Main Image: Mitch Kendra
Welcome to Racerhead. There are just two races left in the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, tomorrow’s GEICO Motorcycle Budds Creek National here in Maryland and next weekend’s big finale, the Ironman National in Indiana. Neither title has been settled, but the red plates are on a couple of green bikes and time is running out for everyone else. More on that in a moment.
Last Friday evening at twilight, privateer Jonathan Mayzak from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, was tragically killed in an automobile accident. Mayzak and his brother were crossing New York’s Route 8 right in front of the Unadilla MX race track when he was hit by an automobile. Paramedics and state troopers did their best to revive Mayzak but the impact with the car left him with severe injuries. He passed away the next day in the Utica hospital. The driver was arrested on suspicion that he was driving under the influence. It was a terrible and unexpected tragedy that rocked the whole paddock. Tonight, here at Budds Creek, there will be a candlelight vigil for Jonathan. And earlier today his friend Bobby Piazza went out and rode press day with Mayzak’s #210 jersey in honor of his fallen friend and fellow rider.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help offset the costs of Jonathan’s funeral, as well as helping out his fiancé Kenzie Hebbleman—they were to be married in October. Please donate if you can right here.
Godspeed Jonathan Mayzak. He was 20 years old.
UNADILLA AT 50 (DC)
Having been founded in 1969 by Ward Robinson, and then hosting its first professional race in 1970, Unadilla was celebrating 50 years of professional motocross this past weekend. The track was its usual rough and challenging self, and Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen put in a superb ride in taking a 1-1 victory in the 450 Class. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac seemed a little off his usual self and did not reach the podium, though he maintains a 40-point lead with just four motos left to go in the season. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin went 2-2 for second overall.
In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis was once again the overall winner, but points leader Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo was able to split moto wins and runner-up finishes with Dylan, which means he maintains a 28-point lead in that class. GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton ended up third overall with 3-3 motos.
(What does every name in the two paragraphs—Roczen, Tomac, Musquin, Ferrandis, Cianciarulo and Sexton—above have in common? None of them are competing in the 2019 Motocross of Nations. More on that later.)
The other big story at Unadilla was the debut of several prominent prospects, including three Amsoil Honda riders in Jett Lawrence, Carson Mumford and Jo Shimoda, as well as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll, the 2019 AMA/Nicky Hayden Horizon Award winner from Loretta Lynn’s. Unadilla is a very rough track to start your professional career, and all of them showed both their inexperience as well as flashes of brilliance.
Swoll ended up with a groin injury that will keep him out of these last two rounds, and Shimoda crashed hard in both motos. Mumford was the steadiest with 16-20 finishes while Lawrence, the Australian, had the best moto with a come-from-behind eighth-place the second time out after DNF’ing the first moto. And as we mentioned last week, Lawrence has a second shot at a seemingly unbreakable record when he lines up tomorrow—he will be 16 years, 10 days old, which is the same age Marty Tripes was in 1972 when he won the first Superbowl of Motocross, setting the standard for the youngest SX/MX winner ever in AMA racing.
For Budds Creek tomorrow, Tom Covington is back as he tries to salvage what he can from what’s been a really rough season. And Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy is out as he and his wife are expecting their first child any moment now. Good luck to the Savatgys!
TEAM USA (DC)
Last weekend Team USA was announced at Unadilla, and as expected, it’s Rockstar Energy Husqvarna riders Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson on the big bikes, and Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Justin Cooper on the 250. I believe this is a solid team of strong riders, good starters and, in the case of Zach and Jason, a couple with experience on this stage. Of course there was talk of Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb joining the team earlier this summer, but without Tomac and Cianciarulo, he decided that he was going to use the five weeks between the end of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the Motocross of Nations in Holland to make the transition back to supercross, where he will defend his 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship.
Those aforementioned Americans aren’t the only AMA riders skipping. As mentioned before, Roczen is not going for Germany, neither Musquin nor Ferrandis wanted to ride for France, and Fredrik Noren is not riding for Sweden either. We’ve gone over it many times here; that the timing of the race no longer matches up well with what’s going on here in America, with Pro Motocross ending in August and the Monster Energy Cup in early October, and we’re seeing it become easier and easier for guys to pass on this event. And it has nothing to do with Team USA winning or losing—the guys I just listed would all be riding for different countries, but they have the same challenges with the timing. We’re locked into a long schedule here that begins with a couple of months of supercross testing and training, then goes for more than four months of supercross racing, then a quick pivot to outdoors and more than three months of that. The only month off is September, and even then, guys are already working and testing.
