Welcome to Racerhead, a pre-holiday, pre-Christmas, post-deadline version where everyone finished the latest issue of the magazine and then scrambled to get some shopping or traveling done. Which makes this one tough because it seems like a bunch of stuff just happened, and there’s really, really big stuff ahead—not just Christmas and New Year’s but Anaheim! So here’s a pre-Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all, and now let’s get right into it.
Back in August, I was among the skeptics and doubters of the idea of Team Puerto Rico entering the FIM Motocross of Nations and raising money for our neighbors to the south who were besieged in damage and loss from Hurricane Maria last September. My problem wasn’t with Travis Pastrana and his racing in the event; it was with Ronnie Mac entering as his teammate. The AMA had a problem with it, too, among others. To his credit, Pastrana stayed with the project, made the difficult sacrifice of telling the Ronnie Mac character he was being replaced by a real (though retired) racer in Kevin Windham, and then Pastrana and Windham and the all-around cool and fast Ryan Sipes went out and actually qualified for the event. Ronnie Mac stuck with the project from afar and they raised a lot of money for the island territory, and then last week they went down to actually help build houses, deliver supplies, renovate some MX tracks, and put on some riding shows for the kids. It was an impressive follow-through from everyone, and the people in Puerto Rico must have been thrilled to see it all really happen the way Pastrana and friends promised.
Today, Travis Pastrana was named the AMA’s 2018 Motorcyclist of the Year. Yes, the same AMA that was angry (and with good reason) for the whole Team Puerto Rico announcement at Unadilla that went a bit off the rails. I am wildly impressed by what Travis and friends accomplished—and not just in qualifying for the MXoN main event, but for the whole trip to Puerto Rico too. I’m also impressed that the AMA would see past the initial actions and honor Pastrana for the work he did and the attention he brought to the ongoing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. I know Travis also did a bunch of cool jumps out in Las Vegas on some Roland Sands-customized Indian Motorcycles that set History Channel viewing records, and that was just huge for motorcycling in general, but for me it’s what he and his teammates and friends and sponsors did for Puerto Rico that really sealed the 2018 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year honor. And I know it’s a cliché, but it truly could not happen to a nicer guy.
And then of course, because no good deed goes unpunished, the shipping container that held the Nitro Circus bikes as they were coming back from a tour of Europe was broken into and all the bikes were stolen! Pastrana posted on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
The shipping container coming back from Europe was broken into and all the bikes were stolen. The shipping port said some thieves got ‘lucky’ and broke into one of the 10 or so nitro containers which just so happened to have the motorcycles in it and took off with the lot.... @bilkofmx @jarrydmcneil @adamjones760 @beaubam612 @stevemini83 @harrybink @motoduff @sheenyfmx Almost a garuntee we will never see most of them again but I had the only prototype @kevlarbrand super light weight bike ever built.. so if you see an old RM 250 2Stroke that’s lighter then any bike out there and has #Kevlar instead of plastic. Please let me know! Really feel for @jarrydmcneil too. He has won multiple @xgames gold medals on that bike and planned to keep it for life. @nitrocircus
We also got the news that Chad Reed had joined the JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki team, which really wasn’t a huge surprise, but then he and his wife, Ellie, also moved their whole family (three kids) from their longtime home in Florida to North Carolina, where the team is based, so he could fully focus on doing the best he can for the 2019 season. I spoke to Chad about it a little earlier in the week, and how a move like this seems like it’s what happens when a basketball or baseball player gets traded, but not a supercross racer.
“Yeah, a lot of stick and ball sports don’t have guaranteed contracts, so basically at any point they can trade you literally from L.A. to New York or something like that, and when you have a family, things can change really quickly,” Reed said. “So we’re lucky that for us we have that a five- or six-month guarantee that we’re going to be here January through May at least. So we’ll see how it goes. I think we’re just embracing it. Ready to enjoy it and have fun and learn a new state, learn new things. That’s what’s important. I’ve been traveling the world since I was 11 years old, so I’m all about learning new places and new people.”
I asked Chad if there had been any talk of outdoors next summer, since it still sounds Weston Peick could be out all season after that ugly Paris SX crash. Reed, the 2009 AMA 450 Pro Motocross Champion, said he and the team would make that decision later, but he would have an open mind about it if he stays healthy, is having fun, and the team wants him to continue. Either way, he’s glad to have the ankle injury that slowed him last year behind him, glad to be on a solid team, and glad to be working with Suzuki again for the first time since ’09.
Reed will also be working with a new mechanic in the highly respect Ben Schiermeyer, rather than his longtime mechanic Mike “Goose” Gosselaar. “In one aspect, there’s a lot of change,” Reed said. “I’ve had Goose in my life and around me for the past ten years, basically. So this is the first year kind of going racing without Goose around, but with that said, Goose is a huge part of my life and somebody I speak to weekly, or biweekly at the very least. He’s there and always been a good guy. But I’m just excited for that change as well. I think Ben’s motivated. He’s been around guys like [Justin] Barcia for a while. I’ve done four races with him now, four races already under our belt, so we’re already rolling down the road with our relationship. I feel like we have a really good understanding. It’s working out well.”
