For the last four years, at the end of every year, we’d crunch the numbers at Racer X Online (actually, Google did, but you get the point) to see what the most read stories were on the site. This year, we decided to change it up a bit and list some of the great stories you may have missed this year.
The Racer X staff collected some of its favorite pieces from the year.
It’s a holiday week. You still have time to check these out!
Long Shot: The Oral History of TwoTwo Motorsports
If you are looking for a comprehensive, detailed look at how Chad Reed started his TwoTwo Motorsports team, this is it!
Steve Matthes spoke with the main principals and turned it into detailed look at the team. If you have time today, you should read it. Tonight is literally not about going to bed early.
Here are some quotes from the piece:
"I put my hand up and said, 'Hey, I don’t think this is a healthy relationship. Take my $2 million deal and keep it. I don’t need it.'”
"I literally created my own team because I wanted to wear Fox. It’s that dumb and stupid and simple."
"Chad walked in with me and Joel in the parking lot, and Joel kind of was looking at the ground because I think he knew what was coming. This was my first real run-in with the boss, so to speak."
Dave Osterman, Team Manager
"Somebody said, 'Hey, I’m going to do something,' and they actually went and did it. That’s the game right there."
"People thought I changed, and that’s probably one thing that I felt like drove me nuts. I personally didn’t go put an effort in to change. I just think that I got to be a person that I always wanted to be."
"To work himself back each time, it is hard. It’s hard to watch. But the minute he doesn’t get back up and want to come back out again, that’s when I’m more concerned."
"As a straight-up business decision, leaving Honda was the dumbest thing I ever did."
"I know they didn’t win a championship, but they were super successful. In my mind, they did it the right way. They looked great. They enjoyed it. They had fun doing it."
Chris Onstott, Fox Racing
Read the entire feature here.
Boy Wonder: The Eddie Hicks Story
The backstory to this story may be even more interesting than the actual story. A quick synopsis. Steve Matthes wrote a tremendous article on Eddie Hicks, known within some industry circles as the fastest minicycle racer ever. Matthes spent two months pouring his heart and soul into this project, and then asked us to run it as a regular feature on this website. Like Between the Motos or something.
But it was too good for that! Jason Weigandt and I decided it needed something more than just a regular feature. This needed to be a magazine feature in glossy print, or a longform feature. It needed to be something special. But Matthes did not want to wait! He wanted this story to run right there, right now. Of course we posted a funny text convo between Matthes, Weege, and myself about it all on Exhaust.
Anyway, back to the real story. It was an excellent look at what happened to the can’t-miss kid that missed. Here is an excerpt:
Eddie Hicks still follows pro racing. He’s an Eli Tomac fan and can’t quite bring himself to cheer for the Team Yamaha riders. (“I have mixed feelings about that,” he says.) He even got back on a bike a few years ago and raced the World Vets at Glen Helen, one of his old stomping grounds. But for now, he’s moved about as far away as he could from his old tracks in the high desert of California in order to get his life back on track.
“I’m trying to get back on my feet, because I had some troubles in Cali,” he says. “I’m not going to lie: I was getting in trouble and stuff, and that wasn’t working. The last five years.… I don’t want to be negative or anything, but it’s not been the greatest.”
Jeff Ward. Brian Myerscough. George Holland. Erik Kehoe. Eddie Hicks. Damon Bradshaw. Brian Swink. Robbie Reynard. Kevin Windham. Ricky Carmichael. James Stewart. Mike Alessi. That’s a chronological list of a dozen can’t-miss kids who dominated minicycle racing and were literally superstars before they were old enough to drive a car. Eleven of those names can be found in the record books as AMA Motocross or AMA Supercross winners, and some went on to rank among the greatest of all time.
The one who didn’t make it is Eddie Hicks.
Read the entire story here.
The Motocross of Nations returned to American soil in 2018 for the first time since Thunder Valley in 2010. But for many, the finest moment in the history of the event in the U.S. took place at Budds Creek, just outside the Nation’s Capital in 2007, when Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto, and Tim Ferry delivered a spectacular performance. The day wasn’t as easy as it looked, though, and longtime Racer X contributor Eric Johnson spoke with the key principals for an oral history of the race. Here’s a juicy quote from RC that lead the story off:
Not a lot of people know this, but my last race was actually going to be the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, which was going to be held shortly after the 2007 Motocross of Nations, but I was so sick with Epstein-Barr and couldn’t continue. In fact, I honestly don’t know how I even finished that MX of Nations. I was in really, really bad shape, and it was just something that I had to do—it was my duty. To race for the country on basically the biggest stage on earth for motocross—man, that was a tough one for me. It was bittersweet, too. I was bummed I was sick, and I was sad it was my last professional race and I couldn’t enjoy it like I wanted to just because I was just so beat and run down. It was just a ball of emotions for me from all different angles.
You can read the entire story here.
It’s hard to imagine doing a story on a bunch of privateers from a race that featured one of the most controversial moments in SX history—Marvin Musquin pulling over for teammate Ryan Dungey—but the qualifying races from the 2017 East Rutherford Supercross provided some of the wildest racing ever!
Aaron Hansel spoke to the key figures from that night—Deven Raper, Dakota Tedder, Tyler Enticknap, Alex Ray, AJ Catanzaro, and Ronnie Stewart—and turned in one of the funniest, most enjoyable stories you’ll read this year. Full credit to Steve Matthes for the idea.
