Six down, three to go. Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from WW Ranch Motocross Park just outside of Jacksonville, Florida, where the seventh round of the 2020 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is happening tomorrow. We have two-thirds of the series in the books, and now begins a 15-day stretch that will take the teams westward and hopefully to its completion. After tomorrow’s race in Florida, which promises to be hot but not a scorcher, we head to Thunder Valley in Colorado, where it might very well be snowing, and then out to Fox Raceway at Pala in California, where it could be just about anything—heat, wildfires, snow, you name it. It doesn’t matter, we just want to get there and get this series finished accordingly.
Last week, of course, was the Spring Creek National in Minnesota, and while I wasn’t there—I stayed home and went to the Big Dave Vet Homecoming race out at High Point—I watched all four motos under the Racer X tent with A-Fred, D-Gar, Dustin, Mitch, and more. What I saw was the most normal-looking race yet, and I mean that as a huge compliment. The track looked great, the crowd turned out 5,000 strong—the predetermined cap for John and Greta Martin’s facility—and they saw some dramatic racing. It was like everyone was back in the good old days of 2019, pre-Rona, just enjoying a Saturday at the races. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne had his first bad day with front-tire issues in the second moto, and 450 rookie Adam Cianciarulo won again, tightening the championship battle considerably. And in the 250 Class, cohosts Jeremy and Alex Martin did their best to get hometown wins, but in the end, Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis just had a little more. Now he’s the points leader again heading into what promises to be three great final races.
Now we’re in the sands of WW Ranch, and it’s going to be quite a test for everyone—though fortunately not as hot as it was last year when the first WW Ranch National ran. Unlike last week, where it was just the Martins’ home races (and Henry Miller, who unfortunately crashed out hard in practice), Florida is the “second” home race for a whole bunch of guys: Osborne, Marvin Musquin, Chase Sexton, Cianciarulo, etc. The racing should be epic with the two classes so close. And after tomorrow we will really be in the home stretch!
Some scenes from WW Ranch Motocross Park.
Championship Cianciarulo (Jason Weigandt)
I got to participate in a Zoom call with Adam Cianciarulo a few days ago to get some TV talking points for this weekend’s race. The big question now is how he will handle the ramp-up in pressure, since he’s suddenly gone from spoiler to title contender in the course of a few weeks. Adam doesn’t think it will be a problem, because as soon as he crashed out of the opener, he figured all hope was lost. Anything he does from here is just a bonus—there’s no pressure, as he sees it.
“Obviously, I have a lot of respect for the guys I’m racing in this class— [winning the title] wasn’t really on my radar,” he said. “At RedBud 2 when I was able to get my first moto win, it’s like a light bulb kinda went off where you say to yourself, ‘I did it before, why can’t I do it again?’ The fact I’m in this position is a surprise for me. The fact that I’m in contention is nice. I will just see how I can do from here. Fifteen points is still a bit of a margin. Zach [Osborne] is going to come out swinging. He’s probably been in defense mode these last couple of weekends, and now that’s been thrown out the door. Looking forward to tackling that head-on and seeing what we can do.
“A few weeks ago, the championship, there was no talk about it,” Adam added. “I thought it was over as soon as I DNF’d Loretta’s. I just thought, Okay, maybe we’ll get some wins. And that’s the rookie season goal, really, just put yourself through it. But now that I have a realistic chance to win this thing, that would just be a bonus. One hell of a bonus!”
After Millville, Cianciarulo explained that he’s been around so many champions of the sport, like Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, and Ken Roczen, that he’s learned to stay levelheaded even when things are going well. This week he reiterated that point: “You have to be grateful, but at the same time, compared to where I was earlier in my career, there’s kind of a numbness to it. Coming back from Millville, I went 1-1, but in a sense, it felt like a business trip for me. I just went there and did what I knew I could do, went home, and went back into my normal routine. In order to have sustained success and to be a champion, you have to think of it that way. As much as I want to romanticize all of this, because the sport has meant so much to me for so long, and I did grow up a huge fan, there has to be a sense that you’ve been here before. And that’s where I’m at, mentally.”
