both shoulders and breaking some ribs. He also suffered a fractured T4 vertebra, for which he was operated on this morning. Before the surgery, he was suffering paralysis from the chest down. Keep #531 Todd Krieg in your thoughts and prayers. He describes himself as a “dream chaser” on his @ToddKrieg531 Instagram feed. Here’s hoping he gets to keep chasing his racing dream and makes a full recovery.
There’s no news—good or bad—on another front. James Stewart’s hearing with the FIM took place earlier this week, but no final decision has been handed down. According to an AMA official, the process of this kind of hearing does not include an immediate decision. In other words, the jury is still out on whether we will see #7 at Anaheim. A press release is expected to be issued soon, but there is no time table in deciding the merits of whether his positive test of an amphetamine back in April at the Seattle SX. As we reported last week, he has been issued a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for a prescribed medicine for his ADHD, but whether it’s retroactive to his anti-doping failure remains to be seen. He obviously did not race the Monster Energy Cup in Vegas last weekend, as part of his “provisional suspension” from the FIM, since the Monster Cup was sanctioned by the AMA, which is an FIM affiliate.… Like you, I can’t wait for this to get settled so we can all move on, hopefully with James Stewart on the starting gate.
If you missed the Monster Energy Cup last weekend, make sure you tune in for the Fox re-airs this Sunday. The race will be shown at 4:30 ET in most markets and 2:30 ET in select others. Why? Because Sunday afternoons at this time of the year usually mean the NFL games are getting the most attention, as well as the baseball World Series, so Fox is juggling the times in order to get the race on the air according to the areas you live in.
Of the top twenty-five markets, these will show the Monster Energy Cup at 2:30 p.m. ET, before their NFL game: Charlotte, Dallas, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
And here are the markets will show the Monster Energy Cup at 4:30 p.m. ET: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Orlando, Tampa, and Houston.
Many of us were in Vegas last weekend, while others were at the AIM Expo in Orlando, where they also held the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The trade show was great and the Hall of Fame ceremony was really well done. Congratulations again to Mike LaRocco, Pierre Karsmakers, Tom White, George Barber, and the rest of the new members of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. And down in the Highlights of the Week you will find a couple of videos from the AIM Expo by Racer X Films.
Let me turn it over to Jason Weigandt here:
MONSTER COMPETITION (Weege)
Everyone's heart sank when Trey Canard crashed in that final main event on Saturday, but Trey was at least happy that he ran up front all weekend. Several riders had races they'd rather forget, like JGR/Toyota Yamaha teammates Justin Barcia and Weston Peick and Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports teammates Josh Grant and Chad Reed. Reed has bounced back from stuff like this time and again, so you know he's not worried one bit. The other three guys are pretty headstrong, too, so they probably don't care either. Still, any racer would be happier with a good run than a bad one. If these guys do well come Anaheim, you have to stock that info away next year when we ask the inevitable "Does the Monster Energy Cup really predict what will happen at Anaheim?" question.
Still, at least those four guys qualified. When you take away the 250 class and smash everyone into one division, it can lead to better racing up front. Red Bull KTM newcomer Justin Hill gave Canard a few good runs this time, and two years ago Eli Tomac won a main event while still considered a full-time 250SX rider. That's the good side.
The bad is that there's only twenty-two gates available for the pros, so a ton of good ones aren't going to qualify. As we noted in this week's Sign of the Lap Times, check out some of the talent that didn't even make the main events: Matt Goerke, Kyle Chisholm, Mike Alessi, Michael Leib, Alex Martin, Ben Lamay, Mitchell Oldenburg, Chris Blose, Scott Champion, Jimmy Albertson, Kyle Swanson, Trevor Reis, Cody Gilmore, Nick Schmidt, Bracken Hall, Nick Wey, and Bobby Kiniry.
This one-off format brings some good and some bad. Same goes for the ten-lap main events. The good is, the racing stays closer because the leaders literally have ten fewer laps to pull away. I know, we all think more laps and more time is better, but it's rare for laps 11-20 of a traditional SX main to pack as much heat as laps 1-10. So this is good for racing.
