Sometimes it rains, sometimes it pours, and sometimes it’s just 2020 and everything drowns. Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you for the second week in a row from the media center at the Loretta Lynn Ranch. Last week we were here for a nearly perfect week of motocross racing and community with the 39th annual Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. This time we’re here for the opening round of the 49th annual Lucas Oil Pro AMA Motocross Championships, and since this is 2020, of course it’s a mess. After getting all of our social-distancing and paddock protocols into place—which includes mandatory masks, temperature checks, restricted fan and media access, and every other CDC guideline we can find—a flash storm came out of nowhere last night to swamp the refurbished track, the track crew worked all day to try to get it ready for today’s free practice, only to have a cloudburst as the first 250 practice was literally in the staging area. Practice was canceled, and work immediately began on trying to drain the track again, only this time for tomorrow morning’s timed practices.
That wasn’t the worst news of the day. That was reserved for Washougal. After literally months of working to be ready for next Saturday’s planned second round of the series, Washington state changed some of the restrictions and requirements that made it impossible to guarantee the race could happen.
According to the MX Sports Pro Racing press release:
”The Washougal National had been previously approved for 2020 at both the local and state level in Washington, based on the COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan that had been submitted by the organizers several months ago to the necessary regulatory agencies. Continuing approval of the event had been reiterated from Clark County, within which Washougal MX Park is located, as recently as this morning, August 14. However, based on newly imposed restrictions within the state of Washington as it relates to COVID-19 infections, the RLT (Race Leadership Team), in consultation with the sport’s OEM partners, have collectively decided that in the best interest of series participants, the event will be canceled.”
“The decision by the Race Leadership Team and our OEM partners to cancel the Washougal National is both unexpected and disappointing,” said Roy Janson, Director of Competition at MX Sports Pro Racing in a statement. “The comprehensive Health and Safety Plan, prepared specifically to address COVID-19 issues and related prevention and mitigation efforts, submitted and approved both at the local and state level, provided extensive directives designed to address every concern raised by these officials. The Health and Safety Plan, which is based on state policies currently in place under orders by the governor, is fully compliant with all CDC, state, and county health department guidelines, and provided for pre-admission screening of all pro athletes and their crew members, including non-contact temperature testing prior to being allowed to access the venue.
“Ryan Huffman, the event organizer of the Washougal National, did everything within his power to organize a safe event for both professional and amateur competitors,” added Janson. “We commend him for the extensive efforts and sacrifices made to make the 2020 Washougal National a reality. Unfortunately, as we have become increasingly aware, circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19 can change dramatically in a matter of hours. We did not reach this decision lightly and the circumstances are entirely out of Ryan’s control. We look forward to bringing the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship back to Washougal for the 2021 season…”
Washougal is still planning on having an amateur race next weekend, which they have a permit for, just as they did for their super-regional last month. As for the rest of the series, among the options we discussed with our OEM partners to maintain a nine-race schedule was holding another race here at Loretta Lynn’s as soon as Tuesday, finding another track for the open weekend of September, and also considering a RedBud-like weekend doubleheader at Ironman or Spring Creek. What we eventually worked out with the teams was a return to the Ranch, but next Saturday, not Tuesday, as some of the teams did not plan to be here that long with their personnel, as well as not having enough equipment for such a quick turnaround. Which means Racerhead will be coming for the third straight weekend for this media tent here at THE Loretta Lynn Ranch, suddenly the staycation home of American motocross.
Here’s the part where I should be waxing poetically about what the Ranch means to the many riders and industry friends that practically grew up here as kids, racing the amateur national and running around of golf carts and swimming in the creek, but since it’s 2020 and nothing except last week’s amateur race has gone according to plan, that race could get derailed by something unexpected, like a hurricane. Or locusts. Or we just finally get struck by a meteor and call it a year...
But we will not waiver from our collective mission to successfully complete this championship. With the exception of a worsening of this damned coronavirus (which could very well happen since the virus never jumps on Zoom calls with us to give us updates) we will keep trying, keep working and keep hoping that things turn around once and for all. I am very sorry for this latest letdown for all of the fans who were planning on being at the Washougal National next weekend, and I also hope we can rescue the track we have here at Loretta Lynn’s for tomorrow’s opener, and then make it even better for next week’s Loretta Lynn’s Pro Motocross II. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, with a max crowd of 5,000 spectators…
Just make sure nobody tells those damned locusts that we’ll be here instead. After all, it’s still 2020.
