And the days go by…. Welcome to Racerhead. Hopefully, this whole pandemic goes away soon. We are all living under the same great big invisible cloud. I’m sure everyone is hoping and praying that it passes over them, though we all will no doubt find out that we know someone who has been affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus. The first known case in our industry is Rick Johnson, a longtime hero of mine and a friend I’ve known since 1982, when he raced the first of his many, many professional races at our local track, High Point Raceway. RJ has posted on his social media (@therickyjohnson on Instagram) about his whole situation and experience. Fortunately, he was 21 days past it when he was diagnosed, so most of it was behind him. Now he’s become a great source of information for the rest of us, and I would strongly recommend you check out his videos and charts and information about how he and his wife, Stephanie, have handled it.
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10 days passed my quarantine and feeling great. ????????. If you get a chance and you have a motorcycle. Go for a ride. It’s awesome for you.???????????????????????? @honda_powersports_us @bell_powersports @alpinestars @rokform @oakleymotorsports @johnsonoffroad @johnsonoffroadgroup @michelinmotorcycle #anakeewild #africatwin
Beyond that, as you already know, the whole motocross racing world has been parked by the spread of this virus. We are still waiting to hear when and where Monster Energy AMA Supercross will begin—Jason Weigandt will have more on that below. (He had a really interesting conversation with Feld Entertainment’s Dave Prater this week in between all of the I-will-announce-anything videos he’s been doing.) And our colleague in Europe Adam Wheeler was able to discuss MXGP’s situation with David Luongo of the InFront Moto Racing group (formerly Youthstream) to give us an idea as to when the 2020 FIM World Championships will begin again.
Supercross and MXGP were both up and running when the world came to a virtual standstill, whereas at MX Sports Pro Racing we had the luxury of time—the first race wasn’t supposed to happen until mid-May. That’s now been pushed back a full month to June 13. But what if the world is still not ready to get back to normal? That’s a question we’ve been asking one another with each passing day. We are already on Plan B, but there is a Plan C and even a Plan D if it comes down to it. What I do know is that no matter where we are in this worldwide health crisis, we will not be holding outdoor nationals before it’s safe for everyone to be out and about. I also know that even if the start of the series has to be pushed back again, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross will end no later than the second Saturday in September, even if some races are moved—there are now two free weekends in August due to the cancellation of the Summer Olympics—and even if we have to run less than the 11 rounds currently scheduled. As it is now, and where we hope it stays, we will finish on September 5 at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. While we fully intend to deliver an 11-round Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, it’s obviously still a fluid situation. No matter, we will be finished in early September. This year is obviously going to be much different for every major sporting event, series, or league, and motocross and supercross are in this together.
Also, a tip of the visor to our friends at 100%, who are giving 20 percent of all web-sales proceeds to their team fundraising page, which supports immediate, “in-the-moment, on-the-ground needs from public health responders, at the local, state, national and international level.”
And Fox Moto has a very cool #GogglesForDocs campaign that they are running to help protect our incredible healthcare workers fighting this pandemic:
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We’re all in this together. Medical staff around the world are under equipped and need eye protection, new or used, now. Fox is donating to #GogglesForDocs to provide goggles and N95 masks to the US health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. And you can too, visit #GoggleForDocs to help now. _ #GogglesforDocs is an effort to get used or new goggles into the hands of healthcare workers who currently have no eye protection as they treat COVID-19 patients.
Very cool of both of those companies to step up like that. Again, be safe, be smart, stay home as much as you can, and wash those hands! And before I close out this intro, everyone at Racer X Online and MX Sports Pro Racing would like to welcome Emile Short to this world. He was born yesterday at 2:45 p.m. (PST) to Kolina and Brandon Short of Next Level Sports Management, who have long worked with us on Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Emile tips the scales at 6 lbs. 5 oz. Congratulations to the whole Short family!
Welcome to the world, Emile Short.
Behind the Scenes (Jason Weigandt)
I should say there’s nothing good about this time of coronavirus. However, we can at least say we’re getting to do some fun things that would not happen during middle of go-go-go racing season. On Monday, I got to interview Feld Entertainment’s Senior Director of Operations—2 Wheel, Dave Prater, to get the scoop on 2020 Monster Energy Supercross going forward. Dave was as forthcoming as one could be in a time when virtually no news is certain. Then on Wednesday, Eli Tomac joined me for a live Instagram chat on our @racerxonline Instagram, and tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Ken Roczen will join me for a live chat on the @ProMotocross Instagram.
