Welcome to Racerhead. As I mentioned last week, I didn’t go to Anaheim 2 as I was in Brooklyn on a father-son trip to see an NBA game. Did I miss anything at Anaheim?
Obviously, it was a big, crazy night, because the basketball game was late in the afternoon we were able to find a good place to watch the race, and it was amazing, especially that 250SX main event. I have been impressed by Jett Lawrence ever since I first saw him race at Loretta Lynn’s last summer, and I was happy to see him up there making such great big strides. He went down at the end after an earlier spill left some dirt and debris in his throttle assembly, which apparently made the throttle stick some and led to his late-race crash. And to see him lay there afterwards was a little frightening, and we were all glad to hear it was just a broken collarbone and not a back or neck injury.
And then there was that other little thing… Whichever side of the coin you are on—Christian left the door open/Dylan torpedoed him—you have to admit that what went on afterwards was pretty sad. No, I’m not talking about the boos. People pay good money to go to the races, or really any sporting event, and part of the ticket is you get to boo or cheer for whoever you want. Heck, I still boo at the University of Pittsburgh when they pop up on ESPN or in a conversation, and my West Virginia Mountaineers haven’t played them in years.
But it should have ended there, just as it did in those pre-social media, pre-hostility, pre-divisiveness era of yesteryear. Everyone from Jean-Michel Bayle to Ricky Carmichael has been booed before, for whatever reasons, but then people got on with their own lives, rather than try to make the rider they dislike’s life a living hell. What happened for Ferrandis in the days that followed on social media was really a disgrace. Some of the comments people made on his social media ranged from insulting to frightening. It was an ugly display of how much the relationship between athletes and fans have changed.
Dylan Ferrandis is a live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword racer. But so is Christian Craig. They are big boys and veteran racers. They’ve both used their swords out on the track, and they’ve both been slayed by someone else’s sword out on the track. They will figure it out later on down the road, I have no doubt. Christian, who suffered the brunt of the collision, didn’t go after Dylan afterwards, not in person nor on social media. But a lot of people did, which was unfortunate. A lot of people were telling him to “go back to France,” which would actually be our loss as race fans. Maybe that’s why people were extra mean—because he’s French and not a Floridian. I mean, think back to the Phoenix SX in 2004, when Kevin Windham absolutely blasted David Vuillemin off the track off the start. I don’t recall a lot of boos, nor anyone demanding that we send Kevin Windham “back to Mississippi.”
Hell, there’s a whole documentary about Bob Hannah trying to knock down his rival Kent Howerton at the 1981 Saddleback National. I wasn’t there, but I can’t imagine anyone booing Hannah, and if they did he would have probably climbed down from the podium and beat someone up.
Craig posted this on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
I can only control what I’m doing on the bike. What happened last night was out of my control. I take pride in being a good role model for this sport so I won’t say anymore. I’m focused and looking forward to next weekend. Thank you to my team and all the fans. The support is REAL and I’m thankful! | A2 Vlog is up- link in bio ❤️
For his part, Ferrandis posted this:
View this post on Instagram
First win at the Angel staduim last night ?? ? crazy night and race, gave absolutely everything I had to the finish. Unfortunately I had this racing incident with Christian Craig that make both of us crash during the main event, I want to apologize to him and I hope he’s not injured, definitely not the way I wanted to pass him. Racing is never easy, specially when you dedicated your whole life to win and you had a 15min race to do it, sometime the decision we take are not the smarter... The AMA gave me a 12 months probation with fine if I violate a rule in my probation period. Head down and back to work. ? @supercrosslive
Okay, so people were bummed for both Christian and Jett, who really made his own mistakes and simply lost the lead to Ferrandis, then crashed on his own. Craig is a likeable and a Southern California native, and the young Aussie Lawrence is catching on quickly with American fans. The two incidents seemed to converge and then come down on Dylan. I get that, but that’s not enough to chase the winner of the race out of the country, or to threaten him physical harm, as some were posting.
Fortunately, the story took a positive change of course. A couple of the people directly involved and/or vested in the race took to their social media to tell people to lay off of Ferrandis.
