Welcome to Racerhead. Two races into the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, and so far, well, so very interesting! We’ve had two races in three days (Saturday, Tuesday) and another queued up for tomorrow night. We’ve had four winners in four main events, a first-time winner for a brand (GasGas) and a first-time winner in 250SX (Honda’s Jett Lawrence, who has quickly become only the second Australian with an AMA win in both 250 SX and 250 MX) and, according to my friend Clinton Fowler (@3lapsdown on Instagram), the 14 points that separate 1st and 10th in the 450SX standings after two rounds is the narrowest overall series margin ever. And when you consider that the 10th-place guy right now is Zach Osborne, wow, that’s a deep series!
We’ve also had some controversy, like Austin Forkner colliding with RJ Hampshire and knocking them both out of podium contention, and of course the red-cross flag penalties for Ken Roczen, Jason Anderson, Martin Davalos, and Vince Friese. That whole Houston 2 incident was strange because Chase Sexton actually crashed in the sand section, not in the middle of the rhythm section—he just flew there without his bike. And where he landed probably wasn’t exactly where anyone expected the need for a red-cross flag. Roczen was upset because, as he argued, he could not see Sexton because Dylan Ferrandis was right in front of him—and he may have a point. This kind of chaos happens early in the season. Unfortunately, it cost Roczen and his team the red plate, but he’s already moving on, as he explained on social media:
We’ve seen Eli Tomac already do what Eli Tomac always does: start out slow with a lowly 13th at the Houston opener and then win the very next race. In his career, his average finish in the 450SX series opener is just below 11th, with zero wins in seven starts. His average second-round finish is 3rd, with three wins in seven starts, for those of you keeping score at home.
For his part, Barcia made history on the GasGas as the first rider to win on one in AMA Supercross, then he spent part of the second race not getting out of first gear after a problem with his shifter. He’s still the points leader after the Roczen penalty with a 1-9, followed by a quiet 7-2 for class rookie Dylan Ferrandis. Incredibly, the duo with the most points so far is the brand-new Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing team’s Ferrandis (39 points) and Malcolm Stewart (34 points). And Aaron Plessinger may have had a bad Houston 2, but he looked pretty good in the opener. And the fact that Justin Brayton is actually two points out of first, in third place, on a Muc-Off Honda team that is two races old? That’s very unexpected, just like Tuesday night’s 450SX podium wearing all black. (Black is the new black?)
Farther back, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna guys are struggling as a group, with Osborne 10th, Dean Wilson 11th, and former 450SX champion Jason Anderson 13th, as are Martin Davalos, Benny Bloss, Joey Savatgy.… Just a lot of fast guys out there on a short track, which makes passing a little difficult at times.
To be honest, it’s kind of hard to even keep up right now. The first and second rounds seemed to happen so quickly that there was hardly time to breathe much in or really make sense of it. I know there are some who like the new concept of three races in a week, but that seems like something for the end of the series, not the beginning. But hey, we’re racing, and that’s worth the sprint! I’m just glad that Feld Entertainment is making the start of the series happen for the riders and us race fans, not to mention the whole motorcycle industry. Even though it’s made our jobs as media a little more of a sprint, at least we have a job to do right now, and it’s a good one.
I do want to give a tip of the visor to the Racer X Online crew that has managed to keep churning out tons of great content, from the Privateer Profiles to 3-on-3, Staging Area to Injury Reports, Redux, Observations, podcasts, Open Mic, Race Examinations, all the social media posts and updates.… Whenever we all get together again, Weege and Matthes and JT and Kellen and Mitch and Chase and Hansel and Sam, let’s break out our beloved publisher Scott Wallenberg’s company card and really go to town!
Did I mention we’re on a magazine deadline too? The more it rains, the more it pours. Thank goodness there’s a roof over our heads, both in Houston and in Morgantown.
But, even out in the pits outside of NRG Stadium in the rain, Bernie was not bothered. Align Media The Fly Racing guys were smiling because tomorrow's race day but Bernie was unamused still. Align Media We were glad Bernie was able to finally find some cover underneath the GasGas team tent! Align Media
Bubbling Up (Matthes)
Well, it didn't take long for things to get ratcheted up in the 250SX East Region, right? And guess who's involved: Monster Energy/Pro Circuit's Austin Forkner! Shocking, I know, but Forkner, after riding a great, drama-free Houston 1 (including two passes on Jett Lawrence without incident) got involved with a couple of riders at Houston 2. First he was doing ... something to Christian Craig that was enough to get Christian to bring it up in the in-stadium interview after one of his practice sessions. Not sure exactly what it was, but it was enough for Craig to say something.
