Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the "halftime weeks" between Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, when SX is finally over, MX is on the horizon, but we're all in the twilight of one big reset. But that doesn't mean that it's an off-weekend, as I'm actually typing this in Chicago O'Hare Airport, on my way to Des Moines, Iowa, to check out Justin Brayton's return to his old stomping grounds and Tony Wenck's Riverside Raceway in Winterset, Iowa. It should be a lot of fun, as well as my first chance to get back here since the old PJ1 National Arenacross Series used to have its opening rounds here.
Congratulations to everyone involved in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, from the riders and teams that won titles (Eli Tomac and Christian Craig of Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing and Team Honda HRC's Jett Lawrence) to the organizers at Feld Entertainment to the industry and fans who followed along. I loved the last-moment surprise of Tennessee's Nathe Thrasher winning the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Showdown, and I have to admit the last-main drama between Justin Barcia and Malcolm Stewart made for some "holy smokes!" from the people I was watching with (fellow volleyball parents at the hotel bar in Columbus where our girls were finishing up a fine season). I really though Malcolm was going to win one this season, but it wasn't in the cards. I have him in my early picks for top three again in 2023, as well as a win.
In two weeks' time we will start the 2022 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, and the easiest part of my season will be over, but the off-season for motocross has been a busy one. There's a few cool new things on the horizon, which you will be hearing about soon enough. There's also a cool promotion coming up from MAVTV+ that will allow folks to sign up for 50 percent off the first month ($3.49) and then $6.99 each month after in order to watch every motos of the series. Forty-five of the 48 will be live, though the three 450 motos set for NBC network television will be air live on TV but just a short delay later on MAVTV+. It’s the most live motocross that’s ever been on TV in this country, as well as the easiest streaming access to fans anywhere else in the world where they produce MX talent, like Australia, Germany, France, Italy, and everywhere else in the western world.
And speaking of anywhere else in the world, and Germany, this would be a good time to turn it over to Jason Weigandt, as they are calling my flight and he's got some good stuff from Ken Roczen...
Kenny Speaks (Jason Weigandt)
Last week I decided to take a shot. I texted Ken Roczen and asked if he wanted to do an interview. No one had heard from him in months, but it was clear he was preparing to return to racing in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. He texted right back and said he would do it. We set up a time that worked around his schedule, which led to yesterday’s podcast.
We talk for about a half hour, and Kenny explained what happened in supercross.
“I was happy and I was strong [in the off-season] and it was something that was a little foreign to me, to be honest!” he said. Then he caught a major illness in December, and that wiped out most of the gains he had made.
“Then December happened, and it was hard on me because I didn’t ride and I was going to come into the season underprepared. So it was like, another season was going to go by where I can’t just be normal. So we go racing and we win! The track was brutal and I wasn’t quite 100 percent with the bike. But ultimately, this thing, it was building. Then I caught COVID. I don’t think anyone knows, it sat on my brain. It’s like an almond-size thing in my brain, animals have it, it’s that part of your brain where it tells you if you’re going to need to run. It was super inflamed. I didn’t know that at that point, I was feeling super weird at the time and I flew to Europe between races. It basically all exploded, and I was so physically and mentally drained to just keep trying and trying and always being set back. I had a lot of work to do on myself to get ready and get fit. Me and the Honda team decided, the way it was going, I kept trying and trying, but the way it was going I would most likely have continued to suck the rest of the season, and then I would have gone into outdoors feeling miserable again. It was a recipe for disaster. So we just decided to step back and work on everything. It was the right decision, too, and I appreciate my team cooperating with me, because it’s been the story the last few years. I really hate talking about it, really, I’ve said that multiple times.”
Yes, Ken was the King of Transparency back when he hurt his arms in 2017, but since then there have been too many updates of physical problems. He’s kind of tired of that now, and would rather just focus on the future and the positive. As of now, he’s feeling a lot better, and he’s been logging long testing days with the Honda crew to get comfortable on the bike again. Ken wasn’t making any bold proclamations in my interview, saying only that he hopes to podium and win, and that it will be sweet when he does.
But it wasn’t long after when he made at Instagram post that was a bit bolder!
Soooo many people out there thought/ think i was / am done and i will never be the same….
What’s crazy about it is, that i … ALMOST… believed it. ALMOST!
F*%# YOU! &
F*%# THAT SHIT!
I WILL be back at the highest level of racing!
I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING SHIT what anyone else thinks about my opinion. You can either support me or go and kick rocks for all i care.
I have made up my mind and no one can tell me otherwise.
Because i believe that that’s how it’s going to be
It may take some time but I’m ok with that.
I have done it before and I WILL do it again.
I AM NOT DONE‼️
Sorry for the language but not really
Wow! That wasn’t the vibe Ken was putting out in the interview but I will say that he did speak highly of his love of racing, of the sport, and competition. He does not sound like a man who is tired of the sport beating him down, despite all the knocks he’s taken. You can never have enough stars and enough contenders on the starting gate in a race. It’s glad to hear Ken Roczen believes he can take his normal place in the group, back at the front.
