Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the Tampa area, where tomorrow night's Monster Energy AMA Supercross at Raymond James Stadium will mark the fifth round of the series (though they are calling it Round 6 to keep things straight after the Oakland postponement). Tampa is basically a home race for series organizer Feld Motor Sports, and they have really rolled out the red carpet. Last night they had a reception and tour of their massive headquarters in nearby Bradenton for the moto media, and then this afternoon there is a steering committee here that will include all of the OEMs. The place is amazing, but I had to go into another meeting on the SuperMotocross World Championship and missed most of the tour.
Tomorrow night Eli Tomac will be going for a little bit of history: he could tie Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time 450 SX wins list. Tomac’s Houston win was his 47th, one less than RC’s 48. Eli would then be two behind James Stewart’s 50 wins, which is second only to Jeremy McGrath’s 72. With the way Tomac is riding right now, he could have both RC and James surpassed by Daytona! (And speaking of both James and Ricky, look for some extra coverage on Peacock tomorrow, as Stewart will be joining Jason Weigandt on a side booth throughout the evening to commentate on the races. Feld is working on even more expanded coverage of the day’s proceedings.) Tampa is also military appreciation round and the teams and gear companies look to already be rolling some fresh looks out on press day to commemorate the occasion.
I asked Clinton Fowler (@fowlersfacts) for a little stat comparison from other fast starts for Tomac to see if this really has been his best start to a supercross season. And indeed it is. According to Clinton, Eli’s best start through four races is the 95 points he's racked up this year. His previous best start (points-wise) was just last year, when he notched 85 points after four rounds, but just one win. And before that it was 2020, when he was at 85 points and one win. Coincidentally, those are the two years he won the 450SX title. And for added measure, Clinton offered this extra tidbit: the quickest Eli ever got to three wins in a season before 2023 was seven races, and he did that in both 2018 and ’20.
Check out Eli Tomac gracing the cover of both Cross Magazin and Racer X Illustrated. Both shot by Simon Cudby. Cross chose the photo in the sequence that was one frame before the image we chose. Great minds think alike!
There’s another cool little piece of history happening in the 250SX class. For the first time in the history of the class (which dates back to 1985), a pair of brothers are holding the points leads in the East and the West Regions, as Hunter Lawrence joined Jett by taking the 250SX East opener in Houston. No set of brothers—not the Vohlands, not the Hahns, not the Hills, not the Stewarts, not the Martins—have ever held the red plates at the same time.
And now that Haiden Deegan is a pro and Tom Vialle is on the AMA Supercross circuit, here’s another cool thing to watch: Deegan, Vialle, and Maximus Vohland are all second-generation factory riders who have dads with top-five finishes in SX. Brian Deegan won the ’97 LA SX and Tallon Vohland won a couple 125 SX events, and Frederic Vialle had a high finish of fourth (Seattle ’95) in one of his few appearances in the mid-nineties. So the thing to watch is how soon one of the kids either ties or better their dads’ best scores first! (We’re only not including Christian Craig because he’s in the 450 class, but I guess we could—Mike Craig won this Tampa race in 1994!)
Speaking of Florida races, I did a history of all of the AMA Supercross events in the Sunshine State in places other than Daytona International Speedway, which has a long history unto itself. You can check out the old races from Tampa, St. Pete, Miami, Jacksonville and Orlando right here.
Let’s start the week in review with Weege—and good luck tomorrow in your broadcast reunion with James Stewart!
TampaKTM Junior Supercross
Saturday, February 11
Anderson Owns the Drama (Jason Weigandt)
Analyzing Jason Anderson’s 2022 supercross season, mistakes ended up costing him massive points and a shot at stopping Eli Tomac. Unfortunately, Anderson lives on both sides of the double-edged sword, he wants it badly, but sometimes that leads to crashes and rough-riding run ins with other riders. Could he change that for 2023? So far, no. He’s already had a few dustups and crashes early this year.
I like that Anderson never hides from this. He admits he hits too many riders while trying to make passes, and that’s why he got so mad at Justin Barcia at San Diego. If you’re gonna dish it out, don’t complain when it comes back to you.
In Houston’s post-race press conference, DMXS Radio’s David Izer asked Anderson about these entanglements. As usual, Anderson didn’t shy away.
