Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the Diamond Club and the season-opening press conference for the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. Here’s hoping everyone had a great, safe, and Happy New Year. It’s time to end the off-season and get some real racing going again!
Outside the big glass windows is the track that will greet the riders on the first night of the season, and it looks like it will be fun and competitive—so long as it doesn’t rain. Right now it’s beautiful and everyone is smiling—probably because technically everyone is in the points lead for one more day! And lots of past legends and heroes are here: Ricky Carmichael, who is the new TV host for NBC Sports; Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey were out in the parking lot talking about parenthood (congrats again to the Dungeys); and so far I’ve spotted Donnie Hansen, David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Jeff Ward, Rick Johnson, Damon Bradshaw, David Vuillemin, Josh Grant, Ryan Villopoto, Jeremy McGrath, Ivan Tedesco, David Vuillemin, Robbie Reynard…. It’s like the first day of school!
Of course, all of the top title contenders are, too, with the obvious exception of Zach Osborne, who was injured last week, Benny Bloss (last month), Weston Peick (last year), and Broc Tickle (more on that later). They have a bunch of motorcycles here to decorate the presser, and all the riders have their team hats and shirts on and seem collectively anxious to get out there.
Feld Motor Sports’ Dave Prater just opened the press conference and explained that there have been 72 AMA Supercross races held here, which means that while it’s not the oldest venue on the circuit (Daytona is), Angel Stadium has hosted more SX races than any stadium in the country. This place has seen it all: two-strokes, four-strokes, 125s, mud, rain, blue groove, over-under bridges, even the old King Kong jump from 1976 that was made out of dirt and plywood piled up on scaffolding.
But for the first time in the history of this series, which goes back to 1974, the #1 bike in the premier class is a Husqvarna. Jason Anderson begins his title defense for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, and since he had the summer off, I imagine he’s fresh and ready. But there are a bunch of guys who have their eyes on getting that #1 plate off his bike: Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin, Justin Barcia, Blake Baggett, Marvin Musquin, Justin Brayton, all of the rookies moving up, and the only other guy competing in the series who’s won this championship himself: Chad Reed.
There’s a lot going on out here, so I hate to cut this short, but it’s time to get 2019 started!
TWO FITTYS (Steve Matthes)
Although DC and I will always disagree about the premise of the 250SX class, it is interesting to watch every weekend. For the first time in a few years, to me anyways, the coasts are pretty equal. And something we figured out in our 250SX West Preview Podcast was that there is no past champion lining up in either coast all year long. Kind of weird, right? I feel like this is kind of a rarity, yeah? In fact, I believe there are only seven past winners (Davalos, AC, Forkner, Craig, Nelson, McElrath, Wharton) in the entire class right now.
So we'll get a first-time title winner on both coasts in 2019, and as far as the West, well, we finally mostly know who's going to line up for each team. It took until the day before the race to confirm, but whew, thank God it's here.
Adam Cianciarulo, Shane McElrath, and Dylan Ferrandis are all probably seeded about equal right now if we were in Vegas (actually, I am) and laying odds right now. Then it's RJ Hampshire and Colt Nichols after that. Then Cameron "Ram it" McAdoo, Jimmy Decotis, and Garrett Marchbanks in the next group of guys. It's a solid class, like the East, and should see some great racing.
McElrath is the good starter, consistent, and a past race winner. Cianciarulo is the speed demon in qualifying but makes some mistakes in the race. Ferrandis is the guy who can't stay healthy but has great speed and should be even better this year. Who do you like? Probably comes down to what style of rider you think can win a shorter series. They all have solid cases to do so.
Looking for a deep sleeper? Chad Reed was on the PulpMX Show this past Tuesday and said that Enzo Lopes, the Brazilian rookie for JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki, reminded him of Ryan Dungey a bit on the bike. Reedy's not claiming Lopes is going to win like Dungey as a rookie, just that he's got potential. Lopes has never raced SX before, so there is that small obstacle to overcome.
LIVE POD TONIGHT (Matthes)
I don't know when this is coming out, but if you're in SoCal and by Anaheim or in the OC, come on down to the live Podcast show Racer X and PulpMX are having in Costa Mesa at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It's a classy place by the looks of it, and we're going to bring that down a bit. Tickets start at $25 and it's me, Weege, JT, and Keefer up there on stage, with DC (!!!) and some guy named Ryan Villopoto coming up as guests. Hope to see you there. You can purchase tickets online or at the door.
