Welcome home from Bike Week in Daytona, or maybe welcome to Texas for the Arlington SX residency of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, or to the Lone Star State for the JS7 Spring Classic at Freestone, or maybe welcome to Georgia for the next round of GNCC Racing.… Heck, maybe you’re still in Florida doing A Red Bull Day in the Dirt Down South or the start of the 2021 American Flat Track Series at Volusia County Speedway. Wherever you are, welcome to Racerhead and what really is finally starting to feel like normal after an abnormal year for pretty much everyone.
First, some bad news in the form of a reminder that what we do as motorcycle racers can be a dangerous passion, even if you’re seemingly one of the most qualified riders in the world. On Sunday morning, during early practice for the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross, Michigan Mafia legend Todd DeHoop went down hard on his 450. DeHoop is a Masters +50 rider, a former AMA 125 Supercross Champion, an inspired vintage motocross fanatic, and even a part-time contributor to Racer X magazine. He was checking out a rhythm section in the same area where he won his first 125 AMA Supercross back in 1988 on his way to the East Region Championship when he went down weird on his head. Few saw it, though Todd remembers it as just a weird crash, but he also knew it was very, very serious—he couldn’t feel anything below his neck. He was rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center, where it was discovered that he had fractured his C3 vertebra, causing a contusion to his spinal cord. Needless to say, it was devastating news to everyone.
Fortunately, doctors were hopeful that his situation was not permanent, and they saw positive signs of movement and improvement in some parts of his body, though not nearly as much as they hoped. Todd had traveled to the event with his two daughters, and they were fortunate that lifelong friend and fellow rider Jeff Stanton was there to immediately assist and support them, as Stanton is the host of the RCSX Vintage Day, which was happening on Tuesday. 6-Time did what 6-Time always does, which is step up and lead situations from the front. He immediately reached out to Road 2 Recovery, and Lori Amstead and Mike Young immediately did what they do, which is help a downed rider and their family with travel logistics, insurance support, fundraising, and more. They also set up this page to assist with Todd’s situation and to keep everyone apprised of what’s going on at every level:
On a personal note, I have known Todd since we were both minicycle racers. He’s always been smart, funny, and fiercely competitive. He also has spent half a century in motorcycling and knows not only the risks, but the challenges he will now face as he begins what will certainly be a long road to recovery. He was in good spirits, according to both Stanton and MX Sports’ Tim Cotter, and also determined to go to work in order to get back on his feet and maybe even back on the bike one day. He’s in good hands, but he needs help from our community. Please check out his page and do what you can for one of the longtime, all-time good guys.
Since we’re on bad news, there was more from Europe, as two-time FIM 500cc World Champion Bengt Aberg passed away. The 76-year-old was suffering from diabetes. He’s the second former world champion to pass in 2021, preceded by Belgium’s Joel Robert. Coincidentally, in 1969 and ’70, when Aberg was 500cc World Champion, Robert was 250cc World Champion. They were featured together in a scene from Bruce Brown’s On Any Sunday, which our friend Brett Smith from @wewestfast posted on Instagram:
Bengt Aberg was best known for his time with Husqvarna. He also raced a Bultaco late in his career to a stunning 1-1 win in the 1974 FIM Motocross des Nations, which was ironically held in Husqvarna, Sweden—home of the factory he used to race for. Just as incredible was the fact that, three years later, well past his 30th birthday, Aberg won the first moto at the ’77 500cc Grand Prix of Luxembourg aboard a Yamaha XT500 four-stroke, against the likes of Roger De Coster and Heikki Mikkola! It was akin to Doug Henry winning the ’97 Las Vegas Supercross aboard a thumper, only it didn’t quite start a revolution the way Henry’s win did 20 years later. Godspeed, Bengt Aberg.
Back to the present and Daytona. By now we’ve hashed and rehashed all the happenings and highlights of the Daytona SX, the RCSX (which was incredible in its size as well as the racing, as it was part of the SX Futures program for the first time, which brought out top young talent from all over the country in the hopes of someday advancing to Monster Energy AMA Supercross), as well as the GNCC at Palatka, which had nearly 2,000 competitors, while running at the same time and only 70 miles away from the Daytona Supercross. Those were all really, really positive signs for the sport as we come out of this pandemic and hopefully get back to normal soon. But I will say that all of the good news and good racing at Bike Week was overshadowed for a lot of us by the terrible misfortune of our friend Todd DeHoop. Here’s hoping the very best for him and his family, and a complete recovery for #25.