The bad news is, sometimes those final ten laps, when the leader has pulled away, allow us all to focus on other positions. Maybe you'll take note of a battle for seventh or tenth or fourteenth. There's no time for that here. Even the TV coverage ends up inevitably showing less of the field. If Hill spends the first seven laps on Canard's fender, you're now down to literally three more minutes of racing to show everyone else before the checkers come out. Not going to happen. These are just some of the mixed emotions you'll get when you try a new format. Our whole staff has applauded Feld Motor Sports numerous times for rolling out these experiments, but, like all experiments, even the good stuff produces some unintended side effects. Add it all up, and the Monster Energy Cup is the biggest laboratory the sport has for trying new things, and that alone makes it a very cool race no matter wins.
FREE MONEY! (Matthes)
The MEC was a cool event, and in a way it takes the vibe of an off-season European supercrosses where everyone is a bit more relaxed. This race doesn’t mean anything and it’s not hard to forget about a poor finish and write it off … unless you did well, then you tell yourself that you’re on a roll come Anaheim 1!
The vibe at this race is mellow. The riders on new bikes are “just trying to learn some things and get some testing in,” unless you do well, then you’ve “never felt better and I’m looking to crush it in 2015.” For the riders, this race can be twisted into whatever you want it to be, whereas it’s hard to say that a race that happened seven days before in the regular Monster Energy Supercross series doesn’t matter one way or another.
No matter, now we rest. The off-season is officially upon us except for the few racers who are lucky enough to be paid large sums of money to race overseas. There’s a race this weekend in South Africa that Jake Weimer and a few others are doing, there’s the Bercy SX coming up (which isn’t actually in Paris this year but a new stadium in Lille while the regular arena gets some upgrades), Genoa, Italy, and then Geneva in the beginning of December.
These off-season races are a chance for some of our riders to make some real bank. We just had Kevin Windham on the PulpMX Show and he said that he left “millions” on the table by turning down all the overseas supercross races and Tim Ferry used to say “no thanks” to 40K for a weekend all the time.
Guess what both riders say now: “I wish I would have raced those things!” So if any big-name riders are reading this and are like Kevin and Timmy, listen to those guys and take the money!
Jeff Stanton told me he used to make more in three months of racing in Europe than he did from his entire base salary from Honda. Larry Ward probably still has coffee cans in his backyard full of start money from races all over the world. These things pay well (granted, not as well as they used to), and I can’t believe these guys turn down the offers to go.
There is some racing up in Canada for the next few months as the Future West Arenacross Series kicks off up in British Columbia. It’s an eight-round series (four weekends) that pays pretty well. American riders like Teddy Maier, Adam Enticknap, Brad Nauditt, Dylan Schmoke, Ross Johnson, Chris Howell, and probably a few more are lining up against some of the best Canadian riders. These things actually get pretty intense and if you want to follow the action hit up directmotocross.com and guaranteedmx.com for all the action.
And yes, Ryan “The Newf” Lockhart is still racing. No word on whether he’ll be announcing another retirement or not.
Also, the Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha team is in Japan for the last round of the All-Japan Nationals, where Cooper Webb will race a 450. This is the same event where Ernesto Fonseca debuted the Yamaha YZ250F years ago, and it was supposed to include Jeremy Martin this time, but the US 250 National Motocross Champion had to pass after breaking that foot at the Motocross of Nations.
A TWO-STROKE WINS. OR, WIN A TWO-STROKE (Jason Weigandt)
A few weeks ago, Kailub Russell told us he'll be racing a KTM 150XC at the last two rounds of the Amsoil Grand National Cross Country Series. He was doing it for fun and for charity—he'll raffle the bike off at this weekend's finale and donate all the money to injured rider Rory Mead. This is a full-on factory-prepped KTM 150, and there aren't many of those around. We're talking factory suspension and factory motor. Take it to the motocross track, take it to the woods. Might be the most fun bike you can swing a leg over right now. Here's how to enter the drawing.
But while we knew someone would win the bike, we didn't know Kailub might do some winning on it himself. Two weeks ago, he and Josh Strang had a battle to the death at the Power Line Park GNCC, with Strang just snagging the win. Can Russell seal the deal on the 150 this Sunday? This Ironman GNCC will be a tough one because there are super fast field sections where a 450 four-stroke can eat it up. But based on what we saw in Ohio, KR has at least got a chance. Check out the video of his battle with Strang last time out, and listen to that little two-stroke rip. Then enter the contest and see if you own that bike come Monday morning!
