Welcome to another off-season week—albeit a busy one—and Racerhead. Happy pre-Halloween in this country, and don’t forget to vote before or on Tuesday. Then let’s all work together—to take down all of these political candidate signs!
Last Friday we had the 2021 AMA numbers to talk about. This week it's the 2021 schedule for Monster Energy AMA Supercross here in the U.S. as well as a sprint to the finish (and a race against the raging coronavirus) over in Europe. There's also been a few developments in rider signings, including the expansion of the new Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha 450 team.
Let's start in Italy. After last week's tripleheader in the sands of Lommel, Belgium, the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championships are set to conclude on the hard-pack foothills of the Dolomites in Italy. The Arco de Trentino track is among the most beautiful motocross circuits in the world. (U.S. fans of MXGP might remember it as the place where Ryan Villopoto's career came to an end when he looped out in 2015 and messed up his back.) Now it will mark the end of the 2020 campaign with another tripleheader—at least, that's the plan.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus that's wrecked the world is coming back in another wave in Europe, and there is fear that Italy may be going on a national lockdown as cases surge. Series organizer Infront Moto Racing (formerly Youthstream) announced that while they have been working closely with the event promoter, Moto Club Arco, and local authorities, new health restrictions in Italy mean that the events will have to be run behind closed doors. It's an unfortunate turn of events for the series and the promoter, but props to Infront and the club for doing everything they can to get these last three rounds—Sunday, Wednesday, and Sunday again—and the whole championship safely completed. And if all goes the way it's been trending, the 2020 MXGP World Champion will be Slovenian Honda HRC rider Tim Gajser and the MX2 World Champion will be French Red Bull KTM rider Tom Vialle.
But then again, this is 2020, so anything can happen. Remember, just last week, after winning the second MXGP at Lommel, Spanish KTM rider Jorge Prado received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 and was not allowed to participate in last Sunday's third Lommel round, effectively dashing his title hopes; he has now fallen back to fourth in points, 107 behind Gajser's 583, with Antonio Cairoli (509), and Jeremy Seewer (499) in between. I am not sure what’s more surreal—the fact that Prado won the roughest MXGP of all with COVID-19 (his positive result came from a test he took prior to the race) or the fact that he was pulled out of the next race altogether. But then again, the likely Heisman Trophy winner here in college football, Trevor Lawrence, quarterback of the Clemson Tigers, also tested positive for COVID-19, and now he’s out for this weekend’s game. This year has been an equal-opportunity dumpster fire for everyone.
Prado released this statement on how exactly he came to find out he had tested positive for COVID-19 last Saturday:
"As usual last Wednesday before the race we made the tests for covid. Today I received the results and I am positive for COVID-19. I feel very frustrated not being able to race tomorrow because my job as a professional was to take maximum precautions at all times. My only routine has been to go to training, to the track to compete and then back home keeping myself in a bubble just as I was asked. Unfortunately, we don’t know so much about this virus that I don’t even have the minimum idea how or when I could get it. I hope to receive a negative test soon to be back racing."
No word yet if he will be back for the final three races in Italy, which will not only mark the end of the season, but also the end of the line for longtime MXGP veterans Gautier Paulin of France and Clement Desalle of Belgium.
If the name Tom Vialle sounds familiar to you, it's either because his father, Fredric, was also a Grand Prix winner, or maybe the fact that he was controversially removed from the French MXoN team last year over a dispute with the French Motorcycling Federation over the Red Bull logos on his Red Bull KTM cap and official French national uniforms. France ended up losing the MXoN for the first time in five years, and with Vialle closing in on the 2020 MX2 FIM Motocross World Championship, it looks like the rider will get the last laugh.
Now let's look at the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule. Feld Entertainment, organizers of the series, have had quite a challenge ever since they had to stop the 2020 series back in March. They first had to figure out a way to get the last seven races of the championship in, and they successfully did that with the "Salt Lake City 7," racing in Rice-Eccles Stadium seven times in 22 days without any fans. It was quite the undertaking, but fans all over the world were thrilled to see the guys back on track. The races all aired live on TV or NBC Sports Gold and were a welcome diversion for everyone back at home suffering through lockdown.
