Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the northeast coastal island of Nantucket, off Cape Cod. I'm on a little family vacation in Massachusetts on the eve of the Southwick National, which takes place at the track now known as The Wick 338. The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is going from its newest sandbox to its oldest, as the Florida National at Junior Scarborough's WW Ranch Motocross Park last Saturday outside Jacksonville was an impressive first-time outdoor national. It was a real track, sculpted by Jason Baker and crew, and a real test for the riders.
The temperature was up and the conditions were brutal, though as my colleague Steve "PulpMX" Matthes pointed out, we've seen much hotter and more stifling before. The unfortunate part is that it had been so long since it had been that hot that it really affected a few riders, namely first-moto 250 winner Chase Sexton and 450 co-points leader Ken Roczen, as well as a few others. Hopefully both had good, relaxing weeks to replenish their bodies and can get right back up there at the Wick.
The Florida National was the first time this series has been in Florida for 22 years, and it was also Junior's first major race. Yes, there was the MXGP of the Americas there over Labor Day weekend in 2017, but that event was promoter by Wynn Kern of Gatorback fame. The facility showed a lot of potential then, but it happened in the middle of hurricane season and the MXGP did not escape the rain. As a result, it was hard to see the full potential of the place, but Wynn and crew did a great job of salvaging the race, and when it came time to add a new round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross in the Southeast, WW Ranch was chosen. Junior and family and friends immediately went to work, making big changes to the track, the facility, the pits—they basically paved several football fields to make sure no one got stuck in the mud again—and pretty much the whole ranch. It turned out very good, but not perfect. There are plenty of things to work on, like spectator traffic flow, sight lines for the fans, a better industry section for the paddock to watch, maybe a big TV screen or two, and other logistics.
On the other hand, this was the best first-time national I have ever attended, and the crowd and the overall atmosphere were better than I remember at other recent newcomers to the series, like Ironman, Muddy Creek, Pala (both times), and Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. We had some kinks to work out upon arrival, but that stuff is easy when you have a promotional partner as eager and energetic as Junior and his team. For instance, those very cool-looking split lanes we showed last week presented a problem after the press-day ride. They were fun to ride and made for a lot of bench racing, and in theory as well as lead-up they were even, but once more than just a couple of bikes got out there, everyone started taking the same line. Sure, it would have moved to the other line once it got good and rough, but how long would that take? A few team managers were also concerned about what would happen if one title contender committed to one section and there was an accident or no blue flag on that side of the track and the guys got held up. Knowing from experience that those split lanes never quite work the way you want them to, we asked Jason Baker to reconsider. He immediately went to work, and one of the areas that everyone was concerned about became a great passing spot: both Adam Cianciarulo and Hunter Lawrence made some slick drop-in passes off the inside jump, and then Dylan Ferrandis used it to pass his teammate Justin Cooper for the lead in the second 250 moto.
Afterward, Baker's track got rave reviews from everyone from 450 race winner Marvin Musquin to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Zach Osborne and JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing's Alex Martin, who implied that it might be his favorite track on the circuit—which is saying something, since his family owns Spring Creek! All in all, I thought it was a very good track and event, and it will only get better next time (which will hopefully be a couple weeks earlier on the calendar).
So now it's on to Southwick, where we all know what to expect. Keith Johnson and crew will have the old soldier in tip-top shape, and though we are expecting another hot afternoon, it's a different kind of hot up here in New England. Defending series champ Eli Tomac certainly knows his way around The Wick, as does Team Honda's Roczen. The question is how quickly Kenny can rebound. And don't forget, the winner here last year was actually Musquin on the Red Bull KTM. He's got a head of steam up now, finally, and will be looking to add another W in the sand. And Osborne and Jason Anderson have both been going faster than their overall results show, so don't count them out either.