I don’t have the answers on how to make it all work for both AMA riders and the MXGP schedule and the actual MXoN date each year, but I did read one take this week that had a point I never really thought of, but it's a good point by Vital MX's Chris Cooksey:
The other big issue is timing, as having an outdoor race five weeks after the American series ends almost completely eliminates a rider's off-season. Either schedule the MXDN closer to the end of the national series or like other sports, have the event on a bi-yearly or Olympic cycle (four years). How much luster would the Olympics, World Cup (soccer) or Ryder Cup (golf) lose if they were held every year? Asking athletes to represent our country every single offseason isn’t realistic or fair to them.
For the rest of Cooksey’s take on Team USA, Team Kawasaki and the Motocross of Nation, click here.
No matter, I will be there in the Netherlands, excited to cheer our boys on, celebrate motocross with the rest of the fans who gather annually at the great big motocross festival that is the MXoN, and hopefully Team USA can get back on the winning side of the results.
Team USA Details (Andras Hegyi)
This 2019 edition will be the 73rd FIM Motocross of Nations, in existence since 1947. This will be the 44th time that Team USA takes part in the race. Team USA debuted at the MXoN in 1971 and after that season Team USA missed only five other MXoN events: 1979, '80, '01, '02 and '04. During their 43 previous attempts, Team USA got 22 wins. Team USA is the most successful nation.
Both Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne are ready for their second appearances for Team USA, while Justin Cooper will be an absolute rookie at the MXoN. The 22-year old Cooper is the 65th American to get selected for Team USA at the MXoN. The most times anyone has represented Team USA was seven times by Jeff Ward, all Team USA wins.
Justin Cooper is the 17th Yamaha rider to get selected for Team USA. In the past MXoN editions the other Yamaha riders were: Gary Jones, Jimmy Weinert, Bob Hannah, Rick Burgett, Broc Glover, Ricky Johnson, Damon Bradshaw, Jeff Emig, John Dowd, Doug Henry, Tim Ferry, Justin Barcia, Jeremy Martin, Cooper Webb, Alex Martin, and Aaron Plessinger.
This is the ninth MXoN (since 1985 when the class was added) that a Yamaha lines up for Team USA in the small-bore class. Before Justin Cooper, there was Damon Bradshaw, Jeff Emig, Aaron Plessinger, the Martin brothers Jeremy and Alex.
Forty-four years ago, Team USA had two Husqvarna riders at the MXoN. That race was held in what used to be Czechoslovakia, and Kent Howerton and Brad Lackey were those two Husqvarna riders of the four members of Team USA, while this 2019 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna riders Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson will be with Team USA. And like Howerton and Lackey, Anderson and Osborne will have taken part in at least two MXoNs as Husqvarna riders. Anderson's first MXoN appearance was in 2016, while Osborne’s first MXoN race happened in 2017. The record-holder is Howerton who, between 1975 and '78 raced in 3 MXoNs with Husqvarna for Team USA. (And don't forget that Osborne has more experience than just Team USA; in 2010 he rode for Team Puerto Rico when the event was at Thunder Valley.)
THE OTHER TEAM USA (DC)
Just to tack on something to Andras' details on Team USA and the Motocross of Nations, from 1970 to 1984 Team USA also participated in what was called the Trophy des Nations. Back then, the Trophee race was for four-rider national teams on 250cc motorcycles while the Motocross des Nations (now "of") was four riders on 500cc motorcycles. The FIM did away with having two races in 1985 and consolidated them into one big race, the MXoN, with three different riders on three different sized bikes. Team USA first competed in 1970 in Sweden, with the team of Mark Blackwell, Bob Grossi, and Dick Robbins, all Husqvarna riders. They participated again in 1971 but it was a haphazard effort, with not all of the riders showing up. A real effort for this 250cc race was finally put together in 1975 and the quarter of Tony DiStefano, Jimmy Weinert, Brad Lackey, and Kent Howerton finished third. Team USA did not show at the event in 1979 or '80, but in 1981 they began reshaping the motocross world with shocking wins at both the Trophee and Motocross des Nations with the all-Honda line-up of Donnie Hansen, Danny LaPorte, Johnny O'Mara, and Chuck Sun. Team USA would also win in '82, '83 and '84, each time with vastly different lineups. Their four-race winning streak ended when the race itself ended its run, so as of right now, while we haven't won the MXoN in a half-dozen years, we remain defending Trophee des Nations champions!
