Welcome to the ongoing intermission that is our collective lives. Much of the world remains on pause as this pandemic rages on, but if you’re a doctor, nurse, healthcare provider, police officer, firefighter, or anyone battling on the front lines, you’re in the fight of your lives, and the rest of us thank you for that. What a way to spend Good Friday and the whole Easter weekend.
First, get-well wishes to the first two people I actually know and that are connected to motocross who have come down with the coronavirus. Carey Hart’s wife, Pink, and their son both were diagnosed with COVID-19. Fortunately, both are in full recovery. Hart has been working hard on his vast social media reach to inspire his fellow riders and industry friends to donate goggles and gloves to health-care workers with his #HartLuck tag. He did a live Instagram session with our own Jason Weigandt yesterday explaining the project and challenging his friends to join him in the fight.
“Thank you for all your messages," Bayle posted on his social media. "Photos to wish me my birthday. I couldn’t really take advantage of it because since the beginning of the lockdown I had the light symptoms of Covid19, it got complicated during my birthday with breathing problems, so a little hospital stay to check my health condition. Normally the hardest is over and with rest everything should be in order. You don’t have to wish me ‘good luck,’ ‘you’re a champion’ or ‘you’re gonna be okay,’ I would rather have this message let you understand that no one is safe from this virus, that you owe for your health, out of respect to others and caregivers strictly comply with the current lockdown instructions.”
Here in the States we continue to await the announcement as to when Monster Energy AMA Supercross will be able to conclude its season, which of course was halted after 10 of 17 rounds, and with Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and Honda’s Ken Roczen just three points apart. The area qualifiers for Loretta Lynn’s are all being postponed on a weekly basis, and we may soon have to go to a modified system of qualifying—depending on when any kind of racing and traveling can actually begin again.
Out in California there was something of a tempest stirred up when at least one track continued to operate, despite a statewide ban on nonessential activities and gatherings, and another track promoter apparently took it upon himself to let the authorities know. Two wrongs never make a right. As I told a couple of friends out there in the moto industry, I've never quite been able to understand the local SoCal motocross scene, so I don't know all the backstory and beefs that have built up over the years between these tracks. But I do believe that the sooner every track shuts down, the better, because that will help keep this thing from spreading more, and all of us will actually be able to get back out and ride sooner, tracks will reopen, and starting gates will go up and then drop again for some racing. In my personal opinion, the optics aren't very good for motocross in general if we're out there in groups of a couple hundred, doing practice laps and risking ambulance rides and ER visits when so many others are parking themselves until this all blows over. We all need to be on the same page as to when it’s safe to reopen the tracks and it’s #SafeToRace as the Racer Leadership team has been monitoring this whole pandemic and when we might all be able to return to some normalcy.
Ironically, the complete lack of any kind of on-track activity here where I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, led to what will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ride on High Point Raceway as it’s never been. Check out the photos! When the time finally comes, we're going to celebrate our collective return to normalcy (or as close as we can get to it) by holding a Racer X Ride Day for our readers and industry friends out on High Point, just up the road in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, and break in all of this beautiful green grass that came in this spring while the track sat idle, as ordered. We'll have more details as soon as we have a better idea of when it will all go down, but it’s going to be amazing!
As for MXGP, they are in the same kind of holding pattern that the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is in. They have a tentative return date of June 7 in Russia, where the coronavirus has not been nearly as deadly as it has been in western European countries like Italy, but that could still change. MX Geoff Meyer reached out to Russian racer Evgeny Bobryshev to see where things stand as far as June 7 goes.
"At the moment, it goes ahead," Bobryshev told Meyer. "Where the Grand Prix is, it is very calm as far as cases go, but the thing will be the flights via Moscow and that might be a problem. For me, it could be cancelled, but for now the promoters are still going ahead and working in the track and making it a good GP. The cases in Russia are getting bigger, so that isn’t good news, but until now, the promoter wants to go ahead if it is possible. He hasn’t spoken about cancelling or postponing, it is a little close to the deadline of making that decision. They are still waiting what the government does and if the situation changes. It could change each day, but they do the work and the organization of the Grand Prix."