Finally, to see more from Bike Week—and not just the racing part of it—check out Speed Sport: Live from Bike Week, featuring longtime friends and TV cohosts Ralph Sheheen and Jeff Emig, which airs tomorrow at 4 pm on MAVTV. It should be a lot of fun to see these two reunited for what was the 80th Daytona Bike Week!
Oh, and how cool is Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s Christian Craig and his “Never Give Up” award? Check it out:
"Excited to share the NEVER EVER GIVE UP Award, which will give $500 to the 41st 450 qualifying rider during all three Dallas SX rounds (& hopefully more). We are so grateful for your support to our brand and want to give back to the sport ❤️"
No Drama Dungey (Jason Weigandt)
I feel like the “move” Cooper Webb pulled on Ken Roczen at Daytona wasn’t much of anything (they didn’t even make contact), but when a title is on the line between two high-profile riders, things have a tendency to ignite. As I wrote this week, this wasn’t even the most aggressive move of the night, but it has been all the talk this week. Of course Kenny really poured gas on the fire with his post-race interview, where he said he’s tired of these games, and I liked that just because we ask for the riders to be raw and unfiltered with their thoughts, and that’s what we got. For anyone watching, this just makes the chase more exciting.
As for the actual racer perspective, it’s different. This morning I chatted with Ryan Dungey, who managed to battle for titles but stay out of the drama for his whole 450 career. In his 250 days he got into it with Jason Lawrence and it ruined his supercross season, so he learned to stay above the fray since then.
“I guess I just don’t like confrontation in general,” said Dungey to me this morning. “With riders, you shift the focus from what you’re trying to do week in and week out, and when you get into those scuffles with guys, a lot can happen. It can put your championship in jeopardy. Now you have to worry about a guy going for the kill in a corner. Ultimately as a rider, your focus should be on getting to the first turn and taking the race corner by corner. Now you’re in this other scuffle, it’s taking your energy, it’s wearing you down. I just think you should avoid that stuff. You’re making it harder on yourself.”
Dungey admits he heard lots of criticism for being too nice on the track, or for not talking any trash in his interviews. But his goal always was to just focus on himself and do his best and not spend any time or thought on the other riders. That’s his advice in this situation.
While we left Daytona, Kenny said he can play the games, too. I have a feeling things will be different after seven days of cool down. We might be expecting fireworks in Arlington, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee. As Dungey says, most of these guys know that getting into a heated personal battle on the track rarely creates better results. Kenny was clearly mad after Daytona, but that was heat of the moment stuff. Plus, Kenny is still riding very well. I’d imagine most people around him are telling him to keep doing what he’s doing and not change his strategy.
PULPMX SHOW DISCOVERIES (Matthes)
We had a couple of Daytona surprises on the PulpMX Show this past Monday. Aaron Plessinger came on to tell us about his great day at the speedway. He said that the KYB guys had found something a little different for his bike chassis-wise at the GOAT Farm (now home for the Star Yamaha team) and Aaron went out and it was real good. They then went a step further and the bike worked even better for AP. On a past PulpMX Show, AP admitted that he was not a good test rider, which I've heard from other people who worked with him. This setting, though, seems to be the real deal for Aaron, and he's confident he'll be better from here on out. Which would be rad, by the way. As he told us on the show, “It blew my mind that I could be that comfortable on a 450.” We'll see here with three races in seven days, right?
Next up we had Justin Bogle on to tell us about how he's moved to Florida to train at the 83 Compound with his teammate Joey Savatgy, Jason Anderson, and the Lawrence brothers. He got an apartment there and has a mattress on the floor, a beanbag chair, a TV, and ... that's it. Bogle was big to give thanks to team manager Michael Byrne for a helping him out of this little slump he's been in. Crashes and concussions have hurt Bogle for a while now, and it's good to see him riding better. Like AP, he's a funny, personable guy to have around the sport.
Also, whether it's Bogle, Blake Baggett, Andrew Short, or whoever has ridden for that BBMX team over the years, they've all said how great ex-factory rider Byrner has been for them. How long until a factory team comes calling for his services?