Unfortunately, all these months later, Feld and the whole world are still dealing with coronavirus, which made even planning a series this winter yet another huge undertaking. As our own Jason Weigandt suggested back in June after SLC, they decided on a similar plan of finding a good market with an available stadium and setting up there for three races in eight days, though at least with limited-capacity fans this time. Having three rounds in one stadium means cutting down the in-and-out costs of hauling in dirt and infrastructure for the promoter, as well as cutting travel expenses for the teams (at least in regard to miles on the road). They also left the back end of the schedule TBA, just in case there is a major change in this health crisis; they could maybe do some races in California, where right now no stadiums are booking events. And that means that, for the first time in the history of the supercross, which really started in its present shape with the 1972 Superbowl of Motocross at the Los Angeles Coliseum, there are no rounds scheduled for California. Hopefully, that will change.
None of 2020 has been easy for anyone, and 2021 isn't looking much better at the moment. Things are sounding bleak in Europe already—not only is Italy getting ready to lock down, but so are Great Britain, France, Belgium, and more—and they haven't had it nearly as bad as we have here in the U.S. We all want life to go on, to somehow get back to normal, but for now this uncertainty is our new normal.
10 Years of Roger and Ian (Jason Weigandt)
Earlier this week I flew to California to host a championship celebration event at the KTM and Husqvarna North American headquarters. This was billed as a celebration for Zach Osborne’s AMA 450 National Motocross Championship and Kailub Russell’s GNCC Championship, and as such, Kailub, Zach, and their respective team managers, Antti Kallonen and “Scuba” Steve Westfall, came on stage to talk about the year. The real theme was all the challenges everyone faced this year, from the COVID-19 break to Osborne and Russell having to overcome their own obstacles along the way. Osborne got really beat up in a practice crash early in supercross and at one point considered retirement (check out my full interview with Zacho for more). Then of course his bike wouldn’t run in practice at Loretta’s 2, and he suffered a flat tire at Millville. Westfall, the new team manager, said he talked to Osborne on the phone the day after the race, and Osborne said he was going to bounce back and go 1-1 at WW Ranch. Westfall told him not to get ahead of himself and just continue to aim for consistent podium finishes. But Osborne, indeed, went 1-1, changing the championship momentum completely.
As for Russell, he seemed to have the GNCC Championship on lock until he smashed a tree and hurt his knee. Kallonen described a tense few minutes on the radio when they heard Kailub hadn’t come out of the woods but didn’t know if it was due to a bike or body problem. Eventually, they got to him and found out his knee was bad. Kallonen was worried, but Russell was not. “Oh, no matter what, I was gonna race,” Russell told me of the next GNCC, where he dug out a third to wrap up the title.
That was the spirit KTM and Husqvarna wanted to celebrate. The never-give-up, overcome-all-challenges spirit.
But that was just part of the event. KTM also celebrated the introduction of the new 2021 Kailub Russell Edition 350 XC-F. Russell explained that he’s ridden a KTM since the day he was old enough to ride one; as soon as KTM’s 85 SX became available 15 years ago, he raced it. Well, it turns out that a lot of the development of the early 2000s 85 was done by … Zach Osborne! Zach even talked about the engineers he worked with from Austria back in 2002, and a lot of those guys are still working over there. Pretty neat full-circle deal there.
Then came the real point. They told Roger De Coster and Ian Harrison to come to the stage. Harrison said he really didn’t understand why, since the team he manages—Red Bull KTM—didn’t actually win any of these titles. But then KTM North America CEO John Hinz explained all, and he unveiled a special gift to celebrate De Coster and Harrison’s 10 years at KTM.
Has it really already been 10 years? I remember hearing about this bombshell story at the Steel City National at the end of 2010. Roger said he would only move to KTM (from Suzuki) if Harrison came with him, and Harrison felt the same about Roger. They would only, and will only, work together.
I told Roger that everyone thought he was crazy at the time, since KTM never had much success on the U.S. circuit and had been struggling really badly for the last few years. Roger explained that once he saw the KTM race shop, and how low it was on parts and infrastructure, he even went back to his wife and told her he had made a horrible mistake!
We all know now that KTM gave Roger and Ian whatever they needed, and they soon had an all-new 450 SX in time for their old rider, Ryan Dungey, to come race for the team in 2012. Dungey won the second supercross round of that season on the KTM, and the rest is history.