The Wednesday interview with Eli, I must say, went really well. Get these guys out of the pressure of race day and into their home during a random Wednesday and a lot changes. Eli was open, honest, and downright funny about many things, including the pending due date of his first child, May 5. Originally, the supercross finale was supposed to take place May 2, and yes, Eli said he was already starting to sweat it! We’ll have the full Tomac interview posted here on racerxonline.com shortly so you can hear and read it all. It’s good stuff you wouldn’t get if Eli had a race to prep for this weekend.
Same for Roczen tonight. And also, we had fun with Trey Canard on Instagram last Friday. We’re getting access like never before. Heck, just yesterday Jared Mees, the five-time champion of American Flat Track, texted me saying he’s really bored and if we need an interview for anything to give him a call. You don’t get these offers from locked-in athletes normally!
I hate to give Steve Matthes credit for anything, but I have to do it here. I feel that today’s motocross media has broken down a lot of walls between the athletes and the press, and Steve is at the forefront of that movement. Matthes didn’t start as a media guy—he was a factory mechanic—so he had bro-down status with riders long before he was interviewing anyone. I distinctly remember a conversation Matthes had with Chad Reed after track walk at the 2009 Anaheim Supercross, and instead of the standard “kiss up to the rider, let him know you think he’s great, show him how smart and knowledgeable you are, and then thank him profusely for giving you some time” act that most reporters would use to get access, Steve just jabbed at Chad like they were buddies! It was shocking to see a reporter not suck up to a rider like that.
Two years later, when I became the beat reporter at the supercross races for Racer X, I just started following Steve into the team trucks and watching him get brutally honest. The riders were okay with it! In fact, I think it was refreshing (to most of them) to just be treated as normal people, not superstars on a pedestal. For sure, at a previous time—specifically the RC/Stew/Reed era—you were always afraid of being labeled as one rider’s guy or a hater on another guy. Steve really cut through that and treated everyone the same. Not everyone liked it, but when you really look at the way riders interact with fans via honest interviews, and also through their own social media feed, we’re living in a great time. A generation of riders just being treated normally, and acting normally, has made for much better interviews. I’m not talking about 30-second TV podium interviews—those are still high pressure—but pre- and post-race stuff is several degrees more relaxed than it was 15 years ago. Dammit, Matthes is responsible for a lot of that.
As for this weekend, we’ll have another Saturday watch party on the Pro Motocross Facebook page, this time on the 250 Class from the 2013 Spring Creek National. Last weekend’s 2013 Spring Creek 450 race was such a hit, we decided to just run the 250s also. Join myself and Jason Thomas in the Facebook chat Saturday, April 4, starting at 3 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Pacific and watch the 250 Class motos from the 2013 Spring Creek National right here or on the Pro Motocross Facebook page.
Also, supercross and motocross chaplain Jake Venada will host another live chapel service Saturday at 11 a.m. Central (the same time he would have hosted it at the Denver Supercross this weekend). Go to sxmxoutreach.org/chapel-live and see what Jake, one of the most well-spoken people you’ll meet at the races, has to say.
The Pre-Loretta Lynn's Amateur Nationals (DC)
One of the projects I've been working on during this downtime/quarantine is a long-overdue deep-dive into the old AMA Amateur and Youth Nationals that took place between 1975 and 1981. These were the nomadic races that settled the national titles each year before Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, and Loretta Lynn Ranch became the fixed spot on the map for the championship events. We are able to share all the information and results about every Loretta Lynn's from 1982 on in the Loretta Lynn's Vault.
But for those pre-1982 races, information is a little harder to come by. I was old enough to race in several of the AMA Youth Nationals—High Point (PA) in 1977, Baja Acres (MI) in '78, Otter Creek (IA) '79, Brownsville ('80) and finally Reidsville ('81)—before Loretta Lynn's came along. My brother rode them as well, along with the AMA Amateur Nationals at Spring Creek (MN) '80 and RedBud (MI) in 1981. My mom keeps everything, so I have the results for all of those races. Harder to come by are photos, stories, and just any general recollections of those earlier races, like Baldwin (KS) in 1975, Carlsbad Raceway (CA) in '76, Lake Sugar Tree (VA) '77, Road Atlanta in '78, and the old Hangtown track at Plymouth (CA) in 1979. I know some guys who shot some of these races, including Werner Straube, who can help illustrate some of these races and fill in the gaps. There is also the invaluable Cycle News Archives, the best $5 you will ever spend.
