Welcome to Racerhead, and welcome to the retro race here at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where we're going to party like it's 1992 ... when the Indy SX debuted in the (now demolished) RCA Dome (which was actually called the Hoosier Dome at the time). The 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship is in town, and the riders and teams have been asked to go with a retro feel for this throwback race, so we will lay a few things in below that just scream "Old School!" from the vast Racer X Archives of cool stuff.
Of course there's nothing old-school about what's going on down on the racetrack and what you will be seeing tomorrow afternoon on that yet-to-be-built-in-1992 internet, or tomorrow night's live broadcast on FS1 (and it won't be the 500cc USGP or the Super-Bikers from Carlsbad). Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey is closing in on the first successful supercross title defense in the orange brand's history. (Remember, the bikes were white way back when.) Only Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/RCH Racing's Ken Roczen has much of a chance left to catch Dungey, and those chances get slimmer with every race, as Dungey is now in record-extending mode when it comes to his podium productivity. Andras Hegyi will have more on that below.
The 250SX East Region returns, too, and I really hope the points leader, GEICO Honda's Malcolm Stewart, either works out the dreads and gets himself a big Questlove-style afro under his 6D lid, or maybe wears white boots in a nod to OG Andy Jefferson. Either way, it will be cool to see red on his plates for the first time in his career. He will have to work hard to keep Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Jeremy Martin and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Martin Davalos and the TLD KTMs and PC Kawis behind him, as we have no idea how Mookie will act under the pressure of that red plate.
Beyond that, we expect to see all kind of retro fun this weekend, as I am actually going on a rare boys' trip to this race, and by “boys” I don't mean my old crew of Eric Johnson, Tim "Virtual Trainer" Crytser, Scott "Rip Rock" Sepkovic, Chris "The Beave" Hultner, and of course Bryan Stealey and Jeff Kocan.... No, the boys on this trip are named Vance, Cade, and Carson. Something about parenthood, family bonding, and being the cool uncle. But me and my adolescent posse are more than ready for this eighties-ish weekend. From the "Smokin' Joe's" Camel Supercross promo kits we're bringing, complete with a plastic beer mug and a 25-year-old stale pack of Camels—they used to give those out in the pits as a fan-promo bonus, because nothing says "thanks for coming out to the races" than a starter kit of tobacco and alcohol products....
We've got our '92 Hi-Flyers Trading Cards all packed up in the Scooby Van (okay, it's an SUV, but roll with it) and a whole case of Pripps Plus to prep for a long day cruising around. We've got Supercross: The Movie at the bottom of the stack of VHS tapes we're playing on the way up, beginning with You're A Good Sport, Charlie Brown and of course highlighted by Winners Take All. (I refuse to show Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle to kids based on the fact that none of the angels were registered WMXers except for Regis "Tramp Stamp" Harrington.) I tried to make the boys all leave their iPhones and iPads behind, but then I would have had to have left mine, too, and how in the world could I Google all the things I forgot about from, say, 1990? Besides, the phone line for the fax machine snapped as we left the driveway, so please forgive me for not returning any faxes this weekend.
What hasn't changed, though, is how excited these boys are to go to a supercross race, and I am right there with them. Even though we see pretty much everything instantly online or on TV, there's still something unbelievably cool about packing up and driving off to the races. From the fireworks to the music production to the smell of spilled $11 beer ($8 sodas for the boys) and of course the noise and the smell of moto, it's still more than enough to get me in a car for six hours to go and just enjoy it all, just like it was 1989.
Okay, turns out Vance isn't old enough to drive, even though he can, so I gotta take the wheel back. (Just kidding, Shannon. And Jessica. And Melanie.) Here's the rest of Racerhead. See you at the races, where I will be working on my suburb cred with the boys....
JEREMY MAGGIORA (DC)
If you follow the King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, on his social media (@jeremymcgrath2), you may have noticed that he and his family were over in Italy last weekend for an Italian National Championship race and a visit to Maggiora. That's the legendary track where Team USA's David Bailey, Rick Johnson, and Johnny O'Mara raced to a dominant win in the 1986 Motocross des Nations. Thirty years later the event returns there, and the track—after years of neglect and abandonment—is back in superb shape. Jeremy and his wife, Kim, and their daughters were invited over by the event promoter to check out all the area has to offer as far as sightseeing and tourism go, and then he spun some laps on a Kawasaki KX450F for the crowd that had gathered for the event. Here's some video from MXBars.