In the 250 Class, Justin Cooper got that coveted first pro victory, and he did it with 2-2 scores. He's from Long Island, so this is one of his "local" races on the schedule. And he showed us all that he can certainly ride the sand at WW Ranch. But he, too, looked a little spent after the races last week, and recovery will be the question mark. He had a rough day at Southwick last time, only mustering 17-9 scores for 15th overall on a problematic day. The winner was his teammate Ferrandis, who posted 4-1 moto scores, just as he did last weekend in Florida. And here's some food for thought: I mentioned Cooper's 17-9 on his last visit to Southwick. Well, series points leader Adam Cianciarulo wasn't here last year, as he was injured, but the year before he only went 15-9 for tenth overall. Neither Justin nor Adam can afford to have another Southwick like they had the last time they raced here.
Okay, back to my little break while I still have a Friday afternoon left.
On a more somber note, this edition of Racerhead is dedicated to Cambridge, Illinois' Ryder Schnowske, who tragically lost his life following a crash this past weekend at Baja Acres. Ryder was just 15 years old. RIP, Ryder.
Recovery Time (Jason Weigandt)
I got a chance to check in with some riders today about recovery after a tough weekend at WW Ranch, starting with Chase Sexton, who went 1-DNF after the heat got to him. Chase said he actually felt pretty good this week, he didn’t do quite as much riding as usual but he was definitely able to ride and didn’t feel worse for wear. He’s still not sure why he felt the way he did—Chase has logged plenty of 30 plus twos in the Florida heat and has never had a problem before. He thinks maybe the problem is that at home, you can literally hang out in the air conditioning directly before and after the motos, but at the races you have more lag time outside. Or maybe he was just riding extra hard trying to get his first career moto win. Chase did say he’ll take a 1-DNF any day compared to the 5-4 type days he’s been having lately.
Jason Anderson said he and his Baker’s Factory mates took Monday off from riding, which they usually don’t do unless they’re traveling. They did still do a bike ride, though. Zach Osborne told me he felt pretty rough Sunday and Monday, but by Tuesday he was okay. Osborne also mentioned last week that he feels the first three to four laps of the motos are his weakness. He’s not changing his routine during the week but instead just focusing more on making the first laps of his 30s at home more intense, really focusing on sprint speed early.
Michael Mosiman has been very good lately in the 250 class (he tied Adam Cianciarulo for a podium last week but AC won the tie-breaker) but that run won’t continue this weekend—he’s out after a practice crash during the week. Michael wanted to tough this race out, but he struggled trying to put together a moto during practice and team manager Bobby Hewitt thought it would be better to play it safe. Mosiman’s confidence is growing and Hewitt doesn’t want him to come in here hurt, struggle, and lose some of the momentum.
Fredrik Noren has been killing it as a privateer this year, but don’t let the good weekends fool you. It has been very hard, with Freddie having to do his own bike work during the week. His wife Amy told me today at times Fredrik was even running a fever, not from being sick, but just from the workload of being the racer/mechanic/truck driver and more, while still trying to train and ride. After High Point, he hit rock bottom and was considering giving up, or maybe trying a few races in Canada to try to get a ride there. He hired a practice mechanic at ClubMX to help, but he was still feeling completely burnt out. Amy thought Freddie should take a shot at the WW Ranch race because he’s gotten good in the sand riding at ClubMX. Turned out to be their best move ever, because his ninth in Florida caught the attention of the JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing team, who put him on a factory Suzuki this week. Freddie was so happy today because he didn’t have to do anything! The team handles all the details he’s been sweating for the first five races. Also, when testing the bike, the team told Noren to bring one of his Hondas so he could take lap times. If he still liked the Honda better or wanted more time on the Suzuki, they would have given him another week or two to test. But Fredrik liked the bike immediately, and his lap times were better. So this is a feel-good story for certain—at long as he keeps logging these strong results!
