May 31, 2005

Found on MotoDrive

This cracks me up! This is JustJohn's new sig at MotoDrive...

Found on MotoDrive

This cracks me up! This is JustJohn's new sig.

On The Gas!

Nice shot of Mike Alessi leading the way at High Point last weekend. Photo by Jamie Mullen, courtesy of Racer X Online.

May 29, 2005

High Point!

Well, it looks like Cycle News got the online holeshot with their race report of today's outdoor National at the High Point Raceway at Mt. Morris, PA. And it looks like my Hangtown prediction of Carmichael and Stewart going 1 and 2 came true today, instead. I wasn't there, and it sounds like I missed a great race! There will be a lot of banter over the internet about this race for the rest of the week!

And in the 250F class, my man Mike Alessi garnered his very first National win... way to go, Mike! And Mike Brown actually won one of the motos, making it the first time a Honda 250F has taken the checkered flag at an outdoor national... and it was a privateer Honda at that! Good job, Brownie!

How Ryan Hughes, Ivan Tedesco, Josh Grant and Nathan Ramsey beat Broc Hepler in his backyard, I have no idea. Guess we'll have to go to the tape for that answer.

May 28, 2005

Beat the Heat; slip the Sun...

Man, I could have used one of these at Hangtown last week.

May 27, 2005

Sparkplug #5

Well, I was a little off on last week’s prediction for the opening National at Hangtown. Rick Carmichael did indeed go 1-1, but James Stewart, as everyone knows by now, was unable to finish higher than 6th in the first moto… and then pulled off the track feeling ill during the second race.

However, it was what happened in the 250F class that leads to this week’s Sparkplug, because the topic is electric starters. As in, “How many races have to be lost before the factories begin equipping their bikes with them?”

Mike Alessi had a fantastic day last Sunday, running top 5 for most of moto 1, and then leading the second race from gate drop to that fateful last turn incident with Grant Langston. Much has been said about the incident, but no one has commented on the glaring fact that there is in fact a better way to start or restart a motocross motorcycle without resorting to brute force.

I am old enough to remember when electric starting first became commonplace on street motorcycles. I recall actually being a bit pissed off that the manufacturers, after a few years of electric starting, began building motorcycles WITHOUT KICKSTARTERS! “How lame is THAT?”, I thought back then. To me, in my mid-teens at the time, kickstarting your motorcycle was one of the coolest things you could possibly do. Heck, before I had my first motorcycle, I used to pretend “kickstarting” my Sears ten-speed! Of course, the end of the kickstart-only era opened motorcycling up to a much wider market. How many of those big twin Harleys do you think they would be selling today if those middle-aged yuppies had to exert themselves to start them?

No doubt, e-start was a godsend to the street side of our sport, and it is proving very, VERY popular in the offroad community as well. I think KTM deserves a lot of credit for providing it on their great cross-country bikes. I remember racing a Saturday REM round at Glen Helen; lined up next to me on the starting gate was a guy who had to be 65 if he was a day, sitting on a big Katoom 520. It was hot as heck, and I was just waiting to see this old guy kick that big boy over. When the 30 second card went up, I glanced over at him… and his bike was already running! Yep, he had a “happy button” on that bike. (Oh yeah, that “old guy” lapped me during that moto, too!)

Back to the present. I truly believe Alessi would have won that moto at Hangtown if he had a “happy button” on his 250F. Even though he had to run a few yards to where his bike lay, he was ahead of Grant and they both picked up their bikes at about the same time. But no, KTM Racing decided to forego installing electric starting on their race bikes, so they had to pay the price at the finish line. And it’s not the first time something like this has happened.

Back in 1999, at the L.A. Supercross, living legend Doug Henry led every lap of the muddy main on his works Yamaha YZ400… until he fell on the last lap and … guess what? That’s right: he couldn’t kickstart the bike! Well, he did eventually light the beast, but not before a surprised Sebastien Tortelli stole the win. I also seem to recall during the maiden year of Yamaha’s 250F, when Ernesto Fonseca was laying waste to what was then truly the 125 class in supercross, there was a race he lost in much the same manner, sitting on the sidelines, kicking and kicking and kicking…

Even at last year’s Hangtown opener, young Josh Grant’s first moto surprise lead was ruined when, after crashing, he couldn’t refire his little Honda thumper right away. Again, how many motos have to be lost before something is done?