Godspeed, Michael Mars (DC)
The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship lost a good man this week when Michael Mars passed away. He was a regular member of the officiating crew, working everything from tech inspection to wheels-on-the-ground flags. Mike was a longtime member of the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club, proud promoters of the Hangtown Motocross Classic. His regular job was as a prison guard at nearby Folsom Prison, which seemed odd for such a good guy, as he was always smiling, always up for some bench-racing and always ready to help anyone, anytime—including when he jumped in to help out at Monster Energy AMA Supercross races around the truck and down on the infield.
On July 12, Mike Mars posted this on his Facebook page:
Update: Well as many of you know I went to the ER last Tuesday. I was diagnosed with Pneumonia and a few other things. Friday morning I got the test results back from Covid and unfortunately I am POSITIVE. It really really sucks!!! Zero energy, body hurts, no appetite, along with all the other symptoms. So, here are the positives that I am looking at... I’m actually glad it has happened in Summer, my Dr. and I are doing “At Home” treatment, and I have the best girlfriend Christine taking great care of me. I appreciate all the love and support, but I would like you to pray for all the doctors and nurses out there, not me. I got this you guys!
Inside the AMA rig at Loretta Lynn's hangs the 2020 credential that was made up for him, and tomorrow's race will be quietly dedicated to him by all of us at MX Sports Pro Racing.
Godspeed, Michael Mars.
IT BEGINS! (Matthes)
Before I start, did you guys hear that Kris Keefer went to Loretta's and won? No? Okay, well read up on it...EVERYWHERE...
Well, it's been awhile but here we go with the start of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship held at the ranch there in Tennessee. Should be an exciting start to the series, lots of subplots to get to including whether or not Eli Tomac can get his fourth straight 450 Class title which would put him into the RC category of motocross legends. Looking forward to seeing AC set the fastest qualifying time over and over and I do think we see Zach Osborne be a consistent moto winner this summer also.
The 250 Class is always bonkers, look for anything and everything that can happen to happen. This is a class that saw outside the top ten Shane McElrath just go 1-1 at Budds Creek last year. By the way, I'm here for the Dylan Ferrandis and Justin Cooper drama all season long. For whatever reason, those two teammates don't like each other much and I've been on teams with this same dynamic so I have some experience. The littlest thing happens and things can blow up. Stay tuned for that all summer/fall long.
Bummer news that Ken Roczen won't compete this summer in the discipline he's always said he's better at and who can argue with his two 450 Class titles? I gotta think that was a big blow for Honda and Fox to hear but I get it; we saw his up and down performances in Salt Lake City, we know he seems susceptible to some viruses and I get it. I think part of his worry was that he would have to come off MX series, get right into testing for 2021 SX (IF it starts on time—gulp) on a brand new bike and then he gets into the whole 29-races-in-a-year meat grinder. So, yeah, it sucks but I get it.
I've got a death in the family here for me so unfortunately I won't be making it to the first round so that sucks but not as much as yet again getting a sobering reminder that this thing called life works in ways that no one can ever take for granted right? Let's go racing!
And make sure you download the new Pro Motocross app for live timing and scoring and other series information.
MXGP Mayhem (Kellen Brauer)
The 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship returned to action this week with Sunday’s MXGP of Latvia and Wednesday’s MXGP of Riga. Both races and the upcoming MXGP of Kegums this Sunday took place at the Motocenter Zelta Zirgs in Kegums, Latvia, for what is now rounds 3-5 of the championship. The track has a sandy loam with a hard base creating a fairly familiar environment for the MXGP stars to work back into mid-season form and create a sense of normalcy again. However, the racing that occurred on track through the two returning rounds so far has been anything but normal.
Glenn Coldenhoff took Factory Gas Gas Racing’s first ever MXGP victory on Sunday (as you can read more about below in Andras 's section) and headed home a podium featuring reigning MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser and former champion Romain Febvre. The 3-3 performance from Febvre was actually the Frenchman’s first go with his new Monster Energy Kawasaki team after an injury sidelined him for the first two races of the season. Behind that, things looked a bit off for championship leader Jeffrey Herlings who had a crash five weeks before the championship restarted that left him off the bike for a few weeks. The cobwebs needed to be dusted off for ‘The Bullet’ but a few falls in qualifying didn’t exactly help his case. Still he managed to go 4-4 for fifth on the day.