Online and over the phone, I've been reaching out to some of the guys I'm finding in the results, like Mark Barnett and David Bailey and Ron Lechien, as well as old friends who were there like Rich Halstead, Todd Benfield, Larry Witmer, Glenn Taylor, Ferrell McCollough, Troy Bradshaw, the Bigelow brothers, Lisa Akin-Wagner, and more. The goal is to build out a big area at Racer X Online to share all of the data and picture we can find on these often-overlooked races. So if you have anything from back in the day on the AMA Amateur and Youth Nationals, please email me at: DC@racerxonline.com. Thanks in advance if you can help!
Virtual Battles (Kellen Brauer)
With real racing on hiatus for at least the next couple months, a lot of eyes have turned to the virtual world of racing for entertainment. Though motocross and supercross don’t exactly have an iRacing-level game where professional racers can easily make a transition and continue competing, that doesn’t mean racing hasn’t been taking place. Two games in particular have seen an upswing in interest these last two weeks.
First, the third title in the Monster Energy Supercross series by game developer Milestone has become a go-to for fans to hold themselves over with no racing. The company even announced yesterday that the game will be free to play on Xbox One through the “Free Play Days” program that will run April 2-5, with a special 30 percent discount code valid until April 14. But the game also got some attention last weekend when Brian Deegan organized a pro invitational with a purse payout to riders who possessed a pro license in real life and wished to compete in the game. The “General’s Cup” was won by Tanner Stack; Deegan then organized another race, which was won by Josh Hill. The General’s Cup plans to continue this weekend with the hope of getting more athletes involved moving forward.
One such game that saw no changes but a pickup in audience is MX Simulator. Since 2010, MX Simulator has had a team of people organize replica racing events each week the real races would happen. The 2020 MotoOption Clothing SX series in the game was featured here at Racer X last week and continues to be broadcasted on Start Your Systems. You will also find a mix of AMA Pro license holders in that series, though the extreme difficulty of the game often leaves little time for top pros to try their hand at it. You still will see SGB Racing/Maxxis/Babbitt’s Kawasaki rider Jeremy Smith near the front of the 450 mains and Munn Racing’s Logan Leitzel competing for supremacy in the 250 East Region Championship.
This week was the Denver round of the MX Simulator pro series, with System Decal-backed gamer Walter Gebhardt picking up his third 450 main-event win in a row and fifth win on the season. Despite winning over a third of the main events this season, Gebhardt still sits 43 points down in the championship with three races to go due to inconsistent results. Points leader Jeremiah Seabolt watched his lead come down to just 13 points as defending champion Jack Haley would finish second for the third time this season. Haley has still yet to win a race in 2020 but has a shot at the title with three to go. The 250 West Championship was wrapped up by Braden Carter with a fourth in the East-West Showdown while the 250 East Championship is a battle for the ages with Colby Egeland, Isaiah Dickerson, Dominic Tibberino, and the aforementioned Leitzel separated by just 12 points with two rounds to go.
If you would like to watch the General’s Cup, be sure to visit Deegan’s YouTube page and look for more Supercross 3 tournaments in the future. Get involved with pro and amateur MX Simulator racing by signing up at Race Factory Gaming and joining the more than 6,000 gamers who have competed.
First AMA Motocross? (DC)
One way to pass the time while we wait for racing to return is exploring the history of motocross. Racer X magazine's Scott Wallenberg was doing just that when he turned up a report on what may have been the very first AMA-sanctioned motocross race. It took place in September 1969, more than a year before the first Trans-AMA race, which marks the first AMA-sanctioned series. And like the first Trans-AMA, the race Scott tracked down took place in Ohio. It was called the OHIO-X AMA Moto-Cross and it took place at Dick Klamfoth's Moto-Park Inc. in Croton, Ohio. The promoter was Matt Weisman, who would later become the manager of Ohio-based Hi-Point Racing Products. According to the report Scott found, 40 riders participated in two classes (250 and Open) and maybe 3,000 spectators gathered to watch. Each class ran three motos, and the big winners were transplanted Swedish rider Gunnar Lindstrom and all-around legend Dick Mann. Ronnie Hall, an expert flat-tracker who entered both classes, said of the new discipline of racing, "I like this better than flat track because you get to ride a lot more. In half-mile [racing] you get to ride for five minutes and rest for two hours. In moto-cross you get to rest for five minutes and ride for two hours!"
We are looking and digging a little deeper—I've already reached out to noted motorcycle racing historian Larry Lawrence to see if he can help us find out more. For now all we have is this page from the scrapbook of Carl Berggren, who happened to finish third that day. If anyone else out there has any information on the OHIO-X AMA Moto-Cross, please let us know!