NOREN IN, CHIZ OUT (Matthes)
After “Fast Freddie” Noren's great ride at WW Ranch, I went to the back of the pits (well, actually the front) to find him to talk about his day. I stumbled onto JGRMX's Jeremy Albrecht and Buddy Antunez deep in discussions with Freddie about testing their bike that coming week. So it wasn't much surprise to hear the news that Noren got the gig over there for the rest of the season as a fill-in for the injured Justin Hill. Noren's been a Honda guy forever, this round is halfway through the series, and I wonder how long it will take Freddie to get used to the Suzuki. I hope it works out for both sides, but I don't see how Noren can get much better than his finishes at Pala and WW. Therefore the JGR guys might get a little frustrated that the friendly Swede can't back up the ride he just had. Count me in the skeptical group for this switch just because of the differences in bikes.
Having said that, Noren had his wife, Amy, running the pit board at WW and no mechanic, so he was doing all the work before/between motos and STILL did all that. I'm stoked for Fred and Amy—good things happen to good people, and this is going to relieve a lot of stress for them, I'm sure. Last week he did something incredibly rare for a privateer, or really any rider: he managed to pass not one but two red-plated factory riders on the same day. Noren went around Tomac in the first moto, though Eli got him back. Then Freddie passed Roczen in the second moto. When has something like that ever happened before?
As far as Kyle Chisholm … yeah, he hadn't put in great results for the team, but I mean, c'mon, he barely rode after the Vegas SX and then jumped on the bike with one ride for High Point. He got to ride a bit more on the off week, but I think it was a total of five rides. He just hadn't gotten a real chance to get up to speed. The heat got to him big time in the second moto, but guess what: it got to a lot of riders. I don't know, I just think he would've gotten better, and four motos is a quick yank for the veteran. Having said that, though, right now Noren's a better rider in motocross than the #11, and I guess that's the bottom line for the JGR guys. Just a tough deal for Kyle for sure. Welcome to pro MX!
JOHN CHOATE (CONT'D) (DC)
Last week we showed you some of the hilarious photos that our friend John Choate had shot with his qualifying "ticket" to Loretta Lynn's. Here are a few more—the hits just keep coming!
REDBUD PRIVATEER HELP (DC)
Longtime RedBud announcer and all-time fast guy Larry Witmer let us know this week that Mustang Sally's MX Park, a motocross track located near the South Bend Airport (54499 Pine Road, South Bend, IN 46628) is opening to any AMA Pro Motocross racer looking for a place to practice the week before the RedBud National. Starting next Monday, July 1, track manager Mike Kalass will have the place ready for any AMA Pro-licensed rider to both camp and race in the days leading up to RedBud, which is about 20 minutes away. Camping is available there at no charge, and Mike will groom and water the track as needed each day. If you have any questions or are looking for more information, check out Mustang Sally's MX Park on Facebook or you can call Mike at 574-215-7222.
REDBUD SPECTATOR HELP (DC)
Our longtime buddy Pat Schutte wrote this—it's good stuff—so we'll just let him tell you about LaRocco's Leap Light Beer:
It just doesn’t get much more American than standing along a fence with a can of beer at a motorsports event. And when you combine Michigan’s premier motorcycle event with the white-hot Troy Lee “Whiskey Throttle Show,” featuring Ping & GL, and a well-known local brewer the result becomes nothing short of “RrrrreeddBuuddd” legend.
Introducing LaRocco’s Leap Light Beer. Born from America’s passion for high speeds, big air and brews. A pretty simple formula that lends itself to an American golden ale, brewed full flavor, but not too heavy or hoppy, and served up ice cold trackside at America’s Motocross Track—RedBud.
“So we brewed up a new concept for the race track and Round Barn—LaRocco’s Leap Light, which at four-percent alcohol by volume, is perfect for a long day at the track,” said Matt Moersch, CEO of Moersch Hospitality Group (parent company of Round Barn).
The brainchild of Round Barn’s Jordan Roberts, a racer and former motocross media member, LaRocco’s Leap Light also has the stamp of approval from the Leap’s namesake—Mike LaRocco himself.
