Racerhead #26 - Racer X Online


Welcome to Racerhead. I’m on a boat … seriously. The kids and I are on vacation, taking the ferry over to Nantucket for the day. Tomorrow we’re up bright and early for the drive to The Wick 338 for the Southwick National. The weather is beautiful and the track should be epic. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac is still undefeated in the 450 Class, and they’re headed to one of his stronger tracks. But the last two races have seen Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin get a moto win from him, so while he’s undefeated, he’s no longer perfect. Marvin has to be getting more and more driven to get an overall win from the man who’s become his primary rival. 

The 250 Class is a different story altogether. Last year’s champion, Zach Osborne, was joined on the sidelines for the rest of the season by two-time champion Jeremy Martin. In what was not only a frightening crash but also one that spectacularly showed off how good those Garmin cameras are, the GEICO Honda rider landed on Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Justin Cooper in first-lap traffic at the start of the second moto. Yes, the winner of the first moto landed on the runner-up, and both were effectively out of the running. 

When the crash happened, I was sitting at a table in the village of the Snowshoe GNCC with Randy Valade, Paul Perebijnos, and Dan Truman, and we all shuddered at the image of Martin lying there, legs not moving, grabbing at his back. It was as frightening to see as when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier went down on Monday Night Football and was making the same helpless motions, grabbing at his back but not moving his legs. Both were cruel reminders of how dangerous our sports can be.

Within seconds, all of our phones started buzzing as people wanted to know if we were there and whether he moved after the Alpinestars Mobile Medics got him (and they did quickly and professionally, as always). Though one idiot friend of mine who shall remain nameless texted, “There goes my fantasy win.” 

Fortunately, before the moto was over, NBC’s Jason Weigandt was able to tell everyone that Martin had full movement and was responsive, and then they showed that amazing crash footage that came straight from Jeremy’s helmet. It was an unfortunate racing incident, and I had a similar thing happen to me in the East-West Shootout at the 1985 Rodil Cup Supercross in Los Angeles. I was lucky to get away with just a separated shoulder and a great story that I like to remind Bader Manneh of every time I see him. (He was the one who came down on me after the guy in front of me decided to double the triple and I went right to avoid him—right in front of Manneh.)

Jeremy was not so lucky. His L1 burst, and he underwent a long surgery on Monday to fuse two vertebrae, similar to what happened to Doug Henry when he launched Henry Hill at Budds Creek in 1995. Three years later, he was 250 National Champion. Jeremy should make a full recovery, and he’s been keeping everyone updated on social media. It was a tough way to end the season, and it definitely narrows down the selections for Team USA at the Motocross of Nations at RedBud on October 6 and 7. Eli Tomac has a lock on the 450; Jason Anderson, Justin Barcia, and Blake Baggett could all fit in nicely as the second 450 pick. Osborne seemed a lock for the 250, but he’s out, and so is Martin. Fortunately, Aaron Plessinger is there leading the points, and he never seems pressured or worried. I still like our chances a lot.  

As for Southwick, lots of rain up here yesterday probably has the track in primo condition for what should be a hot one tomorrow. With the race moving up a couple of weeks because of how the weekend of July 4 fell for RedBud, Keith Johnson and company were blessed with what should be hot, beautiful weather and hopefully another great big crowd. The sandiest track on the circuit should be a real test tomorrow, and hopefully not only will Tomac and Musquin be on it, but Barcia and Baggett and Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen too. And right now I’m thinking AP23 in the 250 Class, but now that Shane McElrath and Dylan Ferrandis both know their respective ways to the winner’s circle, it should be good! 

Okay, time to go back on vacation. There once was a man from Nantucket.…

Meanwhile, MXGP returns after a week off with the race in Indonesia and two suddenly gripping championship battles, as runaway points leader Jeffrey Herlings snapped his collarbone in a practice crash and had to sit the last round in Italy out. That allowed Antonio Cairoli to reel him in, and it's once again a two-horse race. In the MX2 (250) division, Jorge Prado has tracked down Pauls Jonass, and what was a big lead there is now not even double digits.