MXGP has already announced dates all across the fall, from September to November, filling in all of the races they've missed since early March, and postponements through the end of May. Like all of the other MXGP fans around the world, we can’t wait to see them back in action.
We are all probably doing different things to pass the time, catching up on long-forgotten projects or wish lists or honey-dos or whatever you want to call them. My friend Clint Esposito got the cast and one of the directors of Frezno Smooth together for an online viewing party, including Jeff Emig, Seth Enslow, Jerry Bernardo, and Bubba himself. You can check it out here:
Brett Smith is also doing a Racer X magazine feature on the campy cult classic.
A Vital MX member from Hawaii who goes by Iro went digging in his garage and found an amazing old jersey collection he had forgotten about. My mom has been cleaning up some old office files and pulling out some downright amazing finds, like this 1979 program from the Mid-Ohio 125cc USGP, as well as an artist-rendering of the "monster jump" at the 1977 Anaheim Supercross.
PROGRAM AND CARTOON
And I continue slogging along on my own pet project, which is documenting all of the results and history of the pre-Loretta Lynn's AMA Amateur Nationals, which all ran before 1982. I've been lucky enough to make contact with a lot of the top dogs back then, including Mark Barnett, Mark Hinkle, Ferrell McCollough, Larry Witmer, Steve Ellis, Kreg Bigelow, Kevin Foley and more. (And don't worry, David Bailey, you're on my list for this weekend.)
Oh, and congratulations to GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton on earning his first cover of Racer X magazine. He’s on page one of the brand-new issue, hot off the presses! He’s stoked, too, as he posted on Instagram, “It’s been a childhood dream of mine to be on a @racerxonline cover. So surreal.” The June issue is out now! Check it out below.
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With four podiums and two wins in the first four rounds of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, GEICO Honda’s @ChaseSexton was in good position to defend his 250SX East Region title when the series went on hiatus. Read the June issue of Racer X magazine now and get 3️⃣ full issues for just $2.99 (print + digital) or 99 cents (digital only)‼️ #LinkInBio @RacerXOnline #June #Magazine #Supercross #Motocross
And finally, get-well wishes go out to our longtime friend Ronnie Tichenor, who got himself banged up pretty good in a traffic accident in Florida this week. He's now home recovering. Get well soon, RT!
Okay, time to go try to figure out how to fool a high-school senior and a 12-year-old girl into believing that the baskets I build from whatever is lying around in the office actually came from the Easter Bunny. Happy Easter and happy Good Friday to all. Stay safe, be smart, and keep washing those hands! This, too, shall pass.
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR MOTOCROSS GEAR?
Our friends at @sandboxaesthetics decided to make a little moto quiz for fans in a colorful, cool way. They made some graphics from iconic motocross gear from the eighties, nineties, and the nows from both AMA and MXGP series. Can you name the riders that rocked these looks? #stayhomestaysafe Sandbox94.co.uk
Live This Weekend (Jason Weigandt)
This website is designed to cover races. We don’t have any races to cover. So, amongst all the other problems to worry about with this virus (staying safe, staying sane, and homeschooling my kids while trying to keep them safe and sane, not to mention all the health and economic issues dealt to the world at large) I still had to focus on the same basic goal I’ve had every Monday for the last ten years: what are we posting on the website this week?
None of these tasks are difficult compared to what doctors, nurses, and others on the front lines have to do. But we all have our challenges during this crazy time. However, as luck would have it, filling this site hasn’t been one of them. In fact, this is the third-straight week our full-time crew, myself, Mitch Kendra, and Kellen Brauer, have realized, “Wait, we have a lot more content than we thought we needed.”
