Main image by Jordan Roberts
Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the true epicenter of the motocross world—at least for this weekend—RedBud MX in Buchanan, Michigan. The countdown is almost over as its time for the 2022 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, and it seems like every fan, journalist, industry worker, camper and RV in America is here, as well as every top rider and race team from all over the globe. Well, almost. More on that below. But the weather is great (so far) and the place looks amazing, as Tim and Amy Ritchie and the RedBud crew have been working overtime to get the place ready to be the first venue in America to have hosted the “Olympics of Motocross” twice.
What a pivotal year to come back to America and RedBud. It’s been so long since Team USA won this thing that even industry friends and journalists are saying how badly Team USA needs to get back on top. It’s hard to believe that it’s been since 2011 that the Americans have won this (though we didn’t participate the last two years because of COVID-19). But the trio of Eli Tomac, Chase Sexton, and Justin Cooper look extremely motivated to change all that. They have been working together as a real team these past few weeks since the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship ended. With team manager Roger De Coster getting some enthusiastic help from the AMA’s Mike Pelletier, as well as longtime Rock River Yamaha team manager Christina Denny working on logistics and coordination, this just seems like more of an actual “team” that we’ve see in recent times. The letdown of what happened here at RedBud in 2018 is probably still fresh in a lot of folks’ minds, so this one seems to have more importance than usual. Some of the team even quietly came to RedBud last week for a very private training session. I know that Team USA ’19 (remember the great Team Fried videos and vibes?) really got into the spirit of the event in 2019, but that unfortunately all went out the window when Justin Cooper and Jason Anderson crashed on the first lap of the first moto at the Assen TT circuit in the Netherlands.
And speaking of the Netherlands, they are getting a lot of buzz as a possible contender, as are the French and the Australians, led by Jett Lawrence as he makes his 450 debut. Antonio Cairoli is also back with the defending champions from Italy and will run the #1 plate.
Needless to say, RedBud is filling up, and if the weather stays decent this could be the biggest MXoN ever held in the states, and maybe one of the biggest of all time. The usual partisans are here, carrying their national flags and colors and costumes, and you can feel the atmosphere getting more and more electric. There is no amateur racing component this weekend, so everyone who is here camping is here as a fan, and there are a bunch of them packed in already. It’s also a who’s who of international motocross, as everyone from Torsten Hallman to Heikki Mikkola to Ricky Johnson flew in early to attend the soiree at Terry Good’s International Motocross Museum in Chicago.
Unfortunately, not everyone is here. MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser decided to stay home after Slovenia could not field a proper three-man team. And MX2 World Champion Tom Vialle also decided not to ride for France as he’s trying to get ready for his full-time move to America next month. As a result, Marvin Musquin will ride the 250 for the French. Ken Roczen was not supposed to ride for Germany, so he’s presence was not expected, but there is a lot of talk in the paddock about what exactly happened between him and American Honda and where exactly he might end up next year. Another former World Champion, Romaine Febvre, also decided to sit the race out. And of course, Jeffrey Herlings has been out all year with his pre-season ankle injury and we probably won’t see him race until the 2023 FIM Motocross World Championship begin.
No matter, the race should be very competitive, and the fans are sure to make it special. The Motocross of Nations is an incredibly fun event and if you’ve never been, get to one someday. But this one seems special already, maybe as a result of it finally be the right time to get the whole motocross world back together after two years of COVID-19.
As you can imagine, we are all extremely busy here, and you can read much more about everything going on here today, or watch some of the video coverage we’ve been working on as we cover all of the introductions and press conferences and starting gate draw (France #3, the Netherlands #4, Canada #7, Team USA #15, etc.). There’s also the parade of teams that will get underway at 4:30, streaming live on www.mxgp-tv.com and then the RedBud Race Day Show hosted by Jason Weigandt and featuring Team USA will begin streaming on the Racer X YouTube page, beginning at 7:30 p.m., plus practice for the Pit Bike of Nations, and then some FMX, more guests and definitely some chainsaws and airhorns in the background. Same goes for tomorrow evening’s show, which will start around 7 and include coverage of the actual Pit Bike of Nations. It should all be a lot of fun, and go Team USA! Good luck and safe racing to all.
Before I hand this over to Weege, a quick get-well-soon goes out to Stefan Everts, who had to cancel his plans after suffering an accident back home in Belgium, and also to SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda’s Mike Genova, who crashed hard on a vintage Maico last weekend and did a number on his hip. Here’s hoping for a quick and complete recovery for both.
Then and Now (Jason Weigandt)
I can't believe it's been four years since we went to RedBud for Motocross of Nations, it feels like that race took place a month ago, and all the 2018 memories are still fresh. That includes the electric atmosphere on Friday and Saturday, punctuated by our live shows next to the Pit Bike of Nations amateur track. I've never, ever, ever seen a crowd at a motocross track like what we had on Saturday night back in 2018. We're hoping to have that again, with our live shows starting at 7:30 p.m. each night. Watch in person at the track or on our Racer X YouTube Channel. We'll have all three Team USA riders as guests, as well as legends like Ricky Carmichael, Ricky Johnson and Jeff Stanton, and our usual panel with myself, Steve Matthes, Jason Thomas, Davey Coombs and more. It's gonna be awesome.