It’s been a heck of a ten years. There’s more to come. I visited the race shop after the event and noted the Troy Lee Designs side of the shop had been painted red. And then I saw it—a GasGas bike, back from some testing. I can’t show you any of the photos I took, but in time you’ll see the bike in action, and the 2021 rider roster for the TLD GasGas team will be announced. At this point, you pretty much know this GasGas unit will turn out okay. That’s a huge change from when De Coster and Harrison came to KTM a decade ago, when everyone was shocked and expectations were very low.
SOCAL VACATIONS (Matthes)
There's an abundance of people in Southern California who will take people from all over the world to the hot spots in motocross. I feel like after the past couple of days, I could either be the tour operator or a satisfied customer. I live in Las Vegas, of course, but I headed down to Glen Helen on Thursday to ride my YZ450F with Keefer and Kellen Brauer as they were doing some Racer X Films videos. The track was epic and not too rough for the first couple hours. Then the fast guys like Jason Anderson showed up and the track got rougher and less fun. But I got to do some riding, hang out with Yamaha's Travis Preston (of course a past 125SX champion), and I also got to talk to the very interesting genius Paul Thede from Race Tech. Paul was there with a special KTM 350 XC-F he had built for his son, and we talked about suspension and the history of his company.
All in all, it was an interesting day at the track, and one I thought people would be pretty stoked to be a fly on a wall for. After the riding was over, Keefer and I headed back up to the security of the hi-dez and grabbed a couple of Intense Tazer e-bikes and went for a nice little pedal.
And as you read this on a Friday, Keefer and I are headed to Perris Raceway to meet the factory Yamaha guys and test Brock Tickle's YZ450F! Again, pretty cool opportunity, and you'll read and see the test here on Racer X real soon. Busy couple of days, and I have to admit, I'm pretty fortunate to have this opportunity.
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Very busy and fun day today with a day at the Helen with @kkeefer120 @lil_keefer71 & @kellenbrauer. Any day you can ride BLUCRU is a good day for sure. Track was fun also. Thanks @t11_preston for the Magic Map for my 450! Nice to chat with the legend Paul Thede from @racetechinc & keep an eye on @racerxonline for something on his sons KTM. Then back in the Hi-Dez Keefer & I grabbed some @intensecycles Tazers and went for a quick spin. The Soul Rider seemed to enjoy e-bikes yet again!
Whither Reed? (DC)
Our colleague Down Under, Alex Gobert, recently spoke to Chad Reed about his future and whether or not we will be seeing him in 2021, even if just a one-off appearance to say goodbye and have a proper farewell.
“I think I’m done,” Reed told MotoOnline.com.au. “Very little in me wants to race next year. I haven’t honestly given it any thought, just been wide-open being a BMX dad. I just don’t have any desire to race with all the restrictions the world has going on right now – it sucks the fun out of it for me.”
We would have had fellow BMX dad Jason Weigandt follow up on this, but as you saw up there, he's been out in California handing out #10 plates to Roger and Ian. Here's Alex's full report.
A Couple Team Moves (DC)
Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s new 450 program just added a third rider this week in the veteran Malcolm Stewart. Mookie parted ways with SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda, which may have opened a spot there for former Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha rider Shane McElrath, who was spotted trying an MCR Honda CRF450R last week. Also, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki reportedly gave Jo Shimoda a chance to ride the bike this week, as Shimoda was one of the guy’s left without a ride when GEICO Honda closed up. He’s coming off a career-best third in the final moto of the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro AMA Motocross Championship.
Gautier Paulin (DC)
As I mentioned above in the intro, French legend Gautier Paulin is retiring at the end of this MXGP season. The longtime captain of the French MXoN team, which he led to five straight Motocross of Nations wins, Paulin is one of the most respected riders in the world. A solid performer, a strong voice in the paddock, and a super nice guy, he will be sorely missed in the MXGP pits. Here's what he posted on his social media:
It is with a great deal of emotion that I have decided to call 'time' on my career. I have dedicated my whole life to my sport and it has made me the man I am today. I had a wonderful awakening in 2007 when I signed my first pro contract and won my first title. It set me on a path I had dreamt of. I'm so grateful that I got to fight with the best riders in the world, gain the trust of the most prestigious companies and brands, wear my nation's jersey for eleven consecutive years at the Motocross of Nations and win the event.
I love challenges, performance, hard work, and having the desire to give my best.
