Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you five days before Christmas, and 20 days into Chase Sexton’s worst month. Again. In case you missed it, the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion in the 250SX East Region had a rough week, earning him the dubious “December Surprise” honors for this year—arguably his third time in winning/losing this honor. Chase either crashed on a pit bike and suffered a broken collarbone or crashed on a mountain bike and suffered a broken collarbone, depending on when you saw his Instagram posts. Either way, he suffered a broken collarbone, and so it’s back to the East Region for Chase. He also suffered a broken collarbone last December, and back in 2017 he suffered two broken wrists in December getting ready for his professional debut. December just doesn’t seem to like this really good kid.
The whole incident was unfortunate, but it did offer us a little drama and entertainment. First, Chase posted a video of his pit bike riding skills, and it looked like he was having a blast. But then David Vuillemin entered the story by Tweeting: “Heard from a source (not a doctor) that a 250 championship contender who was supposed to ride West (also a rumor for a close source) broke his collarbone messing around on a pit bike today… If confirmed, I’m sure you will hear about it soon…”
The guessing game was on! And then just like that Chase Sexton’s pit bike video disappeared.
Next, Chase posted/reported the injury for himself:
East Coast it is ? Unfortunately I had a mishap on Sunday riding 110s that led me to breaking my collarbone. This feels like deja vu to last year but I’ve already gotten surgery to fix it and we are on the mend now! Off the bike for 3 weeks and then back at it trying to defend the #1E this year! THANKS TEAM FOR BEING BEHIND ME @fchonda@honda_powersports_us
Folks immediately started hammering the kid for riding pit bikes, many of them probably the same people who say that they really wish things were more like they were in the nineties and those Crusty Demons of Dirt days when top guys who would have awesome pit bike races in their backyard.
The matter was completely confused when the GEICO Honda team put out a press release that said that Chase was injured riding a mountain bike, just as he was with last year’s broken collarbone, so maybe they accidentally posted last year’s press release, right? But then Chase changed his own post to also say it was a mountain bike, and Denny Stephenson (@dbo360) took his shirt off in Instagram. He posted a screen-grab of the previous post, the one with the pit bike, and then the pile got back on the comments on Sexton’s page. He went to the original post, and then probably turned off the internet for the rest of the month…
Or so we thought!
But how can you not like Chase Sexton? I hate that this happened, but I’m glad we will see the #1E out there beginning in February. He must really be glad St. Louis is a West Region round and not in the East like it used to be!
Man, just 15 more days to go in the off-season. Hang on, everyone.
Dick Klamfoth, R.I.P. (DC)
The AMA announced that three-time Daytona 200 winner and all-time motorcycle racing enthusiast Dick Klamfoth passed away. Dick hailed from Ohio and he won the 200 when it was run out on Daytona Beach. It got rough and choppy and even had berms by the end of the 200 miles, and Klamfoth beat every there three different times. He retired in 1964 after the race moved to the pavement of the then-new Daytona International Speedway and opened a very successful Honda dealership. He also opened a popular track along Interstate 70 called Honda Hills. The track closed long ago but the old sign along the highway is still there #abandoned and can be seen just past Mile Marker 136 on the north side of the west-bound lanes. Towards the end of his life, Dick and his wife Beverly, who passed before him, championed the building of a historical marker near the site of the old beach races, and by sheer force of will and charisma they got it done. Godspeed, Dick Klamfoth. He was 91 years old.
Anaheim Fever (Jason Weigandt)
We’ve officially reached the end of the international off-season racing season for most top factory riders, and the Anaheim 1 contenders are now in full prep mode before the new season. That means bench racing ammo is at its annual high. The only topic that matters right now is Anaheim. Man, what an exciting time. What other motorsport gets to say that its biggest, most anticipated race takes place just after the Christmas and New Year’s holiday? This sport rules.
To feed your appetite, we’re launching this year’s Monster Energy Racer X preview shows for the 2020 season. Episodes one and two launched early this week and we’ll have episode three done shortly. Look, we always think every year is going to be amazing, but the last two years, with Jason Anderson and Cooper Webb taking the titles, prove we’re in a pretty fun time. Anderson was a favorite heading into 2018, but certainly not an overwhelming favorite, and Webb was barely even on the radar a year ago. They proved that anything can happen. Will we get more of that this year or is someone about to go on a dominant run, like the Ryans did before this? Webb’s underdog title drive last year makes it at least appear realistic that others can do the same. More riders believe they can do it, and more fans believe it, too. That’s always awesome.