Even more off his game was nine-time world champion Antonio Cairoli who put together 7-17 scores for 13th overall. Cairoli was still nursing a knee injury when the gates dropped on Sunday and an early fall in the second moto was about the worst thing that could happen to the Sicilian. So, we had a clearly ailing Cairoli, an off his game Herlings, and an upward trending Coldenhoff and Gajser heading into Wednesday.
Then, everything flipped upside-down—quite literally for Gajser and Coldenhoff. The first race saw Gajser loop over backwards while trying to recover from a bad start and he landed squarely on his tailbone, Ryan Villopoto-style. Despite remounting, he would eventually pull off and DNF the race. Coldenhoff also had to recover from a bad start and would only manage to get to seventh in the first race before a crash in the second race forced him to also take a DNF. Gajser recovered in race two and finished fifth but both riders finished outside the top 10 overall just three days on from finishing 1-2 on Sunday.
Instead, Antonio Cairoli took advantage of a good start and a broken wheel from Red Bull KTM teammate Jorge Prado to nab an unprecedented race one victory. Finally, in race two, we were on the verge of seeing Herlings put it all together again as he worked around Cairoli for the lead and managed a small gap out front. That is until he fell from the lead with just two laps remaining.
Suddenly, an unsuspecting Arminas Jasikonis, who had moved around Cairoli for second, was thrust into his first-ever MXGP race win. Herlings remounted third as Cairoli fell trying to avoid him and would drop back to fourth. The 1-4 scores meant a 90th Grand Prix victory for Cairoli on the heels of a dismal P13 just days prior. Mixed into all of this chaos, the highest points scorer from the two Grand Prix was Monster Energy Factory Yamaha’s Jeremy Seewer who nearly stole the race win from Jasikonis after Herlings fell. Seewer put together 5-2-4-2 scores on the week to outscore Jeffrey Herlings 78 points to 76.
So if you’re still keeping count, we had four race winners (Gajser, Coldenhoff, Cairoli, Jasikonis), Jeremy Seewer scored more points than anyone, Jeffrey Herlings extended his World Championship lead to 28 points, and we still have one more Grand Prix to run at Kegums this Sunday. If you haven’t been watching MXGP at all this year, now would be a good time to tune in.
Below is the broadcast information for Sunday's MXGP of Kegums.
Loretta Lynn’s Postpartum (Keefer)
The family and I got home Tuesday morning from Loretta Lynn's and it's back to work we go! My wife and I were lounging in bed drinking coffee early Wednesday morning and she mentioned that she was kind of depressed that it was all over with. I was on more of the relieved side, but I thought it was interesting that she was sad that the whole ordeal was over with. Loretta Lynn's can mean so many things to so many different people and that is what makes this once a year race so unique. Our family will hold memories from this year's race for years to come! Want to know what the journey is about for our family? I just wrapped up a feature story for the latest issue of the Racer X magazine, that will dive into the backstory of why the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship is so special to us and why it is to so many other families out there as well. Thanks for the memories Tennessee, but now it's back to testing and living my life three laps at a time!
On the Gas Gas (Andras Hegyi)
The 29-year-old Glenn Coldenhoff is already historical figure in Dutch motocross. Last year, under his and teammate Jeffrey Herlings' leadership, Team Netherlands got its maiden victory in the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, in existence since 1947. In addition, besides Belgium's Stefan Everts and Italy's Antonio Cairoli, Coldenhoff became only the third racer to take two moto wins in two consecutive years at the MXON, as Coldenhoff swept his moto in both 2018 and '19. (And here's a nod to the late Danny "Magoo" Chandler who won all four motos in the back-to-back 1982 Motocross and Trophee des Nations.) Coldenhoff created more history last Sunday in the restart of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championships when he took the MXGP overall win in the saddle of the Spanish brand Gas Gas, a KTM-owned motorcycle manufacturer since they purchased the brand last year.
