Welcome to Racerhead. The sport had one of those good/bad days last Saturday in Tampa. It was a very robust crowd, some excellent racing, a tight points battle in the 450SX class, the start of a new series with the 250SX East Region (which meant a bunch of new faces), and a mostly good round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross.
Of course, all of that momentum was muted by the news that 18-year-old newcomer Brian Moreau was badly injured on the second lap of the first practice of his supercross career. The French teenager had moved here to America to join the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM team, and he seemed to have the potential to be the East Region version of Jett Lawrence: a charismatic, fast, and funny interloper. Now there’s worry that he may never walk again. As of today, Moreau has yet to regain movement from his midsection down. It was a terrible blow to everyone, an immediate reminder that motorsports racing is dangerous. It also reminded me of what happened to Ian Trettel back in 2011. A Suzuki support kid, he got to ride one round of AMA Supercross, finishing fifth in the East Region opener at Dallas. A couple weeks later he crashed in the first practice at Daytona, headfirst into a jump. It was touch-and-go for a while, but while he did mostly recovery from his head injury, he would never race again. Let’s all hope Brian can regain what he lost in the crash.
There was a lot of talk about how the trackside medical personnel reacted and cared for Moreau when he went down, whether or not there should have been a red flag, that there may have been some miscommunication in between what he was trying to say and what the medics heard. I was not in the stadium at the time, did not see the crash, nor did I see him taken off. I trust and believe in the Alpinestars Mobile Medics and know that they have been there for the riders in SX/MX for going on 20 years now. While I’m no doctor, nurse, or paramedic, I am pretty sure Moreau’s injury came from the crash, not the carry or the ride off the cart. And like all serious injuries and accidents at the races, the causes and the reactions will be studied in the hopes of avoiding another situation like what happened in Tampa.
Also, a tip of the visor to Mathilde Musquin. She and Marvin had been looking after Brian a bit since he came across, and she was right there with him as he was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery. I can’t imagine how scared and upset a kid that age, on the other side of the world from his home, would be in such an unexpected and heavy situation, so it was fortunate having a familiar face and voice like Mathilde’s there to help.
The last update we had came from Brian’s father on Wednesday, posted on lebigusa.com. Here is the translation:
I would like to thank you all for caring for Brian. First of all I’d like to say that Mathilde Musquin has been amazing through those very tough times. She’s managing the situation with great care. She is a guardian angel for Brian. Marvin is very worried about Brian as well. He went to see him and supported him too. In addition, Troy Lee Designs, KTM and Red Bull have also been very supportive. Tyler Keefe, team manager, is with Brian all the time. Brian’s mom arrived Monday night in Tampa with his younger sister. He is surrounded by loved ones. Regarding the hospital he is in, staff personnel have been very attentive since Saturday. Before even getting to the hospital, the doctors were waiting for him, knowing exactly the extent of his injury. It was a priority for them. They even cleared the CT scan room in order to be able to go into surgery as fast as possible. Regarding his injury, Brian still doesn’t move his legs but today he gained a little bit of feeling in his back compared to yesterday. It gives us hope. We all are with him and we believe in him. Thank you again for Brian.
While the rest of Monster Energy AMA Supercross tour has moved on to Dallas for tomorrow night’s Triple Crown event, he remains in the hospital in Tampa, though we’re sure that everyone is still hoping and praying that the swelling goes down and Brian Moreau is able to make a recovery.
A FAREWELL TO ARMS (DC)
There was one very interesting moment last Saturday that we weren’t really expecting. Chad Reed, in the middle of his farewell tour, found himself in a long-overdue conversation with his primary rival for much of his career, James Stewart. Stewart and his whole family made the short trip over to hang out and watch the races, marking the first time in recent memory that anyone has seen James at the races. He’s already retired, though he didn’t do the farewell tour or anything like Chad is doing now. But the fact that the two got together and appeared to bury some hatchets was pretty cool.
Stewart and Reed have been rivals since they both arrived on the supercross scene in 2002, Chad coming over from the Grand Prix tour in Europe, Stewart coming from the AMA amateur ranks as soon as he turned 16. Stew raced the 125 West Region that first year while Yamaha of Troy dispatched Chad to the East Region. The first time they ever raced together was the 2002 East-West Shootout in Las Vegas. They went 1-2, Stewart leading the way.
Over the years they had plenty of battles, run-ins, crashes, and arguments. Other fast guys like Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham, and the Ryan’s (Villopoto and Dungey) were there in the mix as well, but these two had a seemingly magnetic (and negative) attraction to one another. Each won a couple of AMA Supercross titles, and plenty of races. They are all-time greats, each known for doing things their own way. Now, with Reed near the end of his epic run and Stewart’s already in the books, it was just nice to see them have a conversation with smiles on their faces.
