Welcome to Racerhead, where the countdown to Christmas, New Year’s, and the Anaheim opener is on. We are exactly 22 days away from the first gate drops of the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. The test tracks are humming with activity, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t get any late-December surprises.
If you’re like me, though, you’re getting ready to do that last-minute shopping spree for Christmas presents. I’ve mentioned David Dewhurst’s amazing coffee-table book Motocross: The Golden Era. It covers the sport from 1970 to 1986, when David was on the circuit shooting photos both in America and Europe. It weighs in at 480 pages and has more than 600 amazing photos in it. It covers a lot of ground, and you will read and re-read the stories and just stare at the amazing photos of David Bailey, Roger De Coster, Marty Smith, Ricky Johnson, Ron Lechien, and on and on and on. Even if you order it right now, you might not get it before Christmas, but print out this cover and give it to the moto person in your life and tell them an amazing motocross book is en route!
If you want to give the gift of supercross, here’s a couple of ideas. First, there’s the Monster Energy Supercross VIP Fan Experiences that make a day and night at the races an incredible experience. They are available for every round but Daytona, and you can read more about them right here:
And if it’s AMA Pro Motocross and a cool summer weekend trip you want to share with a fellow moto fan or two, here’s where you can get tickets to RedBud, Unadilla, Thunder Valley, Washougal—all of them!
Let’s say you’re reading this from outside the U.S. and can’t get here to see a race in person, so what you really want is a chance to watch both Supercross and AMA Pro Motocross, as well as the new SuperMotocross World Championships coming up in the fall—that’s a gift that keeps on giving all the way through the year! There is now one streaming package that will get international viewers from all over the world all 31 rounds in 2023, and for one price: www.supermotocross.tv. Again, that’s not for domestic fans, just international fans outside the U.S.
If you live in one of these 50 United States and want to see it all on one streaming platform, Monster Energy Supercross and AMA Pro Motocross, as well as the SuperMotocross World Championship—the races, the qualifying, Race Day Live, the new SMX Inside Show and more, from both supercross and pro motocross—it’s now all available on Peacock right here:
If you’re like me, you’re also a fan of MXGP and the FIM Motocross World Championship, and of course the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations. You’ll want to grab or gift an annual video pass to MXGP-TV.com. (The season doesn’t start until March 12 in Argentina, but they have an Early Bird Season Pass available right now.)
Finally, there’s Racer X’s own current subscription drive, which we’re calling our MXoN Celebration Pack. For $30 you will get a 12-month subscription to the print edition of Racer X Illustrated, a 2023 Calendar featuring Team USA Heroes going back to 1981, a ’22 FIM Motocross of Nations Souvenir Event Program for RedBud, and a really cool event sticker featuring Michigan’s own Jeff Stanton.
Again, these are all last-minute gift ideas. If you’re looking for more, or really anything else moto-related, your local motorcycle dealership and accessory shop will likely have something cool and fun for Christmas gifts as well: riding gear, casualwear, new knobbies, sticker kits, or even someone’s first dirt bike! What an amazing Christmas that would be…
Okay, last-minute shopping tips covered, let me turn it over to the very busy Jason Weigandt first.…
2023 Previews Are Here (Jason Weigandt)
It’s that time of year! Previews, previews, and more previews! Credit to our man Kellen Brauer for covering tons of team media intros over the last two weeks, so we now have tons of thoughts from KTM, Honda, Husqvarna, and GasGas riders. I also got to chat with Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac and team principal Brad Hoffman last week about the new YZ450F, and Eli and Dylan Ferrandis’ chances on it. Armed with all that info, preview stories and videos have begun. Check out Episode 2 of the new SuperMotocross Insider show with myself and Daniel Blair, where we break down lots of info.
Yesterday, Jason Thomas and I met at Steve Matthes’ high-ceilinged estate to shoot our annual Monster Energy Racer X Season Preview Shows. Look for a roll-out of five episodes (and lots of hot takes and arguments) just before Christmas. This is our tenth season doing these shows!
