Welcome to Racerhead. What a strange day yesterday was. It started with news that MXGP and Motocross of Nations promoter Youthstream had been acquired by Swiss promotional conglomerate Infront, and ended with the terrible news that Transworld MX was shutting down (for now) after a company called American Media bought it. The Youthstream news wasn’t that much of a surprise—they had been acquired before by Dorna, the Spanish road racing corporation, who then sold it back to them when they realized it wasn’t a good fit. And even with the new acquisition, the Luongos and their crew will continue to manage and organize MXGP, so it’s not really a huge deal. But it was absolutely unexpected news about Transworld, as Donn Maeda and his crew have built it into a very big and broad platform, with everything from riding videos to prominent racing events. We will have more on this below.
As far as the racing goes, KTM's 1-2-3 at Oakland was historic for the brand—they had never done that in the premier class of Monster Energy AMA Supercross—and it got me to thinking if this really was their “best night ever” in the championship. Besides Red Bull KTM winner Cooper Webb, runner-up Marvin Musquin of Red Bull KTM, and third-place Blake Baggett of the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS team, there was 10th-place Justin Bogle of Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS, the only other KTM in the main event at Oakland. Add up all of their points on the night and KTM bagged 84 in a single main event. Someone would have to do some digging to see if they’ve ever scored more. And remember, this is a brand that didn't even win a 450SX until Ryan Dungey in 2012.
So I went digging in The Vault and found something interesting: At the 2016 Atlanta 450SX, there were also four KTMs in the main event. Ryan Dungey won, Marvin Musquin was second, and BTOSports.com KTM riders Davi Millsaps and Justin Brayton finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Add all of their scores up and the total is 81.
However, keep in mind that the AMA changed the points structure before last year's series, so a winner now gets 26 points, runner-up gets 23, third 21, 19 for fourth, 18 for fifth…. Back in 2016 it was 25-22-20-18-16 for the top five. So if we plugged the 2016 Atlanta SX into today's point values, the Orangemen would have posted 86 points back in 2016! So while the 1-2-3 podium sweep at Oakland was a pretty big deal, Atlanta ’16 was arguably a better night for KTM.
Bogle_RS_SX19_Anaheim2_016 Rich Shepherd
Baggett_RS_SX19_Anaheim2_022 Rich Shepherd
Musquin_RS_SX19_Oakland_049 Rich Shepherd
Pits_JK_SX19_Glendale_1339 Jeff Kardas
For what it’s worth, KTM might have had an even better night if not for the really balanced starting gate when it comes to brands, as all six of the participating OEMs had multiple bikes in the 450SX main event.
The 22-rider main at Oakland broke down like this:
5 Hondas2 Husqvarnas4 KTMs3 Kawasakis5 Suzukis
That broad representation is a testament to the fact that all of the bikes are pretty good, and support is there from every OEM—and both of Rockstar Husqvarna Racing’s 450SX riders, Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne, were out with injuries. Osborne’s 2019 season might start next weekend, but defending Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion Anderson will be out for a couple of months.
Early in the 2001 supercross season, Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael were slugging it out weekly, and after four rounds, they had two wins each and were tied for the points lead. A season-long fight seemed eminent, the type of battle we had been waiting for during McGrath’s long reign of SX domination (1997 excluded). I distinctly remember TV play-by-play man Art Eckman saying how amazing the season was, and how it was even greater than expectations.
But at round five, Carmichael came from behind to catch and pass McGrath at Anaheim, Jeremy’s home race. That was the stake through the heart. What appeared to be a close championship turned into a blowout, as Carmichael launched a record-tying 13-race win streak. Ever since then, I’ve been skeptical to declare any supercross season as amazing after just four rounds. A lot of seasons start with parity, then some dudes get hurt, someone goes on a roll, and poof: the drama is over. This year has been absolutely shocking so far, with Justin Barcia, Blake Baggett, and Cooper Webb still being the only riders with wins. Can 2019 keep this up?
Well, it’s at least historically close. Aaron Hansel and I (with an assist from the SX Research Department) dug into the data from every single supercross season ever and discovered that this is the closest the point standings have ever been through four rounds. We have four riders within four points, and fifth-place Justin Barcia is just 11 back. This is amazing. Have a look at The List from this week to see the standings after four rounds in every season ever. You will be impressed with 2019’s stats, for sure.
