Merry Christmas, happy holidays and hurray for an early Racerhead. Since tomorrow is the big day of December 25, we thought we would move Racerhead up a day so that you have something to read on Christmas Eve, and our crew can enjoy Christmas Day with their families. Hopefully, it will be a very good day for all, at the end of a very difficult year for all…
I know that 2020 has been the strangest year of my life, with a lot of challenges on just about every front. The bright side is that it’s literally almost over, and I seem to have survived okay. But flipping the calendar to 2021 is not going to just make everything magically better. We are still in a global health crisis, we’re all still dealing with coronavirus, and vaccines are just starting to get distributed. We’re not out of this thing yet, and it’s bound to cause more chaos and strife as we start into the new year. This Christmas will probably be unlike other for most of us, with smaller get-togethers and celebrations, less presents under many trees, but more time for that endless loop of A Christmas Story on TBS.
The day after Christmas, many will go right back into the grind of getting ready for Ana.. Er, Houston, and a whole new season of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. The practice tracks will be buzzing, stopwatches ticking, clickers clicking (or whatever they sound like) and people just getting ready for a whole new season. Hopefully, this time it runs steadily on a parallel track with the virus going away, the economy getting better, normal life returning…
So, from all of our families to yours, Merry Christmas, happy holidays and here’s to a much better next year for all.
It Already Happened (Jason Weigandt)
Every Christmas, folks in this industry pretty much pray that Santa will drop off some sweet minibikes for eager kids. New little bikes for new little riders is the lifeblood of this industry and this sport, but we’ve heard forever that kids just aren’t as interested as they used to be. Are we blaming phones? Video games? The suburbs? Laziness? I’m not going to play armchair economist, but I do know that every major trend has multiple answers, so it’s not easy to pin it down to one thing. Either way, everyone in motorcycling wishes more new riders would hop on bikes.
Well, in 2020, we got our wish. We’ve heard all year that dirt bikes, and especially family-friendly bikes, are selling fast. Now that we’ve reached Christmas time bikes are hard to get. I heard several tales this week of Yamaha shops selling out and of the few brand-new PW50s left for well over retail. Also, I’m part of a PW50 group on Facebook and when the Mini O’s ended people were selling their PW race bikes, barely used, barely modified, for nearly $3,000. A PW50 retails for $1,649. I heard brand-new PWs are nearly impossible to find, and if you do find one, you’re paying way more than $1649 for it. This is a 40-year-old motorcycle, and now it’s enjoying not just a renaissance, but an absolute peak in terms of desirability. All I can say is that I’m really, really fortunate I was in the PW market in 2018 and not 2020! [I paid $800 for a 2013 model. Friends have told me I should have sold it for profit this year, but although I'm cheap, I didn't want to do that.]
The next question focuses on sustainability. The industry has always felt that if you can just introduce kids to bikes, they’ll fall in love and never forget. Heck, even Harley-Davidson's research indicates 40-something new riders aren't even new riders. They probably rode a dirt bike as a kid and always wanted to scratch that two-wheeled itch again. The key to everything is getting people to just experience the thrill of riding. This is that chance. Did 2020 build motorcyclists for life? For those that managed to get a bike, the adventure starts tomorrow. Let’s hope it never ends.
On a related note, for those who go from just riding to racing, the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship schedule was released this week, as was the entries for the Ricky CarmichaelDaytona Supercross.
GET TWISTED (Matthes)
I can debate the strangeness of an OEM dropping a PR announcing their race team at 1 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve, but hey, better at a weird time than never, right? Suzuki just announced the lineup for the Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki squad and it's, as we all figured, “Mad” Max Anstie, the #722 Adam Enticknap, and 450 class newcomer Brandon Hartranft. That's a solid squad I think with both Anstie and Hartranft getting some top tens and #722 being the people’s champion. BTW, Adam was very close to getting a national number this year which would have yet again ruined his brand, but thankfully, he didn't do well enough. That's weird to type out but hey, it's 2020.
Hartranft is going to be interesting to watch, he had a few bright moments on the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM team last year in the 250 class and by all accounts wanted to stay down some more but there wasn't much out there in that class for him. So, he bumps up into the 450s and he's a big guy, he works hard, and I think it'll go well for him in there. Brandon's a quiet guy but he's very serious about his racing and he's steadily gotten better along the way.
