Welcome to the biggest day of the silly season. Many contracts are up, so riders are free to make their farewells public, as well as their future plans. We've known since May that Eli Tomac and Monster Energy Kawasaki were parting ways after six years, but it wasn't officially over until today, October 1, 2021. Same goes for fellow former AMA Supercross Champion Jason Anderson, who posted a video bidding farewell to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna after seven years with the team. Then the announcements will come: Eli will go to Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing, and El Hombre will be taking his place at Kawasaki. We already know who's replacing Anderson at Husqvarna: Malcolm Stewart. And whether or not we ever see Zach Osborne back in 2022 remains to be seen, it actually depends on his back.
In the lower ranks there was the announcement by Jordon Smith that he was parting ways with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, and it appears he is being replaced by young Jett Reynolds, who has been with Kawasaki Team Green since—
And then, right on cue, as I type this at 11:35 a.m ET, Eli posted this:
And simultaneously Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki sent out this announcement of their five-rider team that includes the aforementioned Jett Reynolds.
I was starting to say that Reynolds had been with Kawasaki Team Green's amateur program since 2014 when he first got on 65cc minicycles, and won seven titles at Loretta Lynn's on green, though none since 2017, as he's had some injuries and tough luck.
And now Anderson is the first to post a video of him actually riding his new bike:
Anyway, that's how October 1 works during silly season. Lots of guys long rumored to be on the move, but they can't say where until their contracts end or they would be in breach of them. To have superstars like Tomac, Anderson, Plessinger, and Malcolm Stewart all on the move this year made this a particularly busy silly season. Now it's time to start focusing on Anaheim 1, because now that the music has stopped, the prevailing thought in just about every top rider's mind is something James Stewart himself said so eloquently back before the 2005 season on the cover of Racer X magazine: "My whole life is about January 8."
Viva Italia! (DC)
When Team USA decided not to go to the '21 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in Italy, I had to find a new team to cheer on. I have always been fond of Great Britain and the Irish, as I have a lot of friends in both countries. But I was also rooting for Italy because I knew this might be Antonio Cairoli's last chance to win a Motocross of Nations with Italy after he announced his retirement a couple of weeks back, only to crash hard at the MXGP of Sardinia and seemingly knock himself out of the MXoN, which was held last weekend in Mantova, Italy. Well, Tony shook off the pain and raced for Italy anyway, though his day started with a first-turn crash. In the second moto he pulled out all the stops and beat everyone but the great Jeffrey Herlings on another wet and soggy MXoN. But the real drama was behind the leaders after another man on the Italian team, Alessando Lupino, went over the outside wall of the first turn in moto three, then rode up through the infield for quite a ways, rejoining the track on the next straightaway over, effectively skipping the whole second corner and maybe the 30 riders who would have passed him, had he gone back on track where he should have.
Here's the thing: I've seen Italy's Alex Puzar not allowed to race in 1993 when he was late getting to the parc ferme before the 15-minutes-before-the-start gate-closing, and I saw Justin Barcia disqualified in qualifying (2012) when Chuck Sun lifted the fence his bike was stuck under, so I was almost certainly thought they were going to DQ Lupino, or at least give him a heavy penalty—he was in sixth, not 36th, after his return to the track. I think that MXGP-TV announcers Paul Malin and Jason Thomas felt the same way, or at least they sounded like it. But then, just after the halfway point of the moto, maybe 15 minutes after the infraction, the FIM made its ruling and Malin announced it live on the air: Lupino would be docked 10 positions. At that moment, Italy was then a point behind the Netherlands, but then Lupino made some passes and got Italy back into the lead by a single point.
At first I thought the penalty wasn't nearly enough, but I did think it was cool that they immediately ruled on it so viewers knew what Italy had to do, and they also knew the outcome as soon as the race ended, not hours later after a protest or a jury meeting. I'm sure the Netherlands would have loved to know earlier in so it could let third third-place Glenn Coldenhoff know he had to pass second-place Cairoli to better their chances, but it was still better than waiting until the end and saying, "10 spots," because that would have looked very fishy!
So Italy won, and the great Tony Cairoli finally got to add the one big trophy in the FIM world that he's never won before, the Peter Chamberlain Cup. And for the fourth time in a row, it rained on the race and someone went 1-1. In 2017 it was Max Anstie in Great Britain, in '18 (RedBud), and '19 (Holland) it was Coldenhoff, and this year it was Herlings.
