December 02, 2011

Ryno kills Red Bull: Hughes wins Coup de Grace at A Day in the Dirt 2011

Photo by Paul Willis

One of my favorite riders of all time, Ryan "Ryno" Hughes, raced to a strong victory in the Coup de Grace, the final race of the Red Bull Day in the Dirt motocross grand prix.  This is Hughes' second CdG win in the popular post-Thanksgiving event, which has been put on by key members of the Hollywood stunt community for 14 years now.
Photo by Paul Willis

That ear belongs to Steve "GuyB" Giberson of Vital MX, who has generously allowed this blog to run his fantastic photos over the years.  Check out his great gallery of Sunday's racing:  That left hand belongs to Troy Lee,one of the founders of the event, and an even larger legend than race winner Hughes.

Photo by Paul Willis

Here Ryno rounds the barnhouse turn, a traditional part of every Day in the Dirt layout since the beginning. 

November 24, 2011

The Big Story

2011 was a big year for Motocross.

Photo courtesy

Ryan Villopoto fully lived up to the promise he has always shown by winning the whole enchilada, taking home both indoor and outdoor 450 titles.  Prior to this year, RV had already firmly established himself as one of the world's premier riders with his many 250cc titles.  Green to the bone, Villo earned all of his titles on Kawasaki motorcycles.

Photo by GuyB at

Speaking of green, Villopoto ended the year making history by being the first man to win a $1 million purse for a single motocross event, the inaugural Monster Cup.

Photo by GuyB at

Ryan Dungey may have failed to defend his 2010 450 titles, but he scored his biggest points in the post-season, by making a jump to the team managed by the Man who "discovered" him, Red Bull/KTM, just before team Rockstar Makita Suzuki folded.  By picking up Dungey, KTM is now a very serious threat to win at least one of the 450cc American titles, a feat that has to this date eluded the Austrian manufacturer.  Dungey will now have to adapt to an different motorcycle, the first time in his career that he has faced this challenge.

Photo courtesy

Yet the biggest news of the year occurred even later, when it was announced that Joe Gibbs Racing had signed James Stewart, Jr. to a multi-year contract to campaign their Toyota-backed Yamahas.  It was a deal that has been quietly forming since the day that Jeremy Albrecht, Stewart's former mechanic, left Kawasaki to form the and manage the team for Cody Gibbs, son of the legendary NFL coach/NASCAR team owner.  This is one of those rare deals that has significant ramifications for industries outside of the insular motocross world.  Look at the sponsor decals on the YZ above:  Both Toyota and SportsClips are heavily involved in NASCAR marketing to draw buyers to their products and services; that they're willing to take a chance a comparatively small sport like indoor and outdoor motocross says a ton about the trust they have in the Gibbs organization's ability to deliver value.  With Stewart's star power bringing sport drink giant Red Bull and athletic apparel juggernaut Nike to the mix, this team will probably be the most well-documented and publicized of all, whether they win the 2012 championship or not.  Clearly, there's a lot riding on 7 to win.

September 18, 2011

This Guy: Seven Motocross of Nations wins in a row

Photo by Jeffrey Beersden

This guy, shown here hoisting the Peter Chamberlain trophy his team has just won, is Roger DeCoster.   DeCoster is directly responsible for Team USA's dynastic reign over the Motocross of Nations, having managed this country's entry since the 80's.  Roger DeCoster IS modern motocross.

Congratulations Roger D!

Monster World: 2011 Motocross of Nations

The best of the best.  Photo by Jeffrey Beersden.

Team USA topped team France to take the 2011 Motocross of Nations, the seventh consecutive win for the American teams.  Team Australia finished third, the highest MXoN finish ever for an Aussie squad.  Check out the full report on Racer X.

Congratulations to all of the teams!

August 31, 2011

Dungey's second moto at Southwick: Ride of the Year

Even though Ryan Dungey led all 17 laps of the first moto of the 2011 Southwick National, it was his second moto performance that will probably be known as the Ride of the Year.   Check out this great footage of the moments before his bike arrived (late) to the starting area.

