Welcome to Racerhead, and to the slower part of the off-season. We just saw GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac show some real speed and confidence in sweeping the weekend at the Bercy Supercross in Lille, France, and now we have a few more races coming up before everyone hunkers down and gets into full-on training and testing for the 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. I gotta say I am looking forward to this season even more than usual, because with a new champion on the horizon in the 450 class, and with the 250 classes stacked, it should be some excellent racing.
Unfortunately, now is just about the time when we start hearing about a crash here or an injury there that might really affect the contenders. And we also start the guessing game of which region the top riders are going to end up in the 250 class. It’s a game that Pro Circuit’s Mitch Payton plays better than anyone!
On the amateur side of things we did a special Racer X Show on www.racertv.com based on the announcements of the Area and Regional schedules for the 2015 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn Ranch. Greg White hosts this special Racer X Show featuring MX Sports' Tim Cotter and the AMA's Kip Bigelow and Jeff Massey. Check it out right here.
And next week we will be featuring the 43rd Annual Thor Winter Olympics from Gainesville, Florida’s Gatorback Cycle Back. It’s the last big amateur race of the season, or maybe the first big race of next season. Regardless, the whole RacerTV team will be down there streaming parts of the day live, mixing up the classes and showing you as much of the action as we can, with over twenty hours of broadcasting. Here’s the schedule, and we will post reminders next week too:
Winter Olympics Broadcast Schedule (brought to you by Suzuki, as well as Farren Racing/MavTV, iSaw Cameras, and Rocky Mountain ATV MC)
Wednesday: 7:30 a.m. to end of SX Mains (Approx. 1 p.m.)
Thursday: 1 p.m. to end of day
Friday: 7:30 a.m. to end of MX Moto 1 (Approx. 1 p.m.)
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to end of day (Approx. 3 p.m.)
Finally, there’s about 1,200 GNCCers who are rolling into Morgantown for the big season-ending banquets, which means I have to clean my office or Julie Kramer is going to kill me. Let me turn it over here to the rest of the gang….
PERFECT WEEKENDS (Andras Hegyi)
GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac was perfect at the Bercy Supercross last weekend, which moved north to Lille and seemed to get even bigger than usual. Tomac won all the four main events. But Eli's faultless trip is not an unprecedented success in history of Bercy Supercross. After Frenchman David Vuillemin, Americans Andrew Short and James Stewart, and Australian Chad Reed, Tomac is the fifth rider to go flawless in Bercy.
Vuillemin was unbeaten in 2000 and 2001. In both years the Cobra won all the six main events, for a twelve-race winning streak at Bercy.
After a format change, Andrew Short was undefeated in 2004 as well as 2005. In both years Shorty won all the three main events.
Chad Reed was consummate in 2007 after winning all the three main events.
And finally James Stewart’s perfect weekend at Bercy came in 2008, when he won all the three main events.
And at the event, GuyB of VitalMX landed a couple of good interviews, one with Justin Barcia of the JGR/Toyota Yamaha team as well as a bit with Christophe Pourcel, who showed some signs of brilliance before getting hurt in the second race on Saturday.
McGRATH’s NEW DEAL (Eric Johnson)
You saw the news earlier this week that seven-time AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath has rejoined Kawasaki after twenty-five years as their new “brand ambassador.” To find out a little more of what that meant, I gave the King of Supercross a call to find out how it all went down.
“I guess we created a lot of hype out there with the announcement,” said McGrath, winner of a record seventy-two AMA Supercross main events. “It’s funny to me that I can still create that kind of little buzz. It was really fun. It was exciting and something new and the Kawasaki guys are great. Here’s the deal with all this, though I don’t think a lot of people are going to understand it at first. The program with Kawasaki that we put together as far as plans for 2015 is going to make a lot of sense when we get started. A big part of our plan is to get more involved with Kawasaki Team Green and the amateur side of things and build that up. I plan on doing some mini camps out at my ranch, exclusive to Team Green riders and Team Green kids.