View this post on Instagram
Honestly guys you need to lay off @dylanferrandis it’s gone a bit too far so I needed to say something. We are all racing at the highest level and have to make decisions in the blink of an eye that can determine the outcome of a race or night. Sometimes this process pays off sometimes it doesn’t and we end up doing “dumb” stuff . We are all out there laying it on the line every Saturday night for your guys entertainment and would never do anything on purpose to hurt another rider! I understand being bummed on your favorite rider crashing out or being taken out and I don’t like what happened to Christian ! but in this sport this can happen and a lot of you guys love it for that very reason. I look forward to racing with Dylan and Christian and everyone else over the next few months then outdoors and no doubt we will rub plastic and heck I might do something wrong but it won’t be on purpose to hurt another rider other than to get a win or a championship.
And then Christian’s wife posted something with a similar tone:
View this post on Instagram
Alright guys. I first want to say thank you to the thousands of supporters Christian has- it’s humbling to know so many people want to see him succeed. We truly do appreciate every single one of you. However, last night is over and all the comments I see towards the other rider and his circle wont change the race. At the end of the day, we are all human. We all do things we wish we hadn’t and making mistakes plays a key role in becoming the best people we can be. As much as we are grateful for the huge amount of support, we also want to remind everyone to be kind. We are over it and have talked to them. At the end of the day, it’s racing and stuff like this happens- these guys know what they are signing up for. These racers are just like any us...they have feelings, hearts, and families so let’s try to use our voices to make the world a kinder place. It’s Sunday so let’s put a smile on! Love you all and see you at Glendale! ❤️
That definitely toned the vitriol down, though I expect Ferrandis will get some boos tomorrow night in Glendale, which is fine—that comes with the ticket price of any sporting event. And if I were Dylan, I would brace for some aggressive riding on the part of Craig, as these exchanges between riders seem to have a way of working themselves out on the race track, not online among their fans. Whether it happens or not, I just hope Dylan Ferrandis and every other foreign rider here isn’t told to go home.
Oh, and Eli Tomac won the 450SX race.
One of my mentors and editors back in the day when I was covering ATV races for Dirt Wheels and 3- & 4-Wheel Action magazines was Dennis “Ketchup” Cox. A member of Hi-Torque’s wrecking crew in the 1980s and ‘90s, it was Dennis who helmed the very cool Moto Cross magazine, which was the little-brother to Motocross Action and Dirt Bike. He’s retired from the magazine business now, but he did go to Anaheim 2 last weekend and shot a few pics and jotted down a few thoughts from the grandstands, as you are about to read…
View from the Grandstands (Dennis “Ketchup” Cox)
One thing you have to say about AMA Supercross racing is that it's an exciting way to spend some quality time watching very good motorcycle racers do their thing. As a life-long fan of the sport, I was able to see some of today’s top SX riders do their thing last Saturday night at Anaheim. This was courtesy of an extra ticket from a good friend (who shall remain nameless). Most of the time, at these races, I am down on the infield, taking pics, checking out the Monster Energy 30-second girls, or wandering around the pits. This time however, I was enjoying it the old fashioned way—up in the grandstands. Not exactly cheap seats, but close enough to the action to see some great racing. I kicked back, grabbed an expensive stadium beer, and proceeded to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow moto enthusiasts around me.
Turns out I picked a good one to go to because this event was not without a bit of controversy associated with it. Never mind that Eli Tomac put in a superb ride, coming from out of the pack to take his first win of the early season. Eli was pitching, dipping, and cranking it, coming from behind for a convincing win against new series points leader Ken Roczen. Roczen looked smooth and in control, but he could not keep a determined Tomac at bay. Impressive ride, Eli.
Amazingly, all that was overshadowed by another thing that happened, and soon the social media sites were ablaze about the real controversy at Anaheim 2: ACTUAL RACING! I’m sure by now you've seen what happened between Dylan Ferrandis and Christian Craig. The two were in a pitched battle in the 250SX main event. It reached its zenith as they converged lines in the mechanics’ area. They both went down in the resulting melee. Dylan was able to remount his machine but Craig’s handlebars were badly bent, so he retired from the race.