Roddy MacLeod is in Indonesia and sent us this short note:

We're here in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia and it's... raining. Last year was a muddy mess, as you might remember, and they even cancelled the second MXGP moto. But we're hoping for better weather this year. So far it hasn't really materialized yet. The top teams have a berth inside the basketball stadium beside the track. Here's a photo giving an overview of the setup. I can confirm Jeffrey's bike is here, it's been through tech inspection and ready for racing.

You can sign up and watch the live stream on www.mxgp-tv.com. 

Roddy MacLeod

A 450 Class that has been hit hard by injuries all year (Monster Energy Supercross included) will get some much-needed depth added this weekend. Monster Energy Factory Yamaha’s Cooper Webb is back for the first time since sustaining two fractures to his fibula and a fractured tibia at the Minneapolis Supercross in April. Webb told Racer X’s Kyle Scott earlier this week that he’s been riding for about a month and pushing it for about two weeks. He’s been training in California to get ready for his return. Webb won’t be 100 percent, but he wants to race his way back into shape. 

“I’m very excited to be back racing again after my injury,” he said in a Yamaha press release. “It’s been a long time and I’ve been through a lot of rehab, surgeries, and a lot of hard work, so I’m excited to be lining up again this weekend, especially at Southwick. It’s a race I really enjoy and I’ve had a lot of great success there—I got an overall back in 2016 and last year I got a moto podium and fourth overall, so I seem to really gel with that place. I don’t think I’m back to 100 percent yet, but I just want to be back racing and getting better each weekend. I don’t know where I’ll be, but it will be exciting to be back there with the fans and the team. I can’t wait to see everybody there!” 

Webb was out at Pala earlier this week getting ready for his 2018 Pro Motocross debut.
Webb was out at Pala earlier this week getting ready for his 2018 Pro Motocross debut. Kyle Scott

Southwick will also see the return of Autotrader/Yoshimura Suzuki’s Justin Bogle, who is back after breaking his humerus at the San Diego Supercross in February. Bogle has been back on the bike for a while but wanted to be 100 percent ready for his return. 

“I have been working hard at the GOAT Farm, and I also spent time at JGRMX in an effort to make sure that I’m as prepared as I can be,” he said in a statement. “I am excited to get back to the races, doing what I do. This has been a very long process. The year hasn’t gone to plan, but I have learned a lot from it. Now it’s time to get back up front where I belong and make it happen for the Autotrader/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Team.”

Over in Europe, or should we say Asia, Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings is back after sustaining a broken right collarbone while training in Holland just over two weeks ago. The MXGP points leader missed the last round in Italy and saw his points lead shrink from 62 to 12, as Antonio Cairoli cleaned up with a 1-1 at home.

“You know, with this injury, it would have been better to come back in Europe, but I am still going to be in good shape, because my physical work will be the same as always,” Herlings said on MXGP.com. “It isn’t that hot in Europe at the moment, so that will be the same for everyone. Many riders live near Holland or Belgium so it’s going to be tough for everyone, and for sure for me. The first round we just get used to riding again, and we don’t go there to try and dominate like all the other rounds this year. We will just see how it comes and get a fifth if that is all there is. I am very motivated to be back racing and see all the guys. It was painful watching the racing in Ottobiano on television.” 

THE ’WICK (Steve Matthes)

I absolutely love that Southwick is back on the calendar. It's the Fenway Park of motocross, really: historic, tucked away in a neighborhood, and unique to every other track on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. It's not Lommel sand, but hey, it's the best we got, okay? And it's even going in the right direction now!

As we said on this site earlier in the week, Eli Tomac is perfect at the 'Wick, and guess what: he's perfect in overall wins, also, so the outlook for his competition is bleak. I think Justin Barcia can give him a little bit of trouble, though; Bam Bam's always been pretty good in the sand and has ridden Southwick a ton as well. 

