Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from somewhere deep inside the off-season. It’s Friday the 13th, an unlucky day for some, but I’m feeling pretty good. Why? Because I have a new project: I just started a new team!
Wait, it’s not what you think. I’m not talking about a real race team like the FXR/Chaparral Racing Honda team that Michael “ML512” Lindsay started and that’s actually out there trying to find results and sponsors in the cutthroat world of Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. I’m talking about my new “dcracerx” fantasy team that’s currently on fire over on www.MotoXDream360.com, the original motocross fantasy league. I’ve never been into fantasy leagues in any kind of sport, but Denny Stephenson talked me into joining this new “flashback” league, which he runs with his friends Bret and Scott. It’s called the WeBigInc fantasy flashback league, and the way it works is each team owner has a $3 million budget, with which you pick a total of eight riders from 1990 to 1992 in AMA Supercross. Once everyone has picked their riders and the lineups are locked, Denny and his team randomly pick one race from each season, post a YouTube link to the old TV coverage of that race, and everyone sees how their respective teams did. It started on Monday night with a random race from 1990, then Wednesday night was a random race from 1991, and tonight’s third and final leg of round one will be a random race from 1992.
Since I was doing a lot of Cycle News coverage back in the 1990-’92 years of Coors Supercross, I figured I had the inside advantage on most of the rest of the 180 or so team owners. I immediately went for the two champions, Honda teammates Jeff Stanton (’90, ’92) and Jean-Michel Bayle (’91), each of whom was priced at more than $800K. That used up more than half my budget. Next I went with a couple of middle-tiered guys in Larry Ward and Mike Fisher, who cost another million. Then I added a few very good journeymen in Larry Brooks ($103K), Mike Craig ($89K), Todd DeHoop ($77K), and Kyle Lewis ($23K). I know and like all of the guys on my roster—I’m working on a magazine feature right now with DeHoop!
What I didn’t realize was that I have to pick a completely different set of riders each of the next two rounds of the series. Like I said, I don’t play these games much, but I was feeling really good about my top two, as Stanton and JMB won the majority of races over this period. I did get a couple of funny comments when I posted my team—DeHoop wondered “where the hell did that actual $75,000 go” and Billy Frank himself alerted me that “Billy Frank is available and his salary is only $10.”
With my team locked in, I waited for the first race from 1990 to be announced. When MotoXDream360 announced that it was San Diego, the third round of the series, I immediately clicked on the YouTube coverage, where I learned quickly that this was not my lucky day. Because while I picked the winner in Stanton, I had forgotten that Bayle hurt his arm and missed two rounds of the series—including the race in San Diego! (Amazing that he missed two rounds and still only lost the actual 1990 SX championship by seven points.) I did get decent backup from Larry Ward (fourth) and Fisher (ninth), but that was it. And while Mike Craig won that night, it was unfortunately in the 125 class, which doesn’t count in this game! Kyle Lewis was also in the 125 class and finished fifth. Brooks and DeHoop weren’t in the 250 main either.
With my first-race jitters behind me, I knew I would do better in race two, which was Wednesday night and a random SX from 1991. And when the email arrived with the race link, it was the St. Petersburg round, which I was at, and I clearly remembered that JMB won that one. (I also clearly remembered that the starting gate backdrop in the Suncoast Dome was the world’s largest pack of Camel cigarettes.) Bayle worked his way up and around both Stanton and Bradshaw, then rode off with the win. Bradshaw DNF’d at the halfway point, and Stanton ended up second. But this time Larry Ward was nowhere to be found, as he was out with an injury. Fisher ended up tenth and DeHoop finally earned some of that $77K with a 12th. Unfortunately, there was no Craig, no Brooks, and no Lewis in the main, so my 1-2 finish at the top wasn’t going to move me up as much as I’d hoped. After two rounds as a team owner, I sit in 107th place, exactly 99 spots behind my friend Mark Sepkovic. But I still like the dcracerx lineup, especially come Stanton, in tonight’s random race, which will be drawn from 1992 and posted this evening on www.motoxdream360.com. I mean, I’m paying these guys $3 million—they’ve got to be better than 107th place. And if I get lucky and they pick Las Vegas ’92, I’m going to skyrocket through the pack! Bayle got first, Stanton second, Ward fifth, Craig sixth, and Brooks tenth…. Like I said, maybe Friday the 13th will be my lucky day.
