December 03, 2007

Katherine Prumm will Kick Your Ass


Shown here graciously accepting her trophy for winning the FIM Women's Motocross World Cup at the FIM awards shindig last week, New Zealand's Katherine Prumm looks like a class act. Read the rest of the story at Vital MX. And yes, that's a GuyB photo, straight outta Monte Carlo...

November 30, 2007

Clayton Miller!


What?

Looks like this guy has style. A superb photo by Aaron Remkus.

November 01, 2007

Who Made What in 2007

MXi magazine has become, as far as I am concerned, the "bible" of prize money statistics for pro motocross in America, and I always look forward to each issue to see numbers that amaze and confound me. In the November 13 issue, MXi listed the rankings current as of October 23rd. These are essentially the end of the year standings, and it should be no surprise to anyone to see "Lucky" Grant Langston finish in the top three after adding the U.S. Open win to his 450F National Championship, bringing his total winnings to $138,920.

I must admit that it seems weird that Chad Reed grabbed the second place spot ($271,250) without winning a single major title AND while sitting out all but one race of the entire outdoor season, but such is Supercross, an earnings powerhouse for the right riders.

The prize money is correctly skewed towards the winningest riders, but the funds drop off steeply as it moves down the list. It is hard to believe that only five professional racers were able to win more than $100,000. The fact that three guys on this list of 35 didn't even pass $20k in winnings seems even more implausible because these are well-known racers: Kevin Johnson, Tyler Evans and Kyle Lewis!

Now I know that many if not most of the racers on the list make the bulk of their earnings from salaries and endorsements among other things, and that some people think that therefore prize money is superfluous, and in any case, those who win should get the lion's share of the purse (killed that metaphor), but... looking at this list still bugs me. I think racers of the quality that we feature in the American series deserve the honor of competing for large stakes. Hell, would the U.S. Open be as popular with the riders if the top prize was only $10k?

Well, maybe, but only because these guys are hungry!

Remember Yamaha of Troy fast guy Jason Lawrence? The one who caught a wheel in the grill at Hangtown, courtesy of now TWO-time 250F National Champion Ryan Villopoto? Yeah, J-Law only won $20,565... good for 32nd place on the money list.

Speaking of RV, winning ALL of his possible titles brought him all the way up to tenth place on the leaderboard... but even he only took home $51,360. 250F racing does not pay.

More weirdness: Travis Preston nailed 20th on the list... and I can't even remember if he raced this year. Seriously, I'm not sure if he finished SX and sat out MX or what... but whatever he did, he was able to win $35,050. Mike Gosselaar's new rider, the guy who took an astounding second place in the 450F title chase, Mike Alessi, made less than that: $32,870. That just don't seem right.

And fittingly, considering the lopsidedness of the purses for the two series, the dude who won BOTH Supercross crowns won the most prize money. James Stewart won $402,090. That's only about $75k less than what golfer Ernie Els won for finishing third in the 2007 PGA Championship. Um, that's just one event. One weekend. But I digress.

To put it plainly, supercross kicked motocross' ass. The earnings list vividly demonstrates that focusing on supercross is in the financial benefits of these racers. The question now is, what is motocross going to do about it?

Just about the coolest thing ever: the Vintage Factory RC125 replica


Okay, this is just off the charts. For $7500, Vintage Factory will sell you this freshly restored Marty Smith Honda RC125 replica! What a little jewel of a bike... it's pretty enough to put on display in your office or rec room.

October 16, 2007

October 12, 2007

Even Laster Minute Stuff: Stewart Scratches

I had a choice of two headlines for this one... I almost went with "Guess Who's NOT Racing?"

After participating in two practice sessions, James Stewart met with the motocross press and said, “I just want to let you guys know that I won’t be racing tonight. Over the last few weeks we haven’t had a chance to ride because this was last-minute decision.” Here's the story from VitalMX.com.

Here's the thing: it sounds like he's making a sound decision. And he even notes that he's got the pace, reportedly he set fastest times in both practices. 2008 will be interesting indeed.

October 11, 2007

Last Minute Stuff

First Carmichael surprised everyone with his announcement, earlier this year, that he would race the Bercy Supercross for the first time in his career. It was to be his last race on two wheels.

Then James got injured and sat out the tail end of the Nationals... then announced that he wouldn't race for the rest of the year.

Shortly after that, Kawasaki announced that Stewart's surgery went better than expected, and the next thing you know, James is spectating at the Motocross of Nations at Budds Creek, and then riding some promo laps at the Kawasaki Race of Champions at Englishtown, New Jersey.

Then RC announces that he is suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and withdraws from both Bercy AND the U.S. Open.

And then Kawasaki announces that James Stewart will now race in the U.S. Open.

Say what you will about the timing of these announcements, but here's my take: there's a lot of money on the table for this race. If any racer has a chance at winning it, then they really need to be on the entry list.

That said, I think James would have welcomed the opportunity to race Ricky indoors one more time.

September 15, 2007

Just In: Mike Brown wins British National Championship!

CAS Honda team rider Mike Brown, former 125 National Champion, has just won the MX2 (250F) British National Championship at the final round today at the Pontrilas Hereford circuit.

Heckuva job, Brownie! (sorry, I couldn't resist that) Seriously, that is awesome news.

Boy, were my Outdoor Predictions wrong!

Wow, was I off! Of course, who could have predicted that James Stewart would get injured and not finishing the season? I mean, just because it happened the past two seasons doesn't mean it's ALWAYS going to happen, right?

Okay, some DID predict it. But not me... when I made my picks for this year, I saw it like this:

450 class:
1) James Stewart
2) Tim Ferry
3) Davi Millsaps

I even went so far as to actually write, "I also do not believe the "Alessi Threat" will materialize into a top three finish..." I was REALLY wrong there. Congratulations to Mike and Team Alessi on that unbelievable second overall on the season! That's a great accomplishment to take to an equally amazing new job at Team Suzuki. I'll have to write more on Mike later...

Notice the missing Grant Langston. He wasn't even on my radar, so to say I was surprised by his late season run would be an understatement. Now on to the 250F class... here were my picks:

250 class:
1) Ben Townley
2) Ryan Villopoto
3) Ryan Dungey

Close, but no cigar. Truthfully, I wasn't even close because I wrote: "I also think that it will be a Battle Royale between Townley and RV all year long, and luck is going to play a big part of it. But I think overall we'll see Townley come close to dominating the series." Uh, WRONG. Yes, it was a close battle, but if anyone deserves the word "dominating" it would have to be the redhead from Washington State, Ryan Villopoto. When RV won, he WON. He's amazing to watch and he certainly rose to the occasion of having to race against a team mate that already holds a world title.

Plus, and this is no small thing, I think Ryan Villopoto deserves credit from all American motocross fans for keeping one of our outdoor titles under the Stars and Stripes. I mean, I know Langston is practically a citizen (actually, he may already be naturalized, I'm not sure), but still...

September 10, 2007

Cardinal Sin: I has committed it...

In the language of LOLcats, "I can has committed..." a terrible sin when I chose NOT to attend the AMA/Toyota trucks National Motocross championship round at Glen Helen this past weekend. There's no use listing my lame excuses because, well, they're lame. But I have not missed a National at the Glen since I moved to California in the winter of '97.

Funny thing is, I don't feel particularly guilty about it.

I will admit that I did feel a bit of a letdown when Stewart bowed out of the series. It seemed as if everyone else in the moto-world greeted that news with excitement, since it meant the title would no longer be a foregone conclusion. To me, it meant that instead of the championship going to the fastest, the AMA series turned into a "last man standing" deal. Which is actually how it should be; a champion has to be able to endure the entire series (unless he scores enough points to wrap it up a round or two early, of course...).

I do wonder, though, if Grant Langston feels the irony of the fact that BOTH of his American motocross championships were series in which James Stewart was unable to fully participate due to injuries. Of course, Grant cannot be blamed for the circumstances that presented themselves, and he deserves full respect for stepping up and achieving what his rivals simply failed to do. Langston won that title fair and square, no two ways about it.

I just didn't drive out to see it happen.

Update: James Stewart's knee surgery

I had heard some rumors on the internet about James Stewart's condition, but I wanted to wait until Kawasaki released the offical word. Well, here it is.

Looks like James made it to Glen Helen after all, and he is currently recovering from knee surgery. James says surgery went well, and his recovery is anticipated to be shorter than expected, but he won't race again until the start of the Supercross season.

Here's hoping his recovery is as complete and painless as possible. Get well, James... the motocross world needs you!

September 06, 2007

An Open Letter to James Stewart

Hey James, I know you’re probably not feeling like hearing advice from a spode like me. I mean, when I was your age, I was still in the novice class and now, decades later, most Vet beginners school me. So I really have no business offering you any pointers on racing; unfortunately, I’m not going to let that stop me.

But enough about me; here’s what I think you need to be doing right now: helping your team mate Tim Ferry win this championship.

Hey, I have no idea what you’re up to right about now… maybe you’re laying in bed recovering from knee surgery, maybe you’re on your boat chillin’ on the water somewhere, who knows? Kawasaki isn’t/hasn’t said, and your own website hasn’t been updated in over a year. But if you’re NOT laid up recuperating then you really oughta be out at the track everyday with Ferry helping him to “win one for the team.” Because that’s what team mates DO.