Jeff Kardas

One thing we just don't see anymore is the total unknown local who gives the top guys fits. Guys like Pat Barton, Tony Lorusso, Scott Carter—I mean, these guys would show up and run top-fives or tens and have the established guys shaking their heads. I'm not talking Dowd, Henry, Johnson, Keller here—those guys were fast anywhere. I mean the hardcore NESC guys. Those were the days for sure, and I miss ’em. 

In the 250s, I think it's Alex Martin’s or Dylan Ferrandis’ race to lose here. Both guys are very good in the sand, and they're in shape and ready to go. By the end of the title fight, Ferrandis is going to be ruing the injuries he got and the races he missed. He's way legit out there and will be challenging for podiums the rest of the way, in my opinion. Had he been 100 percent at the start, he could be near or holding the red plate.

Hunter Lawrence in the U.S. (Kyle Scott)

Honda recently announced Hunter Lawrence will miss the next two rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship. He sustained two hand injuries to his right hand, and since he’s out of the championship hunt, he’s going to take a few weeks to let his hand heal. He won’t be on the couch during that time, though—instead, he’s in Southern California testing with GEICO Honda. We talked to Hunter on Tuesday at Pala Raceway, where he and the GEICO team were hard at work doing suspension testing. Hunter came over with his own set of forks and a rear shock, plus the team brought KYB suspension with Chase Sexton’s settings and RJ Hampshire’s Showa settings. They did a series of tests and tweaks trying to improve Hunter’s setup, as well as get a setting developed for him in the U.S. The Australian is slated to move from the MXGP series to the U.S. in 2019 and beyond to race supercross and motocross.

There’s been a lot of speculation that with Jeremy Martin recently injured and Hunter out of the championship chase in Europe, set to race in the U.S. next year, and showing a “Saturdays Are for the Boys” butt patch in an Instagram photo (hinting he’s going to race Pro Motocross on Saturdays instead of MXGP on Sundays) that Hunter was coming over to start racing at RedBud. Sorry to break it to you, but it is not true. Hunter won’t be racing RedBud in July, but rather at the Motocross of Nations in October. Hunter is in the U.S. for the next two weeks to give his hand a break from racing, get comfortable on the U.S. setup and parts, get to know the team, and improve his current settings to take back to Europe for the remainder of the 2018 MX2 season.

GEICO Honda team manager Dan Bentley, who was previously the team manager at Honda HRC, was team manager when the 450 got the chassis update two years ago, and now that the 250 has the same update, Dan is one of the many knowledgeable Honda guys on the bike and can hopefully help Hunter out with his setup. 

On Wednesday, Spy Optics held an intro ride day at Jeremy McGrath’s “Showtime Ranch” to introduce their newest goggle, the Foundation. The Foundation has a huge 150-square centimeter lens surface area to give you a huge field of view. They’re also throwing back to their roots with the older-style Spy logo. There had been some industry speculation that Spy was going away, but were glad to say they’re here to stay. 

The Foundation is set to release July 17 and will be launching with four new colorways to start: black and white; classic orange; red, white, and blue; and gold and black. The gold and black are a Jeremy McGrath MC Signature with a new MC logo on the back strap, “Showtime” on the inside of the strap, and an MC logo and signature on the lens. The tear-offs come in stacks of ten, and you can use a 35mm rolloff system. The rolloff system runs for $70. 

Jeremy’s 680-acre ranch is only a few miles northwest of the famous Southern California riding spot Ocotillo Wells, which sits very close to the U.S./Mexico border. The on-site ranch hands carved out a fresh track behind the house for us to ride, and we spent a few hours in the morning motoring and berm-blasting through the trees that had the landscape feeling very Zaca Station-esque. Jeremy, Axell Hodges, Derek Drake, Talon Hawkins, Hunter Yoder, and a few other amateur riders were also there showing us magazine editors the fast lines around the new track. After riding, we had lunch on Jeremy’s patio and we were given access to his western saloon; we can only imagine the bench racing that has gone down in the King of Supercross’ personal pub.