Mad Max was pretty solid outdoors last year which we all figured he would be. We also figured he would be very good at WW Ranch Motocross Park and he was. SX isn't going to be his thing but he's raced it before back in the Star Yamaha days so don't think he will be like a typical Euro here figuring things out. Plus, he might be one of the best interviews in the pits!
And the #722, well, he's awesome and I don't want to hear any different. Adam was better in 2020 than he was in 2019 so if you're team manager Dustin Pipes, that's what you want to see, plus he's a very real fan favorite which brings attention to your team and Twisted Tea.
Suzuki's definitely taken a hit here with JGR all done (and from what I hear, it was Suzuki pulling back that was the deciding factor for JGR going away) but it's good to see them still supporting these guys. I hope it's not a matter of the Suzuki contract with HEP having just this year left then we don't see any yellow on the starting line. C'mon Suzuki, let's stick around!
Pro Perspective (JASON THOMAS)
We are officially on the three-week countdown to Houston. For the riders, they have been mired in the depths of boot camp for over a month. Run, ride, cycle, rinse, repeat. The monotony of boot camp is only surpassed by its strain on the body. With only a few weeks to go, though, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
In a normal year, this would mark the end of the most strenuous work. The next two weeks would start a tapering phase that would have riders ready to go for the first weekend of January. This year's mid-January start will likely have riders extending their workload into next week and through New Years' Day. The length of boot camp will remain the same, the calendar just moved a bit. And with the late end to the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, this move was likely for the best.
The next few weeks get interesting for the riders as they will see some of the hard work reflected in their fitness and riding form. As they ease off, their bodies will recover and bounce back in a big way. The perpetual drag they feel each morning will be replaced by a pep in their step. They are approaching the end of the toughest time of the season. For me, it couldn't come quickly enough. Although I knew the importance, it was never a fun experience to relentlessly beat your body and mind into submission. The days are drawing near, though, gentlemen. Thoughts will shift from next week's motos to next week's travel. Those who suffered in November and December will be rewarded throughout the spring. Those who coasted in November and December will suffer throughout the spring. As they say, you can suffer now or you can suffer later, but there will be suffering. Thankfully for those who have been diligently working for over a month, it's almost over.
Moto Meets Golf? (DC)
We got a note from our friend Jordan Hoover about a cool new video that just dropped. We even posted it in last week’s Racerhead, it's called Lost World, created by the original creators of The Viewing, featuring Darryn Durham. This latest film combines free-riding and golf, and here's the general description:
"During quarantine this summer while trail-riding, Mike Legrand (The Viewing) and Patrick Farris (now of Euforeia Golf) discovered a scenic and abandoned golf course nestled in the rolling hills of Pittsburgh. Given that nearly every moto head dreams of riding a golf course, they recognized they were staring at a once in a lifetime opportunity. So they decided to do what they have always done, and make a film about this forgotten paradise with the goal to combine the two worlds that have been the inspiration behind Euforeia, golf and moto." Euforeia is the company Farris founded, which is described as "an alternative golf brand that was formed as a vehicle to smash barriers, push boundaries, and challenge prosaic thinking in golf through creativity, innovation, and an unquenchable thirst for the game."
Given our proximity as well as our love of abandoned places, we're going to have to go find this place next spring!
And now some off-road. Specifically the GNCC Series. The whole thing really began back in 1975 with the Blackwater 100, a true 100-mile race in West Virginia's rugged Canaan Valley that my dad thought up, along with an unexpected opportunity from the town of Davis, after someone in the local leadership saw the movie On Any Sunday and its centerpiece race, the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, and thought it would work there too.
They were right, and the Blackwater 100 brought out hundreds of adventurous riders and thousands upon thousands of spectators. Famous Dirt Bike magazine editor Rick "Super Hunky" Sieman called it "America's toughest race" and for 20 years it was. Starting on the streets of the tiny town of Davis [starting in town was also a hallmark of the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix] and then running a 25-mile loop around the valley's rocky, steep climbs, across its rivers and deep into the bogs of the valley floor, it made legends out of the likes of four-time winner Mark Hyde, "Fast" Eddie Lojak, 125cc ace Tommy Norton, and more. But it also outgrew itself and became something of a dangerous situation since the valley was open, there was no spectator charge and it turned into a weekend-long party of camping, drinking and sometimes jumping onto the race trails with your own dirt bike or ATV. There was also a growing environmental concern as a battle between conservationists and recreational-use advocates just became too expensive and time-consuming to continue. (This in a valley that had already been mined, timbered and then burned for decades.)
