Welcome to Racerhead on the night before our sole stop in Indianapolis. People like Ricky Carmichael himself like to say that when it comes to Monster Energy AMA Supercross, the series starts at Daytona, but it's not supposed to end at Detroit. Unfortunately, just one week after we made that symbolic turn toward the stretch run at Daytona, the 450SX class was hit hard at Ford Field, with stunning results. Can you ever remember a race where the last four finishers are, in order, 19) Dylan Ferrandis; 20) Cooper Webb; 21) Jason Anderson; and 22) Chase Sexton? All crashed out of the 27-lap main event on a tricky Detroit track. If you're keeping score at home, that's the defending AMA Supercross Champion in Webb, the defending 450 Pro Motocross Champion in Ferrandis, a past AMA Supercross Champion in Anderson, and a two-time 250SX Champion in Sexton. You can add past 250 titles to Webb, Ferrandis, and Anderson as well. And going into round ten they were ranked second (Anderson), third (Webb), fifth (Sexton), and eighth (Ferrandis) in the series standings. Now Eli Tomac has a massive 42-point lead—nearly two full races with just seven races left. With Ken Roczen calling timeout on his season, and with both single-digit riders #7 Aaron Plessinger and #9 Adam Cianciarulo out with injuries, it's going to take a couple of massive problems or mistakes for the title fight to even get back to close, let alone to see someone other than #3 wearing the red plate in the 450SX class.
If you're looking for a bright side to all of this, a whole bunch of guys who did not go down in the Detroit Demolition Derby matched or bettered their season-best finishes: winner Tomac, runner-up Malcolm Stewart, 5th-place Justin Brayton, 6th-place Vince Friese, 7th-place Shane McElrath, 8th-place Justin Bogle, 9th-place Brandon Hartranft, 10th-place Cade Clason, 11th-place Ryan Breece, 12th-place Justin Starling, 13th-place Alex Martin—season-high finishes for all. And then there was Logan Karnow in 15th (on a bike he had to buy from a dealer on Friday), Kevin Moranz in 16th, Alex Ray in 17th, and Justin Rodbell in 18th. Season-high finishes for those four guys as well. Just a crazy, strange, and mostly unfortunate night for the bulk of the series front-runners, as only Tomac, Stewart, and Barcia escaped the carnage and finished on the podium, with Marvin Musquin (who also went down at one point) fourth.
The good news is that only of the four guys—Ferrandis—was hurt enough to miss Indianapolis this weekend, as he will sit out with a bone bruise in his right wrist. And it also makes for a weird bench racing question that is difficult to answer: has there ever been a supercross race that saw this many guys crash out?
Well, if you get in the way, way back machine, all the way to March 18, 1978, and the second night of the weekend doubleheader at the Houston Astrodome, you find something close to what we saw last weekend in Detroit. In that single night, four top riders—Team Honda's Marty Smith and Jimmy Ellis, Team Suzuki's Tony DiStefano, and Harley-Davidson's Don Kudalski—were all injured. Kudalski crashed out in qualifying, taking a ride in an ambulance with a bruised kidney. The other three were all involved in a big first-turn pileup that left Smith with a dislocated hip, Ellis with a separated shoulder, and Tony D with a twisted knee that would later require surgery. At the time, Smith was the AMA 500cc Pro Motocross Champion, DiStefano was the three-times-running 250cc Pro Motocross Champion, and Ellis the former AMA Supercross Champion. None of them would ever be the same, and of the four, only Ellis would ever win another professional race—the High Point 250 National later that summer. The crash decimated a field that was already being dominated by the guy who swept both nights of that Houston doubleheader, Bob "Hurricane" Hannah.
As the week has gone on, we've heard from three of the four riders. Anderson, Webb, and Sexton are all in for Indianapolis, and only Ferrandis was the question mark, but now he said he is officially out. The Detroit race was one of those occasional reminders that this is a dangerous and difficult sport.
There have also been questions about why Webb was allowed to continue riding around the track basically with one arm, at times going around obstacles. The AMA's Mike Pelletier explained that there is no precedence for black-flagging a rider simply for riding slowly, which we often see toward the end of races. Black flags only come out when there is either a penalty or a motorcycle issue. However, when Webb stalled the bike while rolling a set of triples, that's when they decided to wave him off the track, as he could have been endangering others as well as himself. And as far as Jason Anderson goes, he was looked at and cleared after the main event by the Alpinestars Mobile Medical doctor on site, so he is not in concussion protocol going into Indianapolis.