After that too-close encounter Ferrandis reeled in the early leader, 16-year-old Australian sensation Jett Lawrence, who was on the gas and looking for his first win ever. Unfortunately for him, he tipped over while way ahead. Ferrandis took advantage, reeled him and made pass him for the lead. Ferrandis passed him for the lead but Lawrence tried repassing in the whoops. That led to him taking a spectacular header that left him with a broken collarbone. Ouch! First to last in a heartbeat (Well, ninth). (Editor's note for my former editor: According to a member of the GEICO Honda team this week, Lawrence’s first spill left dirt packed into his throttle casing, so it was sticking, and it was probably that throttle sticking that caused his weird crash at the end. Just saying, Ketch!)
After further review of Ferrandis’ run-in with Craig the AMA decided to put on probation for 12 months. But his race win in the 250SX class stood—and he received full points. And it should have, because in my opinion Christian Craig left the door wide open for Ferrandis to come a knocking. While Ferrandis could possibly have waited a bit longer to pass Craig, that is not what racing is all about. The controversy gave every cracker-jack of a fan a chance to chime in on the incident, and many booed loudly. It should have stopped there but it did not. Soon the xenophobia—a dislike of people from other countries—kicked in hard. Social media sites went nuts. How could Ferrandis—a Frenchman, no less—have ruthlessly taken out a beloved American competitor?
As my good buddy Warren Reid, a former factory rider, supercross contender and an excellent writer/racer/observer, says in “The Art of the Takeout,” for all intents and purposes, what happened between Ferrandis and Craig IS racing. Anyone who has ever raced knows that when you are given an opportunity to pass a fellow rider, you take it. That’s simply how racing works. Not that you endanger everyone you race with by crazed antics on the field, but there is a middle ground. Going for it (when given the opportunity) is why you lined up on the starting grid in the first place. Remember On Any Sunday when Gene Romero says before the last big race, “I just gotta get third. If I don’t get third, come visit me in the hospital, I dig carnations, man.”
Even with all that ruckus in the 250SX class, it turned out to be a great night of racing, in both classes. I enjoyed it immensely. Just saying. —Ketch!
Fun PulpMX Show this past Monday night with Weege coming in studio along with the new guy at Racer X (Kellen...something or another) and Kris Keefer. Hey, with Keefer just getting hired here also, it was an all-Racer X show, which I just put together right now. Anyway, we had some compelling interviews on the show, and first up was Martin Davalos who told us that he's pleased with his ride at Anaheim 2 and that he and his team has figured some things out with the clutch on his KTM to help him with the starts going forward. He also said that yes, Red Bull KTM could move him up to the factory team as per the team’s deal with Team Tedder KTM. Davalos played down the speed he's shown and also made fun of himself for crashing at Anaheim 1 when he sent his bike flipping over a berm.
AMA Supercross Champion Cooper Webb joined us later on and said that he couldn't believe he pulled off that third at the first round. As for St. Louis, he talked about how he just couldn't get it going as his sickness lingered. Cooper's a great interview. He really lays it out there including telling us that, yeah, he knows he's not that good in the whoops and although they tested and changed some things to his bike this year to help with that, him and his team are back to his 2019 settings. Of course since Cooper is often able to fix the problem in the whoops by just jumping through them in the main when the track is hammered, he doesn't want to put himself behind the 8-ball so badly in practice each week. So, he and his team will keep trying to figure out the solution to the whoops.
Friend of the show David Vuillemin came on to talk about the Craig/Ferrandis incident from his perspective, which is as the coach of Ferrandis. DV being DV, he had us laughing as he talked about being a French rider in SX when he raced, how Dylan's move was going to overshadow an amazing race by him and how Weege got him in trouble with Dylan after his win at Seattle last year. DV says that even though Dylan took his first-ever supercross win in Seattle last year, he wasn't actually happy with Dylan's riding that night. He thinks A2 was actually Dylan's best supercross race ever (Dylan reached a heart rate of 193 in the race, the highest DV has ever seen him hit) but it is certainly overshadowed by the Craig incident.