The way I see it, YOU are the reason Ferry is having the year of his life. Because he has been able to practice with you, watch your lines and this has helped him raise the level of his game. Look at his results when you were on the track; he was killing everyone but you and Ricky. Then check what happened after you bowed out: now he has trouble making a pass on Alessi stick.

Timmy needs you, James. He needs you in his corner, talking him through this thing, pointing out the fast way around the track. You really need to show up at Glen Helen and help him win the National Championship. What do you say?

September 03, 2007

Langston is the man to beat

Team Yamaha's Grant Langston is looking at another American National Motocross championship, after taking a strong win in Texas yesterday. Honda's Andrew Short and Red Bull KTM's Mike Alessi rounded out the podium for the first National motocross held in Texas in... too long.

Ironically, it was Short that started off strong, taking a page out of James Stewart's playbook by grabbing the holeshot and decisively checking out. Unfortunately for Short, he also channeled Stewart in the second moto when he crashed while out front, handing the lead (and points lead) over to Langston.

Kawasaki's Timmy Ferry set fastest time in Sunday qualifying, but once again could not buy a start and couldn't make the necessary passes to gain any ground on his rivals Short and Langston. It's not looking good for Ferry as the tour heads into Glen Helen this weekend for the final round.

September 01, 2007

Is Timmy Ferry gonna choke?

Man, I hope not.

Let me get one thing straight: I have no ill will towards Ferry. In fact, I really hope he can pull off this championship for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he seems to be a really nice guy. I mean, I have never actually met him outside of a autograph line, but I did have the good fortune to meet his wife, Evie, at the San Diego supercross (ironically, the one where Stewart won his very first SX in the 125 class), and she was such a nice person that he just HAS to be a good guy to win a woman like that!

Anyway, what would also be cool, of course, is the idea of a guy as old as Ferry doing the unthinkable: coming back to the factories after having been left for dead basically, and working hard enough to be in just the right place to win all the marbles after his superstar team mate gets taken out by an injury. You just can't write a better script. The only problem is that Grant Langston and Mike Alessi seem to be much hungrier for it right now.

And Timmy seems to be having a problem right now, at the worst possible time... because for most of this year, he was having the season of his life! Check out these results:

Hangtown: 3-3
Hi Point: 3-4
Southwick: 37-4
Budds Creek: 4-8
Red Bud: 4-4
Unadilla: 5-1 (Stewart out after crashing in practice)
Thunder valley: 11-1 (Stewart riding injured)
Washougal: 2-2 (Stewart injured in moto 2))

And then James called it a season... unfortunately Timmy, instead of taking over, seemed to take off as well:

Spring Creek: 8-6
Steel City: 4-7

So what's up? Is Ferry choking under the pressure? Right now, for tomorrow's national at Freestone in Texas, Timmy set second fastest lap... but the current points leader Langston is sitting on the pole. Ferry is only FOUR points out of first with four motos to go.

Timmy, you need to go 1-1 tomorrow and put this thing away.

August 25, 2007

It's over... James Stewart is out for the rest of the year.

I can't say I didn't suspect it, but it still bums me out: Kawasaki has just dropped the announcement (see it here courtesy Cycle News)... James Stewart is too injured to compete in any of the remaining races of 2007.

2007 National Championship... goodbye.

2007 Motocross Des Nations in America... no can do.

2007 U.S. Open... so long, payday.

Continued disrespect from misguided "fans"... unending.

I think they made the right decision, and James is showing a lot of maturity by thinking about longevity versus the short term. Those guys have nothing to be ashamed of... they had a great year!

August 24, 2007

James Stewart will NOT ride at the Motocross Des Nations!

Oh man, I know young James didn't like making this decision; here's the news release courtesy Racer X Online.

And as of this writing, Kawasaki has made no announcement about whether Stewart will race this weekend, so... maybe what I hoped for is coming true; maybe James will race the rest of the Nationals and try to win the title, then immediately go for surgery.

James, you're a big man to let go of the opportunity to race for your country IN your country at Budds Creek.

August 22, 2007

I hope James is healthy enough to go for the Title

I've been holding my breath... okay, not really, but here's how I see it: since Kawasaki has not issued any press releases yet about James Stewart's condition, then perhaps it's not as bad as it has seemed. Or in any case, they are putting off making a decision about either going for surgery (and scrapping the rest of the year) or going for the National Championship and THEN bowing out of the U.S. Open and the MXdN and getting the surgery then.

The latter is what I'm hoping for.

Yes, I know that with a 21-point deficit, James would need to basically win every single one of the six motos remaining in this season AND hope that somebody can stop Timmy Ferry or Andrew Short from finishing second in all of the motos. And that's asking A LOT. But, man, wouldn't it be something to watch?!

See, I think that James really, REALLY wants to add the 450F title to his list of accomplishments now, rather than later. And I don't blame him; it seems more than a few people have been calling his legitimacy into question because he's had a fairly tough three years in the class, at least outdoors. For some reason, some refuse to give him any credit for his two 125/250F class championships, preferring instead to speculate that the man just doesn't have what it takes to win in the "premier" class. Well, I say fooey to all that claptrap... but at the same time, I'd like James to just win this year and get it over with just to shut those people up.

I know... they'll never shut up no matter what he does.

I guess we'll find out this weekend what's really going on. I know the really smart move is to play it safe and NOT ride injured, just call it a season and get the knee cared for. However, professional motocross is anything but safe, so... what to do?

I hope he's healthy enough to go for it.

August 13, 2007

David Vuillemin seriously injured at Millville

Team MDK/Honda's David Vuillemin suffered more than a few broken bones as a result of his tangle at the start of the second 450F moto at yesterday's AMA National at Millville. According to this report on RacerX Online, the fan-friendly Frenchman broke his scapula, collarbone, three ribs, sternum and more after being run over. Yikes!

Trooper that he is, though, Vuillemin didn't let his injuries keep him from logging on to MotoTalk to let his well-wishers know what's up. "DV12" said he's catching a plane back to France to see his doctors.

And after seeing the movie "SicKo", I can't say I blame him. Get well quick, DV12!

August 09, 2007

Did the X Games suck... again?

I pretty much thought so. And I'm not alone: check out this hilarious piece by Racer X Canada's Steve Matthes. It's funny, but on the money.

Honestly, I was put off my feed... literally... when I saw Jake Brown take his infamous digger live while eating dinner at a sports bar in San Diego. That was enough to make me wary of watching any more... and I actually LIKE skateboarding and bmx vert stuff. But like a true motohead, I tuned in later that night to watch the Moto "X" best trick event... and was dismayed by the dude in jeans and the clapped out bike. And no, I wasn't completely surprised when he endoed after attempting the double back flip. The guy had cajones, I'll give him that, but... was he even supposed to be there?

So at that point, I was like "forget the X games"... but again, like the true motohead that I am, I checked out a late night replay of that sorry excuse for a supercross "race". How about ESPN making LiveNation look like motorsports gods? I didn't pay much attention to commentary... I know better than that!... and I just focused on the visuals and all I could think was that most pros have better practice tracks than what they "built" in the Home Depot Center. God, that was an ugly track.

I admit that I was surprised to see Chad Reed go backwards and give up a medal to Kevin Windham, but I'm not going to go as far as some and declare Reed washed up. That would be ridiculous. Although "ridiculous" is a good descriptor for the X games, sure...

Supermoto? Didn't even see it, but I heard a writer, of all things, got the bronze. What's up with that?? (good job, Pingree!)

I could be wrong, but I think the X games is on the way out. I'm sure someone who knows better has some facts and figures to point out that ratings were higher than ever and attendance skyrocketed and all that jazz, but just based on the scant attention being paid at the very packed sports bar I was dining at gave me a much different impression. All good things come to an end at some point, ya know?

July 30, 2007

Oh no! Stewart injured at Washougal...

Here's the update from Steve Bruhn's Weekend Window. It appears that James Stewart fell while running third (!) in the second moto, and was pinned under his bike for a while. He was able to stand up, but he was out of the race.

Stewart's mishap, among other unforeseen circumstances, allowed his Monster Kawasaki team mate Tim Ferry to take his first National win in, well, quite a few years. Good job, Timmy!

And please get well, James Stewart.

July 22, 2007

James Stewart: Heart Like a Lion

Holy cow. An injured James Stewart was able to summon up his inner reserves of... well, I don't know what... and pulled of what was probably the biggest win of his career. Stewart went 4-2 and it was good enough for the overall victory at the Thunder Valley track in Colorado.

Stewart's Monster Energy Kawasaki team mate, Tim Ferry, was able to salvage an 11th place in the first moto by winning the second moto, good enough for second overall. And Red Bull KTM's Mike Alessi took the third and final spot on the podium.

But it was Stewart who stole the show. Only a week after having to be carried off the track at Unadilla, James came out on Sunday morning and cruised through the first practice session... and then laid down the wood in the second session, setting fastest qualifying time. He took off with the lead in the first moto and led for most of the race, but then started to fade. By the time the checkers flew, James was passed by Davi Milsaps, Andrew Short and Mike Alessi.

I missed most of the second moto, so be sure to check out the Racer X post-show for the whole rundown.

James, I gotta give it up to you. Good job!

July 17, 2007

James Stewart says he'll be ready to race Thunder Valley

“Each day I feel better and better,”... ” My mobility has gotten a lot better and I think if it continues going this way, I will be ready for this weekend.” James Stewart said this, as reported in this press statement from the Monster Energy Kawasaki team, via Racer X Online.