WESTERN SHOWDOWN (steve Matthes)
Yeah, this is still weird, everyone. I guess in one sense we're in our off-season right now, and in a couple of months we'll start racing again. I hope. So we're all trying to stay busy, not kill our spouses, and produce some content. For me, this has given me a chance to try and find a couple of 1980s racers who have dropped out of sight and see if I can get them to do an interview or podcast. Two guys in particular haven't talked to anyone in years since they had their success, and I've been working on doing something with them. It hasn't been easy, but I have the time now! I hope I can bring their stories to you people on this site soon, but no promises—they aren't the best in terms of communicating!
Meanwhile out here in Vegas, Kris Keefer and Alex Ray came up to do some riding at my local track, Western Raceway, and we completed the challenge that we've been talking about on the PulpMX Show for months. Could I stay within 12 seconds of Keefer's best time, and could Keefer stay within two seconds of A Ray's best time? The results are in, and thanks to 239 Films for coming out on a cold day to make this little film.
I've also been going through old CycleNews archives, which are a gold mine of great information. It's allowed me to do some research on those riders for our hopefully-upcoming interviews. Found this sweet Yamaha ad with Damon Bradshaw also in there!
Racer X Coloring (DC)
With almost everyone with kids now homeschooling—hey, maybe motocross families were just ahead of the trend?—we've all had to find ways to keep the kids interested and entertained. My son, Vance, is a senior in high school, which makes this whole ordeal even worse because he and every other high-school senior in this country might miss things like senior prom, their graduation ceremony, senior trips, and, in his case, his last season of lacrosse. But he's taking it all in stride and looking forward to enrolling at West Virginia University next fall. In the meantime, he's getting instruction from me and my mom and my sister-in-law, Jessica, who lives around the block. My daughter, Sloane, is 12, and she's enjoying all this downtime, mostly because she's wired in with her friends making funny videos and photos, and also devouring every book she can get her hands on—she's about to take on The Count of Monte Cristo.
Back to homeschool: Among my duties is gym class, and I've got that covered with a makeshift volleyball court in the driveway, history and geography (both of which I really enjoy), and art. Turns out I’m a horrible art teacher. Despite being a photographer, I never could draw, never understood art composition, and do much better with words than images.
Fortunately, about six or seven years ago, Racer X came out with a free activity book that included some really cool Walt Hackensmith cartoons to color in. Walt made images of several top riders: Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana, Kevin Windham, the Ryans, JS7, and more. So I went to the office and scanned one of the books in, and now we have something for art class!
If you have a young student at home and want something fun to color—or even older ones, or maybe yourself in between Zoom meetings—here are all 12 PDFs drawings in a file that you can print and color. And if your kids do them and you want to post them on Instagram, use the hashtag #racerxcoloring so we can all check them out too.
Also, this weekend we will be posting the old-school MX drawings to color in that a young Kirk Chandler made back in the day and sold as a coloring book called MX Color. We will also try to get a few of Trent Howie's amazing drawings for people to download and color too.
Obviously Vance (Stewart) and Sloane (Villopoto) and my nephew Cade (Dungey) don't need help coloring, but I could use some work on my Jeremy McMasterpiece....
The Other Classic Seattle SX (Aaron Hansel)
Earlier this week we ran a piece on highlighting some of the greatest supercross races to ever take place in Seattle. It’s a fun and interesting read, complete with video clips. But, in my opinion, we left out one of the better races to take place there. The year was 2010, and as is often the case in the Pacific Northwest, there had been plenty of rain in the days leading up to the race. The soil—soft, saturated and sandy—didn’t stand a chance. In fact, they probably even had to repair some of the jump faces after track walk! Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but after setting foot on the track it obvious to everyone that things were going to get nasty that night.
They did too, but none of that seemed to matter to Kevin Windham, who produced some of his signature magic. When the gate dropped Windham dropped the hammer, and before you could say GEICO, had all but disappeared on what was a ridiculously treacherous track. As the race started drawing to a close the crowd started getting loud, sensing the first K-Dub SX win in two years. When he crossed the line the crowd exploded—it was so loud you would have thought Windham was racing in his hometown!
The track itself got so bad that the ruts were literally knee deep, with plywood showing all over the place. I even saw Jeremy Albrecht walking around afterward eyeing up the ruts and laughing at their sheer absurdity. On an interesting side note, that was also the night Ryan Dungey, a 450SX rookie at the time, clinched his first premiere class supercross championship. It was quite a night! I couldn’t find any footage of the race anywhere, although I did find an interview with Windham afterward. If you know of any clips toss them in the comments section below. It was a great race.