As for specifics, Star Yamaha’s Hoffman told me last year they never got Dylan Ferrandis into a good spot with his 450 in supercross, and it’s been much, much better with the new 2023 bike. Tomac said the weight savings is the thing he noticed most. Hoffman says for Ferrandis it’s great because they needed a new direction, but for Tomac it was admittedly scary to have a new bike after so much success last year. After two weeks of testing with them together in Florida, though, Hoffman is confident. (And if both Tomac and Ferrandis carry over the speed they showed at the MXoN—especially Dylan—these two will be formidable.)
I also checked in with Cooper Webb this week. He’s talked quite a bit about huge bike changes for 2023 on his Red Bull KTM. He actually texted me a list of some of the things they have changed, and it’s basically everything. From a new engine to new suspension and even new foot-pegs, Webb has changed it all. He told me it’s more of a production-based setup, and that makes sense. From what I heard last year, I think the new-generation KTM’s stiffer chassis didn’t gel with the even-stiffer factory parts the team likes to bolt on. Webb kept saying the stock bike was great but it was more the race bike in race conditions that had a problem. In this case, more stock might just be more better. If Webb gets the feel he wants, let’s not forget he’s a two-time Monster Energy AMA Supercross Champion. Look out!
As Weege mentioned, he and JT came into the PulpMX Studios to record another SX season preview video set. I know I get a lot of crap for high ceilings, but they're really not; it’s just a two-story house where I couldn't afford to get the second story all the way across.
You can see for yourself when the videos drop, but Weege really upset me with his show orders and "rankings." However, I persevered through them and a good time was had by all. I think. It's funny, almost without fail we do the first show and it goes okay, then as we record more and more, we get a bit looser and the shows get better. We almost always re-record the very first show and it becomes better. We did it again this year. Weird, but it's how we do it. Thanks to Travis Marx for coming in and filming them all and Kellen Brauer for trying to make them make sense.
Eli Tomac's Last Award of 2022 (DC)
Congratulations again to Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing's Eli Tomac on his fantastic season, in which he won both the 2022 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship as well as the 2022 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and then capped the year by leading Team USA to the win in the '22 FIM Motocross of Nations (the first time Eli has ever been on the winning team there). Tomac was named our Racer X Rider of the Year for '22, and now he can add one more laurel to his haul: Eli Tomac was also named the Cycle News Rider of the Year. It's well-deserved!
No sooner had we received that Cycle News in our emails than we got word of yet another award for Eli, though he has to share this one! The American Motorcyclist Association named Team USA 2022—Eli, Justin Cooper, and Chase Sexton, along with Team USA Manager Roger De Coster—the 2022 AMA Motorcyclists of the Year.
“Eli Tomac, Chase Sexton and Justin Cooper accomplished something extraordinary at Red Bud this year,” said AMA Board of Directors Chairman Russ Ehnes. “Bringing the Chamberlain Trophy back to American soil after 11 years was a feat worthy of recognition, which is why we selected the team as the 2022 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year. We’re proud of these riders’ stellar example of American greatness, and we’re proud to have them as AMA members.”
The press release added that the AMA Board also awarded the AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award to the late AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn, who passed away in October, for her massive impact on the motocross community.
"Recipients of the award showcase the highest level of service to the AMA in an area of activity," read the PR. "Since 1982, Loretta Lynn’s Ranch has welcomed more than 60,000 AMA riders vying for AMA National No. 1 plates at the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, making her the perfect candidate for this honor
SILLY SEASON (Matthes)
I tweeted this stuff out but figured I could also put it in here: It looks like the MCR guys will have Cole Seely at a few West Region 450SX races. He's not doing all of them, but he's going to drop in at some that he feels like doing. It'll be good to see Cole back on the bike here in the U.S. (Not sure what number he’ll wear, as #14 now belongs to Ferrandis, and while last year’s #200 Ryan Breece is now #61, not sure if that means Cole’s old #200 is available, or possibly even #160, according to one very good source). The team is also bringing back Anthony Rodriguez for 250SX West. A-Rod's been down in Brazil the last few years making some money, but when he raced here, he was a good rider. It'll be interesting to see if he's improved with age.