Earlier reports of his crash (like this one by Guy B at Vital MX), which occurred only three laps into Sunday morning practice at Unadilla, noted that Stewart had to be carried "...off of the track on a backboard and to the local hospital to be checked out."

"Checked out" in this case meant getting a CAT scan. Maybe even two, according to this report at Racer X... apparently at some point James intended to get another CAT scan and a second opinion. What does it mean, if anything, that both the Racer X and Vital MX stories characterized the first hospital as "local?" Not a thing, I'm sure, but... if being "local" to the Unadilla facility means the hospital delivers substandard healthcare, then I'd probably get a second opinion myself. (To be fair, I must note that the Kawasaki press release simply referred to the place as a "hospital")

So, James is "sore" but getting better, and is currently under daily therapy to "... ease the muscle tension in his neck and back." He'll see how he feels in Saturday practice before he makes his final decision. Oh, how the internet will feed on this practice angle... I have no time for indulging that silly conversation.

One thing I've noticed about the official report is that they have managed to avoid the "c" word... well, I'm going to say it: concussion. I guess there's really no need for one to mention any injuries one did not actually incur. I could be reading too much into it; I actually hope that's the case, but...

What happened to the second opinion? You know what (I'm talking to James here... )? If you can afford more than one Ferrari, you can afford a second opinion. Of course, the point is not to amass multiple opinions, it's about getting expert medical care. I'm just saying, a single motocross race, even one where you have a realistic chance of picking up 50 championship points and getting one step closer to that huge, ginormous goal of you-know-what, well... it's just not worth losing mobility for life. Just to name one possible consequence.

I'm just saying, it's okay to sit out another round, James. Think about that before you even suit up on Saturday... your health is your responsibility, and yours alone.

July 11, 2007

I have to hand it to Villopoto

Ryan Villopoto has surprised me, I must admit. I truly thought that he would be playing catch-up to former MX2 World Champion Ben Townley, but instead, Townley has his hands full trying to keep up with Ryan!

Townley got off to a great start, winning the opening round. But Ryan hung tough in the points and finally uncorked it all at Budds Creek, storming to a dominant two-win performance. And his race at Red Bud was just as emphatic.

Ryan Villopoto, you are indeed the man. Keep up the good work!

July 01, 2007

An unbelievable battle at Red Bud

Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart finished 1-2 overall, again, but that simple fact does not begin to tell the story. It truly was a battle royale, with both rider pushing the other into making critical mistakes. James took the moto one win after RC nearly fell in a turn, and then Ricky took the decisive second moto win, and overall, after James endo'd in another rutted turn.

I saw the first motos live on Motocross.com, for the second week in a row, and I have to tell ya, they are doing a great job!

June 20, 2007

Check out the Primm Motocross Collection... online!

I have to admit, I have no idea how long his website has been up and running, but if you have never seen the Primm Motocross Collection in person, his site is the next best thing. Simply a must-see for any motocross fan. Enjoy!

June 10, 2007

Hambone Watch, Round 7: Grand Prix of France

Our man in Europe, Sean "Swifty" Hamblin, took his Team Swift Suzuki RMZ250F to two 20th place finishes, respectively to finish... well, 20th overall on the day at the Circuite du Puy d Poursay in Saint-Jean d'Angeley in France today.

Sean picked up three points, but dropped to 19th in the overall World Championship standings. Which is ironic (to me), because my World Motocross teams are running in 18th position in the Motocross Dream fantasy standings. I just had to throw that in there...

I'll bring more Hamblin news when I find some... hang in there, Sean!

Check out Leticia's segment at Southwick!

Racer X Online is doing the coolest things ever in conjuction with Motocross.com, bringing us some fantastic Preview and Review shows for each of the Nationals this year, as well as eventually bring live, same day video webcasts starting with the Budds Creek round!

You can check out the Southwick Preview show here, which features a segment of our favorite motogirl, Leticia Cline, doing a special piece on Team Makita Suzuki rookie hotshot (hotshit?) Ryan Dungey. Leticia makes Ryan look pretty good, I think!

Good job to all!

June 07, 2007

So now it's about "parity"?

Imagine, if you will, that you were James Stewart. Seriously, let your thoughts wander to what it would be like...
... to have been superfast since nearly the very first time you swung your pre-pubescent leg over a motorcycle.
... to have not only won, but DOMINATED at every amateur level in which you competed.
... to have dedicated your life to becoming just like your motocross heroes, foregoing normal youthful activities in pursuit of your goal.
... to break into the professional ranks and quickly prove yourself as a force to be reckoned with, setting win records along the way.
... to develop to the point where you are acknowledged as the fastest Supercross racer on the planet, and to literally have the "keys to the sport" handed over to you by the best racer of all time.

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel; you are closing in on your dream of being the dominant active rider in the sport. Every time you go to the starting line, you look at your competitors and say to yourself, "I can beat ALL of them." And if a certain nemesis running the #4 plate is on the line, you know that, well, sometimes you can beat him too... but everyone else is covered. All of your hard work is paying off; all of those years of dedication are coming due. And all of a sudden, the sanctioning body of your sport announces that it is considering introducing new rules meant to nullify your domination.

How would that make you feel?

Would that make you consider changing your game plan? Would it make you feel unappreciated? Castigated? Isolated?

Would you go back into your video library of old races, back during the days of Jeremy McGrath, or back when Ricky was winning every single moto... would you go back to see what the AMA's response was back then? What did they do to achieve this "parity" when the King of Supercross was on a roll? If you did take the time to review that history, you would find nothing. Nothing was done about it. There were no suggestions that the bikes were "too fast for pros" or anything of the sort.

But somehow it's different now. So, how does that make you feel?

Parity, loosely defined, means a situation of equality. That things are equal. A strange goal, to be sure, in professional motocross where the OEM teams spend millions of dollars striving for technical superiority over one another just as the riders devote hundreds of hours to practice and training to hopefully achieve some physical advantage over their competitors. The AMA seems to think that they can legislate some sort of technical "even playing field"; heck, that's what the rule book is for. Ultimately, the idea is that the bikes are somewhat evenly matched and it's up to the riders to make the difference. Is that NOT what's happening right now?

If so, why all the talk about "parity?" Instead of equality, it almost seems that they are really seeking some type of INequality; a way of closing the gap between Stewart and the rest of the pack.

What if the AMA were actually able to make that happen? Again, if you were James Stewart, how would that make you feel?

Probably ready to take a closer look at NASCAR...

June 05, 2007

Vote for Leticia!

All Things Motocross' very own Leticia Cline (possessive, ain't I?) is in the running for the annual Maxim magazine "Hometown Hotties" contest. Okay, she ain't really my homegirl, seeing how she's from Orlando and all that. But never mind that, head over to her page at Maxim to see her pics and her video and to show her some love by tossing her a vote. You know you want to!

May 27, 2007

Hambone Watch, Round 6: Grand Prix of Japan

Our man on the FIM World Motocross Championship circuit, Team Swift Suzuki's Sean Hamblin, had a hell of a first moto, finishing in 8th place on the track in Sugo. But Sean had a tougher time in moto2, carding a 27th place finish after running as high as 11th, according to the FIM lap charts here. Hamblin still took away 13 championship points, and has climbed back into the top 20 in the championship standings, now at 18th place.

The story of the day, though, belongs to American Mike Brown, who took the outright second moto win in the MX1 class, which combined with his 4th place finish in the first moto gave him second overall on the day. Good job, or I should say "heckuva job, Brownie!"

May 25, 2007

Sean Collier... retired?

Just read this in Davey Coomb's RACERHEAD over at RXO. Sean was (is) a fast guy from Southern California that I used to watch crush the locals at tracks like Perris Raceway and Starwest a few years back. He was last racing with the Star Racing Yamaha team, and apparently, has decided to give it all up "... to be an actor or something." That's according to what I read at RACERHEAD.

Sean, do what you like. Just know that I, for one, appreciated seeing you ride when you did. Good luck and best wishes.

May 23, 2007

Hambone Watch: Between the Motos

Geoff Meyers of MXLarge.com pulled off a nice interview with Team Swift Suzuki's Sean Hamblin. You can check it out here at RXO (Racer X Online).

Sean says he's gonna go for some podium finishes this year. That's the spirit, Sean!

May 19, 2007

My Outdoor Predictions: the War, not the Battle

In the grand tradition of JIT (Just In Time) manufacturing, here are my JIT predictions for the upcoming National Motocross Championships (a grand title, I must say, even without the sponsor attachments)...

450 class:
1) James Stewart
2) Tim Ferry
3) Davi Millsaps

Yep, you read that right. TIM FERRY beating "the best of the rest" to follow his teammate home for second place. This has already been Ferry's breakout, best-year-ever and I see no reason why it won't continue. I also do not believe the "Alessi Threat" will materialize into a top three finish, but I have no doubt that Mike will put in some electrifying rides this season... he might even podium Hangtown, because he definitely likes that track.

But Davi Millsaps? This kid is STRONG and I expect him to have a great year. I'm really excited about the 450 class; now on to the tiddlers...

250 class:
1) Ben Townley
2) Ryan Villopoto
3) Ryan Dungey

Yep, I think this is Mr. Townley's year as well. I also think that it will be a Battle Royale between Townley and RV all year long, and luck is going to play a big part of it. But I think overall we'll see Townley come close to dominating the series.