The lone argument against e-starting is weight. That’s it! To me, a person who carries more than a few extra pounds on his frame, that’s a non-issue. Give me effortless starting, and I’ll give up a few pizza nights. Obviously, though, for the world-class athletes that race on the National circuit, those extra pounds make a difference… but maybe we should ask Mike Alessi if the tradeoff was worth it last Sunday.

May 26, 2005

New Place to Race in SoCal! AVMotoplex - Motorcross Ride Park

This is cool: a new track just opened in Los Angeles County: AVMotoplex - Motorcross Ride Park.

I haven't been yet, but I'm stoked!

May 25, 2005

"If I Can Get A Top Ten This Weekend, I'll Be Happy"

There's a great video interview with Team Monster/Pro Circuit's Grant Langston over at Transworld Motocross Online, where he explains what happened in that exciting last turn at Hangtown. He definitely comes across well, and it certainly makes senses to me after seeing all of the videos and still.

Unfortunately, he won't be 100% for High Point on Sunday, so he's hoping to salvage some points by racing hurt. This could be Grant's season.

May 24, 2005

Quick thoughts on Hangtown

(I posted a version of this over at Motodrive; this version has more filling!)

1) RC beat the shit outta those guys. He pulled a Lance-Armstrong-in-the-Alps move on them and made them feel PAIN. I imagine there's a lot of despair in the hearts of some championship hopefuls...

2) Fonseca's brainfart turned 250 moto 1 into the "same old, same old". RC had the holeshot, but up there with him was Windham, Reed and Stewart. It was looking real good until Fonzie flipped out in the worst possible place imaginable. It was ugly. You could feel the disappointment in the crowd as the pileup unfolded.

3) Stewart's first lap charge was amazing. We were standing there wondering "how the heck did he get to 16th that fast?" James had a great first moto. Second moto, well... still trying to figure out what's up.

4) The 250F class was unbelievable. First moto, Hepler puts the beat down on the boys like he was channeling James Stewart. Josh Grant looked good for a while, but faded (disappointing); Alessi looked troubled and then faded (or so I thought); Mike Brown surprised the hell out of me; Langston looked strong and Ryno looked inspired.

5) The other KTM 250's were popping and sounded off-song.

6) Mike Alessi totally surprised everyone in moto 2, as did Langston. And that last turn craziness electrified the crowd all over the valley. It was incredible... and incredibly disappointing for this confirmed Alessi fan.

7) Langston REALLY wrecked his left ankle when he slammed into Alessi. Not a wise move on his part, especially if it keeps him off the bike next week at High Point. Langston had the overall wrapped up; the only reason to go for broke for the win was the three additional championship points that came with it. Being that he won a championship with less than that as a buffer, I can understand why he'd want every single point. But still... we'll see how his ankle turns out.

8) Travis Preston looked pretty damn strong running in the top 5. None of the other 250 "hopefuls" made up any ground on him. In the first moto, though, Chad Reed caught him and taught him a lesson: "You will NOT finish in front of me!" Travis didn't have anything for Reed.

9) David Vuillemin also looked good. The top 5 racers totally outclassed the rest of the 250/450 field.

10) Mike Brown and Josh Grant made those Honda 250F's look fast, but I still don't know about whether they'll win a National this year. If so, look for Brown to be the man to do it.

11) No one is giving Ivan Tedesco much credit for running up front for much of the second 250F moto. He's not expected to be an outdoor threat, but there he was. Don't know where he was in the first moto, though.

12) Hepler looks to be the man to beat in the 250F class, despite his second moto crash. His speed and style in the first moto was unbelievable, and he rode with a lot of confidence. He's going to be very difficult to beat at his home track next weekend in Pennsylvania.

13) Matt Walker rode to 4th in the second moto, but he was unimpressive, IMHO. Mitch must have gave him a good talking to after his dismal first moto.

14) Broc Sellards: 20 - 13. Never seemed to be on the gas. What's going on here?

15) Juss Lansoo is an up-and-comer to watch out for. His fifth overall was well-deserved, as he beat the likes of Ferry and Fonseca.

16) Finally, John Dowd! Junkyard was looking really good in the first moto, even holding off Stewart for a short while. He definitely benefitted from the Fonseca fracas, 'cause his second moto start put him back in the pack where he's expected to run.

