Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from a very chilly South Carolina. I was lucky enough to have been invited to attend Yamaha’s 2020 off-road motorcycle launch, along with a whole bunch of other magazine and media folks. Everyone from Dirt Bike magazine to Dirt Bike Tests were here riding in the beautiful woods on the property of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Randy Hawkins, who hails from Traveler’s Rest. Randy and his family were gracious hosts, working with his longtime sponsor Yamaha to lay out three choice trails for everyone to shake down the 2020 Yamaha YZ125X and YZ250FX. They hosted amazing BBQ lunches each day, and last night they invited everyone to their amazing home for a send-off dinner. Needless to say, there was lots of bench racing between the gathered friends from Motocross Action, Cycle News, Vital MX, DirtRider.com, Swapmoto Live, Keefer Testing, and more.
Personally, I don’t get to do a lot of bike intros or impressions, but I recently vowed that it was time for me to get away from computer screens and industry meetings and back in the saddle of some motorcycles. The Yamaha intro was perfect timing, as I was just coming back from one of those industry meetings at the Motorcycle Industry Council. I basically took the redeye from John Wayne Airport to Atlanta on Tuesday night, then on Wednesday morning I took the three-hour jaunt to Traveler’s Rest; within 20 minutes of getting there, I was out on the trails ripping around on the YZ250FX. I’ll have to wait until next week to tell you more due to publishing schedules and embargos, but I will say that I had an absolute blast.
It’s remarkable to see how much bike tests and magazine impressions have changed since the first one I did, back in the mid-eighties for Dirt Rider magazine along with my friend Steve Crowe. The test took place at High Point Raceway for the Ohio-based KTM brand, which was practically nonexistent in American SX/MX at the time. They were releasing a new 80cc motorcycle, which was why Steve was there, and I was shaking down a 125. There was one photographer present, and we just did some laps around High Point, talked about what we liked and didn’t like, and then one of the magazine’s editors did the rest.
All these years later, lots has changed (and not just with KTMs, which were white back then and not very competitive). The top rider wasn’t myself or Steve Crowe, but rather Ryan Villopoto. There was no internet or social media to speak of in the eighties, so magazines like Dirt Rider and newspapers like Cycle News were where everyone got their bike tests. Neither is still in print, though both are running full-blast online. And the editors at the Yamaha intro in South Carolina were all multitasking with social media, video testimonials, LitPros, helmet cams…. There was barely time to ride, or so it seemed. But editors young and old, from new kids like MXA’s Josh Mosiman and Dirt Bike’s Travis Fant to established veterans like Dirt Bike’s Ron Lawson and Cycle News’ Kit Palmer, rode the wheels off the bikes Yamaha supplied. It was inspiring to get me back out there more often, and also, I believe, a testament to just how much all of those guys love their jobs in the motorcycle media industry. It also said a lot about the bikes, but again, more of from all of them that next week.
And it was also a testament to the beautiful land Randy Hawkins opened up for all of us and how well those new Yamahas performed. It was a fun trip to take with industry friends and ride alongside them as they gathered their impressions and notes and videos and social media posts. I’m more used to being around the hardworking race reporters who cover Monster Energy AMA Supercross or Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, or even the GNCC Series each weekend, not the moto media guys who do the less public work of bike testing and new-model impressions. Thanks to all of them for greeting a race reporter like me (and a trail boss like GNCC’s Jared Bolton and our videographer Mason Rader), and also Yamaha and the Hawkins family for making us feel welcome.
2019 ISDE (Mitch Kendra)
On Monday, the 2019 International Six Day Enduro kicked off in Portimao, Portugal. Through the end of the first day, all three Team USA trophy teams sat second in their respective standings. Fast forward to the end of day five and the two of the three USA teams remain in first: the World Trophy Team (Ryan Sipes, Taylor Robert, Kailub Russell, and Steward Baylor) has a two-minute lead over second-place Australia and the Women's Trophy Team (Becca Sheets, Brandy Richards, and Tarah Gieger) has an eight-and-a-half-minute lead over second-place Germany. The Junior World Trophy Team (Josh Toth, Ben Kelley, and Grant Baylor) currently sits in second place to Australia.
