Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from about 400 miles away and above the Atlanta Airport. We are flying in for the weekend where we more or less begin to make the annual turn on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship tour, as the Southern swing of first Atlanta and then Daytona represent the halfway mark of the series.
We still have four men within 13 points of the lead, with Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb still in the driver’s seat, while the steady Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin—who have yet to win a race—and the mercurial Eli Tomac give chase. It’s definitely been an eventful series, as one of these guys will win their first AMA Supercross title, replacing last year’s breakout performer, the now-injured Jason Anderson, as the next new champion. We also have the first East/West Showdown of 2019, which means we get a chance to see if someone from the 250SX West Region—Adam Cianciarulo, Colt Nichols, Dylan Ferrandis, and the rest—can do what no one in the East Region has been able to do, which is to stop Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner from dominating every single race. Forkner is 3-for-3 on wins—5-for-5 if you’re counting last weekend’s Triple Crown in Detroit.
And Atlanta always seems to deliver. The SX races here go back to 1977, when Michael Goodwin teamed up with fellow promoter Bill West to start another Superbowl of Motocross, this one in the South. The very first race was settled in the last turn when Team Honda’s Jim Pomeroy stalled his bike while leading and Bob “Hurricane” Hannah flashed by. The Atlanta race has now been held in three different stadiums: first in the open-air Fulton County Stadium, which often meant cold and wet races, then in the covered Georgia Dome, and now in the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium. We’ve seen a lot of great battles here, too, from the Battle of Atlanta in 1990 to the RC-vs-Reed-vs-Stewart battles earlier in this millennium. And now, with North Carolina’s Cooper Webb wearing the red plates as the red-hot leader of this series, I’m expecting another loud and fun night of racing here in the ATL.
There is also the feel-good story of the week, which is JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Chad Reed’s remarkable podium last weekend at the Triple Crown race in Detroit. That moved the record for oldest podium finisher up even further, as Reed is nearly 37 years old!
And while the list of the injured riders unfortunately grew one more with the practice crash and subsequent concussion of Monster Energy Factory Yamaha’s Justin Barcia, we will see the return of a rider from supercross retirement, as Mike Alessi gets back on track with the Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda team.
Okay, plane starting to land and they’re going to shut the Wi-Fi off here in a few, so let’s get into all of the news of the week.
The Number: 20 (Andras Hegyi)
Eli Tomac has become a specialist in winning Triple Crown events. Last year he was tops in the maiden Triple Crown "miniseries," taking two out of three. Last Saturday in Detroit he collected his third Triple Crown victory of the five that have been held since the introduction of this format by Feld Entertainment. Tomac is also moving up on the all-time wins list for Kawasaki: winning in Detroit took Tomac up to third on that list. In the Motor City, Tomac took his 20th victory in the saddle of a Kawasaki. (And adding his three Honda wins, he has 23 wins 450SX wins.) He caught up with Jeff Ward, and now only Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart have more Kawasaki wins than Eli Tomac.
Tomac is the ninth racer to get at least 20 wins with a same brand in the premier class of SX. The most successful supercrosser with one brand is the King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, who won 45 times with Honda, and then 27 more with Yamaha. And among the nine riders, Tomac is the only one who has not yet been champion.
And this is one list that Ricky Carmichael is not on. His 48 career wins were spread out fairly evenly over first Kawasaki (14), then Honda (18), and finally Suzuki (15).
Riders to get at least 20 wins with a same brand in the 250/450 supercross:
Jeremy McGrath 45 wins with Honda (4 titles with Honda)
Ricky Johnson 25 (2)
Chad Reed 35 (2)
Jeremy McGrath 27 (3)
Bob Hannah 20 (3)
Ryan Dungey 27 (3)
Ryan Villopoto 41 (4)
James Stewart 25 (1)
Jeff Ward 20 (2)
Eli Tomac 20 (no titles yet)
RC is also the only rider in AMA Supercross history to have won titles on three different brands.