May 23, 2005

Here's the start of the first 250 (okay, "450") moto at Hangtown. It was looking great at this point... Carmichael (4) in the lead, with Team Honda's Ernesto Fonseca (24) and Kevin Windham (14) pressing him, and Chad Reed also lurking in 4th. Behind Windham is James Stewart. And then right after this turn, at the top of the hill, Ernie threw a monkeywrench into the works... Posted by Hello

Kevin Windham (14) hung with RC for a while in moto 1, but KDub was already a lap down at this point, due to the "Fonseca Incident" Posted by Hello

Talk about leaving it on the track...

Transworld Motocross' Donn Maeda snapped this shot of Mike Alessi collapsed on the side of the track after that intense second 250F moto. Mike led the moto wire to almost-wire, having victory snatched from him by multiple 125 champion Grant Langston. It was still a great effort, Mike!

Look at Grant Langston's left ankle!

Whoa Nelly! Transworld Motocross has a picture of Grant after that wild second moto finish... where he won the moto, but dislocated his ankle. Ouch!!

Get Well Soon, Deegan

I'm not the biggest fan of freestyle motocross, and you won't read much at all about it on this site, but I recognize the impact that Brian Deegan has made on the "sport" and still consider him a "brother-in-arms" for motocross at large. Apparently, Deegan was seriously injured this weekend, according to this report from Racer X Online.

I'm glad he survived and hope he recovers quickly and as fully as possible.


Me and buddy Lliam Burke just got back from a road trip to the Hangtown National. I'll be posting thoughts and pictures shortly, but I have to link to Jason Weigandt's excellent race report at Racer X Online... J-Wag sums up the day in a way that is, um, Eric Johnson-esque. That is meant to be a great compliment!

Message to KTM...

... Electric Start. Now.

May 20, 2005

Sparkplug #4

On Sunday, May 22, 2005, the first shot will be fired in the war between Carmichael and Stewart, something the motocross world has been anticipating for a couple of years now. Here’s my take on what I think will happen:

Carmichael, 1 – 1. Stewart, 2 -2.

Now, I am a huge James Stewart fan, and I truly believe he’s the most exciting racer to watch, by far. But I am also a pretty big RC supporter as well; I will never forget the races I’ve seen him in: his first year on the 125 at the Perris Invitational Supercross, throwing out can-cans over 70-foot gaps like it was nothing. At Budds Creek that same year, wearing number 70, he was absolutely SMOKING the field, and everyone in the crowd was going “who the heck is THAT?” I watched him practicing starts at Glen Helen for his second year in the 125 class… the intensity that he brought to each and every launch made it clear that he intended to dominate that day and every day thereafter. Later that same day, I watched him hammer through the biggest ruts I’ve ever seen at Glen Helen (and that’s saying something!), and he would then dive into the turn at the end of the straight completely wide open, the engine note dropping only when the rear wheel slammed into the berm. Unbelievable.

Of course, Rick was the only motocrosser to ever sweep a season… and then he did it TWICE, for those that might have missed it the first time. In fact, as I write this, he’s still undefeated outdoors. The kid is fast, plain and simple (and here he is, courtesy Transworld Motocross, practicing for Sunday).

James Stewart is fast too, no question about it. I have stood at trackside and marveled at his speed many times, and I hope to do it many more times as well. Last year at Hangtown, sometime after he finally shook the minor threat from Stefan Roncada, Stewart was wailing down a particularly nasty straight SO FAST, that each time he went by, the people in the crowd would just look at each other, smile and shake their heads, as if to say “I can’t believe anyone can ride a bike that fast!”. And they repeated this lap after lap after lap. James is so fast, it’s almost scary, and you can be sure that Carmichael is well aware of his rival’s speed.

So why am I picking RC to win Hangtown? One reason: James is coming off of an arm injury, which will not help the arm pump that he has suffered at Hangtown the past two years. It’s probably due to nerves, and I’m pretty sure that he’ll be a little nervous knowing that he’s going to have to really hang it out there to run with Rick. So I’m guessing that James will get out there and scare himself a couple of times and end up backing off and cruising in behind RC; they’ll both be far ahead of third place.

However, for the title I’m going with Stewart. It’s not that I think James is the better man (or the worse, for that matter); I just don’t think they’ve fixed all the bugs in Rick’s new Suzuki thumper. Something as minor as a stall and a hard-to-start engine could be enough to lose a moto for Rick, and I’m thinking that they’re probably see an even more severe mechanical before the season’s over.

In any case, this year’s championship race will be one for the ages. It’s a great time to be a motocross fan! See you outdoors!

