Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you on one of those good news/bad news kind of days. As Monster Energy AMA Supercross wounds down, the good news is that we have just three more rounds to go—including tomorrow’s afternoon race at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts—but the bad news is we could already see a couple of titles clinched tomorrow, depending on how Eli Tomac does against Jason Anderson and how things shake out in the 250 SX East Region between Jett Lawrence and RJ Hampshire. Titles being clinched early are never a great thing, though they are a testament to the riders who do the early clinching (see Rick Carmichael in all ten of his complete AMA Pro Motocross seasons).
There was also good news/bad news out of Europe for fans of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, as well as Antonio Cairoli. The 36-year-old, 9-time FIM World Motocross Champion announced on Instagram this week that he’s coming to America in May, which is a wonderful (though not completely unexpected) announcement. The bad news is that while we get Cairoli, we probably are not going to see “The Bullet” Jeffrey Herlings after all, as it sounds like #84 will need more time to get his fractured heel sorted. The only reason that Jeffrey was even considering the move was because that same injury knocked him out of the first third on MXGP this year, so the thought was that he could come to America (which starts nearly three months later) and try to become the first World Champion since Ken Roczen to come to America and win an AMA National Championship. I believe once Herlings is healed he will go after Stefan Everts’ record of 101 Grand Prix wins, as Herlings is at 99 right now.
And finally, the other good news/bad news I got to witness firsthand at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch this week. I drove down to see the rebuild of the track structures that were swept away in that crazy flash flood last summer that claimed 20 lives and hundreds of homes and local businesses. With an amazing assist from David Eller and his Phoenix Honda Racing crew, as well as Yamaha Motor Corporation, we were able to rebuild the Yamaha mechanics’ area, the USMCA coaches’ viewing tower, the Monster Energy staging structure and more. (We will worry about the track itself later this summer.)
We were also able to hand out some much needed checks to the community of Waverly, courtesy of Racers 4 Waverly. MX Sports’ Tim Cotter, the Loretta Lynn’s Director, and Lori Amstutz from Road 2 Recovery have been working tirelessly to raise money for the community that’s opened its arms to motocross riders and their families for more than 40 years. The mayor, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and several other local dignitaries came out for a brief ceremony on the starting line where they received nearly $350,000 on behalf of the U.S. motocross community. They in turn will direct the funds where they are most needed and where they can do the most good, like $15,000 for a local food bank that badly needs a walk-in refrigerator for food storage. The local officials were absolutely thrilled and took turn talking about what the annual AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships and all of the visitors that come with it means to their community, their businesses and their hometown pride. The whole #racers4waverly really came through. And several of Loretta Lynn’s family members were there pitching in as well, including her son Ernie and grandson Anthony.
The bad news here was the simple fact that $350K won’t be able to fix what we saw in downtown Waverly, which is still struggling to get back on its feet. Waverly Junior High School was completely swamped and may never come back on line. Lots where there used to be homes are now on the auction block, as families have had to relocate. Some of the bridges are still out and roads still closed. And there are a lot of businesses completely shuttered and probably never coming back. It was a jarring site to behold, and it’s already been more than half a year since it all happened. Like Unadilla, New York, or Cairo, Georgia, or Anaheim, El Cajon or Carlsbad, California, or Lommel in Belgium, the very name of the town of Waverly means something to the people in our sport. It may not mean a lot to non-racers, but it does if you mention it at just about any other motocrosser on the planet. Here’s hoping for better days ahead for the people of Waverly, Tennessee.
Cal Classic MX (Keefer)
Over the easter holiday the family and I went to Fox Raceway for the Cal Classic amateur national. The Cal Classic is ran by 2X Promotions (same people who run Mammoth MX) and last year it was ran in October but this year they had it on Easter. Now I am not one to oppose an Easter weekend race but I know some didn’t make it out to race because it was on Easter weekend! The event itself was ran a little better than last year as there was no real big hang ups with the program, but I do wish the race schedule was a little more planned out before it started on Friday. The staging and gates ran clean, but it is a little expensive as one class cost around 90 bucks. Aden raced three classes so you can do the math and with the cost of fuel in California we were looking at a pricey weekend. This isn’t abnormal but it is expensive to race as a family. Oh, did I mention that we get most of our dirt bike products for free? So we are the lucky ones who don’t have to for tires, oils, race gas, etc. We do pay for our own OEM parts, but a lot of the cost is absorbed by our loyal advertisers from the Keefer Tested Podcast! Shout out to Rocky Mountain ATV/MC! However, something that I can’t put a price on is the time we get to spend with our chosen moto family. Hundreds of like-minded moto minded people gathered to race and enjoy two wheels for the weekend. Although the A classes were not as deep as last year, there were some good battles, and Talon Hawkins came out on top of all three pro classes. Preston Boespflug and his Team Green Kawasaki was the guy to beat in the “B” class and the Supermini classes saw three way battles with Jeremy Fappani, Leum Oehlhof and Landon Gordon with Fappani and Gordon splitting the wins. My kid did well, but needs to find some late moto fitness if wants to compete with the top guys in the “B” class. My plan wasn’t to race, but since the vet classes race only one day, I thought why not go out there and kill some time on Sunday. I only can sit around for so long, people! I got a couple gate drops and a #1 plate so that was cool! Overall, these weekends are long and I complain about that at times, but I am grateful to spend time with my family at the race track.
