Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you for a strangely cool and damp Prairie City Off-Highway Vehicle Park outside of Sacramento, California. This place is of course better known as Hangtown, and tomorrow the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club will be celebrating the 51st Hangtown Motocross Classic. While the track moved from its original location in Plymouth some time ago, the event itself retains its grassroots club vibe as well as its legacy as the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Tomorrow a whole new season of American Motocross starts, and the volatile weather out here has thrown the possibilities wide open. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac has a #1 back on his bike, and the two-time defending 450 Class Motocross Champion certainly knows that he can expect some strong competition from Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin and Cooper Webb, Rockstar Husqvarna's Zach Osborne and the returning Jason Anderson, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS’ Blake Baggett, and of course Team Honda HRC's Ken Roczen, Monster Energy Factory Yamaha's Justin Barcia, and more.
The 250 Class seems even more wide open. After two very exciting 250SX Regional battles, which were won by Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Dylan Ferrandis and GEICO Honda's Chase Sexton, everyone else is out for vengeance. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Adam Cianciarulo is the guy most are talking about here in the pits, as well as Ferrandis’ teammate Justin Cooper, GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire, JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing's Alex Martin, Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM's Shane McElrath, and many more. We’ll also see the AMA Pro Motocross debuts of MX2 Grand Prix winners Thomas Covington (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) and Hunter Lawrence (GEICO Honda), each of whom are back after dropping out of supercross. (And there's also the professional debut of the super-fast Ty Masterpool, who is an excellent starter and a top prospect for Yamaha, and Derek Drake, who will debut with the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM team as well, after success as an amateur.)
Unfortunately, not everyone is ready for Hangtown. Throughout the last couple of weeks we've seen announcements from Monster Energy Factory Yamaha's Aaron Plessinger (last year's 250 Class champion), Monster Energy Kawasaki's Joey Savatgy, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Dean Wilson that they have to miss the opener—and of course Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Austin Forkner is out for the summer with his knee injury. Here's hoping that all of those guys, and anyone else who’s gotten dinged up, comes back soon at 100 percent.
It's a cliché, but weather can be a real equalizer, especially after it caused the cancellation of yesterday's open practice for both the 250 and 450 classes. (All riders who were invited this time and will be again for the Fox Raceway at Pala before next weekend's second round.) As I type this, the hope is for a 1 p.m. ride for a half hour for each class, as the rain has stopped and the amateurs are out there right now. That should give us a better idea of who has made the transition quickest from SX to MX. But it's supposed to rain again tomorrow, and everything will be up in the air once again.
There's been a lot of talk the last couple of days about famous Hangtown mudders from the past, like the notorious 1991 race in which they could only get a single moto in, as well as the 1975 race at the old Plymouth track that was consumed by rain. Fortunately, the track is set down in a valley, and most of the water should run off and drain okay—it doesn't look bad out there at all right now—but there's nothing we can do if it rains during the motos. We're going to run ’em no matter what, but I think we all prefer that it stays dry!
The riders are starting to line up for this open practice, so let's run through the rest of the week's news, and I’ll post an update after practice is over.
Okay, the fact that they even got the two practices up and running was a surprise, because before lunch it seemed like the track was still going to need a lot more work and drying. But kudos to the Dirt Diggers on the big dozers because they made a motocross track out of the swamp that was out there this morning and practice went well. If the weather stays like this, we are in for an amazing day tomorrow. And that’s a great big “if” when one looks at the fairly bleak weather forecast. With #1 back on his bike Eli Tomac looked fast and confident, but with no transponders on the bikes—tech was held off until after practice—it’s hard to say how much closer he was to Cooper Webb, Marvin Musquin, or Jason Anderson, all of whom looked sharp. Ken Roczen, Zach Osborne, and Justin Barcia all spent time ducking in and out of the signal area in the half-hour practice, so it was hard to get a read on them. And Kris Keefer, the oldest man out there by years, looked right at home. There’s more than 70 450 riders, so qualifying will be a tough chore in itself for the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda supported senior rider.
After some track work up on the big uphill double and tricky downhill that follows the 250s went off and, as expected, there were a whole bunch of fast guys out there. All of the GEICO Honda guys looked good, as did Adam Cianciarulo and Dylan Ferrandis and Colt Nichols. It was harder to get a read on Alex Martin or Justin Cooper, as they were riding in a different group than most of the other perceived contenders.
Again, the track really came around, much to everyone’s surprise. But the clouds are on the horizon, and tomorrow could be a long, wet day for everyone. Let’s hope Hangtown somehow dodges this bullet and the fans see some good racing.