I bring all of this up because playing in this league is a fun way to spend the off-season, recall some great old races and friends, and take everyone’s mind off the pandemic as it seems to be firing up again. If you’re not playing already, you can join the league tomorrow morning and get signed up and have a team ready to go for next week’s second-round races.
If only owning a real race team were as easy as signing up on www.motoxdream360.com, being handed a $3 million budget and a list of riders to choose from that includes Hall of Famers like Stanton and JMB, then sitting back and waiting for the races to start. I’ve watched guys like Michael Lindsay and Forrest Butler put it all on the line, starting from scratch and trying to find sponsors and riders and the budget to just keep going, hoping their slingshot will one day be enough to someday slay some giants. I have serious respect for anyone who puts the blood, sweat, tears, and cash into making a motorsports team work, especially in our current environment.
Which brings me to Jason Weigandt with an unfortunate farewell to one of those real teams, run by a really good guy….
Goodbye, Dear Friends (Jason Weigandt)
This one hurts. The Joe Gibbs Racing MX team might not have been the most successful team in the pits, but they might have been the most likeable. This was always a friendly, outgoing group, and you always got the sense that top-down missive from team owner Coy Gibbs was to make this an enjoyable experience. Look, Coy and the Gibbs family didn’t need the motocross team to work. NASCAR is their real business, and Coy’s father, Joe Gibbs, has a legacy all set—in two sports. I call him “the greatest living American” for winning both NFL Super Bowls and NASCAR Cup Championships. You conquer football and NASCAR? You, sir, are American royalty.
So JGR was never going to be judged on its motocross team. That said, this was a competitive group and when you think back to the years with riders like James Stewart and Justin Barcia on board, there were definitely championship dreams and expectations. I think Coy could have been more of a serious bastard about all this if he wanted to adopt a win-at-all-costs approach, but I don’t think he wanted that. He wanted to work hard and he wanted to win, but he liked his guys and he didn’t want the experience to be miserable. He was doing this because he wanted to, not because he had to. There were times when I swear Coy was doing this solely so he could have a group of guys he could make fun of around him at all times. Deep down, Coy’s a teddy bear and he’d do anything for his people. I know Coy wasn’t a very public person, so fans might not know him well. You probably know Team Manager Jeremy Albrecht better, and he’s a likeable guy. Know that he was Coy’s pick to run his team. Anyway, Coy’s one of my favorite people, and he would hate hearing me say that. He’d be happier if I called him and idiot so he could insult me right back. That’s the way he operates.
Even when Coy had to move over to the NASCAR side due to the unfortunate illness and passing of his brother, JD, he still kept the motocross team going, and he kept pressing hard, forging a new relationship with Suzuki, hiring more staff, and building a 250 team. Whatever Coy needed to do or spend, he did. He hired great people. They had great times.
I know this because JGR became my home away from home. In 2011 I moved away from our Racer X offices in Morgantown, hoping to make some gains in the television industry by moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, the hub of racing in America. JGR was the lone major motocross connection in the area at the time. I started coming by the shop and hanging with the guys, and they took me in like their own. I missed the camaraderie of the Racer X office. The JGR shop helped me find it.
That makes it even sadder to see the team go. It’s really over. From a personal side, so many industry people passed through this team, and further, so many moved from California to North Carolina to do that, so this team defined their entire life. Like I said, that hurts.
On the business side, this hurts, too. I know JGR felt the pressure knowing if they couldn’t make it, it would discourage other teams from trying. The simple feeling is that if the arguably the most successful team in NASCAR can’t get sponsors and fund a motocross team, who else can? That pressure kept the team digging for the last few years. They finally couldn’t make it work any longer.
When this team launched, it seemed set to usher in a completely new way of doing business in this sport. If you look deep down, a few of those things did happen, but the general influence of NASCAR-style private teams still hasn’t caught on. This is still a sport led by the traditional factory teams. Coy tried to change that. He tried hard. His efforts will be missed.
Below is the press release from Suzuki:
Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. Concludes Racing Partnership with JGRMX
Brea, CA – Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. has concluded its partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing. The combined efforts of Suzuki and JGRMX were able to deliver solid results and raise the level of performance of each of the team’s riders.
Together, Suzuki and JGRMX demonstrated the potential of the Suzuki RM-Z250 and RM-Z450 motocross machines over several successful racing seasons.
“Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. is honored to have worked with a premier racing partner like Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Chris Wheeler, Suzuki’s MX Support Manager. “This partnership produced solid success and many strong friendships over the past several seasons and we would like to thank the entire team at JGRMX for their hard work, passion, and dedication to Suzuki racing.”
Wheeler added that Suzuki will announce its plans for the upcoming 2021 Supercross and Motocross racing season in the coming days.
Pro Perspective (THOMAS)
This has been a tough year to say the least. One of the many strains has been on race-team budgets. With many non-endemic companies going through restructuring, marketing spends have been looked at more closely than ever. These difficulties remind me of the pullback in 2008 and 2009, teams struggling to make ends meet due to scarce opportunity. The team I was on, Butler Brothers MX (now known as Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS), lost its title sponsor during that fray. The team continued on by the skin of its teeth, fighting through a huge loss in resources. Now, just over a decade later, we are seeing some of that again.
This week, JGR announced that they would be stepping away from moto. They have been such a great home to so many riders (upwards of 50+) over the years. They offered great equipment and great opportunity, never cutting corners along the way. They started with more humble options like Ben LaMay and Josh Summey but eventually worked with the likes of James Stewart and Chad Reed. They introduced a new group of sponsors that their NASCAR effort could attract. JGR ran the gamut from privateer to hall of famer. They will be missed but let's hope as the world heals and risk diminishes, JGR will return down the road.
JGR is just the latest in the loss of teams this year. We are fresh off the loss of GEICO Honda and Monster Energy Yamaha moving their effort into Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha's fold. There are other teams struggling, too, hanging on in the midst of turmoil. All of this butts up against the powersports boon that COVID-19 unexpectedly brought. It's been quite the dichotomy, two dynamics diverging that directly affect the moto space. Corporate America and main street are reeling while powersports have seen the most positive outlook in a decade.
Where does that head in 2021? Great question. I don't know how anyone could make predictions after living through 2020, but let's hope for more calm and less chaos. We need more outside involvement, more team expansion. There are incredibly talented riders without a home for 2021. Riders like Justin Bogle, Broc Tickle, Joey Savatgy, Fredrik Noren, and Alex Martin are just a few that have yet to announce a 2021 home. it's a tough time for many and this JGR news has only made it tougher. Two thousand twenty sucks.
[Note: Guy B of Vital MX just broke some news by posting a photo of Broc Tickle on an MCR Honda, adding, “Broc Tickle has signed to ride for Motoconcepts alongside Shane McElrath, Benny Bloss, and Vince Friese. Justin Hill is no longer with the team.”]
WORLD VETS (Matthes)
Well, the Dubya World Vet Championships have come and gone for another year, and I for once am glad to see them go! Racing them this past weekend was pretty miserable with cold, wind, and rain being the order of the day out at Glen Helen. I just raced Saturday and practice and the first motos were a mess. Second motos were okay.
Keefer went 1-2 for the overall in 40+ Pro, and beating Mike Brown both motos had to make him happy after Brownie took him out last year. Michelin's Randy Richardson came out west to race as well and used an almost-new Yamaha YZ250F to go 3-1 in his class for second overall (but still Fastest Man in Piedmont). He got a medal, Keefer got a hammered bike. I went 6-8 in 45+ B and didn't get a medal, a trophy or anything besides a beat up bike after a dude crossed over on me off the start in the second moto. Yay for racing.
But it was fun to get out and race, I swear. It's not something that I'm comfortable with (which is weird being that I raced my whole life, but since 2009 I've raced a grand total of twice) but it's good to go out and push yourself a bit, right? Someone asked me before my first moto if I had any roll-offs and I'm like, "Uhhh no, if I ever need roll-offs I’ll just go home."
The Helen was not tamed—it was rough, it was muddy, it was rainy, but some fun was had!
World Vets (Keefer)
Last weekend the Dubya World Vet Championship took place at Glen Helen Raceway. Even with COVID-19 and the rain that Southern California experienced, it made for a fun weekend with friends. Steve Matthes and Randy Richardson traveled to The Helen to see if they could become World Champions, and even though I was trying to talk them into going back home with me to ride the wet desert, they were determined to conquer the Jody Weisel–built layout. If you listened to the PulpMX Show Monday night, you know what went down, but what you might not have heard on the show was how much fun we all had, despite the conditions. The Dubya World Vet weekend brings out some of the best ex-professional motocross racers as well as that local race vibe feel that you don't normally get at a big event such as this.