In the main event, Forkner was coming up on second-place RJ Hampshire and went 3-3-3 in a rhythm section and caught Hampshire fast in the turn afterward. He dove to the inside, made some contact with RJ’s Rockstar Husky, and both riders went down. It wasn't a dirty pass, but it was aggressive, and seeing as how he ended up on the ground, it just wasn't there. That's sort of the rule of passing, in my opinion—it has to have a chance of actually happening. So Forkner ruined his and Hampshire's race with the move, but again, it happens in SX.
Hampshire was not pleased, making mention that it's a long series, and if he's got a chance at payback, he'll take it.
Kawasaki PR came out and Forkner was rather bizarrely quoted as saying:
"I knew I had to get going quick before the leader ran away from me, and when I caught back up to second-place and took him high in a corner, he fell over on me taking us both down."
Really? I mean, doesn’t this sort of frame it like it was RJ's fault for falling on Forkner? Austin himself had A LOT to do with Hampshire falling on him, but hey, whatever. Point is, things are getting tense here, and we have a lot of races left. Yay for us!
Bam Bam GasGas (Andras Hegyi)
Justin Barcia became the maiden GasGas winner in GasGas’ maiden race in Monster Energy AMA Supercross. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull-backed Barcia is the first rider in series history to win an AMA Supercross on a bike that’s never raced an AMA Supercross before—at least since Marty Tripes won the first Superbowl of Motocross in 1972 aboard a Yamaha (but that wasn’t an actual AMA Supercross event). GasGas is a Spanish brand owned by the Austrian KTM Group since 2019. Also, Barcia became only the second rider to win three consecutive season openers in the history of the 250/450 supercross, in existence since 1974. The other is the King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, who won three season openers in a row in 1994, ’95, and ’96. Barcia, of course, won Anaheim 1 in both 2019 and 2020 aboard Yamaha.
Also, by winning with GasGas, Barcia became the ninth rider to win with at least three different brands in the premier class of AMA Supercross. The record holder is Chad Reed, the only racer to win while riding four different brands.
Riders to win with at least three different brands in 250/450 supercross
Chad Reed: Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki
Ron Lechien: Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki
Jeremy McGrath: Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha
Ezra Lusk: Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki
Ricky Carmichael: Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki
Mike LaRocco: Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda
James Stewart: Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki
Ken Roczen: KTM, Suzuki, Honda
Justin Barcia: Honda, Yamaha, GasGas
One of the world's most prominent motorcycle museums, the Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Hochgurgl, Austria, burned to the ground earlier this week and was a complete loss. Up to 300 rare vintage motorcycles were on display at the time, along with other priceless motorcycling memorabilia. The museum was high up in the mountains—people could actually ski in to visit—which made it difficult for firefighters to reach.
Here's a local news report, translated from German:
"Shortly before half past four in the morning, FF Sölden was called to a fire in the Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Hochgurgl. The building was already smoky, so several fire departments were alerted immediately. The emergency services were challenged to prevent them from spreading to the restaurant and the valley station of the Kirchenkarbahn. The building is made almost entirely of wood and was only opened in 2016. Depending on the exhibitions, between 200 and 300, some of them very rare, vintage cars were always on display in the motorcycle museum. The cause of the fire and the damage to property are still being recorded. FF Sölden, Gurgl, Vent, Längenfeld and Imst are in action."
It appears some teams/riders were able to get some mid-week riding on Thursday in Texas before the third round takes place on Saturday. Joey Savatgy, of the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS team, rode some laps, as did Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Martin Davalos, and more.
So how long have we been in this crazy coronavirus deal? The first event that got wiped out by it last year, Day in the Dirt Down South, just released their 2021 dates: March 12-14. Last year they were literally in the middle of the big party/race/fun, right after the conclusion of the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross at Daytona, when the whole world shut down. To find out more about Day in the Dirt Down South, type all that together like this: dayinthedirtdownsouth.com.
