July 09, 2015

Farewell to a GREAT champion: Ryan Villopoto retires!

Okay, so it's been a LONG time since I lasted posted here, and that's not because there hasn't been a lot going on in the motocross world since 2012 (!); truth is, plenty of things have happened and changes have been made, and riders have come and gone... but none of that is as big as the news that dropped today: absolute motocross hero Ryan Villopoto announced this morning that he will retire from professional racing immediately.

Now, many writers and wordsmiths will weigh in on this momentous announcement, and frankly do a far better job than I (for example, check out what the Racer X brain trust have to say), but I'm not here to flap my gums, er, typing fingers. I just want to take this moment to share a few other moments... some of my favorite photos of RV, as shot by some of the world's best photographers... and myself. Because to really "get" Villopoto, you had to see him ride. You had to see him handle his bike, because that's what it really boiled down to: he was a maestro on a motorcycle, an MX matador, facing down the nastiest tracks, the gnarliest conditions and the toughest competition. And he came out on top: 5 outdoor motocross titles, 5 supercross championships (yes, I included the 250F title).
Glen Helen, 2005.  The end of the season, and only his 3rd pro race, the kid looked too skinny to handle that 250F.  While all eyes were on Mike Alessi molesting Ivan Tedesco in the first lap of the final moto, Villopoto raced to 2-2 scores to finish 3rd overall. Photo by author

Okay, so that first photo was him just standing there, but I had to include it because I took it! Here comes the good stuff...
Glen Helen, 2007.   Ryan killed with this massive, macho holeshot, trading moto wins with arch rival Ben Townley to take the overall and retain the title.  Photo by Brown Dog Wilson
Also 2007 and looking a lot like Glen Helen, this shot is a prime example of classic RV cornering style.  Just smash and gas.  Think this is a Simon Cudby shot.
Glen Helen, 2008.  Did I say the last show was classic?  THIS is RV style!  Sand surfing at its finest.  Great shot by Michael "FTE" Stusiak.
Glen Helen, 2008.  Photo by Michael Stusiak
Glen Helen, 2008.  Lest you think Ryan was only about the cornering, he could also air it out with the best of them.  This is a crazy leap down an absolutely treacherous downhill.  Photo by Michael Stusiak
Unadilla, 2008.  If you're a motocross fan, you automatically say "Braaaap!" when you see this awesome photo by Carl Stone
San Francisco, 2010.  Gotta show the man slicing up some Supercross.  Photo by Guy B
Phoenix, 2011.  Photo by Guy B
Salt Lake City, 2001.  Photo by Guy B
Pala, 2011.  Looking patriotic.  Photo by Guy B
Dallas, 2012.  Once again, textbook stilo. Photo by Steve Cox
Anaheim 2012.  Even riding through the pits, Villopoto demonstrated the steely focus that resulted in so many championships.  Photo by author
Well, that's all I got, and it's by no means exhaustive. Look for the glossy mags and websites to put out the good stuff in the coming days and months. In the meantime, don't let this news get you down. Just be grateful that the sport we love was graced by such an immensely talented and driven individual. Ryan Villopoto is truly one of the greatest men to ever race a dirt bike on this planet, and I wish him the very best in his future endeavors.