“Yes, it’s on me for getting caught up in the BS I get caught up in,” Anderson said. “That’s something I have to take responsibility for. I really just want to do my best, try to grow and avoid that. I’m going to try my best and change that aspect of me.”
That seems so easy to do from the outside but remember a double-edged sword cuts both ways. At Anaheim 2, Anderson angled his front wheel perfectly to avoid contact in a corner with Cooper Webb, and Webb went down while Anderson kept going. Sometimes, Anderson’s aggression nets gains. The tough part is riding that fine line. Yeah, he can try to back it down, but that’s not easy to do when that last .01 percent could be the difference between winning and losing. Plus, Anderson has been just off the pace of Chase Sexton and Eli Tomac recently, so going mild probably isn’t the ideal answer. So, he’s searching for that last step.
“Yeah, we started off the season with a different shock and I believe there’s a lot of benefits to the shock, but me personally I think for my riding and racing, I’m better with the old shock,” Anderson said, likely referencing removing the Showa BRFC shock and going back to last year’s item. “The benefits of that other setup, I really, really think it can be good, but that’s for another day. I think for the rest of the season where we’re at we need to make little improvements here and there. I kind of lost myself with that in those first couple of rounds but we’re making gains. I know I got second last week and third this week, but realistically it’s still improving. Lot of racing left, and we just need to keep striving.”
Forgot About JCoop (Weigandt)
I’m not sure what it is about Justin Cooper, but he never generates the hype that matches his results. Maybe it’s his personality or his riding style, I don’t know, but Cooper has been good in basically every single pro race he’s ever lined up for healthy. He’s a very, very high-level talent. But you don’t hear Cooper’s name uttered the same way, for example, you hear about the Lawrence brothers or Austin Forkner. This transitioned right into his 450 debut. Cooper is no longer eligible for 250 supercross, but Star Racing doesn’t have room for a third 450 rider, leaving Cooper on the sidelines for a bit. He finally got to race in Houston and guess what? He was great again! Seventh in his first-ever 450 race, and his first supercross since May of 2021. He even passed Ken Roczen on the last lap.
This seemed shocking but it shouldn’t be. Cooper’s 450 debut class should generate more hype and anticipation. The fact that it happened at Houston, and not Anaheim 1, is part of this. It’s just weird and unexpected for a rider of his caliber to not even have a full-time 450 slot, and debut five weeks into the year. Still, we should have known better. Maybe Cooper isn’t the fan favorite, attention magnet or lightning rod, but he’s always good on a dirt bike. Seriously, what if he pulls a holeshot on a 450? With his starting ability, that could happen sooner, rather than later, and he has the goods to back that up. Let’s not be surprised if this happens. Plus, after Dylan Ferrandis’ hard hit in Houston, Cooper might be in for more races and attention than expected. Don’t be surprised with this guy!
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
Tampa is round two for the 250SX East crew, and many spent the week reflecting on what went right and wrong in Houston. There are so many unanswered questions at the opener, so many things to improve upon, even for those who did well. Settings you felt comfortable with going in may not have worked in a race environment. The week after the first round is the most introspective of the season in some ways. Preconceived notions can be proven wrong, and it can be an eye-opening experience. Thought you were on the leader's pace? Maybe not. As Cooper Webb mentioned before the season began, many practice partners are on the same chassis, giving them a false sense of where they may stand. Jordon Smith and Nate Thrasher may have felt themselves ready to win because they’re practicing against themselves and lap times are comparable—that is, until they watched Hunter Lawrence ride off into the sunset relatively uncontested. On the other side of that coin is the aforementioned Hunter Lawrence himself. He came in thinking he would win and had that idea confirmed with a nearly perfect night. What would he be thinking on, you may ask? Even the winner feels they could have been better in some aspect. Just because they won doesn't mean their bike was perfect. There is always room for improvement, always a way to be better. Assessing the weaknesses on a night where there appeared to be few is what makes the good into great, the winner into champion.
