August 29, 2010

Southwick Sandmaster: Dungey gets down

2010 is the Year of Ryan Dungey.  First year on the 450cc machines and he cleans house, winning indoors and out.  Managed by the Man, supported by the GOAT and on bikes built by Goose, Flyin' Ryan won it all in a magnificently dominant style, winning both motos at the Southwick National.  GuyB has the story at Vital MX.

Congratulations to Ryan Dungey and the entire Rockstar Makita Suzuki racing team!

August 28, 2010

Breaking News: James Stewart gave me a tummy ache

And it was all my fault, I'm man enough to now admit.  Being a big time fan (BTF) of any professional sportsman or sportswoman has its own special risks, and whenever we BTFs ascribe the status of "superhuman" to any person, no matter how magnificent their achievements may have been, we flirt with the inevitable, crushing disappointment that comes when our heroes prove to be merely human.

So what's this prattle all about?  Team James announced they're through with the Nationals for 2010.  Kaput.  Why?  According to the press release, James and the team are not ready to "...compete in the series at the level they are accustomed to," and James doesn't want to "...put my entire career at risk by getting injured again."   Stewart even apologized to the fans, the series and the sponsors.

Cue BTF tummy ache:  "Dammit, I wanted to see him ride at Pala!  How could he DO this to me?  He's so selfish, all he cares about is his career and making a profit for his sponsors and team!  What about MY needs??"

Damned if it didn't take me a few days to get over myself.  Maybe it helped that I avoided the Vital MX online forum since the news broke; maybe not.  In any case, once I got over my emotional reaction to the news, I realized it was a smart move. 

Of course, every professional motocross racer faces the risk of injury every time they line up behind a starting gate.  But how many of them willingly gas it while wondering if they are about to crash their brains out because their bike and/or body is "not ready?"   Going for it when one is not ready is what some amateurs unfortunately do.  And maybe desperate pros struggling to establish themselves.  But top tier pros and the multi-million dollar teams that enable them have too much at stake to do something so foolish.

So while the news disappointed me so deeply it made my stomach churn, I admit it makes sense.  Team L&M/San Manuel Band of Mission Indians/Yamaha/James Stewart Entertainment, in its current configuration, is a supercross-focused team.  Racing the last four Nationals knowing that there are problems with the bike and the rider that could lead to crashes and injury would be counter-productive.  After missing most of the 2010 supercross series and after failing to defend their supercross title, this team really needs to focus on being healthy and ready to race in January 2011.

Apology accepted, James.

August 17, 2010

James Stewart: Face meet Palm

Honestly, I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to see James Stewart Jr. race a motocross motorcycle. Numerous opportunities, in fact, and each time it was well worth the cost of admission... from the high and lows of his debut supercross race way back when (at Anaheim, California on a 125cc two-stroke), to the laid back fun at his free public ride day in Southern California. And I honestly feel sorry for those MX fans that have not seen the man ride yet. There are a lot of them out there, and I can understand why they would be upset if they had paid money to see him do his thing... and he just decided not to do it.

And according to Stewart himself, that's exactly what he did at Unadilla. Today, he broke his media silence by dropping, if not a bombshell then at least a small concussion grenade of insight in his "An Open Letter From James Regarding Unadilla and MXoN" (posted by Garth Milan at He "straight up" said:

"...I just decided to pull off, lick my wounds, and learn from the weekend."

Learning is a good thing, but sometimes the lessons are hard. I have a good friend that drove 5 hours to Unadilla to see James race the year that Stewart got injured in practice. He never got to see the man ride (no, television doesn't count), so he actually balked at the opportunity to make the trip this year to upstate New York. In fact, he did not go, because he was afraid he would be disappointed again by his motocross hero. What did my friend learn this weekend?

Last year, I truly felt sorry for the motocross fans in Italy and Australia, who had waited all year for their first ever opportunity to see James race in person, and whose hopes were dashed when James fell ill after the Bercy Supercross and canceled his remaining international race schedule. It wasn't James' fault by any stretch, but the result was unhappy fans nonetheless.

But this time in New York, James admits plainly that he believed he had "nothing to gain" by completing the moto.

Rather than submitting to an interview with his friends and enemies in the moto press, he once again chose to directly address his followers and foes. In my opinion, he took his time to prepare and present his thoughts, and I respect that. But after reading this open letter, it pains me to think that he misses the significance of some of his own words.

I haven't even commented on what he wrote about not being selected for the 2010 Motocross of Nations team. Read it for yourself.

Meanwhile, I will go back to looking forward to seeing Stewart ride at the season finale National at Pala in SoCal. But I might start a new habit of not looking forward to hearing or reading what he has to say.

August 16, 2010

So... what happened to James at Unadilla?

Apparently, he was too tired to race the second moto. That's according to his team manager, Larry Brooks, from this podcast interview with Steve Matthes. Brooks said James left it all on the track in moto one, and that after setting fast times in both practice sessions and running well and finishing third in the first moto, it was still a good day for the team.

As far as I can tell, James has not said a word to the moto media yet. I wonder when this silence will end? Actually, I wonder why it started in the first place?

August 15, 2010

Unadilla Undone: Mystery in New York

So, after spending nearly all of the 2010 Supercross season and most of the 2010 Motocross series on the injured reserve list, so to speak, James Stewart Jr. returned to professional racing at the challenging Unadilla circuit in upstate New York. He finished 3rd in the first moto, behind series points leader Ryan Dungey and visiting World Championship contender Clement DeSalle, but according to this lap chart for the second moto, Stewart finished the first lap in 15th place and moved up as high as 11th before dropping out of the race. James was credited with 35th place in the moto, giving him 11th overall for the event.

So what happened? It's Sunday night, and there's no news on Vital MX or Racer X Online or even This is not good. Stewart and his team need to tell everyone what's up, otherwise there will be nothing but rampant speculation about Stewart's motivation, and much of this speculation will turn into ugly talk on internet chat boards.

I thought the team had their PR act together.