I’ve experienced indescribable feelings of joy, I’ve led the MX2 and MXGP world championships, sang the Marseillaise with the public, and lived through strong emotions that have marked me forever. I also have the most unbelievable fans and I humbly thank every single one of them as well as every single person that helped or believed in me for the last fifteen years and more. Sport unites us.
Now it is time for the next chapter. #GP21
Paulin's best season finish was as runner-up in 2015 in MXGP. He also won 12 Grand Prix events over the years, and his MXoN records as France's captain—11 consecutive starts and five consecutive wins—will be hard to beat. Salut, Gautier!
Florida Man (DC)
Thomas Parsons shared an update on “Remove Alachua County, Florida's ban of Rec/Off Road Vehicles on private property.”
OCT 28, 2020 — Just an update for everyone, we had the county commissioner meeting yesterday and they turned down our permit to continue to use my practice course. I’m also no longer allowed to use any dirt bikes or recreational vehicles on my property without violating the code. They cited the noise ordinance in section 110.03 and basically proved that they can determine any area of the county incompatible for recreational vehicles by using a noise ordinance that has no set decibel levels. If it makes a sound 50 ft over the property line they can say it’s too loud, end of story, without having to do any dB tests whatsoever. So my 20 acre property surrounded 50% by a 90 acre commercial tree farm, 25% by timber woods, the last 25% which are my closest two neighbors who are okay with it, is considered an incompatible area for the use of off-road recreational vehicles. Not to mention it’s agriculturally zoned in the unincorporated area of the county, 2.5 miles from one of the largest most well-known motocross tracks in all of the south east, that’s considered an incompatible area? Good luck finding anywhere “compatible” that you can use recreational vehicles without the chance of being completely shut down. Since they don’t do decibel readings all it takes is one neighbor to decide they don’t like you or recreational vehicles and they can basically ban its use on your own property with one call and no proof it’s actually too loud.
Cheryl Lynch Needs Our Help (DC)
Do you remember Cheryl Lynch? She was the longtime publicist for Jeremy McGrath, back when he was at the peak of his reign in supercross and motocross. As a result, she did a great deal for the growth of our sport in the 1990s and 2000s. It was Lynch who helped make Jeremy the most mainstream dirt bike rider since Malcolm Smith, helping him get on TV shows like The Tonight Show, a cameo in Charlie's Angels 2, those commercials for 1-800-COLLECT, and much more. After complications from knee-replacement surgery, Lynch became extremely ill from a ruptured colon, which led to emergency surgery and then septic shock infection. She was in the ICU for some time and is on the long road to recovery. Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to help offset some of the extraordinary costs of her health crisis. Please visit the page for more details on how to help Cheryl Lynch during what's being a very rough year.
Off-Season Instagram (DC)
As we all continue looking for some kind of diversion and/or fix for our moto minds, there's always plenty to see on Instagram. We did a big List of fun follows a while back.
Here are some fun new moto-inspired Instagram accounts to follow.
This brand is based in Carlsbad, California, once the epicenter of the American motocross scene. We look forward to trying some of their stuff!
"Because the dirt bike industry and The Office aren't that different..."
Clinton Fowler is way, way into motocross and supercross stats, so if you're looking for some bench racing gold, this is it.
Bee G is an excellent illustrator who goes way beyond SX/MX for his creations, like this mash-up of Chase Sexton/Michael Jordan that followed Sexton's #23 homage at the Fox Raceway National finale, which Chase won.
The latest brainchild of Dustin Humphrey, this brand is all about the love of riding dirt bikes. "But when we ride very fast motorcycles, we ride with immaculate sanity," once wrote (or maybe said) Hunter S. Thompson.
He says he's "just a guy in college" but he does great cartoon work on the side, definitely worth the follow.
Another very good designer who post fun moto stuff, including the occasional 8bit Racer X magazine cover...
Funny clips of crashes, stunts and otherwise interesting moto clips
27 Red (Andras Hegyi)
Twenty-four-year old Tim Gajser can become the most successful Honda rider in the history of the Grand Prix, which began in 1957. The Slovenian could soon be Honda’s first four-time world motocross champion, as well as setting the mark for GP wins. With three rounds to go in Italy, Gajser has a 74-point gap over KTM’s Antonio Cairoli. Last Sunday, Gajser got his 27th GP win, tying him with the former Honda record-holder, Belgium’s André Malherbe.
