254

racerxonline.com

Racerhead #3 - Racer X Online

254
...

Angel Stadium Anaheim, CA Anaheim 2 (A2) Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship

Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the soon-to-be-frozen tundra of West Virginia. We're expecting a big winter storm, with temperatures to as low as -5 Fahrenheit on Saturday night. That means I picked a really bad weekend to go snowboarding at Snowshoe rather than heading to Southern California for Anaheim 2. I will be watching on the NBC Sports Gold app, more likely than not while shivering somewhere. It's been wet out there all week, and that may certainly affect the track that the Dirt Wurx guys built early (and quickly) and got covered in plastic as they anticipated the earlier rains. Make sure you check out the fine work they did in the video farther on down. 

As for the championship itself, it's like the Monster Energy AMA Supercross had a big reset last weekend in Glendale and could undergo yet another one this weekend in the return engagement at Angel Stadium. Honda HRC rider Ken Roczen now has the red plates back on a Honda for the first time since he last wore it—at Anaheim 2 two years ago. That was the race where he crashed heavily and shattered his left arm, which will almost certainly be a storyline tomorrow night. Roczen really doesn't seem to like to talk about either arm anymore, other than to say that it's now finally as if those two crashes never happened, and that's understandable. The fact that he's come this far, leading the championship again (though without a win to date) is very impressive. And had that red flag not come out to halt the proceedings in Glendale after Malcolm Stewart's ugly crash, I feel like Ken would have notched that win. (And get well soon, Mookie!) 

This photo was from Anaheim 2 2017, the last time that Roczen had the red plates.
This photo was from Anaheim 2 2017, the last time that Roczen had the red plates. Rich Shepherd

Instead, it was the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS' Blake Baggett who finally got the monkey off his back and earned his first 450SX win. Baggett was disappointed in his ride at the opener, saying he felt like he went home before the night show, even as he’d qualified fastest that afternoon. But at Glendale he showed up early and stayed late, seizing on a tangle between defending champion Jason Anderson, who was also trying to bounce back quickly after a lousy Anaheim 1, and Roczen, which sent the #94 rider to the ground. That seemed to invigorate Baggett, who went after and caught Anderson for a solid first career 450SX win. 

While all this was going on, Monster Energy Yamaha's Justin Barcia could not repeat his A1 performance, slipping back to sixth and losing that points lead and red plate to Roczen, the only rider to be on the box in the first two rounds. But Barcia is still right there, one point behind. 

And then there's Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac and Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin. Eli ended up fourth, Marvin fifth. Questions continue to surround both regarding whether or not Eli was hurt before the season and how bad Marvin's known knee injury really was. Both rode tentatively at Glendale, which was smart, because last year they both scored zero points at the second round, and that was pretty much that for the title. Instead, Tomac's just four points behind, and Musquin is another seven back. With a good night tomorrow night, Tomac could be right back in it. 

Also, how about a round of applause and kudos to Andrew Short, the motocross/supercross star-turned-rally racer who took on the Dakar Rally in South America, a grueling 3,100-mile race, and finished fifth overall. Short, who last raced in 2016, kept everyone updated on his Instagram, and the photos from the race show just what an incredible adventure this was for him. His post after finishing was this:

Short may be doing a different kind of racing now, but he's still an absolute class act, and man can he ride!

Australian rider Toby Price won the 2019 Dakar Rally for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team, with Matthias Walkner second, and Sam Sunderland third. This was KTM's 18th consecutive victory at the iconic rally event.

And in true Shorty fashion, he posted yesterday that he's now headed to the State Line Slam WORCS race in Primm, Nevada, posting, "I just raced 5,000 kilometers the past 10 days, so what's a few more..."

And before we get into the rest of the week’s news and notes, we lost a woman this week who probably saw more races at Loretta Lynn Ranch than anyone. Maie Story was the matriarch of the Story family, neighbors of the Ranch who have come out to caution-flag the races every year since the first one in 1982. As a matter of fact, that’s how the far back section of the track came to be known as “Story Land” (as Tim Cotter first dubbed it in the nineties) to the announcers. There have been three generations of Story kids out there flagging, and when Maie got up there in years, she started acting as their manager, delivering refreshments and lunches and just keeping an eye on them while they all kept an eye on the riders. Sadly, she was fighting cancer when we visited last summer; she passed on Tuesday morning. Rest in peace, Maie Story, and thank you from three generations of amateur motocross riders.