As we know, Brandon Hartranft had a bad crash for the Twisted Tea Suzuki guys and will be out for a while, so people tell me they're going to put Shane McElrath on the bike as a fill-in for Brandon. If you're counting, this will make the number of teams Shane's ridden for in a calendar year five, as he started out with the RM ATV MC KTM guys, went to Rockstar Husky for most of the summer, jumped on a Club MX Yamaha for a couple of nationals, then a Rick Ware YZ250F for the WSX, and now Suzuki! It'll be good to see Shane out there though, and that's a pretty good fill-in for the HEP guys, right?
Also, if you want to help Hartranft with his no-doubt huge medical bills, here’s a link from Road 2 Recovery:
I did a podcast with Adam Cianciarulo this week and he's been low-key this off-season and admitted in the pod that some other media people might be a tad upset with him, as he's begged off other interviews. I'm fortunate that he gave me some time to chat; must've been the bonding we did over the award-winning Finding Stew vlog we did. Anyways, it's been low-key on the AC hype, as he missed most of last season with a couple of issues. He didn't really talk about it much, but I think he's still bothered a bit by his arm issue, and I'm not sure he'll be 100 percent going into A1. But as he talked about on the podcast, he's just trying to build a base to get him to all the races, which, yeah, I get that. Much more in the pod. Adam is an interesting and smart dude to chat with, so hit play, please.
Random motorcycle toys in the Racer X Collection
Americans Actually Don't Want to Forget... (DC)
Hats off (for the most part) to New Zealand filmmaker Ash Sowman, who made a very interesting YouTube documentary film called "Americans Want You to Forget About This Race." It's centered around the 2017 Ironman 450 National, which is the race where Jeffrey Herlings famously entered as a wild card, on an off-weekend from MXGP, and then went a very impressive 1-1 in the 450 class to win the one and only national he's ever competed in. It's a race we have written about extensively, and we even had Jeffrey on the cover of Racer X magazine for his win. It was remarkable and will always be remembered as one of the most impressive singular performances in motocross history. I don't think any American motocross fan will soon forget, or even wants to forget, about such an incredible ride by such a world-class athlete as Herlings, who went right into the lion’s den and came out on top.
But Sowman takes A LOT of liberty with the actual welcome Herlings got here in America. For instance, his narration makes it sound like the live announcers purposely stepped on his introduction during opening ceremonies. The series was so stoked that Herlings had come that he was added to what’s usually reserved for only the top-five in the standings, which is a pre-race intro before the sighting lap of the first moto. He was introduced and got huge applause, but then as he was taking that slow sighting lap, the others were introduced, at roughly 10-second intervals, and each of them got huge applause, too, followed by the rest of the pack. It happens that way every weekend, but if you’ve never been to a national in person, you might not know that. He also implies that the TV director purposely didn't show him early in the second moto during his last-to-first ride to the front, which is not true either. They were filming the battle at the front as they normally do in the early laps; Herlings was mired in the back and they picked up on him as he came forward. He even implies that the fans tried to drown out his TV interview on the podium, but they were simply chanting for Eli Tomac on the other side of the podium, as he had just clinched his first 450 championship. (I won't even get into any of the excuses or crashes that Tomac and others had; what Jeffrey did was remarkable, regardless of the championship situation.)
What I want to add is that from the moment Herlings landed in the U.S. for that event, the red carpet was rolled out for him by Red Bull KTM, Aldon Baker and the rest of the team, the U.S. media, AMA Pro Racing and MX Sports Pro Racing, and the fans in general. We all LOVED that he was here, just as we loved that Antonio Cairoli came this past summer. The video tries to paint a US-against-Foreign Invader narrative, which simply did not exist (though it did in the time of Jean-Michel Bayle, regrettably) (And our subsequent magazine cover headline "Invasion" was regrettable too). Yes, Matthes said something bombastic like he would destroy his laptop if Herlings won, but he was not insulting Herlings by saying that, just being Matthes in his bench racing. The actual TV announcers—Jason Weigandt and Grant Langston—were incredibly complimentary to Jeffrey, just as they would have been to anyone who put in the effort that Herlings did in just being there, and then having the success that he did. There’s even the implication that Jeffrey was denied his trademark #84 and had to wear #784 instead as some sort of lack of respect, but that's just the way it goes for EVERYONE when it comes to a first-national and three-digit numbers. The AMA had an assigned #84 in 2017, Daniel Herrlein. It was no slight; it was the rule. Jean-Michel Bayle, Greg Albertyn, Sebastien Tortelli, Grant Langston, Christophe Pourcel, Tyla Rattray, Marvin Mausquin, and Ken Roczen all came to America as world champions and they all had to wear three-digit numbers in their first AMA seasons.