Five Years Later (Andras Hegyi)
Christian Craig had a great debut as a member of the Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing team. He has returned to Yamaha for the first time since 2009, though this is the first time he's raced in the 250SX class on blue. Craig’s win in the Houston opener was his first in almost five years; the only other time he won was the 2016 Glendale 250SX. He's now the fourth rider to win again after at least a five-year dry spell. Also, Craig became Yamaha’s 30th winner in 125/250 SX, in existence since 1985, and he gave Yamaha its 114th victory of all time.
The longest break ever between 125/250 SX wins came via Tallon Vohland. He won the Houston 125 SX on January 19, 1991, then spent much of the rest of the nineties racing on the MXGP circuit in Europe, winning several Grand Prix events. In 2000 he returned to the AMA circuit with Mitch Payton's Pro Circuit Kawasaki team and the Anaheim 2 SX on January 15, 2000, nine years after he won for the first time at Houston '91. (Coincidentally, Tallon's son Max is making his AMA Supercross debut in Houston this week and so far has finished 9th and 8th on his Red Bull KTM.)
Tennessee's ageless Mike Brown raced professionally between 1990 and 2013. He won the '95 Cleveland 125 SX on May 20 and needed to wait eight years for another win in the class. But remember, he raced pretty much everywhere between '96 and 2002. He did the 125cc World Championships in Europe and finished third overall twice, and then, upon returning to the States, he became the 2001 AMA 125 National Motocross Champion. He finally won again in 125 SX when he rode his Pro Circuit Kawasaki KX125 to the Daytona '03 win.
And then there's Josh Hansen, the son of 1982 AMA Supercross Champion Donnie Hansen. Josh won the Pontiac 125 SX in Michigan on April 9, 2005, then he had to wait five years for another victory. Between 2006 and '09 he raced both the 250SX Class and the 450SX Class riding KTM, Yamaha and Honda. But he didn't win again until he also got with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 2010, when he took the win in Salt Lake City.
Read Racer X and Win
One of the cool things about being in the publishing business is that we can usually offer up some really cool prizes for promotions throughout the year. You never know exactly what that might be, but if you’re a fan of moto then you’re sure to enjoy whatever it is that we might be able to offer. This past year we were able to give away some pretty cool prizes like two Specialized Turbo Levo Comp eMTBs to some very lucky subscribers in Ben Grimaud and Antony Barker, and a full O’Neal and Ogio prize pack to Tammy VanVreede just for filling out our Racer X Readers’ Choice Survey! Stay tuned, because we’ve always got the goods coming down the pipeline. What should we offer up in 2021?
The march 2021 ISSUE OF raCER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
Hey, Watch It!
Troll Train vlog
Kellen’s Houston 1 Race Examination:
Kellen’s Houston 2 Race Examination:
Listen To This
Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing team boss Bobby Regan has put together one of the largest teams in the history of motocross and supercross. Can quantity bring them victory in 2021? Jason Weigandt reads his feature article "Recruitment Center" from the March 2021 issue of Racer X magazine.
For more from DC, Jason Weigandt, Steve Matthes, and the rest of the Racer X crew, subscribe to Racer X.
Racer X Read Aloud is brought to you by Renthal.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“Jamie Lynn Spears blames Elon Musk and Tesla for killing her cats”—CNN Business
“BOW WOW DRAWS PACKED CROWD IN HOUSTON... A COVID Nightmare”—TMZ
"HenneThing is possible"—NBC Sports
“NBA to enforce rules forbidding hugs, handshakes with midcourt security”—ESPN.com
“Country music legends Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn have received the COVID-19 vaccine”—Today.com
“JOE EXOTIC: GUESS I'M 'TOO GAY' TO GET A PARDON!!! Rips Trump for the Snub”—TMZ.com
If you're headed to the second Orlando Supercross (February 20) and/or the Daytona Supercross and RCSX (March 6-9) and are looking for some racing in between, check out the AMA Arenacross Open set for the evening of February 27 at Tampas MX Raceway, followed by a Stars or Tomorrow amateur event the following day. The pit party on the 27th starts at 4:00 p.m. with the night show starting at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a Pit Bike Grand Prix along with the PureKana USA FMX FreeStyle MX riders performing. If you're looking to participate in the racing, go to: www.areancrossusa.com/open And if you would like to purchase advance tickets: Stubwire.com
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!