It’s been a hectic week for everyone as we head into the last round of the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. The title was decided last weekend in New Jersey, where Ryan Dungey gave Red Bull KTM its first back-to-back SX titles, making three in his steadily successful career. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s RCH Racing’s Ken Roczen won his fifth race of the season in convincing fashion, and his late charge in this series will certainly add some depth to the upcoming silly season, in which he will play the starring role. And Eli Tomac and Cole Seely put in good enough rides to help end Dungey’s record 31-race podium streak and serve notice that this summer’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, which starts May 21 at Hangtown, could have a very interesting title chase. And GEICO Honda’s Malcolm Stewart moved one step closer to possibly becoming the second half of the first set of brothers in SX history to win titles, as Mookie rode a superb 250 race at MetLife and will now go into the Las Vegas East-West Shootout with a straight shot at the title.
Don’t forget that due to some NASCAR races on Fox Sports 1, the first hour of the Vegas SX will be on FS2 starting at 10 p.m. ET, and the last two hours will be on FS1 starting at 11 pm ET. Race Day Live! will air throughout the afternoon on www.supercrosslive.com.
We will have more on the 250SX East-West Shootout below in our Pro Perspective, as the event takes on a much more interesting slant this year because in will combine the top riders from each region and pay points toward the championship. I would also like to thank Feld Motor Sports for continuing to refer to the event at the Dave Coombs Sr. East-West Shootout as a tribute to my dad. I know it means a great deal to my mom, as well as our whole family, to know that his contributions are still remembered eighteen years after he passed away.
Looking ahead, there’s just one weekend off before the start of the outdoors, but there are already lots of questions as we look ahead to supercross in 2017. For instance, what color bikes will Roczen and Trey Canard ride? How quickly will Cooper Webb be up to speed on a 450? Will Dungey ease up at all, or can he make it three in a row? And what about the veterans Chad Reed and James Stewart—will they answer the bell and get back up there? And what will the series even look like as talk continues to percolate regarding a new playoff-type format that would be meant to prevent exactly what happened this year, and last year, and the year before: seeing the title clinched before the final round? Silly season is already going on all that, and Vegas hasn’t even started, let alone motocross!
Let’s start Racerhead with news about 2017.
Supercross 2017 (Chase Stallo)
Today at the Monster Energy Supercross season finale press conference in Las Vegas, Feld Motor Sports announced the schedule for the 2017 season.
For the first time since 2014, Seattle is back on the schedule, with the series visiting CenturyLink Field on April 8 for Round 14. The following week, the series heads to Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, marking SLC’s first time on the schedule since 2013.
The new stadium for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings—U.S. Bank of America—will host Round 7, which will also serve as Round 1 of the 250SX East Region. Minneapolis is back for first time since 2013.
After just one season, Foxboro will not return. Santa Clara and the second visit to Petco Park are also off the schedule.
Below is the full 2017 schedule.
|Jan. 7||Angel Stadium||Anaheim, CA|
|Jan. 14||Petco Park||San Diego, CA|
|Jan. 21||Angel Stadium||Anaheim, CA|
|Jan. 28||U. of Phoenix Stadium||Glendale, AZ|
|Feb. 4||O.Co Coliseum||Oakland, CA|
|Feb. 11||AT&T Stadium||Arlington, TX|
|Feb. 18||U.S. Bank Stadium||Minneapolis, MN|
|Feb. 25||Georgia Dome||Atlanta, GA|
|Mar. 4||Rogers Centre||Toronto, ON|
|Mar. 11||Daytona Speedway||Daytona, FL|
|Mar. 18||Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianpolis, IN|
|Mar. 25||Ford Field||Detroit, MI|
|Apr. 1||The Dome at America's Center||St. Louis, MO|
|Apr. 8||CenturyLink Field||Seattle, WA|
|Apr 22.||Rice-Eccles Stadium||Salt Lake City, UT|
|Apr. 28||MetLife Stadium||Eas Rutherford, NJ|
|May. 6||Sam Boyd Stadium||Las Vegas, NV|
Dragons Everywhere! (Matthes)
The final round is almost here, the press conference is over and just now the riders pulled off the track after their two practice sessions. The press conference was the standard deal where the riders tell us there’s no pressure on them (there is), they’re going to just try and ride their best (thanks for that), Cooper Webb made mention that his wrist is fine (it’s not) and Jason Anderson and Kenny Roczen talked about how they grew up watching James Stewart and Chad Reed which made me feel super old. Then someone asked Roczen and Ryan Dungey if they could relate to their superheroes that their Fox gear is modeled after. More confusion reigned after that question.