May 18, 2005

An Open Letter to Ryan Hughes

Hey Ryan, I might as well be up front about this, because you’re probably not going to like what I’m about to say: YOU SHOULD RACE THE 250 CLASS THIS YEAR.

Honestly, I have been working my feeble brain over this and I cannot figure out why you think it’s to your advantage to take another shot at the 125 class title this year. I find it extremely hard to grasp the concept that you actually believe you have a chance at winning the title on a privateer Honda CR250F. And if you’re NOT gunning for the championship, why wouldn’t you go for top 5 in the 250 class?

I’ve read all the interviews you’ve done recently, and you’re confusing me. At Racer X you said you were as fast as Grant Langston on your 250F… so why didn’t you take the opportunity at the Prequel to beat his butt and send him a message? Then in your interview with Transworld Motocross after the Prequel you said your first motivation is the money (“First of all, the biggest purse is in the 250 class, so when you do your own team, you need every penny you can get.”) Ryan, if that really is the case, wouldn’t you earn more money finishing 5th or 6th in the 250 class outdoors, than 7th through 10th in the 125 class?

There. I’ve said it. I like you and respect you. I even have an autographed picture of you, and I’m not the type of guy that gets everyone’s signature. But I don’t think you’re going to be able to finish in front of Team Suzuki’s Milsaps and Jesseman, nor beat KTM’s Alessi and Ramsey. Then there’s Langston and Walker on the Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s, leaving you in 7th. I didn’t even bring up Mike Brown, or even Josh Grant, who gave you a bit of a run (and took your 250 title) at the Four Stroke Worlds.

Ryan, I think you can beat Tim Ferry. I think you can run with Vuillemin (although you weren’t able to last weekend, from what I’ve heard). Basically, I think you’ll do much better in the big bike class, and I’m surprised, and frankly puzzled, that you don’t think the same.

Finally, you HAVE to know that the CR450F will give you a better chance against the factory bikes than the 250F. At the very least, you know that the 450 has actually won at the National level… I don’t think the littlest Honda has even won a moto, but I could be wrong. Certainly you’re aware of the results of the most recent supercross season… and the hottest 250F’s were not wearing red. You may be bringing a gun to a gunfight, but it’s not gonna be the baddest one there, not by a long shot.

Ryan, it may be too late for you to change your entry, so you may just have to sleep in that bed you prepared. I hate to see you do this to yourself.

May 17, 2005

Motocross Action handicaps the 250 class

Thanks to Leonard over at MotoDrive for pointing me to this article at Motocross Action's website. It's a great look at the class of 2005 lining up for the upcoming 250 outdoor national championship. Here's the spoiler: they're picking Rick Carmichael to win it all.

Great read.

Our Family Sport

There's a great thread over at MotoDrive by BrownDogWilson, who shares what's really important about moto: our families. Awesome pics, BDW!

In Their Own Words, courtesy TWMX

Yesterday I questioned why Team Yamaha's Chad Reed and David Vuillemin decided to race the Prequel at Glen Helen on Saturday. I only had to wait to read Transworld Motocross' Monday Kickstart to find out. I was just too impatient!

According to the article, Chad said "If I felt like I was in a position where I was beat and tired and ready for a weekend off, I would have taken it. But I would have been riding this weekend any way, so I thought, 'I'll come race, do two 35-minute motos, see where we're at. As it worked out, I think it was a good stepping stone for me. There are some things that we need to work on, and some things that I'm really proud of and pleased to see that are working."

Nice head-game shot at his competitors who may have said they were tired and wanted a weekend off! The mindgames that Chad and Ricky have played on each other during Supercross practices have been epic... looks like they'll continue into the outdoor campaign!

David Vuillemin didn't directly address the question, but 125 class hopeful Ryan Hughes did. When asked why he was in the big bike class for the Prequel, he said he did it for the money: "First of all, the biggest purse is in the 250 class, so when you do your own team, you need every penny you can get."

Then Ryno went further, admitting he had some mindgame tactics of his own: "I can also watch the guys that I'm racing against, see their weaknesses and what they do right and wrong. Learn from them and also keep it my speed as kind of a question. They see me riding a 450, and if I can do what I think I can do, then they're going to have it in their mind…watch out."

That's cool Ryno, but it seems to me that if you "can do what I think I can do", you oughta be doing it in the premier class. We need your talent there, man!

