Welcome to Racerhead on a very, very busy day. Bike Week has begun here in Daytona, and all of the teams and independent riders in Monster Energy AMA Supercross are rolling into the garages. Meanwhile, we’re expecting another sellout crowd for the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross, which takes place Sunday through Tuesday, so the campground on the infield is also filling up quickly. And maybe 55 miles away, the second round of the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series will take place tomorrow and Sunday, so there’s a whole bunch of dirt bike racing kicking off Bike Week!
Tomorrow night’s Round 8 of the series should be a real barnburner. As Ricky Carmichael himself likes to say, “The series starts at Daytona.” And while Matthes may bemoan that idea, @fowlersfacts Clinton Fowler checked the data and found out that in 29 of the last 33 AMA Supercross Championships, the man who had the points lead after this race went on to take the title. And with Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac, Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb, and Honda HRC Factory Racing’s Chase Sexton all just five points apart—the closest three-way battle at this point in series history, again according to @fowlersfacts—all three are going to want to win this particular race. Tomac’s already done it six times, which of course is the all-time record, and he’s the only man in the 450 class to have ever won the Daytona SX (and he finished second twice).
Other than that battle royale, there’s a ton of things happening here—even some of the Stark Varg folks are here watching. Press day on the Ricky Carmichael–built track starts pretty soon, so I will cut this intro short, and hopefully Weege or Matthes will have a report on it. And Tom Journet is here to shoot for Racer X Films, and now they’re calling me over to the AMA trailer on the radio. Enjoy the rest of Racerhead and Bike Week!
DaytonaSaturday, March 4
Wild BoarSaturday, March 4
Bike Week Begins (Mitch Kendra)
As Davey mentioned, the press day activities took place today as riders took to course for interviews and two riding sessions on half of the track. The riders took off and got to hit the entire right side of the starting straight—minus the whoops of course.
We spoke with a handful of riders, including Jeremy Martin, Nate Thrasher, RJ Hampshire, Dylan Ferrandis, Jordan Jarvis, track designer Ricky Carmichael, and event grand marshal Justin Brayton.
Martin won the third and final Triple Crown race last weekend and is looking forward to tomorrow’s Daytona event. The #6 has done well here in the past, finishing on the podium six out of his seven main event starts at Daytona International Speedway. This includes a second-place finish in the 450SX Class at the 2017 event. Martin said even though it was only a Triple Crown win and admitted others crashing helped him get it, it was good to get a win. As a self-proclaimed “outdoor guy,” he is really looking forward to tomorrow. His race win coupled with it being Daytona week gave him a little pep in his step during this past week.
Thrasher said he was glad to get the overall win last weekend despite mistakes. He has done well at speedway races in the past (2021 Atlanta Supercross triple header events where he won the first and third events for his first two pro wins) so he is excited heading into tomorrow as well.
After being banged up at the Oakland Supercross, Hampshire said he is “about as close to 100 percent” as he can be as he is set to make his 450SX debut tomorrow. With limited time on the FC 450, Hampshire knows it will not be an easy feat, but said the team offered it to him and he will never shy away from racing. The #24 also said it is surreal to think he will be lining up in the premier class of the sport.
“Never would have thought I would be racing a factory 450 on supercross. …I’m here to learn as much as I can,” Hampshire said. “Really not too scared of it.”
Ferrandis said he was confident in his riding before he got hurt a few weeks ago so he is looking forward to being back on the starting gate, Daytona SX or not. Press day was your typical get a quick glimpse of the track then put down a few minutes to try different lines while throwing a few whips and wheelies in here and there for the cameras. We saw a few small spills, but Ferrandis had a big crash that our video guy Tom Journet caught up camera, check it out.
Word is Ferrandis was checked out by the Alpinestars medical crew but is okay and expected to race tomorrow.
Make sure to check out our full press day video below.
Stay tuned to all Racer X platforms for coverage from tomorrow’s supercross, as well as our coverage of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Racing second round Wild Boar GNCC Saturday and Sunday, the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Daytona Supercross on Monday, and the Vintage Supercross event on Tuesday. If you are in the area for tomorrow’s supercross, make the hour-ish drive north to Hog Waller for the Wild Boar GNCC. Oh, and on our drive down, our ads guy Dusty Williamson and I stopped and rode some at the ClubMX training facility on Wednesday, which was a blast! Bike week has officially begun!