Now, looking ahead to next year, it's fantastic news that the race is returning stateside to RedBud, because the chances of it raining yet again would mean FIVE times in a row—and also you know Team USA is going to be there this time!
Further down in Hey, Watch It! look for Weege and Kellen's breakdown of how it all went down.
Love the way our friends at On Track Off Road Magazine put it: "Team Italy defied Tony Cairoli's rib injury, Mattia Guadagnini's rookie status and Alessandro Lupino's interpretation of track boundaries to clinch the Chamberlain trophy by one point."
Switches (Jason Weigandt)
We started today in anticipation of three big 450 factory team announcements, but we only got two. Along with the Anderson to Kawasaki and Tomac to Yamaha stories, we do expect to hear about Aaron Plessinger going to KTM, but today Aaron left it by thanking everyone at Yamaha for his time, and saying he will announce his future stop in a few days.
So we’ll wait until next week to hear from AP. Also, don’t forget the Malcolm Stewart to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna news that broke a few weeks ago.
As for Tomac and Anderson, we learned some things today. Anderson put together a good video with his friends at Team Fried explaining his Husqvarna tenure.
“We were all working toward that one goal, and then I achieved that goal [the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship], and I was like, ‘You’ve got to keep going.’ But it’s hard, because you don’t have that fire. But at the same time, I do love racing. I feel like I’m finally back to that point where I want to end on a banger.”
He also discussed his tenure with Aldon Baker, the trainer Husqvarna wanted him to continue to work with.
“It’s a company I wanted to be with forever, but sometimes in life you’re not on the same page,” he said. “Working with Aldon Baker, we’re still relatively close. He even let me ride there a little bit this summer. With what he had going on, he was making his program bigger and bringing in more guys, and it was hard for me to feel vulnerable in an environment with a bunch of people. I think that’s one of the areas where we weren’t on the same page. Husky wanted me to work with Aldon and stuff like that, and I understand. They’re a business and the business is for me to win races and for them to sell dirt bikes. But at the end of the day, where I’m at now, I want to end my career on a banger. And I don’t mean end my career, I don’t mean this is my last year, I want to race another three to five more years. Because when I quit, I’m not going to know what to do with myself. But yeah, I want to thank Husky for all the years, they’ve been kick ass, everyone on the team and everything they did for me. We’ve been a family for 12 years.”
Anderson will now begin his time with Kawasaki just as that time ends for Tomac. You can read and/or listen to my full interview with Eli from earlier today. It appears his decision to move to Yamaha is based solely on thinking he and Star Racing can make that bike a better weapon for him. Out of respect to Kawasaki, though, he was careful not to say anything negative about his old environment.
“I had the opportunity to try this, and I don’t want that question in the back of my mind,” said Tomac. “Could I have won even more races or done it in an easier way? Those were the conversations that were had, and it’s a gamble on my part, either way!”
It will be a while before we see either of these riders in action, as the Monster Energy Cup and many other off-season events aren’t taking place this year.
There’s an event you can check out next week, but it’s something completely different. MotoCar Fite Klub, which held a dirt track oval car race for motocross legends earlier this year, is back with a 2.0 edition of the event. Chad Reed, Justin Brayton, Grant Langston, and seemingly the entire Deegan family is in for this event. I’ll even be racing too, in an industry class using super slow four-cylinder cars, but they do tell me wrecking and contact is okay. Interesting!
By the way, we’ll use this event to raise money for Road2Recovery and the Racers4Waverly charity. If you’re in the Greenville, South Carolina area come to Traveler’s Rest Speedway on Thursday night for the race, or, spend some money for charity and join us for dinner and bench racing on Wednesday night as a VIP.
I know it will be a good time. That’s all I know.
I didn't really get to weigh in much last week on the assignment of the 2022 AMA Supercross and Pro Motocross numbers, but it's always something I look forward to for sure moto geek-factor trivia. One thing I realized analyzing them is that in 2022 we will see, for the first time ever in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship (if everyone stays healthy), #1 used in competition for the first time ever by a Yamaha YZ450F as well as a Honda CRF250R. Think about it.
Remember, we're not talking supercross, just outdoor motocross.
Two Honda CRF250R riders have won the AMA National Championship: Trey Canard in 2010 and Eli Tomac in 2013, both riding for the GEICO Honda team. But in the subsequent years Canard and Tomac immediately moved up to the 450 Class and could not use #1, but rather their permanent numbers, so Canard wore #41 in '11 and Tomac wore #3 in '14. That won't happen in 2022, as Lawrence is in the 250 Class again and the AMA rules now say #1 has to wear #1 in a title defense.
