May 31, 2008

Hangtown Saturday: Robert Kiniry

Nice form in one of the less rutted turns. Cool photo by Factoryphoto.

Townley crashed in Hangtown practice

Okay, the news is slowly filtering to us on the internet... over at Vital MX, someone posted that they saw Ben go "... down real hard and limped off the track it was ugly."

So, ask and we shall (eventually) receive. It's kind of funny... not funny that Ben crashed; later he was able to qualify seventh in his group... but that motocross reporting is still stuck in the dark ages, despite the fact that we have instantaneous electronic communications networks at our disposal. The only real-time information coming out of Hangtown during practice and qualifying was the AMA's live timing. We have to wait for the photojournalists to upload after the riding is done.

Considering the quality of Factoryphoto's work, though... I guess I can't complain about the wait!

Hangtown Saturday: who are these guys?

Looking at the top five free practice times in the 250 class the inevitable Villopoto, Dungey, Lawrence... but, J-Law is in 5th, put there by Honda riders Kyle Cunningham and Robert Kiniry. What?

And then there's timed qualifying, and of that group, only Kiniry has to turn in a time... and he goes from a 2:07.123 in practice to a 2:09.055 when it "counts". Dude, that's the wrong way!

Seriously, DNA/BTO/Butler Bros.-sponsored Cunningham and Solitaire/MB1/Brawndo-sponsored Kiniry are great riders. It's just surprising to me to see them so fast in practice. Let's hope they turn in top five performances on Sunday.

Hangtown Saturday: what is up with Ben Townley?

Look, I saw (on a live, pay-per-view webcast no less) Townley running almost as fast as the legendary Ricky Carmichael at that MXoN race a few years back. I have been a "believer" of the New Zealander since then. His championship battle with Ryan Villopoto was intense. Ben is a fast guy.

So what's up with these practice times? It's not like this is his first time on these tracks. Last Saturday at the Glen, he was around 35th fastest in practice; today he clocked a 2:25.830 on the Dirtdiggers-prepared Hangtown course... and that's the 62nd fastest time!

I think I heard David Bailey on the Racer X Pre Show say something about Townley not being worried about setting fast times in free practice, about only going fast when it counts. And at Glen Helen, Townley DID turn faster laps in timed qualifying... but so did everyone else, as the track dried further into perfection.

So the expectation, after free practice, was that Townley would "show up" at least in the top ten during timed qualifying at Hangtown. And that's just what he did, considerably improving his fastest laptime to
2:09.476, to land in 7th in Group B qualifying. But... but... Townley was slower than guys like Juss Lansoo, Chris Blose and Jared Jet Browne. Holy cow, I've never even HEARD of that last guy!

Mr. 101, where are you?

May 26, 2008

James Stewart: "I'm looking forward to being in front of everybody"

That's from the Monday Conversation over at Racer X Online. And actually, what James is saying is that he's looking forward to showing up at all the nationals and racing in front of all the fans. Taken out of context, though, it sounds like he plans on being in front of his competition all season long.

Then again, maybe that's the subtext.

Mike Alessi: Credit is Due


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"The M", Mike Alessi, styling on his Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM450, deserves credit for putting some pressure on James Stewart at Glen Helen, although it IS Mikey's home track. Alessi should now be expected to run this hard all season long; let's not forget that he was runnerup in 2007. GuyB shoots a promo shot for the big GH.

This is Racing


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Looks like James didn't want to give up the second moto holey to the start artist M. Alessi, so he just kept it pinned through Talledega, dominating the inside. If anyone is going to beat James Stewart this year, they will have to keep it pinned, too. "GuyB is EVERYWHERE" photo.

Putting it down, East Coast Style


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The first 250 moto of the year, and New Jersey's Jason Lawrence took the win in impressive fashion. GuyB asserts his photographic excellence in another great gallery.

May 25, 2008

Of course, there is a lot more to Glen Helen 2008...

So I was sitting in a grassy field beside my Mustang, eating a baby spinach salad while observing what looked like the monumental meanderings of a mad tailor: a small airplane was performing acrobatic maneuvers over the Glen Helen racetrack in the distance, stitching up the sky with great looping threads of smoke.