Finally this week, there was the introduction of a new podcast, the Whiskey Throttle Show, hosted by our own David Pingree and Grant Langston. The first guest was none other than Roger DeCoster, and they covered a lot of ground with The Man when he came into the Troy Lee Designs Saloon in Laguna Beach. It’s a great listen you can find right here.
Pingree will have more about the Whiskey Throttle Show down below.
Okay, let’s get into the rest of the week:
Supercross Preview Show on NBC (Chase Stallo)
To kick off their recently announced multi-year media partnership, NBC Sports Group and Feld Motor Sports will air a 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Preview Show this Saturday, December 22, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on NBC.
An encore presentation will air Saturday, December 29, on NBCSN at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
The show will follow a similar format as the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Preview Show, which aired on FS1.
The entire 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Championship will air across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports Digital’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product. Read more here.
ANAHEIM '86: WINNER TAKES ALL (DC)
On Tuesday, we ran an advertisement for the upcoming Anaheim '86 race that ran On This Day in Moto on December 18, 1985. We thought it was cool because it showed the track diagram for the race that became known as the most exciting supercross main event ever. But our longtime reader and Michigan Mafia friend Mike Kolar took a closer look at the advertisement and found something we overlooked when we posted the ad:
Wonder how many of your readers saw the 1986 Anaheim ad and noticed the following: The shooting of major motocross movie “Holeshot” was actually “Winners Take All,” which was quite a silly movie that only fans from that era may remember--it was never at the theaters, went straight to VHS! And no, George Kennedy (sidekick in those Naked Gun movies) was NOT in this film, not even a cameo. And James Young of STYX shooting a music video?? Seriously, can anybody even name a James Young song?
Wow, the promotors would throw anything that would stick in this ad. Truth is, they didn’t need any of this. The race alone was EPIC.
Your loyal subscriber
And here's a trailer from that motocross/camp classic:
I also love the tagline: "Fireworks -- Pageantry! Smoke, Music and Dirt!"
Balancing Act (Chase Stallo)
For the past few years, privateer Josh Cartwright has had a tough balancing act: on top of racing Monster Energy Supercross, he was attending Florida State University full-time.
During his amateur career, which included a 2013 College B/C (16-24) Class title at Loretta Lynn’s, Cartwright attended private school in Tennessee, but he told us in 2016 that his parents made school a priority. “Once I won Loretta’s, my parents allowed me to come down to Tallahassee to pursue my dream of being a professional motocross racer,” he said, “but they said I had to stay in school.”
So Cartwright moved to Tallahassee without his parents, completed his senior year of high school, then enrolled at FSU. “I’ve always been about education,” he said. “I know in this sport not many riders make enough money to live off the rest of their life. They don’t even have an education to fall back on, and that’s what I want to have.”
Earlier this week, Cartwright, who made his pro debut in 2015, posted on Instagram that he’s graduated from FSU with a bachelor’s degree in information technology, with honors in his major. Congrats, Josh!
View this post on Instagram
I am now officially a COLLEGE GRADUATE from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in IT, Information Technology, with Honors in my major! This journey has been such a learning experience and I can’t thank my family enough for everything they have done for me! This has been my dream school for my entire life and I am going to miss it dearly. I am thinking about going back to pursue my master’s degree, but first it is time to accomplish my next goal in racing Supercross/Motocross full time! Thank you again to my family, friends, and everyone who has supported me through this journey! And thank you to @ebr_performance and @altusmotorsports for the graduation present @floridastateuniversity • • #FloridaStateUniversity #FSU #College #Graduate #InformationTechnology #IT #Major
Here's what Josh's dad (JAC) posted on Vital MX:
Josh graduated from Florida State University this past weekend with a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology. We met several of his professors and the dean of the IT department at an honors program presented by the IT department before graduation. Surprisingly, his professors were extremely supportive of Josh's racing and strongly encouraged him to chase his dreams as long as he can.
It was graduation weekend at FSU so there were graduates everywhere taking pictures. We couldn't resist getting a few pics of him and his bike on campus.
2019 MXGP CHANGES (DC)
The 2019 Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship underwent a few tweaks that were announced yesterday. According to the release: "Firstly, the MXGP of Switzerland anticipated for August has been cancelled and is instead working to return to the calendar in the 2020 season. Following the removal of Switzerland, the MXGP of Italy in Imola will now be held on the 17th and 18th of August instead of the 21st and 22nd of September. Meanwhile the MXGP of Hong Kong will move from the 20th and 21st of April to the now available 21st and 22nd of September as per the local organization request."