May 16, 2005

The Prequel at Glen Helen

It really wasn’t that long ago in California when pre-season motocross races were a big deal. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the CMC’s Golden State series was a must-attend for the factory teams, as the races provided the best way to make sure bikes and riders were dialed for the upcoming championship rounds. In the late ‘90s, there was the Perris Invitational Supercross, which even featured a $10,000 winner-take-all purse. And there is the Chapparal event at Glen Helen, on that circuit’s often-overlooked (and underused) supercross track. But with the common complaint that the racing season is already too dang long, the pre-season events have fallen out of favor with the top riders and team.

Recently, a new sort of warm-up race has sprung up, only this one occurs in the middle of the racing year, between the indoor and outdoor title races. This year marks the second running of The Prequel at Glen Helen, a race put on by Greg Primm, who happens to also own the world’s largest collection of dirtbikes and memorabilia. This race was run just last Saturday, and it was won by Team Yamaha’s Chad Reed. You can check out race reports at Cycle News, Racer X and Motocross Action.

Here’s my question: why a mid-season warm up race? Who benefits and why?

First, let me say that although I did not attend the Prequel, I appreciate every single professional motocross race that is promoted within driving distance of Pasadena, California. I didn’t attend this one because I plan on driving up to Sacramento next Sunday for the opening round of the outdoor Nationals at Hangtown. That said, after such a long and grueling Supercross season, I can understand those riders that decided to sit the Prequel out and get some rest. But for those that raced, I assumed there were a couple of factors behind their decision.

1) The race is a great opportunity to get last-minute bike sorting details taken care of, and to get a real feel for one’s outdoor setup in the midst of some real competition. This, however, is not a problem the factory riders face, so it’s interesting that Team Yamaha chose to race. Perhaps they wanted to take advantage of reason 2…
2) Since the very fastest racers see no need to compete in the non-points-paying Prequel, the door is open for the lesser lights to get on the podium for a change, bolstering both their confidence and their bank accounts.

It makes sense, therefore, for riders like Ryan Hughes, Mike Brown, Danny Smith and the like to go and try to pull in a win, since it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to do the same thing during the championship season, at least on a consistent basis. But Chad Reed? David Vuillemin? Granted, they are not expected to challenge for Carmichael’s crown either, but… I don’t think a second or third place overall is out of the question for Speedy Reedy. In any case, he severely outclassed the field at the Prequel, sweeping the 250 class. This win may just be his only outdoor win all year, but I’m sure he’s not harboring that dark thought.

In my mind, the big surprise was Ryno, who notched third overall with 3-3 scores, taking the title of fastest non-Team Yamaha rider. And what the heck was he doing in the 250 class anyway? Did I miss an announcement, or did he decide he had a better chance at the podium than going up against Grant Langston and Brown in the 125 class? Personally, I think Ryan should stay in the 250 class for the rest of the season.

So, no big news from the Prequel… next Sunday is going to be dynamite!

May 13, 2005

Sparkplug #3

It's pretty clear that 4-strokes have taken over the world of motocross. And I am actually okay with it. The truth is, they are in fact easier to ride AND they pollute less than the alternative. Yet at the same time, it's sad to see the 2-strokes slowly disappear.

I mentioned in an earlier article something about how the smell of 2-stroke exhaust is one of those things that makes motocross addictive. We even find chainsaws and weedeaters somehow strangely appealing when they emit that oil-burning aroma. But the gases that account for the smell are the same gases that our fouling up our air, no two-ways about it. I'm not saying that 2-stroke motorcycles are the cause of air pollution, but I recognize the fact that the unburned hydrocarbons are contributing to the problem. I am proud that we motocrossers are doing our part by our acceptance of 4-strokes.

Not that the thumpers don't bring their own brand of problems, noise pollution being at the top of the list. And the low frequency vibes generated by these bikes travel farther than 2-stroke tunes, so they're heard farther away... not a good thing for racetrack owners when it comes to maintaining the peace with the neighbors. But the noise problem can be mitigated, for the most part, with proper silencing and strictly-enforced sound limits. I'm all for saving our hearing.

This is the thing, though: what's next? While 4-strokes are better for the environment, there are other issues at hand, most notably the dwindling supply of fossil fuels. The Japanese automakers have wholeheartedly embraced hybrid power technology, marketing cars and now SUVs that get their motivation from smaller engines supplemented with electric motors. These hybrids are now best-sellers, and I imagine that we're maybe 24 to 36 months away from seeing Honda sell a hybrid-powered Gold Wing. If that happens, will hybrid MX bikes be next?