My point is that what Herlings did that day was remarkable—comparable to what JMB did at Gatorback ’89 or what Tortelli did at the ’98 LASX opener—and no one here wants the world to forget about it. Again, Ash Sowman's film is very well done in capturing the event and the incredible accomplishment, but it takes a lot of artistic license and paints a somewhat misleading portrait of the fans who were there that day and cheered Herlings on just like everyone else. I strongly recommend watching “Americans Want You to Forget About This Race” if you get a chance. It’s an excellent 30 minutes. But take the title and the inference that he was not welcome with a grain of salt, because he was warmly welcomed, and no one who was actually there that day will ever forget it.
Loretta Lynn's: Chapter 42 (DC)
Founded in 1982, and running continuously ever since—even in 2020—the 42nd Annual Loretta Lynn's will take place next summer. But first there will be the Area Qualifiers in the spring, followed by the Regionals in early summer. The tracks and dates for the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn's have been announced. The qualifying program will start mid-February with Area Qualifiers followed by Regional Championships taking place in late May through the month of June. The National itself will be held Monday, July 31, through Saturday, August 5. Here's the complete schedule and more information.
Micky Dymond Comic (DC)
Two-time AMA 125 Pro Motocross Champion and eighties' legend Micky Dymond recently returned to the Transborgamo race in Italy (his first time abroad since he had that terrible cycling accident a couple years back). Dymond is doing great, and he told us he really enjoyed getting back to the big Italian invitational for legends like U.S. visitors Jeff Stanton, Broc Glover, Danny Laporte, Chuck Sun, Jim Gibson, Doug Dubach, himself, and more. While over there, Micky got his hands on a copy of the amazing comic book that French artist Fabrice Bailly made about his life, entitled Micky L'Ange. According to Dymond, Bailly worked with Micky's family while he was still recovering from his head injury from the bicycle accident, and they sent many photos over from his career for inspiration for the comic. The result is a beautiful work of modern motocross art! I have only seen a few pages that Dymond sent over, and also from the Facebook page of his longtime friend and supporters, the Moreau family. (When Dymond went to the Paris-Bercy Supercross for the first time in the mid-eighties he was only the "fourth Honda factory rider" behind David Bailey, Rick Johnson and Johnny O'Mara, and the distributor over there only had three bikes available, so the Moreau family dealership helped him out with a loaner Honda CR250, marking the beginning of a close friendship that has lasted ever since.)
Micky L'Ange (Micky the Angel) costs 24 euro (about $24 U.S.) plus shipping, and it's available direct from the artist: firstname.lastname@example.org I am working (with my very limited French) to find some more information on how to order them here in the U.S.
Triumph History (DC)
Last week we found out about Triumph's plan to join the AMA Supercross/Pro Motocross/SuperMotocross World Championship circuits in 2024, with Bobby Hewitt as race team owner and "Scuba" Steve Westfall as team manager, and Ricky Carmichael as Global Racing Ambassador. Triumph is not a new brand, of course—just new to the SX/MX space here. Its lineage goes all the way back to 1902, when the brand was called Triumph Engineering. After it ran into financial problems and went into receivership, it was revived in 1982 as Bonneville Coventry, and now called Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. They have long offered a sturdy selection of touring bikes, roadsters, and cruisers, and more recently some fine adventure bikes like the ones a certain ex-champion known as 6-Time uses in Michigan for his Jeff Stanton Adventures.
