Welcome to Racerhead, and the last big U.S. race of the 2019 off-season. The Monster Energy Cup is going off in Las Vegas, with all of the usual razzle-dazzle that comes with the event: bright lights, bells and whistles, the massive trophy and even more massive potential prize money, one big pit party and all kinds of pretty Monster Girls, after-parties, pool parties, whacky track gimmicks and detours, and this year the Supercross Futures AMA Amateur National Supercross Championship, taking place on Sunday and Monday. The Monster Energy Cup race will be aired live tomorrow night on NBC Sports Network, as well as on NBC Sports Gold, beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
The Supercross Futures AMA National Championship will be livestreamed from Sam Boyd Stadium on Monday starting at 7:15 a.m. PT / 10:15 a.m. ET at supercrossfutures.com. Fans can tune into the Supercross Futures website to watch an entire day of championship racing as 24 classes will be contested starting with the first gate drop at 7:30 a.m. PT with the Supermini 1 (12-15) class and ending with the 65cc (7-9) class at 5:30 p.m. PT.
We will have coverage here on Racer X Online and on all of our social media throughout the events. It will be interesting to see if Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac can win another million-dollar bonus, as well as how Adam Cianciarulo looks in his 450 debut. Monster Energy Yamaha’s Justin Barcia and Aaron Plessinger are both back and hopefully ready to get back up to speed. And there will be some longshots like Malcolm Stewart back in action for the first time since he was hurt at Glendale last winter (besides the Montreal supercross a month ago), and Chad Reed hasn’t raced since Seattle, and he’s going to be riding an ARMA/CBDMD Honda CRF450R. And the wildest card of all is probably current MXGP #1 Tim Gajser, who will line up for supercross, something he doesn’t get to do very much. And then there is GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin, back on a starting gate for the first time since his nasty Muddy Creek crash of June 2018!
Unfortunately, the turnout of top AMA riders isn’t quite what it’s been in years past, as current AMA Supercross Champion Cooper Webb doesn’t quite feel ready, nor does ’18 AMA Supercross Champion Jason Anderson, who just spent a month in Europe, then came back and pulled out of the Straight Rhythm event two weeks ago. Team Honda’s Ken Roczen won RBSR but he is still dealing with health issues and is staying home this weekend. Same goes for Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. Justin Brayton is down in Australia racing. Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM-WPS’s Blake Baggett and Justin Bogle aren’t in the lineup either, Justin Hill just got signed to SmarTop/MotoConcepts Honda… The same “flu bug” that bit a bunch of guys before the 2019 FIM Motocross of Nations seems to be decimating the field in Las Vegas too. With Anderson and Zach Osborne out for this weekend, not to mention Justin Cooper suffering a hand injury at the MXoN, do you think AMA based teams will make that same bargain next year, and be absent from these high-profile U.S. races?
No matter. The Monster Energy Cup is supposed to be fun, and it almost always delivers, and I will be watching every race tomorrow night. My colleague Jason Weigandt has an idea how to maybe inject even more fun into it…
A Modest Proposal (Jason Weigandt)
I’ve really enjoyed watching Monster Energy Cup over the years, and some of the drama and battles at that race will stand out forever. Like the year Ryan Dungey had to hand shift his bike in the air due to a bent shifter. Then the exact same thing happened again in the very next race. Also, there was the year Dungey missed the Joker Lane in the first race, Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart went toe-to-toe in the second, and then Villopoto missed the Joker Lane too! Also, last year’s last-lap Eli Tomac/Joey Savatgy drama with the Monster Million launched a debate that will never end. It certainly was dramatic!
As DC mentioned above, it’s a bummer to not have all the stars there this weekend, and getting the riders is always the difficult challenge of a non-points-paying race. So, let me offer a modest proposal. The folks at Feld Entertainment can take this idea free of charge:
A few years ago, the NBA realized its All-Star game had grown stale. To inject new life, they scrapped the usual Eastern teams versus Western teams format and simply elected two team captains—LeBron James and Steph Curry—and told them they each had to pick a team. That was a pretty crazy idea, as fans had to wonder what players these guys would actually pick for their teams. What players were friends? What players were rivals?