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
Daytona is the most unique race of the year. The dirt is softer, the layout is different, and the conditions are more extreme. As for rider preparation, it's mostly in the tracks they ride leading up to the event. Most with enough resources to do so will build a one-off Daytona layout. It can be as easy as incorporating the normal SX track into a sandier section of a motocross track. A few random drops of a bulldozer bucket help, too. Daytona's oddly built jumps and bumps present a unique challenge to suspension settings. Without some midweek testing, riders will be left shaking their heads on Saturday. Having a more familiar feel will do wonders for rider comfort on Saturday afternoon, and usually bring a better result on Saturday night.
Common sense would say that riders will want to soften the suspension to give a plusher, more forgiving feel. On an old-school Daytona layout, that would be the wisest route too. Not so much these days. With more standard supercross obstacles than in yesteryear, riders often stick to a stiffer setting. Does it lead to a few dicey moments in the rougher sections? Sure. Does it give riders the confidence to blitz sections in the same fashion they would in, say, Arlington? Also yes. That's the tough part of modern Daytona: how do riders strike the perfect balance of supercross stiff versus Daytona plush? Watch for riders to be in constant flux on Saturday afternoon as they search for the right setting. Testing helps, but Daytona is its own animal. Who can tame the beast when the gate drops?
We had Husqvarna’s Christian Craig on the PulpMX Show Monday night to talk about his season so far. Craig admitted that early on he wasn't too happy with the way the bike worked for him once they got out to California. He stayed back in SoCal after A2 to work on things, and so far, so good it seems for him. He's slowly gotten better and just had his best qualifying result of the year. He's getting closer to that group B of riders (Justin Barcia, Aaron Plessinger, Ken Roczen), and he admits that it's been tough on him mentally. I made mention that I had known there were weeks at the Baker's Factory where he was the best guy and then to show up Saturday and get lapped by a guy he rides with (Cooper Webb), and Christian agreed with that statement. But he's getting there. His starts aren't there yet, but in my experience, starts and having confidence knowing you can run the pace go hand in hand (unless you're Mike Alessi or Vince Friese), so he's not there yet.
Triumph Factory Visit (Simon Cudby)
I was recently lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at the huge Triumph Motorcycles factory in Hinckley, England. After some meetings with some key marketing personnel, I was given a tour of the history of Triumph, from its founding in the early 1900s up to the successful current structure, followed by a tour inside the impressive factory walls. Unfortunately, I did not get a look at the motocross bike on this trip, as its development is not yet ready for public eyes....
As Triumph prepares to enter the highly competitive fields of motocross and supercross racing, I could tell that they're not entering this new discipline to just be a new brand on the track, but they’re serious about getting to the top of the podium. With guys like Ricky Carmichael onboard, Triumph is already off to a good start in developing a winning bike. With pending new moto bike launches this year, it's going to be fascinating to see how this brand fares in the stadiums and moto tracks of America.
Big thanks to Rod Lopusnak from Triumph America for setting up our visit, and the team at Hinckley for making us feel welcome!
Texas Bound (Keefer)
I am currently sitting in the passenger seat of our Sprinter van while my kid drives down Interstate 10 headed toward Freestone. We are leaving a little early to ride a private facility in Midland, Texas, called FU Ranch (yes, that's its real name). I met Ken (owner of FU Ranch) at the World Vet race at Glen Helen, and he offered up his place for Aden and me to get some prep in before the Spring Nationals. It's always nice to get to ride new tracks, especially the ones with good dirt like Ken's place! Being gone for two weeks doing these races is something that’s tough for me, as I have tons of stuff to test, but I did bring some of my work with me, which can give me a different feel—and that’s helpful when giving feedback to consumers. The JS7 Freestone Spring National, as well as Spring A Ding/Underground race, will be our first time going. I guess this is what it's like being a parent of a kid racing these amateur races. Being gone two weeks doesn't seem to bother these parents, but I don't know how they make money or can be gone from their jobs this long. It is sure weird for me. See you soon, Texas!
2023.5 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition And Husqvarna FC450 Rockstar Edition (Keefer)
It has been raining and snowing like crazy in California, so I grabbed a couple test riders to test the orange-and-white 2023.5 machines. The Factory Edition and Rockstar Edition have a few changes to them, so we decided to test them at a local high desert track to get away from flooded local tracks, and for a change of scenery for all you viewers. Colton Udall (six-time Baja 1000 champion) prepped his private facility in Hesperia, California, and we broke each machine down for you to give you the facts on if these bikes are worth purchasing over the standard models. Look for the full videos up soon, right here on racerxonline.com.