Said LaRocco: “I think it’s a fun idea. Having LaRocco’s Leap has already been a cool thing for me. And like they say: ‘Everything’s better with beer!’”
LaRocco’s Leap Light by Round Barn will be available on Friday at The Whiskey Throttle Show, at all the beer stands on Saturday, and again at the Beer Tent Saturday night.
Well, we finally got a resolution to the Cade Clason WADA suspension when the news dropped this week that he was now free to get a professional license. It's been two years for Cade, who supplied a TUE letter for his Adderall use, got the letter rejected, gave some more information, then never heard back from WADA again. Assuming he was good to go was a bad idea for Cade, and two years later, he's ready to race.
I spoke to Cade for a Privateer Island podcast coming out next week, and he stressed that without AMA president Rob Dingman, the VP at the FIM now, he might've still been waiting to see what his penalty was. In short, he never actually got sentenced—it was just a "Well, it's been long enough for you—you're good to go now” deal. He takes the blame for the whole ordeal, but again, as we've seen with Broc Tickle and Christian Craig, the whole system is terrible, and it seems like the FIM enjoys treating our athletes like crap. I know there's a whole new crew running the FIM, and as I said, Dingman is a big part of this coming to an end, but count me as still skeptical.
Cade tried to race RedBud, but entries are already maxed out, so not sure when we'll see the #280 out there at a USA national. He's got the Canadian series kicking off (Tickle was told he can't race anywhere professionally or his suspension will go on forever; Clason raced in Canada for the past two years with no problem. See what I mean?), but he definitely wants to race in the USA ASAP, and we'll see him in 450SX in 2020. I'm glad it's all over for him, but to me, he just got sentenced to two years for something that should've been a month or two.
LIVE SHOW (Matthes)
Friday night before Washougal, I'm teaming up with Racer X to do another live podcast show at the Alberta Rose Theatre. Tickets start at $20. Thanks to Fly Racing for making this happen. The 2020 gear will be there to check out as well. Weege, JT, Keefer, and a couple of special guests will drop by, and it should be a blast. Tickets HERE.
This past weekend at WW Ranch we ran in to Dan Acosta from cycledump.com, and he had a really cool gift for us: this photo annual that depicts the entire 2018 season from his lens. Dan is a great photographer and focuses on a lot of the privateers out there giving it their all. We also asked him to contribute some from this season as well, which you can see below:
MX19-Rd05-60-Starling-126 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-270-Runkles-314 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-291-Merrett-324 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-56-Locurcio-120 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-69-Materpool-142 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-194-Robin-255 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-309-Smith-337 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-221-Jorgensen-280 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-110-Watanabe-199 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-815-Eigenmann-549 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-168-Kuchnicki-242 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-303-Hand-331 Davey Coombs MX19-Rd05-402-Greenwalt-385 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-647-Hubert-497 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-407-Nelko-393 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-214-Martin-272 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-101-Noren-184 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-507-Tomasunas-433 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-65-Rodriguez-134 CyleDump.com MX19-Rd05-Track-607 CyleDump.com
HYDRATION CONCEPTS (DC)
Doug Brown Jr. was watching the Florida National last week and was concerned about some of the struggles he saw riders like Chase Sexton and Cameron MacAdoo have after their races. He called to tell me about a couple of hydration products that are cutting-edge in regards to how they help an athlete in critical tests. One is called Skratch Lab, and the other is Osmo.
Brown has experienced dehydration and heat exhaustion and became an expert of sorts in this field. He asked me to share it with everyone, whether you're riding Lucas Oil Pro Motocross this summer or going to Loretta Lynn's in late July/early August. Please give either a look, and study up on whether such a drink might be right for you. (And thanks, Doug, for the tips and explanation!)