Supercross Down Under (Jason Weigandt)
Kia Ora! I'm checking in from Mt. Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, host of the Monster Energy S-X Open tonight. Yes, tonight. I'm 17 hours ahead of my Eastern-Time colleagues so it's Saturday already here. This New Zealand race is round four of the five-round Australian Supercross Championship, but also round one of the two-race FIM Oceania Supercross Championship, which also features the big Aus-X Open in Melbourne in two weeks. So these last two rounds stand out from the other Australian supercross rounds. They bring in the big guest stars—Jason Anderson, Joey Savatgy and Chad Reed, in this case—and they crown an actual FIM Oceania Champion when it’s over (Reed is actually the defending FIM Oceania champ. Who knew?) Also, Ricky Carmichael is here to race against Kiwi legend Ben Townley, and he’ll also join me in the TV commentary booth when he’s not on the track.
Although it’s nearly as far away from home and you can possibly go (took me 18 hours of flying to get here), New Zealand is both foreign and not foreign all at once. Auckland is a huge, modern, beautiful city, no different than any other major metropolis. Everyone speaks English here, of course. But you do have to drive on the opposite side of the road. They do have McDonald’s with drive-thrus here, but, um, I would never go to a McDonald’s here and miss the cultural experience of local cuisine. But, let’s just say that a friend told me that he had to go to McDonald’s here because his kids wanted what they wanted. Yes, a friend. They offer a Kiwi burger which has beets on it. The friend said otherwise McD’s tastes exactly like it does at home.
Drive north of the city and you’re quickly into some of the most beautiful countryside on earth. Within minutes we found a park featuring a trek through a rainforest, and then minutes from there were found an amazing beach. Keep going and you get into some mountains, which are almost always lined with sheep. On Thursday the race promoters sent us to Sheep World to give the racers a cultural experience. Jason Anderson got to sheer a sheep, and Justin Brayton was put in charge of sorting different sheep into different holding pens. The racers also got a brewery tour and a stop for the most elaborate, over-the-top ice cream of all time. Yes, racers will have some ice cream at an off-season race. Everything is so laid back compared to racing in the U.S. Savatgy keeps saying how different everyone will act in Anaheim in January. On Thursday night, we all participated in a big poker tournament sponsored by the race and then to a Monster Energy party. Some of the racers ducked out but some stayed, and everyone got along well. Most of Thursday, the riders were all stuffed into a van together to hit these various stops. You had Anderson’s Team Fried guys shooting video along with Savatgy shooting for his own vlog, but everyone operated as one big group.
“Jason and I used to be teammates, but I’m not gonna’ lie, we haven’t hung out in a minute,” said Savatgy. “We all realized it’s kind of sad that riders have to fly halfway around the world to actually bro down with each other, but that’s a tradition of these off-season races.
As for the racing, Justin Brayton is the three-time and defending Australian supercross champion. He won the first two races this year but Aussie Luke Clout won round three, and the points are close, with Aussie vet Dan Reardon, Clout’s teammate, also right in the hunt. Throw their title fight in with Anderson, Savatgy, and Reed and it could get crazy at these next two races.
Anderson told me he took some time off and finally got back into supercross about three weeks ago. He could have raced Red Bull Straight Rhythm and Monster Energy Cup right after spending a month in Europe for Motocross of Nations, but the Europe time took too much out of him. He could have gone out and struggled at Straight Rhythm but admits at his level the ego gets in the way a bit. Now he’s rested and ready for these races.
Savatgy says he basically had a stock Suzuki last weekend in Paris and literally signed his JGR contract between practice sessions at the race. Now he has a few more factory parts on his bike. He’s been operating in secret, riding and testing with JGR without a contract for a few weeks, but he’s not Anaheim-ready yet. The next two months are going to feature a lot of work for him.