Again, that spectacle was in the distance. I was also being entertained by an airshow of a different scale in the grassy field before me: a flock of tiny birds wheeled, looped and careened over the carpet of grass, pulling moves that made the aerobatic pilot seem lame in comparison. I was sitting in a field right next to the Pavillion (whatever corporate sponsor owns the naming rights), about to make the hike into Glen Helen with hundreds of others as the parking "lot" continued to fill, feeling pretty pumped about seeing the first AMA Toyota National (presented by FMF, don't forget) of the year. How many Nationals start with a friggin' airshow?? Glen Helen had two (counting the birdies).

Rode in the back of an overstuffed Toyota Tundra. I have to say the overcrowding effect seemed to override any other impressions I might have had about the truck. Um, the bed liner was fresh?

To the racing. Jason Lawrence wire-to-wire in the first 250 moto, say what? Damn, that was cool to see. Monster Pro Circuit, though, really flexed their muscle today: Austin Powers, er, Stroupe won his first National by going 2-3! Ryan Villopoto turned a 5-1 into second overall, and J-Law wasn't able to repeat his first moto win, but got on the box with a fifth in the second moto (holding Trey Canard at bay to do so. Hmmm.).

And in the 450 class, like I said before, James Owns Glen Helen. He is still poetry in motion for those able to see him without being blinded by politics or other distractions. He was flying his Monster Energy Kawasaki higher and farther than anyone over that crazy mountaintop step-over in the REM section of the track, which then plunged steeply downhill straight into some Prius-sized braking bumps, which James would jump over, landing in the turn. Just watching that guy ride is truly one of life's little pleasures.

You gotta give Mike Alessi credit for giving it his all to make it a race. No one else on the course (save James, of course) could hang with the M. Mike rode the crap out of that Suzuki trying to keep Stewart in sight. Roger D and Big Goose deserve credit for putting a great bike under Alessi, and the entire Rockstar Makita Suzuki team should be pumped with Alessi's 2-2 for second OA.

Red Bull Honda is loaded this season, but their top man today was a surprise: Davi Millsaps carded 3-3 for the last spot on the box, after team mates Andrew Short and Ben Townley both dnf'd moto two. The Last Dragon on RBH (last Bull?) was Ivan Tedesco, who's sauce hasn't been hot for a while now. Number 9 ran hard all day, though, finishing fifth OA. He shouldn't do any worse than that.

Tim Ferry looked strong, but couldn't handle Millsaps for some reason. Timmy is faster than that, so I don't know what's going on there.

Big surprise of the day? Has to be Sean "I'm Back" Hamblin going 8-8 for SEVENTH overall, beating out some factory guys on his TUF Racing-backed private Yamaha. Hambone might get invited back into a big rig soon.

So the day was great, the racing was fan-tastic, the weather was the best it has ever been at GH, I hear the riders actually like the track, and the AMA Toyoto Motocross Championship is underway.

So what was NOT to like? Little birdie airshow notwithstanding, the parking SUCKED this year, and what sucked the most was that I was using the side of the facility that was supposed to IMPROVE the parking experience. In the past years, I seem to remember parking in the same area, but this year they had only one way out, so all the cars, trucks and motorhomes were funneled into one path out. Yes, I sat in the grassy field by my Mustang and watched the aerobatics one more time.

James Stewart Owns Glen Helen

That's all you really need to know. And I'm sure it may be news to the Feldkamp family, but there you have it.

More later...

Is Toyota the greatest American Motocross sponsor ever?

It's raceday (speaking of race, I wonder if Obama has ever been to one of these?), and on the very first page of the Glen Helen 2008 Souvenir Yearbook it reads,


In the 1970's, a sport called "motocross" was just getting off the ground in America. Toyota was there then and we're there now.

Oh man. Whoever wrote that line loves this sport as much as I do, if not more. And Toyota provides evidence of that claim on the inside cover, in a series of iconic images of legendary badasses like Hannah and Howerton. Toyota is a badass sponsor.

Time to for me to hit the road.

Glen Helen Practice: a nice day at the (raceway) park

Doom and gloom was the forecast, and there were dark skies and plenty of mud puddles in the parking lot this morning for sure, but by the time the pros hit the track for practice, the course was actually looking awesome.

