May 20, 2012

... and we're in here talking about practice: Hangtown 2012

Wow.  Another spectacular shot by Guy B at Vital MX.
James Stewart was literally flying yesterday at Hangtown, setting fastest qualifying laps and winning both motos outright.  The Yoshimura Suzuki team is looking pretty good this season, and Stewart is definitely a franchise player. 

James has always taken qualifying very seriously, though many of his detractors tend to down play "practice." This video ain't moto, but it cleverly addresses that issue.

May 13, 2012

Stewart Scrub: more proof that Red Bull gives you wings

James Stewart threw down some extreme scrubs at his Red Bull-sponsored ride day before the Red Bull X-Fighters at Glen Helen.  Looking into the camera pushes this one off the charts.

And now from the other side.  Be honest, do you ride like this?

Photos by Guy B/Vital MX

May 09, 2012

The "Ki" to winning the National Motocross Championship

The U.S. outdoor motocross championships have always been won by racebikes made in Japan.  And lately, starting in 2008 with James Stewart's undefeated season, they have been won by Japanese bikes with brand names that end in "i":  Kawasaki and Suzuki.

Photo by Michael "FTE" Stusiak
 2008:  James Stewart on Kawasaki

Photo by Guy B/Vital MX
 2009:  Chad Reed on Suzuki

Photo by Guy B/Vital MX

2010:  Ryan Dungey on Suzuki

Photo by Guy B/Vital MX
 2011:  Ryan Villopoto on Kawasaki

Now, with the 2012 championship series starting in less than 10 days, we have James Stewart suddenly Suzuki-mounted.  He may be the "ki" teams best hope to extend the streak, considering that Kawasaki's Villopoto will miss the series while he recovers from his supercross injury, and since Dungey is now mounted on an Austrian-made KTM.

This could be the year that the Japanese stranglehold on American motocross finally comes to an end. Or not.

May 06, 2012

2012 Supercross: Unpredictable or utterly predictable?

Phoenix was Trey Canard's comeback-from-injury race.  Unfortunately, the next round in Los Angeles would be his go-out-again-with-injury race.  Photo by Guy B/Vital MX
Two champions with two Supercross Championships:  To the disappointment of MX fans worldwide, Chad's (22) chase after RV (1) came to an abrupt halt in Cowboy Stadium.  Photo by Guy B/Vital MX

Which one of these guys has the broken collarbone?   Ryan Dungey (right) somehow raced to a second place finish at St. Louis with a fracture that caused him to sit out the next two rounds.  Photo by Guy B/Vital MX
It took four races for the Stewart/Gibbs collabo to win their first race of 2012 (Oakland), then another 6 before they managed to win their second (Daytona).  It all went downhill after that.  Photo by Guy B/Vital MX

When the gate dropped on the 2012 Seattle supercross main, no on suspected it would be the last race of 2012 for the newly crowned 2013 champion Ryan Villopoto (1).  Neither did anyone expect perennial nice guy Andrew Short (29) to come away with the win, his first ever  But there you go.  Photo by Guy B/Vital MX

Some, if not many, fans of Supercross racing are disappointed with this recently concluded 2012 season, mostly because all 5 of the pre-season championship favorites... Trey Canard, Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto... suffered serious injuries at some point.   None of these guys were able to contest every round of the 17-race series.

  • Team Honda Muscle Milk rider Canard was only able to complete 1 race before he injured his back at the third round in Dodger Stadium.  Trey sat out the rest of the season, and will sit out the outdoor nationals as well.
  • Team Two Two Motorsports' Reed, probably the most consistent supercross racer of all time, raced only 6 rounds before he injured his leg at Cowboy Stadium.  Chad is also out for the rest of the year.
  • Team Red Bull KTM rider Dungey made it 8 races before he fractured his collarbone while practicing for the 9th round in St. Louis.   RD was somehow able to race... and finish second!... at the Edward Jones Dome, but would sit out the next three rounds to recuperate from surgery.
  • Team Yamaha/JGR's James Stewart survived 10 races before he crashed out of his heat race at Indianapolis.  James suffered a serious blow to the head, and ended up sitting out the next race in Toronto as well.  He returned to action at the 13th round in Houston, only to crash out of the race and the rest of the supercross season with an injured hand.  
  • Stewart's untimely demise in Texas allowed Team Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto to clinch the championship in Reliant Stadium with four races left in the series.   Good thing, too, because only two rounds latter... at his "home" track in Seattle's Qwest Field no less!... RV crashed and injured his knee, effectively ending his entire year of racing.