TICKLE ME RICKY (Matthes)
One of the riders who does not have a ride yet for 2015 is Broc Tickle, who rode for RCH the last couple of years. Tickle was having a solid season in supercross until he got hurt in Toronto and we didn’t see him again. Well, he’s back riding with some help from his old team (Swizcore caught up with him here on Pulp) and looking for a ride. If the rumors are correct, it looks like the RCH guys have found some support for him and he’ll be going back there for next year. It’s not 100 percent done, but I think it will happen. If not, Broc’s got a few options. Stay tuned.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK (Weigandt)
Kids, we just watched the last major domestic race for 2014, so you need to soak up the coverage now. Here's what you might have missed this week:
The Racer X Show: Greg White has all of last week’s news.
Sign of the Lap Times: Chase Stallo dove into the lap charts of all the MEC classes—Amateur All-Stars and Super-Minis, too—and we also put together a ton of news and notes from the field thanks to reporter Aaron Hansel. Did you know that in three of the four Am All-Star and Super-Mini races, the fastest time came from a rider who didn't win the race? Check it out here.
BTOSports.com Racer X Podcast: For some reason, industry peeps don't seem to get mad when we go off on stuff in a podcast—we need to be much more careful in print. So if you want the real dirt, you need to listen to Matthes, JT, and Weege and their weekly take on the races. Check it out here.
Rev Up: Andy Bowyer got the chance of a lifetime when Feld Motor Sports handed him a microphone and told him to get to the floor of the Monster Energy Cup and entertain the live crowd. The building was literally shaking, and soon Andy was too! Read about his night here.
The List: Here's some fresh shots of some new bikes and numbers, along with some scoops on each of them. It might still be 2014, but the Monster Cup sure makes things look like 2015. Take a look here.
ANOTHER NEW BIKE (Weigandt)
We showed you a lot of the new hardware with our List feature this week but didn't have a full shot of Wil Hahn's new #48 Monster Energy Kawasaki, which was on display in the pits but not in the actual race. Wilbur then helped out by sending his own photo of the bike.
Wil says he's been riding the bike for a little over a month, and he likes the way the team handles testing. Definitely making for an easy transition. He also likes the team truck driver, Brian "Big B" Barnhart, who is seen here guarding the bike. Looks pretty sweet. We'll see it in action come January.
PRO PERSPECTIVE (Jason Thomas)
Welcome to boot camp. For most of the supercross world, these next eight weeks signify a brutally difficult time in the calendar. The workouts and laps logged moving forward will build the base for their results in 2015. This is truly when the championships are decided. Sure, everyone has to go out and execute the plan on Saturday nights, but the current daily grind is what makes every win possible.
The typical day consists of an early wake-up and arrival at the gym. They will spend an hour or two doing core workouts and a lot of balance-themed strength and stretching exercises. Next up is the drive to the track for the most important part of the day: riding the motorcycle. Riding can never be understated in its value and necessity. I have seen so many riders expend far too much energy on all sorts of other training but then shortchange their lap count. This is a critical mistake. Rest assured, though, that the elite riders are doing lap after lap after lap. Depending on the day, anywhere from forty to ninety laps is the norm.
By this point it has already been a long day. Not to fret, however, as they still have a cycling session to deal with. Many times these rides can be in the two- to three-hour range, putting in the miles to establish a strong foundation to lean on during the season. Finally, they will end the day with more stretching and, of course, food to refuel. Sounds easy, right? Good, because when they wake up tomorrow, they get to do it all over again … and again for the next eight weeks.
No racer enjoys this part of the job. It is pure agony most days and there is plenty of whining and complaining along the way. Deep down the riders all know this is necessary and when January arrives they will be glad they suffered when they did. So when you see Adam Cianciarulo or Chad Reed or Ryan Dungey posting pictures on bicycles or in the gym and they make a snide comment about the torture they are withstanding, know that they really are going through some tough days. These may be the most important, while thankless and unseen, months of the year.
PLEASE CLICK ON THESE LINKS! (Matthes)
James Lissimore took the photos and Jason Thomas provides the captions in this PulpMX Photo Report!
Swizcore takes a view from the couch of the MEC here.
Did you have a 1985 YZ490? If so Tony Blazier breaks your bike down here.
HEAD-SCRATCHING HEADLINE OF THE WEEK
ESPN.com headline riots and fires broke out following a victory over then #4 Baylor last Saturday night. According to the report, "Morgantown crowds also set street fires in 2011 after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden died."
Got a note from Dano Legere, who spotted this truck while rolling put to the truck races today at LEMX. We will add it to the Braaap! Collection.
Check out the riding clinic led by Ryan Sipes and Steve Hatch.
That’s it for this week’s Racerhead—thanks for checking this column out. See you at the races.