But did you know there was a time when Triumph Motorcycles dominated the U.S. off-road scene? From 1961 through 1968, Triumph riders won the AMA National Enduro Championship eight years in a row. In 1961 it was won by a man named Lew Atkinson, and then for the next seven years in a row it was one by the legendary Bill Baird, who hailed from Illinois. There were plenty of excellent Triumph racers in flat track and road racing, like Gary Nixon, Ed Kretz, Dick "Bugsy" Mann and Eddie Mulder, but Baird's dominance in the woods aboard Triumph was exceptional.
And if you look in the Racer X Vault for results in AMA Supercross and AMA Pro Motocross, you will find several British motorcycles in the results. What you won't find, however, are any Triumphs. Nor will you find a British bike in the results after 1973, when the Japanese brands really began to take over with the introduction of the Honda CR250M Elsinore. Most prominent are AJS riders (A.J. Stevens & Co.) In 1972 and '73 four different riders appear listed as riding AJS motorcycles: Bryar Holcomb, Morris Malone and Thomas Bragg in '72, and then Tom McGill in '73. The best finish for any of those guys was a solid sixth at the Cal-Expo National by Holcomb, who went on to more success on Suzuki, Maico and Bultaco. Bryan in now the owner of Factory Effex.
Next comes BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) and two results in 19972, one an 8th by Ron Osborn in the 500 National at Desoto Cycle Ranch below Memphis, and the other a 14th by the aforementioned Mann at the same Cal-Expo race where Holcomb got sixth on that AJS Stormer.
The Professor of Motocross himself, Gary Bailey, was the best American rider Greeves ever had, but he stopped riding them in 1971 and switched to Bultaco before AMA Pro Motocross (let alone AMA Supercross) was even a thing. But a North Carolina rider named Richard Harris scored a 20th place on a British-made Greeves at the very first AMA Pro Motocross National at Road Atlanta in '72.
Finally, in 1973, a couple of friends from Texas named Ricky Jones and Rusty Allen were invited by Rusty's dad, a motorcycle dealer in Houston, to ride Rickman motorcycles at the 250 National at Lake Whitney Cycle Ranch. They finished 16th and 18th respectively, on the brand founded by the Rickman brothers of England, Derek and Don. That '73 Lake Whitney race was the last time a British-made motorcycles appeared in the AMA SX/MX results. That will almost certainly change come 2024 and the arrival of the new Triumphs.
If you haven’t listened yet, here’s Weege’s Exhaust Podcast “Meet Team Triumph”
Hey, Watch It!
SuperEnduro Poland 2023 - Highlights
Cool Dealer Kiosk program CanvasMX has at AEO Powersports
Racer X Roundtable: Reaction to Triumph's AMA Supercross, Motocross, & SMX Team
And James Stewart and his production partners Roger Larson and Cole Beach continue to kill it with his Bubba’s World Podcast, and they are celebrating their first year with this week’s show, Look How Far We’ve Come…
And next week’s episode, dropping on Tuesday, James finally sits down and talks one-on-one with Ricky Carmichael finally, finally, finally! Stay tuned for that one.
Finally, shame on us for leaving Bubba’s World off the Reader Survey question. Sorry again, James. If you haven’t taken the 2022 Racer X Reader Survey, please take a moment to do it and you could win some really cool prizes just for filling it out:
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
"KANYE WESTNAMED 'ANTI-SEMITE OF THE YEAR'By Watchdog GroupTM"
“Ex-Navy SEAL who transitioned from male to female says he's now transitioning BACK”—DailyMail.com
"#KardBlock: British man creates app that filters out all Kardashian news"—Entertainwise.com
“Ohio Thief Steals Baby Jesus, Opens New Front In War On Christmas”—TheSmokingGun.com
“Berlin Hotel’s Huge Aquarium Bursts, With 1,500 Fish Inside”—DNyuz.com
Congratulations to our longtime friend and Racer X podcast contributor Lewis Phillips on getting a new gig here in the U.S. with Vital MX. (We're hoping he and Adam Wheeler will continue their MXGP podcast in 2023 but we'll see how much leash Michael Lindsey and the Vital brass give him...) Lewis posted his first interview with Vital yesterday and it's a good one: Jeffrey Herlings. Check out what's happening with The Bullet's comeback.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #50.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!