This is thanks in part to our entire crew putting in the extra work to find content where we can. Our contributors like Steve Matthes, Aaron Hansel, Jason Thomas, and Kris Keefer keep giving us the good stuff. But that’s our job every week. We’re also getting a huge boost from the rest of the industry, collectively putting on thinking caps to create fresh content. We have riders and teams asking to have their riders involved in projects, because there is literally nothing else for them to do. We’re seeing cool videos and neat social media projects from all over the board. Never before has the entire sport worked together so well on media, because media is now all we have. We literally don’t have events to participate in, cover, or watch.
For us, it begins with the spectacular Instagram Live sessions. Shout out to our social media manager Samantha Nicolini for setting these up. In the last two weeks, I’ve interviewed Trey Canard, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin, and Jeff Emig. Oh, and Carey Hart hit us up asking if he could get on yesterday, so we ramped that up, too! On a normal race week, most folks would be too busy for a 30-45 minute freewheeling conversation, but these are no longer normal race weeks. Don’t worry, if you’re not big on Instagram Live, we’ve repurposed the content (the Tomac interview ran as a written Q and A and a podcast this week, also). You’ll see the Musquin interview on this site within the next few days. This is good stuff, and we’re getting a window into the rider’s homes, and their day-to-day life like we’ve never seen before.
Read the two-part interview with Tomac, or listen to my latest Exhaust Podcast to hear the interview with Eli.
Other new ideas: the folks next door to us at Racer TV invented Behind the Bars, where we Zoom call racers, show them footage from a race they were in, and let them talk about it. This week, we reviewed the day when Travis Pastrana showed up at a sandy GNCC in Florida with hopes of challenging David Knight. Travis likes to call Knighter, the 2007 and 2008 GNCC Champion, the Behemoth Ballerina for his combination of skill and size. He also called him Tinker Bell in Andre the Giant’s body! Getting Travis and Knighter back together (they probably haven’t seen each other in a decade) to let them talk more trash was priceless.
We then grabbed the footage from last year’s spectacular Open Pro Sport moto at Loretta’s, where Jalek Swoll and Jett Lawrence basically tied for the win. Then we grabbed Jalek and Jett on Zoom and let them talk about it while watching the race! It was awesome to hear their perspectives on the battle, and their strategies as the race developed.
You can watch both of those Behind the Bars episodes this weekend. Also, on Saturday, check out the Pro Motocross Watch party from the 1996 Broome-Tioga and Steel City AMA 250 Motocross Nationals, where Jeremy McGrath and Jeff Emig went toe-to-toe for the title. It’s on the Pro Motocross Facebook page starting at 3 p.m. EST/Noon PST. We’ve run races from 2013 and 2014 the last few weekends, but now it’s time to dig a bit into the way back machine. I talked to ‘Fro about this today and he had some great thoughts to share about having to focus in a high-pressure situation. Should be a fun, classic old two-stroke battle to watch tomorrow. I plan on being in the chatroom so head to the Pro Motocross Facebook page and get in on the bench racing.
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
This is a unique time for riders, to say the least. Under normal circumstances, they would be enjoying the only off-weekend of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. But due to the COVID-19 outbreak, off weekends are now in abundance. What’s really happening, though, is that the calendar is being flipped upside down. Typically, the off-season would be a balance of time off in September/October and a “boot camp” training period in November/December. With both the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and Monster Energy Supercross schedules looking to push back their tentative dates, that off-season is going to be shortened significantly. Racing could very easily push into late October or possibly even further. Finding a way to satisfy contracts on all levels is a very big priority, so look for any and every concession to be made to do so. Racing into November or even December would be a seemingly insurmountable challenge for everyone. It would make switching teams, bikes, etc. for 2021 a chaotic gauntlet, but I could see it happening if push comes to shove. All of the normal timelines and conveniences will be foregone if that’s what it takes.