Well, in this sport we already have one team event, the Motocross of Nations, and for one weekend it’s the most dramatic, nerve-wracking and exciting event around. What if Monster Energy Cup went with a similar format? Riders are selected as team captains, and each has to pick two teammates. As a catch, one of the three riders has to race a 250! Three-man teams in a three-moto format. Just like the Motocross of Nations…
(This format was used during the one-and-done FIM Riders and Manufacturers Cup in 2016, but it was brand-based teams only. That was okay but I think riders from different teams having to work together is part of the allure of MXoN. So I like that.)
As an example, let’s say the top five 450 riders in the final SX standings are captains. If Ken Roczen has to pick a team, could he sign up his buddy Adam Cianciarulo and get training partner Chase Sexton to rock the 250 spot? Wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe the team that wins splits the big purse money?
Anderson and Osborne didn’t finish top five in 450SX points, but some captain could be tempted to add them to his team, because they’re good riders. What if Tomac picked them, for one night turning racing rivals into teammates? Put Zacho on the 250 and place your bets! Man, I’d be super stoked for this race. Oh, you could never have guys from different racing teams and energy drinks on the same team, right? Well, that happens every year at ‘Nations. Plus, it would add some pressure and intrigue watching the riders interact on social media to link up…or not.
I realize that in a world focused solely on being ready for Anaheim, this would likely not happen. Maybe the chance to split some big money, and to race with your buddies in a unique format, would get some of these guys to race. Maybe. Maybe not?
MEC MANIA (Matthes)
Ok folks, the press conference for the Monster Energy Cup has just ended, the riders have hit the track and we’re ready to go racing tomorrow night. This race has always been a bit of a mixed bag over the years with a pretty basic track to accommodate the amateur racers, but the Joker Lane has always made things interesting. With the format this year of the track and start being run three different ways and the number of riders who have forgotten to take the said Joker Lane, how many riders will screw up the direction of the track? But wait, they have the Cardo communication system now! Should make for a fun time.
Here’s a few “observations” from press day
Monster Energy Sueprcross announced a two-year deal with CBDMD to be an associate sponsor of the series itself. Of course, this is the same company that sponsored Chad Reed last year and he was forced to, along with Dean Wilson with his CBD sponsor, cover up the logo due to laws and regulations that seemed to be in flux with the advent of all these CBD companies. Earlier today, some in the media met with Steve Payne, VP of Public Affairs for Feld and he explained that as of now things are a bit clearer for CBD advertising as opposed to last year (which Payne predicted when we met with him last year at Dallas SX) but it’s still not 100% approved everywhere. It’s still murky but not as murky as last year I guess? So for now, Feld has embraced the CBD companies and the riders and teams are free to grab some of that cash.
It was a bit surprising to see GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin show up here ready to race. I had talked to some people with the team that were hoping he’d be ready for east region 250SX. But J-Mart said he feels pretty good on the bike and decided to race this thing earlier this week. It’s awesome to see the #6 back on the track and he admitted that he’s not all the way back yet, but why not try?
Let’s be honest here, the MEC this year isn’t as star packed as usual with no Red Bull KTM riders here, no Roczen, no JGR, two of the Rockstar Husky guys not here, but that does mean we may seem some guys up front there that we don’t usually see. Of course, we’re all here for the heavy Adam Cianciarulo on a 450 for the first time maybe winning this thing talk. Give that to me directly in my veins please! Other guys can mix this up. Malcolm Stewart, for one, has been “on fire at the test track” and maybe he gets in there. Or maybe Justin Barcia, who’s in SoCal full-time this off-season for a change, gets his Anaheim 1 form back. Although I don’t think he’s going to be on the box, it’s going to be interesting to see World Champion Tim Gajser (who I can confirm is indeed using SX suspension this time around) out there. My point is, if you look hard enough behind the scenes, after the heavily favored Eli Tomac win we all expect, this MEC could provide some juicy storylines.
