Last week, Racer X asked members of the motocross world to send in their best questions to our Steve Matthes. The Canadian is well versed in motocross, hockey, and Van Halen, amongst many other things. Below are some of the questions Matthes decided to take answer.
(Note: Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.)
Will Adam Cianciarulo go to Honda HRC with Ken Roczen? Where will Justin Hill end up in 2020?
Hey, Dave, I don’t believe Adam Cianciarulo will end up on Honda alongside Ken Roczen, I think he’s already signed a deal to be alongside Eli Tomac in the Monster Energy Kawasaki truck on a 450. Honda can re-sign Cole Seely, they are in talks with Joey Savatgy and Dean Wilson for that spot next year. I believe it will be one of those three riders and if I had to bet, it would be #17.
What’s up Steve, huge fan of the sport and you as well. Why does the AMA pay points per moto, yet everyone makes a big deal about taking the overall? Just this past weekend AC wins the overall but has same amount of points as Justin Cooper did. Just pay points for overall instead.
Yeah, I agree Michael, we are always talking overalls but really, what does that matter, right? The series is 24 races but we just want to wrap everything up in a nice bow and say “Here’s your top three” or whatever. You could pay points for overall if you wanted to change things up, I’m good with whatever really. I will say that the factories like the overall thing better because that’s what they make bonus money on (outside of moto wins).
Are the teams spending themselves to death in a fruitless technical arms race? Seems to me there is a long list of riders with impressive privateer results who earn a fill in ride and the results stay the same. Did the army of technicians asking them how the bike is every five minutes not help? Expert analysis please.
The teams are putting in overkill in my opinion and it’s getting worse each year. F1 and NASCAR have limits on what teams can spend and where/when they can test to help with costs. Not sure how we could ever control costs/tests like those car organizations do when we can’t even get everyone invested in the sport to sit in a room and agree on anything. So I’m with you on that, and yeah, what I love about the sport is that the rider’s skill is what matters and you could put me on a factory bike and I’m still not jumping that supercross triple. I’ll never understand the privateers griping about not getting a factory bike and that would make all the difference. The best guys get the rides generally speaking.
How does Cameron McAdoo not have a ride? PC has AF24's bike just sitting there, GEICO Honda has Jeremy Martin's bike just sitting there. Why not just give him the bike, with no pay, and tell him to go earn your money and a ride for next year?
He’s got one now! The inevitable “Where will RAM IT fill in” wheel has finally stopped and it’s on Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM!
Loam Sweet Loam
The crazy ending to the 250SX season got me to wondering… When a rider has a points lead going into the final race, like AC and Cooper Webb did, do they make any changes to the bike to make it stronger or more reliable? I've read that race bikes are a balance between reliability and performance (weight vs. strength, power vs. reliability, etc.) but when you've got a large points lead like Webb and AC had, performance would seem like less of a concern and reliability and the ability for the bike to survive a crash would seem to be more important. I'm thinking heavier handlebars, foam in the tires, more solid clutch and break levers, push the engine slightly less, etc. Basically, the kind of stuff you might find on their practice bikes. After all, if it makes sense for the rider to be a bit more conservative, maybe that translates to the bike as well. Then again, the change in performance might make the rider more likely to make an error. As always, thanks for your insight.
Good question but no, not much is done in terms of changes at the final race. The bikes already got the mods on it before the season started that the teams decided gave the best performance/reliability so it’s not like at the final race they’re going to change anything up. I do think maybe we at Red Bull KTM should have thought about our wheel situation though before Steel City with Grant Langston! We had been breaking spokes quite a bit all summer long.
It seems PulpMX is doing well and that is well deserved. You do more for the riders and us jerky fans then anyone else in the industry. My question is what color Lamborghini will you chose when the time comes?
I would go with a red Lambo because that’s what chicks would seem to dig. Magnum PI drove a red Ferrari and it worked for him, right? Thanks for the nice words!
Willy Mansilla A
So you were bagging Anderson after winning the supercross series and not doing ok in motocross, but you seem to give a pass to Webb? why so?
I don’t remember bagging on Anderson last year, he went out early with an injury so how much could I have “bagged” on him? I do remember saying that he seemed to be the type of guy that would mail in the motocross season once he captured the supercross crown but that’s not bagging on a guy so much as offering up an opinion. Judging by how much Jason said that all the distractions he had to deal with as reigning SX champion affected his off-season prep/early season results, I’d say that I was right about mailing it in. We just had Cooper Webb on the PulpMX Show and he mentioned that his outdoor prep was very minimal because of leading the 450SX points so there is something to that.
When will Yamaha have a 450 rider that can compete for podiums and wins again?