So what does this mean for the riders and their training schedule? How do they change up their workload to be ready to go racing in June yet still be fresh for series racing well into the fall? From what I hear, the plan has been to approach the month from March 15 to April 15 as their off-season. They did some light training and riding but tried to let their bodies recover. Once April 15 hits, they will reenter a “boot camp” phase, similar to the one they would typically enact on November 1. That eight-week cycle would lead them right into WW Ranch Motocross Park in mid-June for the outdoor opener. It would be a very similar routine and makes sense on paper, even if the timing is very strange on the calendar. The riders are familiar with mixing in a little outdoors and a little SX into their training weeks, only this time, that mix will occur in July and August instead of April and May. The goal being to maintain their sharpness as the outdoor series winds down but also ease the transition to the proposed September supercross restart. Weird timing but a similar concept.
The real question, assuming the above occurs as planned, will be in how this effects 2021. What will the off-season look like? Will there even be an off-season? How much time will a rider like Dylan Ferrandis have to switch to the 450 class? Riders, teams, and agents will be in a tough spot trying to navigate that scenario. These are unprecedented times, so I don’t think there is a clear roadmap to follow. We are all rolling with the punches, and that flexibility will remain necessary for the next six months or more. One silver lining from all of this could be a shortening of our normal racing content starvation during November and December. With MXGP already scheduled to race into late November and American racing headed for a later-than-ever schedule, we will have a smorgasbord of racing to watch. For now, though, it’s a giant waiting game.
Downtime (Mitch Kendra)
With the current situation, people are finding new ways to spend their downtime. Some are putting together Zoom meetings with their friends to have social hour from a safe (and virtual) distance. Others are spending their time binge-watching movies and TV shows on Netflix (cue someone raving over some Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin drama). Without any racing, riders have been forced to change their weekly schedule. Yard work in the garden or chores inside the house can only occupy some for so long. But what about guys on supercross-only deals?
Jordan Bailey, a member of the supercross-only TiLube Honda Racing team, has had to find new ways to occupy himself for the time being, especially if supercross will be resuming in the fall after the completion of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Earlier this week, Bailey told our Aaron Hansel he found himself sleeping more than usual.
“Sometimes I just sleep during the day to pass the time,” Bailey said. “It’s gotten to that point. I’m not actually tired, just literally sleeping to pass the time.”
When it comes to downtime, some riders are continuing to hit their private tracks and trails for the ’gram. Others are going through their photo and video archives, keeping their followers entertained with previous clips that never made it to their feed.
Then there’s Dean Wilson, who has continued to push his social media game to another level. Frist, he gave us some clips of the training he was doing at his home. Then—after some riding clips, GoPro stills, and other oddball things in between—he gave us an insight into his basketball skills he says he learned from Kobe Bryant.
Most recently, he gave us an in-depth look into the injury he suffered at the 2019 Monster Energy Cup. In a 19-minute video he posted on his YouTube, Wilson explained everything from what went wrong during the crash to the extent of the injury to his mindset after leaving the hospital to the goal he set for himself and how he achieved that goal.
"I swear this sport always will take you down to your knees until you just want to quit,” he said in the video. “I was on my knees, but I got back up.”
For Wilson, who decided to take a break from social media during his recover period, it’s great to see him back in my news feed doing the stuff only he can do—whether it be on a bike or off it. He ended the video with a quote we can all relate to right now: “Moral of the story is just never quit. Keep plugging away. There’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Check out my full recap on Wilson’s video explaining what Wilson covers in his YouTube video explaining the injury, his recovery process, and more.
Racer X Coloring
Here’s some of the #RacerXColoring pages we’ve gotten back.
Jason Lighthart and his kids
Sisters Logan and Gracen Kiser
30 YEARS AGO (Andras Hegyi)
DC mentioned Jean Michel Bayle earlier. Well, Tuesday, April 7, was a special anniversary for JMB, the two-time FIM World Champion and three-time AMA SX/MX Champion. Thirty years ago on that day, JMB got his first win in the premier AMA Supercross class. Bayle won the 250SX main event at Texas Stadium in Dallas. It was a milestone in a fascinating run that would see the Frenchman became the only triple champion in a single year in AMA history.
