Welcome to Racerhead and an off weekend of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. There are two stops and five rounds to go in what’s been a very exciting series. It’s also seemingly down to a two-horse race as Red Bull KTM’s surging Cooper Webb and HRC Honda’s Ken Roczen have pulled ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and everyone else. Everyone is hoping that Tomac goes on beast-mode when the series picks up again at the outdoor venue Atlanta Motor Speedway, a Daytona-like NASCAR circuit, and we all know how good “Five Time” Tomac is at Daytona. How he fares might also come down to the dirt, because it’s not going to be nearly as soft as Daytona, according to the guys I have spoken to at Feld Motorsports. It will also be interesting to see how the 250 SX class shakes out, because Hunter Lawrence might just excel more in that kind of setting, though we know Justin Cooper, Cameron McAdoo, Seth Hammaker and Garrett Marchbanks can all fly too. That’s eight days away.
The biggest news this week was sad news. Ralph Huffman, the patriarch of the Washougal MX Park family and a true motocross innovator, passed away this week after a long struggle with his health. Huffman was involved with Washougal MX Park going back to the 1970s, and he and his family took over in the 1980s. Ralph was also a motocross parent, as his son Ryan Huffman was a factory Suzuki rider for a time. On the track’s Facebook page they posted on Tuesday:
Last night was a hard one for the Washougal family. We had to say goodbye to Ralph Huffman. He was our great grandfather, grandfather, dad, husband and friend. He was our leader. He never stopped working or thanking the workers around him. Sitting up in the seat of the Cat was one of his favorite places as he worked on the track or around the property. He tried his hardest to leave a smile on everyone’s face and did so. Every National he always had a pocket full of pins you could stick in your hat. If you were lucky and caught him between jobs and asked for one, you’re lucky to have a piece to his story, a piece of Washougal that he wanted to share with us all. We will miss you. We love you. And most importantly, thank you.
In a press release from MX Sports Pro Racing, I compared Ralph to my own dad, as well as Unadilla’s Ward Robinson and RedBud’s Gene Ritchie. I could have also added Southwick’s Bernie Yellin, Carlsbad USGP promoter Gavin Trippe, and Mid-Ohio’s Pete Weidner, and just last week George Singler of Smith Road Raceway in Ohio—all great men who did a great deal for the sport of motocross in their areas. Like the Robinsons and the Ritchies, as well as the Coombs family, the father’s work will continue with the kids, as Ryan Huffman has been running Washougal for some time now. (It’s been a rough go for motocross in the northwest, as Bob and Linda Leach, fellow promoters to the Huffmans, also passed away tragically in an automobile accident. Fortunately, their sons will also continue to carry the baton for motocross in that area, just as Ryan Huffman is doing at Washougal.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, they are continuing to be affected by the coronavirus. After pushing back their start from early April to mid-May, InFront/Youthstream announced that the opening round set for Oss in The Netherland was going to be pushed back again as a recent spike in cases meant that the promoters could not host spectators. The Dutch Masters Series has also been affected by this, with rounds postponed. The hope is that an updated MXGP schedule will be released soon, hopefully with a start date in June that will allow them to still get a full schedule in, as well as the Motocross of Nations. But no one has a crystal ball on how things are going to be next month, let alone next week.
But there was one race that I came across this week that was simply amazing. It was old-school too, with riders like Roger De Coster, his nemesis Heikki Mikkola, the ageless Adolph Weil, and young American upstart “Bad” Brad Lackey. They were all competing together in a 1974 race that had it all: whoop-de-doos, pit tootsies, snow-fencing, water holes, spectators running across the track…
Let me explain. Back in 1974 a motocross enthusiast, artist and OG gamer named Curt Evans came up with N. Doe MX, an old-fashioned roll-the-dice boardgame that incorporated all of the elements of motocross back then, including the top U.S. and European riders—as participants you could choose from. The game was originally published in December 1974 as a Christmas gift in the Southern California Motocross Newspaper. Evans, who’s illustrated work could often be seen in the pages of the moto magazines of the day, recently recycled the newspaper game as an actual boardgame, and one of them found their way to the Racer X offices. So, this afternoon, rather than writing Racerhead, I got into a heated, elbows-flying, knobby-roosting moto with Ryan McLeod, Melanie Marra and my sister-in-law Jessica where we play the N. Doe MX game. I was the “Flying Finn” Heikki Mikkola (of course), Jessica was Bad Brad, Ryan was Adolph Weil and Mel was The Man. Not going to lie or exaggerate—it was a lot of fun! Just roll the dice and see where your bike/hero landed. It was the perfect Friday supplement for the lack of racing, a true blast from the past, and also something I wish we had sooner during lockdown.