So we can look forward to seeing all of these guys back this weekend, and maybe even see a bit of history, as Rockstar Husqvarna's Malcolm Stewart gets closer and closer to earning a 450SX main-event win. If he does get it, Stewart and his older brother, James, will become the first brothers in the nearly 50-year history of AMA Supercross to have each won a premier-class main event. They've already accomplished that in the 125/250 class, as have the Vohland brothers (Tyson and Tallon) and the Lawrence brothers (Hunter and Jett). And then there's Josh and Justin Hill, who each won SX races, but in different classes—Josh won the '08 Minneapolis SX in the 450s, while Justin won several 250 main events. If Malcolm brings home a win this season, it will put him and James in the record books together again as the only brothers ever to both win in the premier class.
One other thing worth mentioning is the fact that at the beginning of the season, everyone was talking about how at least five different guys were poised to get their first career 450SX wins—Sexton, Ferrandis, Malcom, Cianciarulo, and Plessinger—but after ten rounds, the only one to do it so far is Team Honda HRC's Sexton, who won the third round back in San Diego.
Indy (Indianapolis)KTM Junior SX
Saturday, March 19
Dick Lechien (DC)
The motocross world lost a great man last Friday as Dick Lechien, founder of Maxima Racing Oils and the father of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Ron Lechien, passed away at the age of 85. He is survived by his wife, Pat; daughter, Lorrie; and his son, Ron. Mr. Lechien first got into the motorcycle racing business as the owner of a San Diego dealership, then founded Maxima Racing Oils in 1979, just as his son was beginning his ascent in racing. Lechien would go on to become one of the youngest AMA Supercross winners ever when he topped the 1983 Orlando SX as a 16-year-old rookie. He would go on to represent Team USA and win twice at the Motocross of Nations, and here at home he won the 1985 AMA 125cc National Championship. Meanwhile, his father was building the Maxima Racing Oils brand into the industry leader that it remains to this day. Godspeed, Mr. Lechien.
Days in the Dirt (Jason Weigandt)
After the Daytona Supercross I stayed in Florida for Red Bull Day in the Dirt Down South. Actually, to be accurate, I flew home after Daytona and then grabbed the family and the dirt bikes to drive back down to Florida. Gotta work around the school schedule for the kids! I had heard a ton about Red Bull Day in the Dirt in California for years, and this new Florida version more recently, but the info was never very specific. It was, “The event is cool and fun” and that’s about it. Well, now I can tell you why this event is cool and fun. The track and the format! This is what is called a “Grand Prix” event, which doesn’t mean it’s a MXGP round, by the way. Grand Prix style events in the U.S. are those old-school type races you watched in On Any Sunday, like the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, events that include riding on a paved road, through town, and starting in rows instead of on a starting gate. That’s kinda how we did it here. The track is 3.5 miles. First you hit a lap of Dade City MX, then ride onto the neighboring property where you ride, literally, through a barn, then into some rough off-road terrain in the brush. Then you cross onto an actual paved road and pin it, before you hit some grass track and cross through the back of the pits and onto the motocross track again. It’s kinda like a GNCC, but without trees. Plus, they run most of the motocross track backwards, so instead of getting steep faces on the jumps, you get mellow ups and downs. Red Bull Day in the Dirt is about dealing with the bumps, ruts, holes and rough in 30-minute motos. If you’re lucky you’ll enter a bunch of classes and ride several 30s throughout the day, or maybe even a team race with your buddies and race for an hour or two. WMX racer Hannah Hodges told me she put almost five hours on her bike during the weekend! Compare that to your average weekend at the motocross track!