And I mean that in a good way. I was struck by how fun the Glen Helen course looked; I'm used to it being the most fearsome track on the National circuit. There is no question that in years past, Jody Weisel and his crew have built some just plain scary racetracks... this year's course seems to be "lightened up" a little. Don't get me wrong, it is still very challenging, and the whole REM section of the track is all about major airtime. MAJOR airtime, do you hear me? They're jumping far AND fast to clear the triple step up and other jumps back there.

Still, the course this year looks like it would actually be fun even for a non-jumping, slow-ass beginner like myself. This obviously means I haven't been on a bike in a long time, to think I could actually handle this course.

On to the real deal: who was fast in practice?

Here are the top five numbers for the 250Fs:

1 - Jason Lawrence, Yamaha 2:44.053
2 - Ryan Villopoto Kawasaki 2:45.150
3 - Brett Metcalfe Kawasaki 2:45.913
4 - Austin Stroupe Kawasaki 2:46.134
5 - Nico Izzi, Suzuki 2:46.427

And here are the top five in the big bike class:

1 - James Stewart, Kawasaki 2:42.278
2 - Andrew Short, Honda 2:43.294
3 - Mike Alessi, Suzuki 2:44.135
4 - Jeff Alessi, Honda 2:45.000
5 - Timmy Ferry, Kawasaki 2:45.343

Okay. Stewart being a second faster than Short was to be expected; Lawrence more than a full second faster than Villopoto is a straight out surprise. Jason looked strong and smooth today. Ryan looked astonishingly fast, but sometimes he looked like he was fighting his bike a bit, just a little on the edge. But these are just the timed practice results. Timed QUALIFYING was a little bit different...

250F group A (or 3):

1 - Stroupe 2:42.502
2 - Kyle Cunningham, Honda 2:45.036
3 - Trey Canard, Honda 2:45.094
4 - Izzi 2:46.813
5 - Matt Goerke, KTM 2:47.127

250F group B (or 4):

1 - Ryan Sipes, KTM 2:46.826
2 - Jake Moss, Yamaha 2:48.112

blah blah blah, now I'm tired of typing this mess...

In any case, the track only got faster and so did the riders, as they learned their way around the course. The AMA's weird qualifying/practice structure still confuses me, but hey, it was all about watching the fastest riders in the world at one of the best tracks in the world.

More thoughts:

- There were a lot of people there! I was surprised at the turnout, considering the weather issues and the general alarm sounded throughout the motocross internet. I like the cool, unhurried vibe that Saturday practice has at the Nats.
- James Stewart looked healthy and humble in the pits, and ridiculously fast on the track. I think he has a lot in reserve as far as speed is concerned.
- Ben Townley looked really fast (and his fast time in qualifying, a 2:42.463 compares very well to Stewart's fast practice time. Towns reminded me a lot of Sebastien Tortelli with the way he rides, but more fluid like Chad Reed.
- Monster Energy drink does everything big. There used to be a big hue and cry about people setting up tents and canopies in the infield, blocking other people's view of the track. Well, Monster has set up the biggest (or at least tallest) infield structure I've ever seen at Glen Helen. The thing is HUGE. It has a viewing platform/lounge on the top (complete with palm trees!) that must be at least 30 feet off the deck. The bottom part looks to be a stage or something; maybe that's where the band Ten Man Push will play.
- The new Glen Helen sand section looks amazing.
- Ryan Dungey looked SOOOOO smooth, I can't help but think he's top three tomorrow.

Okay, I'm going to go enjoy the Racer X Preview show and call it a night.

How sandy is it at Glen Helen?

Check out the detail in this Racer X wallpaper shot by Steve Cox; they've got more over at RXO. Ryan Dungey was looking super-confident and crazy fast today... how that translated to only 7th fastest (2:47.416) beats the heck outta me. But consider that only 3 or so seconds separate the top 10 in the 250F class... it is going to be a hell of a race tomorrow. If you live in SoCal, you need to suck up that $4.25/gallon gas bill and get out to Glen Helen for this one.

Vital MX is Going Off


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This Glen Helen practice pic of Tim Ferry crushing it in the sand is by Vital MX member "RAK"... and this person is not the only Vital member putting in awesome work.

Ferry was feeling it today; he set 5th fastest time, a 2:45.343. Timmy was faster than Davi Millsaps, Ivan Tedesco, Josh Hill, DV12 (David Vuillemin), the afore-mentioned Ben Townley, and basically 70 other guys.