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Racer X Wins Big at the 2019 Imagination Awards
In tooting-our-own-horn news, the whole team here at Racer X was thrilled this week when our new Digital Edition won a 2019 Imagination Award alongside the likes of The Economist, Forbes, and Smithsonian Magazine.
The Imagination Awards are presented by the MPA (the Association of Magazine Media) to recognize outstanding achievement in independent magazine publishing. Our win in the Digital category came only months after we launched our completely revamped Digital Edition, and we’re immensely proud that our project was met with so much acclaim so quickly.
If you still haven’t checked out the new Digital Edition, now’s the time! It’s everything readers have loved about Racer X magazine for two decades, custom-converted to flow perfectly on smartphones, tablets, and computers. You won’t find this content anywhere else online, and we promise you won’t be disappointed. See what you’ve been missing right here.
CAIROLI'S KTM CAREER (ANDRAS HEGYI)
Racing in a sea of mud last Sunday in Mantova, Italy, nine-time FIM Motocross World Champion Antonio Cairoli celebrated his 89th career GP win, moving yet another step closer to Stefan Everts' seemingly unbreakable standard of 101 GP wins. This most recent victory also marked Cairoli’s 60th triumph with KTM. The Italian legend has raced with KTM since 2010, making 2019 his 10th season with the Austrian brand. Before that, Cairoli got 29 GP wins with Yamaha. Besides the Dutch phenom Jeffrey Herlings, still on the sidelines with a foot injury, Cairoli became only the second motocrosser to collect at least 60 GP wins with the same brand in the history of the sport—Herlings has 84, all with KTM. But there is a big difference between Cairoli and Herlings. The Sicilian Cairoli got all 60 of his KTM GP wins in the premier class, while the four-time world champion Herlings has taken only 23 GP wins in the premier class, his other 61 coming in the small-bore MX2 category.
Stefan Everts had 58 GP wins with Yamaha, across several classes.
Antonio Cairoli’s 60 wins with KTM
2010: 8 wins
2019: 4 (in 5 races to date)
THE NUMBER: 101 (Andras Hegyi)
Although KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings, the reigning MXGP World Champion, was absent in the first five rounds of 2019, KTM has nevertheless had a successful MXGP season so far as the 34-year-old legend Antonio Cairoli has risen once again: the nine-time world champion is off to his best start ever in the premier class. This is the first time that the Italian has taken four GP wins in the first five rounds of the premier class. Cairoli has gained a massive advantage in the overall points. He has also handed KTM their 100th GP win in the current premier class, the MX1/MXGP, in existence since 2004. Cairoli got KTM’s 100th GP win at the GP of the Netherlands at Valkenswaard in March, then last Sunday he got them their 101st GP win in Italy. In the history of MX1/MXGP, KTM is the only brand with 100 GP wins. Yamaha has 65, Honda 33, Suzuki 28, Kawasaki 21, and Husqvarna has five. The most successful KTM rider is Cairoli. He earned 60 of those 101 KTM MXGP wins.
Regarding MX2, KTM is the leader there as well. MX2 has also been in existence since 2004. Last Sunday, the Spanish teenager Jorge Prado took KTM’s 159th GP win in MX2. And KTM’s most successful MX2 rider is Herlings, who has 61 MX2 Grand Prix wins with KTM.
KTM’s 101 GP-wins in the MX1/MXGP since 2004
2004: 0 wins
2019: 4 (in 5 rounds to date)
We have been getting bombarded with requests from moto fans in Australia over the lack of a TV deal (so far) for the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. This is a work in progress, and it's between NBC and its network affiliates Down Under—and I am very hopeful that it gets resolved. The letter below from my friend Aaryn Minerds lays out how the Aussies are feeling, and I hope the network sees this:
Now I know you are going to be completely flat out right about now with Hangtown on this weekend, I am sure you are getting a million phone calls and emails a second right now, but when you get a chance is there anyway you could help us Aussies out?
We are in desperate need of a way to watch your great series in 2019, as it stands there is currently no way for Australians to watch the 2019 Lucas oils American Motocross Championship legally. Foxtel who usually air the series in some form have confirmed that it will not be this year, for whatever reason. The great NBC coverage is not available in Australia, we are geo blocked from using that App or their online streaming, sure there are ways around it, but for the masses that is a little hard.
As you probably know there is a large contingent of Aussies and Kiwi’s racing this year, the first three rounds will see more Aussies on the line than I can remember in one season. Dean Ferris, Todd Waters and (Kiwi) Cody Cooper in the 450 class, and from I gather American Justin Rodbell and Estonian Erki Kahro, who have both been running up front in our domestic MX1 championship, will both be lining up.
Then we have our next great hope in Hunter Lawrence and the current Australian MX2 points leader Wilson Todd both on the line in the 250 class. The interest from down under has not been this high since Chad Reed first raced in the U.S.