THREE IN A ROW (Andras Hegyi))
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner grabbed his first record as a professional in Detroit. Including both categories, 450SX and 250SX, Forkner became the first racer to sweep all the three main events in a Triple Crown round. Forkner is still perfect in the East Region, as he's now won the first three rounds there. It’s a very good omen: before 2019, there were 10 seasons in which a rider won the first three rounds in the East, and all ten times, those riders became champion.
In the West, the situation is a bit different. There were eight seasons in which a rider won the first three rounds, but only seven of those quick starters became champion. The 2013 season is the odd one out. Honda’s Eli Tomac won the first three rounds but finished second to Ken Roczen in the final standings.
Riders to win the first 3 rounds in a 125/250 supercross season:
1985 – Eddie Warren (champion)
1989 – Damon Bradshaw (champion)
1994 – Ezra Lusk (champion)
1998 – Ricky Carmichael (champion)
1999 – Ernesto Fonseca (champion)
2002 – Chad Reed (champion)
2004 – James Stewart (champion)
2008 – Trey Canard (champion)
2010 – Christophe Pourcel (champion)
2012 – Justin Barcia (champion)
2019 – Austin Forkner
1988 – Jeff Matiasevich (champion)
1989 – Jeff Matiasevich (champion)
1995 – Damon Huffman (champion)
1996 – Kevin Windham (champion)
2004 – Ivan Tedesco (champion)
2010 – Jake Weimer (champion)
2013 – Eli Tomac (Ken Roczen champion)
2016 – Cooper Webb (champion)
MXGP BEGINS (DC)
The 2019 Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship begins this weekend with the MXGP of Argentina, which you can watch with a season pass over on www.mxgp-tv.com. As you probably know, the reigning #1, Jeffrey Herlings, is out with a broken foot, which opens the door for his Red Bull KTM teammate Antonio Cairoli to get a little bit of a cushion before Herlings returns, possibly as soon as the second race three weeks later in Great Britain or the third round in Valkenswaard, Holland, where Jeffrey has only lost once in a decade. (There is still speculation that Herlings may be out even longer, and he has teased the idea of coming to America in May for the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, but that still seems highly unlikely.)
In the MX2 class, there's a bit of drama brewing as well. The defending champion is Cairoli's understudy Jorge Prado, who was at times as dominant as Herlings was last season in MXGP. The question is more about the post-season, because if Prado wins the title again, by rule he will have to move up to MXGP, despite having several years to go before he's 23 and the move becomes mandatory. The kid has said he is not yet ready to move up to a 450 and floated the long-discussed idea of moving to America to continue racing 250s. Jonathan McCready of Gatedrop.com got a chance to ask Youthstream's Giuseppe Luongo about the prospect of changing the rule to allow Prado to stay in MX2 if he chooses, in order to keep him from coming to America.
"This a pressure we are receiving but sure we will never change a rule for the advantage or the disadvantage of one rider," answered Luongo. "The rule with the title and age limit works very well and proves it’s the best way to give access to the young riders. We believe Prado, with a good preparation, will be very very competitive and ready for the podium in the MXGP class, but sure the decision regarding his future belongs to him and his team."
No matter what happens with Herlings this year and Prado next year, this should be an exciting series to watch, as Cairoli will be going for what would be a record-tying tenth FIM World Championship. And there is also one rider who is hoping to become the first FIM World MX Champion since Bob Moore back in 1994: Bike It DRT Kawasaki's Darian Sanayei. Eric Johnson caught up with him recently to preview what Darian hopes will be a breakout season.