I happen to be a proponent of the electric MX bike concept. Sure, there have been some attempts at marketing such a thing already, like these bikes at Synergy EV, Inc. And even Segway got into the act, developing a prototype quad that balances itself, so even a total spode can hold a wheelie until the batteries run out of juice. The biggest problem with these bikes, though, has been run time; typically they run down within an hour. A hybrid solution would neatly circumvent that problem.

So how about it, Honda? How about a hybrid CRF, that features one of your run-forever 110cc 4-stroke motors, backed up by a high-output electic spooler that gives the machine performance comparable to the current 450? Can you do it?

If you do, I'll buy one.

May 12, 2005

Motocross in Paradise

I really didn’t know what to expect, unfamiliar as I was with the Hawaiian countryside. I only knew that I had passed Sunset Beach and the track was, according to the website, about a mile east of that world famous surf destination. So I stopped at a gas station for directions, not even sure if they could help.

“Excuse me, do you know where the motocross track is?”
“Yeah, it’s just up the road,” the young woman behind the counter said. “Turn at the yellow sign.”

Five minutes later and I was making that turn, just as a couple of pickup trucks with bikes-in-back were pulling out. Suddenly I found myself piloting a late model Cadillac sedan up a steep and twisting fireroad, and I strangely felt at home. I was definitely on the road to a motocross track, no question about it.

I started getting excited about this adventure many miles before I found the place. Once the highway climbed out of Central Oahu and I started seeing countryside, it was like I was in a different land altogether. The highway eventually shrank to two-lane, and I swear there was a moment when, cresting a hill, I felt my jaw go slack as I was presented with one of the most inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean I have seen to date. Considering what I’ve seen so far on this trip, that’s really saying a lot.

Everyone knows the water around Hawaii is fantastic; even still, it was great seeing those perfect blue tubes as I drove past Sunset. But for the motocross enthusiast in me, it was the dirt that really got my juices flowing. Dark brown, the color and consistency of that chocolate powder you add to your cappafrappacinolatte at Starbucks. I couldn’t wait to see the track!

The entrance road was like a tunnel of trees, and occasionally there were glimpses of the sea below. It was late in the afternoon, and there weren’t many riders left. The first guy I talked to said “How do you like our dustbowl?” I hadn’t even noticed the dust, so caught up in the beauty of the surroundings was I. See? The dirt is always better on the other guy’s track…

The Kahuku Motocross track is set on a the top of a hill. You can see the ocean from the pits. The track winds downhill and up, through beautiful evergreen trees. It made me think of the beautiful track at Mammoth Lakes, California.

The only downside of the track is the fact that is has no watering system at all. None. Not even water trucks. So how do they deal with the dust issue. Vet expert Michael Aiwohi explained to me that they change the layout on a regular basis, so that the dust can re-settle after a weekend of practice and racing. Pretty novel approach, I have to admit.

I walked around a bit and took a few pictures of the layout, but track pics need riders in them to provide the proper perspective. Luckily for me, Aiwohi and some other riders took to the course and all of a sudden I felt like super motophotographer Simon Cudby… too bad my little digital camera wasn’t up to the task. There was a pretty big double in the infield section, maybe 75 – 80 feet long, that Aiwohi and another fast guy, Alex Pada, were clearing with ease and style. Once I finally figured out the shutter delay on my camera, I was able catch them going over it.

Aiwohi later told me about a rhythm section down in the woods, so I took a short hike through some mystical-looking trees to get to it. Minutes later, I was able to catch Pada scrubbing over the small double, which led to a tabletop. While I was there, a couple of mini kids rode over to see what I was doing. When I told them I was taking pics for my website, they agreed to do a synchronized pass over the small double jump. Jason Towne, on his KX 85 and Jayce Aiwohi, Michael’s son, on his CR 85, flew through the air for my camera. Once again, I wish it was a better picture, but still, I was impressed with the ease and confidence that these kids rode with.

If anybody reading this knows the Aiwohi’s or Alex Pada, please pass this website's url along to them; I gave them the wrong url by mistake!