July 24, 2011

Motocross giveth and motocross taketh away

Last week it seemed the whole world was amazed by Chad Reed's survival of that horrific crash at the Spring Creek National. This weekend at the Washougal National, Trey Canard's crash served to remind everyone of the dangers inherent in competing at the highest levels of the sport.

GuyB at Vital MX snapped this photo right before Trey (41) would lose control over this jump and hit the ground hard enough to re-fracture his recently-healed femur.

A deeply disappointing turn of events for Trey.  Hang in there friend, and get well soon.

July 17, 2011

Chad Reed takes a licking... and keeps on ticking

In any other instance, using that played out line from the old Timex watch commercials would be unforgivable.  But in this amazing case... ,well, let the videos (courtesy VitalMX and AmericanMotocross) speak for themselves:

Wow.  This crash was an incredible mixture of bad luck, split-second decision-making, great awareness, advanced athletic ability and extremely good luck.   He was able to "downside" the landing, a real heads up move, but look at the divot he takes out of the grass!  Chad hit the ground pretty hard, but he got up and finished the race!  The speedy (and smart, strong, etc) Australian came back to finish 14th in the moto, scoring enough points to maintain his lead in the title chase.

But we always knew that Chad Reed has heart.

July 08, 2011

Ahhh, Mammoth Mountain motocross...

When your friends ask you why people love motocross, show them this video...

July 02, 2011

Chad Reed is showing them how it's done

Good grief, Chad Reed has won 6 out of 12 motos, captured 4 out of 6 overall wins, and now has a 16 point lead over the Ryans in the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross championship.   With 6 rounds to go, there's a lot of racing left in this series.  

June 15, 2011

I Wanna Ride

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since my last post.  So many things have happened on this planet... huge events have occurred over the last few months, incidents of such magnitude that the goings-on of our tiny world of professional motocross absolutely pale in comparison.   Races were held, trophies were won, points were gathered and internet arguments sputtered on, and I could not be bothered to write one word about nor cut and paste a single photograph of any of it.  Perhaps I was suffering from an oversupply of perspective, or maybe a lack of same.

Thankfully, I happened across this change-up from Transworld Motocross:  the 2011 KTM two-stroke lineup.  Racing motorcycles on dirt is supposed to be fun, even therapeutic in its own way, and lightweight, lightly-powered two-stroke motorcycles are the funnest of all.  While there may be a decent argument to be made against carbon-based fuel-burning forms of entertainment, you won't hear it at any motocross track.

May 03, 2011

Salt Lake City: The Natural

Tomac takes two:  this son-of-a-mountain bike champion is fast!  Photo by GuyB
Even though this is only his second supercross win, from the picture above it looks like Eli Tomac has been winning them for years.  The rookie could win the whole shooting match in Vegas; in any event, he has firmly established himself as one of the top 250 pilots in the sport.

By the way, the supercross fans in Utah had a good excuse for not filling Rice-Eccles stadium... it was frickin' cold!

Salt Lake City: Villopoto rode his ass off

RV put it down in SLC, taking advantage of a great opportunity to pad his points leadPhoto by GuyB
Ryan Villopoto was clearly feeling it Saturday night in Salt Lake City.  He got a decent start, made some strong passes to get into second, and after James Stewart crashed out of the lead, RV turned on the afterburners and torched the rest of the field, overcoming a charging Chad Reed and a determined Ryan Dungey to win the next-to-last round of the MESS. 

April 11, 2011

Three (to go) the hard way: St. Louis Supercross

From L to R:  Ryan Villopoto (3rd), James Stewart (1st) and Ryan Dungey (2nd).  Photo by GuyB/Vital MX
Now that the St. Louis round is over, there are only three races remaining in the MESS.  At the end of the 450 main event on the podium stood the current supercross champ, a past supercross champ... and all three men could be the future supercross champ.  Current Champ Ryan Dungey is now only 5 points behind title chase leader Ryan Villopoto, and James Stewart's slump-breaking win brings his season point tally to his old racing number 259.   Hmmm.