Meanwhile, 438 miles south of Atlanta, a pair of former AMA Supercross Champions, Ricky Carmichael and Mark Barnett, are working together on the buildout of the Daytona Supercross track. RC has been designing the track for more than a decade since retiring from racing, and Barnett's Bomber Built contracting business does all of the dozer work. The track will be used next Saturday night (March 9) for the longest-running AMA Supercross race of all, then tamed down overnight for the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross, which takes place on Sunday and Monday. Then it gets tamed even more for the first Daytona Vintage Supercross on Tuesday, before the full transition over to TT-style for the 2019 American Flat Track opener, which will take place on Thursday, March 14.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the construction of this year’s Daytona Supercross course:
300: Truckloads of dirt
6,600: Tons of dirt
12: Trucks used to transport the dirt into the Speedway
2: Days to bring all of the dirt into the track
40: Obstacles on the DAYTONA Supercross course
621: Tuff Blox
3,100: Length in feet of the Supercross course
900: Man-hours (approximate) to set up the Daytona Supercross course
ATL (Steve Matthes)
I'm not going to Atlanta this weekend. I usually take a race off or two during the year, and it so happens there's a concert we've been wanting to go to and it's this weekend. Know what I did today, though? Instead of sitting on a plane flying across the country, I went dirt bike riding! Took the Yamaha YZ450F out to a local track and enjoyed the hell out of that. All of us that report on the dirt bike races should probably ride the dirt bike more.
Part of me does wish I took another weekend off, though, because this 250SX Showdown is STACKED. But hey, I'll be watching it Sunday on the NBC Sports Gold App (concert is Saturday). Don't worry, though, PulpMX will still have a representative there, as I'm sending the recently unemployed TWMX veteran Michael Antonovich in my place. I mean, I don't have to have someone there, but Anton's been at home too long now; we had to get him out of his place. Please be nice to Anton, everyone. He's now working for PulpMX and we're a classy organization.
We were talking on the Fly Racing Moto: 60 Show that there are 18 riders locked into a main-event spot. That leaves four spots for guys like Sean Cantrell, Mitchell Harrison, Michael Mosiman, Jace Owen, Blake Wharton, Kyle Cunningham, Enzo Lopes, etc. See what I mean? There will be full factory riders missing the main this weekend, which, if you're one of those guys, ain't good. Can't wait to see how it all unfolds.
THE NUMBER: 16 (Andras Hegyi)
The ageless Australian Chad Reed debuted in the AMA Supercross premier class in 2002 and is still going strong. He now holds some all-time records, including starts (245) and podiums. Last Saturday Reed got his 132nd podium result in his 245th main event in the 250/450 SX. The racer with second most podiums is Jeremy McGrath, who collected 111.
This is the 18th consecutive season for Reed in AMA Supercross, and there have been only two seasons in which the Aussie was not able to take podiums. In 2002 Reed was mostly focused on the 125 class, winning the East Region, but he also rode some 250 class races but never reached the podium. And last year, while riding as pretty much a privateer, he did not get on the box. After last Saturday night, 2019 is the 16th season in which Reed reached the podium. Only another eternal legend, Mike LaRocco, the racer with second-most main event starts(227), has reached podiums in more seasons than Reed. The Rock could get podiums in 17 consecutive seasons between 1989 and 2005. Both of these timeless riders scored podiums with all four Japanese brands: Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki.
Riders to get podiums in at least 10 supercross premier class seasons:
Mike LaRocco: 17 seasons (1989-'05)
Chad Reed: 16 ('03-'17, '19)
Kevin Windham: 13 ('96-'01, '04-'05, '07-'11)
Jeff Ward: 12 ('80, '82-'92)
Broc Glover: 10 (78, '80-'88)
Jeremy McGrath: 10 ('93-'02)
James Stewart: 10 ('05-'14)
I did a Racer X Podcast with Scott Sheak, the former factory Honda and Pro Circuit rider, this week (thanks to Seth Rarick for lining it up), and it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Scott's been to jail, he's dealing with having a bunch of concussions while racing, and life's been tough for the Sheakster since he retired. But even with all that, it sounds like he's on the right path to trying to deal with his issues. He's got a positive attitude, and he was open and honest about his life. Sheak had a hell of a career, and it's good to see that he's taking that same fighter attitude that helped him as a racer to post-racing life. I hope I get to see him at the NJ SX later this year. You can listen to it here.