30 (Andras Hegyi)
By winning the Tampa SX last Saturday night, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac became just the seventh rider to get at least 30 wins in the premier class of AMA Supercross. Here’s who else has done it, and how long it took them.
James Stewart: 46 races to get 30 wins
James Stewart needed the shortest period of time to reach his 30th win. Bubba debuted there in 2005 and needed 46 main events to take his 30th victory. He did it only in his fifth season, getting his 30th win in 2009 as he suffered injuries both in ‘05 and ‘08.
Jeremy McGrath: 52 races
The King of Supercross, the seven-time champion and 72-time race winner Jeremy McGrath, needed five seasons to collect his 30th win. He debuted with a few races in 1992 and he took his 30th win in his 52nd race, which was the ’96 season opener in Orlando. And ten races later, he would reach 40 wins!
Ricky Carmichael: 67 races
The GOAT also needed five seasons to pull his 30th win. He debuted in the SX premier class in 1999 on a Kawasaki, then he made his 30th victory on a Honda in 2003 in his 67th main event.
Ryan Villopoto: 69 races
The most successful Kawasaki rider of all in SX debuted on the 450 in 2009 and he got his 30th success in 2013 on his 69th race.
Chad Reed: 89 races
The Australian legend debuted in the 250/450 SX in 2002 and he scored his 30th win in his seventh season (2008) in his 89th race.
Ryan Dungey: 114 races
Dungey had to wait for his 30th win for the longest time. Dungey debuted in the 250/450 supercross in 2008, and he was a regular rider there between 2010 and 2017. He got his 30th win in his eighth season (2016).
Eli Tomac: 104 races
Tomac debuted in 450 SX in 2013 and has been a regular rider there since 2014. He got his 30th win on Saturday night
POWER RANKINGS (DC)
Feld Entertainment is doing a fun thing this year with their Power Rankings for Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Each Monday they ask about 75 people in and around the industry to list, in order, the ten best riders in the series, based on how they’re riding and how they’re finishing. Sure, it would be easy just point at the standings, but that doesn’t take into account things like a breakdown, or a knockdown, or injuries, or missing a race for whatever reason. I was asked to participate and enjoy doing my personal rankings each week, college football-style, and I'm sure others involved do as well.
Of course, last week marked the opening of the 250SX East Region, which meant that our pre-race prognosis as to who we list where was almost entirely speculative. We had not seen these guys race in quite a while; some were on new teams (RJ Hampshire, Shane McElrath, Jordon Smith) and some were coming back from a long time off (Jeremy Martin, Josh Hill) and some were brand new to the supercross game (Jalek Swoll, Joey Crown, Brian Moreau). I struggled to pick a podium and admittedly did not have McElrath as my winner.
So how did the final results turn out compared to what us so-called "experts" guessed?
MARCH OF THE BANKS (Matthes)
Something that might have gone unnoticed from the opening round of the 250SX East Region in Tampa was the improved riding of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit's Garrett Marchbanks. He ended up fourth on the night but came around lap one in 11th and worked his way up past vets like Jordon Smith and RJ Hampshire. In fact, he was catching Jeremy Martin in third for a bit as well. He didn't do a lot of moving forward last year, his first in SX, but he sure did in Tampa. Later on, not sure if he got a bit tired or banged up something, but Hampshire was able to get him back before he crashed. Marchbanks hasn't finished fourth in SX before outside of his second in the deep mud in San Diego last year, so he has to be stoked on that ride. I know it's a big year for him at Pro Circuit—his contract is up at the end of the season, and when I asked Mitch Payton about him earlier this year, he told me that he needs to see something. Well, it wasn't a podium, but it was "something" in Tampa!
Start Practice (Jason Weigandt)
I, too, was going to write about Garrett Marchbanks this week, but Matthes stole my angle. Last weekend in Tampa I was standing in the tunnel before the final timed practice asking 250SX East riders how their first practices had gone. Marchbanks was fourth fastest, but he told me he was “pissed” about that, adding “I’ve won so much as an amateur. I’m tired of getting beat as a pro.”
That’s the way they have to think! It’s only year two, but riders have a way of falling into a pecking order, and Marchbanks wants to prove that he belongs at the front. It’s good to see that kind of gumption from the kid. Garrett told me his biggest improvement from last year is in the whoops. He’s one of the biggest 250 riders out there, so he tried just manhandling them last year, and learned that doesn’t really work. He’s refined his technique now and hopes that pays off. We’ll see.