I have no idea if you have it in your power to make the coverage available in Australia, or if you can let us know who currently holds the rights to viewing the series in the land down under, but our county as a whole may just crumble if our entire motocross community can’t watch the American motocross championship in 2019 :)
HENRY MILLER (DC)
Best wishes go out to privateer Henry Miller, who was involved in a chain-reaction accident in his box van on the way to Hangtown. Miller posted the information and a photo of some of the damage caused by the wreck, which occurred after another driver lost control of his vehicle while entering the highway. As of this afternoon, Miller was still signed up to race tomorrow, but we haven't seen him here at Hangtown.
MOTOCROSS, MOTOCROSS, MOTOCROSS!!!! (steve Matthes)
It's time for the great outdoors this weekend as Hangtown kicks off. Funny how we're all into SX for 17 races in 18 weeks, crown three champions in an epic Las Vegas finale, and before you know it, we're on to the outdoor series. It's like the 17 races indoors didn't even really register before we're just talking and speculating about motocross. I'm sure the three champions are like "Hey, wait a minute here, I prepped for four months to win and I get seven days to soak it in?" Yep, you do. The sport doesn't stop for anyone and away we go.
There are a few things I'm excited for this summer and here they are in no particular order:
- I'm excited to see if Zach Osborne can be a legit title contender. Wacko is great outdoors, he's in shape, and we'll see what happens. I have no doubt he'll be a podium contender a lot of weekends, but seriously, can he challenge for wins every weekend and push Eli Tomac/Marvin Musquin? I don't think so for 2019 but maybe?
- How does Adam Cianciarulo rebound from his devastating Vegas SX? He can take it as fuel to grab this 250MX title, as it's his last chance in this class (I believe he'll be 450 for Kawasaki next year), or maybe he'll be unable to get up for motocross each weekend, as he's shown to be better indoors.
- Ken Roczen? I don't know. If he can't get to be 100 percent physically, then I don't see how he can finish this series. If he can, I think he can win and I hope he does.
- I'm not a fan of this rule allowing amateurs to race nationals (until they get to 40 points), but it should add some intrigue to the series to see how these kids can do. It'll be interesting to see who does what and what races they do.
- Jason Anderson? Yeah, I don't know how this is going to go, but I'm excited to see which way it works out.
If you're going to the live PulpMX/Racer X Show tonight at Works Connection HQ, show starts at 7:30 and we'll see you there. Tickets are all sold out, so thanks for that, everyone.
The JULY 2019 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The July 2019 issue of Racer X magazine is coming to newsstands and mailboxes soon. Sign up now for the print and/or award-winning digital edition. And if you're already a digital subscriber you should have received an email with new login information. In this issue we do some digging to find out who makes the key decisions on rulebook enforcement and rough riding, how Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki is getting back to their winning ways, a deep dive on Yamaha's Bob Oliver, the Racer X Inter-Am, and how electric-assist bicycles are taking storm in GNCC Racing. Print subscribers can also open up the July issue and unfold a collectible poster of Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac. Here are the feature articles you’ll find inside:
“Tough Calls” by Steve Matthes and Davey Coombs
When it comes to things like rough riding and rulebook enforcement at the races, some big decisions have to be made. Who exactly makes them?
“Connected Circuit” by Jason Weigandt
Mitch Payton’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit has returned to its winning ways—with help from some friends.
“Last of the Tuners” by Steve Matthes
After 39 years, Yamaha’s expert team tuner, Bob Oliver, is calling it a career.
“Back to the Beginning” by Davey Coombs
This year’s Racer X Inter-Am in Boise, Idaho, had a very special guest of honor: the legendary Torsten Hallman.
“The Assist” by Jason Weigandt
Electric-assist bikes, e-bikes, eMTB—call them what you will, but they’re here and they’re only getting more popular.
Davey Coombs talks Jeffrey Herlings in America, Jason Weigandt digs into Eli Tomac’s mental and technical game, and Ping talks keeping your feet on the pegs through the corners. We also explore some unusual unsanctioned supercross races back in 1988, revisit the 2000 New Orleans Supercross, and pit Alex Martin and Martin Davalos against each other in a 2 Tribes battle of moto veterans.
All this—and more—exclusively in the July 2019 Issue of Racer X magazine. Not a subscriber? Sign up now for the print and/or digital edition.
Hey, Watch It!