BRIAN BATTAGLIA (DC)

Unfortunately, there’s more unfortunate news. I learned from a friend that former pro rider Brian Battaglia passed away this past Tuesday in Lombard, Illinois. Brian is in The Vault for a 26th-place overall finish and a single national point from the July 4, 1993 RedBud 125 National. He also found himself in the first set of Hi Flyers Motocross Trading Cards, and he once told me he loved how every now and then he got a call or letter from someone who wanted him to sign his card for a collector’s set. Brian was kind of all over the map in recent years, both figuratively and literally, between Illinois, Florida, and parts unknown. 

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo debuted as a pro in 2014, though this 2019 season is only his fourth in 250SX. In each of those four seasons, the 23-year-old has been able to get at least one main event win, including 2019 after last Saturday night. Glendale marked his seventh career victory in 250SX. (Cianciarulo did not race in either the 2015 or ’16 SX seasons because of injuries.) He became the seventh rider to win in at least four different seasons in the history of the small-bore supercross, in existence since 1985. 

And then there is Nathan Ramsey, who won in five different seasons (1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006). He's also the only rider on the list of 125/250 SX wins in four seasons who also won a premier-class main event, the 2002 Pontiac round. 

Riders to win in at least four small-bore supercross seasons

RiderFirst Season Win Second Season WinThird Season WinFourth Season WinFifth Season Win
Nathan Ramsey19992001200420052006
David Pingree1995199920002002n/a
Josh Hansen2004200520102011n/a
Jeremy Martin2014201520162018n/a
Justin Hill2014201620172018n/a
Adam Cianciarulo2014201720182019n/a

THE GARDNER (Steve Matthes)

One of the "huh" moments of the first two rounds is the three-digit #805 Honda rider out there in both 450SX main events. BWR Honda's Carlen Gardner rode pretty well last season in both the 250 and 450 classes, but he's been better than ever to start 2019, so I had to give him a call for the FXR Racing/Race Tech Privateer Island Pod here to figure out what's gotten into him. 

Carlen is from central California and rides with the Enticknap brothers at Castillo Ranch. He credits his great start (which has seen him earn more points in the first two races than he earned all of last year) to improved mental work in the off-season. Gardner explained that he's worked on himself, working on believing he belongs with the big dogs, and it's paid off. Gardner's not a fast-lap type of dude, so he might need to go through the LCQ this weekend to get into the 22-rider Triple Crown format, but don't bet against him. Really nice guy who's working on getting up there into the mix of main events. Keep an eye on him. 

Rich Shepherd

I love stats. Whether it's hockey or baseball or even moto, I've always enjoyed going back and looking at someone’s accumulation of their work. The Racer X Vault is probably in the top ten greatest things to ever happen in my life.  

That's why I cannot fathom why the AMA/Feld/FIM/WADA/Someone hasn't come up with a name for the Triple Crown "main" events and kept track of the wins. Justin Brayton and Cole Seely have "main" event wins, and if we're going to with these now and in the future, I'd like to see something that indicated a rider beat every other rider in a race that was tabulated toward an overall win. Wouldn't you like to know a rider’s record at these things? THERE NEEDS TO BE STATS FOR THIS, EVERYONE.

As far as the name, well, I have a preference that one of our listeners suggested to keep things light and funny, but it can't be printed over here. In fact, it's probably NOT going to work, but hey, if no one else is going to call these things anything, then at least let me. You can't call them mains, they can't be motos... so they need a name. Crowns? Semifinals? Whatever you decide, make it better for fans, for the TV show, for the record books, and keep track of these things.

BAGGETT’S NUMBERS (Andras Hegyi)

The Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS team got its maiden 450SX victory, and so did Blake Baggett. Baggett, the 2012 AMA 250 Pro Motocross Champion, also has wins in the 250SX and 450MX. But before last Saturday he had yet to succeed in 450SX. He debuted there in 2015 and has raced there both with Suzuki and KTM, managing only seven podiums. In Glendale, Arizona, the ice was broken. 

The 27-year-old Baggett became the 63rd winner in the history of the premier class in SX. He is also one of the winners who needed the most time to get his maiden 450SX win. Only Jeff Emig, Andrew Short, and Justin Brayton needed more time to be victorious in the premier class. Blake did it in his fifth season and 62nd race. Emig got his maiden victory in his 66th race, Short did it in his 87th, while Brayton did it in his 131st—last year’s Daytona SX.

