Let’s begin Racerhead by handing the intro over to my sister Carrie Russell, with sad news from the GNCC family…
This past Sunday the GNCC Racing family suffered a devastating blow with the loss of 17-year old Ty Kesten in a racing incident at the Cannonball GNCC. Ty was leading the 125 B/C class on the last lap of the four-lap race when he crashed in the woods five miles from the finish line. The funeral for Ty Kesten will be held tomorrow morning, Saturday March 19, at 9:30 am at the Zion Lutheran Church in Brentwood, PA.
Last night there was a viewing for Ty. Two more will be held today. The line wrapped all the way around the block. We waited for over an hour in silence with the rest of the group. Once inside, hundreds of well-mannered kids packed the rooms, paying respect to their fallen friend. Tears came quickly, and easily. Photo after photo of Ty and his family racing flashed on the screen. By the end of the evening I felt like I knew everything about him. This kid was cool, and he was loved.
The passing of Ty Kesten is not the first such loss for the GNCC family, and we mourn the passing of each of those riders and friends who have gone before us. However, the outpouring of grief shown last night in Pittsburgh seemed not unlike the collective heart breaking loss felt by the GNCC community with the tragic death of Bob “Ironman” Sloan in 1994. But unlike Bob, who had the gift of a full life doing what he loved to do, the loss of a beloved friend like Ty, so young and yet so full of life, in some ways seems to amplify the feeling of loss that is felt by his family and friends. Sadly, unlike Bob Sloan, who had the chance to ride to the finish line in the race that was his life, Ty’s race ended tragically close to the start of the race that was to be his young life.
And as I looked into the faces of these grieving parents—all of the parents—I thought to myself how difficult it must be to know that tragedies like this can and will happen in any form of motorsports racing. And then I heard it. It was a low murmur—but I heard it…. bench racing. Godspeed, Ty Kesten. What a beautiful boy.
SUPERCROSS NOW (DC)
The international stop of Monster Energy Supercross took place last weekend at Toronto, and in true international fashion the podium of the 450SX Class was graced by riders from three different countries. Former FIM World Champs Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin finished 1-2 while reigning Supercross and AMA Motocross Champion Ryan Dungey finished third. Red Bull KTM’s Dungey lost five points to Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/RCH Racing Suzuki’s Roczen, but he’s still comfortably out front. RD1 also set a new record for consecutive podiums with 26 and counting.
Both Roczen and Musquin looked terrific again, and had each started the season this way, we might have a much more compelling title fight than what we’re seeing so far. What’s surprising was how out of sorts Eli Tomac looked on the Monster Energy Kawasaki. After his solid Daytona win the consensus was that he was finally comfortable and confident on the bike but that was not the case in Toronto. Maybe now that he has a new teammate coming on board in Josh Grant it will trigger another move forward for Tomac and team.
Tomorrow night’s race goes off at Ford Field in Detroit, and the event will be shown live on Fox Sports 2 beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The track goes up into the grandstands in a nod to the old Pontiac Siverdome races of long ago. And if you’re wondering whatever happened to the old Silverdome, site of so many epic races, watch this video from last summer featuring Tyler Fernengel.
And to think me and Pat Schutte could have bought that place for $486K in a bankruptcy sale.
Pulpmx Show Detroit SX Viewing Party (Matthes)
I'm not going to be at Detroit but like most of you reading this, I'll be watching it live. So why don't you join us at pulpmxshow.com thirty minutes before the SX show starts on FS2 (6:30 EST) where myself and TWMX's Michael Antonovich will talk about what we're seeing on the screen as well as call some riders/media people who are in Detroit for some scoops. We've even planned to call a couple of riders after their races to check in and see what's going on. Maybe we'll even give away some stuff! If it doesn't work out, blame Anton because it was all his idea. Check this out for more information and see you there tomorrow night!
WHAT DID YOU DO LAST SATURDAY NIGHT? (DC)
While most of the supercross world was visiting Canada last Saturday night, Rockstar Husqvarna's Martin Davalos was sitting at home in Clermont, Florida, watching the races on TV. I actually exchanged some texts with him, and then we spoke on Sunday about the whole experience of being forced to sit out a race and lose the points lead—something he has experience with, unfortunately, from back in 2014, when Davalos had a cracked heal and a dislocated ankle. This time, it was different, as the Ecuadorian's visa to travel to and from the U.S. had expired.
(Ironically, Davalos won the 2008 Toronto SX in the Lites Class, back when the race was an exhibition, and he finished second there two years ago to Justin Bogle.)
So what was it like to watch that all unfold on TV?