May 24, 2008

Glen Helen Practice: Killer Pics by Hoss

Check out Joe Gibbs Racing's Charles Summey railing this sandy berm at Glen Helen. He's looking pretty fast here, right? Dude was flying. However the AMA's stopwatch put him in 30th place, meaning there were 29 guys railing even faster. It seems almost impossible there are that many fast guys racing the nationals.

Summey's 2:53.987 put him in mid-pack, as there was a total of 75 big bike riders on the AMA's practice list, but it was more than 11 seconds slower than the 2:42.278 lap that James Stewart blasted to set fastest time on the day. Surprisingly, Summey did beat Ben Townley's 2:54.192.

This great photo was taken by Factoryphoto, who has a stunning gallery of today's practice pics here. Very impressive.

Glen Helen 2008: Practice Day

I'm feeling it. Or will, as soon as I get off this 'puter and get to the track. I hope to run into the future Champion of the 40+ Beginner class this weekend...

May 17, 2008

An Outstanding behind the scenes film of James Stewart by Fox Racing

Fox Racing's unique relationships with its long-time riders has allowed them to create some of the most memorable motion pictures ever made in our "little" sport. Fox has been sponsoring James Stewart since he was in first or second grade or something like that, so if this latest video seems like it was lovingly crafted by a family member, well, Fox and the Stewarts (and the Carmichaels and more) ARE family.

May 11, 2008

Fiolek finishes third in Bulgaria!

Ashley got on the box! How cool is that? And she blogged about it... what a great story. Photo from this race report at

Let's Take It Outdoors

Wes Williams does some amazing stuff. Check out this promo for the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championships at Racer X Films. (sorry, I couldn't figure out a direct link) Wes is definitely feeling it.

May 10, 2008

Look at what they're doing to Glen Helen!

Holy cow. Just when you thought the track couldn't get any gnarlier, now they're bringing in sand by the truck load. Here's the story from Motocross Action online; I'm upset because it looks like they've eliminated Yamaha hill, my favorite...

Ashlely Fiolek is World Wide

American motocross phenom Ashley Fiolek has decided to spend some time racing in Europe, before she starts her title chase for the U.S. women's motocross championship this year. This weekend, Ashley has qualified with the fourth fastest time for the FIM Women's World Championship round in Bulgaria... and that's ahead of current World Champion Katherine Prumm! Wow. Read about it here at Ashley's own blog.

May 08, 2008

Remember this post?

Back in January, after James Stewart dropped out of the Monster Supercross series, I posted this link to a Steve Cox/Racer X online interview of Chad Reed, during which he said "I think they're going to try and do something..." , clearly implying that someone in control of the sport would try to influence the outcome of the series by making the tracks easier. Back then, I thought Reed was speaking the truth. I mean, after all that talk of a need for "parity" and how 450s are too powerful for mortal men to ride (whatever happened to all that 350cc nonsense anyway?), after THREE fuel fiascoes (fiascii?), I wouldn't put it past the AMA/FIM or LiveNation to do whatever they can to keep the races from becoming boring, poorly-attended parades. What a concept.

But what do we make of Reed's words now, after a truly exciting 17-race series from which he emerged triumphant despite the best efforts of those who would... what? Make a tricky rhythm section less tricky? Constantly groom the ruts between races? Really, now that the series is over, what could "they"have done to make the racing closer? I think what really happened is that Kevin Windham REALLY got fired up or excited or turned on or whatever and stepped it up like he has never done before. And that's really saying something for a guy that has always been as fast and professional as they come.

Reed's crashes, injuries and that heartbreaking DNF at Daytona are also what made this title race captivating. Chad rode with heart, raced through the pain and beat a worthy and beloved rival. I bet "they" were very pleased with the outcome. So was I.

Okay, not really. I sort of hinted at it before, but I would have been beside myself with supercross glee if Kdub had parked SuperX in the cheap seats to win the race and the championship! Kevin's got too much integrity to pull something like that... but imagine Kdub going all "Mike Alessi at Glen Helen" on Reed in the turn after the long start straight on the Vegas track, kind of like he almost did to Davi Millsaps... I believe the motocross world would have spun on its axis or something.