2023 Bike Season Is Here (Keefer)
Yes, that’s right! It’s only April and we are talking 2023 bikes! WOW! I got an email stating that we will be testing some orange bikes at Red Bud next month so be on the lookout for some first ride videos right here on Racer X and maybe some behind the scenes action of what actually goes down at one of these intros! I think a lot of people don’t know exactly what happens at one of these events so we will talk to the people that help make it happen and get you an insider's view.
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
Two titles up for grabs this weekend. The basics are simple. If Jett Lawrence beats RJ Hampshire and Eli Tomac beats Jason Anderson, we will have a double title clinch weekend. For Feld Entertainment, I would guess they are secretly cheering for #24 and #21. Title suspense is a great storyline to utilize and we might lose 66% of that for the season on Saturday. Further, next week is the closest thing to a home race for Eli Tomac, so a championship celebration in Denver has a nice ring to it. Denver will also see the return of the 250 west series and another opportunity for an early championship determination. Christian Craig could win his first championship with a win or a decisive points gain over Hunter Lawrence (math could get a little murky if Hunter won Denver and they entered SLC tied for wins). In any case, if the titles can hold on for another week, the suspense builds and the plans fall into place a bit more nicely.
I say all of this because if you're Tomac, Jett, or CC28, you really don't care about any of this. Their thoughts are centered around wrapping this up so they can finally exhale. Championship pressure is all encompassing and becomes pervasive into every walk of life. Until they mathematically end it, they are going to be carrying around this extra weight. That's why you see such jubilation when the title is finally decided. Weeks and months of silent, inner turmoil are over. I don't want it to come across as these poor souls are being tortured because that's not the case. But, they are suffering with never ending worry as the title comes to a close. "What if my bike breaks, what if I hurt myself, what if I crash in the first turn, what if I am hit by a meteor" are the thoughts that seem to never stop flowing until this thing is done and dusted. It's a barrage of worst case scenarios that are hard to block out.
The goal for these title hopefuls is to simply execute. They don't have to ride the race of their lives. They just need to do what they have done all season. Get a good start, stay out of trouble, make good decisions, and see what shakes out when the checkers fly. If that means a title on Saturday, great. If that means it rolls on another week, that's ok, too. They have built up huge points advantages and don't have the urgency that their foes do. They can let the race unfold and if it's meant to be bubbly in Foxborough, so be it.
This Tony Cairoli announcement is big news for the series and really, really, really cool. The #222 (yes he will run that number) retired last year from the MXGP series but whenever I've spoken to him over the years he's always told me he would love to race some nationals before it's all said and done. I know the release says he's only racing the first two but I believe that if it's going well for him and KTM, he'll keep it going all summer. This is a couching the announcement a bit because I'm sure that he wants to make sure he'll meet his goals before going on, I mean, he's got all the wins and titles and money an all-timer needs, so if he for some reason shows up and is out of the top ten or whatever, then he'll just head home. That's highly doubtful by the way. I think he fits into the top six or seven group and challenges for podiums but either way, it's simply awesome that, like Prince Akeem, he's coming to America.
MARCH TO #6 (Matthes)
It's a day race here in Foxborough, the same program as what we were supposed to have at Atlanta before the rains came. So this time, we probably will actually see that 5:30AM track walk! Anyways, Eli Tomac's impending title clinch is pretty remarkable really, and it would be his sixth national championship and fifth on a 450. Quite a win for the Star Yamaha guys and Eli and John themselves. We've talked about it before but there's not many people who thought he would get this many 450SX wins and a championship this year. Congrats to everyone involved in this signing, what a debut season on blue for ET.
MOVING MARV (Matthes)
Speaking of Eli, speaking of Foxborough, we'll talk Marvin Musquin now. The last time we were here in 2018, it was the race where Marvin went leopard seal and cleaned Tomac out with a few turns to go to get the win. That was, errr, weird. Anyways, Marv crashed back in Atlanta but he had collected a win and two other podiums before that. He's had a good season, well maybe a great season (cause he's one of only five guys to get a win) but it will end at the SLC SX, as his current KTM deal expires at the end of supercross. I wonder what the Austrians want to do with Marv for next year. It seemed that this year’s deal was a great one for Musquin, and it was more like KTM was kind of throwing him a bone due to his long history with the brand. But, again, he won a race this year! He switched up his program as well in moving back to California and working with David Vuillemin. I think he wants to keep racing next year, some people close to him tell me that he's wavered a bit on that fact earlier this year but I would think he would now. All you want to be as a racer is competitive and Musquin's been more than that. I'm not sure where he could go next year, I don't see anyone offering him factory equipment outside of KTM on a similar deal to this year. But would he want to do it?
I'm not sure so if this is it for Musquin, as in three races left in his career, but if it is soak it in and give him some props for an amazing career. Best Frenchman ever to come here outside of the incomparable JMB? I would say yes, he doesn't have any major titles but he won everywhere on both sizes of bike and indoors and out.
Here's the takedown of Tomac in case you forgot
WIN A YAMAHA (Matthes)
Want to win a 2022 Yamaha YZ450F? Or maybe 19 other cool prizes? Just one week until we have our privateer race! Cannot wait, go here http://pulpmx.com/2022/02/27/2022-pulpmx-privateer-championship-series/ to buy a ticket and 100% of the money raised goes to the racers!
Hey, Watch It!
The Cat vs The Dog! Gared “Stank Dog” Steinke and AJ Catanzaro both raced the Atlanta Supercross on 125 two-strokes…
Yamaha Beyond The Gate - S2E6
Kellen Brauer’s Race Examination from the ATL
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!