Cover Boy (DC)
Jason Weigandt and Mitch Kendra and I have been combing the archives as we pull together our MAVTV+ 50-Day Countdown to the opening round of the 2022 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. That includes combing through the epic Cycle News Archives to find old covers and win ads to augment each year, going all the way back to 1972. As you can imagine, there are various eras that see dominant superstars like Bob Hannah, Rick Johnson and Jeremy McGrath really take the lion's share of the coverage. But the era of Ricky Carmichael (1997-2007) and particularly the Honda years (2002-2004) really stand out as one rider dominating the media conversation. That's likely because Carmichael won every championship he competed in for Honda: 2002 and '03 AMA Supercross and 2002, '03 and '04 AMA 250 Pro Motocross, as well as the fact that his move from Kawasaki to Honda in the fall of '01, followed by his move from Honda to Suzuki at the end of '04, was really, really big news. At this was happening at a time when Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden and James Stewart were all still ascendant in their careers, and Mat Mladin, the most successful AMA Superbike racer ever, wasn't all that likable or accommodating to the press. But Carmichael, on the other hand, must have been taking notes from Jeremy McGrath and younger peers like Travis Pastrana and James Stewart who really knew how to work their charisma on not only fans but photographers. In other words, he was winning on and off the track.
Here's some evidence: Over the course of one full year—the last Cycle News issue of 2001 to the last issue of 2002—Carmichael was on the cover six different times without his helmet on, including consecutive Rider of the Year covers for '01, when he won the AMA Supercross crown for the first time, and '02, when he repeated as SX Champion and also completed the first perfect series in AMA Pro Motocross history.
All told, in his three years with Honda, in which he raced in five series (he sat out SX '04 with a knee injury, Carmichael was featured on the cover of Cycle News 27 different times, and he got two additional covers in the fall of '04 on a Suzuki. So 29 covers in three years of Cycle News alone. That's a lot of ink, even for a GOAT.
McGrath's peak was 1995, when he won both the AMA Supercross and 250 Pro Motocross titles, or '96, when he won 14 out of 15 AMA Supercross rounds and led the 250 Nationals right up until the end, and then won the Motocross of Nations in Spain as well. In '95 he totaled 10 covers (eleven if you count the first issue of '96, in which he was named '95 Rider of the Year). In 1996 he ended up on nine covers, then made his controversial switch to Suzuki, and if you go back to 1994 he was on just six Cycle News covers, as he had to yet to assert himself outdoors like he would in the summer of '95.
And here's a famous Jeremy cover from his heyday.
Darkside's Day (Keefer)
If you guys follow the PulpMX Show, I bet Jamie Guida (aka Darkside) if he cut his long time ponytail off, that Steve and I would purchase him a new motorcycle. Well, that new bike day arrived and Darkside has landed in California to ride his new 2022 Yamaha YZ250! I thought what better way to get Jamie acquainted with his new bike than pull him straight off his plane and onto the track at Glen Helen around 3:00 p.m. What's funny is Jamie actually did pretty good and got comfortable with his two-stroke by the time we headed out of the gate around 7:00! By the time Jamie leaves the High Desert on Monday, he will have ridden more the past three days than he has the past three years. We even signed him up to race the Mammoth Qualifier at Fox Raceway Sunday. We will have a full play by play breakdown of the weekend and how Darkside's trip was on a future Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Keefer Tested Podcast next week! Stay tuned! pray for Darkside! He will need it!
FAST ORANGE (Matthes)
This past Monday on the PulpMX Show we had a couple of pretty fast KTM riders on in Ryan Dungey on the phone and Cooper Webb in-studio (along with his buddies Racer X contributor Phil Nicoletti and Seth Rarick).
It was actually Webb's idea to come do the show, he and his friends were in Vegas after SLC to blow off some steam and I guess he thought it would be fun. And it was, Coop was very honest on the show in talking about SX this year, KTM's unhappiness with his program and then his decision to not do the motocross series this summer. Of course, Rarick and Nicoletti couldn't let him go on the show without busting on him a bit, or pretty much all show.
Jeremy Martin called in to talk about his new ClubMX ride for next year and it was rather reveling to hear Webb talk about how those three years they battled in 250MX really shaped Cooper into the rider he is today. They didn't always like each other back then but you could hear the respect they had for each other on the show which was pretty cool.
Ryan Dungey called in to say that he will be doing all 12 rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, why he decided to come back, what the timeline was for him to decide on it and more. As Ryan himself said on the show, he's not coming back to ride outside the top five. He believes he can be a race winning threat and that's why he's lining up at Pala.
Here's Cooper Webb explaining just what went wrong for him this SX season:
Hey, Watch It!
2022 Loretta Lynn Ranch Rebuilding After Waverly Flooding
2022 PulpMX Yamaha Privateer Challenge Full Race
You can always count on Dean Wilson to come through with the great product placement!
Here is Jason Weigandt's extended interview with Team Honda's Ken Roczen about his comeback this summer:
Chad Reed and his family are working on qualifying for Loretta Lynn's this August. Here's The Reeds' video from the two-time AMA Supercross Champion's Area qualifier at North Carolina Motorsports Park:
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“Pussy Riot Member Leaves Russia Disguised As Delivery Courier”—Barrons.com
“The secret laboratory project to breed man-ape 'humanzee' super soldiers”—Dailystar.co.uk
“Britney Spears wows fans as she strips off for ninth naked post in 24 hours”—Dailystar.co.uk
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!