March 30, 2011

Stewart jumps the gate, disappoints Captain Sisko

Sisko Pictures, Images and Photos
Facepalm image of Captain Sisko by Elijaya

I guess James was going for the April Fools holeshot. Now he's all caught up in "incident gate". Is it true bad press is still good press?  I would guess that those that bring you "Bubba's World" might agree with the conceit.

March 18, 2011

Benjamin Franklin Willis 1924 - 2011

My father was not a motorcyclist. The allure of two-wheeled freedom that has so completely captured me and millions of other earthlings somehow eluded him. As far as I know, my father rode a motorcycle only once in the entire 86 years of his life, and that was for a brief, perhaps embarassing moment on the small, 72cc Honda "minicycle" he gave me in 1975. No, my father was not a motorcyclist, but he deserves ample credit for helping me to become one.

As far as I remember, my father was not even a bicyclist, though he bought me bicycles and helped me proceed from the training wheel stage to two-wheeled flight.

This is not to say my father was not athletic or sporting. Even working a busy schedule as a professional mechanical engineer managing quality assurance programs for the US Army, he made time to play competitive tennis as a member of one of the larger tennis clubs in Washington, D.C. Interestingly, it was partially his devotion to tennis that enabled my affinity for two-wheeled travel.

My father played tennis every Sunday after church services, usually at the Rock Creek park facility. Good fortune placed a bicycle rental shack at the same location, and my father would pick up my cousin (and best friend) Carl and the two of us would ride for hours while he battled it out with other weekend warriors on the courts.

You fathers out there will understand the importance of having something for your offspring to do so you can get something done.

Carl and I were given complete freedom, as long as we remembered to "be smart and be careful" or words to that effect, and after we mastered the basics of piloting banana-seat equipped coaster brake bikes, we began to explore some of the nearby bike paths in the park.

For the record, we also spent plenty of time watching my father and his friends playing tennis, and Carl and I both went on to play as well, with Carl becoming a winning player in a recreation center league.

But for me, those summer afternoons in Rock Creek park began a long love affair with bicycling that naturally grew to include motorcycling and motocross. Helped along, of course, by timely purchases of bicycles and motorcycles by my non-motorcyclist father. In all, he bought for me the 5-speed "dragster", the 10-speed "Free Spirit", the 1975 Honda XR75, the 1974 Honda Elsinore 125 and he co-signed my first-ever loan for me to buy a 1979 Honda CR250 Elsinore, not to mention paying for all the gear and stuff I needed to race.

It is important to note here that both of my parents were involved with these decisions, and while they paid the bills, it was not because they loved the sport.  They just loved me enough to want to give me what I wanted, even though they were not excited about my racing.

In looking at it from that standpoint, my father WAS a motorcyclist of a sort. He didn't ride, but he supported the industry and helped create another eager fan of the sport, another motorcyclist, by buying motorcycles for me. 

Thank you, Dad. I love you. Say hi to the family for me!

February 26, 2011

JS7: Stewart speaks about the Atlanta Supercross

Got to give this man credit for putting this video out there so fast. He's reserved, apologetic (to the fans) and looks to be ready to race Daytona next week.
Check out for this Atlanta SX: Post-Race Video

The Money Shot: Atlanta Supercross

Two Two Racing owner/rider Chad Reed appears to be headed for the tuff blox instead of actually making the right turn that James Stewart is trying to complete.  Yes, impact is imminent.
Whoa, what a last lap!  James Stewart got the holeshot and led for a few laps, but bobbled and let Chad Reed by.  Reed then went on to lead most of the main, but made a few mistakes of his own and Stewart was able to close the gap.  Then Stewart took advantage when Reed got held up by Stewart's team mate Kyle Regal, and passed for the lead on the last lap.  A few turns later, Reed implemented the move you see above.  Check out GuyB's fantastic report for the rest of the photos in this sequence!

As a result of the collision, BOTH Ryans went by (Villopoto and Dungey), with Villopoto taking the win!  A fantastic night of racing in Atlanta!  A stupendous disappointment for the San Manuel Yamaha team!