I mean, Justin Barcia won Anaheim 1 this year. Man, people forget, huh? A healthy Barcia can challenge for 450 Class podiums all summer long. He also won the 450 Class overall at the Ironman National last August and finished third in the series points. I’m not sure what else he’s supposed to do for you.
Now that he's officially retired, where do you have James Stewart landing on the all-time AMA rider list? I've got him at #7
1. Ricky Carmichael
2. Jeremy McGrath
3. Ryan Villopoto
4. Ryan Dungey
5. Bob “The Hurricane” Hannah
6. Rick Johnson
7. James Stewart
8. Jeff Stanton
9. Jeff Wardy
10. Broc Glover
You sir are plain crazy to have James Stewart just seventh on your list. Like, seriously. He’s the second all-time winningest AMA rider ever! Yet you have him just seventh!!!! He’s at least number three behind RC and MC and if you want to have him second, I’d be fine with that. Yeah he definitely left some championships on the track as he cartwheeled around but still, he’s got five titles! And as I said, second all-time in career race wins. You cannot be serious.
My top ten list would go:
RC, MC, Stew, RV, RD, RJ, Jean-Michel Bayle, Ward, Hannah, Stanton, CR22.
What is the logic behind limiting the "two-stroke" class to 125s? How did we associate the term "two-stroke" with just the 125s. Is there not just as much love for the 250s and up? Is it because the bigger two-stroke bikes are more of a direct competitor against the current breed of four-strokes that their excluded from the majority of "two-stroke" classes?
I just think someone in power thought 125s would be cool. I’m not sure. The jump for a kid from an 80cc to a 250F is a big one and 125s fit in there nicely, maybe that’s it? There’s no grand conspiracy here for why there’s a 125 class despite all the two-stroke kooks always thinking there is.
Could there be multiple riders hanging up the boots this year? Cole Seely, Justin Barcia, Justin Bogle, and Martin Davalos? Any others?
Ummmm, I don’t think Barcia and Bogle are anywhere near hanging up the boots actually. I think there’s a chance Seely does though and Marty’s gone on record as saying that if he can’t get a good 450 ride, he’ll pack it in. So two out of four ain’t bad.
We all know how much of a bad@$$ Mike Brown is but is there anyone that's racing now that you could see getting top tens in the pros and racing every weekend at 47? That guy is an absolute beast.
Mike Brown is a manimal. That’s all there is to it. I’m stoked to be Blu Cru teammates with the man.
How do you balance the desire (and sometimes necessity) to be friends with the top riders, yet keep your journalistic integrity and objectivity? Obviously, you want to bro down with some of the coolest and fastest guys on the planet (AC, Roczen, etc), but you might have to say they sucked in your podcast a week later...enlighten us on the balancing act.
That’s the million-dollar question, right? Honestly, I’ve had the two riders you named in your question mad at me at one time or another. You just have to be yourself I think and offer up an educated opinion on the racing both good and bad. It is a balancing act and some guys, like Jason Anderson and Joey Savatgy, don’t talk to me, won’t come on the shows for things I have said. The riders should get it, this is my job to be fair and balanced about the sport and I think the following I have with the fans of the sport should indicate that I’m doing something right…right? Anything I write or say about them, I would say to them directly and I’m in the pit every week so I’m easy to find. Some others in the MX media are not and I think that’s one way to piss off the riders/teams. Sometimes, I’ve had to apologize to a rider or a team for getting something wrong but I’m good with that also, we all make mistakes, right? I just try to be myself good or bad I guess.
We've all seen what the Baker’s Factory can do with champions and factory level riders. How well do you think the Baker program would work with a privateer? Could it turn an A-Ray or an Adam Enticknap into a top ten or 12 guy?
I think it would help for sure but how much, I’m not sure. Does the privateer rider also have a factory bike, engineers, and practice bike mechanic as well? Or we just talking about fitness? I mean, the one thing you can control as a racer is your fitness, right? Some of these guys wake up with no job and nothing to do day in and day out and they can’t do a 20-minute main event. It’s amazing to me. So yes, the Baker program would help anyone to do better but he’s taken guys like Jake Weimer and Tyla Rattray who were factory riders and not gotten them to many wins or any titles so it’s not that simple.
Let me put you on the spot Matthes for your version of the Glen Helen—Fox Racway at Pala, saga?
The promoter of the previous Pala Nationals tells an interesting tale.