Before this 2020 Gas Gas was successful mainly in the trials and the enduro disciplines, with world championship titles in both forms of competition. Taking the MXGP victory in Latvia, Coldenhoff gave GasGas both its maiden podium result and its first-ever win in the history of the FIM Motocross World Championship, in existence since 1957. By winning GasGas became the 32nd brand to get a victory at this level. And besides Bultaco and Montesa, Gas Gas became only the third Spanish brand to have a GP win. Gas Gas' GP win means that a new brand won for the first time since 1996, when the Italian bike TM got its maiden GP victory.
Grand Prix-winning brands in the FIM Motocross World Championship
KTM (Austria): 487 wins (first win in 1973)
Honda (Japan): 333 (1975)
Yamaha (Japan): 332 (1972)
Suzuki (Japan): 319 (1970)
Husqvarna (Sweden, now Austria): 168 (1960)
Kawasaki (Japan): 143 (1974)
CZ (Czechoslovakia): 110 (1962)
Cagiva (Italy): 40 (1984)
BSA (Great Britain): 37 (1957)
Maico (Germany): 21 (1969)
Husaberg (Sweden): 21 (1993)
Lito (Sweden): 14 (1960)
Monark (Sweden): 13 (1957)
Puch (Austria): 7 (1974)
Crescent (Sweden): 7 (1957)
Greeves (Great Britain): 6 (1962)
Hedlund (Sweden): 6 (1964)
FN (Belgium): 5 (1957)
Gilera (Italy): 4 (1980)
TM (Italy): 4 (1996)
Norton (Great Britain): 3 (1957)
Bultaco (Spain): 3 (1973)
Matchless (Great Britain): 3 (1957)
Vertemati (Italy): 2 (1994)
Aprilia (Italy): 2 (1984)
Montesa (Spain): 1 (1977)
Jawa (Czechoslovakia): 1 (1965)
TGM (Italy): 1 (1980)
Zündapp (Germany): 1 (1975)
Lindström (Sweden): 1 (1966)
Metisse (Great Britain): 1 (1966)
Gas Gas (Spain): 1 (2020)
Spanish GP-winning brands
1973 250cc GP of Spain
1975 250cc GP of Belgium
1978 250cc GP of Spain
1977 250cc GP of Spain
2020 MXGP of Latvia
Mini-E Food for Thought (DC)
I had planned on writing a whole bunch about the amazing week we had here for the 39th annual AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, but today’s crazy developments robbed me of all my bench-racing and writing time, so here’s something I worked out after speaking about the new electric minicycle with Jason Weigandt.
Check out the lap times for these kids who rode both the 51cc Limited (4-6) and the Mini-E (4-6), the new bike for the electric junior minicycles made by KTM and Husqvarna:
Take Kade Nightingale, for instance. He's a young ripper from Mounds, Oklahoma. We looked at his second lap in each of his six motos, three on Mini-E, three on the 51cc. The motos did not run at the same time, but track conditions were similar.
In his first 51cc moto Kade turned a 2:43.714 on his second lap; in his first Mini-E moto, on the new electric bike, Kade turned a 2:47.165—four seconds slower on the Mini-E than the 51cc.
In his second 51cc moto, Nightingale was at 2:46.646; on the E-bike he went 2:36.094—ten seconds faster.
And in the third moto, his second lap on the E bike was 2:38.314; on the 51cc Limited he turned a 2:42.479, four seconds slower.
Nightingale is one of the fastest young kids in the country, and he ended up the Mini-E champion after overtaking the leader Jaydin Smart of Berry Creek, California, after Smart's bike started overheating late on the last lap. For his part Smart evened that disappointment out by taking the 51cc title over Nightingale with 2-1-1 finishes to Kade's 1-2-2. Both were generally faster on the Mini E bikes than their 51cc machines.
However, Weege told us that the trainers have been telling him that kids with slightly less skill do much better on the Mini Es than on their 51cc bikes. So I decided to check out the best lap times in each moto for an impressive little girl named Lahna MacNeil of Southbridge, Massachusetts, who finished 15th overall in the 51cc class (14-29-12 moto scores) and sixth overall (8-9-7 motos).
Lahna's best 51cc time in the first moto was 3:24; her best Mini-E time in the first moto was 2:51. In her second 51cc moto Lahna turned a fast lap of 3:14 while her best Mini-E moto was a much quicker 2:42. And finally in her last motos Lahna did a 2:54 on the 51cc and a 2:41 on the Mini-E.