Bayle was already well known before that 1990 season. Two years earlier, in 1988, he became Honda’s maiden 125cc World Motocross Champion, defeating the Dutchman Davey Strijbos for the title. Then, in 1989, he decided to race the first part of the season in the U.S., hoping to learn supercross, as he already had plans to move to the States to compete. His best SX finish was a runner-up ride in Miami's Orange Bowl to Ricky Johnson. He also entered his first AMA National at Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida, and ended up winning the 250 National. Bayle then returned to Europe and won the '89 250cc World Championship title hands down, despite missing the season opener round as he broke his wrist three weeks before the first round.
As soon as he clinched the title in Europe, he moved to California and raced the last four 500cc Nationals, winning the season finale at Unadilla on October 15, 1989.
One year later, as a Honda factory rider, Bayle suffered an elbow injury and missed two rounds AMA Supercross. He still got four podiums in the first eight rounds, then in the ninth round at Dallas on April 7, 1990, he got his maiden SX victory. That made him the first French winner ever, and also the first non-American winner since 1974.
Jean Michel Bayle became a legend in the sport. He would win three titles in 1991—AMA Supercross, 250 Motocross, 500 Motocross—something no other racer has ever done. Many international riders would follow in his footsteps here. And despite retiring one year later to go road racing, Bayle is still the French record-holder in the AMA with 16 major wins.
The june 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The June 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 the issue in full right now.
Inside the JUNE issue of Racer X magazine
- Bike Week and the 50th Daytona Supercross marked the end of normal moto life—for now, at least.
- The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic shut down the sport and the world. Here’s what it could mean for our sport.
- Midway through his career, Kevin Windham was at his lowest point—and nearly stopped racing altogether.
- Brothers Grant and Stu Baylor look to take the off-road world by storm on their FactoryOne Shercos.
Hey, Watch It!
Remember Daytona? It was the last best week before, well, you know.... Here are some fun highlights from the Daytona Vintage Supercross, which closed out Bike Week for us:
All-time legends and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Jeff Emig and Ricky Carmichael did some bench-racing this week about their respective youth and amateur days for the Real Talk 447 Show:
Ken Block and the actor Idris Elba got together for what looks like a super-fun show for a Quibi series where they challenge one another to a series of stunt driving maneuvers (and this was before Idris was diagnosed with the coronavirus, for which he is now in recovery mode):
LISTEN TO THIS
Eli Tomac has the points lead in the now-stalled Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, but he doesn't want to merely be handed a #1 plate—he wants to race it out and earn it. Jason Weigandt talks to Eli to discuss that championship picture, how Eli plans to approach the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, his current day-to-day schedule, and the upcoming due date of his first child.
This week on The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast, I call up former Factory Kawasaki rider Eddie Warren to talk about what happened to him after two years on Kawi, his move to Australia, his national wins, racing in Japan, his amateur career, and more.
This week on The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast, I check in with the Jasons on how quarantine is going, what’s next for the sport, what we’ve been doing, and then we recap the first three episodes of the Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness documentary on Netflix. Racer X contributor Chase Stallo joins the call as well.
“Sponsor Drops Bubba Wallace for 'Rage Quitting' Bristol eNASCAR iRacing Event”—Autoweek
“A mayor ordered police to crack down on social gatherings. They found his wife at a bar”—CNN.com
"A Taiwanese Baseball Team Plans To Have Robots In The Stands In Place Of Fans When The Season Starts This Weekend."—Barstool Sports
“SACRIFICIAL LAMBS Pastor says his parishioners would rather DIE than not go to church as he refuses to stop services during lockdown”—The Sun
“A Georgia bar owner removed $3,714 worth of bills stapled to the walls to give to her unemployed staff”—CNN.com
Free Lucas Face Mask with all Orders this Week
Between now and April 14th, all orders receive a Lucas Oil face mask free. Also receive 20 percent off your order when you use the code STAYHOME at checkout.
20 percent off with this code: STAYHOME
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!