May 07, 2008

Remember James Stewart's one and only 250F ride?

Here he is on a KX250F, before his last race in the old 125/250F class.

Matthes on Vegas: Hidden Treasures

Steve Matthes of writes some funny stuff in his Observation column. Go for the latest on the James Stewart to L&M Racing rumor, stay for the bassett hound picture by his wife... it's all good. I just wonder is any of it true? Reed to Suzuki?

May 04, 2008

Congratulations, Australian Supercross Fans!

Your guy did well, didn't he? Chad Reed, the pride of Australia, is the AMA/FIM Supercross Champion for 2008, his second supercross crown (third if you include his 250F East title). He's gonna bring that winning flavor back home to start his own stadium motoccross series. So now I can finally say it: Getdown Chad!

Try This On The Guy In Blue Next Time


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Geico Honda's Kevin Windham (14) nearly took out Red Bull Honda's Davi Millsaps in the first turn as they were both not backing off for the holeshot. I wish Kdub was that aggressive when Reed came up and passed him for the win, but Chad was in ass-kick mode. Photo by GuyB.

Synchronized Swimming in Vegas


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There were three Hondas in front of Reed for much of the main. Red Bull Honda's Andrew Short (29) was the last man standing between Windham and Reed. Reed easily passed and quickly dropped Short, and then went on to hunt down and dispatch his championship rival, again, with ease. Reed later said that it seemed like the other guys didn't want to win the race. I don't know about that, but it is clear that Red Bull Honda had no intention of riding dirty against the Yamaha rider. Photo by BuyG.

May 03, 2008

Chad Reed is the 2008 Supercross Champion


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Congratulations to Chad and the entire LM Racing/San Manual Band of Mission Indians/Yamaha racing team. Photo by GuyB.

Added Vegas Bonus: Hudgens Explains Reality

So I was listening to the Supercross Live webcast for the Vegas finale tonight, wondering why they were running commercials urging people to buy tickets for an event that was already underway and halfway over. And then the Director of Marketing for LiveNation Ken Hudgens appeared, apparently to publicly address complaints about the lack of live television coverage for this otherwise most exciting of nights.

And I was surprised they didn't ask him who was gonna win tonight.

Anyway, Hudgens explained that a joint decision NOT to go live as in previous years was made after Anaheim 1, though he did not elaborate on the significance of the timing, if any. Basically, since the event takes place on the West Coast at night, live broadcast requires the East Coast audience to stay up late (after 1am) to watch. Which they historically do not, if television ratings mean anything. Which they do, certainly to Hudgens and his clients. Simple, really: the ratings are too weak to justify the costs.

I heard that and immediately thought, "so tell the promoter to move the finale to an East Coast stadium and be done with it..." Oh yeah, LiveNation IS the promoter. This should be a no-brainer, right? Of course not, stadium logistics are a nightmare, ask someone who would know... like LiveNation. Anyway...

So after listening to Hudgens, I felt pretty clear on a couple of things. One, he knows a lot about this sport because he has been involved with the sport for a long, long time. One could say he's part of the status quo; he's certainly part of the establishment, and since the issue of live television broadcasts has ALWAYS been property (literally) of the establishment, he has great credibility on this issue. So when Ken Hudgens says that the ratings indicate that broadcasting the final supercross event is not worth the cost and effort, we should take that as the truth.

So with that understanding, Mr. Hudgens, why not let us have it on the web, for free? You know, us, that miniscule audience listening to the webcast with our friends from all over the world? I'm not even suggesting you pay for production, just let someone else come in and do it, for free. As in, no licensing costs to broadcast in a certain limited fashion on the internet. Imagine that? Some people can't.

Mr. 200 Percent


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Midwestern guys aren't supposed to be flashy, right? No? Trey Canard rocks the red state flavor. Red plates on a red bike... haven't seen that before! Another GuyB joint.

Smooth B


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Roll left, homie. J-Law lays it out at Vegas Press Day, looking like he wants to go to the des Nations or something... Color snaps by GuyB.

May 01, 2008

Remember Battles Like This?

Last year in St. Louis, Chad Reed and James Stewart trading paint... great stuff!

Speaking of 'plates

Time for a change, this site is way past due for a little touch up.