Curt asks for $25 (and that includes shipping, though he only ships within the U.S. to keep costs down). You can order your directly from him on Facebook at: Curt Evans Cartoons, on Instagram at: @curtevans4t (and it’s a great follow to see all of his classic drawings!) or you can email him at: email@example.com
One other thing: It was Curt Evans, along with former editor and mountain-bike Hall of Famer Jimmy Mac, who last year came up with the concept of a facemask designed to look like the classic Scott USA Venturi facemasks that were popular in the seventies. They did it to raise money for the late Dave Miller’s family and ended up racing some $6K for them. Well done.
Reed’s Place (Jason Weigandt)
I live in Mooresville, North Carolina, which calls itself Race City USA due to the number of NASCAR race shops in the area. At my house I can literally hear V-8 engines running on dynos every Monday morning. How cool is that? This overall love of racing appealed to Chad Reed, who was looking to make inroads in four-wheeled racing a few years ago and decided to sell his Florida home and move up here. He also hooked up with the JGRMX Suzuki team, but Chad had bigger plans than just riding supercross, and now that’s he’s … is it safe to say retired yet? ... he’s branching out. The COVID-19 mess led him to halt his car racing plans last year, but meanwhile, Chad and his family are tearing up BMX tracks in our area. My son loves BMX racing as well, so we see Chad, Ellie, Tate, Kiah, and Pace at the track quite a bit. This weekend there’s a huge national BMX race in Rock Hill, South Carolina, so I made plans to hang out with Connor Fields while he was in town. Connor is the current Olympic Gold Medalist in BMX but is a big motocross and supercross guy, working with some riders behind the scenes. I would not be surprised to see Connor as part of the motocross industry once his bicycle days are over, but first, he’s got to prep for the Tokyo Games this summer.
Anyway, Connor and I planned to hang out, but then Chad invited us to visit his new motocross track. About two years ago, a new MX track named Dirt World opened up in Statesville, North Carolina, just north of where I live. It had a great kids’ track, which drew folks like Chad and me up there quite a bit. Well, you guys know how Chad is. When he decides to get involved with something, he gets involved. Next thing you know he’s going from visitor to consultant to now part of a full-on new ownership group. After Chad and partners purchased the track, they spent the winter revamping it, and now it will open under a new name, Moto40MX (the track is just off of Interstate 40).
A bunch of us headed up to check it out on Wednesday, and I’m impressed that Chad and the crew managed to make the place bigger and better but keep the friendliness of the old Dirt World. This is a not a national-style track or a training facility, just a safe, family-friendly place. There will be a kids’ track, an intermediate loop, and an expert track, but even the expert track just had tabletops and mounds instead of big gap jumps. Chad is also building a supercross track over in the corner, but that’s just for him … so maybe not retired?
If you’re looking to flex your pro speed and skills, there are other options in the Carolinas, but this will be a cool place to take your kids and get in some riding yourself if you’re not so serious. There are even some woods trails also.
Anyway, we all know Chad Reed as one of the gnarliest, most competitive, no-excuses guys in the history of this game, but it’s cool to see he’s making this place much more entry-level friendly. They hope to host a grand opening of @Moto40MX next weekend for Easter, depending on how much work they can get done. Either way, we all know more new folks have gotten into (or back into) motorcycles over the last 12 months. Folks in this area have another good place to go have some fun starting soon.
Press Release of the Week (DC)
Phil Nicoletti Returns to AMA Pro Motocross Championship with Team ClubMX
Chesterfield, South Carolina– Phil Nicoletti, the 2019 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Champion and 450 Supercross Champion in Canada, will return to U.S. racing to compete in the upcoming 2021 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. The season begins May 29th at Fox Raceway in California. “Filthy Phil” will join the ClubMX Yamaha squad on a Yamaha YZ450F to compete in the 450MX division, while the rest of the ClubMX team will remain Yamaha YZ250F mounted in the 250 MX class.
“I really enjoyed my two years racing in Canada but some of the teams and deals were no longer available,” said Nicoletti. “At the same time, I don’t feel like I’m done. I think I have some time left in me and Brandon [Haas] and everyone at ClubMX has been able to put together a competitive program so I can go racing back home. I still love the grind of the great outdoors and it’s been fun to get back into the swing of it over the last few weeks.”