ISDE Canceled (Andras Hegyi)
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on motorcycle sport, as well as just about every other sport. First the Hangtown Motocross Classic was canceled. Then came the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, the oldest motorcycle race, in existence since 1907. Now the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), which the oldest FIM world championship of all, in existence since 1913, will not happen this year.
The Isle of Man TT, the legendary public road race, was cancelled for first time since 2001. Nineteen years ago it did not run because of the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain. On Monday the FIM announced that the 95th ISDE would be canceled and postponed until next year. Originally the 2020 ISDE was scheduled for August 31 to September 5 in Italy. The good news for Italy is that the same country will be the venue in 2021.
Between 1913 and 1980, this race was called International Six Days Trial (ISDT); since 1981 its name has been the ISDE. This marks the 15th time that the race was canceled. First, it happened from 1914 to 1919 as a result of what was then known as the Great War, which we now know as World War I. It came back in 1920, only to be postponed again from 1939 through 1946, this time because of World War II.
In 1914, the year that would have been the second edition of the ISDT, the original schedule was between August 3-11 and the venue was the city of Grenoble, France. The race started on cue, but on August 3, Germany declared war on France; one day later, Great Britain did the same on Germany. The race in France was immediately interrupted. As a result, the second ISDT would not happen held until two full years after the war ended. The riders returned to Grenoble in 1920, and this time the race was completed.
Unfortunately, after only two decades, war came back. Before the 21st ISDT, held in 1939, there was a very explosive atmosphere, as Germany and the British had become fierce rivals again. In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria, the country that would host the ISDT the next year in August. The venue for the 1939 race was the city of Salzburg. The race again started on cue, but in the course of the race, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to divide Eastern Europe and Poland between themselves on August 23. Because of that very dangerous political step, many motorcycle racers retired on the fourth and fifth days of the race. The British riders, who were soldiers for the most part, knew they had to get out of there: the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact practically meant that Great Britain would declare war on Nazi Germany. The British riders ended up having to escape from Austria at once. The 1939 ISDT finished, and the winner was the team of Nazi Germany, but after war the FIM annulled the race. There was no ISDT between 1940 and 1946.
In the last seven decades since the war ended, the ISDT/ISDE has survived things like the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and all kinds of revolutions and world changes. But after 74 years, the ISDE has been cancelled again because of the horrible worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
The may 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The May 2020 issue of Racer X magazine is out. 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 the issue in full right now.
Inside the May issue of Racer X magazine
- As Monster Energy Supercross departs the West Coast, the 250SX East Region takes the spotlight.
- Ricky Brabec is the first American motorcyclist to win the Dakar Rally.
- Former GP racer Rob Andrews on what makes Belgium’s Namur one of the world’s great tracks.
- Arenacross is making a comeback—again—with AMA Kicker Arenacross.
Subscribe or renew to receive your choice of two exclusive BeeG Creations rider stickers!
Hey, Watch It!
Ken Roczen had some fun in his yard this week, and our own Jason Weigandt helped out:
Much simpler times… Miller Time!
Early commercial for Anaheim opener!
And in honor to that great West Virginian Bill Withers, who passed this week at the age of 81, we offer this:
LISTEN TO THIS
Strange days indeed—but hopefully some normal ones somewhere off in the future. Feld Entertainment's Dave Prater joined Jason Weigandt in an interview to explain the plan to run the final seven rounds of Monster Energy Supercross before 2020 ends. Prater also talks about the challenges involved with doing that, including the difficulty in finding venues, and what options are on the table to try to get this done. Strange times, but once they end, the plan is to get back to racing.
This week on The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast, I call up NESC legend Tony Lorusso to talk about what he’s doing now, racing the legends of NESC back in the day, that time he got third in a moto at The Wick, racing the Daytona Vintage Supercross recently, and more.
This week on the Main Event Moto Podcast, Daniel Blair, Seth Rarick, Vincent "V$" Blair, and Producer Joe talk 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross.
"This couple got coronavirus on a first date — and they’ve been quarantining together ever since"—Marketwatch.com
"WWII vet celebrates beating Covid-19 and turning 104 in the same week"—CNN.com
"Born during lockdown, Raipur twins named 'Corona' and 'Covid .. "—Reuters.com
"The coronavirus pandemic is making Earth vibrate less"—CNN.com
“Report: LaMelo Ball, manager trying to buy Australian basketball team he played for”—Yahoo Sports
DV finished up his second bike build!
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #14.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!