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Welcome to Racerhead. There are two rounds to go in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and two champions yet to be crowned. We may see Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger with a #1 plate as soon as tomorrow afternoon, but the 450 champ will likely take until Indiana to be crowned. Obviously, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac is in the driver’s seat with a 15-point lead on the invigorated Marvin Musquin, who picked up a solid win in the Unadilla mud and continues to have people scratching their heads as to how he was left off of Team France after winning the RedBud National last month. 

For his part, Plessinger is having a hell of a year. He’s already claimed the Monster Energy AMA Supercross crown in the West Region, he was named to Team USA for the MXoN for the first time, he is just a few points from his first outdoor crown, and, most importantly of all, he’s a new father, too. Despite all of that, I can honestly say AP hasn’t changed much from when he was a little grom running around the GNCCs while his father was winding down his own career as a top off-road racer. 

Yesterday I got to spend the morning with Aaron and his dad Scott, as well as Guy B of Vital MX, Mike Pelletier of the AMA, and my co-workers Nick Koester and Carrie, my sister. We were invited by our new friend Jamey to go on a tour of the White House. We had hoped to get all of Team USA there, but it was logistically difficult as we didn’t know the visit was going to happen until everyone had booked their travel. Aaron and his dad were able to get in early, and it was a really cool morning touring the home of all of our U.S. Presidents, then having a bench-racing lunch afterwards on the roof of a nearby hotel. We cracked some jokes about both Donald Trump and Barack Obama, as we are equal-opportunity amateur comedians, and my sister and I fall firmly in rival camps as far as our politics go. Needless to say, Thanksgivings and Easter almost always go sideways when politics come up, but the conversations and insults are hilarious (and I think I’m even winning). 

Davey Coombs

One thing that did come up was how crazy it was that RedBud winner Marvin Musquin was not going to be at the Motocross of Nations,but Ronnie Mac was trying to go ride it for Puerto Rico. It’s been a topic ever since last week’s surprise announcement/pit party that erupted at Unadilla and got a little out of hand. I wasn’t there to see it all, but I saw some videos of the party that went into the night that looked like a pop-up keg party at a WVU fraternity. 

That said, I haven’t really weighed in publicly on how I feel about the whole Ronnie Mac-goes-racing thing, but I have talked to some people involved with the industry, the series, and some of the teams. While I appreciate anyone who wants to do something to help people in need, like those in Puerto Rico, I don’t think a race as important and prestigious as the Motocross of Nations should compromise its rules and regulations in order to allow a fictional character to compete, no matter how good he is or may have once been. We have a hard enough time getting top riders to step up and make the time investment and risk to compete for national pride. Those guys deserve to line up in a serious race alongside serious competitors. They deserve respect, and they should not have to line up next to the motocross version of a rodeo clown.

I get that people love Ronnie Mac and his old two-stroke, but he does not have a professional license and he will never get one. There’s too much history in his catalog of being obscene, drinking beer and riding, and just trying to be funny. Sometimes he’s hilarious, but as a parent, I can tell you that I didn’t like having to explain to my ten-year-old daughter why he had “I EAT ASS” on his swingarm when she saw one of his now-deleted Instagram posts. And as a lifelong fan of the Motocross of Nations, I don’t think it’s the right time or place to lower the standards and break some pretty fundamental rules in order to let him participate, even if for a charitable cause. Why not just have a big Nitro Circus fundraiser event with Ronnie Mac as the star and give all of that money to Puerto Rico? 

I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking I should just lighten up and get in on the fun, but I see it much differently. The FIM and Youthstream have worked too hard over the years to make this event so important. Roger DeCoster has put decades of time and attention into helping it be successful, and RedBud also deserves the best professional riders in the world to be on the racetrack when they drop the starting gate, and not have a comedic sideshow in the middle of it all. I think it’d fine that Ryan Sipes and Travis Pastrana line up behind this cause and participate, even though it’s been maybe a dozen years since Pastrana lined up behind an outdoor starting gate and 17 years since he won a race, but the Ronnie Mac character should not be allowed on the racetrack. I know that he wouldn’t be allowed on the starting gate at Loretta Lynn’s, an amateur race, let alone a round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Coach Ricky Johnson needs to find a third rider, a real person—even Steve McQueen had to sign with a real FIM license when he rode the 1964 ISDT, and when Vanilla Ice raced Loretta Lynn’s, he registered as Robbie Van Winkle. 

Don’t dent the crown jewel of professional motocross like it’s just another empty PBR can in one of his videos.