Last night, Travis Pastrana and Nitro Circus held a film premiere at the U.S. Red Bull headquarters in Santa Monica, California, for Action Figures 2. It's been three years since the release of their last film, and they've been hard at work again pushing the action sports envelope further than ever before. I sat down for about 15 minutes with Travis before the premiere for a very candid and surprising interview about where Travis is with his career and what this film means for him. 

You'll have to wait until next week for the interview, but he pretty much said that this film and this year are his last hoorah. Travis is winding down his career as an action sports athlete and stuntman. With so many of his friends getting hurt in recent years, Travis is ready to put an end to putting it all on the line. The most recent injury his good friend Phil Smage suffered really hit home with Travis, and he ultimately wants to walk into retirement while he is actually still walking.

Travis has been the leader of action sports and pushing the envelope since the inception of X Games and has gone on to create his own Nitro World Games and Nitro Circus franchise that performs 70 stunt shows around the world, and he is close to locking down a residency deal with Las Vegas to have a permanent repeating show. 

Honestly, the film was great. There’s never a dull moment, and Travis spent a lot of time on this particular film trying not to make it too cookie-cutter or politically correct. There’s swearing, there’s crying, there’s some drinking and the regular shenanigans with the Nitro Circus crew, and there is Travis performing his final first-ever trick on a dirt bike. You’ll have to check out the film for yourself for all the absolutely insane stunts these guys are doing. There are times where you feel like you’re watching a video game because the level of these guys are nowadays and what they can pull off is just insane. You can stream the whole movie for free on the Sony Crackle app.

FIVE FOR Three (Andras Hegyi)

So far, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac has ridden in a very smart and fast fashion. Five rounds down and Tomac has won them all.

Since he debuted in the premier class in 2014, and before this season, Tomac had his most wins in 2017, securing four overall wins en route to his first 450 title. Tomac has already bettered that performance in terms of race wins this year.

Eli is only the sixth rider to get at least five consecutive wins in a 250/450 national season. After such a performance, only Carmichael was not able to be champion in a season—2007, when he rode only a partial schedule. But it deserves an asterisk—the good kind—because Carmichael won all six rounds he entered, which is twice the amount of wins that season than the actual '07 champion, Grant Langston, had in 12 races! (Incredibly, RC finished sixth in the final standings.)

During Tomac’s career, this is the third championship where he could win five straight times. In '13, Tomac raced in the 250 nationals, winning the last five rounds on his way to the title. In 2017, Tomac managed to get five successive wins in 450 supercross, but he was not able to win that championship after a couple of bad races.

Riders to get at least five consecutive wins in a 250/450 season 

Bob Hannah: In 1978, he had eight consecutive MX wins (14 in a row, counting the six SX races he won as the series overlapped). He finally finished second to Mike Bell at the '78 Superbowl of Motocross after a few main-event crashes. Todd Huffman on the MX Files made this cool short film about that night:  

Jeff Stanton: "Six-Time" had a career-best winning streak of five straight in 1989 in the early 250 nationals. He lost the opener at Gatorback to Jean-Michel Bayle but took the next five on his way to his first AMA Pro Motocross Championship. 

Ricky Carmichael: Twelve (2002, '04, '05), 6 (2000, '03, '06), 5 ('01, '07). But when you add up what RC did between the last three rounds of 2003 and the first round of 2006, you get the most mind-boggling overall stat of all: Carmichael won 27 straight AMA Pro Motocross Nationals, and he did it on three different bikes (Honda CR250, Honda CRF450, and Suzuki RM-Z450).

