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"

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,

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...

March 08, 2007

Get Well Soon, Doug Henry!

As many of you already know, motocross hero and Supermoto champion Doug Henry suffered a crash in a Supermoto race in Florida this week. The Factory Spectator, Steve Bruhn, reports in his "Weekend Window" that Doug is recovering from successful surgery to repair his broken back (!) and that things are looking up so far. Whew!

This would make the SECOND time Doug has broken his back while competing. I wish him and his family the best, and I pray he makes a full and speedy recovery. GO HENRY!

March 07, 2007

Supercross Stats To Date

Courtesy the mx think tank known as Motocross Illustrated, here's some very interesting information about the supercross season so far...

AMA Supercross Class Laps Led:

James Stewart 131

Ricky Carmichael 40

Chad Reed 39

Kevin Windham 5

Nick Wey 2

Eric Sorby 3

AMA Supercross Lites Class Laps Led:

Ryan Villopoto 84

Christophe Pourcel 17

Ryan Dungey 14

Jason Lawrence 3

Steve Boniface 1

Ben Towley 15

Darcy Lange 1

Two things dramatically stand out:

1) James Stewart, of course. The DIFFERENCE ALONE between his lap count and the second highest ranked racer equals more laps led than anyone who has led a lap this season, COMBINED. In other words... that's a lotta laps!

2) Ryan Villopoto had absolutely ZERO competition, that is, once Chris Pourcel injured himself.

On to Daytona!