Later on Weege had to catch a red-eye flight so Kellen whatshisname sat in along with legendary mechanic Skip Norfolk to end the show. Skip lives in Vegas now and has parted with the ClubMX team for this year but has something in the works in town that he'll announce soon.
All in all, fun show! Thanks for checking it out.
Results Trend (DC)
We're off to a great start, with three different winners in the first three rounds—in both classes. When was the last time that happened? Well, turns out it happened last year! After three rounds in 2019 the 450SX winners were, in order, Justin Barcia, Blake Baggett, and Cooper Webb. The 250SX winners were Colt Nichols, Adam Cianciarulo, and Shane McElrath. Last year it was Cianciarulo who became the first two-race winner when he topped the 250SX main in Oakland, followed in the 450SX main by Cianciarulo getting his second win. So by that thinking, or rather if we see things play out the same way as last time, the winner of the second round, Austin Forkner, should win the 250SX race tomorrow night but not the title, and Tomac should win a second straight 450SX overall in Glendale and go on to finally win the 450 SX title... But things never really work out just like they did the year before, so don't change up your fantasy rosters too much based on last year's trend!
Reed Time (Jason Weigandt)
I’ve been sharing work space with my friend Jonny Oler, who spent a dozen years as suspension man with JGR, and now operates his own suspension shop near my house in Mooresville, North Carolina. Chad Reed happens to use Jonny’s services, Art of War, to build his suspension, so this morning Chad stopped by to get some stuff to ship off to Glendale this weekend. It’s not every day you work with Chad Reed’s practice bike sitting right behind you.
Chad, of course, is always willing to talk racing. I asked him about last weekend’s race at Anaheim, and you learn so much about line choice, racing strategy and more talking to a guy like him. For example, he explained his take on the entire last-lap battle between Jett Lawrence and Dylan Ferrandis last week. Lawrence had the inside on Ferrandis as they headed into that 180-degree right hander, but Chad says that Ferrandis did a good job preventing Lawrence from getting the angle to do a block pass. Chad says this was something Ryan Villopoto was very good at doing, as well. On the other hand, I don’t think Chad liked Ferrandis’ move before that, when he dove inside of Lawrence near the takeoff of the triple-triple.
Chad says pretty much the entire 450 field was sitting on the starting line watching the 250 race on the Angel Stadium big screen, and they were all going nuts. Chad says he saw quite a few, um, let’s say, aggressive, moves from Ferrandis, beyond just that incident with Christian Craig. As you’ll often hear from veteran 450 riders, the 250 class races completely differently than the big class.
Chad did do some riding and testing this week after pretty much leaving the bike alone at the first few races. After watching him pull off the track at St. Louis, I was afraid that maybe he wasn’t even going to be able to see this whole farewell season through. I think he’s going to be okay now, though. Not only did he work this week to try to make some progress with his bike, but he mentioned possibly building a new supercross track at some land nearby (the same spot where Cooper Webb used to operate a track). At least this all points to a commitment to get through the season, instead of second-guessing the decision to run it out there for #onelastride.
I’m not attending the race this weekend, as I usually leave a few West Coast rounds to our California-based staffers like Aaron Hansel and Kellen "whatshisname" Brauer. However, we do have a big watch party planned Saturday night, and we’re inviting “Filthy” Phil Nicoletti to watch the races with us. So, yeah, that’s going to be fun. Make sure you watch The Weege Show on the Racer X YouTube channel throughout the weekend. Phil’s analysis of the races is pretty much priceless.