By the way, the points leader after four rounds has won the title 68 percent of the time throughout SX history. Considering Cooper Webb’s lead is the smallest ever (at round four), there are certainly no guarantees of anything at this time. However, we’ve seen a lot of amazing early-season battles turn into one-man routs. Can it happen again for Webb? We’ll have a better idea tomorrow night when the San Diego SX airs live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
The above stats are a big deal, and are quite possibly the reason another interesting stat we found has gone somewhat overlooked: The top three riders from last season—Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, and Eli Tomac—haven’t won a race at all yet in 2019. That doesn’t happen very often! In fact, the last time the top three from one season failed to win a race in the first four races of the next season was in 2011. In 2010, Ryan Dungey, Kevin Windham, and Davi Millsaps were the top three. In 2011, neither Millsaps nor Windham won, and Dungey only notched a single victory, which didn’t come until round 12 in Toronto.
It actually happened the year before that, too, but in 2009 it was the top four from the previous season—Chad Reed, Kevin Windham, Andrew Short, and Davi Millsaps—who took a while to come up with a win. Reed was the only one in this group who did win in ’09, and it took him until round nine in Indianapolis. In both situations, the eventual champ from the current season had gotten injured in the prior season. Stewart had a torn ACL in 2008, and in ’10 Villopoto had a brutal crash in St. Louis that took him out of the season.
Backing It Up (Andras Hegyi)
With his Oakland win, Cooper Webb has become only the 11th rider in the history of 250/450 supercross to repeat a first win with another. We will get to naming the guys and how they did it below, but first there is the curious case of Marty Tripes.
Back in 1972, at the first Superbowl of Motocross—the pre-AMA Supercross event in the Los Angeles Coliseum that really counts as the first modern supercross—Tripes won on a Yamaha. He was all of 16 years, 10 days old. One year later, at the ’73 Superbowl of Motocross, he won again on a Honda CR250M Elsinore. But both of those first two Superbowls were a part of the old Inter-Am Series. When AMA Supercross finally started as a standalone series in 1974, that’s where we start counting wins. And it took Marty Tripes five years to finally get his maiden victory, at the Atlanta SX; he followed that up the very next weekend with a Daytona SX win. So Tripes won his first two supercross races back-to-back in ’72-’73, when the only stadium race was the Los Angeles Coliseum, and then again in ’78 when the actual AMA Supercross Series was up and running.
Jimmy Ellis started racing pro in 1973, but his first four AMA Supercross races came in 1975, and he won all four of them! He swept the ’75 series by winning Dallas, Daytona, Houston, and then Los Angeles. Next, three-time SX champion Bob Hannah took his maiden win in the ’77 season opener, then he also won the next two successive rounds. Suzuki’s Darrell Shultz got his maiden win at the opening night of the Seattle doubleheader in 1981, then he won the very next night in the Kingdome. Donnie Hansen celebrated his maiden victory in the ’82 season opener at Anaheim, as he was the winner in the next round at Seattle as well. Three-time SX #1 Jeff Stanton got his maiden win in his third season and 26th race, at Atlanta ’89, then won the next two rounds. Yamaha’s prodigal son Damon Bradshaw got his first premier-class SX victories in the first two rounds of 1990. The King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, started winning at Anaheim in ’93 and took the next three as well. David Vuillemin was next, taking San Diego and then Phoenix back-to-back in 2000. And then ten years later, four-time champion Ryan Dungey got his first win in 2010, backing it up a week later.
So now Cooper Webb has done it. Is he going to take the third one this Saturday in San Diego?
I think Jeffrey Herlings is trolling the entire motocross world on social media. The fastest man on the planet had the misfortune of suffering a badly broken foot while practicing earlier this week and will almost certainly miss the beginning of his MXGP title defense in the Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship. But the question seems to be whether or not he can come back in time to still have a shot at running down whoever is up front. MXGP is a 20-race series, so there's plenty of time. But if it's out of reach, some are speculating that Herlings could possibly show up at Hangtown in May, all healed up, and make a run instead at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship instead. And that's not wishful thinking—Herlings himself has been posting not-so-random things like a big graphic of the #108 on Wednesday, which just happened to be 108 days away from Hangtown, and then yesterday on Instagram he wrote, "Healing is a matter of time, but it sometimes also gives an opportunity." That brought in hundreds of comments and guesses as to what it meant.