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
It's time for Anaheim! For riders, this race is the most anticipated, pressure-filled, and nerve-wracking race of the year. Even though it weighs just as heavily on the points chase as every other round, your team and sponsors are all anxiously awaiting a good result. The entire sport has been waiting for months, reading the tea leaves and making wild guesses as to who will come out swinging tomorrow night.
As a rider, all you can do is stay calm and hope your hard work shows up. I can remember sitting on the starting line year after year, so nervous I could barely speak. The only solace I found was in knowing that I had done everything I could to prepare and that the results would happen naturally.
I've often heard coaches and legends of other sports say that games are won during the preparation and that the result has long since been determined even before the game is played. I believe this to be true for Anaheim 1 as well. Riders’ results tomorrow night were determined in the long days of October, November, and December. The payoff is tomorrow, and we all get to witness it, but the work was either done or not done long ago. There's no changing it now.
Where's Broc Tickle? (DC)
On New Year's Day, Broc Tickle opened his 2019 season with the only real voice he has right now: his own on Instagram.
Happy New Year everyone! 2018 was a tough year to say the least, and I’m really looking forward to 2019!???? It’s hard to believe it’s been almost nine months since I was issued my provisional suspension. I’m beyond dissatisfied that @fimlive @supercrosslive has yet to issue me a hearing date, and has not handled things in the right manner. I have suffered enough wondering what’s next and this has taking a toll on myself, family and friends. It is now clear that the FIM and @supercrosslive are conspiring to intentionally and unlawfully interfere with my fundamental rights and ability to make a living. I’m thankful for all the people who have been behind me and supported me through this. This will be the first year since 2010 that I will not be lining up at A1. I’m still hungry to get back and the desire to race is still inside me. Here’s some photos from 2010-2018 A1
I would call him the "suspended KTM factory rider" but he's not a factory rider anymore, nor is he really suspended. It's more like he's in utter limbo ever since the FIM told him he had tested positive for a banned substance last spring. Tickle's absence last summer made sense—he failed a test—but now a new season is starting, and he has yet to be given his due process by the FIM. We know that Dr. MacManus was at Angel Stadium last month for a sit-down with the riders and teams to take questions and discuss how it all works with the anti-doping code and WADA. But why didn't they invite Tickle to come in and discuss his case? Why has it been nine months of pretty much silence from the FIM as they process this one case? It's time to start asking questions; this athlete's career is in the balance and he at least deserves his day in court. If they suspend him for a year, or even 16 months like they finally suspended James Stewart, at least he will have some answers and maybe an option in finding a ride for the summer. But this is becoming a huge embarrassment for the FIM and the series itself. The longer it goes on, the more it seems like he's not being given a fair shake.
Cheers to The Kid (DC)
We wrote about the passing of Eric Geboers in our annual New Year's Eve requiem, The Lives They Lived. The five-time FIM Motocross World Champion passed away in May after jumping into a cold lake in Belgium to save his dog back. Geboers' longtime friend and team sponsor Mike Kelso of Rockstar Energy spotted the piece and sent it to the Geboers family. He also offered a New Year's toast of some Jupiler Beer to The Kid.
Kelso ended up starting a global beer-chugging celebration, as the family responded in kind. A half-dozen years ago, Kelso and I were up in the grandstands sitting with Eric and his brother Sylvain, along with the Oxley brothers of Costa Mesa Speedway, as Rockstar Energy Suzuki rider Davi Millsaps pulled off something an upset win. Needless to say, there was a lot of screaming and yelling and also some beer (though not from Belgium). I have to say it was one of the most memorable Anaheims ever, and Kelso and I are planning another toast to The Kid tomorrow night.
A Bid Farewell (Jason “Wheels” Todd)
Our friend and longtime hype man for Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lurch made the announcement via Instagram that he is retiring from his duties as floor announcer on Saturday evenings to spend time with his daughter. You may remember Lurch as the guy who pumped up the crowd and interacted with fans, and surely you know his screams and yells before the main-event gate drops.