“One of the other things I want to do is spend some time with Mitch Payton’s riders and help them. I want to mentor them. I think through my experience of being in that position for many years, I think I can help out. And of course if the pro team needs some help, I’ll be there for that too. This role as an ambassador is really designed perfectly for the Jeremy McGrath brand—for me. When we started talking about this it was like a light went off. It was like, ‘Why hasn’t anyone thought about this before?’ Kawasaki thought outside the box and here we are. We get to create our own path again.”
“I’m ready to give back,” McGrath added. “I think a lot of us are like, ‘How can I make an impression and use some of this experience and knowledge that I’ve gained over these years and help somebody?’ Kawasaki and Monster Energy were really receptive to the idea and we put it all together. Again, I think this kind of role suits me perfectly and I can make an impact.”
McGrath actually raced for Team Green as an amateur and Pro-Am competitor, and in 1990 he won his first 125 Supercross in Las Vegas aboard a KX125. Here are the full race results:
OH HENRY (DC)
Last week we mentioned the new Dirt Rider issue, which features Doug Henry on the cover and includes his take on many of the topics and features in the issue, as well as a feature on his life by Brett Smith. This week I received a cool email from Dirt Rider's Chris Denison describing what it was like working with Henry on the issue:
"In the weeks leading up to our trip back to Connecticut, people kept asking what Henry is up to these days. We honestly didn't know, and we were a bit unsure of what to expect when we arrived at his place, knowing full well that Doug's life has been anything but smooth over the last decade. He was cheerful but skeptical when we first met up with him, but as soon as he realized what being the Guest Editor entailed, he really got into it. Before too long, Doug was approaching the issue with the same compulsive determination and sky-high expectations that he used to become a successful racer.
“We had an incredible amount of fun building the issue, but at the same time Doug was the most demanding boss that any of us had ever encountered. Ever the competitor, he was hell-bent on making his issue better than RJ's, Carmichael's, or Malcolm's. Doug toiled over layouts, made changes upon changes to changes we'd already made, and even picked up the phone and sold a couple of ads just as the issue was going to press. Working with Doug gave us all a glimpse at the absolutely unwavering determination that this man possesses, and the fact that he approached the whole thing with a huge smile just made it all worthwhile. As you know, Doug treats being paralyzed like a very minor inconvenience, and by the time we left I don't think any of us really thought about the fact that he is in a wheelchair. Now, when people ask what Doug Henry is up to, the answer is much more certain: 'He's too busy kicking ass to do anything else.'"
THE JAMES MARSHALL PROJECT (Jason Weigandt)
I got this phone call today. Industry folks, be aware:
I’m James Marshall. When I was 22 years old, I broke my neck at the San Diego Supercross. I've been in and out of rehab and a nursing home. I’m 30 years old today. I’m ready for a job within my industry. I know what I can do—I can do a rider rep position. I’ve been up for them before, and I’ve missed by inches. I’ve put everything in the good Lord’s hands, and I’m feeling good. I've been blessed to have a great family in Texas take me in, and I've got another shot at this. I’ll do whatever it takes to get this word out there. I’m ready. I know I can do this, I know I can help a company.
Let’s knock this out of the ballpark, I want this to be like Babe Ruth style. I'm calling my shot. You give me the job and I’ll do it. I’m ready to work. Whatever position a company is ready to build, I’m ready to build it with them. I’m ready to travel. I’m ready for 17 stops. Where are my plane tickets? Fire up the mic, I’m ready to go.
God has given another opportunity. I'm out of the nursing home, but I’m tired of not being a part of the sport that I love, and has given me so much happiness in my heart. I’ve never let success get to my head and I’ve never let failure get to my heart. I just want to prove what I’ve got. If anyone needs help out there and thinks there's something I can do, I'm ready."
James is as passionate as ever. He's paralyzed, but it's clear from what I heard that he's not going to let a disability get in his way. If there's an industry gig at the races out there, he wants a shot at it. Hit him up at email@example.com or JamesMarshallproject.com
Good luck, Outlaw!