The other buzz is on the opposite end. Shane McElrath is a veteran of the class, and the data shows he often comes out swinging in championship battles. He won the Anaheim 1 250SX West opener in 2017 and 2018. Now the challenge is to maintain that level all season. His Tampa performance was amazing, and he’ll be hard to stop if he keeps it up. That’s what his competition needs to bank on—Shane dominated round one, but it’s just round one, and it doesn’t mean much. Again, we’ll see.
Arlington brings back the Triple Crown format for the second time this year, so that’s bound to lead to some changes. In Tampa Shane got out front immediately in his heat and main. Can he nail three good starts in one night? Historically, that’s been tough for anyone to do. At the last Triple Crown, Ken Roczen got one bad start, but it was erased due to a red flag. Then he nailed the restart and captured the first Triple Crown 1-1-1 sweep in 450SX history. Kenny’s starts haven’t been quite as sharp the last two main events. He really needs to get them back for this weekend.
In contrast, Eli Tomac has improved. Back at the Glendale Triple Crown, I noticed Eli kept selecting inside gates, which is a bit of a defensive move. If you know you’re not going to nail the start, the inside allows you to push, shove and sneak through the first turn and at least salvage something. If you think your starts are dialed, you can move further outside and try to nail the holeshot. Eli changed it up a bit last weekend at Tampa.
“In practice I was still getting buried, in the practice starts, it was driving me crazy, because I was still off the back,” said Tomac last weekend. “I think I picked a better gate [in the night show], and that helped. So much better to have that clean air.”
Speaking of practice starts, in Tampa we saw multiple first-turn pileups in practice because riders were treating practice gate drops like real races—all going off together, the referee using a 30-second board, everyone charging the first turn. Clearly, Tomac thinks that way. He is tough to stop when he starts up front. But these Triple Crowns have a way of averaging out, with each top rider having to come through traffic at least once. What will happen if Roczen, Tomac or Cooper Webb get buried? Can they avoid issues? This could prove to be a pivotal round.
Finally, on a personal note, I want to thank the folks at Stacyc for inviting my son Lane to race in tomorrow night’s Stacyc Challenge during intermission. We’ve been hammering 20-plus-1s to prepare. We’ve got a rivalry building with Justin Brayton and his daughter Parker, all culminating tomorrow. Brayton is cool and we’ve been friends, but that’s all over now. It’s full moto-dad time…I just hope JB doesn’t follow through with consulting Tony Alessi for start lessons. If so, we’re done.
PULPMX SHOW (Steve Matthes)
Fun PulpMX Show this past Monday, which went a tad skewed with Canadian content as Tyler Medaglia coming up to Vegas along with his Monster Kawasaki manager, Chad Goodwin. We had Canadian SX champion Phil Nicoletti on to talk about his dry January, and he’s now saucing it up in February while ramping up his training program. Of course, with Tyler moving back up to 450 Class MX for 2020, Phil issued some threats to T-Dags about staying out of his way next year. Phil's always gonna Phil.
We had JGR Suzuki's Broc Tickle on the show to talk about (what I think was) a great comeback to the sport in Tampa. Broc's been away for a year and a half, and there's nothing like racing, so I imagine Broc was feeling it. He looked good, though, and on the show, I asked him about the FIM testing protocol. Tickle went through it and, of course, it sounded like it was terrible and not very well done. The sooner we get our own in-house PED testing program, our own appropriate suspensions and ditch the FIM, the better we'll all be.
Flash Trivia (DC)
Remember when Damon Bradshaw went on that unexpected hiatus at the end of the 1993 season and didn't race again May 1995? Bradshaw wore #8 in '93, and then when he returned, he was assigned #114 by the AMA since he scored no points in 1994 because he didn't race. So, here's the question: What number would Damon Bradshaw have worn had he raced in 1994?
KTM Challenge (Kris Keffer)
I received this email from longtime KTM employee Christy LaCurelle (now Christy Sutherlin) about how many past/present professional supercross/motocross riders have been through the KTM Junior Racing Program. I couldn't believe how many of these riders I actually knew. Pretty distinguished list, and I’m sure we’re missing a few!