Congratulations on a successful career, Lurch. You’re a friend to us all here at Racer X and to many people in the industry.
(PS: Keep those Instagram cooking tutorials coming!)
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What do you get a 12 year old amazing young lady that is your world ??? Your time!!! I had 1000 opportunities to travel, entertain, make friends, have laughs, watch the best athletes in the world perform to a level most hope to obtain, but I only have one chance to be the best dad I can be. I hope you felt my excitement and my passion for a sport I will love to the end of my days. Who would have ever guessed a plumber from the Midwest would make it to the premier sport in the world not only as a fan but as one of the announcers. I have worked with some of the best in business. First and foremost the crew that always had my back @theashleyphillips @danhubbardmc @julianadaniell @mercedesterrell @diannadahlgren and Erv Braun. No matter how crazy it got they would never stop being there. @nofdbkmax you were the compass you always told all of us the direction we needed to go to make it home!! @daveprater @tphend @mikemuye @toddjendro anything built is only as strong as it’s foundation and you have made a solid base of which I was proud to play a small part in, and thank you for taking a chance on me. I was able to not only interview but become friends with hero’s of mine in the racing world @damonbradshaw45 @jeremymcgrath @briandeegan38 @doug19henry @btnfly @jeffward3x @6time @oshow1 @mxgoldenboy @travispastrana @mickydymond @airtime_cooper @davidbaileymx @dbo360 @budmanantunez @kevin_windham @ryandungey @ryanvillopoto. I was able to go about anywhere I wanted and one place that I always enjoyed is hanging with the drivers who are the unsung heroes behind the fireworks and opening ceremonies. @bigrigjohn @marinedon7 @kyle_stone24 @2driver_big_b @jim_driverpc @jbeuler @deansauce you guys always made me feel like family and I appreciate you. The sound team @adkmelcher @nklaeser Alec and Josh valentine I tear the hell out of my voice getting it out but you made it sound sweet. If you could have been a fly on the wall before cameras turned on at opening ceremonies you would have enjoyed the great personalities coming out and having laughs before it was time to go to work. Thanks @crtwotwo @kenroczen94 @elitomac @coleseely @justinbarcia @justinbrayton @marvinmusquin25
FANTASY SX (Matthes)
Pulpmxfantasy.com is open for signups, everyone! Want to greatly enhance your fun watching SX all year long? Want to see which one of your buddies sucks the most at predicting rider finishes? You can play for free or pay to sign up and win some great prizes, including a chance at three Kawasaki KX bikes. Yeah, you don't even have to be some whiz kid at fantasy SX to win the 2020 Kawasaki KX450, because that's a random draw from all the people who sign up!
We go 16 weekly prizes deep and 16 for the season-ending ones as well. Thanks to all the companies for supporting this, and good luck, everyone, it's a hell of a ride.
RIP Super Dave Osborne (DC)
Super Dave Osborne was a character created by Bob Einsten, who was actually the brother of Albert Brooks, the actor and director who had change his name or he would have literally been Albert Einstein. Super Dave was a brilliant comedian who made fun of the daredevil culture that Evel Knievel sparked in the 1970s and '80s. He would always try something that seemed remotely dangerous, but then literally get crushed or blown-up or thrown from a cliff. He was only on motorcycle every now and then, but his outfit was that of the poor man's Knievel. Later, he played the character Marty Funkhouser on the brilliant but cringeworthy Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Explained his friend and fellow comedian Gilbert Gottfried, "He became most famous as the totally inept stunt man Super Dave, a character I can only describe as Evel Knievel after too many falls on his head."
Godspeed, Super Dave Osborne, Marty Funkhouser, and their creator Bob Einstein.
Hey, Watch It!
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
Racer X Films: 2019 Supercross Prep with Justin Brayton, RJ Hampshire, and Cameron McAdoo
Head-Scratching Headlines of the Week
A Man Allegedly Chased a Woman Into a Karate Studio. It Went Exactly How You Think. - CNN.com
We were sad to hear of the passing of longtime Colorado racer Andy Atkins last Monday, New Year's Eve. Atkins is in The Vault with a high finish of eighth place at the 1996 Denver 125 Supercross.
A1 Supercross Open House Tonight
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.