This could actually help Team USA's chances at the '19 Motocross of Nations, as now the MXGP team will be traveling halfway around the world on the Monday before the MXoN on September 28-29. It's a 12-hour direct flight Hong Kong to Amsterdam, which is near the Assen TT circuit where the MXoN will be held. That means a pretty heavy time change too—certainly much more difficult than the short travel time from Switzerland to the Netherlands. It's not going to change the fact that Assen will be a sand track unlike anything we've had in America since Diamondback at Cocoa Beach, but it evens out the time changes and jet lag a little. Will any Team USA guys go to Hong Kong? I doubt it. However. . . .
RUPERT X. PELLETT'S DREAM TEAM USA (DC)
Our longtime friend and motocross man Rupert X. Pellett put together a manifesto of sorts on what he thinks might get Team USA back on top of the Motocross of Nations. He posted the following on the Vital MX Forum, and while we don't agree with all of it, and it's got some impractical and expensive concepts, it's very interesting and has some good ideas mixed in too. Here it is:
MXDN Red Bud 2018 – The Massacre
We, (the American Team) finished in sixth (6th) place and, the reason we finished in sixth place, was because- we weren’t properly PREPARED. We picked the right riders, they performed to the best of their abilities, yet, we failed to even make it onto the podium. The Motocross Des Nations has been held three (3) other times on American soil and the Americans have won on each of those occasions, in 1987, 2007 and 2010, respectively. It took forty (40) years to have our first American Des Nations event, now we have had three in the past eleven years and, it appears we are likely to be a more regular, less sporadic home, to this most prestigious event, accordingly, we need to be better prepared for the upcoming September event in Assen, The Netherlands, and, for any future Motocross Des Nations events. The last time the Americans won, was in 2011 and, we have had a total of 22 MXDN victories, though, of late, our performances have been less-than-satisfactory. While we had a string of podium finishes from 2012-2016, 2017 saw the Americans finish in a very disappointing ninth (9th) in England and, the most recent, unacceptable sixth (6th) place overall at RED BUD, Michigan, which is why we MUST pledge to not only reinvent the TEAM that we send to the Motocross Des Nations, we must change the culture, the process and the planning involved, keeping paramount the fact that the MXDN is, by far, the most important race date on everyone’s calendar. Every year.
Currently, the AMA is in charge of this program and, the “TEAM” is in desperate need of an overhaul, after all, somehow we’ve let the folks who took away our WORKS BIKES, removed the best-smelling race-fuels, put 450’s in the stadiums and, STILL won’t allow 250 Two-strokes to compete in the 250cc class, to run America’s Motocross Team ? It is not only preposterous, it’s unacceptable and un-American, and we can no longer permit things to operate in this incompetent manner.
TEAM AMERICA 2019.
- New name, TEAM AMERICA. New Coaches, new staff, sweeping changes in the way the team is selected, trained and, the manner in which we execute on RACE DAY.
- Getting the fans involved. We shall let the U.S Motocross fans, by poll, choose the initial six finalists, and eventually the final four honorees that have the distinct privilege of representing their country. ( 3 plus an additional rider ‘alternate”)
- Do away with the Team Manager, replace with General Manager, Head Coach and Assistant Coaches. For 2019, assemble a mostly retired-military and former military, coaching staff, as well as various ex-Team USA riders as consultants and coaches.
- Prepare the Team as if it was a military exercise, with precision, promptness, sense of urgency and, attention to detail. Yes, a military style operation.
- The TEAM will practice and train together after completion of the U.S. Nationals series, promoting brotherhood, camaraderie, esprit de corps and, a common desire to succeed. For one’s country.
- MXDN Training Camp starts immediately after the last AMA National.
- Four finalists will compete in last two MXGP races in Turkey and Italy, being stationed and practicing in Lommel, Belgium- between these Grand Prix events.
- TEAM AMERICA jackets to be awarded on the podium. Only on the podium.
- TEAM AMERICA pits at Assen to be operated like a war-room. No guests.
- If a selected rider declines an invitation to the TEAM, he will be disqualified from the first round of the following years’ series, both SX and MX.
- As an incentive to participate (beyond the honor of serving one’s country), several potential provisions shall be explored and considered; including giving theses honorees first gate picks at first round of Nationals, possibly additional points awarded at beginning of season, perhaps special number-plate recognition.
JUNE 22 – WW MX Park, Florida ( 5 races completed), Six (6) Rider Candidates to the MXDN TEAM AMERICA *WATCH LIST* selected and announced. BY FAN VOTE.
AUGUST 17-BUDDS CREEK, Maryland – Four (4) Rider Finalists for the MXDN TEAM AMERICA selected and announced, (including an alternate). BY FAN VOTE.