Of course we all remember the other part, Team USA struggling on Sunday. Will it be different this time? That will change the dynamic. We shall see. Otherwise, the atmosphere from 2018 will be much appreciated.
Also this week, I hosted the International Motocross Museum fund raising dinner with Ricky Johnson. Our man Scott Wallenberg will give you more info on that below, it was an amazing event and I got to finally meet legends like Heikki Mikkola, Harry Everts, Gerrit Wolsink, Torsten Hallman, Jeff Smith, and more. I'll show much more from that event next week, including a Weege Show. I can tell you this: the one thing that has not changed from the 1960s and 1970s era of this sport is that Motocross des Nations is still here. That's amazing. See you this weekend.
Moto Museum (Scott Wallenberg)
It was a fantastic evening it was a full house. Terry good assembled an incredible array of bikes and guests. Heikki Mikkola, Torsten Hallman, Gerrit Wolsink, Harry Everts, Liam Everts, Jeff Smith, Don Kuldalski, Warren Reid, Steve Wise, Martina Falta (Jaroslav’s daughter), and Jack Penton were among the stars present. Rick Johnson and Jason Weigandt were the emcees with additional help from Joe Abbate and Larry Witmer. The purpose of the event was to create awareness and raise funds for the new museum. A 100,000 square foot building is being secured and more details to get involved are at International Motocross Museum Facebook page.
Check out the new website for the museum: https://www.internationalmotocrossmuseum.org/
Bob Rathkamp of Sinisalo: As we get ready to head back to RedBud it reminds me of all the years we have been cheering on our boys!! A lot of names of great riders, tough conditions and Winning!!! Here are a couple examples of pants we made for Wardy some years ago. Was always fun to rep the Red, White, and Blue.
Holeshot on Holeshots (Aaron Hansel)
This week we stared a new section on Racer X Online called, Next Level, in which we highlight some of the inventions, methods, and more, that have made an impact on the evolution of the sport we all love. It’s pretty cool, and I can tell it’s something we’re going to have fun with. I think you’ll enjoy reading about this stuff too.
To kick things off this week, I wrote about the holeshot device, and how it rose in popularity, beginning in the early 2000’s, to the point where you’re at a huge disadvantage if you don’t run one. I wrote that Works Connection was the first company to bring one to market, but turns out I wasn’t entirely accurate, which our own Steve Matthes was quick to point out in a fiery email.
Turns out then-mechanic Matthes and his rider Nick Wey noticed the holeshot device on the Factory Yamaha bikes, had a Steve Bruhn photo of it enlarged, and figured out “it was just a cheesy hook through a hole.” That prompted a trip to MetalTek in San Diego, and after going through a few prototypes, they came up with a working version. They wasted no time in installing it on the race bike, and at the next race, in Matthes’ humble words, “Everyone was in SHOCK AND AWE of us.” Matthes also told me that within weeks, MetalTek was selling it to other Yamaha riders. Who knew Matthes and Wey were such motocross pioneers?
Kicking It While Getting Twisted (Keefer)
Even though I am required to keep an open mind before I test any bike/product sometimes some pre-notions do set in from time to time. Being that Suzuki hasn't updated their RM-Z250/450 in quite some time it is hard to get motivated to test the machine year after year. It's the same bike! However, when asked if I wanted to test the Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki RM-Z450 race machine I was like, "Oh hell yeah". Marshal Weltin got his best career motocross finish on the same bike this summer so I spent the whole day at Glen Helen Raceway shaking down the machine and speaking to the team's engine builder, Jamie Ellis from Twisted Development. The bike was so surprisingly fun, I actually did some extracurricular riding after the test was done just to see if I could dial in the bike even further for my liking. The whole test/experience will be up on racerxonline.com soon so be ready to be just as surprised as I was. Was it the best race machine that I have ever rode? Of course not, but it also was A LOT better than I thought it would be!
Hey, Watch It!
Gate pick ballot selection replay:
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“BEYOND MEAT C.O.O. ARRESTED FOR BITING MAN'S NOSE... Tastes Like Chicken??!?”—TMZ.com
“In light of Brittney Griner's legal situation, WNBA players skipping Russia in offseason”—ESPN.com
“Don’t cook chicken in NyQuil: FDA warns about dangerous social media challenges”—CNN
“The Championship is on fire so hit the ground running!
The fourth round of the 2022 MotoGP™ eSport Global Series will be contested on September 23rd at 12.00 (GMT +9)”—MotoGP press release
"Chess’ greatest controversy is full of rumor, hearsay and remote controlled sex toys"—SB Nation
My French moto friend Gilou's put together treasure trove of all-time MXON results that you can check out right here:
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!