2019 Racer X Pro Motocross Preview Show Episode 1:, The 450 Class
2019 Racer X Pro Motocross Preview Show Episode 2: The 250 Class
Here's a well-made video from the SX Futures race at Las Vegas, featuring the gang from the Atlas Speed Factory:
Watch this save Pauls Jonass pulled off this weekend during the MXGP of Lombardia:
Highlights from the 2019 MXGP of Lombardia
Watch this cool video Troy Lee Designs created on Derek Drake, who will make his pro debut tomorrow at Hangtown
The California Horse Shoe project is a 24 hour film period featuring surf, moto, and snowboarding.
The entire video is expected to drop sometime this summer. Check out the teaser featuring Dakota Tedder and Adam Cianciarulo for now.
Check out some GoPro footage of Kailub Russell from the Baker's Factory from earlier this week
A quick look at a day inside the gates of the Baker's Factory
Dirt Shark - BAMLAND 2-Stroke ft. Justin Barcia
GoPro: Antonio Cairoli FIM MXGP 2019 RD5 Mantova Qualifying Moto
Red Bull Moto Spy | Cooper Webb's Championship
Supercross 2019: Cooper Webb reflects on his 450SX championship | Motorsports on NBC
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Review Podcast comes in with Jason Weigandt and host Steve Matthes talking about the Hawaiian SX. The duo talks results from the race to the stadium to the trip to us announcing the whole thing. Then the two touch on Steve’s “The Rise and Fall of No Fear: An Oral History” longform that was recently posted, and how the idea came about. Check it out here.
Matthes also did a podcast with Austin Kent and Derek Rankin, the mechanics for Rocky Mountain ATC/MC-KTM-WPS, to talk about wrestling, their riders’ seasons, Iowa MX, oh and I guess mechanic life too. Check it out here.
Jason Weigandt’s Exhaust podcast comes in as the season-opening press conference from Hangtown. Listen to some of the top riders give their thoughts heading into the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Listen to it here.
Dean Wilson visited the TLD Saloon this week for an episode of The Whiskey Throttle Show. Listen to it here.
In case you missed the news, SX sideline reporter Daniel Blair’s Main Event Moto podcast is now a part of the Racer X Podcast Network. Blair brings in Episode #118 as he previews the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Weege and GL even make special appearances on the show to talk about who we might see hoist the championship trophy come August. Listen to Episode #118 of Main Event Moto here.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
"Grumpy Cat, internet celebrity with a piercing look of contempt, is dead at 7”—New York Times
“There's nothing worse than when a pack of kangaroos interrupt your football practice”—Barstool Sports
“All hell has broken loose in a small Pennsylvania town due to a senior prank involving a dozen chickens, toilet paper, and Vaseline”—Barstool Sports
“DAIRY ME Austrians told to stop French kissing COWS after bizarre challenge sweeps social media sparking fears of attacks by ‘protective’ herd”—The Sun
“A Barbie Jeep Powered By A CRF450R Dirt Bike Engine? Yes, Please”—Exhaust
“No, KTMs Do NOT Run While Submerged In Water—Jonny Walker Found Out The Hard Way”—Exhaust
“Have It Your Way: Burger King Using Motorcycles To Deliver Food In Traffic”—Exhaust
Hangtown Racer X All-Day Pit Passes | Limited Quantities Left
Going to the Hangtown Motocross Classic this weekend? Want to be able to get into the pits all day?
The only way to cruise the pits whenever you’d like is with the Racer X All-Day Pit Pass, but quantities are limited! Get yours today while they’re still available and get all-day pit access plus a one-year subscription to Racer X Illustrated for just $50.
If you preorder online for this event, you’ll need to pick your Racer X Pit Pass up at Will Call, where you’ll also receive an extra copy of Racer X, the official event sticker, and Racer X stickers.
Subscribe At Hangtown And Get All 12 Event Stickers
Are you headed to the Hangtown Motocross Classic this weekend? Make sure you stop by the Racer X booth, located in Sponsor Village, and subscribe for as low as $15 and receive ALL TWELVE Official 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Racer X event stickers. You will also receive a complimentary magazine and free Racer X stickers.
Be sure to check out our Racer X Brand items on display and grab some gear. See you at the races!
If you're in Southern California and you would rather go riding next Saturday than watch the pros at Fox Raceway in Pala, the folks at Glen Helen have decided to host a free ride day/viewing party at the old national track. With a $10 donation to High Hopes Head Injury Foundation, a charity very dear to the late Tom White and his family, you can ride all afternoon and then stop to watch the motos from the Fox Raceway National at Pala on the big screen inside the Glen Helen garage.
Unadilla's annual Hallman MX Rewind is coming up fast on the weekend of May 31-June 2 and there's still time to pre-enter for the Grass Track race as well as the other classes. You can find all of the information right here.
Our French friend LeBigUSA put together this cool graphic as he gets ready to hit the road for all 12 rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship in le van.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #20.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!