Because the track is so long, you can fit a lot of bikes out there, so the classes start in rows (like an off-road race, and we used the classic “clutch hand on helmet” start). There might be 150 bikes out there at the same time, which is why you can run such long races. Anyway, the terrain and format keep it fun. The rest is icing on the cake. I saw people racing on crazy bikes, in crazy gear, doing crazy stuff. Also had some big names out there like Garrett Marchbanks, Josh Grant, Zach Osborne, Gared “Stank Dog” Steinke, Luke Renzland and a slew of Red Bull athletes like Maddo, Renner and Beremen. That wasn’t the point, though. The point is having fun riding yourself with your own buddies. For me, that meant watching my son race in the 50cc ranks, and I turned laps on Friday practice and again in racing on Saturday. Somewhere along the way I ruined my knee so I spent the rest of the weekend limping, I think I have a torn meniscus, but that doesn’t even bother me. I had tons of fun riding and tons of fun hanging out. As we saw in Detroit, injuries sometimes happen on dirt bikes. I'm not complaining. This race really is more fun than other races. Now I get it. If you’re able to get to Florida next year, check it out.
Pro Perspective (Thomas)
Last week was the most chaotic race of the year, if not the decade. The early laps were phenomenal, as the best of the best were at the front. We had multiple lead changes and genuine uncertainty as to who would end up standing tallest. Those battles ended in tears, though, as Webb, Sexton, Anderson, and Ferrandis all had their own issues resulting in DNFs. That's a lot of star power to exit one main event, and our sport is very lucky that only one of them will miss extended time. The silver lining is that many privateers notched career-best finishes along the way. Detroit was a night that they will likely never forget.
Indy is another chance to line up the best supercrossers on earth and see what shakes out. If I'm allowed to drop a suggestion in the box, let's keep the first part and do without the “trashpile of factory stars” part. The 450 elite have stayed relatively healthy thus far, and it's led to a crazy good series up until last week. While the championship might be slipping out of reach for most, the chances of exciting main events is still at an all-time high. Let's stay on two wheels and keep it that, mmkay?
PULP STUFF (Matthes)
We had our own Clinton Fowler dig deep into the stats of the 2022 SX season over on PulpMX.com and it’s kind of interesting. Yes, we know Eli Tomac has the huge points lead and will most likely cruise into the finish of this thing. But did you know Jason Anderson has led the most laps in all the mains this year, and also has led laps in the most different mains as well? Probably not that surprising watching the #21 out there. Chase Sexton is the heat-race master in winning the most heats, leading the most laps in said heats, and, wait for it, setting the most fastest laps in the heat races. Malcolm Stewart has been the fastest qualifier three times as well, but where it counts, it's Tomac with five main-event wins and seven podiums on the year. That's where those 42 points come in. You can read more about the stats behind the story here.
We had Honda team manager Lars Lindstrom on the show this past Monday night to talk about the ups and downs a manager like him goes through. He's got Jett Lawrence riding well, Hunter has won a race also, but then he's got Chase Sexton who's shown great speed but has crashed hard the last few weeks, and Ken Roczen who won that Anaheim 1 race but then has suffered his worst season in the 450 class before pulling out of the series altogether. For Lindstrom, in his first year as manager for the Red Riders, it's been a little bit of everything.
Something I found interesting was Lars saying he's worked with every team manager at Honda since 1979 when his dad, Gunner, was manager! How funny is that? Whether it was his dad, Dave Arnold, Cliff White, Dan Betley, Erik Kehoe, or Wes McCoy, Lindstrom has continued his long association with Honda's old powerhouse teams.
You can watch the interview below:
Zach-O Stays With Husqvarna (Keefer)
This week we were at Glen Helen Raceway for the 2022 Husqvarna Rockstar Edition launch, and I found none other than Zach Osborne there with his corporate hat on. Not the corporate "racing" hat we normally see, but a two-year ambassador-deal hat that will see him head to select Husqvarna functions as well as selected off-road events and local motocross races, where he will be actually racing. His first gig as Husqvarna's brand ambassador was to show up to this 2022 Rockstar Edition launch and hang out with us media dorks and BS about the new FC 250 and FC 450. Zach is one of the mellowest yet funniest racers I have had the pleasure to hang out with, and the guy actually knows a ton of racing history. If you check out the 450 Rockstar video we did, you'll hear Zach talk about life after racing, riding the new Husqvarna in preseason, as well as the differences between the production version motorcycle we were riding and his factory machine he had the pleasure of racing.