Despite all of this, arguably because of all of this, the racing was as exciting as ever, mainly because it was so unpredictable.  Okay, strike that.  Many, MANY people predicted that Ryan Villopoto would win the title this year.  The racing was exciting because supercross IS exciting.  I went to three rounds this year and enjoyed it thoroughly. Even my normal gripes about the realities of attending stadium events are mostly forgotten, while memories of the racing linger on.  Sure, it helped that I went to the early races when all 5 of the aforementioned were still able to race, but even the latter rounds featured excellent dicing and great performances.

A huge round of applause and hearty congratulations should go to Ryan Villopoto for simply surviving what has apparently become the most brutal form of motocross racing on the planet.

March 16, 2012

Electric motocross is getting closer

Photo by Todd Tankersley

It should be clear by the photo above that the good people at BRD really get that form is as important as function for people seriously considering the purchase of battery-powered dirtbikes.  The RedShift looks the part; see the rest at Vital MX.

March 10, 2012

James Stewart wins the Daytona Supercross

Photo by GuyB/Vital MX

What a day for James Stewart:  first in qualifying, first place in his heat, and first in the main event.  And what a day for his Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota/Yamaha team mate Davi Millsaps, who rode strongly to second place, his best finish of the season.

The photo above was taken during practice; the track was even sloppier during the race.

March 09, 2012

Daytona Supercross: Dungey Sits Out

Photo by GuyB/Vital MX
Another injury, another blow to the Monster Energy Supercross Series.   KTM's Ryan Dungey crashed while practicing at his Florida training facility, breaking his collarbone BEFORE last week's St. Louis supercross.  That's right, Dungey raced to second in St. Louis WITH A BROKEN COLLARBONE.

He also celebrated his finish with that broken collarbone, as seen in the photo above.  Holy smokes, there is no better proof that the excitement that comes from doing well can override the pain of some injuries.

Actually, team manager Roger Decoster said they "... knew he was hurting but we did not realize his injury was that extensive. His gutsy performance in St. Louis and determination to keep racing despite his injury is a testament to his dedication to the team.” 

February 20, 2012

"Bitterly disappointed": Chad Reed is out for the season

Photo by Steve Cox/Vital MX
This is definitely not good news:  as a result of his bad crash at Saturday night's supercross in Dallas, Chad Reed has announced he's too injured to continue with the series.  According to this press release, Reed suffers from a torn ACL, broken tibula and fibula, broken ribs and a broken T6 vertebrae.

Honestly, considering all of that damage, Reed is fortunate not to be even more injured, and I personally hope he makes a quick and full recovery.

What's most frustrating about this is that Reed was on a roll when it happened.  "Speedy" set the fastest lap in qualifying (pictured above), finished second in his heat, and was pressuring Ryan Villopoto for the lead in the main when it all went wrong.  Reed is not known for being a "crasher," although he has hit the dirt a few times this season.  Few can forget his spectacular get-off at Millville last year, a horrific crash that he was amazingly able to ride away from to finish the race.   In Dallas, it appears that luck ran out for Reed.

Get well soon, Chad.