Back in third, I think Suzuki's new wonder kid, "the other Ryan", will continue to show the speed and determination he unleashed during the supercross season. If he can avoid injuries, I think he'll be able to give Villopoto fits for a few motos.

But enough of the BS pontificating... let's go racing!

May 17, 2007

My Supercross Wrap Up: I'm Late!

Do ya see that countdown clock over on the right border of this page? As I write this, it says there are only two days before the start of the 2007 outdoor national motocross championships! So before THE GREAT OUTDOORS kicks off, I thought I better revisit my predictions for the 2007 indoor motocross title chase.

Way back in January, after much deliberation and beer drinking, I posted this column and listed the following picks for the top five:

1) James Stewart, Jr.
2) Chad Reed
3) Kevin Windham
4) David Vuillemin
5) Tim Ferry

And here are the actual results, for the World SX Championsip:

1) James Stewart
2) Chad Reed
3) Tim Ferry
4) David Vuillemin
5) Michael Byrne

Finally, the results from the National SX Championship:

1) James Stewart
2) Chad Reed
3) Tim Ferry
4) Kevin Windham
5) Ivan Tedesco

So, I was ALMOST right with my predictions, eh? Overall, I have to really give praise and credit to Tim Ferry for exceeding my expectations... and probably everyone else's, as well!

But enough of that: Hangtown, here we come!

Annals of AMA Rule Making History: the Death of the Kickstand

In light of the recent revelations of how major decisions are made by our sport’s sanctioning bodies, I began to wonder about how some of the other rules came to pass.

Did you ever wonder how kickstands came to be outlawed on motocross racers? In all honesty, I have no idea how this rule came to pass, but I certainly have my suspicions.

Imagine the year is 1973. Motocross in America is on a roll, and the newly released silver & green-tanked Honda Elsinores are flying out of dealer showrooms and soaring around motocross tracks all over the country. Some of you young folk may find this hard to believe, but those motorcycles, every last one of them, came equipped with kickstands straight from the factory! That’s right, no need for lugging around bike stands and all that, just one quick flick of the ankle and the motorcycle would stand up ALL BY ITSELF.

Incredible technology.

And incredibly dangerous, apparently. It appears to be common knowledge that kickstands are banned today because they present a hazard to the health of motocross competitors… at least, the ones contesting events sanctioned by the AMA. At those “outlaw” tracks, you’re on your own, baby.

So maybe, back in the day before this common sense prevailed, racers raced with those dangerous pieces of steel hanging from their frames, and there was a spate of kickstand-related injuries. Imagine being the local AMA representative/referee at a racetrack one Sunday, and some kid in the 125 Novice class gets taken off in an ambulance because he had his lung punctured by someone’s kickstand. Or a chain-reaction crash caused a bunch of riders to go down because one guy’s kickstand deployed at an inopportune moment and high-sided him across the track. Just think of the pressure that AMA guy must have felt.

“Something must be done about these kickstands. It’s more than obvious that they are an unacceptable hazard to the health of our members.”

But what to do? Maybe they brainstormed a number of solutions. I can imagine that the first guy that suggested REMOVING the kickstands was shot down with the quickness: “Motorcycles have ALWAYS had kickstands. We can’t remove them! If we do, how will we ever get our bikes to stand upright without our help? No, a better solution must be found…”

And then one bright guy piped up, “I’ve got it! We need to invent a motorcycle that can stand up on its own! Then it won’t NEED a kickstand!” With that, an entire team of people set off to invent such a beast.

Thankfully, cooler (and smarter) heads prevailed, and the AMA settled on simply writing a rule that requires racers to remove their kickstands before they can set a knobby on the track. Yet even with this rule in place, it took the manufacturers a few years before they stopped putting kickstands on motocross bikes. But now, every motocross motorcycle sold today (unless it’s a KTM) is without the offending appendage.

And what happened to the team that wanted to go in the other direction? Why, they invented the All Terrain Cycle, or ATC, which eventually evolved into today’s quad racers.

(P.S. – none of the above is true. Well, some of it is…!)

Next in the Annals of AMA Rule Making: Why you’ll be disqualified from an AMA National if your footpegs don’t fold at precisely 45 degrees…

May 16, 2007

All About the Benjamins: Motocross Top Money Earners to date

One of my very favorite features of the twice-monthly Motocross Illustrated magazine is their “Earnings Leaders” column in which they list the top 35 money makers in American motocross. In the latest, May 29th issue, they list all dollars earned up to May 8th, which effectively means all the purse money paid out during the Amp’d Mobile Supercross series.

Surprising no one, of course, is the fact that James Stewart leads the way with his double championship, taking home a healthy $385k. What I find rather surprising is the fact that only ONE OTHER RACER cracked the $100,000 mark… of course that would be second place Chad Reed, who earned nearly $175k. Tim Ferry almost made it with $98k, but he’s the last rider to clear 90 grand.

The earnings drop off quickly after that, and another surprise that there are two riders in the top ten that did not make at least $50 grand. That’s for 15 races in the U.S.

Other shocking figures? How about this one: East Coast regional champion Ben Townley only made $14,650, putting him at 28th on the list. Yamaha of Troy’s Ryan Morais, who almost won the East title, DIDN’T EVEN MAKE THE LIST.

Two riders out of the entire list of 35 failed to crack the $10,000 earning barrier… one of them was Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Chris Gosselaar, who finished 5th overall in the West. He only made $8,910 for his efforts.

Wow.

Imagine how those guys with Supercross Only contracts must feel.

May 15, 2007

Hey, James Stewart!

Time to update your website, dude. That old 2006 World Supercross number one plate is, uh, last year's news.

May 13, 2007

Hambone Watch, round 5: Grand Prix of Germany

Well, after a top ten finish last week, it looks like our man at Team Swift Suzuki, Sean Hamblin, didn't do so hot at the circuit in Teutschenthal, Germany. Hamblin recorded 17th and 19th finishes respectively to notch a 21st overall, collecting 6 championship points in the effort.

Hamblin dropped out of the top 20 in World Championship points, sitting in 21st position with 41 points so far.

I don't have any details so far, but based on the lap charts available over at the Youthstream website, it appears Sean had it tough all weekend. During timed practice, he was only 30th fastest rider on the track, and that position held during the timed warm up. So, in a sense, you could say Hamblin improved from qualifying to race day.

C'mon Sean! Keep pushing!

May 09, 2007

Who owns this sport anyway?

I have been waiting a minute to unload on this 350 vs. 450 issue, because I wanted to see what everyone really had to say about it, and I didn’t want to act in anger. And perhaps anger is too strong a word to use, because I’m not really angry, but I am concerned… extremely so… that some people may be saying things without really revealing their true agendas. And that pisses me off, because it goes back to the question of who “owns” this sport of motocross, anyway? Is it the sanctioning bodies? Is it the manufacturers? Or is it the enthusiasts that actually foot the bill?

So today my mailman dropped off the latest issue of Motocross Illustrated (MXi, May 15), and not only does editor Steve Cox weigh in with his column, but another Steve, “The Factory Spectator” Bruhn of Mototalk and Racer X chips in HIS two cents in the “Open Mic” guest column at the back of the mag. Both Steves are talking about what the THIRD Steve, this time Whitelock of the AMA, has said during and after his meetings with the movers and shakers of world motocross. MXi goes even further by printing an article about the whole thing, with liberal quotes from Whitelock. If you have any interest in this topic at all, you really need to pick up a copy of this issue. However, I am about to get into some of Whitelock’s quotes right now.

Here’s the short take: the AMA and FIM have decided that 450cc four stroke motorcycles are too powerful for most professional racers to use; that 450s are destroying the whoops of supercross tracks; and that some action must be taken to gain “parity” in racing. Let’s take this one ridiculous argument at a time.

About the power, said Whitelock: “That’s our biggest problem, really. If everyone was James, we wouldn’t be faced with this problem. Sure, we’d have a racetrack problem, and we’d have a laptime problem, but the competition is bad because very few riders can ride the bikes to their potential.” Whitelock went on to say, “You can see it in the laptimes, and you can see it in the competitiveness, that the riders aren’t capable of racing these motorcycles. They are too brutishly powerful. It’s the same problem that we faced in the 500cc two stroke days.”

Now, I must ask, WHAT THE FUCK? I mean, I don’t have any personal animosity towards Steve Whitelock, and I never have. I know people who say he’s a good guy. All I really know about him is based on the words that come out of his mouth and find their way into the motocross articles I read. But I do have a problem with Steve Whitelock, and that problem is those words of his usually cause me to ask, again and again, WHAT THE FUCK?

First off, what is this “biggest problem, really” that he’s talking about? Surely he cannot be suggesting that by reducing engine displacement, everybody will suddenly be competitive with the best rider in the country. Surely he cannot truly mean that single-digit past champions and two-digit AMA professional racers are categorically unable to ride 450s to their potential. Surely he is not claiming that the reason the 500cc class was abandoned by his sanctioning body was lack of competition. But I swear that’s how it reads to me… maybe my reading comprehension is off?