Align w/ Us (DC)
Last week our friends at the newly formed Align Media—Simon Cudby, Rich Shepherd and Mike Emery—held a launch party for their new photo syndicate at Fox Racing’s HQ in Irvine, California. Each of the three brought along 24” x 36” prints of some of their favorite race captures over the years to turn the launch into an art show as well as a fundraiser—all of the profits from the hand-signed posters and prints are going to Road 2 Recovery, the Caselli Foundation, and St. Jude charities. Among the guests who turned out at Fox Racing were friends and family of the three shooters, members of the motocross/supercross industry, and even a couple of big stars or two like current series points leader Ken Roczen and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeff Emig, each of whom have worked plenty with the three amigos of Align Media.
Also, a limited run of Align Media tees were offered for these good causes. (If you want to purchase a print or shirt, check out the Prints section on the Align website.
#28 for Tomac (Andras Hegyi)
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac is marching. Before the start of 2017, Tomac had only four wins in the 450SX. But since 2017 he has collected 24 wins. In 2017 he took nine wins, overtaking 15 other racers on the all-time wins list. In 2018 Tomac collected eight wins, passing Jeff Ward, Damon Bradshaw, Jeff Stanton, Jean-Michel Bayle, Mark Barnett, and Kevin Windham on the all-time list. Last year Tomac got six more wins, taking him up to 27 victories, catching up with Bob Hannah in the process. And then last Saturday night Tomac passed Hannah and is now tied with Ricky Johnson for sixth all-time, taking his 28th win in the premier supercross class.
Ricky Johnson raced in the premier supercross class between 1982 and 1991. Between '82 and 1985 he rode for Yamaha, getting three wins. Then in 1986 Johnson moved to Team Honda and became a superstar. In his first Honda year, Johnson won his first SX title, then won again in 1988. All told he added 25 wins with Honda to his career total, giving him the all-time record at that point. Johnson’s record lasted until 1995 when Jeremy McGrath came along and obliterated the record books. McGrath would reach 72 wins in all, a record that seems unbeatable.
Johnson took part in 100 main events in the premier supercross class. His 28th win came in his 87th race, at the Miami SX. After 1989 Johnson did not win again in AMA Supercross, as a wrist injury at the '89 Gatorback National robbed him of several prime years.
Eli Tomac debuted in 450SX in 2013 and has been full-time in that class since 2014. Although he probably hates hearing this, but Tomac is the rider who has the most 250/450SX wins without any title. He has held that distinction since 2018 when he overtook the former record-holder, Damon Bradshaw, at 19 wins. Last Saturday night Tomac got his 28th win in his 100th main event. And similar to Johnson, Tomac took three wins riding for his first team (Honda) and tacked on another 25 with his second (Kawasaki). Tomac has caught up with James Stewart on the Kawasaki all-time wins list. Only Ryan Villopoto has more SX wins than Tomac riding Kawasaki, with 41.
Simpson Army (DC)
Fans in America might remember the British rider Shaun Simpson for his solid cameo appearance at the Unadilla National a few years back when he finished fourth overall in the 450 Class. At 31 years of age, Simpson, who hails from Scotland, is still very fast, especially in the sand and mud! He's also the top Brit in MXGP right now, even though he's riding for his own privateer team called SS24 KTM MXGP Team.
Now Shaun has found a unique way for his fans and supporter to participate in his 2020 campaign of the 20-round FIM Motocross World Championships, as well as the eight-round British Motocross Championships. The popular Brit has long had his "Simpson Army" fan club, and now they are playing a part of his program by helping bring fans even closer to his weekends at the races, all in the hopes of generating some needed funds that will help get him to all of those races. According to the press release that went out earlier this week, new "'Recruits' can choose from six levels to be part of the Army—20, 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000 pounds—and the benefits range from being included in an exclusive newsletter and on the rider’s website at the lower entry levels, up to t-shirts, caps, hoodies, access to a special WhatsApp group with Shaun for riding tips and news and race shirts and British Championship tickets and hospitality at the highest point. Curious fans can find the full details and easily sign-up through www.shaunsimpson.com/simpson-army.
