And just like that, the off-season is over. Finally. Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the epicenter of the moto world, the parking lot of Angel Stadium in Anaheim. A new season is upon us as of tomorrow afternoon, as the starting gate will drop on the 2024 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship at 5 p.m. West Coast time. And right now, everyone is tied for the points lead, everyone is undefeated, everyone still has a shot. And with so many factory riders in the 450 class right now (after a thankfully smooth December with no unfortunate surprises) it’s hard to over-hype the buzz here right now. With Chase Sexton debuting his #1 on the KTM, with Eli Tomac back after last April’s heartbreak, with Cooper Webb and Jason Anderson and Ken Roczen all looking comfortable and ready, and of course with the influx of new talent to the premier class as Jett and Hunter Lawrence, Justin Cooper, and even MXGP FIM Motocross World Champion Jorge Prado joining the tour, there’s just a crazy number of storylines that will start breaking tomorrow. And I haven’t even mentioned guys like Aaron Plessinger, Malcolm Stewart, Christian Craig, Adam Cianciarulo… And we haven’t even mentioned the 250 class yet!
With all that’s going on, we’re going to devote this Racerhead to just trying to point out some of the many things happening around us on what feels like the first day of school, combined with the last day of school, Christmas, Halloween, the Fourth of July, and more, because it’s the Anaheim Supercross, finally….
Some shots from a muddy Honda test track on Thursday morning. The Lawrence brothers, along with Dylan Ferrandis, were out breaking in their Anaheim 1 race bikes.
Now for some photos from today's press day.
And finally, our guy Josh Gagnon’s (@alwaysbelieve331) final days to the countdown to ’24 supercross…
Supercross, Motocross, SuperMotocross on SiriusXM Radio, Channel 85 (DC)
Well, we've finally come full circle, in a really cool way. Beginning tomorrow night, all 31 rounds of the 2024 SuperMotocross Championships—all 17 supercross rounds, all 11 AMA Pro Motocross Championship races, and all three SMX playoff rounds in September—will simulcast their TV broadcasts on SiriusXM radio, Channel 85. Thanks to a strong off-season push by Steve Yarros, Lisa Joiner, and the broadcast team at Feld Motor Sports, the races will air live all season long, so if you're in a car, at work, or just enjoy listening to sports on the radio, this is a very cool development for our sport. It also is another step in the evolution of broadcasting the races on new platforms. With a nod to the old AMA results hotline of the seventies, when then-AMA officer Dave Despain used to read out the results on Sunday night, to Lou Seals' Motoworld with Despain, Art Eckman, and Larry Maiers, to Glen Wales' old 1-900-INF-MOTO results line, to Cycle News' breakthrough "Virtual Grandstand" online feed, and then on to the old internet broadcasts that Chad Damiani, Jim Holley, and even our own Jason Weigandt did in the mid-00's, to live streaming on Peacock, and now this, we've come a long way... I remember looking the Mitchell brothers up in the old tower at Kenworthy's in Troy, Ohio, trying to type out the races live and then piping it through a long-distance phone line, one of them watching through binoculars and the other furiously hammering at a computer as big as an old TV set. There was also Roxy Rockwood's old Daytona Bike Week radio shows, Radio Fox of the early '90s at Loretta Lynn's Ranch, DMXS Radio's Kevin Kelly, David Izer, and the late Joey Casey, Steve Matthes' PulpMX Show podcasting empire, and just all kinds of cool shows, podcasts, and YouTube channels now that we've almost reached a point where one could watch/listen to SX/MX 24 hours a day, every day. Somewhere up there, Art Eckman, Larry Naston, Erv Braun, and a few other amazing moto voices of yesteryear must be beaming with pride.
Preseason Media (Aaron Hansel)
Another January, of course, means another season of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, which always begins with a press conference at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. These things, for the most part, can be somewhat routine. The guys all “have been putting in the work, love their bikes, and can’t wait to go racing on Saturday night.” This year was no different, in that sense, but there were also some interesting and comical tidbits.