Reed On Team Australia Snub (Chase Stallo)

Rosters are starting to fill for the 2018 Motocross of Nations at RedBud, and yesterday Motorcycling Australia announced that Kirk Gibbs, Hunter Lawrence, and Mitch Evans would represent Australia in October. With the race in the U.S., Chad Reed, the greatest rider in Australian history, was very much in play for a spot on the team. On Instagram, Reed said he’d been working for the last month to try and get a spot on the team.

After he was left off the team, Reed stated on Instagram that his time for representing Team Australia has come to an end: “I’m disappointed that my chance of wearing the green and gold at MXoN has come to an end but the memories will be with me forever!” 

The third Grand Prix of Switzerland this decade and only the fourth since 2001 should take place in front of another eager crowd around the “stadium-set” Frauenfeld-Gachnang circuit, a small distance from the city of Zurich. There was concern at the start of the year that the event would be under threat. The track is built up within the confines of a large sugar factory, next to a railway line and within close proximity to the local town. Alleged objection to MXGP inhabiting a venue solely used for the Grand Prix arose, but it was apparently dealt with in enough time to ensure that Frauenfeld-Gachnang region can count on the business and revenue of a gathering of 30,000 fans on both days of this 16th round of 20.

Frauenfeld skirted close to a rainy disaster in 2016 and 2017 but raceday dawned sunny and warm on both occasions, and the seating sections around two sides of the layout and compact nature of the largely flat course ensures decent viewing and a contained and raucous atmosphere. The Swiss have been spoilt for strong possibilities for home success. Jeremy Seewer was narrowly beaten in ’16 by Max Anstie (on one of his uncatchable days) and clinched a moto win last summer; his dreams of overall spoils were only wrecked by a first-corner crash in the second race. At the same meeting in 2017, Wilvo Yamaha’s Arnaud Tonus drove the public crazy with a breakthrough MXGP triumph—the talented but delicate racer was then counted out for the rest of the season by an accident that led to a broken rib in the second outing. 

While Tonus continues to ride and come back to speed from a double shoulder operation that has prevented him racing in 2018 so far, the locals can again look to the exciting Seewer (current Rookie of the Year in the same Wilvo setup as Tonus), who confirmed his place in the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team for 2019 last week.

Herlings swept both motos at the Swiss track last year.
Herlings swept both motos at the Swiss track last year. Ray Archer/KTM Images

When it comes to the Red Bull KTM, Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli come to Switzerland fit, firing, and with shared previous form: Cairoli took his third win of a difficult 2016 season at Frauenfeld while Herlings swept both motos in 2017. Just five rounds remain in 2018, and 36 points split the teammates. In MX2, Jorge Prado continues his giddy momentum of having recorded eight consecutive podium finishes with the knowledge that fellow 250 SX-F racer and world champ Pauls Jonass has not walked the rostrum for the last two Grands Prix.

Switzerland is also the start of a busy bout of fixtures—the “home straight into the final corner” of the season, you could say. The circus jumps straight to Bulgaria and then a new circuit in Turkey in consecutive weekends.

THE WALL (DC)

We received a letter with a question from longtime reader Reese Dengler:

Please consider for your next Racerhead column explaining why “The Wall,” (aka The Screw-U) section was bypassed last Saturday. There are many people still around that attended the Motocross des Nations at Unadilla in 1987 (including myself) and we know that section was left in for all three motos of the MXdN and the conditions were much worse than last Saturday.

I was not at Unadilla, so I wasn't part of the decision-making process, but I do know that the track has changed a lot in the 31 years since the Motocross des Nations was held there. A lot of the topsoil is gone, and The Wall/Screw-U is now basically down to the sheetrock. With lap times pushing three minutes due to inclement weather, leaving the Wall in would have taken it probably 20 seconds more, which is a long time for a lap at an outdoor national. Also, if just one or two riders got stuck in the early laps, it might have created a traffic jam.

When they left the steep hill in at the '98 MXoN at Foxhills in England, many got stuck in a chain-reaction clog that made the track impassable, so they started routing riders through the spectators on the infield before ultimately red-flagging the race. At Unadilla in '87, Team USA's Roger DeCoster complained to the officials about all of the riders riding outside the banners to get up the hill. "I know you cannot respect the banners 100 percent in these conditions but some of the riders were riding beside the track where you could be riding inside of it," DeCoster said to Cycle News after Bob Hannah got stuck trying to get up Screw-U but others were riding in the grass. "So I brought it up to the (FIM) jury people so they will do something about it in the second heat. There isn't much we can do as far as the first heat goes because just about everybody went off the track sometime."

While traditionalists always want to see the toughest conditions possible, the risk of having the whole race compromised last Saturday was considered by officials.bPretty much everyone in the paddock and on the starting line agreed that it was going to be enough of a challenge with the rest of the track, so Screw-U was left out for the motos. It will be back next year—unless it rains cats and dogs again. (And I thought it looked pretty challenging, even without The Wall.) 