This weekend's weather is looking a bit iffy, so watch for that to potentially throw a wrench into what we saw in Houston. Muddy conditions could paint an entirely different picture. With the 250 class consisting of several international riders with very extensive experience, I think we should see them rise to the top. Further, the best of the rest know how to traverse difficult conditions too. Jeremy Martin is a two-time Pro Motocross champ, and Chance Hymas has won several off-road events in his own right. Come to think of it, could this be the most diverse group of 250 regional riders in history?
TROPHY CONTEST (DC)
Every year, Racer X holds a contest among the different AMA Pro Motocross promoters where we give a full-page advertisement in the magazine to whichever track has the best trophies for their outdoor national. All of the editors, designers, contributors, and production staff have a vote, and the idea is to reward the tracks that put the most thought creativity into their trophies, and thus have better trophies for the riders. The idea goes back to a visit to Kevin Windham's house a dozen years ago and seeing some really cool and unique trophies from all over the world (as well as some really simple and cheap ones). If the promoters had some kind of award or recognition for putting some thought and effort into their prizes, maybe we would see some really cool trophies moving forward—and we certainly have ever since.
Last Friday at the annual promoters’ meeting in Houston, we showed all of the promoters the 12 different trophies from each track and unveiled our winner. The Top Trophy of '22 went to Thunder Valley, as David Clabaugh had some very cool wooden bike stands built by a local artist. Tied for second was the perennial favorite in Spring Creek, where the Martin family typically incorporates a Viking theme with their prizes, and Hangtown, which went with a cool gold relief engraving with a California Gold Rush vibe. Thunder Valley gets the full-page ad, and we're giving Spring Creek and Hangtown a half-page ad each (though at the meeting I mistakenly said High Point tied for second—my bad!).
Thanks to all of the promoters in AMA Pro Motocross for going the extra yard and giving the riders some very unique and creative trophies in 2022. And good luck to everyone in 2023 on finding and building some cool new and even better trophies!
Amateur Moto Daddin’ (Keefer)
It's already that time! The time where I pull my hair out and am at the racetrack every weekend! You see, it may seem like I don't like being at the track with my kid on the weekends, but that is not true. I love actually being there—it's all the work that goes along with it that I can’t handle. Besides testing, typing, and recording during the week, I have to make sure Aden's bikes are ready to go for racing on Sundays. It's at these moments that I understand why Nick Wey and Joe Oehlhof, among others, choose not to ride/race themselves, because it's A LOT! I love riding, but when it is 24/7 and 365 days, I can get burned out a little.
We have a Mammoth Qualifier this weekend at Glen Helen, a Loretta Lynn's Area Qualifier next weekend in Mesquite, and then we take off for a couple weeks for the two Texas Spring Nationals. Props to ALL the families who sacrifice their time and money to get their kids to the racetrack. because it is literally a full-time job that sucks the money out of your wallet instead of putting it in. However, I do think about all the time I’m getting to spend with Aden doing the same sport, and this makes it better, as most non-moto families would not get to spend as much time with their kids as we moto enthusiasts do. Good luck to all the families traveling for the next month or so for this upcoming block of amateur races. May your wallet be thick, and your patience be long. Just like in the Hunger Games, may the odds be ever in your favor….
#54 DOWN (DC)
When we saw that Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing rookie Nick Romano had been assigned #54 for the '23 season, we mentioned that, going back to the very first year of AMA Pro Motocross, no rider wearing #54 had ever won an outdoor national or a supercross main event in either class. Fifty-four is the lowest digit to have never won, but were optimistic that Romano might have a chance, as young teammates like Nate Thrasher and Levi Kitchen have already won 250SX main events. Unfortunately, it's almost certainly not going to happen in '23, as Romano posted a video on social media explaining that he is now out for the season due to a knee injury that requires major surgery and a long rehabilitation. So it will be another year on the waiting list for #54, but we will be watching to see who gets the digit in 2024, and maybe he will have better luck. Good luck to Nick on his surgery and getting back out there sooner than later.
By the way, this is the second year in a row that we will not see #54 on the AMA circuit. Last year the number went to the veteran Martin Davalos, who retired prior to the start of the season.