The track itself is pretty cool, the start is back inside the stadium and is pretty short. It makes a hard left and heads on out to Thunder Alley where the roost makes grown men cry. Back inside the stadium there’s a dragon’s back into another dragon’s back and then into a THIRD reversed dragon’s back. Puff would be so proud.
The idea is to go from the second one over the gap and down the third one. Chad Reed was the first guy to do this and followed by Jason Anderson. I didn’t see anyone else do it and I was watching practice with “Filthy” Phil Nicoletti and he predicted that this section would be changed for tomorrow. I hope Phil’s wrong.
Pro Perspective (David Pingree and Jason Thomas:
Ping: I know a lot is being made of the 250 race in Las Vegas counting for points with both coasts combined. I love the idea of it, although with the points spread out the way they are, it’s unlikely that this will affect the titles on either coast. Still, if the previous rounds had gone differently and the first couple riders in the series were a handful of points apart, it could have been a nail-biter. Some teams and riders will complain, but this is nothing new. Back in the ‘90s there used to be at least two rounds that were East and West combined and counted for points. Minneapolis and Dallas or Houston were typically the rounds it fell on, and you had to deal with the best riders from both coasts in your fight for points. While they weren’t the final round, there were two of them, and they provided an opportunity to gain or lose a heap of points.
In 1996 the West Region season opener was an East-West round in Minneapolis. Kevin Windham was on fire and won the opener ahead of Mickael Pichon, Tim Ferry, John Dowd, and yours truly. While I was the second-finishing West Region rider, I got points that night for fifth, and K-Dub had a cushion right away. I broke my femur a few rounds later and took myself out of the chase, but Windham was able to miss a round with a broken collarbone and still win the title because of the points cushion he had. Having races like that can be either great or dismal, depending on how you finish. For the fans, though, it’s a win.
JT: This format is awesome. There, I said it. If there is anything this sport needs more of, it's unpredictability and suspense. Throwing both coasts together creates a huge number of "what if" scenarios that riders, mechanics, and team managers will be calculating from now until the checkers fly. Points swings can double with the other coast in the mix, and a lead can seem much smaller than it would otherwise. The impact of a tip-over or a first-turn crash increases exponentially because the back of the pack will be much deeper and the pace much higher. Theoretically, the 20th-place rider would be a top-ten-level rider on either coast, and that means a serious battle to move forward. There will be high-level battles all the way through the field. That's a great improvement for the fans.
As for the title chase, the main goal of the points leader should be to get a good start and stay near the front of the pack. Much like NASCAR, staying near the front is safer and reduces the potential for chaos. Going for the win isn't necessarily the goal. There will be a few guys willing to take big chances to win. Staying out of that fray and thinking big-picture will be paramount to every other aspect of the race. The mechanics will know where things sit as the race is unfolding. If Cooper Webb and Mookie rode together in fourth and fifth place, that wouldn't surprise me in the least. There is half a million dollars or so at stake for each of these guys, not to mention the goal of every rider in the sport—that elusive championship.
Dungey's Trifecta (Andras Hegyi)
Ryan Dungey just became only the sixth rider to win three premier AMA Supercross crowns. The Red Bull KTM rider joined Bob Hannah, Jeff Stanton, Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, and Ryan Villopoto in this exclusive club—and he needed the most time to earn membership.