I was randomly running some numbers for KTM today regarding the KTM Jr. SX Challenge and while I was on the site, it reminded me of just how many pros have truly been through the program. I quickly went through the list and just wrote the names that I recognized, but I am sure some of your Racer X audience would find this interesting:
Among the current SX contenders: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac, Zach Osborne, Blake Baggett, Aaron Plessinger, Vince Friese, Justin Bogle, Michael Mosiman, Joey Crown, Mitchell Oldenburg, Jerry Robin, Tevin Tapia, Tyler Enticknap, Josh Greco, Michael Leib
And other prestigious alumni: Ryan Dungey, Mike Alessi, Lance Coury, Cole Seely, Taylor Robert, Jake Canada, Michael Hall, Travis Baker, Michael Lapaglia, Landon Currier, Blake Wharton, Chris Ploufe, Austin Howell, Brett Downey, Bryce Stewart, Cole Martinez, Cody Braswell, Robbie Renner, Jackie Strong, Blake Savage, Max Gerston, Michael Lindsay, Nick Paluzzi, Jake Gagne (road racer), Vicki Golden, Kody Kamm (professional snowmobile racer), Gannon Audette, Blake Dungey, Jesse Wentland, Cody Gragg, Logan Karnow, Austin Politelli, Justin Hoeft, Jessy Nelson, Troy Graffunder, Eric Yorba, Dan Bromley (professional flat track), Justin Summers, Jace Owen, Jack Fowler, Zach Commans, Bradley Taft, Josh Cartwright, JD Elliott, Brandy Richards (won women’s class at ISDE), Robbie Wageman, Sean Cantrell, Donny Brown, Ryder LaRocco, Davy Pootjes (races in EU), Bradley Cox (races in EU), Challen Tennant, Michael Willard…
That’s an amazing list, and we can think of one Christy forgot: Liam Everts, who came over from Belgium one year to race at the Indy SX.
DALLAS HISTORY (DC)
Did you know that the Dallas Supercross was once canceled because of rain? Back in 1977, when the races were run at Texas Stadium (then brand-new), the race was supposed to be a doubleheader. The first night was Saturday, March 26, and then a Sunday matinee was supposed to follow. (Dallas, Houston, and Pontiac in Michigan were all doubleheaders that year.) But a heavy storm swamped the field through the open roof at the (now-demolished) Texas Stadium had and turned the track into a quagmire. Yamaha’s Bob Hannah ended up winning, having passed Honda’s Jim Pomeroy on the last lap when Pomeroy, who held a 30-second lap, got stuck on the face of the tunnel jump! The rain stopped, but the track was so wet the next morning that the AMA and Pace Motorsports, the promoter, jointly decided to cancel Sunday’s race.
How muddy was it? According to Cycle News reporter Jim Gianatsis, what started the evening as a 60-second lap time turned into three minutes after the rains hit in the middle of the program. And because they ran the whole 20 laps, Hannah’s winning time was close to an hour! And because there were two false starts due to the starting gate being caked in so much mud—the main event ended up going off with a green-flag start—some riders ended up running out of gas!
TENNNNNNNN SECONDS! (Mitch Kendra)
This weekend, the 46th season of AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Racing will kick off as teams prepare for the Big Buck GNCC in Union, South Carolina. There’s a lot to talk about going into this season, including: Kailub Russell announcing this will be his last full-time season in the XC1 class; riders who switched teams; off-season injuries; two-time XC2 champion Ben Kelley moving into the XC1 full-time, leaving the XC2 title up for grabs among both class veterans and youngsters alike; and more. With a terrible storm leading into this race last year, the 2019 Big Buck GNCC was canceled, and the season began at the Wild Boar GNCC in Florida. This year, the Big Buck GNCC is back as Kailub Russell, Thad Duvall, the Baylor brothers (Grant and Stew), Ben Kelley, Ricky Russell, Andrew Delong, Josh Strang, Jordan Ashburn, and company will all look to take the first checkered flag of the season.
For the full 2020 GNCC preview, read the List: 2020 GNCC Preview article that we posted yesterday.
You can also watch the races streaming live (and free) all weekend on www.racertv.com. Here’s hoping they have good, safe racing down there and also some good weather!
NEW ORANGE BRIGADE ALERT (Kris Keefer)
Last week I had the chance to ride the new Husqvarna Rockstar Edition, but this week it was all about the new 2020.5 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition. The midyear Cooper Webb-looking KTM model has an updated ECU setting (for both maps) that really helps wake this machine up in low-rpm situations. The current-year model has more of a lethargic roll-on feel than the new FE, as well as a heavier chassis feel on the track. The updated Factory Edition feels lighter around the track (side-to-side movement) with less engine braking, and to me that is directly felt when trying to dive in and out of corners hard. KTM and Husqvarna usually like to differentiate themselves with certain settings, but for the midyear model, they share the exact same suspension and ECU settings. Just know that the subframe/airbox as well as the swingarm are proprietary to each brand, so they DO NOT feel exactly the same on the track. Want to learn more about this new KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition? Of course you do! Click on the Racer X films video right here!