Fred Fox (1936-2023)
We are sad to confirm reports of the passing of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Fred Fox, a powersports industry icon, this past Sunday in Orange County, California. Fox was the man behind the Wisconsin-based LeMans Corporation, Parts Unlimited, Drag Specialties, Parts Europe, and more. Fox was also a longtime sponsor of countless motorcycle racing competitors, events, and series, in pretty much every discipline of motorcycling, including Monster Energy AMA Supercross, AMA Pro Motocross, the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series.
According to industry historian Don Emde: “Fred Fox was a pioneer of the modern era of aftermarket product distribution and promotion. He was the only employee when he started his Parts Unlimited distributing business at his house in Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1967. In the years to come, the business grew fast, and he incorporated as LeMans Corporation, which continues to this day as the largest privately owned motorcycle distributing company in the world.”
As Fox’s distribution business grew, he expanded into other areas around the United States and Canada and added many brands. Some became suppliers for Parts Unlimited and also Drag Specialties, which he acquired in 1988. Other brands and companies were bought outright, including THOR MX and Moose Racing. Fox invested heavily in promotion of Parts Unlimited’s “We Support the Sport” campaign, which has been active since the 1990s. He also served on the Board of Directors of Motorcycle Industry Council from 1994 to 2007.
“A multi-year personal project culminated in 2009 when LeMans opened the Parts Europe warehouse in Trier, Germany,” added Emde. “An all-new warehouse was built there with state-of-the-art order filling technology that results in dealer order fulfillment speed never seen before in the motorcycle industry. In addition to the Parts Europe warehouse, LeMans Corporation currently has warehouses in Sparks, Nevada; Ballston Spa, New York; Flat Rock, North Carolina; Grapevine, Texas; and Janesville, Wisconsin, plus Calgary and London, Ontario, in Canada. Along the way, Fred has been recognized for his contributions to both the snowmobile and motorcycle sports and industries. In 2010, Fred was inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, as well as the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2011. He was also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2007 V-Twin Expo and a Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.”
Fred Fox retired from full-time activities at LeMans Corporation in 2021. He is survived by his wife, Paula; sons Steven, Brian, and Craig; daughters Teri and Lori; several grandchildren, nieces, and nephews; and his former wife, Gloria. He was preceded in death by his brothers Bob and Stanley, sister Jeana, and his son Jeffrey.
Godspeed, Fred Fox. And thank you.
Hey, Watch It
Check out Kellen Brauer’s Race Examination from Houston right here:
Keefer takes a look at the Team Tedder KTM 450s of Jush and Justin Hill right here:
Justin Barcia having fun in Texas:
Our friend Donnie “Roto Moto” Southers on the penalties from the Houston SX:
Since it was her brother Danger Boy's first real go at AMA Supercross, Hailie Deegan made the trip to Houston to support Haiden and the whole Deegan family. Check out the aspiring NASCAR racer's vlog as she cheered little brother on:
SuperMotocross Insider with Weege, Daniel Blair and James Stewart:
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
Nightmare Fuel: 15 Year Old Kid Playing Hide And Seek Decided To Stash Himself In A Shipping Container - He Promptly Fell Asleep And Was Found Alive Six Days Later In a Different Country - Barstool Sports
"Colorado State sorry for 'Russia' chant at Ukrainian player"--ESPN
‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey’: Inside the Viral Micro-Budget Slasher Hoping to Slay the Box Office"--Variety.com
"Man jailed in Dallas Zoo crimes plans to steal more animals if released, affidavits say"--The Dallas Morning News
"Packers' Aaron Rodgers to Go on 4-Day 'Darkness Retreat', Will Contemplate NFL Future" - Bleacher Report
"Ken Roczen'S PRO CIRCUIT....KAWASAKI FOR SALE"
"Oklahoma High School Basketball Game Ends at 4–2" - Sports Illustrated
'It was really strange': 700 pounds of acorns found stuffed by woodpeckers inside walls of California home
WGAL.com NBC 8 (courtesy of The Stump Grinder)
Here is a cool mainstream media story about the origins of Loretta Lynn's AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships, and how Loretta Lynn herself became a motocross icon in her own right.
Road racing on public roads has always been big in Northern Ireland, but it now appears that extremely high insurance costs may mark the end of this particularly dangerous form of motorcycle racing.
And congrats to our friends and colleagues at Vurbmoto on reviving the old World Mini Grand Prix races out in Nevada. Here’s more.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!