Reed went down last weekend in Paris and his ribs are hurting now. He skipped the press day ride on Friday but hopes to be a gamer and perform for the fans tonight in the races. Time is winding down for Reed, who says his goal is to still put together a program for all 17 Monster Energy AMA Supercross rounds in the U.S., but he’s not sure that’s going to happen yet. Also, his car racing plans with Lamborghini are looking very promising. So, are we seeing Chad’s last few races on a dirt bike? Ah, not really. Carmichael, in a press conference, said he’s looking forward to Chad finally being done at the top level so they can travel the world together and meet up in some match races at events like this. Seems like they might have figured out a plan for immortality as far as staying on dirt bikes and in front of the fans. I also noted how much Anderson loves the off-season stuff, as well, and there’s not a single veteran racer in the pits who doesn’t admire the program Brayton has put together. I think we’re seeing a new strategy of racing on the back half of a career developing right before our eyes. Hey, places like Paris, New Zealand, and Australia aren’t bad places to go earn a few extra pay checks.
Watch more from press day:
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
Somehow, it's already mid-November. This time of the year is arguably the most difficult for the riders. For most, it's like a torturous Groundhog's Day of riding and training. Every day looks and feels like the day before. Wake up, ride, bicycle, run, lift weights, sleep, repeat… It seems like these weeks and months will never end; an endless grind to prepare one's mind and body for the upcoming season. Any trainer will tell you that these are most important months of the season, though. The results of 2020 are being earned and determined each and every day of November and December.
I know what you're thinking: The races are on Saturday, you moron. While that's true, I have always subscribed to the theory that Saturday's results are just a delayed reflection of the work put in during the off-season. As Ricky Carmichael once told me, Saturday is the easiest day of the week. He would punish himself every training day and all that was left on Saturday was to execute the game plan.
The interesting wrinkle that many riders (including myself to an extreme) can add is off-season international racing. For instance, many riders are currently in New Zealand preparing for the Auckland round of the S-X Open. They will then spend the week in Australia preparing for next weekend's round in Melbourne. For a trainer like Aldon Baker, these races are a huge nuisance. He has always been against them, whether it's the Motocross of Nations, Paris SX, or something much more taxing like this New Zealand/Australia swing. For a rider, this particular trip would consume somewhere around three full weeks of the off season when considering travel time, PR responsibilities, jet lag, and the actual race weekends. I would bet Aldon has nightmares about his rider missing three weeks of training in this crucial window.
The financial consideration is the obvious driving force for riders to sacrifice the training time but the hard question is whether they are also sacrificing results come spring time. For example, in 2010, Ryan Villopoto was offered somewhere in the $180,000 range for a similar trip down under. He originally accepted the deal and was preparing to go. After some begging, pleading, and convincing, Aldon finally won Ryan over and he decided to stay the course at home, preparing for the 2011 season. The argument by Aldon was simple, if Ryan was 100 percent ready for the season, he would make that $180,000 back and much more just in the month of January alone. Riders can make $100,000 or more for a supercross win, so the opportunity was clear. Taking those three weeks out of November and December would arguably jeopardize the preparation and could cost much more than the $180,000 gained. As we know, Ryan went on to win the 2011 title (along with 2012, ‘13, and ‘14) and made millions doing it. I can't even imagine turning down a guaranteed $180,000 but in the end, maybe it was the wiser decision. What would you do?
2020 Stuff (Matthes)
Starting to get some news of new rider signings for 2020 even though nothing official has come out yet. I spoke with Mike Duclose who owns the Rock River Yamaha team and we all know they lost Christina and Chris Denney this past off-season (who resigned as team managers to focus on their graphics company Roost MX) who had done so much work for that team over the years. Unfortunately they also lost Cycle Trader as a title sponsor so things looked a little bleak for the squad that has seen Alex Martin, Colt Nichols, Weston Peick, and many others go through their doors. But in talking to Mike he wants to go racing in 2020 with one 450 rider (he wouldn't tell me who but it seems like it will be Benny Bloss) and has a couple of irons in the fire for a title sponsor. That's all good news and hopefully something will be official here soon.