These beautiful waves were happening just a mile down the road from the track at world-famous Sunset Beach. Posted by Hello

An overview of the Kahuku MX track. This place was just gorgeous... Posted by Hello

Here's a view of the ocean from the Kahuku MX tracks access road! Talk about racing in paradise...! Posted by Hello

Jayce (left) and Jason busting big over the rhythm section back in the wood. These were some of the coolest kids ever! Posted by Hello

Two of Hawaii's quick mini racers: Jason Towne (left) and Jayce Aiwohi. Posted by Hello

Really fast guy Alex Pada was pounding out some practice laps at Kahuku MX. Here he's launching off the big double. Posted by Hello

Vet Expert Michael Aiwohi clearing the 80 foot infield double at the Kahuku Motocross track on Oahu's North Shore. Posted by Hello

May 11, 2005

2005 Supercross Awards

Even though the AMA and Clear Channel will hand out a bunch of awards for the racing season, I have a few special mentions that must be made. In no particular order, except that I saved the best for last, here are the ALL THINGS MOTOCROSS SUPERCROSS AWARDS:

The “Most Disappointing Season” award, without a doubt, goes to Travis Pastrana. The World’s Most Popular supercross racer finished only one race the entire season. Please don’t give up yet, Travis.

The “Can I Get A Mulligan, Mate?” award goes to Chad Reed. Speedy Reedy unfortunately lost his title, but he gained a bunch of new fans with his late season dominance. The man is plain fast on a SX track. Look for him to dominate the U.S. Open… again.

The “You Really DO Love Me/Us” award is a tie, going to both Jeremy McGrath and his legions of fans. McGrath scored by finally admitting that it’s all about the adoration, and his fans were more than happy to supply him with as much as he wanted.

The “I Really Need To Stay Out Of Vegas” award goes to James Stewart, for scaring the entire motocross world with the horrific vision of a Stewart-less National series (shades of 2003!) when he tweaked his wrist in his heat race and sat out the final supercross in Las Vegas.

The “Best Championship Defense (ONLY Championship Defense)” award goes to Ivan Tedesco, for not only taking a page out of the Rick Carmichael playbook by riding smart to his second 125 West Region championship, but for also having the guts to actually wear the beautiful number 1 plate on his KX250F. Kawasaki better make room for him in the big truck next year. Byrne might have to “move aside and let the man go through… let the man go through.”

The “Yes, Our Bikes ARE Bad-Ass” award goes to Mitch Payton and the Monster/Pro Circuit team, for dominating the 125 class in both regions.

The “Maybe He Really IS A 125 Specialist” award goes to Grant Langston, for being the only human being in the history of the planet to win the World 125 MX title, the AMA 125 National crown, and the 2005 125 East Region SX championship. Not bad for an African in America, eh?

The “Boys Will Be Boys” award is another tie, going to the dual/dueling Joshes, Grant and Hansen, for giving us internet “couch munchers” something to rant about after their ill-advised “meeting of the minds” in a hotel parking lot somewhere. Here’s hoping that they pick up where they left off, but this time on the track at Hangtown.

The “Best Magazine Cover” award goes to Simon Cudby and Racer X Illustrated, for that fantastic shot of the muddy first turn at Anaheim 1. Simon may have lost a camera in that heroic effort, but it was worth it!

The “Let Me Show You Ladies How It’s Done” award goes to the lovely Michelle Stephenson, for out-hotting all of the hotties in the press box at the Atlanta Supercross. Displaying nothing but class, the former Miss Supercross was easily the most beautiful belle at the ball. Too bad she had her goofball husband in tow (just kidding, Denny!).

The “Best Place To Hang Out In The Pits When You Don’t Have Enough Juice To Get In A Factory Rig” goes to the TFS mobile media motorcoach. Cool ride, Steve… did you ever get a maid?

The “Give This Girl A Raise” award goes to the 30-second-board girl at Anaheim 1, who somehow managed to stay hot, despite the fact that she was in fact freezing her beautiful buns off.

The “Best Performance By Kevin Windham” award goes to, predictably enough, Kevin Windham. Not for his fluke-y A1 win, but for coming alive in the last half of the series and making us think he might win another one without relying on everyone else crashing.

And last but certainly not least, the “Underdog? I Think NOT!” award goes to Rick Carmichael, for making a great achievement seem like the obvious conclusion to a fantastic indoor motocross season; for taking a new ride to new heights; for taking his talent to the rest of the World (well, Canada actually) and giving new luster to the World Supercross crown; for doing what needed to be done when it needed to be done; and finally, for bringing the Supercross title back to where it belongs, in the arms of America.