KICKER CHAMP (Matthes)
Interested to see Kicker Arenacross champion Jace Owen along with his teammate Fredrik Noren line up this weekend. I don't know much about this Kicker series other than what I've heard from Kristen Beat, who does the FS2 TV coverage for the series, but I do know that Owen won everything, every round. He's riding a Honda, managed by Travis Preston's old wrench Shawn Ulikowski, and I would think comes in full of confidence from his series. Owen's got speed, no doubt about it, and could be a PulpMX Fantasy sleeper this weekend. At least I think so! He's #159 out there on the Honda.
GOOD READ (DC)
Last week I mentioned that changes at the FIM last December could finally result in some action of the outstanding cases of Broc Tickle and Cade Clason. Well, in the latest issue of American Motorcyclist, the monthly magazine produced for AMA members, AMA President Rob Dingman really laid out what’s been going on in those cases and with the relationship between the AMA and the FIM and the odds they are at over how these cases are being handled (or mishandled). In case you don’t get the magazine or missed the column, here it it—and it’s well worth the read:
WHISKEY THROTTLE (David Pingree)
Ryan Hughes was this week's guest on The Whiskey Throttle Show and it was amazing. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Ryno, since his Instagram story has read more like a traveling gypsy than former motocross legend recently, but he was honest, completely open, and more grounded than I've ever seen him. Ryan's past year has been catastrophic, but the Escondido native didn't shy away from talking about any of it. It was an awesome walk through his storied career, and I highly recommend checking it out. Watch it on YouTube or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher now.
Also, if you're going to be in Southern California next week, be sure to make it to Troy Lee Designs for our live Whiskey Throttle Show taping on Thursday night (March 7 at 6:30) with Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg. This guy has personality for days, and I think he's a bit misunderstood. Follow us on Instagram for more details on the show and upcoming guests @whiskeythrottleshow.
THE VAULT: ONE-LINER FOUND (DC)
Okay, last week we mentioned a couple of Michigan riders we’ve never heard of who qualified and raced in the 250 main event at the 1977 Pontiac Supercross. Don Sinclair finished 13th and John Deemer finished 14th, their one and only listings in The Vault.
Well, our old friend Bart Newman found at last one of them! Here’s what he wrote:
John Deemer is alive and well here in Lansing, Michigan. Short-travel bikes did a number on John's back so he doesn't ride any more. However, he was heavily involved with AHRMA Racing in its hay day and still owns some very trick motorcycles. He also raced with Nick Wey's dad Terry. John was co-owner of Slick's Cycle Salvage for years with his good friend Jack Leece. He is still a fan of the sport and is a regular at Mid-Ohio Vintage Days.
John is a big part of the Lansing area share a bike program. It is a place where he and other fix repair and donate bicycles to the needed a great program ran by great people.
John, along with Jimmie Kemp, also were the driving force behind the "Rollie Newman 100cc and under National" held in St John's, MI, in honor of my father.
I stole these photos off of John's Facebook page.
ITALIAN JOB (DC)
My longtime friend and former MXA editor Mike Koger sent me a link to a sad story playing out over in Italy. One of the finest motorcycle museums in the world, the Italian Racing Motorcycle Museum, and its founder, Giancarlo Morbidelli, are in a financial bind that may see the museum's collection liquidated. The museum holds some 350 rare and exotic sport bikes that span the entire 20th century. There is also a gallery with memorabilia, trophies, magazines, gear, and more. Italy is home to some of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, including Giacamo Agostini, Valentino Rossi, Carlo Ubialli, and of course MXGP legend Antonio Cairoli. But Mr. Morbidelli is 85 years old and has been apparently struggling with local authorities over permitting that would allow him to open the museum to the public, the inability of which has caused much of this financial crisis. More on the story here.