Also it looks like Martin Davalos will be on a KTM with Tedder Racing for 450SX. Tedder's switched to KTM's a couple of years ago but Dakota broke his wrist badly and missed all of 2019. I'm not sure if he's racing or not but either way it seems that Davalos will be the team’s rider. I've heard he'll get the same access to parts that Blake Baggett and the crew over at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS has. So we know the bike will be good and I'm excited for Marty's first attempt at 450SX. He's immediately shooting up in my "sleeper" picks for 2020.
The Mini Os (Sam Nicolini)
The 48th Annual Thor Mini Os, presented by Pro Circuit, kicks off next weekend at the iconic Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida. The Mini Os are one of the oldest and most prestigious amateur motocross races in America, as well as a long-time Thanksgiving tradition for riders and their families. The top prospects who have come out of this race are like a who's-who of U.S. motocross history: Jeff Stanton, Damon Bradshaw, Kevin Windham, Robbie Reynard, Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto...the list goes on.
The Thor Mini Os is a great opportunity for the up-and-coming amateur riders to gain recognition in the industry as the event offers both disciplines, supercross and motocross, with scores combined for an overall Olympiad awards in each class. Other notable awards at stake are the Pro Circuit Platinum Pipe, Scott Golden Goggle, Dunlop Silver Tire, and the Thor Bronze Boot awards, which have been won by many of the riders who line up on an AMA Supercross or Pro Motocross starting gate.
Supercross practice starts on Sunday (11/24) with the racing starting on Monday. At that point the action will be streaming live on RacerTV.com, first with supercross and then the motocross portion that follows throughout the week. The new practice schedule allows for an extended amount of time for supercross mains and motocross motos, creating the opportunity for the A, Pro Sport, and B classes for both 250 and 450 riders to have longer races. Be sure to tune in for all of the racing action, followed by the Mini Os After Show with Rodney Tomblin and Wes Kain, where they will recap each day’s racing, interview special guests, and also featuring Beckett Ferry’s 15 Cents (Beckettis the son of the 1997 AMA 125cc Supercross East Coast Champion Timmy Ferry).
The Gatorback track is only open a few select times during the year, typically for the Florida Winter-Am Series, an area or regional qualifier for the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship in the spring, and then the Florida Gold Cup Series in the fall. This makes for more of an even playing field when the 1,200+ individual riders arriving from all over the world hit the track next week. For more information on the event, visit unlimitedsportsmx.com. and follow the event on social media @unlimitedsportsmx.
Here are some 2018 Mini Os photos.
Will to Victory (DC)
You may have seen us write about a coffee-table style book, Will To Victory, by Roddy MacLeod that details the Motocross World Championship. The book has now been recognized in the annual International Photography Awards photo competition. Will To Victory earned Honorable Mentions in three categories of the prestigious annual competition: Self-published Books, Editorial / Press Sports and Sports, Extreme Sports. Congrats Roddy. And any folks looking for MX-related Christmas gifts can purchase Will To Victory and Roddy's famous Namur, Belgium track print right here: www.willtovictory.com.
Privateers (Mitch Kendra)
King of Stuttgart
While Justin Barcia was named King of Paris over the weekend at one of the biggest overseas off-season races of the year, it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t highlight the other American rider crowned king this weekend. Ryan Breece was named King of Stuttgart (SX1) at the ADAC Supercross of Stuttgart. Breece finished 2-1 to earn the overall over Charles Lefrancois (France) and Carlen Gardner (USA). Also in the race were Mike Alessi (fifth overall), Tyler Bowers (sixth overall), Justin Starling (seventh overall), and Matt Goerke (tenth overall).