August 25 thru 5 September – MXDN Training Camp, likely at BAJA ACRES, Michigan, USA
September 8- MXGP Turkey
September 22- MXGP Italy (now Hong Kong)
September 29-ASSEN, Netherlands. RACE DAY.
Thoughts? Comments? Applause? Down below in the comments.
The Whiskey Throttle Show (David Pingree)
Podcasts seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and as of today, there is a new one available. Grant Langston and I are hosting the Whiskey Throttle Show in a studio behind Troy Lee Designs dubbed the Saloon. Our first guest is motocross legend Roger DeCoster, and we sat down with The Man himself to discuss, well, everything. Our show focuses on one guest each week, which gives us ample time to get to know them and bring listeners along for the ride. It’s available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and our website, www.thewhiskeythrottleshow.com, so get to one of those sites and subscribe! Or you can find the link right here at www.racerxonline.com.
We will also be hosting live shows monthly, and our first live show is Friday night, January 4, before Anaheim 1. Ricky Johnson will be our guest, and tickets are available at www.road2recovery.com for a $20 donation. All of the proceeds go to help injured riders, and that makes it tax deductible as well. Your entry gets you into the TLD Saloon where you can hang out at The HandleBAR and drink cold 805 beer free of charge! There will be ping pong tables, cornhole courts, and displays from all the show sponsors. Ricky Johnson, Troy Lee, and other industry legends will be hanging out and having a good time as we celebrate the start of the season and the life and career of the Bad Boy himself. Only 80 tickets are being sold, so don’t wait! Have a question for Rick Johnson you want answered? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming guests include Ryan Dungey, Jim “Bones” Bacon, Ben Townley, and factory Honda’s Cole Seely. Stay connected with us on our social media channels for show dates and information. Brought to you by: PowerDot, Method Race Wheels, DeCal Works, Troy Lee Designs, 4WheelParts, Dunlop, Racer X, Paleo Ranch Foods, and Langston Motorsports.
PULPMX FANTASY (Matthes)
Want to have more fun this upcoming 2019 SX/MX season? Head on over to Pulpmxfantasy.com to sign up and play fantasy SX/MX this year! It's a handicap league so that's a lot more fun than some of the simpler leagues out there and ends up with you cheering or jeering some of the riders further back in the field. Trust me, playing this will cause you much more excitement each week.
You can play for free or pay to play weekly and year end prizes. The winner of the SX and MX leagues both win 2019 Kawasaki KX250F's! That's pretty cool right? We're also randomly giving away a 2020 KX450F for anyone who signs up for the whole SX/MX year so you don't have to be a pro to win a free bike! We've gone deeper with prizes this year also so more chances to win, thanks to all the partners we have with this game. Good times indeed.
We've added the national numbers to the top 100 finishers last year as well so you know who to gun for and for a small fee you can see our panel of experts picks to help you out. You can create your own leagues to play against your buddies also or join the championship leagues to play against everyone.
Pupmxfantasy.com to sign up!
Head-Scratching Headlines of the Week
The Smoking Gun. The Mom was a 23-year-old from Iowa, the kids 5,3 and 1.
Lincoln Continental brings back 'suicide doors' - CNN.com
Witches fuming over Trump's use of 'witch hunt' - CNN.com
Hey, Watch It!
Boyko Racing did a bike buildout for the desert-riding, ocean-surfing free spirit Forrest Minchinton for Racer X recently, and videographer Kyle Scott (@sanoshots) put this video of the project together for Racer X Films:
And for more on Minchinton, @sanoshots suggests watching Deus Ex Machina’s video profile Painted in Dust:
Here's a pre-Christmas treat from Ken Block's Hoonigan Racing crew—GYMKHANA TEN: The Ultimate Tite-Slaying tour, featuring his amazing garage of vehicles to go burn some rubber with:
2019 Racer X Supercross Preview Show: Episode 1, The Favorites
2019 Racer X Supercross Preview Show: Episode 2, We Can Be Heroes
Looking for the perfect gift for your moto-loving family members? Earlier this week, tickets for the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship went on sale. Event better: for a limited time only, special holiday pricing is available on early purchases to attend select rounds of the world's most prestigious off-road motorcycle racing series.
Tickets to all 12 nationals can be purchased online by visiting ProMotocross.com, the official website of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Special pricing will be available until December 31.
Here’s a story that our good friend Pat Schutte spotted about a University of Michigan football recruit who grew up racing dirt bikes.
Looking for some updates from North of the Border? The Direct Motocross Frid’Eh Update has you covered.
Subscribe or Renew Now and Get a FREE 2019 Racer X Calendar
Subscribe now for as low as $9.98 and receive a FREE 2019 13 Greatest AMA Motocrossers of All Time Racer X Calendar. Do it! We work hard on the magazine, and we think you’ll love it.
That’s all for this week. Have a fun, safe Christmas. Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.