February 18, 2012

2012 Dallas Supercross: Championship Style

Check out Ryan Villopoto's perfect form in this Dallas corner.  Tonight's win makes three in a row for the defending champion, and 4 out of 7 on the season.  Villo's back in kick butt mode.
Photo by Steve Cox/Vital MX

2012 Dallas Supercross: unsportsmanlike conduct

Saturday night in Texas.  Geico Honda's Justin Bogle hit JDR KTM's Malcolm Stewart in the back of his helmet after the two collided in the East region 250 main.   Stewart went on to finish 6th: Bogle finished 14th.  Should Stewart still get checked for a possible concussion?

February 17, 2012

A day in the life of Ken Roczen... revisited

Even though it's from last year, this is still a really cool video.  You can't help by like Ken Roczen after seeing his stunts in this thing.

February 12, 2012

2012 San Diego Supercross: It's Not About The Bike

The San Diego monster whoops bit Eli Tomac hard, putting him out of the 250 main while running third.  Hope he's okay.  Photo by GuyB/Vital MX
American motocross fans are the strangest breed.  They seem to love to hate even more than they love to love, if that makes any sense at all, and honestly it shouldn't.  Ryan Villopoto won his second race in a row, but was almost beaten by Chad Reed, and Ryan Dungey got back on the podium with a well-deserved third place... yet the moto-internet is all abuzz about James Stewart's crash-caused 15th place finish.

The James-haters are saying it's just his nature, he's a crashing machine, and he should probably retire before he hurts himself or others.  This despite the fact that the San Diego whoops caught some other top riders, such as former points leader for the West 250 class, Eli Tomac, and perennial crowd favorite and normally smooth operator Kevin Windham.  Both went down in the same whoops that claimed Stewart, yet no one seems to bring that up.  No matter, these haters want to claim that Stewart's lack of outdoor motocross seat time has somehow affected his ability to focus on supercross, an absurd argument on the face of it.

The Yamaha/Pirelli/JGR-haters are saying it's the bike, the tires, and/or the team to blame, and some of them are preparing a "greatest hits" reel of James spinning out or washing out or otherwise crashing on the blue meanie.  Yet these folks turn a blind eye to the fact that despite being "handicapped" by the "horrible" equipment, Stewart has managed to win 4 our of 6 heat races and usually sets the first or second fastest qualifying lap of the night.  Is it not the same bike/tires/team all night long?

The way I see it, it's not about the bike at all.   Motocross bikes do not crash themselves.  If you put a bike on a stand, barring an earthquake or some other force of nature, it will sit there until you move it.   Crashes are 99% rider error.  Yes, James has had some equipment-caused crashes, no doubt about that... but not that we've seen so far this year.  In San Diego, it is entirely possible that he would have finished much higher than 15th had he not gotten his pants tangled up in his bike and lost half a lap on the field... although there is still an unanswered question about why he wasn't able to mount a Villopoto-like charge and at least crack the top ten.

But all of the other crashes this year, and most from years before, were either caused by James or someone riding near him.  Sometimes it's just bad luck, sometimes it's just bad riding at the wrong moment.  Yet I'm not willing to label the man a crashing machine.  I recognize that riding as fast as he does means riding on the ragged edge.  That's what makes him so exciting to watch:  he appears to be fearless.  I hope that never changes.

I am also not willing to pin the blame on the machine.  It is the responsibility of the rider to optimize his racebike for the conditions, and if there is any place that I might dole out some blame, that would be it.  However, I also recognize that this is a first-year situation for both JGR and James, and I am willing to give them time to blend together as a team to figure this all out.  Clearly, not all motocross "fans" are as generous.

So to all those "concern trolls" who are worried that the James Stewart of 2012 is no longer capable of winning races, I say "patience, fools."  And I expect them not to listen one bit.

January 31, 2012

2012 Oakland Supercross: so THIS is what if feels like to win...

Once again, Go Pro comes through with the stunning visuals:  ride along with James Stewart as he clocks his first supercross win of the year in Oakland.