Eli Tomac, who is coming back racing for the first time since rupturing his Achilles tendon last May in Denver, said he’s feeling great, and is, remarkably, already at the same level he was last year before disaster struck. That’s good for him, because this field is loaded!
Some humorous moments came courtesy of Aaron Plessinger. When asked about his personality, one of his responses was that he always wanted to be like Joe Dirt, which prompted a big laugh. “Congrats, you made it,” quipped press conference host Jason Weigandt, which garnered another round of laughter. There were more laughs when Plessinger was asked which chassis he chose (two are available, consisting of different levels of stiffness and rigidity). “I don’t know, I really don’t know. I don’t even know what tires I'm on, brother,” Plessinger responded with a laugh.
All joking aside, I was especially impressed with just how many ways there are to watch supercross this year. In the past, getting the broadcasts have been, ehh, a bit dicey in some situations, but not any longer. In addition to Peacock, NBC will have some live broadcasts, CNBC will have a re-air of all SMX races, there will be a Spanish language broadcast, and the audio will even be broadcast on Sirius XM. I’m sure I’m missing a few outlets too, because there are 100 plus countries receiving the supercross signal in 2024. I think we can all be happy about what a solid broadcast package we’ve got going this year!
After the press conference the riders took to the track. The Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team had a replica of the A1 track constructed a while ago, so they probably felt right at home, but it didn’t take the other guys long at all to get it sorted. It’s hard to really make any predictions or assumptions from press day, as guys aren’t going all out, and they get routed around the whoops, but it was still pretty interesting to see them get after it for the first time in a while. Jett Lawrence seemed like he was having a hard time getting through one of the rhythm lanes cleanly, but I think that’s just because he was trying so many different lines. At one point someone even said they saw him go five-out to exit the lane! His brother, Hunter, crashed pretty good in that same lane but got up just fine. We’ll get a better idea tomorrow of how things are shaking out when the guys start laying down fast times for real. Excited yet?!
IT'S HERE (Matthes)
Just one sleep until Anaheim 1 is here and the long 2024 season kicks off. Thirty-one races in 39 weekends everyone! Lots of time to complain about TV coverage, take-outs, winners, losers, and whatever Weege is wearing on national TV. We had Zach Osborne on our Fly Racing Moto:60 Show yesterday to talk about Anaheim 1 nerves, bike setup, and more. Because trust me, in my time in the sport as a mechanic or media guy, some guys think they're ready for Anaheim 1 and perform, and others think they're ready and they're not. After all, wherever you're practicing you're only as good as the people around you and you really don't know how ready you are, or aren't. There's going to be some big-name rider who is going to get smoked at A1 and be in a bit of a shell-shocked mode after the race. Last year it was Christian Craig, the year before that it was Marvin Musquin. It's always that way. Not to mention the riders based out east who don't come to SoCal early enough and sometimes struggle with their bike setup on the harder Anaheim 1 dirt, which also gets soft and rutty in spots.
You can listen to Osborne's thoughts below, and also hear that he is firmly on the Jorge Prado train for the first few rounds he's here.
PULP SHOW (Matthes)
Had a really fun Anaheim 1 preview PulpMX Show the other night with Denny Stephenson, the 1990 125SX East Region champion, flying in for the show, and then we had multi-time SX and MX champs Jeff Ward and Rick Johnson on (for a bit at the same time), and then multi-time 125SX and MX race winner and one time Summercross champion, Tim Ferry as well. Really great to banter with these guys on Anaheim 1 thoughts. Wardy and RJ told a great story about them practicing against each other all by themselves in their heyday on 500's and both guys talked about how much they hated each other, but yet respected each other as well. The guys all talked about going into Anaheim 1 as a title favorite (in Johnson and Ward's case) and then as a guy who thought he could win. Great stuff by all the former riders on the show. Pulpmxshow.com to listen or YouTube to watch.
