It’s been three straight weeks of racing and quite different ones at that. It started with the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, proceeded to the Monster Energy Cup, and wrapped up with Red Bull Straight Rhythm this past weekend. Could it get any different for the sport than what we just went through? By the way, if the Pit Bike of Nations counts, then Ryan Villopoto, the guy that’s RETIRED, is the only racer in the world that did all three events.
The current iteration of the Red Bull Straight Rhythm was, like Viagra, discovered by accident. You see, scientists were originally trying to develop a new heart medication and although it didn’t work, trial patients told them about their newfound abilities to hold an erection. So while the heart medication failed, the world now has the ability to keep boners raging thanks to a little blue pill.
Straight Rhythm added a two-stroke class last year almost as a sideshow and realized that half the crowd left after watching the Ronnie Mac/Stank Dog final. It gave Jeremy Malott, the creator of the event, an “ah ha!” moment. No more four-strokes, no more hoping the rival energy drink companies sent their riders to this event. Nope, it would be ALL two-strokes, ALL the time. And it worked to perfection! Thank you to the characters of Ronnie Mac and Stank Dog, you are the real heroes. You saved Red Bull Straight Rhythm from certain death.
Something that Malott did this year was create a media race among the rival publications/websites. It was pretty cool and we at PulpMX decided to jump head first into this contest to try and get the glory (and cash). We recruited Alex Ray, got a Yamaha YZ250 from the Blu Cru guys, called the various guys we work with, and pieced together a program to RAM IT up everyone’s a**es who doubted us along the way.
Racer X got Josh Grant, DMXS called up Ryan Sipes, TransWorld tried to get Broc Tickle but settled on Cedric Soubeyras and Vital MX, well they just folded on the whole deal.
As any listener of the PulpMX Show knows, I’m the only one of the media companies that actually put out real money for this, got the sponsors on-board, hired a mechanic, and arranged everything. The other companies did, well, pretty much nothing. What they did was call a dude up and slap a sticker on a bike. Racer X may have called Husqvarna for a bike for Grant but as far as the effort, well that’s about all they did. We at Pulpmx.com grinded this thing out, built an effort to topple the mighty factory machines, and parsed over every little detail about the effort. Most of the other guys called their rider to see if they would show up… at least that’s how I picture it.
[Ed note: As usual, Steve is wrong. WE built a bike for Grant. When he needed to change suspension, we got him new suspension and even went testing with him. Steve is very bitter he lost.]
I’m not bitter at all. [Ed note: He is.]
Actually I am. [Ed note: At least he admitted it.]
Anyway, let me take you guys through the ups and downs of the day at Straight Rhythm for Team PulpMX.
It all started to go south at the Monster Energy Cup when our rider, Alex Ray, got hurt late in the third main and couldn’t race for us at Straight Rhythm. I was gonna throw the towel in on the whole deal until I remembered that my buddy Phil Nicoletti had signed a deal with a Yamaha team up in Canada and he was a natural fill-in for us. He fit the PulpMX style we were looking for.
But that didn’t go so well as Weege can attest to.
So Phil was out, but he did recommend Cameron McAdoo who rode for GEICO Honda the last couple of years before being let go. McAdoo came highly recommended from Phil, and Justin Brayton shot me a text also, so I decided to use some air miles and get Cam from Charlotte out to Southern California. I mean, he hadn’t ridden a two-stroke since his Loretta’s days. And he’d never ridden a Yamaha before. Or a 250cc two-stroke either. Besides that, what could go wrong?
We got to practice Thursday and Friday. The riders were only given one day to practice but I pleaded with the organizers to let McAdoo go both days due to the late notice and for all the factors listed above. And that was a good thing, as Thursday started off rough. Again, for all the reasons above and the fact the bike had stuff set up for a heavier A-Ray and we forgot to check sag. My ace wrench this weekend was Benny Bloss’s guy Derek Rankin aka Jericho. This man is a huge wrestling fan, like seriously… bigger than Weege. Like, if he had seen that there was a wrestling convention anywhere near our location, we’d be out a mechanic. He’s such a big wrestling fan he brought some WWE cards and a program to the race to show Weege. He’s going on a cruise next week with a bunch of old wrestlers (including his hero Jericho) BY HIMSELF. He’s got a tattoo of Jericho on his arm. I’m serious.
(And thanks to Benny Bloss for letting us pit out of his van at the race. By the way, it used to be Adam Cianciarulo’s van.)
So McAdoo got better on Thursday, the bike ran tip-top with some VP race fuel mixed with some Maxima Super-M. Pro Circuit did the cylinder and head, FMF provided the exhaust and silencer (MX unity, bro!). McAdoo was a bit concerned with the bar bend though, they weren’t his bend and because Alex Ray rode the bike a few times, they were also bent. None of this was brought to my attention so I wasn’t able to get bars in time. So Kris Keefer let us borrow some other brand that we slapped the bar pad on. Keefer was freaking out though because these were some super lightweight bars made for Stew back in the day and he wanted them back. Calm down, bro.