I felt Matthes rode well despite his lack of prep time and earned 6-8 moto scores for a seventh overall in the 45+ Intermediate class. Steve may not say much about his riding, but I noticed some of that old Manitoba speed in the second moto. Matthes got taken out by another rider off the start, and even though he picked himself up in last place, he managed to catch almost half the pack in only a four-lap race! Oh, what could have been if it was a 20-minute moto! When you got some anger behind you, you will find some extra energy you never knew existed.
Randy Richardson is a vintage two-stroke specialist and watching him ride a 2021 Yamaha YZ250F four-stroke was kind of odd for me, but he made sure to wring the holy hell out of the Blu Cru, just like he does with his smokers. Randy had some trouble up one of the muddy hills in the first moto, but managed to clean all of that up for the second moto for 3-1 moto scores and 2nd overall in the 50+ Intermediate class. He even managed to get the Glen Helen track workers to re-route that hill so the riders could get a better run at it! Thanks Randall!
Thanks to John Anderson at Dubya USA for putting on a cool event and thanks to my friends for coming to race with me!
Tom Vialle's Numbers (Andras Hegyi)
Tom Vialle is the 13th FIM Motocross World Champion from France. He now joins Jacky Vimond, Jean-Michel Bayle, Sebastien Tortelli, Frederic Bolley, Mickael Pichon, Mickael Maschio, Yves Demaria, Christophe Pourcel, Pierre-Alexandre Renet, Marvin Musquin, Jordi Tixier, and Romain Febvre as Frenchmen to win an FIM World Motocross Championship. (This list does not include the women’s world championship.)
Vialle's first title means the French can celebrate their 20th motocross world title. France is the second most successful nation; the record-holder is Belgium with 52 world titles. The most successful French rider is Yves Demaria, who won three MX3 world titles.
Besides Musquin, Tixier, and Demaria, Vialle is the fourth French rider to be world champion riding KTM.
Vialle’s title is the fifth for the French in the history of the MX2 class, in existence since 2004. Musquin is the most successful French MX2 racer with two titles. The other French MX2 world champions are Christophe Pourcel and Jordi Tixier. France has the most MX2 titles going back to 2004.
Besides Musquin, Vialle is only the second French motocrosser to be world champion in his second professional season. Musquin debuted in the MX2 in 2008 and the next season he won his first title. Vialle debuted here last year, when he finished fourth in the MX2 overall.
Besides Stefan Everts, Tom Vialle is only the second world champion whose father was a GP winner. Frederic Vialle took three GP wins and he finished third in the 1996 FIM 125cc World Championship. The Everts family from Belgium is the most successful father and the son, as Harry Everts won four FIM world titles and then his son Stefan Everts became the all-time greatest Grand Prix racer with ten world championships.
MXGP 2021 (DC)
No sooner had MXGP 2020 reached its finish line in Italy than they announced their 2021 schedule. InFront Moto Racing (formerly Youthstream) has long had a habit of changing the schedule multiple times, and I doubt next year will be any different, given the uncertainty still circling the globe due to the coronavirus. But there are a couple of things that really jumped out, including starting in April as compared to March 1 last year, with the opener not in Great Britain but rather in the desert kingdom of Oman. Great Britain is not on the first schedule, but they could end up there in case one of the other venues can’t run. Also, there are two races in Russia, and “flyaway” races in China, two in Indonesia, as well as Argentina. There’s also a new home for the MXGP of the Netherlands, as the race moves from Valkenswaard to Oss. It’s an ambitious schedule for sure, and if it doesn’t change, it will easily be the most travel miles ever for the FIM World Motocross Championship.
2021 MXGP Schedule
One other thing: The 2021 FIM Motocross of Nations will be held September 26 at Imola in Italy. But the series doesn’t finish until November 14, which means the MXoN will run between the 16th and 17th rounds of the 20-race tour.
When will the 2021 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship schedule be out? Hopefully sometime before the end of November.
Get Well Soon John Dowd! (DC)
Trisha Dowd posted this on Facebook about her husband the Junkyard Dog:
I just wanted to give everybody a status update on John after losing a game of chicken with the trees on his dirt bike. He's overwhelmed by everyone's well wishes and support.
He is battered and bruised in a lot of places. He is stable at the moment. He has a fracture of the right pubic bone, a widened pelvis, a hematoma in his bladder, and a left tibial plateau fracture. The doctors are working on pain control and making sure they haven't missed any other injuries. While he appreciates all the well wishes and support he has requested no visitors and just wants to focus on getting some rest.