So our MXGP colleague "MX Geoff" Meyer asked Herlings' team manager, Dirk Gruebel, about all this subtle talk about Jeffrey maybe doing something incredibly cool with his injury/opportunity for his site, MX Large:
MXlarge: And no talk about Jeffrey doing the AMA Nationals if he isn’t back for the first few rounds of the MXGP championship?
Dirk Gruebel: No, we haven’t talked about that either. I know he put something on 108 on his social media, I don’t know, he must be really bored at home I think, at the moment we have no plans to do that.
MXlarge: So even if he comes back after four rounds he will still do the MXGP championship?
Dirk Gruebel: I don’t know. Like I said, I can’t say anything, but we also don’t have anything planned to do the Nationals.
And then MX Large reported on what Joel Smets, the KTM team trainer, told a Dutch newspaper called Eindhovendagblad about the idea of Herlings racing in America this season if he isn't ready for the first few rounds of MXGP:
"That has not even been thought about," Smets told the paper. "Where does he have to go with his energy at home on the couch? Can you imagine, he is used to riding with his body every day, and now he is bored and thinking of everything. And then he does something like that."
Smets added, "Jeffrey has of course counted for himself that he will not be recovered for the first Grand Prix. As the American championship starts later, he thinks, that might be a nice challenge. It's not only about the sport side, but also about commercial interests. Because that ball is now rolling, I expect that there will soon be talked about with Jeffrey."
That would be awesome! But I think MXGeoff and I agree for once: I think he's just having fun with his followers and competition on both sides of the Atlantic! Either way, get well soon @jeffrey_herlings84 no matter where or when you come back.
Oh, and this unfortunate injury for Jeffrey just gave Antonio Cairoli a much better shot at once again going after Stefan Everts' record of ten world titles, as Cairoli is still sitting at nine but still extremely fast and smart. If Herlings waits too long to return, it could be a historic season for AC222.
Tomac On Whiskey Throttle Show (David Pingree)
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac was the guest on this week's Whiskey Throttle Show, and he was very candid. We talked about life in Colorado, his off-season back injury (which he finally admitted to), where he's at with his new race bike, and his favorite summer pastime of wake surfing and then having a couple cold beers out on the lake. (I didn't see that one coming.)
If you're an ET fan, or if you just want to get to know the reigning motocross champ, be sure to check it out. I'm afraid people think Eli is being rude or arrogant when he’s really just a private person who isn't really interested in social media or fame. That may sound crazy to some people, but it's actually one of the most balanced outlooks I've ever heard from a rider. I've always been an Eli fan, but I have a whole new respect for him as a person after this interview. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher, or you can watch the whole show on YouTube by searching The Whiskey Throttle Show.
And if you're going to be in Southern California next week, our guest is Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo and the show is going to be live! You aren't going to want to miss that. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by going to road2recovery.com and clicking the SHOP tab. $20 gets you in and includes free 805 beer and free pizza. All proceeds from the tickets sales go to R2R. Friday, February 8th. Doors open at 4:30 and show starts at 6:30.
Back to the news at the top. I’ve known Donn “Swap” Maeda since we were both Cycle News stringers. He’s been around the industry for almost his entire life, and I’ve long considered him a friend, and a formidable one. I think we’ve helped make one another’s publications and platforms better through competition and cooperation, as well as the other publications and sites out there. So it was shocking and unexpected to hear that the new American Media owner, which is run by David Pecker of National Enquirer fame (and who has been in the news lately), is not interested in keeping Transworld MX and Transworld BMX.
This was on Swap's Instagram:
Michael Antonovich, one of Donn’s editors and a well-respected race reporter in the pits and in the press box, similarly vowed to keep it going. Here’s hoping and pulling for our friends at Transworld MX to find a new home, and keep on motoing….
The Silver Lining (Mitch Kendra)
Earlier this week I wrote about Jessy Nelson, who I’m sure a lot of you know about. Nelson was one of the top riders for the Troy Lee Designs Red Bull KTM 250 squad, and a race-winning threat in 250SX, when his career was tragically cut short due to a crash at the Unadilla National. The crash left Jessy paralyzed.