"The Maggiora track is fantastic, and it is nice to be here and to see it with my own eyes," McGrath told the Italian website. "I think it is one of the most beautiful motocross facilities in the world. This track has a lot of history for the American team. One of our most famous races was run here. I think it’s nice to come here and relive the glory of days gone [by], but it will not be easy for Team USA. Seeing the track we can expect a great race, we’ll see. Obviously I hope to see the American team to win but we must send here the best team possible otherwise this will not happen."
Look for a feature story on Jeremy and family's trip to Italy in an upcoming issue of Racer X Illustrated.
EMIG47's REFLECT (DC)
If you haven't read Jeff Emig's Reflect column on his website, www.emig47.com, check it out this weekend before you watch the Indianapolis Supercross, where Jeff will be the color analyst for FS1. Emig, the 1997 AMA Supercross Champion, likes to turn the tables on media folks he's worked with over the years, like Dave Despain, Garth Milan, and even one with me. He asks interesting questions, like how exactly each person got their start in the industry and some of their most memorable shots, interviews, road trips, whatever. Emig's latest chat is with none other than Troy Adamitis, the superb videographer who was in charge of The Great Outdoors, The Moto: Inside the Outdoors, and a partner in the production of that MX cult classic Frezno Smooth, the Citizen Kane of moto films. It's a great read, and Troy's stories about his early days trying to break into the business are pretty cool.
STREET RIDING YEARS (DC)
If you've been paying attention to the news the past few years, then you have no doubt seen the long parades of "wheelie boys" and urban riders that race around city streets. From Miami to Atlanta, Baltimore, Philly, Newark, Cleveland—these gangs are everywhere. They are usually riding dirt bikes or ATVs of questionable provenance and ownership, and police have largely been unable to do anything to stop them due to the ease with which these guys can get away, cutting through traffic, into parks, fields, wherever. These riders often shoot their own videos and post their exploits on social media, like the time they shut down an interstate so a guy could prove he could ride a 12-mile wheelie from one side of town to the other. And rappers like Fetty Wap are into the scene, as was the NFL player Tray Walker of the Baltimore Ravens, before he died while riding last month after riding straight into an SUV at night without a helmet on. Now several states and even the U.S. attorney general are trying to figure out a way to crack down on all this, according to the Washington Post.
The police also released a whole bunch of surveillance videos of guys they spotted riding without helmets, which is never a good idea. Here are some of the photos—you may not recognize any friends in there, but you might spot someone's bike!
THE NUMBER: 100 (Andras Hegyi)
Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey keeps doing the things that have made him one of the fastest, most consistent, most reliable riders in the history of supercross. In Santa Clara last weekend Dungey got his 100th top-five finish, and that’s out of just 112 main events. That’s the best percentage ever in supercross' premier class, going back to 1974. And with this performance Dungey has become only the fifth rider to make the top five in at least 100 races. Here's how they stack up:
1) Chad Reed: The most successful Australian motocrosser has raced in 197 AMA Supercross premier-class main events so far, and he has been in the top five in 153 races. His percentage is 77.6%.
2) Mike LaRocco: During his 227 races, The Rock made 147 top-five finishes. His percentage is 64.7%.
3.) Jeremy McGrath: With 173 races, the King of Supercross had 140 main events finishing in the top five. Jeremy's top-five percentage was 80.9%.
4.) Kevin Windham: During his 207 races, K-Dub made the top five in 115 rounds. His percentage is 55.5%.
5.) Ryan Dungey: With 100 top-fives in 112 races, Dungey’s percentage is an incredible 89.2%. He got to 100 top-fives much faster than anyone in history.
THE NUMBER: 28. Again. (Andras Hegyi)
At Santa Clara we heard the 28 again in regard to another Ryan Dungey victory. Ryan collected his 28th consecutive podium in supercross' premier class, as well as his 28th win in AMA Supercross' premier class. Of course this is the second time that's happened, but he was knocked back to third in Detroit for jumping while the medical flags were out. He kept #28 this time and passed Bob Hannah on the all-time wins list—and caught up with another legend in the process. Dungey is now tied with Ricky Johnson at 28 wins. Only Jeremy McGrath (72), James Stewart (50), Ricky Carmichael (48), Chad Reed (44) and Ryan Villopoto (41) have more.
Johnson, himself a two-time series champion, has the better winning percentage, getting 28 wins in 100 total career starts from 1981-1991, twelve fewer than Dungey, and he actually reached win 28 in his 87th start. Johnson got three wins with Yamaha and 25 wins with Honda. Dungey got seven wins with Suzuki and 21 wins since taking his talents to KTM.