James Stewart: His masterpiece came in 2008 when he won all 12 nationals and the title. The interesting thing is that he won the Phoenix SX in January and was leading the SX rankings when he had to pull out with torn ligaments in his knee. He got healthy and ready for outdoors and came in like gangbusters, winning every single moto. At the start of the next season, he crashed out of Anaheim.

Ryan Dungey: He had three long MX winning streaks, winning ten ('12), nine ('10), and five ('15) before calling it an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame career—well, as soon as he is eligible. Like Ryan Villopoto, who will be eligible next year, RD is a slam-dunk first-year pick. 

Eli Tomac: His five straight this year can be stretched to six tomorrow at The Wick 338.  

Rich Shepherd

Southwick is a unique animal. The sand presents all sorts of challenges for riders to deal with, but for most, it's just another element of racing. In years like 2018, though, the ante gets raised to another level. With highs expected to reach the 90s, Southwick is going to hurt. Back in 2005, we had a brutally hot Southwick National, and I can still remember suffering through the second moto and watching others have serious complications from the heat. I think we are going to see that again tomorrow, with several riders signaling no mas at some point during the day. The heavy effort required to ride a rough sand track coupled with high humidity and high temps will test every single rider, regardless of how fit or acclimated they may be. 

The other challenge of this event for the field is the injection of extremely fast local pro riders. The NESC series is highly competitive, and when the national rolls into town, it's feeding season. The 250 non-seeded practice will be a must-watch, as the locals will be vying for a top-five overall qualifying spot. The smooth track and local knowledge will have unfamiliar names at the top of the sheet when all is said and done. Even more daunting, the national-level privateers are going to have their work cut out for them. For most, they would have a good chance of outlasting the local riders over 35 minutes because of their experience and training so far this season. For one lap, though, that all changes. The locals, especially in that first 250 B session, have a huge advantage. Look for a few well-known names to be in the LCQ in both classes. 

Jeff Kardas

Overall, Southwick is a fantastic race. Steve Matthes even named it his "best national of the year" in a recent column. I grew up in the sands of Florida, so it was a comfortable surface for me to ride. Having said that, the local riders made my life hard every single year. I would always just try to disregard my speed until it was moto time. As long as I got into the race and got through the first turn safely, I knew my fitness and consistency would carry me into a good finish. Still, it was frustrating to have people I had never heard of just blowing by me in early laps or in practice. Sure enough, though, I would chase them down a few laps later. 

Instead of getting frustrated, sometimes the best approach is to try to learn their lines and just follow for a bit. They know more about that track than I will ever know. Learning their lines and then using my experience was usually enough to get a good finish, even when things looked bleak early in the race.

Hey, Watch It! 

"City Of Hate: Man Knocked Out Cold, Robbed In Middle of NYC Intersection" —Drudge Report

"...Then Robbed Again by Another Group" —Fox News

Random Notes

To celebrate Fourth of July, Racer X Brand is having a huge sale on all products. Receive 30 percent off on all purchases starting today, June 27. Sale runs through July 5.

Use discount code MERICA. Visit racerxbrand.com now to start your savings.

Are you headed to the Southwick National this weekend? Make sure you stop by the Racer X booth, located in Sponsor Village, and subscribe for as low as $10 and receive ALL 12 Official 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Racer X event stickers. You will also receive a complimentary magazine and free Racer X stickers. Be sure to check out our Racer X Brand items on display and grab some gear. See you at the races!

Subscribe now for as low as $9.98 and receive a FREE set of all 12 official Racer X event stickers, plus immediate access to our current digital edition.

Going to the Southwick National this weekend? Want to be able to get into the pits all day?  

The only way to cruise the pits whenever you’d like is with the Racer X All-Day Pit Pass, but quantities are limited! Make you stop by the Racer X Pit Pass Booth, located in Sponsor Village, and purchase your Racer X All-Day Pit Pass while they’re still available and receive all-day pit access, plus a one-year subscription to Racer X Illustrated, for just $50.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading Racerhead—see you at the races.