We close our eyes, and another year goes by.… Welcome to Racerhead, for the last time in 2022. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and then we begin a whole new spin around the sun and call it 2023. There’s lots to look forward to, first up being the Anaheim Supercross opener, followed by what everyone helps will be a safe, entertaining, and competitive season of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, the ’23 AMA Pro Motocross Championships, and the brand new SuperMotocross World Championship. We’ve made it through the off-season with pretty much everyone healthy, which means a whole bunch of guys will be going into Anaheim with a strong chance of winning. No real “December Surprises” means we don’t have a lot of news happening right now, as everyone is focused on getting themselves and their bikes sorted before next Saturday night.
It's been a quiet week, as it usually is between Christmas and New Year’s, so there’s not much to report here. I’ve been working on our annual year-end requiem, The Lives They Lived, where we remember some of the moto friends and figures we lost in the last 12 months. That will go up tomorrow afternoon. It's never an easy thing to pull together, but it is an annual reminder of both how lucky we are to be involved in this sport, as well as what a cruel thing this sport can be.
Looking ahead to 2023, on Sunday, January 1 at 5 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Pacific, the 2023 SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) preview show will air on NBC and Peacock. The show will preview the storylines and updates on the top stars of the sport ahead of the new season. Defending 450 SX/MX Champion Eli Tomac of the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing squad will be looking for his third 450SX title, which would also make him the first back-to-back title winner since Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey did it in 2016–’17. Jason Anderson, last year’s runner-up, will be looking for his second SX title, and Cooper Webb his third. No one else in the field has ever been a 450SX Champion. Ken Roczen will be trying to grab Suzuki its first SX title since Ricky Carmichael in 2006, and Honda’s Chase Sexton and Colt Nichols will be trying to get their brand its first AMA 450 title since Carmichael’s ’04 Pro Motocross romp. There’s also a fast slew of class newcomers that includes Nichols, Christian Craig, and eventually Justin Cooper and Jett Lawrence, plus some fast veterans like Malcolm Stewart, Justin Barcia, Marvin Musquin, and Malcolm Stewart. And that’s just the 450 class. You can start getting psyched for the season by watching Sunday’s preview show on either NBC or Peacock at 5 p.m. Eastern, as well as all of the preview shows from Weege, Matthes, Jason Thomas, Kellen, and Keefer.
Because those guys all work so hard on the show, while also completing the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Souvenir Yearbook (which is finally back!), as well as the latest issue of Racer X magazine (with a first-time cover appearance for a rider that you will see next week), they are all on short preseason holiday vacation, so I’ve got Racerhead all to myself!
Happy New Year, everyone—see you at the races in 2023!
When #1 Was the Loneliest Number
Earlier this week, @racerxonline posted on Instagram a review of the nine different Monster Energy AMA 450 Supercross Champions of the last 22 years, going back to Jeremy McGrath’s last title in 2000. And I have to admit I had forgotten that from 2001 (the last year that Jeremy wore #1) though 2009 (when Chad Reed showed up with #1 on his new Suzuki RM-Z450), the #1 was completely absent from the score sheets in 450 SX. That’s because beginning in ’02 (when Ricky Carmichael defended his first SX title but chose to wear his trademark #4 rather that #1) through ’08 (when James Stewart decided to run #7 rather than the #1 he earned the previous season), none of the three champions—not Carmichael (five times) nor Reed nor Stewart—wore #1 in this series. They were all taking advantage of an AMA rule that allowed them to run their permanent numbers if they so chose, and that’s why we rarely affiliate Carmichael with anything other than his #4, why Reed’s #22 is such a big part of his image, and why Stewart, after going from #259 to #7 midway through his career, now has a company called Seven MX. The rules soon changed, and the AMA began forcing champions to wear #1 again, which all of the defending champions did after Reed ran #1 in ’09. Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, Jason Anderson, Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac, Webb again, and now Tomac again, all wore #1.
So, did the AMA’s permanent number system actually work? Yes, though maybe not quite as well as some might have hoped back in 2000 when it was implemented. Yes, Carmichael, Reed, and Stewart all became very familiar for their numbers, but AMA’s marketing hopes that riders would be more familiar because of their numbers—or at least similar to what NASCAR has—didn’t quite pan out. And we now have three guys—McGrath, Villopoto, and Webb—who all pop up with #2 now.
But there are many who still miss the old system where total points in SX/MX got you a different number each year, with #2 the highest, all the way down to #99, and various class and series champions wearing the #1 if they were defending a title. That’s why we’ve seen everyone from Bob Hannah to Kent Howerton, Mark Barnett to Jeff Ward, Ron Lechien to Rick Johnson, Jeff Stanton to Mike LaRocco, Mike Kiedrowski, Jeff Emig, and Jeremy McGrath all race at least one season with #2. (And if David Bailey had not been hurt just before the ’87 season opener, he would have been #2 in AMA Supercross.)
One other random bit of trivia involving numbers: From 2000 on, Carmichael chose to wear #4 in all but two races in his 250/450 race career, despite being MX champion seven times and SX champion five times. The first time was when Ricky wore #1 at the ’04 season-ending Glen Helen National, his last race with Honda, as a farewell gift to the team, and then at Glen Helen again in ’05 when he wore the #101 that he was going to wear at the upcoming FIM Motocross of Nations in France.
STOP THE PRESSES! Steve Matthes is not on vacation….
THOUGHTS ON THOUGHTS (Matthes)
Just a brain dump of stuff here on the last Friday of 2022 and before the craziness of 2023 begins. A whir of late nights, airplanes, hotels, and more await myself and many others next week.