HEI SUOMESTA! (HELLO FROM FINLAND!) (Steve Matthes)
My world tour continues this week as after Lille last week I flew up to Finland for the Tampere SX, which is about an hour or so outside of Helsinki. It’s the town that Tukka Rask played goal for in the Finnish Elite League when the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him and before they made the worst trade ever to ship him to Boston. [Ed. note: We think he’s talking about hockey here.]
But that’s neither here nor there. Our own Jason Thomas is here making a one-time comeback to racing (although this could turn into something like The Rolling Stones and make a series of their “last ever” tours) and trying to do well here for America. The venue here in Finland is small but it’s sold out for both nights. The track’s small but there is a 4-3-off-tabletop thing that only a couple of guys are doing. As I sit here in the press room after practice the top two guys are Harri Kullas from Finland (who races GPs) and a French guy named Boris Mallard. Thomas is fifth but “we’re” fine with that—like Seabiscuit and other top performers, “we” turn it up when the lights come on in about an hour and a half.
The other American here is a kid from New York named Aaron Lampi who’s turning pro next year and riding a Suzuki. He’s also a friend of Phil Nicoletti’s, which explains him tipping over a few times in practice. Filthy’s black cloud just found another New Yorker who’s racing, I guess.
This is night one of two, and I have to say, Finland is pretty cool. I’ve never been here before but the people are really nice, and because they all take English in school, it’s easy to figure things out. There’s a motorcycle show expo going on here along with the race and lots of bikes displayed and the Fins seem to be excited to have the racers here.
JT and I did a little video show from the track yesterday with X Racing, which is owned by Jan Hovi, my tour guide here in Finland. If you want to check it out along with the live results embedded onto his site go here.
I got here on Tuesday and Jani picked me up and we went to some island via a ferry off Helsinki, and although Jani would make a terrible tour guide, as he knew nothing about this place, it seemed that it was some sort of fort back in the day. Lots of old buildings and fortified castles. It was a nice walking tour that took about an hour.
The next day we went to a Finnish tank museum that was pretty cool. Tons of tanks from early 1900s to now and it seemed that a lot of the information about these things were that Finland bought them from the Soviet Union in the early 1940s and then used them to fight the communists just a year or two later. Or they bought them from Germany and then captured more of said tanks from the Germans in WWII. I don’t know, man, it was confusing but pretty cool anyways. DC would have loved it.
Okay, gotta go here. I’ll try to get some results posted over on @racerxonline Twitter, or you can also follow @pulpmx for more “in depth” details from the race.
I sat down with Racer X contributor and GP journo Adam Wheeler in Lille last week for a 45-minute podcast on the GPs, RV heading over there, Herlings, and more here.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid'Eh Update #48.
Oh, and please go read pulpmx.com, but only if you've read everything there is to read on Racer X Online.
HEY, WATCH IT!
Remember Kailub Russell winning a GNCC on a 150 two-stroke a few weeks back? The folks at FMF (with help from GNCC TV producer Jason Hooper) put together this edit of his two two-stroke rides. Of course, it's sans music so you can hear him wring the thing out. It'll put a smile on your face.
Did you catch Ken Block's latest honing masterpiece? Check out Gymkhana 7 where he blasts around Los Angeles in this sweet, one-off 1965 Mustang.
Remember Ryan Hughes' gut-wrenching moment when he had to push his bike up the last hill at Steel City after his chain broke on the last lap of the race? Here's a similar moment from the 1983 Farleigh Castle 500 Grand Prix, starring a gutsy Irish legend named Laurence Spence.
Jared Conley, the winner of our very own 2014 Racer X Amateur Film Festival, has teamed up with Brent Saxsma and created a teaser video for a hover car. Yes, a real hover car that Brent is in the process of creating. Check out more at www.2015hovercar.com and watch the teaser video below.
Okay, that’s it for Racerhead this week. Thanks for stopping by, and see you at the races!