JUSTIN COOPER'S FIRST (Andras Hegyi)
Yamaha has been the most successful brand in the 250 Pro Motocross since 2014, taking championships with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Jeremy Martin (2), Cooper Webb, and Aaron Plessinger. Among the brands, Yamaha has the most wins (32) and the most titles (4) from 2014 to today. In relative terms, Yamaha was more successful from 2014-'19 than between 1974 and '13. When Jeremy Martin won the title in '14 he put an end to Yamaha’s winless streak—they had not won a 250 outdoor national win since 2004, and it was Yamaha’s first small-bore championship title since 1992.
That '14 season was a turning point for Yamaha. They have since been able to win every season. In the 40 previous seasons between 1974-'13, 15 Yamaha riders collected a total of 64 wins. But the last five and a half years have seen seven different Yamaha riders take 32 total victories. The latest Yamaha winner is Justin Cooper, who last Saturday became the 22nd Yamaha winner, and he got the 96th win for Yamaha in 125/250 Class.
Yamaha winners in the 125/250 Class
Broc Glover (14 wins)
Jeff Emig (13)
Jeremy Martin (11)
Bob Hannah, Aaron Plessinger (8)
Cooper Webb, Kevin Windham (7)
Damon Bradshaw, Stephane Roncada (4)
Ron Lechien (3)
Tim Hart, Keith Bowen, John Dowd, Alex Martin, Dylan Ferrandis (2)
Doug Henry, Larry Ward, Chad Reed, Craig Anderson, Mike Brown, Christophe Pourcel, Justin Cooper (1)
ORANGE RELIEF (Andras Hegyi)
In MXGP, KTM is in an acute crisis, as they have not been able to get podium results for the last four GPs. The last time KTM had such a negative podium streak came back in 2016, when they went five consecutive rounds. In America, KTM did not win in any of the first four rounds. Moreover, in the first four rounds, KTM had only one overall podium result. But last Saturday in Florida, KTM’s losing streak in America was interrupted thanks to Marvin Musquin. The factory KTM rider got his eighth career victory in 450 Class. Musquin also became the sixth foreign rider to win in at least three seasons in the history of the 250/450 Class. Also, KTM became the fourth brand to win in at least eight consecutive seasons in the history of the 250/450 Motocross.
Non-American riders to win in at least three seasons in the 250/450 Class
Ken Roczen (Germany): 4 seasons (2014, '15, '16, '19)
Pierre Karsmakers (Holland): 3 ('73, '74, '76)
Greg Albertyn (South Africa): 3 ('96, '97, '99)
Sebastien Tortelli (France): 3 ('99, '00, '01)
Chad Reed (Australia): 3 ('09, '10, '11)
Marvin Musquin (France): 3 ('17, '18, '19)
Brands to win in at least eight consecutive years in the 250/450 Class
Kawasaki: Team Green won in 14 consecutive seasons between 1985 and '98.
Honda: The Red Riders were victorious in 11 consecutive years between 1982 and '92, then between 1995 and '04 Honda won in 10 years in a row.
Yamaha: The three-diapason brand won in eight successive seasons between 1972 and 1979.
KTM: The Orange brand got its maiden win in the 450 Class in 2012, and since then the Austrian brand has been able to win every season.
24 FOR PRADO (Andras Hegyi)
The Grand Prix of Germany last weekend was a very memorable event for the most successful Spanish motocrosser ever, the 18-year-old Jorge Prado. The reigning MX2 World Champion extended his contract with the Red Bull Factory KTM team for the next four seasons, according to which he will race in the premier class, MXGP, until at least 2023. (So no U.S. seasons for him, despite it being talked about it for a long time.) Prado celebrated his new contract with his ninth overall win of the season, as well as his 24th career win, all in the MX2. Prado has caught up with his mentor, nine-time world champion Antonio Cairoli, on the all-time MX2 wins list. Only Jeffrey Herlings has more MX2 wins. The Dutchman got 61 in MX2 before moving up to MXGP, and Prado’s chances of catching Herlings are slim—he will have to move up in 2020 if he wins this MX2 title, which seems almost certain, barring a second-half injury.