Hannah was supercross' first superstar and got his third title in the premier supercross class in 1979 after winning three straight championships. The Hurricane needed just four seasons to get there. In Los Angeles in 1979, the next-to-last round, Hannah clinched his third title despite almost missing the main event; after a catastrophic start he finished only in 21st place.
Honda rider Stanton became a three-time champion in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1992, but Stanton did it by winning the race. Stanton was six points up going into the 16th and final round. Damon Bradshaw was the favorite to win the title, but the Yamaha rider managed to finish only fifth under overwhelming pressure. As a result, Stanton got his third title in his sixth season.
In 1995, McGrath obtained his third title with two rounds to go. MC was practically a rookie in ’93, having won the 125cc West Region and then racing some East Region races in the premier class. The Honda rider became champion in Cleveland, a city that hosted AMA Supercross only one time.
Ricky Carmichael celebrated his third title at the last round of the 16-race 2003 series in Las Vegas. Riding a Honda, Carmichael snatched his third title by finishing second to Chad Reed in each of the last six races that year. That was during his fifth season in the class.
Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto got his third title in 2013 and would match McGrath the following year as the only man to win four titles in a row. And like Carmichael, Villopoto got his third title in his fifth season.
Dungey debuted in the premier class back full-time back in 2010 and won; now, six years later, he earned his third title by finishing fourth in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Cat (Troy Bendgen)
AJ Catanzaro was forced to put his own deal together this season at the last minute because of some miscommunication with his former team. Luckily for AJ, he’s from the New England area, and those fans treat their own like royalty. Catanzaro put together a 450SX East Coast–only program with the help of some local businesses.
So far this season, Catanzaro has been able to make it into four main events. Considering he tore his ACL in practice at Detroit, his accomplishment seems that much more impressive. The week before his injury, he had his best finish of the season with a fifteenth in Toronto.
This weekend Catanzaro will make it to Las Vegas with the help of the Traders Racing Kawasaki team. He won’t be a member of the team, but they helped haul his bike to the West Coast, and thanks to the power of social media, he was able to find help to bring it back home as well. Next week Catanzaro has surgery scheduled for his knee, and that will put him out for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. In the meantime he’s going to continue to train riders at the new Moto VIP facility in Georgia (which he now calls home). He’s a partner in this new facility, and he’s still busy building all of the tracks.
Catanzaro plans to coming back strong for supercross next year. However, depending on how he feels, we may just see him at Southwick this summer. He has more confidence than ever because he has been battling with some of the big-name guys this season and wants to continue the trend. He also wants to put on a good show for the hometown crowd, of course.
TIM GAJSER (Andras Hegyi)
So far, Honda has produced 15 different FIM World Champions. Among them only two riders have won four GPs in the first six rounds in a season. The first one is Stefan Everts, who did it in the former 250cc class in 1998. The second is now Tim Gajser, who got his fourth GP win at the sixth round in Latvia last weekend. And thanks to the teenaged rookie, Honda was able to get its first win in Latvia since 2006. And in the premier class this is the first time since 2004 that a Honda rider was able to get three consecutive wins—twelve years ago, Mickael Pichon won in three successive races in the former MX1 category.
It's long been known that Gajser has his eyes set on America, and he mentioned it again this week in an interview with a Europe-based site. He also mentioned that he would like to do a round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross this summer if the timing works out. The GPs are off between June 25 and July 23, which would make it possible for Gajser to check out RedBud (July 2), Southwick (July 9), or Spring Creek (July 16). Hey, wonder what Jeffrey Herlings is doing on July 9….
Oakley Prizm (Kyle Scott)
On Tuesday, Oakley held a media ride day at Old Chaney Ranch in Warner Springs, California, to promote three new lenses they are coming out with called Prizm. Ryan Villopoto was in attendance to give a testimonial about his experience with the lenses so far, and he even spun a few laps with us. The three new colors are Black Iridium, Jade Iridium, and Bronze. The idea behind the Oakley Prizm lens technology is to help distinguish individual color wavelengths to optimize contrast.