MEANWHILE, OVER IN EUROPE... (DC)
Things are starting to pick up steam in Europe as the MXGP crowd gets ready to start their 20-race tour at Matterley Basin in Great Britain. Defending FIM World Champion Tim Gajser will be trying to retain his crown against two men racing for history, Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli, as each are in the 80s as far as career Grand Prix wins go, which puts them in striking distance of Stefan Everts' all-time standard of 101 wins. Cairoli also has nine world titles, one less than Everts. But Cairoli has been slow to heal from the shoulder surgery he had that ended his 2019 campaign. Herlings, meanwhile, is already flying. He won the Lacapelle International in France last weekend on his Red Bull KTM and looks extremely confident going into 2020.
And speaking of Stefan Everts, his son Liam won the EMX 125 class at Lacapelle, adding the trophy to the one he took the week before at a muddy Hawkstone Park. Young Everts may be getting a challenge from America soon as Max Vohland, the very fast son of former AMA and MXGP contender Tallon Vohland, will apparently be doing at least four EMX rounds in the early part of the year. What's cool about that is that back in 1995 Stefan and Tallon were teammates on the Kawasaki factory team in the 15-round 250cc FIM World Championships. Everts ended up winning the championship while Vohland finished a solid third in the final rankings, winning the Grand Prix of Venezuela along the way. It will be cool to now see their boys match up and race together.
And there's another fast son over in Europe right now who also raced at times against Everts and Vohland. Tom Vialle, the son of French GP winner Frederic Vialle, appears to be the favorite going into the MX2 Grand Prix season. He was solid last year in backing up the champion Jorge Prado, but the Spaniard had to move up to MXGP after winning two MX2 world titles (and having seen him ride at the MXON last year, he's definitely ready for 450s, as soon as he recovers from his femur break from back in December). So that's three kids pretty close in age, with fathers who won GP races, now coming into their own. Make sure you sign up for MXGP-TV.com before the season starts to see all of these guys race.
Finally, our friends at the German magazine Cross just sent us their latest issue, which features Monster Energy Kawasaki's Adam Cianciarulo on the cover. They also apparently read about the dust-up between Gary Jones and collector Terry Good about Jones' old bikes and equipment going into Good's new International Motocross Museum, without Gary's approval. They in turn sent us the PDF of an article called "Schatzkammer" which means treasure room and is about an extraordinary collection of factory motorcycles from the 80s." Thanks for the PDFs, Mathias!
Cross Magazin with Adam Cianciarulo on the cover.
The april 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The April 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 April issue of Racer X magazine
- The riders and team members of Monster Energy Supercross give their thoughts on the 2020 series so far
- On the eve of the 50th running of the Daytona Supercross, we revisit the very first event, held in March of 1971
- Monster Energy Yamaha’s Justin Barcia has done an about-face for 2020, with a positive new attitude and solid results to match
- As Chad Reed prepares for retirement, we look at how and when other moto legends rode off into the sunset
All these features and much more inside the April 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!
And check out this cool announcement from TomahawkMX: https://thoseflyguys.smugmug.com/Tomahawk-with-Loretta-Dates/n-JqBbHg/i-6rCQTCL/A
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast comes in with the Jasons joining me to talk about the Tampa Supercross, including those great rides by Eli Tomac and Shane McElrath, Stew coming back, AC in 2020 compared to RC in '99, and much more.
Jason Weigandt sits down with Hunter Lawrence for an episode of the Racer X Exhaust Podcast, an extended version of the short interview posted last week on Racer X Online. Hunter is honest, like always, in this interview where he talks about recovering from his off-season injury, his brother flirting with success in AMA Supercross, and more.
“Pillowcases full of snakes keep getting dumped outside a UK fire station”—CNN
“NASCAR'S RYAN NEWMANRELEASED FROM HOSPITAL... Walks Out With 2 Daughters!!!“—TMZ.com
“Burger King thinks moldy Whoppers will get you to buy more burgers”—CNN
“Cleveland Browns player Gregory Robinson arrested for allegedly possessing 157 pounds of marijuana in a rental car”-CNN
It’s the annual DMXS Atlanta Supercross pre-party!
Head to Tongue & Groove Friday next night for the usual crazy hijinks. DMXS’ own Kevin Kelly is actually advising anyone who wants to attend to slide into his DMs on Instagram and get on the VIP list at the door. Go to @Kevin_ Kellydmxs and hit him up. Kevin also says it's a covered dish event so please don't be the guy that brings a 2 liter of Doctor Check Cola. The club is flying in this DJ Ricky Retro guy. He appears to be riding a motorized cooler while wearing a Dale Earnhardt jacket and firing a golden tommy gun. That seems about right.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #8.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!