40 FOR KROC (Andras Hegyi)
The German ace Ken Roczen is one of the most successful foreign riders in the history of American motocross and supercross. He is the only German champion and winner in the professional AMA Pro Motocross series, though back in 1973 German legend Adolf Weil won the old Trans-AMA tour from Roger De Coster. Like the French import Marvin Musquin and the Australian hero Chad Reed, Roczen has scored wins in four different AMA series. And like Reed, Roczen has won in the 450 Class of Pro Motocross with at least three different brands. Regarding the number of championship titles and wins, Roczen is the most successful non-American rider in 250/450 AMA motocross. He is the only foreigner to be two-time 450 Class Pro Motocross champion, while last Saturday Roczen collected his 18th win in that division. At the same time Roczen’s Unadilla win counted for his 40th podium result in the 450 Class. Roczen became the ninth rider to reach the 40th podium, while besides Reed, he is only the second non-American rider to have at least 40 podiums in the history of 250/450 AMA motocross. Reed has 45 podiums. Besides Roczen and Reed, Ricky Carmichael is tops (84 podiums), then Ryan Dungey (69), Kevin Windham (55), Mike LaRocco (53), Eli Tomac (45), Rick Johnson (43), and Bob Hannah (41) have all got at least 40 podium results.
Roczen took his 40th podium in his fifth season riding in his 58th race. He has been in the 450 Class since 2014, but he missed the entire 2017 summer because of injury. Among the mentioned riders above Carmichael needed the shortest length of time to get his 40th podium. The GOAT took his 40th podium in his fourth season and in just his 43rd race. LaRocco needed the longest length of time to do it as the Rock got his 40th podium in his tenth season and in his 99th race.
One note to add: Jean-Michel Bayle also won in four different AMA series, but he skipped 125 SX altogether and went straight to the premier class, and then there were three AMA Pro Motocross championships: 125, 250, and 500. He won races in all three of those divisions and took all three titles (AMA SX, 250 MX, and 500 MX) titles in 1991.
THE NUMBER: 4 (Andras Hegyi)
So far in the history of 250/450 AMA Pro Motocross there have been 24 tracks where non-American riders could win. They are: Cal-Expo in Sacramento, Baymare, Hangtown, and Glen Helen in California, Straddleine and Washougal in Washington, Manning in Utah, Baldwin in Kansas, Unadilla in New York, Appalachia Lake in West Virginia, Gran-Am and Kenworthy’s in Ohio, Southwick in Massachusetts, Gatorback and Jacksonville in Florida, High Point and Steel City (PA), Spring Creek (MN), RedBud (MI), Freestone (TX), Budds Creek (MD) Thunder Valley (CO), Muddy Creek (TN), and Ironman (IN). The foreign riders were the most successful at Hangtown as they got eight wins over the years between the two venues, first in Plymouth and now in Rancho Cordova. But foreign riders now have their longest consecutive winning streak at Unadilla.
Last Saturday Ken Roczen took what turned out to be the fourth consecutive non-American victory at Unadilla, a track with rich international racing history that celebrated its 50th birthday last weekend. Before 2019 Roczen won in '16 at ’Dilla, while the French KTM rider Marvin Musquin won there both in 2017 and '18. By having four consecutive foreign victories, Unadilla overtook High Point where between 1999-2001 there were three successive non-American wins as the South African Greg Albertyn won there in '99, while the French rider David Vuillemin won there both in 2000 and '01.
BUSY SEASON (David Pingree)
New bike season continues, and this week we got to ride Yamaha's new 450. A multitude of changes to the engine, frame, brakes, seat, ignition, spark plugs, suspension, and front axle, among other things, equate to the best YZ450F yet. Former 125 Supercross champion and Yamaha test rider, Travis Preston, was on hand to help with setup and explain how they got to the settings they chose. The 2020 YZ and YZF models are in dealers now and ready to buy. Keep an eye out for our introduction video on here soon.