That was the bad news. The good news is that by the time the last Blackwater 100 ran in 1993, an entire series of slightly smaller but much more manageable events had grown out of it, and today the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series is the biggest and most prestigious off-road circuit in the world, running up and down the East Coast. Even in this pandemic year, the series broke its own records for entries, as "outdoor recreational motorsports" is a pretty good way to practice social distancing every other weekend. That's the Reader's Digest version of what the Blackwater 100 was, but former professional racer Dale Spangler (the same Dale Spangler from Ohio who was a top-five 125cc SX rider in the East Region in 1989) recently penned a featured for the gang at META that you can check out.
Also, here’s a few pictures of the print issue of New York Times from last Sunday, December 20, 2020. The Sunday New York Times features an excellent photo essay by photographer Rebecca Soderholm of the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, as well as the New York Off-Road Association circuit. Check out "Hare Scramble: A Photographer Goes Knee Deep in the Mud."
250F Modified Comparison (Keefer)
My son Aden wants to give more amateur nationals a try in 2021, so in order to find the 250F that suits him the best, we decided to do a modified shootout between the Kawasaki KX250 and Honda CRF250R. Now the mods weren't crazy, but in order to compete in this day and age in the "B" class, you have to get off the start well and that requires some engine mods. If you're an amateur racing family that may be undecided on which color to pick for your little racer, come along for the ride as Aden and I break down lap times, comfort and why 14-year-olds are influenced on the cool factor of a certain brand. Check out the video below.
Old Gems (DC)
Remember the big shift from two-strokes to four-strokes in professional SX/MX that happened between 2003 or so and '06? A similar thing happened with photography, and right around the same time, as most professional photographers switched from film to digital, which in turn helped with the bigger shift into social media for much of the world. Color slides and film soon became obsolete as it became much harder to share a slide online that it is to share a file that's already in your devices. Unfortunately, that means that a catalog of old chrome slides was left behind in stacks and boxes and sheets and carousels that could only be seen if it was printed, in a slide show or scanned in, a more difficult and time-consuming process than you might think—even grainy, low-resolution scans.
Fortunately for photographers of the pre-digital era, there is a new app called Slide Scan that calls itself "a new home for old slides" and allows you to use your iPhone to quickly scan in a slide and post it online. While it's not quite full-page magazine quality, it certainly does the job for Facebook and Instagram posts, as well as a smaller picture in a printed magazine (we've been using Slide Scan more and more with Racer X magazine). And for a moto historian like myself, it's a wonderful and quick way to share old photos that we have shot and/or collected here at Racer X Online.
And it's not just for magazine publishers to unearth old gems. Check out this extremely rare photo that Bryan Lepley scanned and sent. It was taken in the fall of 1990 shortly after Jeremy McGrath, then a Kawasaki Team Green rider, had just signed his first professional contract with Mitch Payton and Honda. "MC back in the gravel pits behind our house in PA," wrote Bryan. "Jeremy had just signed with Peak/Pro Circuit Honda. We loaned him a bike, and it got throttled. A stock bike just can’t hold up to dudes at that level!" Notice that the future King of Supercross is still wearing his old AXO Kawasaki gear?
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One of Lepley himself racing back in the day.
PULPMX FANTASY! (Matthes)
It's that time again everyone! Since we've started PulpMX Fantasy it's been a huge hit for many fans and industry people, including some riders, to play and 2021 sign-ups are open! Just head to pulpmxfantasy.com to sign up, you can play for free or pay to play and win weekly and season ending prizes as well. Thanks to the folks at Yamaha, we have three YZF's up for grabs and you don't even have to be a fantasy expert to win one of them as we do a random draw of all the championship players for one bike. So you can suck and still win! Thanks to all the companies that supply us with prizes for this, full list on pulpmx.com but Leatt and Stacyc are just a couple of new companies that stepped up this year.