May 06, 2005

Sparkplug #2

This week I want to talk about the so-called permanent numbering system adopted by AMA Pro Racing for the National Motocross and Supercross series.

As most motocross fans know, this system was put in place several years ago. The general concept sold to the public was that it’s “too confusing” for the casual motocross fan to understand why a racer’s number changes every year. The permanent system would not only introduce a sense of stability, but would also give the racer another tool to market their “brand”.

Noble intentions, to be sure. But most of us grew up racing in amateur organizations that awarded at least the lowest digits (like the top ten or twenty) to those riders that completed the year with the most points. To those fans, the numbering system served as a ranking system, and even though we’d have to memorize a new number every year for our favorite riders, it still made sense because the number represented his place in the pecking order. You would expect top ten number holders to run at the front of the pack, and you would be surprised to see three digit guys to do the same.

Now, the new system DOES utilize the points-ranking system for numbers in a strange way. If I recall correctly (and the AMA website isn’t much help here), riders ARE ranked according to points standing, but only into numbers that haven’t already been “claimed” by other riders, and only for numbers after 20. In order to get a number in the top 20, one has to win a championship AND a number must be “vacant”. Yep, that’s easy for the casual fan to understand!

So, who is actually taking the best advantage of the “marketing” possibilities? Well, Travis Pastrana put out his very first video with his number prominently featured in the title, “Revelation 199”. Smart move by a smart kid. Much has been reported on why James Stewart chose number 259, but the only people exploiting that “brand” are sponsors at Fox. Same thing with Ricky Carmichael, who should be the most marketable motocrosser on the planet. When you see that big, slanted number 4, you think “RC”… even though it should rightfully be a big, slanted number 1.

Which brings me to why I’m ranting about the numbering system in the first place. Now that the championship-winning riders have an incentive to “brand” themselves by their bike number (instead of their name… remember who the “Bad Boy Club” was started by?), nobody wants to run the used-to-be-coveted number 1 plate because they don’t want to surrender their “brand”. This is a slap in the face to those of us who would give their right arms and left, uh, huevos to win ANY type of championship. The big number 1 is indisputably cool… but you can’t claim it permanently, so you can’t use it as a marketing tool. It’s really all about the money. Sigh.

Then again, in the June 2005 issue of Road & Track, a non-moto mag if there ever was one, there is a fold-out ad on the inside cover, prominently featuring a black female track athlete in the starting blocks… and she’s sporting number 259 on her jersey! Open up the ad, and it turns out to be promoting the new BMW 3-series automobile! Is this some type of subliminal play on James Stewart’s growing influence or popularity? I guess we’ll find out if he starts showing up at the races in Beemers…

May 04, 2005

New Wrinkle in the Mike Brown Story: The Other Side

You've got to hand it to those guys over at Racer X; they take this sport very seriously, and they always get the goods. Racer X Top Dog Davey Coombs scoops the entire motocross world with this interview of Colin Reed, the team manager of the RWJ Honda team that Mike Brown suddenly fled not too long ago. Brown went on the record, via DMXS radio, claiming that the team didn't do well by him. Reed, not surprising I guess, totally disputes Brown's claims. Very interesting read... enjoy.

May 03, 2005

Tortelli - Man of Glass?

Oh man, will this guy ever get a break? Er, maybe I should reword that... over at Racer X Online, they're reporting that Suzuki's Sebastien Tortelli has tweaked his wrist while practicing for the outdoors; it's going to require surgery and he'll be out for six weeks. SIX WEEKS! There go his championship hopes, up in smoke.

Many people have written off Tortelli, but I remember one year when he was the ONLY guy taking it to Carmichael outdoors, week in and week out... until he got hurt (of course). They had one FANTASTIC BATTLE at Budds Creek, among many other skirmishes that year... I believe it was the last year RC rode green (somebody help me out here). Tortelli can be wickedly fast outdoors, but he has had problems staying off the injured reserve list. Here he goes again... dang!

May 01, 2005

Rick Carmichael and Suzuki: 2005 Supercross Champions!

The man they call "RC" has regained his Supercross crown and taken it to his Suzuki team, ending a 23-year championship drought for the yellow team. Racer X's Jason Weigandt has the story here. Or you can check out the Cycle News version here.

I just want to take this opportunity to congratulate Rick on a fantastic season, and to congratulate Team Suzuki manager Roger Decoster on doing what needed to be done to bring Rick to the team and giving him everything he needed to do his job.