February 22, 2011

Missing in Action: San Diego Supercross

Er, my bad everybody.  It was actually a momentous weekend in San Diego for Honda riders, with Chad Reed putting his privately-sponsored CRF450F in the winner's circle for a record 6th time in that stadium.   And GEICO Powersports Honda rookie Eli Tomac managed his first-ever supercross win in the 250 class.   Congratulations to both guys!

So where are the photos?  My connection to the good stuff, GuyB, was off representing Vital MX and the Indy Dealer Show.  Oh well...

February 19, 2011

James Stewart interview: you're doing it right

A sense of humor is a valuable thing. Check out this priceless interview with James Stewart.

February 14, 2011

Don't Sweat the Technique: Houston Supercross

Here's Malcolm looking clean in his heat race...
... here he is in the main, with a ripped jersey from his gnarly first lap crash.  Still riding hard.

What a great professional debut for the younger Stewart!  He had to ride in unseeded "B" practice sessions, but was able to complete a fast lap of 50.911, the second-fastest time in his division, good enough for 14th fastest overall.  

When the night show kicked off for the first round of the East region 250 class, Stewart focused and jetted out to a great start in heat one and rode all 6 laps in second place behind Justin Barcia.  Stewart was consistent; his six-lap average was 50.984.

By the time the 250 main event lined up, it was hard not to have high expectations for the rookie racer.  Malcolm responded by expertly converting his good gate pick into the holeshot!   He was immediately challenged by PJ Larsen, and the two of them starting banging bars.  A turn or two later and the two racers collided and went down hard, Stewart and his Suzuki both turning cartwheels down the track.  Luckily he was uninjured and his bike was rideable.  Though he was nearly dead last by time he got his bike started, Malcolm held it together and was able to race his way back to 14th.

So even though he was set to do much, much better, it was still a great night for the rookie.  And to top it off, he took home "Stewart Family Honors" as his 14th beat the crash-caused 15th place finished scored by big brother James in the 450 class!

Photos from GuyB's photo blast at Vital MX.

Stewart on a Suzuki and other strange things: Houston Supercross

Yep,there's a Stewart racing a Suzuki: MALCOLM Stewart, the youngest of the Stewart brothers, AMA Pro number 139, racing a Suzuki RM-Z250 for Travis Pastrana!  Actually, the team is called Suzuki City/ARMA/Nitro Circus.  Anyway, that's one nice looking bike!

And how cool is this?  The team had a fifth-scale HPI-Racing truck with Stewart's number 139 on display in the pits.

From GuyB's Pit Bits at Vital MX.

February 12, 2011

House Town: Houston Supercross

You wanna know what's going down in House Town?  GuyB has the pre-race pics up at VitalMX.

At 71,000 seats, Houston's Reliant is the biggest stadium the MESS has visited so far this year.  There are definitely enough motocross fans in the area to fill the house; hope they turn out because it's looking to be one hot show!
Chad Reed qualified in 9th, turning a 49.831. 
James Stewart "won" qualifying again, after laying down a 48.568 in second practice.  Look at all those empty seats.  Where is everybody?  Partying in the pits?

This 6th round of the series marks the beginning of the East region championship for 250cc motorcycles, featuring a new cast of characters, er, racers contesting the title.

Monster Pro Circuit's Dean Wilson sits in 3rd place in the 250 class, with a lap of 49.996.
Ryan Sipes put his DNA Shred Stix Yamaha on top of the little bike leaderboard by setting a fast lap of 49.583.

February 06, 2011

Another one who wants to win: Anaheim 2 Supercross

Stewart made it two in a row.  Can the competition counter next weekend in Houston?
James Stewart stormed to his 40th career supercross win and his 8th win at Anaheim stadium.  Was there more to the story?  Not really. 

Photo by GuyB.