INJURY UPDATES (Jason Weigandt)
Had the chance to check in with a few wounded KTM warriors this week while hosting the brand’s Orange Brigade Media Training session on Monday. When Davi Millsaps crashed out of Daytona and broke ribs, there was hope he could maybe return by Santa Clara. Davi tried riding a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t working like he had hoped—Davi told me every other time he’s injured his ribs, he also incurred a bigger injury, so he thought that just dealing with the ribs alone wouldn’t be such a big deal. The BTOSports.com KTM WPS rider is taking it week by week and doesn’t rule out a return for a few late supercross rounds. The injury is a shame because Davi was putting together a solid season. When supercross ends, we’re hearing rumors he might be lining up as part of the Canadian Motocross Nationals, which seem to draw more big names every year.
I also talked to Justin Hill, who at the time said he was 50-50 on racing this weekend in Indy. He decided he’ll need at least another week off. Hill is recovering from a concussion suffered in practice at Detroit (when he was coming off a win the previous weekend in Toronto). In a similar spot is Andrew Short, who is also out after a concussion in Atlanta. At this point, Short doesn’t have a timetable on his return.
PRO PERSPECTIVE (Pingree and JT)
David Pingree: It’s interesting to me to hear different riders talk about how much motocross they are riding this time of year. We touched on this topic this week in our 3 on 3 segment. With the 450SX supercross title out of reach for all but two guys (and that’s being very generous), there has to be a sense of anticipation to get back to a series where nothing has gone wrong yet. Tomac, Canard, Stewart, Barcia, and plenty of others have to be, at a minimum, thinking about Hangtown during their weekly training. So how much time are they spending riding outdoors versus supercross right now? Most of them are still putting in supercross laps a couple days a week, but they have started adding some outdoor days to their schedules. In fact, many riders like to throw in a day of motocross all season long because it helps you get used to carrying more speed, particularly through the corners. But you have to be careful. One thing that can happen if you start looking ahead to the next thing too soon is you lose focus, and that’s a bad deal on a supercross track. Even if the season has been a struggle, you have to make sure your head is screwed on tight every time you hit the track. Otherwise, you could wind up watching the nationals from the couch.
Jason Thomas: The outdoors are coming! The outdoors are coming! Okay, so Paul Revere may not have ever had to transition from supercross to outdoor motocross, but he would have made a scene if he did. To get up to maximum fitness and speed in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, it takes a lot of work and preparation. That’s not always easy to do when also trying to stay in your best supercross form each Saturday. Depending on how each rider’s points championship is shaping up, they will start focusing more and more on the Hangtown opener. For the leaders, they will most likely be throwing one day a week into their outdoor program, and that will eventually turn into two days per week. Some riders who are struggling indoors might abandon their supercross focus altogether. Every situation is different, but one thing is for sure: the motivation is beginning to change in the minds of every rider. Hangtown is looming, and with it comes a summer of hot, hard days. Anyone who has endured the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship knows that it can be hell on earth if you come in unprepared. The only way to prevent that is to put the work in now. All of the work done in these days and weeks will pay dividends all summer long. So as we move forward, it will be interesting to watch the interest begin to wane for the supercross strugglers and how they rebound this summer. On the opposite end, the riders who are up front will be trying to balance their focus between a very relevant five-race home stretch to Vegas and then the marathon summer on the horizon.
HEAD SCRATCHING HEADLINE OF THE WEEK
Kawasaki just threw out a cool press release regarding the 50th anniversary of its first green production bike, the 1969 F21M 250 Scrambler. This was a motocross bike before motocross was really a thing in the U.S., and the official KX line didn't debut until 1974. We especially liked this one line from the PR about the F21M:
"If you ever find one at a yard sale in Greenville, Greensboro or even Green Acres, grab it. Because the legend of the Green Streak lives!"
Heading to Indianapolis for the thirteenth 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!
If you're a proud AMA member, they've got some cool shirts and hats in their new online store that you can check out right here.
Motorcycle Superstore will be hosting a customer appreciation event tonight at their Louisville, Kentucky, store. Come meet MotorcycleSuperstore.com/Suzuki race team riders Jimmy Albertson, Kyle Cunningham, and Josh Osby as well as Georgia Lindsey, NBC TV pit reporter for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Nationals. You will have the chance to enter to win a 2016 RM-Z250 and there will be prizes from Bell, Pirelli, FMF, EVS, and more. Products in the store will be on sale for an additional 10% off, plus you’ll get free hot dogs! Click here for more info.
Address: 501 Industry Rd, Louisville, KY 40208.
Contact: If you have any questions about the store or event, please call (502) 442-7217 or email email@example.com
Stay up to date with MotorcycleSuperstore.com/Suzuki Racing videos, how-to tips, interviews, product tests, and more here.
That’s all for this week—thanks for reading. See you at the races.