Herlings Update (DC)
As the MXGP series gets ramped back up for another tripleheader in Italy, this time at the sandy Mantova circuit, new points leader Antonio Cairoli will be aiming for his 92nd victory at Sunday's first round. Absent will be the former points leader Jeffrey Herlings, who suffered a scary crash and injury at the middle race of the last tripleheader at Faenza. Just how scary the crash was is only just coming out, in a post from Jeffrey himself:
It’s been pritty quiet around me lately and I am sorry for not giving a update to my fans since my crash. I can not describe how devastated it was being there on the ground temporarily paralyzed and not having any feeling from my neck down for minimum half an hour. Eventually I ended up braking my C1, C6 and T3. Doctors told me I got through the eye of the needle with not ending up paralyzed. From the good side, I got 3 stable fractures with only small cracks in the bones and the healing process wont be too long luckely and doctors say I will get a full recovery from this injury. I was feeling I was more then 100% in control this season, accepting a 2nd place and felt more in control of the championship than ever. I feel like that I messed up for the 2nd season in a row, even I have the feeling there was nothing I can blame myself for, for this crash. I am sorry to all my sponsors and partners and fans for once again not being able to deliver a championship to them. And most of all I would like to thank my entire KTM team and crew for there patience and there constant support towards me and there support through thick and thin. It’s been a very though last 2 seasons but I know I still got plenty to offer in this sport. For the moment the team and I have decided to sit out the next race in Mantova and look from there when exactly we will return to racing. I believe to become back healthy is the most important for now. Once again thanks to my team and partners for there great support. I will work hard to become back healthy again as soon as possible.
Also, MX Geoff Meyer caught up with Infront Moto Racing's Giuseppe Luongo to discuss the state of MXGP in the midst of the coronavirus and what to expect for not only the rest of the season, but 2021 as well. They are obviously going through the same challenges as we have here with SX/MX and every other sport trying to keep a season going right now. Check out Meyer’s interview with Luongo.
30 and 61 (Andras Hegyi)
In the history of 125/250 AMA Pro Motocross, there have been six foreign countries that have had winning riders: Germany, Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa. Among them, France has been the most successful, with 30 triumphs—almost as many wins as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Great Britain, and South Africa combined. The 30th French win was taken by Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha's Dylan Ferrandis last Saturday at Spring Creek. In addition, Ferrandis’ win was the 61st total victory in the small-bore motocross for the non-American riders.
The maiden French winner in 125/250 AMA motocross was Jean-Michel Bayle, who won 30 years ago in 1990 at Lake Sugar Tree in Axton, Virginia. The French rider to win with two different brands in 125/250 Class was Christophe Pourcel, first with Kawasaki and then Yamaha. Among the French riders, Marvin Musquin won in the most seasons: 2012, '13, '14, and '15. The most successful Frenchmen are Musquin and Ferrandis. Last Saturday, Ferrandis caught up with Musquin; both now have eight wins each.
Back in 1990, JMB was leading the 125 championship when he broke his arm at Washougal. Ten years later, Stephane Roncada seemed to have the measure of Travis Pastrana, only to lose out in the end. In 2010, Pourcel was in striking distance when he busted his shoulder at the last round at Pala, and the championship went instead to Trey Canard. Now, in 2020, Ferrandis is neck-and-neck with Jeremy Martin. Can #14 break the curse of the Frenchmen in this class (which seems to pop up every ten years)?
France’s 30 wins in 125/250 motocross
61 wins in 125/250 motocross by non-Americans
France (30 wins)
South Africa (15)
Great Britain (6)
New Zealand (6)
Special Mention for Benny Bloss (DC)
Special mention to Benny Bloss, who earned an unlikely double this past weekend at Spring Creek. Bloss, a Husqvarna rider doing his own thing in 2020, won the FMF Privateer Power Award for finishing 12th as top privateer—and he did it the hard way, going from 38th to 13th in the first 450 moto, earning him the Battery Tender RC Hard Charger Award for the week as well. I honestly don't recall anyone taking both of these awards in a single race.
Win Ads (DC)
While doing research on a Racer X magazine story for Steve Matthes, I was digging through the invaluable Cycle News Archives looking for information on the 1980 RedBud 250 National, which had one of the most unlikely winners ever in Ohio's super-fast semi-privateer Denny Swartz. He won the overall on a Maico, marking the last major win for the German motorcycle brand in America. The race was muddy, so there's not a lot of photography in circulation, especially of Swartz. In fact, the Cycle News coverage from the event didn't even include a photo of him because the reporter—the legendary Jim Gianatsis—apparently missed him, or the editors back at the office didn't recognize Swartz in any pics. One week later, Maico bought a win ad in the newspaper extolling Swartz's big win, but they apparently couldn't find a photo either and went with this stock-art win ad instead.
Coincidentally, in the same issue, Suzuki was celebrating a couple of privateers in their win ad of the week. Drag racer Vick Force went nearly 120 mph on his Suzuki GS-1100 at New England Dragway to set a record, and motocrosser-turned-off-roader John Ayers (yes, that John Ayers) won the Open class and a gold medal at the Track Mountain 3-Day Qualifier. In the ad, Suzuki actually thanked Ayers for riding their bike! Hard to believe this was 40 years ago.
