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...