When would this be useful? One instance is when going into a corner with shadows in a rut. The color of the dirt is the same inside and outside of the rut, but Prizm lenses are designed to help distinguish the edges of the rut and differentiate between the shadows and brighter areas by helping define the rut itself with the aided contrast. The Black Iridium works best in the bright sun but can still be used in some cloud cover. Jade Iridium works best in the middle range between the bright sun and overcast; Bronze works best in overcast and cloudy conditions but can still be used with lighter cloud coverage. Not only are the lens colors optimized for different lighting conditions, but also environments. Everyone’s eyes will react differently to them, so you’ll have to try them yourself to see what works best for you.
This project has been in development for about five years, and Oakley has created countless variations and iterations to get things just right. One thing I really love about all these different lens options is the fully integrated system Oakley has created with their Airbrake MX goggle. Their switch lock technology allows you to swap lenses quickly and effortlessly—they were really thinking A to Z on this one. I spoke with some of the engineers about what else is cooking in the labs at Oakley, and they said they are still testing more variations—we could see as many as three more colors per month for several months to come. One thing they did mention was not every color will be necessarily applicable to motocross—they could function more in tennis or water sports. It sounds like the Prizm concept will be making its way to other applications and into other Oakley products.
After we had the chance to test the lenses for ourselves, there was a two-lap race between the magazines with Villopoto on the start gate too. He gave everyone a nice head start, but of course that didn’t matter, and he spanked everyone in cruise control. How’d I do in the race? I didn’t line up. Someone has to take these pictures!
Hey, Watch It!
Valentino Rossi: The Doctor Series Episode 1/5
Racer X Films: Nico Izzi, Getting Sober
Headline of the Week
“My Life in Cars.... and Women: Ex-Journalist’s New Book Gives Car-by-Car Playbook of Orgies, Hot Rides & a Life that’s Truly Wild
PR regarding a new book, which includes this quote from the author, Brian Cowley: “To be totally blunt and honest, I consider my life to be quite the wild ride. And in all respects – spanning from my tumultuous and intense journalism career right down to my explosive experiences between the sheets. I’ve lived life to excess, and am now taking my story public.”
The end of the PR also mentions that Cowley is married. Good luck with that!
Steve Matthes did a podcast with longtime Honda mechanic Cliff White, which you can listen to right here. Matthes sent it to one of the champions White worked with, Jean-Michel Bayle, who wrote back: “I am in the airport going to MXGP of Germany. Listening to his voice sends me straight back to my best memory of racing. He is a great, great guy and the best mechanic I ever had… He is just magic.”
JT and Weege joined Matthes for some Vegas SX talk among other things on the Fly Racing Moto:60 Show.
David Vuillemin weighs in on the New Jersey SX.
Moser gets to the bottom of things with this Henry Miller kid.
And it looks like the world’s fastest realtor, Topher Ingalls, will not be prosecuted or ticketed for any of the things he did in his exceptional online video about his transition from racer to realtor.
Have you taken a digital trip to www.racerxbrand.com lately? Our Spring '16 line is available with a wide selection of our tried and true shield shirts, Ogio backpacks, hats, and more.
Did you catch the Instagram clip of our Excitebike-inspired 8-Bit youth shirt? There were quite a few requests for adult sizes, and one of the requests came from none other than The King, Jeremy McGrath. Can't ignore that, right? Those are now available in our store as well.
Heading to Las Vegas for the final 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!
Finally, congratulations to everyone at not only Feld Motor Sports but in the entire supercross industry for making it to the finish line. It was a fun and successful season, despite the fact that being on the road for nearly five straight months is not easy for anyone. Enjoy the weekend in Las Vegas!
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.