I don’t know anything about the last Pala National outside of the parking issues that many people had but it was fine for me seeing as how I get there balls early and leave balls late. And I don’t know what the deal was with Glen Helen and MX Sports this year. I do know that series sponsors of the nationals are always surprised when they show up at Glen Helen and they’ve just decided to do their own thing and screw everyone else. Which sounds about right for them. They should be ashamed of their “charity ride” the day of Pala National and that they used Tom White’s name before Tom’s family asked them to not use it because Tom would never have approved what they wanted to do.
Will there be a team USA at this year’s Motocross of Nations race?
Yeah, I think so but as anyone who has listened to me knows, I think USA should sit this race out. It’s terrible planning for us, it’s expensive as hell for the riders and teams and as we’ve seen, there’s one person making a ton of money on this race and not giving very much back. Then, with the cards not in Team USA’s favor AT ALL, they lose and get shit on by a fair amount of people. Team USA, regardless of how they do, are the real attractions of this race and have so much stacked against them, they should hold out until the MXGP calendar can be worked a little bit to help, monies for travel handed out (it’s not just ship one bike and a rider/mechanic go anymore) or at least some sort of promise that the MXoN will be in the USA every third year or whatever. I mean, there comes a point where you’re just being a pushover, right? That’s what is happening to Team USA right now and all in the name of the flag. Flame away but that’s how I feel. Youthstream should take care of their biggest attraction to this race.
Still to this day I cannot fathom how Team USA couldn’t even make the podium at RedBud. That fact will live right alongside other eternal questions like why does a dryer eat socks and why can’t people use a merge lane properly?
With the results of Hunter Lawrence and Thomas Covington being as poor as they are, doesn't that mean the U.S. rules MX? If it were reversed, that’s what the Euros would say!
I don’t have any desire to get into two-stroke debates nor Euro MX vs USA MX debates. Lawrence will be a race winner soon in my opinion so let’s give him some time yeah? And please, everyone just calm down about this stuff, okay?
Steve, I saw you in the elevator in Minneapolis when I was riding up with JT. You looked absolutely fantastic. Did you change your diet? Or just start mountain biking more.
Thanks, man. Yeah, lots of mountain biking on the Intense Tazer! But yeah, I did change up my diet as well but not anything specific like Atkins or Keto or some sort of bat blood fad thing. I just ate smaller portions, skipped some meals, and cut way, way, way back on soda. These are all changes that anyone can do and in my opinion, stick to. Been getting a bit frustrated though as I’ve hit a plateau in last two or three months and can’t seem to drop anymore. Life on the road at the races certainly doesn’t help.
With your schtick being the "everyman" living the moto dream and with the access you give to your life through your venues, doesn't exposing so much of who you are to your listeners/ viewers get a little creepy and awkward sometimes? Is there a story that comes to mind?
Yes, sometimes it does but mostly it’s been a good thing so I’ll take some weirdos hitting me up now and then as a price you have to pay.
Since Ping has his own podcast, will he ever co-host on the PulpMX Show again? By far the best co-host on your show.
Sure, I’d have Ping up to co-host again but as I talked to him about way before he had his show, his “fees” for coming up were breaking our budget. We had intense contract talks for a while and I couldn’t get him down on it and that’s fine, he’s welcome to stand for what he believes he’s worth. I don’t have a problem with that at all but that’s the biggest reason for him not coming on for a long time, not the fact he’s got a show.
Steve, first and foremost, thank you for the hours and hours of high-quality content you put out each week. I know it's a grind, but you crush it week in and week out, so thank you.
Now, let's put your imagination to the test. Let's say that supercross and motocross picked up a huge series sponsor (somehow something bigger than Monster Energy and WPS) and there was a huge influx of money dumped into each series.
For the sake of the exercise, we'll assume that purse money has been increased, so that's off the board. What other improvements could a large cash injection provide? Could it push for better television viewing? Would it change any of the venues? Or the schedule? Would it be used to mass-market riders? What would happen if the sport as whole pulled in a basset hound-sized lump of cash?
Great question and I once had a promoter tell me that even he went and doubled the prize money right now, people would still complain and you know what? He’s right. But I’m still pumped you doubled the purse with your outside money.
I would make the teams “partners” as such and pay them for bringing riders and support to my series, it would help riders get paid or at least help owners field teams of riders each weekend. That would keep the sport healthy and get riders who put the show on paid, at least everyone in the main event should be guaranteed a nice chunk of change.
Depending on how much money “we’ve” gotten, I might set up a sort of production company and offer the races up as subscription service only. Screw the “catering to new fans” thing we’ve always been living on. Perhaps put a race or two on over the air TV to grab some stray people but for the most part, sell packages like MXGP or MotoGP to the fans if they want to watch all the races uninterrupted with great coverage. Maybe that thing will actually start to make some money someday also. Then I would give out huge wads of cash to media members.