Hansen has Heart: Anaheim 2 Supercross

Hot 100 grabbed the holeshot and held off challenges from Ken Roczen (194) and Eli Tomac (19), who would both end up on the podium with him.  Hansen swept Anaheim in 2011, winning both A1 and A2.
It was Josh Hansen's turn to have a tough night of racing.  After he set fastest lap in 250 practice, he crashed hard in the whoops, breaking bones and fingers in his left hand.  Lesser men would have called it a night (and maybe a championship), but Hansen gutted it out and pushed his bike to the starting line for his heat (which he won) and the 250 main (which he also won, after dispatching a challenge from Eli Tomac).  Hansen WANTS IT.

Great photos from A2 by GuyB.

February 05, 2011

Pink in the Pits: Anaheim 2 Supercross

The fifth round of the Monster Energy Supercross Series is dedicated to breast cancer awareness, so the bikes and the pits are decked out with all manner of pink.  We like pink.
So THAT'S where she stashes her iPhone... and her, uh, bullets.

Blame GuyB for these pics.

Second Fastest in Practice: Anaheim 2 Supercross

After setting fastest lap in the first 450 practice, James Stewart sat out P2, where his time was beaten by Ryan Dungey.

Eli Tomac clocked the second fastest time in the 250 class, behind Josh Hansen.  Then Hansen reportedly broke a finger in the second practice... will this be Tomac's night to win?
It's showtime in Anaheim!  These two were second fastest in their respective classes, but they both have extremely good chances at getting the win tonight.

Photos by GuyB at Vital MX.

February 04, 2011

7 has 7, wants 8: Anaheim 2 Supercross

Stewart finished third at the season-opening Anaheim 1 event.
James celebrated a milestone win last week in Oakland; can he make it two in a row at Anaheim 2?
Over the course of his career, James Stewart has won 7 main events in Anaheim Stadium, according to the Monster Energy Supercross Notes package over at, While that stat is incredible, the fact that Chad Reed has 6 Anaheim wins makes this weekend's race even more interesting.  Speedy Reedy's last lap pass for second at Oakland was a reminder to everyone that the two-time champion and owner/operator of Two Two Motorsports is still one of the fastest supercross racers in history.

Photos from

February 03, 2011

Third of All Time: Oakland Supercross

Stewart captured a key victory under difficult conditions, and took over the points lead as a result.
James Stewart's win at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum was his 39th career supercross victory, placing him in third on the all-time win list, behind (The King) Jeremy McGrath and ... guess who?

While yer chewing on that, here's another trivia question:  how many gallons of flame thrower juice does the Monster Energy Supercross Series burn up over the course of a year?   Still, another cool pic by GuyB.

J-style: Oakland Supercross

Josh Hansen is on it this season.  He can handle the young'uns; the question is, can he handle his team mate Tickle, Broc?

Photo from GuyB's great coverage of the Oakland Supercross last Saturday.

January 30, 2011

Who's Reporting Things: Oakland Supercross

Transworld Motocross gets the best post-race interviews with their "How Was Your Weekend?" series.  Here's the lastest from Oakland, straight from the riders' mouths.

I prefer these interviews to the ones that Feld Motorsports does with their Supercross Live team, mainly because they give the riders time to finish their racing day before putting them in front of a camera.  Swapmoto at TWMX lets the riders be who they are, so they're much more relaxed and candid during the interviews.  Supercross Live gets them just minutes after the checkered flag, which is okay for the most part, but sometimes these young men could use more time to gather their thoughts (and speak with their teams).  But what I find particularly annoying is the way the Supercross Live reporters still use an old TV style of "wrapping up" or summarizing what the rider just said, as if the audience needs help understanding what they just heard.  

January 29, 2011

Who's Running Things: Oakland Supercross

Kyle Cunningham flying in practice.  Photo by GuyB/Vital MX.

As title sponsor of our national indoor motocross championship series, Monster Energy is large and in charge of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship series.  Tonight's round in Oakland, California is just getting started, and the only media available in real time are a bajillion texts and tweets, all focused on deciphering a sporadic timing feed from the AMA. 

