Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from right under the Big A here at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, as I finally got to go to my first race of 2022! And it seems like I could not have picked a better moment to join in on all of the fun that’s been the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship so far. Three races, three different 450SX winners, three different points leaders, eight different podium finishers, eight guys within seven points? That’s incredible. And last weekend in San Diego there were two first-time winners in either class, and for GasGas, a first ever 250SX win. And the guy with the red plate in the 450 class, Eli Tomac, has yet to win a race!
Since I haven’t been to one of these yet, and today has been a very busy day out here with meetings, I will let the other guys weigh in on what’s going on behind the scenes. But before I do, I wanted to mention two big and close motocross communities that lost good friends this week. The old Michigan Mafia lost popular and longtime District 14 MXer Roger Boyce of Davidson, Michigan, on January 20 due to complications from COVID-19. Roger was 61. A celebration of life will take place for him tomorrow at the Otisville Hotel. And the virtual motocross community that is Vital MX lost a close friend in Dwayne Williams, known on the forum as MXerDW, who suffered a stroke a few months back and never really recovered. He passed yesterday afternoon. I got to known MXerDW a few years back in person when he decided to take a summer and road-trip the entire Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship schedule. He was always smiling, always ready to pitch in, always up for a good bench race. Both Roger and Dwayne will be missed. Godspeed to both men.
What Does It All Mean? (Jason Weigandt)
Chase Sexton gets full marks for winning the San Diego Supercross. We know he’s fast and has an amazing riding style, but even that doesn’t always guarantee success. We all thought Travis Pastrana would rack up many, many wins in the premier class of supercross, and that never happened. And unfortunately we’re still going to be waiting a long time to see if Adam Cianciarulo can get one. I thought Damon Huffman had the goods to go after Jeremy McGrath when he moved into the big class, but Huffy ended up with just one win. It is very difficult at the top, and even Chase himself expressed frustration in not getting a win when he seemed so close so many times. To me, at this level, no win is inevitable. You’ve gotta celebrate it when it happens, and I’m glad Sexton seems to understand this. He explained that on the PulpMX Show on Monday.
The funny thing is that Chase pointed out that this was just his 14th 450SX race, so it actually didn’t take that long, it just felt that way!
That’s the biggest story from San Diego. Jason Anderson is the second biggest. On the television broadcast you might have heard Daniel Blair pointing out that several riders in the 450 class have been battling for 20 years, back to the 65cc days at Loretta’s. The 2002 65 (7-9) Stock class featured Anderson, Eli Tomac, Malcolm Stewart, and Justin Barcia, as well as long-lost Blake Baggett. (By the way, I don’t know what Baggett is doing these days. I’ve texted him. He doesn’t respond. I’ve texted his dad. He doesn’t respond either.)
It’s really cool to know these guys have been racing each other for 20 years, and it reminds you of what a gauntlet it is to actually get all the way to this level. Also it means we have a lot of data about these riders racing each other. Anderson and Tomac are close in age and come from the same area in New Mexico and Colorado. They’ve been racing each other tons! That’s what made Anderson’s ride so impressive on Saturday. He was so fast in Anaheim, so fast in Oakland, and so fast in San Diego qualifying, but then he flashed through in about ninth on the first lap. I figured he was in for an average night, but he ended up blasting past [looks at AMA lap charts] Dylan Ferrandis, Cooper Webb, Ken Roczen, and Eli Tomac. Sheesh! I mean, this is next-level speed from JA21. Is it 2018 speed? I think it might be even more than that!
We’ve seen plenty of Eli/Anderson matchups, and I don’t remember Anderson straight-up passing Tomac much. This has been a good start to the season for Eli, no doubt, as he actually holds the points lead—the earliest he has ever held the red plate in a 450 supercross season. There’s much to be positive about. Cooper Webb has said he’s not quite where he wants to be on the bike, but he’s just one point behind Tomac. Roczen said there’s a silver lining to having problems in two of the three races but still being close in points.
Lots of things for lots of riders to be positive about. But if Anderson is going to continue riding at this level, they all might have a big problem on their hands. These next few rounds are going to be critical to figuring out who really is the man in 2022.