100% Bevo Comfort Goggles
Bevo Forti, the “Czar of Motocross,” finally has a product named after him, and it’s a very important and timely product at that. 100% is producing a line of protective eyewear for frontline workers in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
According to the PR, “The revolutionary Bevo Comfort features a unique fit and foam protection with multiple density foams to fit softly to the face, eliminating goggle marks and remaining comfortable during even the longest shifts. The lightweight frame and anti-fog lens fit comfortably over prescription eyewear.”
“Since March, we have continually asked ourselves what can we do to be a part of the solution to the ongoing pandemic,” said 100% CEO Ludo Boinnard.
“100% has been donating Bevo Comfort goggles through its partnership with Goggles for Docs and other frontline workers. As part of its on-going commitment to a variety of charities, including the CDC foundation and Goggles for Docs, 20% of all online sales of the Bevo Comfort goggle will be donated. To date, 100% has raised $67,000 for the CDC Foundation and donated more than $375,000 in PPE protective eyewear to hospitals and first responders, including recent donations of Bevo Comfort goggles to hospital workers.”
Well done, 100% and Bevo!
Have $20? Win a YZ250F
Lifestat Ambulance, Cernics Cycle World, and MX Tire are raffling off one of their brand-new 2021 Yamaha YZ250F Monster Energy Edition bikes and a full gear set package as well. There are only 1,000 tickets available, and they're $20 each. Once all 1,000 are sold the bike and gear will be randomly given away to a lucky ticket holder. Get your tickets and keep an eye on Lifestat's Facebook page where they'll have the announcement of the winner on the Lifestat Ambulance Facebook page.
The february 2021 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
Depth Ep. 1 Full Episode Ft. Adam Enticknap
As one of the most engaging riders in the sport, Adam, otherwise known as the 7DeuceDeuce is easily one of the most well known riders in the pits. When Adam’s not in the midst of training and competing for the grueling Monster Energy Supercross or Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship, you can find him in his studio creating his next hit single. With numerous top 20 SX finishes and over 5,000,000 streams played for his music, it’s hard not to respect his hustle. Join us in taking a deep dive into Adam’s mind where we figure out what makes him tick. Sit back and enjoy the very first episode of the Depth series.
Here is a season’s greetings and virtual Christmas card from InFront and the MXGP paddock:
Here is the interview Daniel Blair did with DC for Supercross Live’s Beyond the Track series where they discussed getting the races up and running in 2020, the roots of Racer X, pit-reporting, random trivia, and more. Check it out:
Our buddies at Vurb Moto are back at it with another Christmas-themed riding edit reminiscent of their Dreamland edit a few years back. This time it features Evan Ferry and his buddies.
Vurb Moto's A Very Ferry Christmas
listen to this
Jeff Stanton gets it. He's lived a great life both during and after his racing years, so that's why even though a few riders might have even more wins and titles than Six-Time, no one commands more respect.
Jeff, the three time AMA 250 Supercross and three-time AMA 250 Motocross National Champion, has become a confidant for a lot of riders who need life advice, and he's always looking to shake things up and try some new projects.
His latest venture just launched, JeffStantonadventures.com. He'll host adventure riding tours through Michigan, with plenty of side trips built in to experience the outdoor lifestyle. Oh, and plenty of old bench-racing stories mixed in as well! Jason Weigandt called Stanton this week to talk about the new business, success in other ventures after racing, and how Jeff tries to help other ex-pros make the same transition he did.
Check out the second episode of the new Leatt Re-Raceables Podcast where Steve Matthes and Jason Weigandt take you through races and breakdown all the action years later. In this episode, Weege and Matthes break down the Phoenix 2014 race otherwise known as the "Transfer of Power" race and the "Cele-Brayton" race and the "Race That Brayton Almost Won." We actually have a guest spot from JB10 himself and recap this race from the highs and lows of the night as well as list the category winners!
HEAD-SCRATCHING HEADLINE/S OF THE WEEK
“Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Was Poisoned Through His Underpants”—CNN.com
“Ho Oh No! Santa gets tangled up in some power lines”—CNN.com
“Yale Professors: Sex-crazed ‘roaring ‘20s’ awaits post-pandemic—"New York Post
“CROCODILE FEARS Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro bizarrely claims Covid vaccine could turn people into crocodiles and ‘bearded ladies’”—The-Sun.com
“A Delta passenger who slid out of a moving plane with his dog says 'I have panic attacks'”—CNN Travel
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!