Tevin Tapia was on hand at the 2019 EICMA event, where he competed 2019 EICMA Italian Supercross. Tapia won the Superfinal race on the second day aboard his Husqvarna.
Afterwards on the podium, Tapia noted the jetlag and arm pump that impacted him during his race and also said, “Might be a little out of breath because I’ve eaten so much pasta and pizza but it’s worth it, you know, it’s a race and a vacation,” which is one of the best things said in a podium interview all year.
His race win highlights start at the 7:30 mark and his podium interview follows.
ISDE Tragedy (Andras Hegyi)
The 94th International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), held in Portugal this week, saw an unexpected tragedy yesterday. On Thursday, the fourth day of the ISDE, 57-year-old Pierluigi Mattioli from Italy passed away after suffering a heart attack. Mattioli was a very experienced and skilled enduro rider. In the last few years he was a regular participant in European vintage enduro events. This year Mattioli’s dreams true to participate in the ISDE finally came true as for the first time ever he would race in the Vintage Trophy, an event for veteran enduro riders. He raced for the Motoclub Manzano from Italy in the EVO86 category (a class for motorcycles manufactured up to 1986). Mattioli was using a two-stroke 250cc Husqvarna made in 1983. On Thursday, in the first racing day of the Vintage Trophy, during the first special test, he collapsed due to cardiac infarct. He was transported to the hospital immediately by an emergency medical helicopter, and despite the life-saving efforts of the paramedics and doctors on hand, he passed away. To commemorate Pierluigi Mattioli, today every Italian ISDE rider wore a black armband. Godspeed, and rest in peace.
Mr. Garry Boyce Jr.
The motorcycling industry lost a great ambassador recently when Mr. Garry Boyce Jr. of Middletown, New York, passed away on November 7, 2019.
In addition to leading a fourth generation excavation company, being an accomplished helicopter pilot, and serving as a volunteer firefighter for more than 29 years, Garry was also known for his passion for motorcycles.
Garry was involved in many aspects of motorcycle racing throughout his life, and for several years Garry Boyce and Boyce Excavating became an integral part of the sponsorship network with Team TPJ/FLY Racing on the pro supercross and motocross circuits. Along this journey, Garry helped many aspiring privateer racers achieve their dreams of racing at the highest level due to his love of racing and tremendous generosity.
Garry is survived by his Wife and two children. Godspeed Mr. Garry Boyce Jr.
The january 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The January 2020 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 head to digital.racerxonline.com to login and read now.
Inside the JANUARY issue of Racer X magazine
- Red Bull Straight Rhythm looked like all fun and games, but the players were in it to win.
- Privateer Marshal Weltin tries to make some cash in the East Coast off-season motocross races including the Racer X Maine Event.
- Our newest staffer got on his first-ever solo flight—straight to Vegas for an old-school weekend of racing and parties.
- Our minicycle buyer’s guide helps you pick exactly the right first bike for your youngster.
All these features and much more inside the January issue.
Poster Info (Print Edition Only)
Hey, Watch It!
LISTEN TO THIS
Jason Weigandt is overseas to announce the Monster Energy SX Open in Auckland, New Zealand, and also the Monster Energy AUS-X Open in Melbourne, Australia. He also hosted a Friday press conference to kick off the New Zealand event, featuring off-season updates from Jason Anderson and Joey Savatgy, Ricky Carmichael, Chad Reed, and New Zealand legend Ben Townley telling some old war stories, Kiwi FMX rider Levi Sherwood announcing his retirement, Australian supercross contender Luke Clout on his goals of winning a championship, and New Zealand's own Cody Cooper explaining his decision to give supercross a go.
The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast comes in with American Flat Track pit reporter, Kicker Arenacross pit reporter, and all around broadcast expert Kristen Beat. We talk about her experiences growing up in the sport, what’s next for her, getting better at the craft, and more.