Pro Perspective (Thomas)
Jason Anderson’s San Diego ride should have been a highlight of his season. He was on a tear through the field and could very likely have given Sexton a last-lap battle for the win. It was an insanely strong ride that was marred by a mechanical issue. I do have a question, though. With Anderson’s bike steaming, it’s an easy assumption that there was either an overheating issue or a leaking radiator, etc. While we aren’t owed specific answers, I also take issue with the explanation given below:
“With momentum rolling, Anderson continued his push forward and would continue to utilize his speed through the difficult whoop section to blitz by riders ahead and make swift passes in the corners following. However, contact with another rider while making the pass for third would result in radiator damage for Anderson and ultimately require him to settle for an eighth-place finish.”
See, that pass for third was on Ken Roczen. That’s seemingly what this official Monster Energy Kawasaki press release is alluding to. The problem is that Anderson and Roczen’s run-in was nowhere near his radiator, although there was contact. That’s painfully obvious to anyone with a rewind button. Roczen ran into the back of Anderson’s 450, and I am very confident in saying that his radiator was not damaged in the process. So what gives? Was the press release mistaken? Was there a separate issue that the team wanted to keep hush-hush? We have seen Tomac’s Kawasaki suffer from overheating symptoms in the past, but usually not to the extent that he was slowed. There is something fishy here. I don’t think they’re protecting state secrets or hiding soldiers on the Ukrainian border, but something is definitely up.
I usually like to provide insight in this segment. My experience in and around the sport gives me a unique perspective to incidents, events, and occurrences. This one is puzzling, though. I’m instead asking a question this time around. What exactly was going on with JA21’s 450 last weekend?
PULPMX SHOW STUFF (Matthes)
This past Monday night we had a jam packed PulpMX Show with Daniel Blair in-studio to cohost and a guest lineup of Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb, Justin Bogle, Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Albrecht—even Alex Ray called in to defend himself on the "pass" attempt on Freddie Noren.
It was an interesting show with lots of highlights. I thought I'd write a few things about the show as to what caught my ears and made it interesting. Some takeaways, if you will.
Albrecht talked about the process they go through to review and discipline riders like Barcia and Bogle from the weekend. Barcia got docked a position for speeding alongside the whoops after Bogle took him down, while Bogle got fined and DQ'd for the move on Barcia. No one has seen tape of the Barcia move on Bogle, but Albrecht saw it and said it wasn't great but wasn't the worst thing he's ever seen. The AMA review committee meets right there at the track, talks to the people involved, and comes up with something that makes sense. Interesting that the riders who are on probation are on probation for that act that got them on probation. So if Bogle passes someone greasy on the lead lap of SX this year, his probation status doesn't come into effect because he didn't take a dude out while he was a lap down like in San Diego. I didn't know that.
Chase Sexton called in and said the changes they made to the Honda after Oakland when he and Ken Roczen were complaining about the same thing helped a lot. He mentioned that he was able to track Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac back there in second and that he had more to push if he needed to. Sexton commented that it was getting tiring of the people around him talking to him about how it's amazing he hadn't won a race yet and that it was coming. Well, it's finally here! Also he went surfing before his win and he'll prob continue to surf on Thursdays before the races to keep that going.
Webb was on, and to me, he didn't sound like he's anywhere near where he wants to be on the new bike just yet. Mentioned they are throwing older stuff on it, meaning old settings. He said that he's stoked to be this close to the front of the points lead knowing that he hasn't been at his best. Mentioned that he was catching Ferrandis for third but when Tomac slipped back, he thought Dylan picked it up a bit and that he lost the #14's tail after a mistake. He also mentioned that, yes, he doesn't read or listen much to MX media and leaves all the moto at the track when he leaves the track. Oh, and then we made fun of Phil Nicoletti for a bit, which is always fun.
Justin Bogle came and was a great interview. He spoke about his move on Barcia, he accepted full responsibility for it and said that he, as a man, couldn't let that move go unpunished. He also opened up about his start to the year, his feelings on losing his friend Ryan Federow, and we published most of his interview right here on RXI.