So go check out the shows. You’ll hear us ponder such thoughts as:
- Will Eli finally get it done?
- Has Roczen finally gotten his health problems behind him?
- Are Webb and Anderson as motivated now as they were in their title years?
- How will Adam Cianciarulo’s entrance to the 450 class impact the racing dynamic?
- Is Zach Osborne about to win races? (Matthes is driving the Zacho train. Get on it).
- Will Barcia and Plessinger put the Yamahas up front?
- Is Baggett up to his usual sleeper stuff?
Plus, Kris Keefer goes in depth about the character of each manufacturer’s 450. It was awesome to hear what he had to say about the KTM 450 SX-F power delivery and the chassis of the Kawasaki KX450, for example.
Keefer is a new add to our staff, and now we’ve added another: welcome Kellen Brauer aboard as our new Online Content Editor. Kellen got his industry start at the old Vurb Moto site, then built his own website and YouTube channel dedicated to racing stats and motocross gaming content called Start Your Systems. What’s funny is, my son absolutely loves the edits Kellen puts together on YouTube. As I started to watch more of the videos myself, I really took notice of Kellen’s knowledge and passion for the sport. Kellen and I had connected a few times before, but the videos are what made me realize he would be a perfect fit for our team. As we unwind our new plan, expect more innovative digital content here at Racer X. We’ve got big plans, because we all love this sport more than words can possibly describe. However, we’re going to keep trying to describe it. Wouldn’t you?
Speaking of bench racing, we’re gonna do some more of it live. Matthes just put together a deal to host a PulpMX/Racer X live podcast show Friday night before Anaheim 1 at the Catch, just across the street. We’ll charge $30 for tickets, and we have a private room that fits about 90 people. We’ve done a few of these live shows, and we normally have a little bit bigger theater, but this is late notice and an awesome location, so let’s just do it. Me, Matthes, Jason Thomas, Kris Keefer, and DC will be there to talk everything Anaheim 1. So join as at the Catch on Friday night, January 3 from 7-9 p.m. We also have a show the next Friday in St. Louis. If you’re going to the races, come hang with us the night before!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY (DC)
A quick Happy Birthday to my big brother Timmy Coombs, the 1988 Blackwater 100 Champion, the 1985 250 Pro Sport Champion at Loretta Lynn’s, and the all-time Holeshot King of AMA District 5 and such coincidentally and sexually suggestive tracks as Beaver Valley, Roaring Knob, Pleasure Valley, Pyramid Valley.… I would say Loretta Lynn’s, too, as this photo shows, though I still think Mike Alessi and Kevin Walker must share the all-time holeshot honors down there! No matter, Happy Birthday, Big Brother.
MORE DUNGEY (Matthes)
We talked to Ryan Dungey this week on the PulpMX Show about his announcement that he's bought into GEICO Honda. I followed this up with a chat with one of the other co-owners, Jeff Majkrzak, in how he saw the deal coming together.
“It was a mutual thing. I’ve been spending some time with him and we looked at some options for him to invest in and out of the sport,” Majkrzak told me when I asked him how this deal came together. “He was looking to sink his teeth into something, I was advising him, and this door opened up. We started taking about it as him and I were looking at long-term planning for the team.
“To me, he represents the next generation of our team,” he added. “I see him working with the riders closely—I see that as his number-one contribution. He won’t go to every race, but I think he’ll be available to the guys when they need him. I would bet that we will see him at a third of the races, but we’ll see how it all plays out.”
So yes, it will be weird to see Dungey in a GEICO Honda shirt and riding a Honda when he decides to go out there, but I get it from his perspective. He’s going to be right in there inside the team and have a hand and a say in whatever happens. Much better than shaking hands and kissing babies as an ambassador at KTM, and he doesn’t have to go to all the races either.
So what about testing the GEICO Honda and helping out that way? Majkrzak says not so fast.
“Specifically he doesn’t want to ride a supercross bike, but I bet he’ll ride some outdoors and for some fun,” Jeff said. “He can also be a problem solver for us if we have some issues. He can throw a leg over a bike and help us. He’ll ride for fun, and I expect him to ride a 250 when he does get back on a bike.”
Having someone like Dungey in your corner can only help, in my opinion, and this is a real coup for the GEICO Honda team. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out and helps the team. Stay tuned for that.