Tomorrow will be a different story, media-wise, as the 450 half of the show will first air on the CBS network, and Supercross will get it's time in front of a national broadcast audience.  CBS Sports is using the excitement of stadium motocross (combined no doubt with the sexy Monster and Rockstar girls) to build a strong lead-in audience for the Duke vs. St. John's basketball game that will immediately follow the broadcast. 

The 250 class portion of tonight's race will be shown out-of-sequence to a pay cable limited audience. presumably because it is only a regional championship.  Sure you're right.

January 25, 2011

A slightly different angle on the Los Angeles Supercross

From this viewpoint from the cheap(er) seats, it looks as if Brett Metcalfe (24), Austin Stroupe (74), Kevin Windham (14) and Ryan Dungey (1) all have a shot at crossing the holeshot line first.  But it was Metty's outside momentum that took him over the line first.   

Here's the lead pack jamming into turn two.  This is racing!

Motorcycles naturally attracts photographers, racing motorcycles even more so.   These are the first in a series of cool photos taken by Rodd Lindstrom at the Los Angeles Supercross.  Rodd's a long-time motorcyclist, an accomplished skateboarder and a very talented commercial photographer, as well as a big-time supercross fan.  Thanks for the pics, Rodd!

January 23, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly: 2011 Los Angeles Supercross

Trey Canard (41) chasing Austin Stroupe (74) and Chad Reed (22) during their 450 heat race.  I'll let you decide who's good and who's bad, but Trey definitely gets the ugly for the horrendous get-off he suffered.  Fortunately, Canard wasn't seriously injured and went on to win the LCQ and finish a strong 4th in the main.  Photo by GuyB.
One word that decribes last night's Monster Energy Supercross Series (MESS) at Dodger stadium in Los Angeles?  Exciting!  Of course, there was much more to it than that, so more words are needed.

What was good about the Dodger stadium supercross? 
  • THE RACING.  It was off the chain in both classes.  These riders are all on it.  They are putting on a heckuva show, giving it their all, blood sweat and tears, the whole nine.  GuyB has the story at Vital MX.
  • THE PEOPLE.  The stadium staff were all pretty cool, despite the fact that they were actually in a bit over their heads (see "the bad"); the fans were cool if a little irreverent; the place was packed major and minor moto-celebrities, and even more hot chicks than A1.  Nice vibe, considering...
  • THE VENUE.  Maybe it's not as nice as some of the newer ballparks, but Dodger stadium has enough charm of its own, if you take the time to look around.  The view of L.A. from the parking lot is downright amazing.
The bad?  Oh man...

  • THE PARKING.  Yes, it's a funky parking lot, but it doesn't have to be as bad as it was on Saturday night.  It took 15 minutes just to get in the lot, and we arrived fairly early between 3:30-4pm.  The parking gate personnel were pleasant enough, but they only took cash (what year is this again?), and were just slow dealing with the traffic.  Getting out was complete bedlam, and I didn't see a single police officer directing traffic.  At Anaheim, the police actively direct departing traffic (and it's still crazy, I must admit).
  • THE PUNKS.  No, not the MX hooligans; at least they showed up.  But the SoCal motocross fans that chose not to go the the L.A. supercross for whatever reason they dreamed up.  Sure, SX is expensive and stadium races are usually a pain in the ass to attend, but c'mon now... THIS season you do NOT want to miss.    Donn Maeda at Transworld Motocross reports that 41,107 people attended the race; with a capacity of 56,000 that means 14,893 supposed California motocross fans punked out and missed an awesome race.
  • THE PRESS.  Because the television coverage was delayed until Sunday morning, the motocross press seemed to follow the lead of the traditional press and "hold" race reports until the race was broadcast on CBS.  The only real-time stream of information permitted to leave Dodger stadium during the race was the AMA lap timer.  The promoters completely shut down the news.  A travesty.

And the ugly...