By adopting the “450F = 250 two stroke” and “250F = 125 two stroke” rules, the AMA and FIM conspired with the factories to kill two stroke racing WORLDWIDE… they are solely responsible for the 450s of today, and you know what? They are GREAT RACING MOTORCYCLES. To compare them to the 500 two strokes of the late 80’s is really missing the boat. Today’s bikes are so much easier to ride, and race, than those killers of yesteryear. And yet, I recall watching David Bailey, Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward in a pitched, three-way battle at Virginia’s Lake Sugar Tree raceway on those 500s back in ’86, and I don’t recall the crowd being bored by any lack of competition.

But what do the riders of today say about this 450 power issue? The MXi article handled that with some choice quotes. One of the quotes was from privateer Forrest Butler of DNA Energy Drink/BTO Sports/Butler Bros. MX… he said, “…we’re talking about professional supercross with the best riders in the world. Every rider out there can ride the pants off a 450.”

Maybe Whitelock needs to meet more riders?

About whoop destruction, or “cupping”, this part of the issue was covered in Steve Bruhn’s editorial. Bruhn pretty much broke this whole story, when he traveled to the Spanish Grand Prix during a break in Amp’d Mobile Supercross action and covered the meeting of the “minds”, so to speak. According to Bruhn, everyone was crashing in the whoops at Anaheim 1. He went over to have a look (and take a few pics); Whitelock also walked over, and then Canadian Dusty Klatt went down hard. How they were able to discern that the “cups” were caused by 450s and not 250s is anybody’s guess. I’m still wondering how they figured out that Klatt’s crash was caused by track deterioration and not rider error…

In any case, if they REALLY believe that 100cc’s less displacement will result in less track destruction, why don’t they just take the easy road and drop all the way down to the already-existing 250cc displacement of the 250Fs? Well, here’s where it gets really, really weird. In the MXi article, Whitelock is quoted as saying that the AMA and FIM BOTH suggested just that… and the OEMs freaked! Said Whitelock, “They (the manufacturers) went into cardiac arrest. They were going to kill us.”

Imagine that: a representative from AMA Pro Racing said that Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha were going to “kill” them, if they instituted a rule limiting all professional supercross racing to 250 four strokes! NOW we’re getting somewhere, with respect to my original question: who owns this sport, anyway?

I have written in an earlier column that motocross, in this country at least, became a big time sport solely because the Japanese manufacturers realized that it would be a good way to sell dirtbikes. And they were right. Look at what happened to the dirtbike market when the 450 rule went into effect. All of a sudden, my beloved ’01 YZ250 drastically dropped in resale value, and everybody who wanted to be competitive at any level bought a new four stroke. Don’t get it twisted, AMA Pro Racing has been “berry, berry good” to the manufacturers, creating rule after rule in their favor (and changing or overlooking rules when necessary… fuel, anyone?) and pretty much playing the role of obedient lap dog. Oh sure, there’s always the occasional dust up, like that minor drama about Honda running Toyota Trucks stickers on their number plates during the Nationals last year. But now I’m suspecting that it’s all part of the charade to keep the motocross public distracted from seeing the collusion that’s actually taking place. And maybe collusion is too strong a word, but fuck it… I like strong words, if you haven’t noticed already.

Finally, this talk about “parity”… I think they actually mean “parody”, because so far this entire episode has been one bad joke, like a Saturday Night Live skit gone sour. Racing sanctioning bodies have tried to legislate this thing called “parity” since racing first began to use things called rules. “Let’s level the playing field, boys!” is the cry, and then great minds get together and come up with usually the most ridiculous things that men have ever conceived… usually with the intention of penalizing those who have achieved great things through hard work, dedication and innovation. I remember in another sport, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Trans Am series (back in the ‘80’s again, what can I say?), when Audi introduced the Quattro coupe. At the time, it was UNTHINKABLE to run a four-wheel drive car against the likes of lightweight Corvettes and Porsches. Well, Audi kicked ass but GOOD for two straight years, causing the SCCA to enact rules to achieve “parity”. They put a substantial weight penalty on any team that dared run 4WD, and ended up running Audi right out of the series. Not a good move.

Now the AMA wants to figure out a way to write a rule so that James Stewart will stop winning by 55 seconds (on a 50 second course), lapping up to 4th place… and their bright idea is to put everyone on less powerful bikes. It makes you wonder how the job descriptions read over at AMA Pro Racing… “Analytical skills helpful, but not required…”

I know this has been long, but I’m just about done. Here’s my bottom line: as a motorcycle enthusiast and a dirtbike fan, I will buy the bike I want to buy, but it has to be available to buy, at a price I can afford. As much as I loved Jeremy McGrath, I didn’t buy my YZ because he was riding (and winning) on one… I bought it after talking to guys in my age range that actually raced them at my level and higher… and also because I couldn’t afford a KTM 520 at the time! So if the manufacturers really want to sell some dirtbikes, instead of manipulating our sport by pulling the AMA and FIM’s puppet strings, they might consider dropping the prices of their existing bikes and offering us fans more incentives to buy new. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a 350cc bike that was as light and nimble as a 125cc two stroke; actually, that would be pretty cool. But don’t piss on my head and call it rain, that’s all I’m asking.

May 08, 2007

Hamblin: "I have nearly the same speed as the champion..."

Now you're talking, Sean. Those words were found in this press release over at Racer X Online, noting Hambone's watershed 7th place finish at the Grand Prix of Italy.

Sounds like our man is gaining some confidence. I'm looking forward to what he does this upcoming weekend in Germany.

May 07, 2007

Great Interview with Mike Brown

Over at the Youthstream site you can read this interview of Mike Brown by Geoff Meyer, of MXLarge.com.

Brownie's been doing pretty good on the Grand Prix circuit this season, contesting the premier MX1 (450F) class. Mike is currently 9th in the standings after four rounds, and his worst moto has only been a 14th (his best a 7th). Seems he's been something of a holeshot machine, too, but he says arm pump has been keeping him from holding position.

Since Mike Brown is doing so well, one might wonder why I don't report on him regularly like I do with Sean Hamblin. Well... I just like Sean better, that's all, and I'd like to see him do well. Brown is a former National champion and a pretty nice guy. But Sean has yet to win a title, and as far as I'm concerned, if he could bring home a World Championship, well... wow. That'd be saying something.

May 06, 2007

Hambone Watch: Round 4 - Grand Prix of Italy

Congratulations to Sean Hamblin for his 7th overall at the Grand Prix of Italy at Mantova! The Team Swift Suzuki rider from America finished 10th in his qualifier on Saturday, then apparently turned up the heat to record 8th and 9th place finishes, respectively, in his two MX2 motos.

Even bigger news... Sean earned 25 championship points, with puts him in 18th place for the title after only 4 rounds.

Keep up the good work, Sean! Next week: Germany.

May 03, 2007

Here come Las Vegas *yawn*

Or as the kids on the internet are saying these days, "meh."

Here's the thing: NO ONE expected this year's supercross championship race to go down to the wire like last year. And that's simply because the only racer willing and able to do what it takes to actually challenge James Stewart, up and retired. By mid-season, Chad Reed seemed to be willing to experiment with crashing into Stewart as a means of slowing him down a bit, but that was obviously a faulty strategy from the start, and to his credit, he never seriously pursued it.

No one had any other solutions, so James piled on the points until he reached Seattle, where he iced the titles for good.

Now there's one more race to run, and it's going to be aired LIVE, and there's absolutely no reason to watch it.

Okay, check that... if you're a motocross fan, you're going to watch it anyway, because we just like to watch racing, period. But even if the titles were still on the table, the outcome would barely be in doubt. Unless James simply decides not to race, we know he's going to qualify with the fastest laptime in practice, win his heat and win the main. That is a foregone conclusion... the only thing to do is hope the production company's cameras show him for more than a few laps so we can admire his style and grace on the bike.

That, and maybe Ivan, Kdub and DV12 decide to give Ferry a run for third place money. But that might be asking too much. Those guys have their sights set on the outdoors already.

Now in the 250F Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial East/West shootout dealio, maybe... nah, Ryan Villopoto is gonna crush 'em all. It will be cool to see if the "other" Ryan, Ryan Dungey of Team Makita Suzuki, has anything for #51, but I sort of doubt it. In my mind the best outcome would be a tight three-way battle between all of the young factory hopefuls, Ryan V., Ryan D. and Team Yamaha's Josh Hill. That would be a great preview of the Nationals. But again, the titles are set, and there's more incentive to simply survive Vegas and move on to the outdoor championships healthy, rather than to get involved in a knock-down, drag out battle in Sam Boyd Stadium and risk getting hurt.

So the promoters are in a difficult spot: they have a race to sell, but all the racers have very good reasons to avoid racing. What to do? Well so far, they have attempted to put focus on the racetrack itself, issuing a press release that notes that the start straight for this race is, at 800 feet, the longest in supercross history. Um, okay, that's something. Honestly, the SPEED TV crew have a challenge on their hands, and I'm not particularly hopeful that they'll rise to the occasion.

But you better believe I'll be watching to see how they handle it.

April 29, 2007

Whitelock to FIM: "Sucks to be you..."

Of course, I'm paraphrasing. Call it artistic license or something, or maybe chalk it up to the fact that I may not have been fully awake. Yes, I got up early after a late Saturday night (my bad) to watch the CBS broadcast of the Seattle 450 supercross. Yes, at an hour when most smart motocross enthusiasts are getting ready for their first motos, I dragged my sleepy butt into the living room and fired up the boob tube instead, to listen to Sheheen and his enablers mangle another broadcast.