As for the 450 Class, Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing's Dylan Ferrandis is only the second YZ450F rider to win the AMA Pro Motocross title. The first was Grant Langston in 2007, but then GL developed a problem with his eyesight that turned out to be cancer. He did not race outdoors in 2008 (though he did start SX and finished fourth in the opener wearing #8). Langston may be the rider in AMA SX/MX and FIM history with the most titles and the least times wearing #1, as he always moved up a class or across the pond or even switched regions in 250 SX before wearing his #1s.
And if you're thinking, Hey, wait a minute, what about Doug Henry back in 1999 when he rode a few races to defend his '98 250 National Championship aboard a thumper? As Jason Weigandt reminded me, they didn't actually have YZ450Fs back then—Henry was racing a YZ400F.
And finally, there's this: Only once in this whole millennium has #1 been on a Honda outdoors in AMA Pro Motocross. It happened at Glen Helen in 2004, at the last round of the series, in Ricky Carmichael's last race on red. RC always wore #4 with Honda, despite being defending champion in both SX/MX in 2002, as well as 2003, and then outdoors in 2004. But he kept his trademark #4 until the very last time on red, the Glen Helen '04 finale. RC put #1 on the bike as a farewell to the team and the brand, as much a thumb in the eye for not re-signing him as an exclamation mark on a perfect 24-0 summer, his second with Team Honda (but first on a 450).
One last little, strange morsel of numerical nonsense, unless you're a geek like me: In 2017, Ken Roczen was the defending AMA 450 National Motocross Champion, having won in his swan song with the RCH Racing Suzuki team in '16. K-Roc switched to Team Honda and went back to his #94, though when outdoors started he would have worn #1, according to that AMA rule change. What happened instead, unfortunately, was that he crashed badly at Anaheim 2 and broke his arm in several places. He would not line up that summer, which meant he would not wear that #1 he earned the year before with Suzuki.
So as it still stands, the only time in AMA Pro Motocross history that a Honda four-stroke in either class ever wore #1 was Ricky Carmichael at Glen Helen '04. Jett Lawrence will change that in '22, at least for the 250 Class!
Flash Trivia (DC)
While we're on the subject of numbers, here's a trivia question for you: What do #64, #91, and #150 all have in common?
Racers 4 Waverly (DC)
A few updates on the situation down in Waverly, Tennessee, where the rebuilding continues after the deadly floods of late August that wrecked the community where Loretta Lynn's Ranch is located. Racers 4 Waverly has been raising funds through various raffles, auctions, and donations from many in the motorcycle industry, as many of us think of Hurricane Mills practically as a summer home. GNCC Racing's Jared and Kayla Bolton drove down this week to help work on some projects at the ranch and in the community, joining a big group from the Yamaha Motor Corporation who drove up from their new Georgia HQ to help out this weekend. They sent back these photos of what the track actually looks like; while structures like the starting gate, staging area, billboard, and the Yamaha signaling area were all wiped out, the Ten Commandments made it, as did all of the upper structures like the announcer's tower and grandstands. MX Sports will rebuild all of that, no problem. The funds raised by Racers 4 Waverly all go directly to the community via the United Way.
And among some of the recent fundraising activities, Jeff Cernic's Travis Pastrana Cup had a huge crowd as we as a huge auction to raise funds, and Steve Matthes and Pulp MX raffled off a new YZ and raised $40,000 alone. Road 2 Recovery is still taking donations for the town of Waverly. Visit https://road2recovery.com/cause-view/racers-4-waverly for more information.
I put that as my title for a couple of reasons. One is thank you to Yamaha for giving PulpMX a 2022 YZ125 to raffle off as part of our Racers 4 Waverly donation. We got just shy of 40K into the pot, and the Blu Cru guys kicked in enough to make it an even $40,000. We'll get R2R a check right away for that—great company over there at Yamaha. Between this and the Privateer Challenge series we do, they're certainly supporting the sport we love so much.
Also, with the news dropping officially of ET to Yamaha and Anderson to Kawasaki, I noticed that the respective OEMs those guys are leaving put out nice social media posts thanking them for their time. I think this a relatively new thing—of course, guys like Rick Johnson and RC got some farewell from Honda when they left, but this seems a little more commonplace nowadays. Both riders delivered titles to the OEMs, and while both are leaving, it's a business, and sometimes these things happen. To let riders go and just not say anything seems a bit odd. I like what Husqvarna and Kawasaki did there. Cool to see.