  • THE MASSIVE LINES.   For EVERYTHING.  To get in, to buy food, to get out, to get back in, to even get in the rest rooms.  Everything had a long line  For such a big stadium, it has a really congested flow, made even worse by closing off sections, locking doors that have signs that say "door must be unlocked", not opening all available snack bars and more.  I give credit to the stadium management conducting what seemed to be an incident-free event, but they really failed on the traffic management aspect.   Some of their decisions on routing fans from the stadium to the "pit party" resulted in a massive jam of people squeezing into a narrow row of escalators.  It was fortunate no one was hurt in the crush.  Some people gave up and never made it to the pits, which is a shame because there is so much to see and do there. 
  • (The way some fans treated) THE POLICE.  Unfortunately, there was some booing when the LAPD motorcyclists made there way onto the stadium floor early in the opening ceremonies, and it's unusual because the Air Force and the LA Sheriffs department both had displays and personnel in the pits and were as well received as they are at other stadiums.  I'm not saying the LAPD is perfect, but doing that to those motorcycle officers was definitely uncalled for.   Of course, it didn't help when a couple of the officers got stuck in the deep dirt on the start straight and struggled to get their motorcycles off the track.
All of that to say... overall, it was AWESOME because the racing was so great.   All of the good far outweighed the bad and the ugly, no question about it.  The MESS went to Dodger stadium and motocross fans all over southern California came out the winner.

Two gets Second, Seven gets second

Ryan Villopoto took his second win of the season at the Los Angeles supercross.  What a race! More to come after "the embargo"...

January 21, 2011

Two and Two-Time

Two races in, too early to tell.  National number 2 versus two-time Supercross Champ.  GuyB has the Big Picture from Phoenix.

January 16, 2011

Down in the Dirt: Phoenix 2011

I am so glad this crash wasn't worse.  James Stewart lost his front end while leading his heat race at the Phoenix round of the MESS, and GuyB was on hand to catch the shot (and more).  If you look close, it seems like James is doing his best to protect his right arm from damage.   And check out the reaction on some of those faces in the crowd!

Fortunately, it was his only miscue on the entire evening.  Stewart recovered to finish second in the heat, and then went on to a strong performance in the main event, grabbing the holeshot and leading all 20 laps.

Made up for lost/last time:  last year in Phoenix, Stewart effectively crashed out of the series.  Winning this year has gotta feel good.

Two Fifty Deuce: Phoenix 2011

Josh "Top Step" Hansen smiles for GuyB's camera after winning the 250cc race in Phoenix.   Hansen got handed a bit of luck when his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team mate Broc Tickle bobbled away the lead, but make no mistake about it, Josh put himself in place to win his second in a row.  That's a big deal, dude.

Speaking of dudes, who's the one in non-green?  It's Ryan Morais, after riding his Rockstar Suzuki to third place.

What happened at Phoenix 2011? Transworld Motocross has the answer

Check out "How was your weekend?" by Brendan Lutes, who interviewed Stewart, Hansen, Villopoto, Tickle, Canard, Reed and many more.   It's the story of Phoenix straight from the racers, no fluff, no filler.

January 10, 2011

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, baby: Anaheim 2011

When I rolled into the Anaheim parking lot for the first race of the Monster Energy Supercross Series (MESS), pumping old Led Zeppelin tunes in my old Mustang, I only had two objectives in mind. First, I wanted to meet Geico Honda's supercross rookie Eli Tomac and ask him to sign a jersey acquired at a benefit auction for Ross Maeda. I'm still stoked about Tomac winning his very first pro race at the season motocross opener at Hangtown last year!

Second, I just wanted to have a good time. And it's really hard not to have a good time at any sort of motocross race. In fact, I think you have to sort of work at it - at not having a good time, that is - because the sport is naturally enjoyable. Supercross® has certainly had it's ups and downs over the past 35 years, but the people managing the product have managed to make their brand of indoor motocross consistently entertaining, even in the cases when the actual racing fails to bring the necessary drama. Racing motorcycles on dirt... what's not to like?

So I had two goals, and I knew from years of attending these races that proper preparation would be necessary for success. So my plan was to arrive as early as possible, have a pocket full of disposable entertainment dollars and be willing to stand in as many lines as it was going to take to achieve my aims.