Watching the riders on track today, it’s clear that with the three different ways the track is being run, huge leaps in the rhythms won’t be easy. The jumps are built to be run both ways, so it’s not obvious what can and can’t be jumped. This could keep the wheels on the ground more and offer up some unique passing chances. Of course, maybe the guys weren’t giving it their all today and come race day they’ll be quadding everything and anything but right now, this track looks…interesting.
2020 MXGP Calendar (DC)
The latest version of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship calendar was released this week, and the news was good and not-so-good, depending on how you feel about old-school tracks, Italy, and the month September.
The good news is that Youthstream is leading off the 20-round series at a couple of very popular traditional tracks. It was widely believed that Great Britain would not be on the calendar at all and that Valkenswaard in the Netherlands might not be on the 2020 circuit either, but there they were, the first and second rounds of the tour. Steve Dixon’s Matterley Basin event will kick off the series on March 1, followed by Valkenswaard on March 8. Both facilities have held Motocross of Nations events in the past and multiple Grand Prix events.
From there they go to Argentina, then back to Europe for several rounds in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, and back to Russia. There is also a return to Maggiora, one of the most beautiful and historic tracks in the whole motocross world.
The two Indonesia races are back in June/July, then they return to Europe for more rounds. Then it’s two long trips, one to Turkey, which has been in the news here in the U.S. lately, on September 6, and then off to China on September 13. They will return to Europe for one more race in Italy (actually the third stop in Italy in 2020).
And that’s where things get a little complicated, at least in regard to what it means for the 2020 Motocross of Nations, which is scheduled for France on September 27. Lucas Oil Pro Motocross here in the U.S. actually goes all the way to the end of August, so any AMA-based Motocross of Nations riders have a slightly shorter amount of time to stay in shape at four weeks, but I doubt any AMA-based rider is going to want to stay in shape by going to race in Turkey or China. The third and final Italian race at Imola on September 20 would be a good event to try to stay sharp, but the sandy track there is nothing like the one the hard-pack hills they will find at Ernee.
My point is that I can already hear guys passing on the chance to go race in the MXoN given the scheduling and the possibility for yet another mudder. All three of our guys who went this year said they would like to go again, but all three guys ended up skipping both Red Bull Straight Rhythm and the Monster Energy Cup because they needed a little time off to rest and heal before jumping right into supercross again.
And I know that people will read this and say that the AMA guys should be there no matter what, yet only Gajser and Jordi Tixier decided to take on the challenge of coming to the Monster Energy Cup this weekend from Europe. I know the MEC is no MXoN, but it is on the other side of the world in the middle of the month that all of the MXGP guys prefer to take off…
Looking ahead to next year, twenty races is more rounds than they’ve ever run in MXGP (or any professional motocross series I can even think of) and those guys are going to be tired too. Adding races and extending the calendar is again risking the participation of a lot of top guys in the MXoN, just as we saw this year. Remember, not only did top American riders pass on the MXoN, but so did Ken Roczen, Dylan Ferrandis and more. For the future, we’re talking with NBC about trying to extend the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross tour by at least a week until Labor Day to try to keep guys interested in racing until close to the MXoN, but until the date of the MXoN is, say, two weeks away rather than a full month, top guys on this side of the ocean aren’t going to want to go. We should all get together—the AMA and FIM, Youthstream and MX Sports Pro Racing, and even Feld—to see if we can find a calendar model for 2021 that that works better for the ones who matter most, the riders themselves, because they are the ones deciding to stay home, and I don’t blame them.