MXGP-TV Trivia Contest (DC)
With the 2023 FIM Motocross World Championship rapidly approaching, Racer X Online is once again partnering with MXGP-TV, and we have a few MXGP Video Passes to give away. You can watch all the action from the 2023 season, as well as Team USA try to defend its title in the ’23 FIM Motocross of Nations from Ernée, France, in October. It’s a $130 value! So we’ve decided to ask an MXGP-related Trivia Question here each week for the next few weeks, making sure the winners are true students of motocross here and abroad. The first person to correctly answer in the Comments below will get the MXGP Season Pass.
Last week’s question was: Who was the first foreign rider to win an AMA outdoor national? Many folks guessed Pierre Karsmakers, the Dutch transplant who came to America in 1973 and won the AMA 500cc National Motocross Championship. But one year earlier, at the Cal-Expo National in Sacramento, Swedish transplant Gunnar Lindstrom won the 250 class (and, coincidentally, Finnish transplant Peter Lamppu finished second). And the first reader to get it right was Jim M. from O.C. He answered 13 minutes before Tim Walker also got it right. Jim gets the one-year MXGP-TV pass.
Now this week’s question: There is just one rider who managed to win both the first 125/250 moto he entered and the first 250/450 moto he entered in AMA Pro Motocross. Who is he?
Win on Saturday, Sell on Monday (DC)
Every now and then it's fun to check the win ads on CycleNews.com each week to see who is winning, and who is backing them. Win ads are a timed-honored tradition in motorcycle racing, and the best place to track them over the many, many decades is the Cycle News Archives, or the actual weekly issues. Here are this week's offerings:
Ads We Can't Get Away With Today (DC)
Back when Suzuki's ATV program paid contingency money, "winners may even be exposed in national magazines."
We don't hear much from Mike LaRocco since he and the GEICO Honda team parted ways a few years ago. I caught up with the national champion to do a bit of a "where are they now” podcast this week on this site. Mike says he doesn't watch the races and has a life where the subject of motocross and what he did never comes up anymore. There was a point where, post-divorce, he and Jeff Emig lived in the same complex, and of course they were mortal enemies when they both raced. So that part of the podcast was pretty funny. Mike and I ripped through all the different team changes he went through and what the difference circumstances were behind those. It was interesting stuff—Mike was pretty honest throughout the show, and it was good to talk to him again.
Hey, Watch It!
The classic British motocross track Hawkstone Park held their big annual preseason international with beautiful (but chilly) weather and some top MXGP on hand, including Jeffrey Herlings, Romain Febvre and Glenn Coldenhoff:
And speaking of Herlings, here’s a cool Red Bull video about Jeffrey's return with a preseason photo shoot and some insight about Herlings' struggles with injuries from Jace of Gypsy Tales:
Right from the pitlane at Daytona, Mitch Kendra and Tom Journet catch up with several athletes as well as Ricky Carmichael and Justin Brayton ahead of the Daytona Supercross
Head-Scratching Headlines of the Week
“Justin Brayton Named Grand Marshal For 53rd Running of DAYTONA Supercross” -Brayton to serve as first grand marshal in history of longest continuous Supercross race in America
"Drake Lil Wayne Rapped My Email Addy in Song ... Thought It Was My Name!!!" - TMZ
“Vladimir Putin signs a decree honoring US actor – and Russian citizen – Steven Seagal”—CNN.com
"Kiss reveal last dates of their farewell tour, ending in NYC" - Associated Press
"New York City to Ban Dirt Bikes?"—Cycle News
"O.J. Simpson’s foreclosed Miami home was quietly demolished" - NY Post
"Tennessee governor dismisses school photo of him in women's clothing as he prepares to sign anti-drag bill"- CNN.com
"The New "Raspberry Rally" Girl Scout Cookies Completely Sold Out In One Day And Are Now Going For Up To $100 PER BOX On The Secondary Market" - Barstool
And finally, we'd like to wish a Get Well Soon to our esteemed publisher Scott Wallenberg, who had minor surgery today and will be on the couch watching the races on TV this weekend.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!