The Three "Lost" AMA Supercross Races (DC)
Earlier today we posted a list composed by our man in Hungary, Andras Hegyi, of some current standards in AMA Supercross, as the Daytona race last Saturday night was the 700th in the history of the series, dating back to 1974. Some records are very familiar, like Jeremy McGrath's 72 wins, Jeremy and Ricky Carmichael's 13 consecutive race wins, and then the many, many longevity records set by Chad Reed, like most starts, most podiums, most podiums on different brands, most starts on different brands.... Wait, I went back and looked, and we left that last stat out of Andras' list, but for the record, Reed has the record for AMA Supercross starts on the most different brands with six: Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, KTM and Husqvarna. He also has some other unique stats that make it a really good weekend read as you get ready for the Arlington 1 SX tomorrow night.
What you may not know is that last weekend's Daytona SX should have been the 703rd AMA Supercross in history. Turns out there were at least three AMA Supercross rounds that were actually canceled just before they were set to run, for various reasons, and could not be rescheduled, so they never actually happened. Otherwise, we would be looking at the 704th round of the series tomorrow night.
Ironically, the first sudden cancellation happened in Dallas at the old home of AMA Supercross there, Texas Stadium in Irving. In 1977, a doubleheader was supposed to run there, the first race on Saturday night, March 26, the second as a Sunday matinee. Texas Stadium had a giant open space above it where a roof should have been, and as a result, the Dallas SX often had the strange experience of dry spectators sitting under the roofed parts of the stadium watching riders splash around in the mud. The rain that hit on this night was so bad that the track was nearly impassable, leading to a nearly hourlong 20-lap main event, making this mudder the longest main event in AMA Supercross history. Yamaha's Bob Hannah won, passing the stuck Honda of the late Jim Pomeroy on the very last lap. Afterward, the promoters (PACE) and the AMA told the relieved riders and mechanics that Sunday's second race was canceled. It would not be rescheduled.
In 1985, another doubleheader was set for the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan on April 13 and 14. The Silverdome, home to the Detroit Lions, was a state-of-the-art building with a fiberglass and Teflon roof that was inflated to keep it aloft. But on March 5, while the '85 AMA Supercross Championship was in Daytona, a massive snowstorm caused the roof to collapse. There was no way to get it fixed in time for the race, so the doubleheader was canceled and not replaced on the schedule.
If not for Mother Nature, we would be talking about Indianapolis 3 back in February as the 700th AMA Supercross, and not Daytona!
Five for Eli (Andras Hegyi)
Last Saturday night at Daytona, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tomac joined a very prestigious club. Up to that point, Ricky Carmichael was the only rider to ever win Daytona five times. Of course Tomac loves the rough, iconic Daytona track, just like RC did, and Saturday’s win means Eli now has five wins there too.
Tomac is now the tenth supercrosser to get at least five wins in one venue. The record holder for wins in a single venue belongs to Bob “Hurricane” Hannah, who pretty owned the old Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan, winning nine times there.
Here are all of the riders in the “Five Wins” club, and where and when they got them.
Bob Hannah got his nine victories in Pontiac by winning there twice each year in in 1977, ‘78 and ‘79, and then again on a single night in 1981, ‘83 and ‘84. Hannah also got five wins in the Houston Astrodome (twice both in ‘78 and ‘79, and once in 1983).
From 1993 through ’01, Jeremy McGrath can count seven venues where he was able to get at least five wins. The King of Supercross got eight wins in Anaheim, six in Pontiac, Minneapolis and Indianapolis, and then five wins each in San Diego, Houston and Atlanta.
Ricky Carmichael got at least five wins in three different venues. RC took eight wins in Anaheim, as well as five each in Atlanta and Daytona.
Chad Reed got eight wins in Anaheim as well as collecting six wins in San
James Stewart’s best building was also Anaheim. Bubba got a total of eight wins there between 2006 and ‘11.
Ricky Johnson had wins in the old Seattle Kingdome between 1984 and 1989.
Ryan Dungey won five times in Anaheim as well as Atlanta.
Ryan Villopoto took five wins in Anaheim between 2010 and 2013.
Mark “Bomber” Barnett got five wins in the Houston Astrodome, with sweeps in ’81 and ’82 and another single win in ‘83.
YAMAHA LCQ (Matthes)
For the third year in a row, the folks at Yamaha have donated a YZ450F and a couple of their wonderful generators for PulpMX to continue our LCQ Challenge program. We've given over $100K to riders the last couple of years. Basically, you win the championship by not making main events! Last year’s winner, Cade Clason, will probably not even make the ten-man chase format starting after Dallas 1 because he's been so good this year. Joan Cros leads right now, but everyone gets set back to zero for the seven-round chase format after this weekend.