So maybe I wasn't fully awake when the championship awards ceremony happened, but as it was getting underway, I perked up slightly, remembering the absolute fiasco that occurred at the Vegas finale last year. In fact, here's what I said about that foolishness in a post written nearly 12 months ago:

But the last straw that broke my camelbak was the “ceremony” during which the top official of the AMA and the FIM presented their respective number one plates to our exalted champions. Did you see it? I just couldn’t believe it. After hyping up the title chase for three hours, the actual title presentation consisted of a few mumbled, un-microphoned words by Whitelock and Gallagher, while Ralph talked over them, adding absolutely nothing to the process.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Supercross Champion of the World!! Here, take this piece of plastic, good job, now scoot…” Unfriggin’-believable. If I were a casual fan, I would be perplexed; as a huge fan, I was hugely disappointed and embarrassed.

So, this time around, it seemed the broadcasters were prepared for this important moment. AMA rep Steve Whitelock and FIM rep John Gallagher surrounded James, somebody off-camera threw them a cue, and Gallagher went first, graciously congratulating Stewart and presenting him with the FIM World Supercross GP championship plate.

Then it was Whitelock's turn.

I hope somebody posts this moment to YouTube or something, because I'd really like to see it again, just to make sure my eyes and ears weren't deceiving me. Because what I heard Whitelock say to James was something along the lines of "This is the one you really want." BooYah! Take that, you frenchies (or something)! Poor James. He was already in a state of delirium; he blinked as if to say, "Did he really say what I thought he said?"

Of course, I'm sure Mr. Whitelock was only joking, but it would have been nice if he had considered the concept that the joke might be lost on the MILLIONS of people viewing at home. I wonder if it would have been funnier if Gallagher responded by playfully bitch-slapping Whitelock off the podium?

It's NOT the biggest title of his career, IMHO

I can't tell you how happy I am that James Stewart wrapped up the Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross championship (and repeated the FIM World Supercross GP championship, something NO ONE has ever done before) last night on that crappy dirt in Seattle, BUT... here's the thing: I never was one of those who had doubts about whether James "had what it takes" to win an SX championship. I always knew it was merely a matter of time.

And I still maintain that he would have won the crown in 2006 if the AMA and FIM had not conspired to play favorites with the rules.

In any case, I take exception to what some are saying... that this is the biggest, most important championship in American motocross, and that this is the most important title that James has won to date, calling it "the ultimate prize in the sport." To this contention I say: you are wrong, sir.

I say this because I believe outdoor motocross is true motocross and holds more meaning to more motocross fans around the world than the circus that is American supercross. And with that, I believe that a 125 National outdoor championship carries more weight than a 250 supercross title... and James has two of those already.

And there are those who have already lined up to say that the 2007 supercross title chase was diminished because the greatest MOTOCROSS racer of all time, Ricky Carmichael, only contested 6 events during his "farewell tour." I would have to agree with those people, and yet, I would remind them that James did in fact win the 2006 FIM World SX title, beating Carmichael in the process.

Let me repeat that: "beating Carmichael in the process." Ricky contested the entire 2006 World SX series and in the end, lost to his championship title to James, the only championship that Ricky has ever been denied. That's right, in 2006, James Stewart became the first and only racer to defeat Ricky Carmichael for a professional title. If an argument needs to be made about which championship meant the most, it would be hard to argue against a battle between the absolute best that went right down to the wire. Especially compared to this year, where there's a round remaining, but the title chase is over. Kaput.

So again, congratulations to Team Kawasaki and James Stewart, for not just this title, but for the titles to inevitably come.

April 28, 2007

Congratulations James Stewart!

Stew-daddy did it! True, it was not exactly surprising, but still... James Stewart is the AMA Supercross Champion AND he successfully defends his FIM World Supercross title.

Good job, James! And congrats to your family. Now... on to the OUTDOORS!

April 22, 2007

Hambone Watch: Round Three - Portugal

Still trying to find out what exactly happened at the Grand Prix of Portugal... that is, what exactly happened to cause Team Swift Suzuki racer Sean Hamblin to record 20th and 24th place finishes, respectively, in the two motos. So if YOU know, please shoot me an email with the details and I'll post them here.

Ironically, I got the news from MotoXDream of all places, because it's seems that the YouthStream website is farfegnuggen or phukingrueven or something... again.

I had high hopes that Sean would do well this weekend, after reading that he finished 9th in his qualifying race... a far cry better than he did the previous weekend in Spain, when he failed to qualify in the mud.

By the way, in MX2, Antonio (Cairoli) put the 1-1 beatdown on the boys, in case you wanted to know...

**UPDATE: Just got onto the YouthStream site to read the classifications. It seems our man Hamblin was only able to complete 13 of 20 laps in moto 2, so something happened. That's weird, because it says his total elapsed time was 40 minutes, 37 seconds. Winner Cairoli's time was 40 minutes, 28 seconds... so they saying it Antonio got in 20 laps in the same amount of time it took Sean to complete only 13. Something definitely happened.

At least he got 1 point for his 20th place finish in moto 1.

April 21, 2007

Congratulations, Ben Townley!

The man from New Zealand, Monster Pro Circuit's Ben Townley, realized a nearly impossible dream tonight in Detroit by winning the East Regional 250F supercross title. This, after blowing up his engine in the very first round of the series and starting in a -25 point hole against his competition.

Another title for Mitch Payton's team, which also took the West Regional crown with Ryan Villopoto. I guess if you want a fast 250F, you might want to give some serious thought to buying a Kawasaki and sending it to Pro Circuit. Congratulations to all!

April 15, 2007

Hambone Watch, round 2: Grand Prix of Spain

It took a minute for me to figure out what happened to our man in Europe, Team Swift Suzuki's Sean Hamblin, at today's Spanish Grand Prix. Wnen I went to the Youthstream website, I was chagrined to see that Hambone wasn't even listed in the results. What the heck happened?

Well, I was able to piece together this story: heavy rains caused the practice sessions to be canceled, so the riders had to qualify with very little track time on a very treacherous track. Only the top 30 fastest times get in the show... and while I don't know what happened exactly, Sean didn't get in the main. I don't know if he's hurt, if he crashed, or what... so I won't speculate. I'm just sorry to learn that he left points on the table.

Then I found this interview with Hamblin, conducted sometime this weekend before the race. I have to say that I'm somewhat disappointed with his outlook and goals for this season. He says he's with a good team and on a competitive bike... and then says he's trying for a top ten finish on the season!

Now, I can't even get a top ten in fantasy motocross, so maybe I'm not qualified to hold an opinion on this. Check that, it's an OPINION, dammit... it doesn't have to be qualified! Anyway, I just wish Sean would elevate his thinking, at least when he's making public statements. He should be of the mindset that he intends to contest for the title THIS YEAR... why wait until next year, when there's no guarantee of a ride?

I mentioned before that there may be a need for some PR training, and I think this is an example. Even if he doesn't believe in himself enough to shoot for the title this year, he could still say that on the record for the sake of his sponsors and his fans. A World Championship would be just the thing to revitalize his career.

April 10, 2007

Jeremy McGrath partnering with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Now comes the somewhat startling news that the King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, has inked a deal to go stockcar racing... and his sponsor will be the heir to the NASCAR throne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr! Racer X's Andy Bowyer (brother of NASCAR #7 Clint Bowyer) has the details here.

MC seemed to keep it all in perspective when he said, "I am not going to come out here and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be a Nextel Cup driver’ or anything like that. I know how far away that is and I just want to focus on this chance.”

I've always admired McGrath's business acumen, starting back when he joined No Fear, started his own website, his own team, his sponsorship with Bud Light and when he published his book. This is a positive step for Jeremy and motocross in general will benefit.

April 09, 2007

Travis Pastrana to race on Puerto Rico's Motocross of Nations team?

Just a week after Davey Coombs and Racer X fooled the motocross world with his "joke" about Stefan Everts racing the U.S. Nationals, and after Transworld Motocross' similar April Fools Day farce about superfast female racer Ashley Fiolek signing with Factory Connection Honda to contest the 250F class at the same Nationals... comes this stunning news release with this most unlikely headline: Travis Pastrana has joined the MXDN Puerto Rico team and will do his best to hold up his end of the deal.

Say what?

Now, most of us are rather skeptical about the whole thing, but it looks like it might have some bearing in reality. As most educated people know, Puerto Rico is not a country, but a U.S. Territory, so it's not like Pastrana would be riding for another flag... per se... however, I did learn that Puerto Rico does have it's own separate FIM charter, which is why it is allowed to send a team outside of the regular U.S.A. team. A loophole, if you will, for riders who would normally not get selected for Team U.S.A.

Will Travis go? Read the press release; it seems unlikely just based on his WRC schedule, but I can also imagine that being a Maryland resident, Pastrana would LOVE to race the MXdN at his "home" track of Budds Creek. And I KNOW the American public would love to see him compete there.

But I'll believe it only when I see it.

April 04, 2007

EF10: Ernesto Fonseco picks up a pen!

In the latest edition of that wonderful bi-monthly called MXi (Motocross Illustrated), there's a very cool editorial in the back written by former Team Honda racer Ernesto Fonseca. Ernie opens up quite a bit and talks about what it's like to live in the limelight that constantly bathes factory riders.