“2020 feels like one of the key years of my career because we are taking on the best of the best with a set-up that we know and we trust,” said Simpson in the same release. “It has been a manic off-season getting everything in place, and we have been trying to take care of every detail. I’ve been happy to run the Simpson Army in the past and it’s been a good way to try and give something back for the support from fans. We wanted to step it up for 2020 because we have more control over what we can provide, and I think it is more personal and interactive than any other type of funding. We’ve raised a good total to be able to enter and compete in the races this year but we’re still looking for that last 15-20% to rightfully take our place in the MXGP paddock. I hope to see many fans at Hawkstone and Matterley and hopefully people will want to join-up!”
Simpson's season begins with the Hawkstone Park International in the UK on February 9 and then the season-opening British Grand Prix at Matterley Basin.
Full details and sign-up at www.shaunsimpson.com/simpson-army.
Second Successful Season (Andras Hegyi)
So far there have been 14 non-American riders to win in the 125/250 class of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, out of a total of 110 different riders who have won in small-bore supercross. Amongst those 14 foreign winners there are 11 riders who took wins in at least two different years. Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis became one of them with his 2019 victory on Saturday. All told, Dean Wilson from Great Britain has won in the most 125/250 supercross seasons. The Scottish racer was victorious in four different seasons while riding for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. Ironically, Wilson, the 2011 AMA 250 Pro Motocross Champion, never managed to win the 250SX title despite being fast enough to win in four different seasons.
International riders to win in at least two seasons in the 125/250 supercross:
Dean Wilson (British) 4 seasons: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Mickael Pichon (French) 3: (1993, 1995, 1996)
Stephane Roncada (French) 3: (1997, 1998, 2000)
Christophe Pourcel (French) 3: (2007, 2009, 2010)
Ernesto Fonseca (Costa Rican) 3: (1999, 2000, 2001)
Grant Langston (South African): 3 (2001, 2005, 2006)
Ken Roczen (German) 3: (2011, 2012, 2013)
Martin Davalos (Ecuadorian) 3: (2014, 2016, 2019)
Marvin Musquin (French) 2: (2013, 2015)
David Vuillemin (French) 2: (1997, 1998)
Dylan Ferrandis (French) 2: (2019, 2020)
Among the overseas 125/250SX winners, only Chad Reed from Australia (2003), Ben Townley from New Zealand (2007), and Pedro Gonzalez from Mexico (1994) would win in a single season. However, in the case of Reed and Townley, they only raced the 125SX class for a single season.
The march 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The March 2020 issue of Racer X magazine is coming to newsstands and mailboxes soon. Subscribe to the print and/or award-winning digital edition today. And if you're already a digital subscriber head to digital.racerxonline.com to login and read now.
Inside the March issue of Racer X magazine
- Honda is expanding its support—technical, material, and more—to anyone who races one of their bikes.
- Jason Weigandt hit up supercrosses in Australia and New Zealand to watch U.S. rivals relax and have a good time together.
- Brand ambassadors are all over the sport now, but these retired legends don’t always wind up with the brands that helped make them great.
- The Mini O’s in November act as a bridge between racing seasons past and future.
All these features and much more inside the March issue.
Subscribe or renew your subscription to Racer X magazine and receive 12 issues, plus a free bag of Racer X Deadline Blend Evil Coffee and a $10 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC gift card.
Hey, Watch It!
If seeing Ryan Dungey in a GEICO Honda team shirt and hat wasn't weird enough, the team posted a video of him riding a GEICO Honda on Friday night before the Anaheim 2 Supercross:
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast comes in with Weege joining host Steve Matthes to break down an exciting Anaheim 2. We talk about ’the pass,' ET3’s win, what’s next for GEICO Honda, and more.
This week on the Main Event Moto Podcast, Daniel Blair, Snap-on Dan, and Producer Joe talk round three of supercross 2020 in Anaheim, California. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport. Oh yeah, sometimes it goes off the rails.
Make sure to read BJ Smith's (@wewentfast) latest longform on Ricky Carmichael and his role in the broadcast booth. He also released the audio version, which you can listen to while on the go. Either way you prefer to consume content, this story is a good read.
“Planters kills off Mr. Peanut in Super Bowl ad campaign”—ABC News
Portrait for Mr. Peanut's imminent obituary.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!