While riding on the ClubMX Yamaha team, Nicoletti will enjoy support from Rockstar Energy Drink, Motosport, FXR, 6D, Scott and OTSFF.
“We’re excited to support Phil for the Pro Motocross Series because we know he still has a lot left in the tank,” says Brandon Haas of ClubMX. “We watch Phil ride every day here and he is still making progression. Last time I helped Phil with bikes was in 2012 when he decided to privateer it for the rest of the year. This go around the bikes are much better! Thank you to our team sponsors for making this happen, we are looking forward to this new chapter for the team and we’re happy to do it with one of the most popular characters around.”
“I can’t wait to see some of my old friends at the races this summer,” added Nicoletti. “It will be good to get back in front of the home fans. Don’t worry, I’ll still be ready to smash my old buddies on the track once we get out there. Should be a good time!”
In his previous U.S. season, Nicoletti took sixth in the 2018 450 MX standings, and scored an overall 450 podium at the Unadilla National. He scored fifth place in the 450MX Pro Motocross standings in 2016 and a moto podium at the Glen Helen national in 2015. Racing in Canada for the Rockstar Energy Drink OTSFF Yamaha team in 2019 and 2020, Nicoletti won the 2019 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown with the best combined results from the Arenacross, Supercross and Motocross campaigns, and also collected the Canadian 450 Supercross Championship. Nicoletti was in contention for the Canadian Motocross National Championship last year with four podiums in the first four races, but a hand injury ended his season early. Nicoletti will spend the spring preparing at the ClubMX facility in preparation for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross kickoff in California on May 29th.
Loretta Lynn's New Album (David Langran)
I was checking out one of my favorite music websites today, NME.com, and saw that the amazing Loretta Lynn has just released her 50th album, Still Woman Enough, at the age of 88, and it got a 4-out-of-5 star review by the well-known British site!
Of course this is a very big year for Loretta Lynn in regard to motocross as well. Besides her famous ranch hosting its first two Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross races ever last year, 2021 marks the 40th running of the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. We also heard that the Country Music Hall of Famer may have also been nominated for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Not bad for an 88-year-old Coal Miner’s Daughter!
Triples (Andras Hegyi)
Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb has been putting in his best season so far in 450SX (as has Ken Roczen, though he’s just a little behind right now). Webb is showing even better form than in 2019 when he won the Monster Energy AMA Supercross title. Two years ago in the first 12 rounds, Webb had 5 wins, 8 podiums, 262 points, and had a 14-point gap over second place. Now at the same point in 2021, Cooper has 6 wins, 9 podiums, 275 points, and before the last five rounds he has a 15-point gap over the runner-up.
But there is also another difference between Webb’s 2019 and 2021 performances. Before this season, Webb was only able to get at least three consecutive wins in 250SX and 250 Pro Motocross outdoors. In ‘16 Webb got three wins in a row in 250 MX, while in the 250SX West Region he got four successive wins in 2015 and three straight wins in ’16. In 2019 he got two pairs of two consecutive victories, but that was it as far as streaks go.
Now he has managed to do it, as he won all the three main events held in Arlington, Texas. That made Webb the 18th racer to take at least three consecutive wins in the history of the 250/450 supercross, in existence since 1974. The last rider to join that club? Ken Roczen earlier this year at Indianapolis.
Jeffrey Herlings on Cooper Webb (DC)
While everyone is waiting to hear about the new, updated MXGP schedule over in Europe, set to come out sometime soon, they’ve also been watching the Monster Energy AMA Supercross duel play out between former champ Cooper Webb, former MX2 World Champion Ken Roczen, and defending champion Eli Tomac. One person watching closely and with some very good insight is Jeffrey Herlings, the four-time world champ and winner of 90 Grand Prix races. In an interview for “MX Geoff” Meyer’s site MXLarge.com, Herlings, an old rival of Roczen’s when Kenny was on the MX2 circuit, offered his take on the current points leader:
I believe Cooper is so mentally strong. He tried to get inside his competitors head, like that pit board just before the gate dropped, he puts ‘red plate’ and all those things. Kenny got some points deducted and it looked like he was going to get it done, and there are still chances for them, and even Eli can still win it, but it looks like it will be between Cooper and Kenny. The last six races Cooper has been so strong, so mentally strong and technically Kenny is a bit better, but when it has to happen, when he has to win, Cooper just lines up and says to himself, he is here to rule, to win. He plays some mind games, and he plays it well and he is an old school racer and he just doesn’t give up. I think he wins the championship this year. I feel sorry for Kenny, because he has been through so much and it would be nice to see him win the championship, he deserves to win that championship and I hope he wins it, but I love Cooper and his attitude and of course I would prefer a KTM wins, rather than a Honda. If I have to say now, I have to say Cooper wins it.