Ready to Race Again (Andras Hegyi)
Nine-time FIM Motocross World Champion Antonio Cairoli has finally recovered. The Italian legend posted some videos of him back training on his KTM. And next weekend the KTM star is even going to race again.
Early in September Cairoli started to ride again, starting on an enduro bike. Then at the end of September, Tony C and his wife Jill welcomed their first child, born in Rome, named Chase Ben Cairoli. A few days later, at the beginning of October, Cairoli took part in testing a race car at Vallelunga, a track near Rome. And finally, last weekend Cairoli began his motocross training after a four-month hiatus.
Next weekend Cairoli will be racing at Jerez, Spain, driving in three races in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and the Lamborghini World Final. After racing rally cars and testing Formula 1 cars, Cairoli will debut in the GT car for the first time, driving a Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo. Cairoli and Lamborghini entered into an agreement with each other in March this year. Cairoli is a world ambassador for the world-famous Italian sports car brand.
This year Cairoli was fighting for his 10th world title. He led the points until the seventh round but then the injuries started happening, the most serious of which happened at the Grand Prix of Latvia in June. That's where he suffered a very bad shoulder injury that required surgery. Cairoli missed the last nine rounds and also the Motocross of Nations. As a result of dropping out early Cairoli got his worst overall result in the MXGP series, finishing tenth. Cairoli has been a regular rider in the FIM World Motocross Championship since 2004, and 2019 was his 16th season. Cairoli turned 34 on September 23, but he certainly does not look (nor ride) his age!
14 Years Later (DC)
We mentioned Andrew Short’s big win at the Rally of Morocco last week, riding for Rockstar Husqvarna. Turns out Shorty is still getting Cycle News covers after all these years, because he landed on the cover this week for his success in North Africa.
And here is Andrew's first Cycle News cover, which came in the summer of 2005 after he won his first 125 National at Millville, Minnesota. He was a Team Honda rider at the time.
Micky Dymond Update (DC)
Last week we told you about the very bad head injury that Micky Dymond suffered while cycling on the road in Orange County with David Bailey. Dymond had bleeding on the brain from the crash and was in a medically induced coma as doctors waited for the bleeding to stop before waking him up. Finally, early this week, Micky's girlfriend Brenda went into ICU and there was Micky, awake and asking what the heck was happening! She has been posting updates on his Instagram all week as friends like Jeff Ward and David Bailey and more have stopped in to see their old friend and rival. He is getting better by the hour, though he still has a long road ahead of him. Both Micky and Brenda are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support they received from friends all over the motorcycling industry.
On Tuesday, Brenda posted this:
Wow, what can I say... today was such a big day for all of us! To walk alone into ICU and to unexpectedly see Micky awake and call out my name was one of the most impactful moments in my life. ✨ Some of his family were able to visit soon after and I’m so glad to report that he knows who we all are and he’s engaging with us as best as he can. We are all so relieved! PT came in while I was there and we helped him walk on his is own in one session! ? (there’s the champion mindset!) And to paint a clearer picture for you, he is eating and drinking on his own too, along with many other details that just seem like absolute miracles right about now. Regarding a proper update, Micky is definitely improving, but his condition is still considered “critical”... he has some issues with time and what exactly happened and certainly has trouble finding the right words. All to be expected, considering that he just woke up. He will have a journey ahead, but what we have experienced today is the most excellent news. Thank you SO MUCH for all the love and prayers and good vibes. Please keep it coming for the road ahead ... we love you all ❤️ We also have to give a massive high five to his ICU care team, they have been excellent. I think I’ve buried my face in their arms on more than one occasion. Oh and a couple more things, I brought him ice cream this afternoon (nurse’s suggestion) and he was the happiest guy ever. I also showed him some posts/videos of people sending him get well wishes and riding for him and I could tell that he absolutely loved it. Next time we will do that with his reading glasses
View this post on Instagram