Funny Guy (DC)
We posted a photo from Feld Motor Sports’ Mike Muye of the dirt just starting to fill in the floor at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Feld is no doubt watching the weather and hoping to get everything in before any serious rain starts falling. The track is still all flat, of course, which made an opening for some funny comments from our readers. This one, from someone named Larry Van Zandt, was funny enough to share here:
Larry VanZandt: In case anyone was curious as to why nothing’s been done yet in that picture up there, we’re going to skip doing jumps this year. In fact, we’re not even going to do a basic track layout. We start the race, and everyone can do pretty much whatever they want to out in that open space, ride in circles, do wheelies, stoppies, crash into each other, start a campfire, we don’t care what it is, as long as it involves a dirt bike… and then eventually we’ll call a winner.
Merry Christmas Memories (Kris Keefer)
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year because it makes me reflect on my childhood. Christmas movies with my grandpa, hanging the house lights with my dad, baking cookies with my grandma, fighting with my sister—you know, the usual stuff. However, there is one memory that seems to stick with me year after year. When I was a kid, I always would pop up at 5 a.m. just to wake my parents up so we could open presents. I mean, what kids don’t do that, right? I usually would sneak out in the living room before waking them to go through my stocking, but on Christmas 1988, it went down a little different. You see, in 1988, instead of going straight for the stocking near the fireplace, there was this green thing in the way of my trajectory. I couldn’t quite make it out at first because it was dark and I couldn't give away my position by turning the lights on, so I managed to grab a flashlight to see what it was. Once I had the flashlight and managed to shine it over to the foreign object near the entryway of our house, I noticed it in all its glory!
There stood a brand-new 1988 Kawasaki KX80 with a rear disc brake! “No more drum brakes for me!” was the first thing I blurted out. For those of you who were born after 1988, please disregard all of this and keep scrolling. But for those of you born in the 1970s, you know what I’m talking about! Getting that Kawasaki for Christmas is burned in my mind forever. Not because I started that KX80 up in the house right then and there at 5 a.m. and then proceeded to get my butt beat for scaring the living hell out of parents in bed, but because that’s the year I really fell in love with dirt bikes. It was that year I really started to put effort into my chores, my schoolwork, and of course my riding. I wanted to show my parents that I really wanted to go race on the weekends, so I would make damn sure I had everything taken care of when my dad got home every night, just so it was easy for him to say, “Yes, I’ll take you racing this weekend.”
Christmas always brings back the memory of the dirt bike fire that was lit inside of me way back in 1988, and I am grateful that I had parents who could see this. Now, at the tender age of 42, with a family of my own, I still get up at 5 a.m. to wake my wife and kid up, because that little boy inside of me still thinks there might be a 1988 KX80 under the Christmas tree. Here’s hoping all of you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends along with a Happy New Year! See you at A1!
Hemet SX / Privateer Testing Landscape (Kellen Brauer)
This week, I saw firsthand what the privateer scene is going through for supercross testing following the closure of Milestone MX on December 8. Milestone was the only true public place left in Southern California for riders who possessed an AMA Pro card to test for the upcoming season. With factory teams having the final say on who rides their tracks, the options are limited. In steps a private property in Hemet, California. It’s not a huge place, but it at least provides somewhere for these struggling privateers to ride.
Michael Lindsay’s new FXR/Chaparral Honda Racing team was out there, minus Chris Blose, so I caught up with the crew to see how the new team is shaping up. Jerry Robin, Justin Starling, and Coty Schock were working out the kinks of the new program and trying to get everything dialed coming into Anaheim 1 (our interviews will be posted next week on the site).
We also had a Broc Tickle sighting, as he was out spinning laps on his KTM. Tickle will rejoin the series at the Tampa Supercross, following his 2018-’19 suspension, but the 30-year-old sure doesn’t look like he’s skipped a beat. He was out there chatting it up with new SGB Racing/Maxxis/Babbitt’s Kawasaki rider Alex Ray, who will look to build on a quietly successful 2019 which saw him end 19th in the 450SX points standings.
It was a pseudo-privateer supercross going on out there by mid-morning. Having never been there, it’s an easy place to miss. But for now, it’s certainly one of the only places to be if you’re not on a factory bike and looking for a place to ride. Slap a cool $80 into the owner’s hands and off you go. Some riders have also been making use of Carson Mumford’s place in the high desert of California, but again, private facility. Fox Raceway at Pala had a supercross track on-site last year but tore it down to accommodate the second round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Lake Elsinore MX Park had a few supercross tracks, but the whole facility is closed now too.