If you’re in the Pennsylvania area this weekend, get yourself out to Jeff Cernic’s Pleasure Valley Raceway for the annual (and rapidly growing) Travis Pastrana $19,199 Pro Challenge, with lots of racing, freestyle, and fun. Adding to the weekend will be a massive gear auction that Jeff and Travis have put together for Levi Wosick, who was badly injured earlier this summer and will be attending the Florida National with his family. Our mutual friend Todd Hicks of Fox Racing helped hook the Wosicks up with tickets for the event, and he told me Levi is thrilled to be coming back out to the races. Levi is also already plotting out a new career path racing cars and seems to be in very good spirits! If you are unable to attend the event, make sure to check out the event auction, where the money will be going to Levi Wosick, who recently suffered a crash at a practice track earlier this summer.
Big Dave Homecoming Winners (Andrew Fredrickson)
Tim Booth - Best Old-School Trophy Contest (80’ High Point)
Doug Houston - Vintage Race Gear Contest (Ryan Hughes Kawasaki Splitfire Pants)
James Sprites - Oldest Race Program Contest (77’ High Point)
Jon Varley - Oldest Competitor Contest (68 yrs old)
James Stokes - Best Vintage T-Shirt Contest (81’ High Point)
Ryan Puskarich - Furthest Traveled Competitor Contest (Las Vegas, NV)
Bike Show Contests
Dan Weiss - 1994 Honda CR250R - Millennium Era (1990-2005) Winner
Brian Patterson - 1989 Kawasaki KX250 - Modern Era (1982-1989) Winner
Ken Day - 1980 Husqvarna 250 CR - Pre-Modern Era (1978-1982) Winner
Robert Radcliffe - 1975 Honda CR125 - Golden Era (1970-1978) Winner
Shane Koontz - Honda CR80 - Mini Cycle 0-70cc (Pre-1990) Winner
Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson Andrew Fredrickson
20 On Green (Andras Hegyi)
Adam Cianciarulo is moving up in Kawasaki’s hierarchy on the AMA circuit. Thanks to his victories at RedBud and Spring Creek, Cianciarulo became the ninth Kawasaki racer to take at least two consecutive wins in the premier motocross class. Cianciarulo joins James Stewart, Eli Tomac, Jeff Emig, Ricky Carmichael, Jeff Ward, Ryan Villopoto, Mike Kiedrowski, and Mike LaRocco in this group. Among them, Stewart has the longest winning streak riding Kawasaki: in 2008, Bubba won all the 12 rounds in the 250/450 motocross championship. In addition, besides Jeff Ward and LaRocco, Cianciarulo became only the third Kawasaki rider who was able to win again immediately after his maiden victory in the premier class. Riding Kawasaki, Ward did it in 1985, LaRocco in '93.
Cianciarulo entered another Kawasaki elite club at Spring Creek, as the Floridian celebrated the 20th Kawasaki victory in his professional career. Cianciarulo has raced only with Kawasaki since 2013, the date of his pro debut. Between 2013 and '19 he got 11 wins in 250SX and seven wins in 250 Class of Pro Motocross. He did not manage to get any wins in 450SX as a rookie, but in the 450 Class of Pro Motocross he has already taken two wins so far.
Including every AMA SX and MX championship, as well as the old 500 Nationals and East/West supercross series, Cianciarulo became only the ninth Kawasaki motocrosser to get at least 20 wins. James Stewart has the most, with 87 riding Kawasaki motorcycles. In the history of AMA Motocross/Supercross, in existence since 1972, there have been 64 different Kawasaki winners in all.
Riders to get at least 20 wins in saddle of Kawasaki in all the AMA Motocross and Supercross Championships
The november 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
Listen To This
Adam Wheeler and Lewis Phillips join host Steve Matthes to review what’s happened in the FIM Motocross World Championship so far, what’s going to happen in the future, how the series is working with COVID-19, and more.
Host Steve Matthes is joined by Weege and JT discuss all the things from Millville, Minnesota, including Weege missing the start, the dealership “thing,” silly season, AC’s dominance, Zach Osborne’s issues, the Dylan/J-Mart battle and more.
This week on the Main Event Moto Podcast, Daniel Blair and Producer Joe talk about the 2020 Spring Creek National. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport and sometimes it goes off the rails.
On The MotoXpod Show this week, Darkside & Scotty T visit with Alex Ray about the mental side of this season, relationships, and Matthes. The legend Gary Semixs also comes on to talk about his career and instructional videos.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“The New York town of Swastika votes to keep its name”—CNN.com
“Report: Chargers Team Doctor Accidentally Punctured Tyrod Taylor’s Lung With Pain-Killer Injection Before Game”—CBS Los Angeles
“Supermarket shopper filmed smashing wine bottles after being reminded of coronavirus policy”—Fox News
“Massachusetts Man Overdoses on Black Licorice”—TooFab.com
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #39.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!