I mean it is nice to see a guy like Cooper, because he was kind of lost in 2017 and 2018, and they he started working even harder, I mean he probably worked hard, but he wanted to get 100 percent put pf his program and his racing. 2017 he was struggling, also with injuries and things were not going well, and now, 2019 he was so strong, also in 2020 and he had that crash in 2020 that might have cost him a championship. I remember battling the guy in 2016 at Charlotte for the GP and right before the gate was about to go down, and there was just Forkner between us and right before the gate was about to go down, he says to me, ‘Hey, what’s up, you ready to go racing?’ I remember thinking, Did he just say that? Did that dude just talk to me? And I was still shocked. It was good, because he tried to play mind games and I liked that. I know I won the first race and in the second race we both got bad starts and when he was behind me, he was revving the shit out of his bike and I wasn’t used to that, because usually I won on the 250 easy. He closed the gap and then was whisky throttling me! I liked that really and it makes me respect him a lot more.
Win Ad Hall of Fame (DC)
Check out Honda's 1987 win ads look from Cycle News, which incorporated the actual race reports in the weekly newspaper about the very event that their riders Rick Johnson and Micky Dymond won. Neat concept.
High Point Ride Day
If you live in the area, don't forget about the Wake-Up! Ride Day at High Point Raceway next Saturday, April 3. Admission is free but there is a $40 fee for all-day riding and a $20 fee if you only want to ride the eMTB course. There will be:
- Motocross Track
- GNCC Loop
- 50cc Track
- Stacyc Course
- eMTB Course
Note: (Sorry, no ATVs this day)
2021 Wake Up! High Point Ride Day Schedule
|10:00am||Registration (white trailer across from announcer tower)|
|12:00pm - 5:00pm||Practice; 5 rotations weather permitting|
|Motocross Track (following practice order)|
|GNCC Loop (3 miles)|
|eMTB Loop (2 miles)|
|50cc Motorcycle Track (Open All Day)|
|STACYC Track (kids electric bicycles course)|
Visit https://highpointmx.com/event/high-point-ride-day for more information.
The may 2021 ISSUE OF raCER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
Hey, Watch It!
Equipped with equal 2021 KTM 250 SX-F models, the father-son duo decided to compete one-on-one for the bragging rights of “fastest rider in the family.” Check it out to see who won!
From Ohio legend to another... Gary Semics made this little video a few years back of George Singler, the racer/promoter extraordinaire who passed away last Friday at the age of 86:
The Red Bull KTM MXGP superstar Jeffrey Herlings is introduced:
Donn "Swap" Maeda caught up with Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha's Jeremy Martin about his latest comeback from injury and what he has planned for the summer and even 2022:
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.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“See groom accidentally drop ring into lake during wedding”—CNN.com
“The Big, Stuck Boat Is Glorious”—The Atlantic
“‘TIGER KING' STAR JEFF LOWE SUFFERS STROKE, AIRLIFTED TO HOSPITAL ...Suspects He Was Poisoned”—TMZ.com
“Two Thirds Of Drivers Arrested By U.S. Border Patrol In Michigan Were Stopped For Looking At Squad Cars Funny”—Jalopnik.com
UFO Plastics is Hiring
Would you like to work in the industry? Want to work for a great company? UFO is looking for an inside sales rep. If you’re interested send your resume to Dave@ufoplasticusa.com.
Dubya USA Is Hiring
Dubya USA is looking for a wheel truer. The position will be located in Orange, California, and offers competitive pay, medical benefits, and 401K. For more information, visit https://www.dubyausa.com/.
The 2021 Wiseco 2-Stroke World MX Championship hosted by Fasthouse is next Saturday, April 3.
The great Thom Veety of Action Photos just loaded up a bunch of historic and cool images from his time along the sidelines of AMA Pro Motocross, Loretta Lynn's, Mini O's and more:
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #12.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!