- Thoughts and prayers go out to the mechanics of the sport, as there is no time for R&R for those guys these days. I can remember working on X-mas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day many years trying to get ready for the new season. Hard-working guys with no lives—yep, those are the mechanics of the sport.
- Weege and I have been having a few fun-spirited debates lately in our texts, including his decision to leave out Chase Sexton from the first RXI video of the ’23 SX preview shows. I know what he was doing there, trying something new and also getting people to watch more than one video. But in years past, we've always put the "title contenders" in the first video, and I know he agrees with me that Sexton will be a title contender this year.
-I understand the definition of a rookie 450SX season in that it's a rider’s first full season in the class. I get it, and by that definition, Christian Craig is a rookie. I mean, Chad Reed moonlighted the first four or five rounds in 2002 in 450SX, and we all look at his 2003 season as his rookie year. But maybe there should be a "rookies that don't have 11 career 450SX seasons, three years of 450 MX, and are over 30 years old," category, because Craig fits all of these criteria, and I'm not sure we've ever had a rider like him before making their “rookie” debut. To me, being younger, moving up to battle the premier riders in the sport full-time, having week-in and week-out pressure is all part of the rookie experience, and Christian's had ALL that in 450 MX for THREE YEARS! Anyway, Weege doesn't agree with me, and sure, I get it but....
-You know who agrees with me? Christian Craig. He said that all his 450 experience shows that he's a rookie and in his own words, he's "old AF." I don't know, Craig bends the word "rookie" hard.
- Remember in 1989 when a 30-year-old Sergei Makarov came over from Russia with years of pro experience and Olympic gold medals to earn "Rookie" of the Year with the Calgary Flames? I'm sure all of you know that story. Well, yeah, Craig's that kind of rookie. BTW, the NHL changed the rules of the award after Sergei won it because of the farce of it all.
- We had a fun ReRaceable pod this week talking about the 2015 Arenacross finals in Vegas with Jacob Hayes, whose life took a turn for the worse that night after an aborted takeout attempt on Kyle Regal with the title on the line. Hayes was supposed to ride for PC that next night at Vegas SX and was talking to some factory teams as well. His "pass" attempt and on-track meltdown all contributed to those opportunities going away. He's pretty honest in talking about it on the show and he rebounded to become an AX champion and make a mark in SX as well. Listen to the show HERE
- I think Dylan Ferrandis could surprise some people this year. He's got to work on his starts for sure, but I think, in a contract year, he'll be happier with his bike and more motivated than ever. Dylan's always got a good-sized chip on his shoulder anyway, so it'll be interesting to see what he can do.
- Check out the top-read articles on Pulpmx.com, the top Steve Matthes podcasts, and the top PulpMX Shows in 2022 HERE.
Fantasy Supercross Leagues (DC)
The guys at PulpMX Fantasy have launched their 2023 game, and sign-ups are now open. As usual, Yamaha is supporting the game and giving away four bikes, two of them by random drawing, which means you don't even have to be good at the game to win! Weekly and season-ending prizes total over $150K, so get yourself signed up—it makes watching SX/MX and SMX even more fun!
I was texting with MC yesterday & he is sending me an autographed set of gear to give away! All you have to do is JOIN our 2023 Storm Lake Honda Supercross League & your name is automatically entered. You are instantly eligible to win our 23SX random drawing to receive an autographed set of gear from the King of Supercross. That's it. That is all you have to do. You don't have to be a master of Fantasy SX to win. Just get signed up & join to win! So, head to MXD360.com right now & get signed up for our 23SX League & your chance to win The King's gear! #winMCgear #fantasySX #Showtime Good luck!
SUPERCROSS WATCH PARTY & AUCTION
Our friend in Texas John Martini is organizing another one of his annual watch parties for the Anaheim SX opener next Saturday night at Look Cinema in Arlington:
All ticket -sale proceeds will benefit the Road2Recovery Foundation, and you can buy your fill of food and beverage from your seats.
Grab your spot now because we only have room for 120 and this is sure to be a sellout! Our goal is to deliver at least $5,000.00 to @road2recovery so help us with by buying your ticket and add in an additional donation if you can.
A Christmas Story and a Moto Puzzle
Our longtime friend and contributor Kristin Cheatwood posted a cool little note about a puzzle we built and gave out a number of years ago, and she waited until just a few days ago to finally open:
17 years ago while working at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, my friend Davey gave me this puzzle. I never opened it because I was set on giving it to my child one day. It moved with me to Idaho from Georgia, and to all 5 different houses I moved into out there and back to my house in Georgia and now at my current house. In some houses it was on display, others it was in a random box of stuff and yesterday my 3-year-old opened the puzzle. It was a bit warped from being stored in garages, etc, but it all came together! It’s crazy that this puzzle has traveled with me with the desire to have a baby always on my mind, and finally, 14 years after owning it, I brought Jack into this world… and today it was finally built! It was fun putting this puzzle together, together.
Kevin Moranz’s issues traveling to Anaheim 1
Here’s the second episode of Behind the Scenes at Club MX, featuring a very sore Jeremy Martin after last week’s big crash:
The fourth episode of SMX Inside with Jason Weigandt and Daniel Blair:
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
"Dog starts house fire after turning on hairdryer"- BBC News
“Bill Cosby Plans Comeback Tour in 2023”—Variety.com
“Woman accused of stabbing dog while teen girl was walking it”—KTLA.com
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #52.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!