Michael Mosiman came on and … wow. That was something. We covered his first career win and how that felt. Working with Justin Barcia and how that helps him. Then we spoke about his brother Josh hanging the boots to join the MX media and how I didn't think he gave himself enough time to race. Then Michael talked about how he was up for giving homeless people around where he lived in Florida a place to stay and tried to help them. He also said he got his car stolen by one of them, but that was a story for another time. You gotta check this story out—Mosiman was pretty open and honest about it.
Alex Ray said he was sorry to Freddie Noren for a move in the LCQ. He thought it was the last lap and that it was a bad idea. Albrecht said he was going to talk to A Ray about the move.
Told you it was an eventful show!
Get Well Soon #199 (DC)
Chest Protection And Broken Ribs (Keefer)
Well, I am a dumbass! I just so happened to leave my chest protector in my other gear bag and went to the track to test without it. In my middle 20s, I had a stretch where I never wore chest protection. It is a lot cooler (ventilation-wise, not the lifestyle), and I feel looser on the bike without it. But ... there is a risk. I went on with my test day like any other day and thought I would be fine. However, as fate would have it, I had a bike failure and went ass over teakettle and managed to only come away with three cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, and some burns. As bad as the crash was, I am very lucky. The downside to being hurt in my household is that you don't get a lot of sympathy. The wife knows what I do for a living, so when I’m hurt, she initially takes care of me—then she's out! As long as I can stand up and gimp around, her sympathy level is not very high. I guess as it should be because that is part of the risk we take and accept as dirt bike people, right?
The other part of this brief story is that I have made prior commitments to ride, so if there is the slightest chance I can swing a leg over a bike, I am going to work. So riding this week has been less enjoyable than the previous weeks, but nonetheless, I am grateful to be able to still ride. Oh, did I mention that my kid has about the same sympathy as my wife? Yeah, that little dude loves to rub it in when he’s faster than me at the track, even though Dad is riding hurt. Tough crowd up here in the high dez.
Here is a PSA: Where a good under-protector at least when you ride. I am a fan of the Fox Raceframe Soft Back D30 and the Alpinestars A-1 or A-4 chest protector. Those are my two that I will no longer forget to bring again!
Static Photo On The Bike Caption:
Oldest Tracks? (DC)
There was some real concern recently over the rumors that Perris Raceway here in Southern California was going to be closed for good. Fortunately, those were just rumors, and one of the oldest tracks in America will be remodeled and reopend under new management. Vital MX’s Michael Lindsay got together with the new ownership group, called People Motorsports, to discuss their plans, which you can read right here.
Lindsay mentions in the intro that Perris Raceway must be one of the oldest tracks in the country, and it certainly is—check out this screengrab from a 1969 issue of Cycle News:
If it’s not Perris Raceway, what is the oldest continually operating motocross track in America? I know that among the national tracks Unadilla is the oldest, having opened in 1969. The Hangtown Classic is the oldest event, though it wasn’t always a national, nor was it at the same location over the years. Also in California, I believe the Mammoth Mountain track has been running since 1968, but only for a couple weeks each June. Back east there’s Motosports Park in Byron, Illinois, which came online in September 1970 and is still running. Delta, Ohio, has been around and running since I believe 1959. But the oldest I know of—still running—is the Owyhee Motorcycle Club near Boise, Idaho, which has been hosting motocross events since 1947! Anyone out there know of anything older? Please let us know in the comments below!
Hey, Watch It!
Want a little history lesson on one of the most influential motorcycles ever built? Check out our friend @tblazier's examination of the 1973 Honda XR75 that changed the minicycle racing landscape forever:
2022 SAN DIEGO REWIND SHOW // Bubba's World w/ James Stewart
10 Years of the 125 Dream Race
Kellen Brauer’s always awesome Race Examination from San Diego:
Head-Scratching Headlines of the Week
“Lamborghini to Bid Farewell to Pure Combustion Cars This Year”—Bloomberg News
“Rams hope to avert an invasion of 49ers fans by stopping ticket sales outside of L.A.”—The Washington Post
“Police: Man Killed Emotional Support Ferrets”—The Smoking Gun
“Antonio Brown says he'll pursue legal action against Tampa Bay Buccaneers over release”—ESPN.com
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!