Of course, with Anaheim, the biggest lines are to simply leave and re-enter the stadium, which is required to go the the “party in the pits.” There must be a method to their madness, because it has never changed. At least the autograph line for the Geico team moved well, and Kevin Windham and Eli Tomac were friendly and I accomplished the first goal.

And by that point, I was already having a good time, so it was all looking pretty good. Sure, it was kind of expensive: $20 bucks to park. $50 ticket plus $9.15 for “Trans Conv. Chrg.” and $5 for order processing. $10 for the program and another $10 because I was too stupid to drink Monster and redeem the can for a free pit pass (and stand in that long line). All told, $100 and change to park my butt in a plastic bleacher one aisle away from the industry seating section and in the very last row, mere steps from a beer station and the men's room. Pretty decent seat, actually. I just wanted to sit on the end of a row, and it worked out pretty good.

As you probably know by now, the on-track action didn't disappoint. Kawasaki made it a Monster night, winning both classes while sweeping the 250cc podium. I'm not going to deliver a full-on race report; you can get the professional grade stuff from Transworld MX, Vital MX and of course Racer X Online. But I will tell you what I saw.

In the 250cc class, I saw Josh Hansen has decided to win a championship this year. He ain't playing around; he just might sweep the series. He's going to face some stiff competition from his own team mates, and I fully expect the “youth brigade” (Tomac and German sensation Ken Roczen of the Red Bull KTM team) to give him fits once they find a level of comfort in their rookie seasons, but Hansen is clearly on a mission, and his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki is more than up to the task of taking him to the title.

In the 450cc class, I saw the return of supercross superiority during the very first qualifying session, when before anyone else was able to break the 1 minute mark, James Stewart clicked off a 58 second lap. The best of the rest would get closer, but no one else got into the 58s, not even in the second session. So when the 450 main finally got underway, and it was apparent that Stewart would have to spend his evening battling through traffic, I felt my face break out into a big smile. I was really enjoying myself, watching these guys ride!

Mission accomplished.

A podium full of champions.  From left to right:  The 2009 Supercross Champion, San Manuel/Red Bull/Yamaha's James Stewart (3rd), 2007 West Region Supercross Champion, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto (1st) and 2010 Supercross Champion, Rockstar/Makita/Suzuik's Ryan Dungey (2nd).   Photo by GuyB/Vital MX

On Sunday I was able to catch some of the TV coverage of the race, and I have to say I felt kind of sad for those motocross fans who were not able to see this race in person. This sport has become far too complex for our standard broadcast practices to accurately capture; there's just too much going on at one time. Fans in the stadium have the luxury of being able to switch their attention to what interests them most at the moment; maybe it's the guy running off with the lead, maybe it's the guy fighting his way back from a bad start, maybe it's the gorgeous girl that keeps looking over her shoulder... all of that is missed by TV. The internet was supposed to fulfill a promise of multiple streams of sports information, multiple camera angles, diverse coverage, but the Supercross powers-that-be haven't figured that out yet. Trust me when I say this: the ONLY way to truly enjoy a supercross is by actually attending an event. Luckily, there are 16 more to go.

Don't sleep on this supercross season. Even if you have to drive for hours to get to the nearest race, go see at least one... it will be well worth your time!

January 09, 2011

Anaheim Rockstars

They say the camera puts on 5 pounds.  Where?

GuyB back at work.

Anaheim Royalty

Now this won't happen at most supercrosses, and it's one of the reasons why the Anaheim rounds are so special:  I ran into 4-time and current World Motocross Champion Antonio Cairoli just cruising around hooded up in the Anaheim pits.   He doesn't know me from Adam and he was just walking around alone, so I called out "Tony!" and he stopped long enough for this shot.  Cool guy and one fassssst mofo on a bike.

Photo by Paul Willis

Anaheim from behind

Looking back on a good day at the A.  It may not be Formula 1, but it sure is fun!

Former supercross champion Chad Reed sported the funniest "butt patch" in practice, seen above.  Not sure what it means, but it may have something to do with his new status as fastest privateer in the series.

Photos by Paul Willis