It all kind of reminds me of the once-grand Primm Collection in Las Vegas, which was founded by lifelong motocross fan Greg Primm. He has pretty much one of every MX bike ever released, as well as a lot of factory bikes from the '70s and '80s and '90s, and just all kinds of memorabilia. But he never really got it to a place where it might be financially sustainable, and when Primm tired of the upkeep of it all, he sold the whole collection to a collector in Illinois named Tom Reese, who runs the Moto Armory. I still haven't made it out there to see it, but it's on my list for some time soon!
Hey, Watch It!
Check out the excellent video on Cooper Webb's rise that Wild Wes Williams and crew built together for Red Bull:
And here is the Yamaha Track Map for this weekend's Atlanta SX:
We get to see some Detroit helmet-cam footage from Jordon Smith:
and Dean Wilson. Race 1:
Racer X Films: Ryan Sipes in the Film Room
We get a look at what the Dirt Wurx crew went through when building the Atlanta Supercross track earlier this week:
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast drills down on Eli Tomac's resurgent Detroit win.
Steve Matthes was joined by Scott Sheak earlier this week on The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast.
Why is everyone talking about the ascent of American Flat Track? Jason Weigandt caught up with AMA Pro Racing CEO Michael Lock and found some compelling reasons.
MXGP starts this weekend in Patagonia, in the south of Argentina, and The MX Vice Show previews the opener right here.
Jason Weigandt sat down by himself earlier this week for a mid-season review of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross.
David Pingree and Grant Langston were joined by special guest Ryan Hughes earlier this week for The Whiskey Throttle Show.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
Soccer player turns pro at 13—CNN
Lake Erie first lake to be granted same rights as a human—UPI News
Two arrested in brawl over crab legs at Alabama buffet: report—Fox News
Martha Stewart partners with Canadian cannabis firm—AP News
There's a good read on Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac over on Vital MX, “Straight to the Point with Chris Cooksey,” where he asks, "How does Eli look like the Fastest Man on the Planet one week, then average or even below average the following week? Why does he have flashes of talent that seem to vanish?" Cooksey thinks he has a case of "the yips," which is that little hiccup in tight moments that haunts golfers. Check it out here.
Yoshimura Is Hiring
We’re looking for a local MX nut to join our sales team in Chino, CA. The lucky winner will be a self-starting, positive, customer service focused and most importantly be an incurable motorcycle addict. Whoever gets the gig probably won’t mind but this job does require occasional travel (five or so events a year). We can train anyone but moto-industry experience is a HUGE plus. Please send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 4th Annual Pro Circuit Open Presented By Kawasaki is happening next Thursday Night, March 7, at Tampa MX.
The 4th Annual Pro Circuit Open Presented By Kawasaki will roll into Tampa MX Thursday Night March 7, 2019 (Before Daytona SX). Gates Open at 3:00p Practice 5:00p Racing 7:00p
$10,000 Pro Purse • $1000 Hollywood Racing Pro Holeshot Award • $2000 Hollywood Racing Pro Open Qualifier Cash • $1000 Advanced Women’s Purse and $100 Holeshot Award • $1000 125 2-Stroke Open • $1750 in Pro Circuit Contingency for 85-112 Open Class
Supercross Format (Mains)
Class Structure: 50 4-8 Open • 65 7-11 Open • 85-112 9-16 Open • 125 2-Stoke Open (Amateur) • B Open • C Open • VET 30+ Open • Advanced Women Open • Pro Open
6334 Burts Rd. Tampa, FL 33619
For event information contact Mike Floyd 813-924-4287 or email@example.com.
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ENTER TO WIN A 2019 YAMAHA YZ450F AT ATLANTA SUPERCROSS
Want to win a brand-new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F? Here is your chance.
If you are attending the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross this weekend in Atlanta, all you need to do is stop by the Racer X booth—located in the Party in the Pits—and enter into the drawing to win a new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F.
The winner will be picked at the end of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season and announced on Racer X Online.
The sweepstakes is just the start. Stop by the booth and subscribe for as low as $10 and receive a FREE Racer X Drawstring Bag. You will also receive a complimentary magazine. See you at the races!