Ouch! Get well soon, John!
Sore Times Four (Keefer)
I wrote this on my Twitter account, but over the past four days I have been riding/testing four different brands of bikes, and each morning I wake up with different parts of my body slightly sorer than the others. I found this interesting because I usually spend more than one day on one particular machine at a time, so going through four different bikes in four days gave me a newfound perspective on bike-specific soreness. If there is one thing most of us dirt bike riders can relate to is "The Tuesdays." Tuesday is the day in which you are the most sore after a big race on Sunday. I mean, I get it—on Monday you're sore, but then Tuesday comes around and you're like what the hell just happened?! I can't even sit on the freakin’ toilet or grab that coffee cup that is taunting you up in the cupboard. The Tuesdays are brutal and I seem to be having a Tuesday every day this week! Here is a breakdown of which body parts are the sorest on me from each brand of machine.
Monday Morning: Yamaha = Shoulders
Tuesday Morning: KTM/Husqvarna = Legs
Wednesday Morning: Kawasaki = Triceps/Forearms
Thursday Morning: Honda = Lower Back
ZACHO JERSEY FOR HAYES (Matthes)
This past Monday night one of our listeners donated a signed Zach Osborne Rockstar Energy Husqvarna jersey signed and all proceeds will go to the injured Jacob Hayes and his bills from his recovery from his injuries. Happy bidding!
The Ageless Antonio (Andras Hegyi)
The nine-time world champion Antonio Cairoli came up short on his bid to earn a record-tying tenth FIM Motocross World Championship in 2020, but the Italian KTM rider should still be satisfied with his 2020 MXGP performance. Cairoli was able to mark some major achievements and also set more records. Moreover, he did it despite racing with a serious knee injury.
Cairoli overtook the 10-time world champion Stefan Everts in career podium finishes. Belgium's Everts collected 166 podium results in all. Cairoli now has 172 podium results after reaching seven podiums this year.
Antonio also became the oldest GP-winner ever in the MX1/MXGP, in existence since 2004. Everts was the oldest GP winner in the current premier class, winning his last race in 2006 at the age of 33 years, nine months, 23 days old. Cairoli, who won three MXGP overalls this year, was 35 years, one month, nine days old when he took his most recent win.
Finally, 2020 is the 14th season in which Cairoli ended up with a top-three overall placing. He caught up with Everts in regards to the premier class, but the Belgian got two overall podiums in 2003, when he raced both a 450F and a 250F during the brief one-motor era of Grand Prix motocross. By finishing third in the overall classification, Cairoli became also the oldest rider to finish on the overall podium in the history of the MX1/MXGP.
Riders to have at least 10 top-three final championship finishes:
Stefan Everts (Belgium) 15 top-three overall podiums
1990-'91, 1993-'98, 2001-'06 (including two in 2003)
Antonio Cairoli (Italian) 14
2004-'07, 2009, 2010-'14, 2016-'18, 2020
Joel Smets (Belgium) 12
1993-'03 (including two in 2003)
Eric Geboers (Belgium) 10
The january 2021 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
This has been a turbulent year for everyone, but few races have had quite as many lows and highs as Steward Baylor, who closed out the 2020 Grand National Cross County Series with yet another win. Here’s his story:
Stumbled across this old gem from 1977, the 500cc Grand Prix of Belgium, held at The Citadel in Namur, the most famous motocross track in Europe.
HEAD-SCRATCHING HEADLINE/S OF THE WEEK
“Why Germans Love Getting Naked in Public”—BBC.com
"’Lockdown’" named word of the year by Collins Dictionary”—TheGuardian.com
“ELON MUSK’S TOTALLY AWFUL, BATSHIT-CRAZY, COMPLETELY BONKERS, MOST EXCELLENT YEAR”—Vanity Fair
“NEW 'BACHELORETTE' SUITOR PETER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID... Then Crashes Car!!!”—TMZ.com
“The New Yorker Fires Jeffrey Toobin After Investigation Into Zoom Masturbation Incident”—TheDailybeast.com
“New Japanese theme park attraction lets guests zipline into Godzilla's mouth”—CNN
"Bachelor in Paradise contestant is pregnant.”—CNN.com
“Was Michelangelo a Renaissance Banksy?”—Wall Street Journal
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #46.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!