“Being the points leader and not being able to do something about it? I mean, I wanted to kill myself,” admitted Martin. “I still wanted to watch the race on TV because you can still learn a little bit from it, and also see how the other guys are riding, but it was killing me not to be there. With the way I’ve been feeling and riding lately, it was a very frustrating night.
"Watching the race, I thought to myself, Well, I saw Jeremy Martin go down off the start, and while I will never wish bad on anybody—because everyone out there trains so hard, and I respect everybody's efforts—I didn't want Jeremy to win because that would have put me 23 points down, instead of twenty. So it ended up being all right, I guess. I'm still fourth in the standings.
"Think about what happened to Cooper (Webb)," he added. "He was twenty points ahead and then he had that bike problem (at Oakland) and he lost the red plate. So we still have six races to go and while it's going to be a challenge. I am just going to keep my head down, keep working and do my best."
Obviously Toronto wasn't the last round, and Davalos hopes that he can use his frustration to his advantage moving forward. "I'm going to fight. I'm going to give it my all and do my best to make the points back up," he said. "This is motocross and anything can happen, whether it's to me or someone else, and it only takes one bad race to get back in there. I need to be consistent with six races to go. I'm twenty points down, which means it's not impossible. If I could win a championship for Husqvarna, that would be a lifetime goal for me. It's something I would like to have to show my kids one day."
Davalos will be in Detroit this weekend at Ford Field, which is maybe a mile away from the Detroit River that marks the U.S./Canadian border. Thankfully for him the race is on the U.S. side.
The winner was Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM rider Justin Hill, who made it through an epic first-turn crash unscathed. Jeremy Martin took the series points leader over after getting up off the ground after the start and racing from nineteenth to second in just nine laps.
Yellow Drought Ends (Andras Hegyi)
Suzuki had a memorable night in Toronto. In the premier class Ken Roczen got another win, while in the 250 SX class Suzuki got its first podium since 2013 thanks to Matt Bisceglia. Between 1985 and 2013 there was only one season without Suzuki podiums, which was 1986. But in the last two seasons, in 2014 and 2015, Suzuki set an unfortunate record in going podiumless. Bisceglia’s third marked Suzuki’s first podium since April 27, 2013. That’s when then-Rockstar Suzuki rider Jason Anderson won in Salt Lake City. That was 48 SX races ago!
Kawasaki is the most successful brand in history of small-bore supercross. Green-mounted riders have the most titles and the most victories—including the first victory back in 1985 by Todd Campbell at the San Diego season-opener. Kawasaki is also the one and only brand to be able to get podiums in every season since the beginning of this class.
Honda has only one season in which they were unable to get podiums, 1988. Yamaha also has only one season in which it failed to get a podium in this class, and that was 2005. And between 1985 and 1997, in the first 13 seasons of 125 SX, KTM was not able to get podiums. The first KTM podium came in 1998. From that season on the situation for KTM changed drastically.
From 1999 to present there were only three seasons (1999, 2004, 2010) in which KTM was unable to get podiums. And for Husqvarna, between 1985 and 2000, there was no podiums. The Swedish-born brand got its first podium in 2001. Then between 2002 and 2014 there was no podiums for the brand. The brand returned to the podium last year and also has one this year.
Finally, remember the old Italian brand Cagiva? They got some world championship titles in the ‘80s, but few probably remember them as the first non-Japanese brand to get podium in small-bore supercross. Cagiva took podium in 1988, and that was it.
Here’s some Flash Trivia for you: Which rider earned a 125 SX podium on a Cagiva in 1988?
THREE BAD STORIES (DC)
We were troubled to see three sad reports involving once promising professional riders Scott Sheak and Austin Stroupe. Sheak, a native of New York who won the 1997 High Point 125 National while riding for Team Honda, was sentenced from one-to-three years for a drunk driving conviction in New York. Stroupe, the former 250 SX winner and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider who had been working on a comeback in the AMSOIL Arenacross Series, was arrested in North Carolina on charges of drug possession.
As a racing news outlet, we often struggle with whether or not to post the news, just as our colleagues at TWMX and MXA and Vital MX do as well. No one wants to tell this stories because it seems like it has nothing to do with motocross, but it does have something to do with motocross: concussions and/or pain killers are where a lot of these problems start. They all serve as cautionary takes to others in our sport.