You can check out all of the results and all of the lap times from the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships right here.
Ageless Wonder (Andras Hegyi)
On September 23, Antonio Cairoli will turn 35. But the nine-time World Champion does not look—or ride—his age. On Wednesday, the Italian legend won the MXGP of Riga in Latvia at the age of 34 years, 10 months, 20 days. By getting his first win of 2020, the KTM rider reached some real milestones. He also broke some all-time records.
By winning on Wednesday, Cairoli became the sixth-oldest GP winner ever. Only the German Adolf Weil, the Italian Alex Puzar, the Belgian Roger De Coster, the French Yves Demaria, and the Swedish Torleif Hansen were older than Cairoli when they won Grand Prix events. But Cairoli could set up three different absolute records. He has the most podium results ever with 167 times on the box. Cairoli overtook the 10-time World Champion Everts, who had 166 podiums. Cairoli also became the oldest GP winner in the history of the MX1/MXGP, in existence since 2004, overtaking Everts, who last won in 2006 at 33 years, 9 months, 23 days. In addition, Cairoli extended his winning streak regarding consecutive years with wins. He has now won at least one GP every season since 2004, as 2020 is the 17th consecutive season in which Cairoli has been able to get a GP win. Among Cairoli’s all-time rivals, Everts won in 15 different seasons while the Dutchman Jeffrey Herlings, the Belgians Joel Smets, Eric Geboers, and Roger De Coster could take a GP wins in 11 consecutive seasons.
Six oldest GP winners
Adolf Weil (Germany): 37 years, 3 months, 17 days
Alex Puzar (Italy): 36 years, 5 months, 12 days
Roger De Coster (Belgium): 35 years, 11 months, 13 days
Yves Demaria (France): 35 years, 7 months, 7 days
Torleif Hansen (Sweden): 35 years, 9 days
Antonio Cairoli (Italy): 34 years, 10 months, 20 days
Jago Geerts (Andras Hegyi)
The 20-year-old Jago Geerts is rewriting a little bit of history himself—this time for all of Belgian motocross racers. Belgium has a long line of legends in the 125cc class, going back to the late Gaston Rahier, Harry Everts, Eric Geboers, and then Everts' son Stefan, the 1991 FIM 125cc World Champion. But those were in the days of 125 two-strokes. The Belgians have not been anywhere nearly as successful in the era of 250F four-strokes, known as the MX2 class now in Europe.
At the season opening MXGP of Great Britain back in March the national anthem of Belgium was finally heard again after not being played eight years of MX2 racing. In getting his maiden GP win, Geerts became just the third Belgian GP winner in MX2 besides Jeremy Van Horebeek and Joel Roelants. And then on Wednesday in Latvia, Geerts got his second GP win, making him the most successful Belgian racer in MX2, in existence since 2004. Geerts also became also the first Belgian crosser to get sweep the motos in this division. Van Horebeek won the GP of Catalonia in 2009 with 2-3 moto finishes while Roleants won the GP of Latvia in 2012 with 1-2 moto scores.
The october 2020 ISSUE OFRACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
Hey, Watch It!
Aden Keefer's video recap from the Ranch.
Listen To This
And finally, congratulations to our longtime Racer X art director David Langran on the release of his debut single, “Close the Distance,” which you can download and listen to: “Close The Distance” by David Langran.
Kris Keefer and Jason Weigandt join me to recap the week that was at Loretta Lynn’s, Keefer’s title, the real amateur stars, Barry Carsten, Kevin Walker, and more. In addition, we integrate the Renthal Reaction podcast as we discuss Ken Roczen’s decision to skip the 2020 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
This week on the Main Event Moto Podcast, Daniel Blair, "Snap-On" Dan Colvin, and Producer Joe talk about the 250 class of the 2020 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport and sometimes it goes off the rails.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
"DMV Sends Tennessee Woman ID With Photo Of Empty Chair, Not Her Face"—Huffington Post
“Nationals' Stephen Strasburg Ejected For Arguing While Sitting in Stands”—Sports Illustrated
“Dennis Quaid, the actor, adopts Dennis Quaid, the cat”—CNN
Our friend Donovan Mitchell, former KTM factory rider, was one of 25 people out of thousands that was picked to tell his story for eBay, which is celebrating its 25th birthday throughout 2020. Check it out on the eBay website.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!