Cycle News cover from the 1987 Motocross of Nations at Unadilla.
Cycle News cover from the 1987 Motocross of Nations at Unadilla.

After not being selected to represent Team France at the 2018 Motocross of Nations at RedBud in his adopted USA, Marvin Musquin was able to respond with a hard-earned win at Unadilla. In doing so, Musquin became the first ever foreign motocrosser to get at least two wins at the Unadilla National, repeating his win from last year. Musquin has become the most successful French rider in terms of overall podiums in the history of the 250/450 AMA Motocross. Marvin has a total of 23 podiums, overtaking the 22 of Sebastien Tortelli.

In both the 125/250 and 250/450 classes, Musquin is also the most successful French rider regarding victories. Musquin has the most wins in both small-bore and premier class championships. Among the French, Musquin has the best 125/250 supercross season regarding wins and the podiums. All told, Musquin has the most wins, with 32 across the board. He has 11 wins in 250SX, eight wins in 250 MX, six wins in 450SX, and now seven wins in 450 MX. 

Rich Shepherd

Like Musquin, a two-time world champion, Tortelli raced in the AMA motocross premier class between 1999 and 2005. He took part in 53 national rounds in all and took 22 podiums. Musquin debuted in the motocross premier class in 2016. So far, he has participated in 34 rounds in all, and last Saturday collected that 23rd podium. That ties him with the South African Greg Albertyn, who also got 23 podiums in the premier class.

One additional note: When Roger DeCoster was racing the Trans-AMA Series for Suzuki, he won Unadilla five straight times (1974-'78), much to the frustration of Bob "Hurricane" Hannah!

Roger DeCoster on his way to his first of five Unadilla wins at the 1974 Trans-AMA.
Roger DeCoster on his way to his first of five Unadilla wins at the 1974 Trans-AMA.

The French double has repeated itself. For second time this season, French motocrossers have overshadowed the field in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Like at Southwick, in the sixth round, the French riders won in both categories: Dylan Ferrandis (250) and Marvin Musquin (450). For Ferrandis, it was a very memorable day at ’Dilla, as the Yamaha rider got his first double moto win during his American career. 

In the past at the FIM Motocross World Championship, Dylan got one 1-1 result at Loket in the Czech Republic in 2016. Thanks to his first perfect performance in America, Ferrandis became the eighth foreign rider to win in the 125/250 class at Unadilla. He is also the tenth non-American rider to get at least two wins in a 125/250 motocross season. With such a performance, only the British Dean Wilson was able to be champion among the foreign riders.

RiderNationalityWinsYear
Jean-Michel BayleFrench31990
Stephane RoncadaFrench42000
Grant LangstonSouth African5, 42001, 2005
Ben TownleyNew Zealander62007
Christophe PourcelFrench4, 22009, 2010
Tyla RattraySouth African2, 42010, 2011
Dean WilsonBritish22010
Ken RoczenGerman22013
Marvin MusquinFrench2, 2, 32013, 2014, 2015
Dylan FerrandisFrench22018

Hey, Watch It!

Jordan Burns of Moto XXX put together an excellent tribute video to his longtime friend, the late Brian Swink, who passed away in May at the age of 45. The video includes testimony from his former rivals, teammates, and friends along the way, including Jeremy McGrath, Travis Pastrana, and many, many more:

“Busy summer continues for Team HRC in Switzerland” —Honda PR 

Random Notes

If you've been following our Factory Tech Tip feature on Racer X Online you're probably familiar with former factory mechanic Scott Adkins and his Pro SX MX Tech training school based out of Morgantown, West Virginia. The school is specifically designed for getting students into the pro pits working as mechanics. He shot us a note the other day saying he's got two spots available for the 2018-2019 school year, which starts in October. Want to learn more? You can check out Pro SX MX Tech for their eight-month program to becoming a professional race team mechanic. Head over to www.prosxmxtech.com for more information.

Racer X Brand | Patriotic Collection Now Available 

Show your support for Team USA at the Motocross of Nations this year at RedBud by picking up one of Racer X Brand’s tees from the Patriotic Collection.

Are you headed to the Budds Creek 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!

Going to the Budds Creek Motocross 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.

Subscribe or renew now for your chance to win an all-new electric bike from Stacyc! Two winners will be chosen and given their choice of the 12” and 16” models. The winners will be announced on Racer X Online on September 19, 2018, and will also be contacted directly.  

Every person who enters will also receive a FREE pack of all 12 official 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross event stickers.

See official rules here.  

Want to win two sets of Scott Prospect goggles with tear-offs? Simply identify a few featured Scott sponsored riders throughout moto history to be entered. For contest and entry rules, go here.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading Racerhead—see you at the races.