Sheak had been working on getting things together in his life. He told me he had gotten into a concussion therapy program following the wake-up call that was Dave Mirra taking his own life. He was very hopeful that the Neuro-Psych treatment would help could get on the right path and avoid the depression that kept coming over him if he learned to manage his thoughts better. Unfortunately, the DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) he picked up last August was not his first, and under a new sentencing guideline called Vince's Law, Sheak was facing up to eight years. He pled guilty to felony DWI charges, and on Wednesday was sentenced in Albany County to that one-to-three-year stay in prison.
Stroupe's story is a different kind of sad. After years of inactivity he was trying to get back on the right track, and his results in Arenacross were promising. But last week he was pulled over for erratic driving in Union County, NC. After searching Stroupe's vehicle they charged him with possession of heroin and marijuana, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia.
Both riders were incredibly talented when they were young, with all of the right tools to be successful, including personality and charisma. Somewhere along the way they got onto a different track, and not a good one. No matter, here's wishing the best for all three of them.
And one more thing, not involving a former motocrosser, but an NFL player with the Baltimore Ravens:
The Number: 500 (Andras Hegyi)
Two weeks ago the 250SX East Region opener in Atlanta marked a historic event. The 250SX main event marked the 500th race in history of small-bore supercross class, which has been in existence since 1985.
Here is some interesting data about the first 500 races in small-bore supercross (though by now we are going on the 503rd race).
1st Race: The first race of small-bore supercross category happened on January 26, 1985, in San Diego. The winner was a Californian, Todd Campbell, in the saddle of Kawasaki.
100th: The centennial race was won by Jeremy McGrath in 1992, on a Peak Antifreeze/Pro Circuit Honda CR125.
200th: The bicentennial race was taken by the French Stephane Roncada in 1998. He rode with Honda of Troy to the Minneapolis win that year.
300th: The tricentennial race was won by New Mexico’s Ivan Tedesco, who raced with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 2004.
400th: Joshua Hansen got the 400th win in 2011. Donnie Hansen's son rode with Kawasaki and he got the win at Anaheim.
500th Race: Husqvarna’s Martin Davalos in the 2016 East Region season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
So far, there have been 101 different winners. James Stewart is the most successful rider in this class, having collected eighteen victories in all. The most successful foreign riders are Costa Rica’s Ernesto Fonseca and Frenchman Christophe Pourcel, who each got twelve wins and two series titles.
Winning brands of the 502 races:
Kawasaki 161 wins
Honda 117 wins
Suzuki 95 wins
Yamaha 94 wins
KTM 33 wins
Husqvarna 2 wins
Hey, Watch It
Blake Baggett takes on us on a tour of his El Chupacabra Ranch in Groveland, FL
He also spins some laps down there.
Here’s a very funny video from Alpinestars that shows how broad their racing universe is.
Check out Thor's new commercial featuring Rockstar Husqvarna's Jason Anderson:
Here's what Austin Forkner saw in his race-long pursuit of Cameron McAdoo at the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross.
Here's a preview of this weekend's Detroit Supercross track.
Take a look at the crossover session that Chad Reed experienced recently with MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Congrats to Malcolm Stewart for landing his first Racer X cover. Subscribe today for as low as $9.98 and receive a free cover shirt!
We're making some one-off, print-to-order Racer X shirts for all of the hard-working Loretta Lynn's hopefuls this year. Pack your Racer X Destination: Loretta's shirt in your gear bag and take off down the road to the 35th Annual Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn's. The Destination: Loretta's shirts are available for both adults and kids. Best of luck to everyone this year!
Heading to Detroit for the eleventh round of Monster Energy Supercross this weekend? Stop by the Racer X booth—located in the Party in the Pits—to pick up a free copy of Racer X Illustrated. You can also sign up or renew for just $25 (60 percent off the cover price) to get a one-year subscription, a FREE Racer X beach towel, and an extra issue!
Check this note and photos out from Rick Doughty of Vintage Iron:
A customer was working in Europe in 1981 and saw this Honda at a GP. Interesting huh? Especially the couch for a seat. I wonder where the gas cap is?!
Chris Martin, who earlier this year released “Scout's Guide to Supercross 2016 (Scout's Guide to Motorcycle Racing 2016),” has just released “Scout's Guide to MotoGP 2016 (Scout's Guide to Motorcycle Racing 2016).” The 2016 MotoGP season kicks off this weekend in Qatar. You can buy the guide here.
If you’re looking to play MotoGP fantasy, the guys at MotoDynasty have launched new gamplay for this year.
For news from Canada, check out DMX FRID'EH UPDATE #11.
Flash Trivia Answer: Brian McElroy finished second in the 125 Class at Daytona on a Cagiva.
That’s all for this week, thanks for reading Racerhead, see you at the races.