Brenda here with another update. First a big thank you to all for continuing to send Micky the best vibes. ?? Today was a big day! The amount of therapy is yet to be determined and we are slowly coming to grips with how long this process will be, but we continue to be grateful for every single day and every little milestone Micky makes✨ Check him out doing a hot lap in the Neuro Unit ?? He is trying so hard and really wants to improve. I loved watching him light up when David Bailey and Steve Weidler visited today (they were riding with Micky when he crashed and today was the first time they all got to be together since the accident). Micky also got to see his brother Donny which was really awesome, and of course Wardy came by again and it’s always a good time. We love you @jeffward3x! As for me @xtrema_girl, I’m just totally exhausted about now (day 8) but every time I see Micky smile and do something new (like shave!!!) I am reenergized and incredibly motivated. He’s really working hard to do all the therapy and so insanely strong willed you guys...it’s no wonder he is a Champion ??#truecolors #gomicky #lovewins ❤️
And then this went up yesterday:
Brenda here with another update. First a big thank you to all for continuing to send Micky the best vibes. ?? Today was a big day! The amount of therapy is yet to be determined and we are slowly coming to grips with how long this process will be, but we continue to be grateful for every single day and every little milestone Micky makes✨ Check him out doing a hot lap in the Neuro Unit ?? He is trying so hard and really wants to improve. I loved watching him light up when David Bailey and Steve Weidler visited today (they were riding with Micky when he crashed and today was the first time they all got to be together since the accident). Micky also got to see his brother Donny which was really awesome, and of course Wardy came by again and it’s always a good time. We love you @jeffward3x! As for me @xtrema_girl, I’m just totally exhausted about now (day 8) but every time I see Micky smile and do something new (like shave!!!) I am reenergized and incredibly motivated. He’s really working hard to do all the therapy and so insanely strong willed you guys...it’s no wonder he is a champion!
Rising Woods Star (DC)
Last weekend at the Mountaineer GNCC, held at the amazing new national Boy Scouts Camp called Summit Bechtel Reserve near Beckley, West Virginia, a new star emerged. In only his second-ever XC1 start, Trail Jesters/KTM-backed Ben Kelley took the overall win, serving notice that he will be a title contender in the very near future. Kelley had already clinched the XC2 title on his 250, so he decided to jump up to the front row early, as he was planning on moving up in 2020 anyway. With his future FMF/KTM factory teammate Kailub Russell slowed by an injury, and Rockstar Husqvarna's Thad Duvall out with a knee injury, it was anyone's race last Sunday, but Kelley made it his. No one moving up to XC1 from XC2 has won as quickly as Kelley, and in doing it while still considered an XC2 rider, it was akin to that time a young Kevin Windham won the Charlotte 250 Supercross in 1997 while he was actually still a 125 rider for Team Yamaha!
Kelley has one more chance to get another GNCC overall in 2019 as the series wraps up next weekend with the Ironman GNCC in Indiana, always a great big fun race. And this time Russell is not even starting as he clinched his seventh consecutive GNCC Championship despite not finishing in West Virginia. Like Duvall, he's already rehabbing himself and focused on next year, and their combined absence opens the door wide for an up-and-comer like Ben Kelley. Remember that name when the 2020 season gets started next spring!
Old School (DC)
When we hosted the DC Vet Homecoming race at High Point in honor of Big Dave last month, we included our annual memorabilia display, where we invited our longtime friends and fellow motocross enthusiasts to bring out some of the good stuff they collected over the years. While going through some photos on my phone I realized that we didn't really do anything with them online, so we wanted to share him here--and this is just a fraction of all the cool stuff that showed up!
82_RedBud Davey Coombs 83_High_Point Davey Coombs 76_Lake_Sugar_Tree Davey Coombs Appalachia_Lake Davey Coombs 77_Lake_Sugar_Tree Davey Coombs 76_Keysers_Ridge Davey Coombs 75_Canada_GP Davey Coombs DeCoster_Grips Davey Coombs 79_Florida Davey Coombs 75_Canada Davey Coombs 81_Fireball Davey Coombs 75_Mid-Ohio Davey Coombs 82_High_Point Davey Coombs 80_Big_Bear Davey Coombs 74_Inter-Am Davey Coombs
Inside the December issue of Racer X magazine
- The 73rd annual FIM Motocross of Nations was a disappointment for Team USA, but there’s cause for optimism.