After a brief summer vacation, The Whiskey Throttle Show kicked back off this week with legendary tuner, Brian Lunniss. Brian has led an amazing life and the riders he worked with include Grossi, DiStefano, Thorwaldson, Noyce, Hannah, Johnson, Bradshaw, Craig, Kiedrowski, and Huffman. He earned 12 titles with those riders and then made a move to four-wheel racing. After a successful stint in Indy Car Racing, he joined Joe Gibbs Racing with Bobby LaBonte's team. In his first year as the suspension technician for the team they won the NASCAR championship. Did I mention that he pitched an idea to the late Jim Hale about making gloves specifically for mechanics? It took a while for his idea to get traction but today, Mechanix Wear is the gold standard when it comes to protection for your hands in any arena. We spent four hours walking through his life and career and what was a fascinating string of stories. Be sure to watch on our YouTube channel or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher as the show is up now.
The october 2019 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The October 2019 issue of Racer X magazine is out now. 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.
Inside the October issue of Racer X Illustrated: How top riders deal with heat in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, behind the scenes of the film Bennett’s War, exploring Unadilla history, and a trip to Wheels & Waves in the south of France. All these features and much more inside the October issue.
“Triathlon” by Jason Weigandt
A brutally hot summer took its toll during a three-race stretch spanning the 2019 Florida, Southwick, and RedBud Nationals.
“Hollywood Moto” by Davey Coombs
Go behind the scenes of Bennett’s War and how it hopes to change the way motocross is presented on the silver screen.
“Unadilla Established 1969 - Part 2” by Davey Coombs
We explore the fabled New York track’s decades on the AMA Motocross circuit.
“French Dressing” by David Langran
What better place to visit in the summer than the south of France—especially during the arts-and-motorcycles party known as Wheels & Waves.
Poster Info (Print Edition Only)
Our pull-out collectible poster features Rockstar Energy Husqvarna riders Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne blasting around the Southwick National.
Hey, Watch It!
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Review Podcast comes in with Jason Thomas (in studio) and Jason Weigandt joining host Steve Matthes to talk about the Unadilla National. The trio does their usual gig, talking about the highlights from the weekend and whatever else weird stuff comes up. Check it out.
Matthes also caught up with FMX pioneer Clifford Adoptante joining me to talk about the early days of FMX, how he got into the sport, what got him out of it, his SX racing days, the problems he’s had with the law, getting sober, and more.
Time for our annual checkup with Ryan Sipes, now in year two of his do-it-all program racing supercross, motocross, off-road, flat track, and more. In the latest edition of The Racer X Exhaust Podcast with Jason Weigandt, Sipes explains how he tries to learn and pick up the process of each racing discipline, and then how he applies it in practice and on race day. Who knows? He might not be the only one doing this someday.
Daniel Blair and Producer Joe bring in Episode #129 of the Main Event Moto Podcast. This week, DB and Producer Joe are joined in the batcave by "Snap-On Dan." The trio talks about the 2019 Unadilla National. Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport and sometimes it goes off the rails. Listen to Episode #129 of the Main Event Moto Podcast below.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
"Chad Johnson Thinks Andrew Luck Should Soak His Ankle in Warm Urine”—The Big Lead
“Man dies after taco-eating contest at California baseball game”—CNN
Earlier this week I did The List about “three-peats” in AMA Pro Motocross and AMA Supercross, as Eli Tomac is closing in on what would be a third straight 450 MX title. I mentioned a few unique three-peats, like Jean-Michel Bayle in 1991 taking SX, 250 MX and 500 MX. But I left one off that a reader named Gene Pizza found, and he posted this in the comments:
Since we are expanding the definition a bit with Bayle, how about Mike Kiedrowski:
1991 - 125 Motocross National Champion
1992 - 500 Motocross National Champion
1993 - 250 Motocross National Champion
A bit different because 250s and 500s split the year, and Mike didn't win the '92 series on 250s. Still a weirdo factoid that won't ever be reached. Mike also won races in 125 & 250 supercross, and a 125 Grand Prix in Japan in '91, plus a 250 Grand Prix again in Japan in '92. Likely no one else has won races in all 7 of those series.
Budds Creek NATIONAL RACER X ALL-DAY PIT PASSES | LIMITED QUANTITIES LEFT
Going to the Budds Creek 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 $100*.
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 Budds Creek AND GET ALL 12 EVENT STICKERS
Are you headed to the Budds Creek 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!
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!