But the best thing about the column is that it seems that Ernie is going to be a regular contributor to MXi! I'm very happy for him and look forward to reading his stuff. I hope he writes a lot!

Good luck, Ernesto!

April 02, 2007

All I know is James Stewart won the Dallas Supercross

I had one of those rare weekends during which I was not able to see or hear any racing action whatsoever. I mean, sure, I was able to go online and read all of the stories and blather, but that meant I had to rely on word of mouth and the subjective reports of others, instead of just seeing/hearing it for myself.

So I'm well aware of the results of the Dallas Supercross race; what I'm not so clear on is how they came to unfold. See, just the week before, in Indianapolis, Stewart came from next-to-last to win going away, having no problems dispatching Chad Reed. Two weeks before that, in Daytona, James beat Chad by over 45 seconds, and that was AFTER Reed set fast time in practice.

But this weekend, the reports note that James BARELY won the race, with a margin of under a second, with Chad very nearly passing him in the last turn! Where did Reed find the speed to suddenly be able to challenge James? OR, what was wrong with Stew that he let Reed stay so close to him?

So I went to the experts...

Jason Weigandt at Racer X insists that it was Reed: "Give Reed credit, though. He was much better in Dallas than he was in Indy. After Stewart pulled him at lap ten, Reed started inching back to him on lap 16, and turned in his fastest lap of the night on lap 20."

Shan Moore at Cycle News said Reed was on it: "... the San Manuel Yamaha-mounted Reed was right on Stewart’s tail for the final 17 laps, all the while, looking very capable of taking Stewart at any time."

Brendan Lutes at TransWorld Motocross pretty much reported the same thing, but then threw in this interesting photo of James pointing a finger back at second place reed during the last lap. Hmmm...

On the other hand, Some Guy over at Motocross Action said it was business as usual:
"James Stewart ran away with another one. Chad Reed... stayed close but was never a threat."

And then TFS, in his SX Weekend Report, simply headlined this photo with the words "Keeping it Interesting."

So... what to make of all that? Here's what I think happened: someone from Live Nation sat down with James before the race... maybe days before... and "suggested" to him that there's really no need for him to win each remaining race by 10, 20, 30 seconds or whatever. All that will accomplish is "people" will get turned off. Just go fast enough to win, but make it seem like there's hope for Chad to maybe catch up and put on a show. Because it's all about the fans, right?

Hey, it's just what I think.

Say a prayer for Doug Henry

Now's a good time to send a prayer (or two) up for a really good guy facing a pretty hard time. Just do it.

Sean Hamblin: In His Own Words

Looks like Sean posted some thoughts about his weekend over at Motodrive.com; you can read it here. He said, "First moto I tweeked my knee that I messed up a few weeks ago before the first British Championship here so I ended up going back so I could wrap it up and ice it so I could race the second moto."

Hamy also had some words for the motocross fans that called his performance into question, but he wrapped up his post with some nice shouts to his supporters.

I'm glad Sean is and has always been willing to dive in headfirst on the motoboards and post his own thoughts fearlessly. But, speaking as someone who has unfairly criticized him publicly in the past (and apologized for it), I hope he can learn to ignore the negativity on the 'net. Some of those folks out there are jackals; they're just looking for someone to respond so they can dig into them even more. Perhaps a little media training or advice from a public relations professional would help?

April 01, 2007

Hambone Watch: Round One

So, former factory Suzuki rider Sean Hamblin is contesting the FIM World Championship in the MX2 (250F) class and I will be reporting his results on this site. Why? Why not?

I know that I have said that All Things Motocross is primarily concerned with American motocross, but I've always liked Hambone, and I'd like to see him do well over there. I'm glad he's got a ride and I'm glad he's broadening his horizons... I wish more American motocrossers would go for the World Championship, but I understand they have to follow the money.

In any case, early indications are that Sean had a tough weekend at the GP of Benelux in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands. He scored a 27th out of 29 in the first moto, but improved to a 12th in moto two. I haven't seen a race report yet, and the FIM's website appears to be on teh fritzenjammer, as they say...

March 31, 2007

A Cruel Hoax?

I'm frankly surprised that the motocross internet did not simply blow up on Friday.

Earlier this week came the rumor that something big was about to be announced, and it involved the Outdoor Nationals and would mean increased competition for James Stewart. It was speculated that Stefan Everts, the greatest Grand Prix rider in the history of the sport, was possibly going to come out of retirement and contest the American National Championship in 2007.

Then yesterday, Racer X Films released this video of Stefan SAYING JUST THAT!

American motocross fans were positively SALIVATING at the prospect of Everts lining up against Stewart and Carmichael at the opening round of the Nationals at Hangtown! The mere thought of it still gives me goosebumps...

But here's the rub: tomorrow is April Fool's Day, and now the word on the intertubes is that the whole thing is an elaborate prank.

That all being said, apparently Everts WILL make some type of announcement at the opening Grand Prix of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, tommorrow. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the real deal is...

March 30, 2007

Reservation for 4?

During the opening ceremonies of the Orlando Supercross, AMA referee, I mean, Director of Supercross/Motocross Steve Whitelock announced that the sanctioning body was “temporarily retiring” the number 4 in honor of Ricky Carmichael’s unimaginably successful racing career. Most murmured their appreciation, while a few (like myself) scratched our collective heads and wondered how anything can be “temporarily retired.”

Well, fear not! The AMA has issued a press release (found here at Racer X Online) that explains exactly how it’s possible. Said Mr. Whitelock, “With so few single digit numbers available it’s impractical for us to permanently retire a competitor’s racing number. However, given Ricky’s accomplishments in the sport, we’re comfortable reserving his number through 2011.”

Which, of course, begs the question: what will make the AMA “uncomfortable” in 2012 or later? And how can they be so sure that “discomfort” won’t set in any earlier?

Yes, I am picking knits and once again poking fun at the AMA, but only because they make it so easy! And besides, I’ve never felt that the so-called “permanent” numbering scheme benefited the sport; it has only really worked for a handful of big-name riders… like Ricky Carmichael, who once again finds himself receiving unprecedented favorable treatment from the sanctioning body.

Did RC earn the right to have his number retired? Actually, he earned the right to wear the big number 1, as far as I’m concerned. And now that he has turned “…his attention to auto racing…” (as it says in the press release), it’s time for him to put his motocross things away.

Well, after the Outdoors and the MXdN, that is.

March 29, 2007

HUGE RUMOR: Everts to Race the AMA Nationals?!

Over at that crazy place called "MotoTalk" while reading a discussion about how James Stewart will decimate the competition in this year's Outdoor National Championship, I ran across this cryptic message:

"I think everyone might be in for a big surprise, sooner than later. James' summer might be a lot harder than everyone is thinking right now...DCRacerxill.com"

Of course, this triggered all manner of speculation, of which I believe the prospect of Stefan Everts breaking his retirement to race the American Nationals the most tasty of all.

Will it happen? Who knows... but it sure is funny for Racer X's Davey Coombs to stir the pot like that! What is he talking about? And when will he spill the beans, dammit?!

March 28, 2007

Fundraiser for Ernesto Fonseca

Er, paying too much for car insurance? And concerned about fallen rider Ernesto Fonseca, too? Well, the "Official Insurance of Supercross", Progressive, will donate $3 to Fonz for every car insurance quote that people get from their SX website, www.holeshotheaven.com.

I got this news from Racer X Online; you can check out more details in the press release here.

Who's Winning the Money in Supercross?

I just got my latest issue of MXi (Motocross Illustrated), that really cool bi-weekly glossy. They, as far as I know, are the only American motocross publication that reports prize winnings on a consistent basis. The list is titled "Earnings Leaders" and "...reflects only the prize money, holeshot money and points-fund money earned...", according to the magazine. Here are the top ten as of March 13, 2007 (which means that the last round reported was probably Daytona):

1) J Stewart $110,250
2) C Reed $76,250
3) R Carmichael $66,000
4) T Ferry $40,625
5) K Windham $25,300
6) D Vuillemin $24,800
7) M Byrne $24,325
8) T Preston $22,550
9) I Tedesco $22,425
10) H Voss $22,250

MXi actually shows the top 35 Earning Leaders, so check out the magazine for more information.

Now, I find this list remarkable for a number of reasons. One is the fact that a mere $3,050 covers the difference between number 10 and fifth-highest "earning" racer. After 10 races, these guys were able to clear at least $20k, but not $30k.

There's a pretty big jump from fifth to fourth, and it continues to build, but only one racer was able to clear the 100-grand mark in ten races, and that's the guy who won seven of the darn things.

Good thing these guys get salaries, huh?

March 26, 2007

Ricky Carmichael's stock car debut

Want to see Carmichael in action? Here you go, courtesy of SPEED TV.

Hey, I know it's not motocross, but it's friggin' RICK CARMICHAEL....

March 25, 2007

From 19th to 2nd Place in 9 Laps

Shades of Unadilla.

James Stewart, Jr. spotted Chad Reed and the rest of the 450F field a 19-place headstart, after mysteriously gating horribly ("Rupert X" over at Mototalk thinks it may have been intentional) at the start of last night's supercross race in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. But even before the halfway point of the race was reached, James had navigated his Kawasaki KX450F into second place, and then spent the next 5 laps running down Reed. On lap 15, he jumped past the Aussie and immediately put a gap on him.