- Minicycles could be the frontier battleground in the electric-motorcycle revolution.
- The FIM Motocross World Championship made its debut in China, and our Jason Thomas was there.
- Brothers Logan and Jordan Martin rehabbed a ’96 XR400 for a race that lasts 24 straight hours. What could go wrong?
All these features and much more inside the December issue.
Poster Info (Print Edition Only)
Side 1 of our collectible pull-out poster features Monster Energy Kawasaki’s new AMA Pro Motocross 250 Class Champion, Adam Cianciarulo. Side 2 pays tribute to 2019 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Ron Lechien, with a sweet Paul Buckley shot from Southwick ’87.
Hey, Watch It!
This is full-send, @monsterjam style:
MEC Build from Dirt Wurx Alex
D’Cor Visuals' MEC graphics
Head-Scratching Headlines of the Week
- ESPN.com posting the points spread for tomorrow's West Virginia/Oklahoma game, which takes place at heavily-favored Oklahoma.
“Man Mistakenly Identified by Browns as Fan Who Threw Beer at Titans Files Lawsuit”—Sports Illustrated
“Report: Police Say Alabama Student Called in LSU, Florida Game Threat Due to a Bet”—Sports Illustrated
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Hundreds of Birds Crashing into Building...Kill Themselves TMZ.com
World's largest brewer says rival tried to steal its secret Bud Light recipe
Woman who stood on ship's railing for selfie barred for life from cruises
Twins racer Jeremy Higgins was injured at the Springfield Mile. Production Twins racer JR Addison and AFT Twins racer James Monaco were injured at the Minnesota Mile. AFT Singles racer Oliver Brindley was injured at the Meadowlands Mile. All four are still in the hospital recovering from their injuries and have a long road ahead of them.
The 2019 Production Twins Champion, Cory Texter wanted to come up with a way to raise money for all four riders, while also creating a fun challenge for himself and some of his peers. He decided to plan a 580-mile bicycle ride along the coast of Florida from Jacksonville to Key West with a goal of completion in six days. The journey will embark on November 5th.
“Seeing our fellow riders getting injured week after week was really tough on the whole Flat Track family”, said Texter. “I thought it would be a neat challenge to do something of this magnitude and sort of unify the community a little bit, so I called up a few of my fellow riders and convinced them it wouldn’t suck too bad and we could complete the task”.
Other riders joining on the journey are Former BSB racer and current Flat Track rider James Rispoli, Factory Harley-Davidson rider Jarod Vanderkooi, top-ranked AFT Twins rider Brandon Robinson and Pro Motocross rider Noah Chambers.
Rispoli said: “I am absolutely stoked with the support from both the flat track and road race communities around the world. When we started spit balling this idea it was very emotional, so I never gave a second thought to the magnitude of the ride. In the end we are all brothers in this game so we all want to do everything we can to raise money for our mates.”
The entire trip will be self-funded by the racers themselves and 100% of the money raised will go directly to the injured riders. At the time of the press release, the campaign has raised around $5,000 with a goal of $10,000. Roswell Bicycles from Atlanta, Georgia along with GoPivot Solutions will be supporting the ride.
You can follow the progress of the trip on the riders’ social media channels
We’ve been exchanging motocross book suggestions with longtime reader Reese Dengler and he sent us this note with a suggestion:
“The new biography of Jeff Smith by Ian Berry is fantastic. I just got my copy a few weeks ago. It weighs a ton. I’ve only gotten about ¼ of the way thru the book so far, just looking at the pictures first then I will read it.”
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!