Just $20 gets you a raffle ticket into the draw to win the bike, a pair of generators, or 17 other prizes donated by our partners! Basically it's a smorgasbord of prizes, and just $20 gets you in—and 100 percent of the money goes to all the riders, so it's a great cause. Check it out on PulpMX.com.
New Winner at Daytona (Andras Hegyi)
For the fifth time in history, a new winner came out on top of the small-bore supercross in Daytona. The first time it happened was back in 1988 when Suzuki’s Todd DeHoop got his maiden 125 SX win at Daytona. (And of course as DC mentioned at the top, DeHoop was there this year, too, but was badly injured while practicing for the RCSX on Sunday morning, and we wish him the very best as he recovers.) Then in 2000, another Suzuki rider got his first win when Travis Pastrana took his maiden 125 SX win at the “World Center of Speed.”
The Daytona victories for DeHoop and Pastrana were their first professional wins, but that was not the case in 2013 when two-time FIM MX2 World Champion Marvin Musquin won the 250 SX there; Marvin had already won an AMA 250 Pro Motocross race by that point.
Last year Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Garrett Marchbanks got his first (and so far only) win in Daytona in the 250 SX final. And then last Saturday night Kawasaki got another first-time winner when Cameron McAdoo took the win (and gave Kawasaki their third straight sweep of Daytona).
By winning in Daytona, McAdoo became the 113th winner in the history of 125/250 SX, in existence since 1985. McAdoo also became the 42nd Kawasaki winner, as well as the brand’s 14th at Daytona in this class. Finally, McAdoo’s victory was
Kawasaki’s 190th win in the this class.
And here’s a cool bonus tidbit on McAdoo: Five years ago he came to Daytona for the first time for the RCSX as an almost completely unknown amateur prospect, picked out of the pack by none other than Tony Alessi and given some support to do a few big amateur races. McAdoo won a class and really got his name out there, and years later, he comes back and wins the 250 SX here. Congrats to Cameron, and also once again to Tony Alessi for having a very good eye for talent.
Upcoming Racer X Films Alert!!! Brayton Replica (Keefer)
I let Yarrive Konsky and the Muc-Off Honda team borrow my 2021 Honda CRF450R engine in late October of last year to develop JB10's SX spec because, at that time, the new red machines were scarce. Well, several months later, I finally got it back! I have been riding/testing the 2021 Honda CRF450RWE a lot lately, so to get this Brayton spec engine back and back into my chassis was a real eye-opener. Jamie at Twisted Development is in charge of all the Muc-Off Honda engines, and from the starts Brayton usually gets, I was excited to share my feelings with you all and see how it is for the average vet guy. Make sure to check out next week's Racer X Films that will break down all that is Justin Brayton's engine spec and how its power is delivered for the normal, everyday rider. This one got me excited. Stay tuned next week!
The may 2021 ISSUE OF raCER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
Inside the May issue: Close finishes and a deep field: AMA Supercross might be closer than ever in 2021. The years 1979 through 1986 truly represented a golden era of AMA racing. Jo Shimoda hopes to achieve unprecedented success for Japanese racers in AMA Supercross. And is Suzuki really pulling away from motocross altogether?
Hey, Watch It!
Here is an old newsreel film of Bengt Aberg winning one of his two FIM World Championships in Great Britain:
Listen To This
In terms of pure talent, competitive racing, and AMA Hall of Famers on the gate, it’s tough to beat the seasons spanning 1979 to 1986. Davey Coombs reads his feature article "The Deepest Fields" 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.
This week on The MotoXpod Show, Darkside and Scotty T talk to Bryan Stealey from Mad Skills Motocross. He discusses where the track names come from, has a great DC & Weege story, and hints at Mad Skills 3. They also have TLD's Pierce Brown on to talk about his third at Daytona and his outlook on the rest of the season.
On the PulpMX Wrap Up Show, Darkside had Ryan Gauld and Josh "Jelly" Ellingson on to cover everything that happened on Show 457.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
Positive Test Knocks Kansas Out of Big 12 Tourney"-ESPN.com
"Virginia Out of ACC Tournament After Positive Test"-ESPN.com
"Duke Out of ACC Tournament after positive COVID-19 Result Withing Program"-ESPN.com
"Michigan State announces basketball team will now be called "MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage" (No, we're not kidding)-Yahoo Sports
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!