The crowd at Indy went justifiably bonkers!

James went on to win his very first 450 race in the RCA Dome, and Chad Reed was seen dejectedly riding off the track after taking the checkered flag, not stopping to congratulate Stewart. At least, that's what I saw while watching CBS' delayed coverage of the race this morning.

March 22, 2007

X-Games: Introducing "Moto X Racing"...

Way back in June of 2005, I had a problem with the X-Games promoters. In this post I wrote:

"If they're okay with racing (boardercross, snowmobile cross, street luge, bmx) and they're as down with motocross as they say they are, then why the heck don't they include a real motocross race as part of the program? They go all the way out to Camp Woodward for BMX, they can either go to Glen Helen for motocross or run a supercross right in the L.A. Coliseum. Heck, that's where "supercross" started!"

Hmmm... two years later and today they announce "ESPN X Games Introduces Moto X Racing to the 13th Annual Event." Here's the press release as it appears on Racer X Online.

Here's the kicker, though: the event is to be "collaboratively developed" by none other than Ricky Carmichael and ESPN.

Yep, ol' number 4, the GOAT, Mr. Greg Ginn Racing NASCAR-guy, Mr. Perfect Season, Mr. Father of twins... is now promoting stadium motocross with ESPN.

Said a senior VP at ESPN: “Working with Ricky to develop a new style of motocross racing (emphasis mine) is an honor for us and will certainly appeal to our collective fans and viewers while also advancing the X Games' leadership position.”

A new "style" of motocross? Are they serious? Well, I don't know about the execs at ESPN, but Carmichael himself said this: "My future focus will be on NASCAR and now, the X Games.”

Carmichael is quitting AMA Motocross/Supercross to focus on NASCAR and the X Games. Or maybe I'm reading this wrong. But in any case, the AMA should rightfully be feeling rather nervous at this point. Let's see if they can wiggle their way into this event like they did with X Games Supermoto.

Anyway... go read the press release for details on the format changes. If you think the current supercross races are short sprints, hold onto your hats.

March 20, 2007

Ricky Carmichael Actually Won Orlando

It was a thing a beauty, this supercross race in Orlando.

Now, I didn't see the replay on SPEED TV, and I wasn't "in the house" for this momentous occasion, but I DID follow along via the internet, tracking both practice sessions as they occurred and the race itself, on SUPERCROSS LIVE... and it was simply perfect by all accounts.

But don't take it from me... even RC himself called it "The ride of a lifetime", according to this report in Cycle News.

Davey Coombs over at Racer X Online wrote "The Orlando Supercross will go down in history as one of the best races we’ve ever seen from the GOAT."

Ryan Cooley at Transworld Motocross labeled it "A monumental evening..."

So you can trust me when I say... it was quite a race! And yet... Carmichael finished second!

So, how can it be such a rave event for RC when he didn't technically win? Simply because he, and event winner James Stewart, rode to the very best of their abilities and put on a show that those in attendance will never forget. And after the checkered flag flew, after 20 laps of deliriously close combat, after James took the first place trophy (and all-important championship points) AND the keys to the city (he was made honorary mayor of his hometown, Haines City, Florida)... Rick Carmichael bowed out of supercross racing, with as much grace and dignity as any rider ever has.

What a show.

March 16, 2007

Congratulations Ricky and Ursula Carmichael!!

Rick Carmichael is now a father... of twins! Here are the details, courtesy Racer X Online.

Good job, Mrs. Carmichael! And welcome to the world Kadin and Elise Carmichael!

March 14, 2007

Never Can Say Goodbye

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” - Winston Churchill

This is it. On the evening of this Saturday, March 17th, 2007 in Orlando, Florida. American motocross’ favorite son, Richard “RC”, “The G.O.A.T.”, “The Angry Elf” Carmichael will race his final supercross event. How fitting that he go out on Saint Patrick’s Day!

How big a deal is this? Rumor has it that the OTHER “Greatest Motocrosser of All Time”, Stefan Everts, will jet across the Atlantic in order to be “in the house” to witness this historical event.

[Rumor more than confirmed: Davey Coombs talks to Ricky over at Racer X Online.]

Is it possible to make too much of this day? I think not. Carmichael is doing it the right way: HIS way. Leaving as defending champion, retiring on top. When he takes to the track on Saturday afternoon for the first practice session, it will be with full knowledge that he is still one of the two fastest supercross racers on the entire planet… and that the odds of actually winning his final race are quite good, though it would probably require James Stewart crashing out for it to happen.

But to me, the really cool thing about Rick is that he doesn’t NEED to win Orlando to go out with a huge flourish. The man has nothing to prove to anyone; his accomplishments in motocross and supercross are staggering and one more win, well… who cares?

Besides, how fast will he be able to ride with tears in his eyes? For this is sure to be one very emotional night for the Carmichael clan. Remember Jeremy McGrath choking up during his farewell press conference a few years ago? When RC takes his final bow, there won’t be a dry eye in the place.

Thank you, Ricky Carmichael. Thank you.

March 13, 2007

Supercross or Motocross is Boring?

Once again, I’m starting to hear the “boring races” meme, which some in the motocross media started early this season. It goes like this: now that James Stewart has figured out how to go fast without falling (as much), coupled with the fact that the only guy that can stay in the same area code, Rick Carmichael, is retiring… from here on out we can only expect runaway races in which James checks out and the outcome is never in doubt. Some say this equates to boring, and many register this physically by actually leaving races before the checkered flag flies.

Now, I have seen some boring races… well, let me qualify that: I have seen some boring races ON TV. For example, I thought last year’s supercross finale in Las Vegas… the one that was hyped up to the extreme, the one for all the marbles, the first time EVER that a SX points race was so close in the last round… but it unfortunately turned into a procession. I wasn’t at Vegas, I watched it on TV and I thought it was boring. But I watched it until the end, never once considering the option of changing the channel. I heard from some who attended the race that it was anything BUT boring, and they were either standing or sitting on the edge of their seats the entire 20 laps, in anticipation of something unthinkable happening. And the fact that they had a different experience from mine doesn’t surprise me one bit: watching races live, in my opinion, can NEVER be boring.

Back when I was a young racer learning the craft in Maryland (AMA District 7), there were two really fast guys that figuratively stood head and shoulders above their competition: Jimmy Lauer and Glen Taylor. When these guys went at it, everybody would line the track to watch their great battles for the win. However, if one or the other chose not to show up for a given race, the other would usually cruise to the win uncontested, much like Stewart did during some of those races when Carmichael wasn’t present. And yet, the D7 fans would still line the course to watch the fast guy run away with the win. Why? Because watching Taylor or Lauer dissect a race course was pure pleasure in and of itself. Racers appreciate what other racers do on a racetrack, especially if we cannot demonstrate the same level of skill. Motocross becomes art when practiced by a speedy expert, and there’s much to see and appreciate even in races where the outcome is “never in doubt.”

So to those that claim that the upcoming Outdoor Motocross season will be “boring” because there’s no one as fast as Stewart to challenge him for the title, I say “just watch.” Watch closely, because what you’ll be seeing is the performance of a maestro. Enjoy the show.

March 10, 2007

Daytona Beatdown

What a day of racing.

First Chad Reed shocks the world by setting fastest times in practice, something he hasn't done in, like, FOREVER. And then James Stewart goes out in Heat 1 and puts a 24 second gap on second place Ivan Tedesco in only 6 laps or so... with Carmichael mired in 4th!

Then the 450F main starts and James checks out, never to be challenged while going on to set the fastest lap WELL into the main. He ends up beating RC by over 10 seconds, Reed by nearly 50 seconds and laps up to 5th place, completely trashing everybody else in the field. THEN he gets on the podium and says he was never comfortable out there and actually had to take a nap between the heat and the main! And all I can say is, "Damn James, you were KILLING it!"

Even RC admitted that James was on it.

Yet the stories I've read at Racer X and Cyclenews don't quite tell it the same way. Yes, they admit Stewart rode to a strong win, but they don't characterize it as the utter domination I witnessed on SPEED last night. And no one seems to know what happened to Reed.

Even the announcers on SPEED were seemingly perplexed. They insisted on showing replays of Stewart's bobbles, which I guess they found more interesting than his otherwise unworldly form. Indeed, they worked hard to maintain a sense of "But he could throw it away at anytime... there's plenty of laps left!" which I guess will be Stewart's reputation from now on... no matter how many races he wins nor how badly he trounces his competition.

And during it all, as I watched him blast through that terribly rough, rutted course, I kept thinking "Man, the outdoor series is gonna be a massacre!" With RC and Reed out, it'll be up to Langston, Milsaps, Windham and Tedesco to step up to the plate... all guys who have already had their asses handed to them by James on numerous occasions.

March 09, 2007

Chad Reed sets fast time in early Daytona practice

"Superbad" Chad flung down the gauntlet early this afternoon, clocking the quickest practice lap in the first practice session. Reed set a 1:10.664 to RC's 1:11.326 and James Stewart's 1:11.695.

Second practics is underway, and STOP THE PRESSES! (yuck yuck) Speedy Reedy has been challenged by both of his rivals, who turned laps in the 1:10s. How did Reed respond? By setting a 1:09.859. Yow, this is getting good.

You can follow the AMA's live laptime link here. Get it while it's hot. Let's see if Chad can hold on...