(Keefer rode on Thursday also and the plan was to put a GoPro on him and give PulpMX listeners an idea of what it was like to do a few runs on the course. Keefer’s a great rider but he hadn’t ridden supercross in a long time, wasn’t feeling comfortable, and we decided to pull the pin on the whole deal.)
We adjusted sag and on Friday, he was feeling much better. At least this what I heard because I didn’t go to Friday practice. Like a true manager, I delegated the responsibility to Derek. I had stuff to do on Friday like go mountain biking and then run some errands with Keefer. [Ed note: We guess “parsing over every little detail” only applies to Thursday and Saturday? Sad!]
Race day and the cool thing about the Straight Rhythm began to emerge and that’s just everyone hanging out in lawn chairs talking to fans. No semi trucks allowed at this race, it was old-school here! Guys like Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey were just chilling there waiting for practice and discussing the track/their runs. Cool vibe but I’m sure McAdoo was wondering what was going on with all these fans yelling at him to “RAM IT” over and over. Long story, Cam, I’ll tell you another time.
Lots of wins and titles at the race with the Ryans, Shane McElrath, Jordon Smith, Christophe Pourcel, and Josh Grant. My guy McAdoo would be in tough for sure. Especially without a ton of time on the bike. “We” qualified seventh out of 16 so that part was cool. The KTM’s of Smith, McElrath, Dungey, and Morais were actually 300’s. It was obvious they had a bit of an advantage.
For the race itself, we drew Austin Politelli for the first round and although Austin’s fast, McAdoo beat him 2-0 and it was onto the second round against Jordon Smith. At this point I probably shouldn’t have gone over to Smith and said that if he had dinner plans, he may as well go ahead and keep them because he was going home early. I mean, I got caught up in the moment, what can I say?
Check out my Vlog from the race, it’s pretty much the best Vlog ever.
So, yeah, Smith smoked us 2-0 and our night was done. Dammit. Shouldn’t have went over to Jordon all cocky but man did McAdoo look good! Seriously though, Smith’s a better rider than McAdoo, for proof just look at the 2018 SX/MX season.
NOW, having said this, the KTM guys all had 300cc machines. Go back and watch the race: the orange bikes pretty much yarded everyone off the grate. They weren’t cheating, there were no cc rules for this event, so that’s not what I’m getting at. It’s just the KTM guys had an advantage over everyone else out of the gate and so guys like Villopoto, Grant, and McAdoo pretty much needed a mistake to make it happen. Or in the case of Villopoto, rode his balls off to beat Smith. And Tyler Bowers was going to race his 500cc Kawasaki bike with modern suspension on it before he got hurt which, as I stated to Malott more than a few times, would’ve been ridiculous—old school chassis or not.
The Red Bull Straight Rhythm has gotten pretty serious folks and I suppose the next step is everyone slapping on big bore motors to their 250cc two-strokes if they want to be on the same level as the factory KTM guys.
[Ed note: Very convenient that Steve left this part out. Racer X rider Josh Grant WON THE MEDIA CHALLENGE!]
A few other news and notes:
- Best race of the night was two bikes that had equal displacements (just saying) between Villopoto and Grant. That was some amazing riding by both guys and RV got him by a whisper. JG’s scrub over the last tabletop wall jump was INSANE. It was cool to see all three runs and the how much the guys wanted it.
- Christophe Pourcel was there. And him showing up was about the highlight of the night for him. It didn’t go well.
- Carson Brown won the 150cc race against AJ Catanzaro. The Cat looked cool in his James Stewart homage gear and bike, but the real winner was Luke Renzland in the PEAK/Pro Circuit replica gear and bike. That was amazing. The fact that Skip Norfolk had an actual Camel Supercross hat on was doubly amazing. Brown was doing this triple in the first half of the track and it was over for everyone else.
- Ryan Morais was overshadowed a bit by the Ryans coming out of retirement to race (although Villopoto has raced three weeks in a row, something no other pro can say) but Mo was pretty good all day long. He still does R&D work for KTM so it’s not like he doesn’t ride at all, but the third Ryan was impressive.
- Darryn Durham was there on an Alta and this seems like the type of event, with that type of bike, where he could do well on but nope, it wasn’t happening. The Alta guys like to say their bike is equal to a 250cc four-stroke so the 250cc two-stroke is going to be faster in this thing. And then he was up against a 300 so….
- What the hell happened to Stank Dog? The defending champion wasn’t fast in qualifying and went out 0-2 in the first round. Stank was SO good here last year, hard to believe he went out so meekly this year. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him but Stank wasn’t Stank, that’s for sure. Maybe him and the injured Ronnie Mac feed off each other like ET and that little kid?
Alight, that’s all I got from the RBSR. Good times down at the speedway, some kind of Elvis thing. Email me at email@example.com if you want to chat about this race or anything else.