VAX SX (Matthes)
Lots of rumors and petitions and what have you about the controversial (to some) vaccination issues in our sport. From people I talk to close to Feld Entertainment, they're not enforcing a vaccination mandate to the riders and teams, but they're telling everyone that could change as we get closer to A1. Much like the NBA, where Andrew Wiggins will not be allowed to play home games in San Francisco (due to San Francisco's vaccine mandates; New York city is the same), the NBA is just saying he can't get paid for those games he misses, but it's not the NBA making the players get the vaccine. Being as how San Francisco is in California, where Anaheim and Oakland are, they want everyone to know what might happen.
In short, if you're the type of person who opposes vaccinations, it's not Feld that's the bad guy here. As of now, there are no buildings on the 2022 SX circuit that are requiring people to be vaxxed to enter, but of course things can change.
Let me repeat that: In short, if you're the type of person that opposes vaccinations, it's not Feld that's the bad guy here. As of now, there are no buildings on the 2022 SX circuit that are requiring people to be vaxxed to enter, but of course things can change.
There are massive corporations in our sport where dirt bike racing is a very small percentage of what they do, and they, like so many other massive corporations, are enforcing vaccines for their employees. This being America, you're free to leave and go somewhere where you don't have to get a vaccine. In fact, I've heard one mechanic did quit a team because of that reason, but I can't verify that as of now.
So if you're gonna light that torch and grab the pitchfork over this, maybe direct your anger at the government officials or the stadiums and not Feld, who are just trying to promote the sport, keep the lights on, and give us something to watch on Saturday nights. Such a cruel turn of events that, after struggling for two years to run a series in a pandemic—knowing that it would only happen with great financial loss in mostly empty stadiums, but doing it in order to help keep all the teams in business by giving them places to race instead of just shutting down until this whole virus thing is over—to now have people calling for a total boycott of Feld Entertainment for something they didn't even announce? I thought we'd all be in a better place by now.
Flash Trivia Answer (DC)
Riders earned wins in 2021 wearing those three numbers—#64, #91, #150—for the first time the history of AMA Supercross/Pro Motocross, which goes back to 1972. The #64—Colt Nichols of the Star Racing Yamaha team—won three rounds of the 250SX East Region as well as the title, his teammate #91 Nate Thrasher won two rounds of the 250SX West Region, and #150 Seth Hammaker of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team also won a round of the 250SX West Region in 2021. No rider wearing any of those three numbers had ever won before in AMA SX/MX until this past year.
Hey, Watch It!
David Pingree speaks his mind on what he's hearing from an un-named agent about SX '22:
We want to send our best wishes to our friend and colleague Shand Garcia in Texas, as he has been battling back from a bout with COVID-19. Shand is a huge supporter of motocross, especially in his beloved Lone Star State. Here is his update:
As mentioned above, Kawasaki thanked Eli Tomac in a video they posted on Instagram.
The Controversial Finish - Motocross of Nations Analysis | Exhaust Podcast
Beyond The Track - Steve Giberson - Episode 60
And here's a "thank you" video from Jason Anderson for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team:
Jack Chambers started a YouTube channel with style, busting out a raw two-stroke video as his first post.
Listen to This
The news is officially out that Eli Tomac will join Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing for 2022, and Jason Weigandt called Eli in Colorado at 9 a.m. Mountain Time to get some thoughts from him on the deal. Eli makes it clear that he didn't make the switch as a change of scenery, or to make more money. This is a performance decision, and now he knows it's up to him to prove it's the right one. Have a listen to hear his side of the story.
Leatt Re-Raceables Podcast: 2011 MXoN with Ryan Villopoto
Weege and Matthes take a look back at the 2011 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in France, the last year that Team USA won the event, Chad Reed's moto win, the super team USA sent and more. Team USA's Ryan Villopoto joins the show also to talk about that day in France, his thoughts on the MXoN now, and more.
Jimmy Hill released a music album on September 24, titled “Tides” under his nickname Hillsack. Listen to the full 11-track album on his YouTube channel: Hillsack – Topic.
Head-Scratching Headlines Of The Week
“MICHAEL JORDAN'S WORN UNDIES SELL FOR $2,784
'Show Definite Use'”—TMZ.com
“Otters are mysteriously attacking people and dogs in Alaska's largest city: "Unusual behaviors"”—CBSNews.com
“Woman carjacked by man using bow, arrow, police say”—WXPI Pittsburgh
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!