And besides Ryan Dungey (27 wins), Marvin Musquin (6), and Ken Roczen (2), Baggett is the fourth KTM winner in 450SX, but he is the non-factory KTM winner. Baggett’s win was the 36th win for KTM in this class.

Baggett joined also an elite club, as he became the 21st rider to win every current supercross and motocross category, namely 250SX and 250MX, and 450SX and 450 MX. Before 2019, Baggett had 14 wins in 250 motocross, four wins in the 250 supercross, and two wins in 450 motocross.

Riders to Win 250 SX/MX and 450 SX/MX (since 1985)

Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed, Kevin Windham, Mike LaRocco, Mike Kiedrowski, Jeff Matiasevich, Damon Bradshaw, John Dowd, Jeff Emig, Doug Henry, Ken Roczen, Trey Canard, Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, Joshua Grant, Justin Barcia, Blake Baggett.

Rich Shepherd

January 15 marked the 25th anniversary of the moment that Jeremy McGrath threw his first nac-nacs in public at the Orlando Supercross opener. The Honda factory rider was defending his first AMA Supercross Championship and also starting to really feel comfortable in his role at the sport’s breakout star. The nac-nac was a salute to his BMX background, as well as a product of Jeremy’s own talent, creativity, and showmanship. Our colleague Brett Smith of We West Fast wrote an excellent longform feature about the trick and the moment.

It was Brett who reminded me about the trick, and he posted some of my photos from the next race at Houston, where I was shooting for Cycle News. Because no one knew it was coming, none of us photo hounds were prepared when Jeremy first did it at the end of practice. And then during the heat race he did it over the triple jump and not the finish line. So come the main, we all went to the triple—but then Mike LaRocco was putting on one of his patented late charges and MC didn’t do it, so we all missed again!

In the end, no one managed to get the shot that night at Orlando...

... or maybe they did. Fast-forward 25 years to this week. My super-talented friend Marc Blanchard, now of 100%, was there shooting a special supercross issue for Moto Verte back in France. Or at least he thinks it was Orlando—he doesn’t really remember exactly where it was! He did not have a field photo pass, so he was shooting practice from the grandstands. When McGrath threw his nac-nac, as he was soon doing at every round, Blanchard made the shot on the cover below:

Even though Marc’s not sure whether this was Orlando or some later race, it seems like a more appropriate “First Nac-Nac” shot than my black-and-white ones from the following week in Houston!

Hey, Watch It!

Looking for some serious inspiration this weekend? Check out Silver Linings, the dramatic and amazing story of Jessy Nelson's career, his back injury and the life he's living—and it looks like a very good one:

Dirt Wurx Alex posted this video of some emergency early track-building at Angel Stadium in Anaheim as the Dirt Wurx crew hustled on Sunday and Monday to build the track for this weekend's Anaheim 2 race, and then get it covered before the expected late-week rains came:

Here is an excellent history video that Todd Huffman of The MX Files made for the Legends & Heroes of Motocross display about the very first AMA Supercross Series, which was actually called the 1974 AMA/Yamaha Super Series of Stadium Motocross—the word supercross had not been invented yet!

Want to see what it's like to ride in the 250SX West Region main event at round two of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross? Check out this footage of a lap at Glendale from the GoPro stuck to the helmet of Adam Cianciarulo, the race winner:

Was the first nac-nac really done by Rick Johnson in 1985 during a bike test for Moto Cross magazine?

No need to worry about your phone dying at the track. Subscribe now for as low as $9.98 and get your FREE Scosche Portable Backup Battery for this upcoming year.

Want to win a brand-new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F? Here is your chance.

If you are attending the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross this weekend at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, all you need to do is stop by the Racer X booth—located in the Party in the Pits—and enter into the drawing to win a new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F. 

The inner will be picked at the end of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season and announced on Racer X Online.

Not going to Anaheim? No worries, you can still subscribe to Racer X Illustrated right now and get a FREE Scosche Portable Backup Battery.

Are you headed to the Anaheim Supercross this weekend? Make sure you stop by the Racer X booth, located in the Party in the Pits, and subscribe for as low as $10 and receive a FREE FLY Drawstring Bag and Water Bottle. You will also receive a complimentary magazine. See you at the races!

Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.