Zach's next venture with Husqvarna is to race a TC 300 two-stroke at the upcoming two-stroke nationals at Glen Helen next month. He was shaking down his race steed as we were testing the four-strokes, and let me tell you, Zach hasn't lost much speed—and that TC 300 sounded nasty. Zach mentioned that it was too fast, so they had to de-tune it a little for his now-retired hands. He mentioned he will be racing some GNCC rounds as well as maybe a couple sprint enduros to boot. With all these ambassador deals going down the last few years, this one to me actually makes sense. Zach loves to ride still, which is very rare with a racer of his caliber. Most of the time they get their championships and fade off into the sunset with bags of cash, but Zach-O wants to be around the sport still, which is great for us fans. He will actually interact with people and have genuine conversations, so as a fan watching him race all these years, that's pretty badass!
What’s cool about our sport is that the normal consumer can actually ride with the top stars. Where else can you actually do this? It wasn't uncommon to see Zach jump in behind test riders at the Rockstar launch and show them a wheel. If you watch the FC 450 Rockstar Edition video here on our site, listen as he speaks about three things he would love to change on a current-model FC 450. That is the kind of stuff that my geeky two-wheeled ass is here for.
The End of an Epic Motocross Journey (DC)
An amazing chapter in the history of American motocross will come to a close tomorrow when Frank and Myra Thomason hold the last of their fabled Saturday REM races at Glen Helen Raceway. After nearly 40 years and 1,200-plus events, Frank and Myra have provided countless riders and their families with safe, dependable, and entertaining competitions. Starting first at Carlsbad Raceway down near San Diego, then moving up to Glen Helen, the Thomasons took great pride in not only their races but also the atmosphere and community they provided for several generations of Southern California riders and visitors from all over the planet who no doubt heard and read about the races on the Motocross Action website, as REM was a weekly ritual for the MXA Wrecking Crew. Frank Thomason posted news of their retirement on the REM Facebook page, and also mentioned that Glen Helen will be running the REM races themselves now, with much of the original staff staying on:
"This is something I have thought about for a long time. After all of these years, 1986 to 2022, REM Motocross has been front and center in my life. My family and I have lived the many ups and downs of being motocross promoters. We’ve done big events, and small events. We’ve made a lot of friends, and a few enemies along the way... Our last race will be Saturday March 19th. After that there will be some change of staff, but most of our current staff will still be there every Saturday providing the best local motocross racing in SoCal. After all of these years this announcement is truly bittersweet, I will miss you, every one of you. Even the problem children. From our first race at Carlsbad Raceway, November of 1986, to our first race at Glen Helen April 4, 1998, to our last race March 19, 2022 we have given it our best effort. Long live local motocross racing, long live REM Saturday Motocross. Thank you to everyone who made our 1,200 plus motocross races possible."
Enjoy the rest of your Saturdays relaxing and taking it easy, Frank and Myra—you earned every one of them!
Our part-time contributor/part-time track crew/all-time free spirit Jordan Post (@postatrandom) is working down on the infield this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium and sent this shot from this morning's very early press ride for a local news station. As you can saw, the dirt is pretty soft, so maybe this will help folks in choosing their PulpMX or MotoXDream360 fantasy team lineups for tomorrow night!
And check out Dean Wilson's GoPro footage from a rutty press day ride!
HEY, WATCH IT!
Red Bull Day in the Dirt Down South Mic'd Up with Randy Richardson | Ep1 The Barn Burner
$100 on Stankdog: Randy Richardson Takes on Red Bull Day in the Dirt Down South Epi 2
And here is Kellen Brauer's latest breakdown of the race footage from the Detroit Supercross.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“TOM BRADY 'FINAL' $500K TD BALL NOW WORTH $50K... Auction Expert Says”—TMZ Sports
“Who's Responsible if a Tesla on Autopilot Kills Someone?”—Nextgov.com
Here's a little video story from Matt Davis of Throttle Jockey, celebrating not only their first 30 years in business, but also the 1992 Indianapolis Supercross, the hometown race for the Kokomo-based Davis brothers Robert and Matt. Thirty years ago the first Indy SX was held in the old RCA Dome, and the brothers were making graphics for the second-year Peak/Pro Circuit Honda team, and Mitch Payton and Team Honda decided to let their 125cc West Region frontrunner Jeremy McGrath race in the 250 class for some of the East Region events. The future King of Supercross would finish 20th at Daytona, then 10th at Charlotte, and then sixth at the Indy round. The '92 race was infamous for the massive crash that series points leader Damon Bradshaw suffered, basically allowing Honda's Jeff Stanton back in the title hunt. Happy 30th birthday to both Throttle Jockey and the Indy SX!
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!