Malherbe has been Honda’s record-holder since 1986. He was one of the greatest stars of the former 500cc World Motocross Championship. Malherbe raced for the factory Honda team between 1979 and 1986. He won world titles in 1980, ‘81 and ‘84. He also finished runner-up in ‘83, ‘85 and ‘86, while in 1979 Malherbe finished in the third overall position.
Gajser has been with Honda since 2014, starting in MX2. He became Honda’s first and so far only MX2 World Champion in 2015, grabbing five GP wins. One year later Gajser moved up to the premier MXGP class and as a rookie became Honda’s maiden MXGP champion, taking seven GP wins. He would win a second MXGP title (and nine wins) last year.
The december 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
Ricky Carmichael got his start on Kawasaki minicycles (well, at least after his parents dumped the Yamaha Tri-Zinger ATV) and then began his rise to GOAT status by winning his first three 125 Pro Motocross titles, first two 250 MX titles, and first AMA Supercross Championship. Now, nearly twenty years after his last ride on green, RC got off the couch and back on a green machine, and he looks like he's in 2001 all over again!
HEAD-SCRATCHING HEADLINE/S OF THE WEEK
“Dodgers Win COVID Season”—Drudge Report
“Dodgers Player Who Tested Positive for COVID Returned to Field to Celebrate Win”—TheDailyBeast.com
“L.A. DODGERS POSTPONING CHAMPIONSHIP PARADE... Due To Pandemic”—TMZ Sports
“How baseball made it through its best, worst, smartest, stupidest and scariest season ever”—ESPN.com
For his 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the first AMA Pro Motocross title for a Frenchman since Jean-Michel Bayle in 1991, Dylan Ferrandis landed a spot on the front page of France's MX Magazine, shot by our partners at Align Media.
And from our friends in Germany comes this cover shot of Rockstar Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne on his way to the 450 Pro Motocross Championship.
We’ve mentioned them before, but here’s another nod to @legomotox, which is a "Custom Lego MotoX Factory" who post superb Lego renditions of the riders and events and even Racer X Magazine, including last month's @adamcianciarulo cover.
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The Rookie! 🔥🔥🔥 Gotta say this season has been fun! AC9 heated up the championship hunt!!! So when I saw this cover!😱 Had to do it! (Well the fact that he is using the @foxmoto gear that I had LEGOLIZED helped!😂) I’ll be on travel tomorrow, but got my NBC app ready!👍👍 @promotocross #Repost @dcracerx ・・・ New Racer X Magazine just dropped with @adamcianciarulo on the front cover, shot by @align.with.us at @redbudmx @promotocross #moto #motocross #thisismoto #cover @racerxonline 🧐IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS!!!🔥🔥🔥 BLOX MOTOX SHOP, almost ready!😂 🚨MORE INFO COMING SOON🚨 Go to @bloxmotox for the best LegoMotoX builds! ☝️FIRST EVER CUSTOM LEGO® MotoX SHOP! 🔥🔥🔥 QUALITY OVER QUANTITY ALL DAY!!! * FYI PRO Riders are NOT for sale! You can make your own replicas!👍👍 BLOX LEGO® MotoX MADE IN USA 🇺🇸 Let’s have some LEGO® MotoX FUN!! FOLLOW & SHARE @LEGOMotoX and @BLOXmotoX for the latest custom builds!!!🔥🔥🔥 #LEGOMotoX #BLOXMOTOX #SUPERCROSS #MOTOCROSS #MotoX #LEGO #customlego #braap #legomx #moto #AFOL #dirtbikes #customminifigures #DROPTHEGATE #supercrosslive #promotocross #since1983 #madeinusa🇺🇸 🔥
And how good is this one of Eli Tomac when he got stuck during practice at Loretta Lynn's?
Gary Semics posted this earlier this week:
Our home and motocross track, in Lisbon, OH, that we built from scratch and got to enjoy it for 20+ years, is now for sale since we are retiring. This is a turnkey operation on 20 acres. It includes 3200 Sq. house, XL 3 car attached garage, partially finish basement (gym), sauna in master bath, 6 panel oak doors throughout, central vac and much, much more.
Serious inquirers only, please. Must see to appreciate! Contact Gary for more info, Email
Mobile number 330-277-9588.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!