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
Here. We. Go. Insert the Joker saying those words as we enter Anaheim because chaos is about to ensue. There isn't a more pressure-filled race on the calendar than Anaheim 1. Months of work all lead into what seems like one moment. In reality though, it's just another race on the calendar. It's the same points payout as Detroit, Daytona, or St. Louis. The emphasis put on Anaheim is a bit silly, but make no mistake, it's real. Teams all want good results at Anaheim to reward sponsors and validate the hard work of the off-season. It adds endless pressure to riders, but that comes with the territory for world-class motorcycle racers.
The advice I have for this race is to embrace the moment but understand the bigger picture. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the spectacle that this race is. It's also important to remember that in a few weeks, no one will really care who won Anaheim. Everyone will be focused on the next race and the overall points. The end-all-be-all feeling of Anaheim is fleeting and more of a mirage than a lasting truth. In that realization, act accordingly. Soak in the magic that is Anaheim but don't let it be a crippling point of anxiety. Understand that this race is an opportunity; nothing more, nothing less. If A1 goes poorly, the gate will drop again in San Francisco in a week's time. Redemption is always right around the corner. Take peace in that. Give it your all, unleash all of the preparation you've undertaken, but don't pin your season-long expectations on one night. It's the first and the biggest, but in the end, it's just another Saturday night of Monster Energy AMA Supercross.
Number 125 (Keefer)
I just want to put this out there. No one is really saying anything about Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda’s Vince Friese. I know, I know! Look he is a controversial rider and that is why I took the time to type words to laptop because he can/will make life hard for A LOT of factory riders in the coming weeks. Vince is a good enough rider to lead laps and cause some other top riders apprehension about making a pass on him, which in turn makes for a good race for us fans to watch. I have heard Vince's times have been really good at the Honda test track, in comparison to other factory Honda rider times, so this tells me, if nothing else, his speed is worthy of at least a pick in fantasy. I will be rubbing my hands together Saturday morning when the boys take to the track for practice! Look out for the number 125 tomorrow night, he might surprise you!
Rookie To Legend: A Decade of Dirt (AJ Pleasanton)
As the Christmas lights are taken down, a different set of lights are about to burst into life at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. It’s been 15 weekends since the dramatic conclusion of the 2023 SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX). Between then and now, the industry professionals and enthusiasts alike have been abuzz with high expectations, dubbing this season the most competitive 450 class field ever assembled. It’s ironic how the same sentiment is echoed every year, but that’s because it just keeps getting better! The speculation and armchair racing is almost at its end, and it’s time to kick off the 2024 AMA Supercross season opener!
Now, with the stacked crowd of elite riders ready to start off their 2024 campaigns, there are a heavy handful of questions all the die-hard fans want answered. Will 450 SX rookie Jett Lawrence, fresh off an undefeated AMA Pro Motocross season and that SMX title run, carry his momentum into the stadiums of supercross? Can the defending AMA Supercross Champion Chase Sexton successfully defend his title on his new Factory Red Bull KTM? Coming off a terrifying injury, will Eli Tomac be the Achilles heel for everyone else’s championship hopes? Will Ken Roczen ever fill the gap in his trophy room and lock down a supercross title in the 450 class? Or will past 450 Champions such as Cooper Webb, or Jason Anderson, return to racing in top form as the gate drops for the first time in 2024? The scariest part about all the aforementioned names is, there is not room for all of them inside the top five. Not to mention the narratives surrounding Hunter Lawrence, Justin Barcia, Malcom Stewart, Dylan Ferrandis, Adam Cianciarulo, Aaron Plessinger, and the addition of the 2023 MXGP Champion, Jorge Prado—at least for the first three races. All 13 of these racers have shown over the years they have what it takes to win, and unfortunately, every weekend, at least three of them will finish outside the top ten.
It's worth noting that Anaheim 1 in 2024 is not just another race; it's a landmark, marking an entire decade since the electrifying season opener in 2014. Many Supercross fans can vividly recall the viral clip of James Stewart's high-speed mishap in the whoops while chasing then-rookie Ken Roczen. That year, Roczen, the fresh face in the 450 class, took his first checkered flag in the premier class against legends like James Stewart, Chad Reed, and the 2013 Supercross Champion (and '11 and '12), Ryan Villopoto.