January 29, 2012

2012 Oakland Supercross: Memorable Win for Joe Gibbs Racing

Photo by GuyB/Vital MX

James Stewart, shown here embracing his team's owner, legendary NFL football coach Joe Gibbs, as they celebrate JGRMX's second supercross victory, Stewart's second win at the Oakland stadium and his first win of the season.  Check out the race summary at Vital MX.

Stewart and his team dedicated this win to the memory of Mark "Tex" Adams, a mechanic for the JGR team who was killed last week in an unfortunate traffic accident as he was assisting a motorist on the side of a road.

January 28, 2012

From Motocross Action: Rest in Peace Luther Jefferson

Motocross Action Magazine online has this wonderful tribute to Luther Jefferson, the father of Andy Jefferson, who is "...the first black motocross racer to crack the color barrier in motocross by making making main events in the AMA Supercross series." Here is the headline and first paragraph:


The Tuskeegee Airmen in 1943.

The passing of a father is always painful for the family and MXA wants to take the time to acknowledge the passing of Husqvarna North America's Andy Jefferson’s father Luther Jefferson this past week. As most motocross fans know, Andy Jefferson was the first black motocross racer to crack the color barrier in motocross by making making main events in the AMA Supercross series. Andy raced for Mitch Payton's Pro Circuit team and his exploits are well known. But, what few people in motocross know is that Andy’s father also broke the color barrier 69 years ago as a member of the fabled Tuskeegee Airmen.

Read the rest of the article here.

My condolences to the Jefferson family.

January 22, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Supercross: Ground pounders

Photo by GuyB/Vital MX

There was a whole lot of crashing at the Los Angeles Supercross at Dodger Stadium yesterday.  James Stewart crashed hard in the whoops, shortly after setting a very fast lap in qualifying.  Fortunately, he was able to get up, but he decided to sit out the rest of qualifying, and his time was beaten by Ryan Villopoto.

During the racing program, Chad Reed crashed in his heat race.  He too, was uninjured, remounted and was able to qualify for the main... which he won!  Stewart fell again in the main, but was able to finish in 3rd.

Reigning champ Villopoto crashed on the first lap of the re-started 450 main event, but the speedy Kawasaki rider was able to blast his way back up to 4th place by the checkers.

But the biggest crash is the one that caused the re-start: a horrendous accident involving Nick Wey, Ryan Morais and Trey Canard.  Wey was the only one not seriously injured.   Get well wishes go out to both Morais and Canard.

January 16, 2012

2012 Phoenix Supercross: On Board with James Stewart

While Ryan Dungey deserves congratulations for winning the Phoenix round of the Monster Energy Supercross Series, giving KTM its first ever Supercross win, James Stewart struggled and could only manage an 8th place finish.  Still, the footage provide by his GoPro camera is exciting and revealing.

January 15, 2012

Phoenix Supercross: Monster Girls

Photo by GuyB/Vital MX
If the racing isn't exciting enough for you, Monster has some other good reasons for you to go see a supercross. The Monster Energy Supercross Series is off the hook with talent. All types of talent.

January 10, 2012

2012 Anaheim 1 Supercross: On Board with James Stewart

Welcome to the 21st Century, motocross fans!  GoPro HD brings you all the supercross action you can handle, during the main event!  Check it out:

January 08, 2012

Anaheim the first, Supercross 2012

Photo by Paul Willis.
Chad Reed's butt patch summed up a lot of fans feelings:  finally, it's time for Supercross! 

January 06, 2012

DREAM RIDE: Malcolm Stewart goes off

Team JDR Motorsports pulled out the stops with this helicopter- and seaplane-assisted motocross vid I found on Vital MX

Two Two = Chad Reed dubstep mix for 2012

Chad Reed teamed up with Bshipman Films for this rocking video on Vital MX

Show 'em how it's done: James Stewart at 1000 frames per second

Another great Redbull production.  The high-speed camera really leverages high def, resulting in highly detailed super-slow motion footage of James Stewart throwing a killer, one-handed "Bubba scrub." 

But even better than the groovy pictures is Stewart's insightful narration.  This video is a motocross gem.