Here are a few juicy quotes:
"There were so many sketchy moments throughout that whole day, you can’t pinpoint just one thing. It was sketchy all day. From the first practice on, it was chaos."
"We were coming down to like three laps to go, then Raper totally takes out Angelo Pellegrini before the finish. Just completely cleans him out. It was the gnarliest thing."
"He hit me so hard. I was already leaning to the right, and he just took the wheels out from underneath me and I fell into him."
"I’ve had a bike hang up on my bike, and it just feels like dead weight. That’s what it felt like, but turns out it was live weight and it was Deven Raper."
"I hit him so hard I knocked him way off the track. When I got off the track, I saw his parents and I was like, 'I’m so sorry!' If they were anyone else, I probably would have been in a fight that night."
"I’m not sure what happened, but somehow Dakota ended up railing A-Ray off the track. He completely punted him off the track. His bike was gone."
"It obviously sucks when someone punts you into the next lane, but if it’s for the last transfer spot, I get it. That’s the name of the game."
"I’d accidentally murdered Dakota in St. Louis."
How We Got Here: The Origins of Loretta Lynn’s MX
Racer X contributor Brett Smith of @wewentfast, took us on a documentary-style journey into the genesis of the Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s and what amateur racing life was like before 1982. Characters include Ron and Dick Lechien, Davey Coombs and Rita Coombs, Todd DeHoop, Tim Cotter, Rick “Super Hunky” Seiman, and more.
Exhaust: How Did We Get Here?
How did the FIM and AMA end up co-sanctioning the supercross championship? What moves led supercross to the AMA and FIM sanction that it still uses today? And what about drug testing in supercross and the USADA drug testing in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross? Jason Weigandt was joined on the Racer X Exhaust Podcast by Davey Coombs and Roy Janson for a history lesson.
At the time when this all happened, Janson was a vice-president at Clear Channel Entertainment, the supercross promoters at the time, and Coombs was an AMA board member as well as the pit reporter for the SX TV broadcasts (and of course the founder and editor-in-chief of Racer X Illustrated).
Exhaust: Growing and Giving Back to the Industry
In 2016, Jon-Erik Burleson, then head of KTM North America, announced he was stepping down. It shocked the industry, as the brand was in the midst of meteoric growth. Since then, JEB has “settled into philanthropic roles in the industry with organizations including the United States Motorcycle Coaching Association and the Kurt Caselli Foundation." Why does he identify better coaching as a way to grow this industry? Why did he leave KTM at the top? What other plans does he have for business? What were the challenges involved with running KTM’s North American business? Jason Weigandt found it all out in this episode of the Racer X Exhaust Podcast.
Wondering About Webb
Before his move to Red Bull KTM was officially announced, Steve Matthes wrote a great column on what went wrong at Yamaha, his future, and more. Here’s an excerpt:
A source close to the blue team had this take on Webb’s time with them: “I think it's been a variety of things... you can't point the finger at just one. Everyone points the finger at the bike because it's the easiest to blame. I think for one, underestimating the level of competition in the class was a huge mistake.
“Then there have been a lot of untimely injuries that were kept hidden and not many knew about. It's hard to build momentum when you're hurt. A lot of new purchases and adult decisions to make, that also weighs on you. Could the bike have been better? Yes, it can always be, but that's not the reason. Add that all up and that's what you get.”
Webb’s 250 career record and three championships put him in the company of riders like Ivan Tedesco, Ryan Dungey, and Christophe Pourcel and below all-time talents like Ryan Villopoto, Ricky Carmichael, and James Stewart. In Dungey’s case, he elevated his results in his rookie 450 campaign and captured two titles; in Pourcel’s case, he couldn’t find a factory 450 ride that was suitable for him, and in Tedesco’s case, he scored some podiums on factory Suzuki and also accrued some injuries in a career that was pretty successful. So far, Tedesco’s case most matches Webb’s, with two 250SX titles and one 250 Class title before being the most sought-after 250 rider by 450 factory teams. Webb does have Tedesco covered in career 250 wins 18-12, though.
Read the entire article.
The 2019 Monster Energy Racer X Supercross Preview Shows
For the sixth straight year we bring you our look at the Monster Energy Supercross season with the Monster Energy Racer X Supercross Preview Show.
Jason Weigandt, Steve Matthes, David Pingree, and Jason Thomas invaded the Pro Circuit race shop in Southern California to get you the latest gossip and insider info from the center of supercross.
Watch all five episodes below:
2019 Monster Energy Racer X Supercross Preview Show: Episode 1, The Favorites 2019 Monster Energy Racer X Supercross Preview Show: Episode 2, We Can Be Heroes 2019 Monster Energy Racer X Supercross Preview Show: Episode 3, The Rookies 2019 Monster Energy Racer X Supercross Preview Show: Episode 4, In the Mix 2019 Monster Energy Racer X Supercross Preview Show: Episode 5, The 250s
The Racer X Podcast
Steve Matthes has done an excellent job all year with his Racer X Podcast. Steve has been at this a long time and continues to improve each year. He actually put together his most downloaded list already, which you can read here, and no surprise, his podcast with Jeremy McGrath was #1.
Yep, the King of SX was the King of my podcasts in 2018. Jeremy took the time to tell us about racing Mammoth, the new 2019 Kawasaki KX450F and the new Maxxis tires that he had a lot to do with in this podcast. And of course, lots of bench racing with McGrath about a variety of topics where he wasn’t shy to tell us what he thinks.