Times are always tough for privateers, and it only makes things worse if they don’t really have a place to properly prepare. By this time next year, it’s likely the new JS63 MX Park will be open with a similar setup to what Milestone had. Currently, though, this is all they have.
21 Seasons (Andras Hegyi)
Kevin Strijbos just keeps racing and racing. The still-very-fast Belgian debuted in the FIM World Championship in 2000 and has been a regular rider in the premier class since 2003. Strijbos’ career is one of the longest ones in the history of Grand Prix motocross. In recent years he has hinted at possible retirement several times, but he always decided to keep racing. After a long waiting period, the veteran rider finally announced this week that he would be back in the premier class MXGP next season.
Strijbos, The Kid (the same nickname as the late Eric Geboers, a five-time world champion) will be starting his 21st season in the series. He will ride again with Suzuki, but for the first time ever as a Suzuki privateer. In the past, Strijbos rode for the factory Beursfoon Suzuki team and the Delta Suzuki Hens Team. Despite racing at times with Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and KTM, Strijbos is a true Suzuki man, racing with them for 13 of his 20 seasons. He also managed to get his greatest successes with Suzuki, finishing second in both in 2006 and ’07. And of his six GP wins, he took five of them on a Suzuki. He was also a Suzuki rider when he won the 2004 FIM Motocross des Nations as a member of Team Belgium. Strijbos made use of Suzuki riding also in the AMA 450 Pro Motocross in 2013, finishing seventh in the 450 class at the Tennessee National and ninth at the Thunder Valley round in Colorado.
This Is for Jeff Kocan… (DC)
We all have a little movie critic in us, right? And we all know when we see a bomb just by watching the trailer, right? Well, if you haven’t seen the trailer for Cats yet, you really need to take a couple minutes to soak this in.
If you didn’t make it through that trailer for the adaptation of the Broadway musical Cats, here's a slice of one review of what it was like to watch the whole movie after those initial, alarming previews: "If you recoiled back then at the sight of British acting royalty with their faces stuck onto little furry bodies, or even just the jarring image of cats with human breasts, chances are you'll still be covering your eyes and peering in a profoundly disturbed state through the gaps between your fingers at the finished film. At least until boredom sets in." That's good stuff.
"Once the idea of making Cats as an animated feature was rejected, there presumably were multiple tests to figure out a digital approach to rendering the pusses onscreen. It's almost unfathomable that this one made it through all the preliminary production meetings without someone sensibly calling a halt to the process by saying, "Wait a minute, those kitties are damn creepy!"
(Oh, and I agree with Jeff: I think Sandler is going to win the Oscar.)
The February 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The February 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 February issue of Racer X magazine
- Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb is the 2019 Racer X Rider of the Year.
- The legendary Paris Supercross may have lacked some star power, but that may not have been a bad thing.
- Racer X’s Trent Lopez hit the gym, pounded out laps, and entered the brutal Ironman GNCC, just to see if he could do it. (He could.)
- Steve Matthes and Kris Keefer entered the Dubya USA World Vet Motocross Championships at Glen Helen, then sat down for a chat about their weekend.
All these features and much more inside the February issue.
Hey, Watch It!
The Road 2 Recovery - Episode 1- Phil Smage
Steward Baylor's post announce his big news!
LISTEN TO THIS
January isn't only for supercross! January 5-17 is the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. I sat down with American hopeful Ricky Brabec to talk about the race, how he has been preparing, a little about his HRC factory rally bike, and much more—listen to the latest episode of the Keefer Tested podcast.
The annual Main Event Moto Podcast Supercross Preview Show is here! With Daniel Blair, Hobo Nick, Vincent "V$" Blair and Producer Joe. They eat pizza while V$ gets drunk. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport. Oh yeah, sometimes it goes off the rails.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“Instagram influencers can no longer promote vaping and guns”—CNN
“Movie Review: "Cats" leaves behind a memory that's best forgotten”’-CNN
“Eight-year-old is YouTube's highest earner with $26 million”—Headlines News
"Virginia farmer creates 15-foot hay sculpture of Willie Nelson"—News Break
“Watch: Riders Attempt To Speak French During Geneva Supercross Introductions”—Exhaust
At the 2019 Geneva Supercross in Switzerland, Lebigusa.com's Jey Crunch filmed several riders attempt to speak French for the opening ceremonies before the night show kicked off. The results...weren't horrible.
Warning: Strong language
“Onboard Footage From Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi Ride Swap”—Exhaust
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #51.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!