Recalling the famous Mark Twain's adage, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes," let’s explore this comparison. Will the 2014 season opener offer us a lens through which to view the upcoming race in Anaheim? Can Roczen replicate his success from a decade ago? Will this be another year where the rookie outshines the established titans? And what about last year's points leader? Will he clinch the holeshot only to wash out his front wheel in a corner? Can an underdog lock down an unlikely heat race win and shed tears in the post-race interview? Or will the fastest rider on the track once again lose his back end in the whoops? Let’s just hope Eli Tomac doesn’t DNS the heat race this time around.
It’s safe to say this year's season opener is more than a race; it's a reflection, a moment to ponder the unpredictable, cyclical nature of supercross. As new talents rise and veterans aim to reclaim their glory, the parallels and contrasts with 2014 will be under the microscope. The excitement is palpable, and the stakes have never been higher. Who will seize the moment under the bright lights in Angel Stadium? Will history echo, or will new legends be written? As engines rev and hearts race, from this moment until the gate drops, one thing is certain—we are on the cusp of witnessing supercross history.
The Lives They Lived (DC)
On New Year's Eve we posted our annual requiem about some of the friends and strangers involved in moto that we lost in the last trip around the sun. It's always a difficult column to pull together, but also important. We really are all in this together, and even if we didn't get a chance to meet that person while they were here on this Earth, it's nice to remember a little bit about their lives. In case you missed it, here it is.
One person we did not get to mention was Bob Pingree, the father of our longtime contributor David Pingree, now a part the Whiskey Throttle Media pack. Mr. Pingree passed right before Christmas. Ping then posted some really cool photos of his father, who I actually met way back in 1992 or so at Loretta Lynn's when Ping was a top Suzuki amateur prospect. I did not realize then just what kind of effort Ping's dad put into his minicycle and amateur racing endeavors, but after seeing the photos and this story that David posted on his social media, I had to circle back and share it, along with all of the others we included in The Lives They Lived 2023. Here's Ping's little story:
"Spent the weekend going through my dad's house and cleaning things out after his passing. I’m sure I’ve told the story of how we used to put my KX60 in our plane and fly down to Arizona to race, but I could never find photos. Well, I found them. My dad owned an electronics company called The Sound Room, and it did well. It was actually listed in the Inc. 500 fastest-growing companies in the early 1980s.
Anyway, I didn’t think much of it as a 7-year-old, but this was pretty cool. We would meet the Cook family in Phoenix and load into their trailer for the weekend, then get dropped at the airport Sunday afternoon."
How cool is that? As Denny Stephenson joked, Ping was Great Western Bank team before there even was a team! Bob Pingree was 77 years old. Godspeed.
Hey, Watch It!
SuperMotocross 2024 Season Preview Show
2024 SuperMotocross Round 1 Anaheim Pre-Race Press Conference
2024 Anaheim 1 Supercross Press Day RAW Riding & Interviews! | First Look
2024 ANAHEIM 1 VLOG SERIES | Episode One
2024 ANAHEIM 1 VLOG SERIES | Episode Two
HBI Racing - 2024 Replica Pro Bike Giveaway
GASGAS Dirt – Episode 11: Jorge Prado
Head-Scratching Headline/s Of The Week
"'BH 90210' STAR IAN ZIERING VICIOUSLY ATTACKED BY BIKERS IN L.A. ...Jumped in NYE Street Brawl" - TMZ
"Limited edition Valentine’s Day Stanley cups are causing chaos at Target"
"The truth behind Walt Disney's frozen head" - BBC.com
"ESPN Sorry for Showing Woman Flashing Breast during Sugar Bowl" - The Daily Beast
"Video: These twins have birthdays in two different years" - WTAE Pittsburgh
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #1.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!