Prado debuted in the FIM Motocross World Championship in 2016 and has been a regular rider there since 2017. He marked his 24th win in his 51st start. Prado’s winning rates are very similar to Herlings'. At the GP of France in 2013, the Flying Dutchman got his 24th win in his 51st start. But Cairoli needed much more time to reach his 24th win. The Italian legend debuted in the series in 2002 and has been a permanent fixture there since 2004. The Sicilian got his 24th win in 2008 in Sweden, in what was his 76th start.
The August 2019 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The August 2019 issue of Racer X magazine is now out. Sign up now for the print and/or award-winning digital edition. And if you're already a digital subscriber head to digital.racerxonline.com to login. In this issue we check out how Lucas Oil Pro Motocross offers a second chance at titles for riders in both classes. No Fear MX exploded onto the motocross scene in the nineties, and we detail their rise and fall. Get to know new champions Chase Sexton and Dylan Ferrandis. For over 50 years, the Oxley family has made Costa Mesa Speedway America’s prime destination for speedway racing, and we find out why. All these features and much more inside the August issue. Print subscribers can also open up the issue and unfold a collectible poster of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Adam Cianciarulo. Here are the feature articles you’ll find inside:
“Clean Start” by Davey Coombs
The opening rounds of the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship offered a second chance at a title for top riders in both classes.
“The King's New Clothes” by Steve Matthes
Jeremy McGrath, Travis Pastrana, and more spoke with us for this oral history of No Fear MX gear and how it came and went.
“Alternative Methods” by Jason Weigandt
When Austin Forkner and Adam Cianciarulo faltered at the end of supercross, Chase Sexton and Dylan Ferrandis took their star turns. Get to know two new champions.
“A Night At The Speedway” by Mike Emery
For over 50 years, the Oxley family has made Costa Mesa Speedway America’s prime destination for speedway racing.
"10 Minutes With... Ryan Villopoto" by Steve Matthes
Check in with Ryan Villopoto about his summer plans.
Moto trainers going head to head in 2 Tribes, Diamond Don’s Riverport International Vintage Motocross race in Texas, how to attack sweeping corners, proper hand-control lubrication, rules for starting-gate movement, and much more.
All this—and more—exclusively in the August 2019 Issue of Racer X magazine. Not a subscriber? Sign up now for the print and/or digital edition.
Hey, Watch It!
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Review Podcast comes in with the Jasons joining host Steve Matthes to talk about the Florida National. The trio does their usual gig—talking about the highlights from the weekend. Check it out.
Matthes also caught up with JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing communications manager John Basher to talk about the new JGRMX motor kits for RMZ’s, his job at JGR, his start at Motocross Action, his years there, and more.
Daniel Blair and Producer Joe bring in Episode #124 of the Main Event Moto Podcast as the two are joined in the bat cave by none other than the Vincent "V$" Blair. This week, the trio watches and comments on the second motos from Florida. The three each provide their uppers and downers for the week and Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport and sometimes it goes off the rails. Listen to Episode #124 of the Main Event Moto Podcast below.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“Bear enters Montana home, settles in for nap in closet”—AP News
“The suspect in Pinky the flamingo's death is struck by a truck and killed”—CNN
“It’s so hot in Spain that manure self-ignited, sparking a 10,000-acre wildfire”—CNN
"Chad Reed Is Racing This Weekend”—Exhaust
Southwick NATIONAL RACER X ALL-DAY PIT PASSES | LIMITED QUANTITIES LEFT
Going to the Southwick National 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 $90*.
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.
*Purchase of this Racer X Pit Pass includes a general admission ticket.
SUBSCRIBE AT Southwick AND GET ALL 12 EVENT STICKERS
Are you headed to the Southwick National 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!
There's a new track in Sturgis, South Dakota, that is a joint project from Micky Dymond and Jeff Ward. They will have their first big race in August—check it out right here.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #26.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!