Unfortunately there is no Main Event Moto Podcast this week as Daniel Blair and Producer Joe had to take this week off. If you need your DB fix, catch up on the latest episodes.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“Alaska university taking PB&J as payment for parking tickets”—New York Post
“Plane crashes after unloading 350 gallons of pink water in gender reveal stunt”—New York Post
“Here's what your Instagram posts will look like without 'likes'”—Business Insider
Our annual Racer X Readers' Choice Survey is ready for you to fill out, and we’re offering killer prizes for participants. Upon completion you'll be entered in a drawing to win a Stacyc 12e Drive Bike (MSRP $649) or one of three Slick Products Ultimate Wash Kits with Foam Cannon (MSRP $219.87 each).
A lot of passionate, creative people work to make Racer X the best it can be, but our biggest source of inspiration is, quite simply, you! All of us at Racer X would really appreciate it if you can take a few minutes to complete our Readers' Choice survey. The better we know our readers and audience, the better we can make everything we do.
Thanks for your help. We’ll see you at the races. Take the survey below.
About the PRIZES
The Stacyc 12e Drive Bike is the perfect choice for little rippers with little or no experience on a balance bike. Your child can learn to push, balance, and coast in the Non-powered mode. Graduate them to the powered mode (the holy grail of fun) as they show proficient use and understanding of the brake and the ability to coast and brake while standing.
The Ultimate Wash Kit is Slick Products very best wash kit, designed with everything you need to keep your dirt bikes, off-road trucks, ATVs, UTVs, bikes, cars, trucks, motorcycles, RV’s and even motorhomes looking their best. Using the 3-step wash process and non-corrosive wash products are guaranteed to make your next clean-up faster, safer, and easier.
Dean Wilson Husqvarna TC 65 Giveaway
Deano sent us over some information on a bike giveaway he is having:
Want to win a brand new 2020 Husqvarna TC 65 from Dean Wilson? Of course you do! Well, if you're between the ages of 7 and 11 and live in the USA, you're in luck. Follow the guidelines below to get your lid in the running.
Create a one to two minute video including the following information:
- Where you are from
- Riding clips
- Why do you deserve the bike?
- Report Card
Include your name and address and your gear sizes. Videos must be emailed by Friday, November 22!
Stacyc, Fox Racing to Host Super-Grom Challenge On Saturday
Here's a press release from Stacyc on the first ever Stacyc Super-Grom Challenge, presented by Fox Racing:
At Stacyc we are all about giving the ultra-little kiddos the opportunity to #RIDESOONER. You know, the kids that haven’t hit 48 inches yet. The ones that get left out of all the fun that big-bro or big-sis get to have. Our mission is simple, share the love of riding with as many little rippers as we can and as that mission evolves, there’s always to desire to take it to the next level. So, with that in mind, we’ve partnered with Fox Racing to put on the first ever Stacyc Super-Grom Challenge, presented by Fox Racing!
This Saturday, November 16, the Stacyc crew will take over FOX HQ in Irvine, California. We will be holding a first of its kind Stacyc race event with MX Style Heat Races and a Pump Track Challenge. Kids as young as three years old are going to have the opportunity to go bar to bar against their little buddies and battle for epic trophies, giveaways and bragging rights!
Join us for an epic day of racing with the youngest generation of riders to twist a throttle.
For more information or to sign up visit Stacyc.com.
MTF’s Gatorback Replica SX Track Will Be Open Before Mini Os
The MTF Gatorback Replica SX track will be open on Thursday, November 21, and Friday, November 22, before the Mini Os. The track will be open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for small bikes (50’s, 65’s, 85’s, and supermini classes) and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for big bikes (A, B, C, 125 and vet classes). The cost is $25. Questions, call (850)-728-9992.
Millsaps Training Facility
867 Bold Springs Road
Cairo, GA 39828
Note: All releases must be signed before riding. Riders under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!