Nowadays, Nelson rides his Polaris RZR with his wife, Emily, for fun, but he's become quite the threat as a racer, again, but this time behind the wheel. He is already going quite fast on the track, and has some big plans for the future. check out the documentary Silver Linings: The Amazing Journey of Jessy Nelson.
Kindness in Paradise (Aaron Hansel)
You already know the fires in California in 2018 were terrible. In Paradise, the site of the Camp Fire, thousands of people were displaced and even more were impacted, and continue to be, by what was the deadliest fire in the state’s history. For the local Northern California communities affected by the Camp Fire, calling it a nightmare would be an understatement. Fortunately in these situations the dark always gives way to the light, and after the initial bone-chilling stories came out, tales of hope and extraordinary human kindness started to take center stage. Countless people, companies, sports teams, and more have stepped up in a huge way to help smooth the edges of what will probably go down as the worst experience in many people’s lives. As of Oakland, the motocross community can be added to that list.
The Shoemaker family, like many others, lost everything in the blaze. That includes 12-year-old Evan Shoemaker’s motorcycle and riding gear. When the family visited the site of their burnt home, it was one of the things he gravitated to.
“When we took the kids up to Paradise to look at the remnants of our home, it was unreal for them both, as you can imagine,” said Evan’s mom, Trisha. “When Evan saw the shell of his burnt up dirt bike, he said to his dad, ‘Do you think we can salvage the motor and rebuild my bike?’”
Fox Racing caught wind of the situation and decided they were going to do what they could to brighten Evan’s life. Wanting to do more than just replace Evan’s gear, they looped in American Honda, and a plan was made to make the Oakland Supercross (the Shoemakers’ local race) the best experience possible for the family. VIP passes, a tour of the American Honda race rig, dinner with the team, and a meet-and-greet with Ken Roczen were all part of the Shoemaker’s day.
“When we first learned this was going to happen, my husband came home that evening and started to tell me the story,” Trisha recalled. “He immediately started to cry. We were both shocked! People’s support and generosity during unspeakable times is very emotionally overwhelming and absolutely amazing.”
To top it all off, plans had been made to replace Evan’s scorched motorcycle with a brand-new CRF230F. After all, what good would all that new Fox gear be without a bike to ride? Evan’s parents were aware of the plan but Evan was not, and when the time came to give him his new ride, it was none other than Roczen who wheeled it out and presented it to him. Needless to say, Evan was thrilled and unable to hide his emotions. Tears flowed from his eyes, and his parents’, as he stared at his new machine before gripping Roczen in a bear hug. Of course, Evan wasn’t the only one feeling emotion.
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“Meeting Evan and his family was awesome,” Roczen said. “After such a tragic thing happened to them, it was cool to be able to give back and make them smile. Fox and Honda came together, then got me involved to get Evan hooked up with brand new gear and a bike. When we gave him the gear, he was already so stoked. We unpacked a couple things right then. It was already an amazing experience to see him smile and be so excited about just the gear, but then to top it off, which he totally didn’t expect at all, we rolled out a brand-new bike. He pretty much just broke down into tears because he was so happy. It made me, the team, the guys at Fox, and even the fans who were watching emotional when we saw his reaction. It was an experience that I’ve never really gotten to do before. It was amazing to be able to put a smile on his face and give him something he’ll remember forever.”
“Having the opportunity to be a part of things like this is truly is one of the best aspects of my job,” added Mandie Fonteyn, who handles PR duties for the team. “It’s not often you can say you were able to help create such a special moment in someone's life that they’ll remember forever. I definitely believe that is what we did for Evan and his family. During such an incredibly tough time, this is a glimmer of light and something positive they can look back on. I think seeing his reaction brought tears to everyone’s eyes. It’s something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”
Stories like this should come as no surprise—the motocross community has always known how to help each other out when it’s needed. Yet, as often as we see our community help out members who are down, it never gets any less encouraging and uplifting. Credit to everyone at Fox and American Honda who were involved in making the Shoemaker’s life a little brighter after enduring an unimaginably difficult situation.
In 1988, car racer-turned-promoter Mickey Thompson and his wife, Trudy Thompson, were gunned down in their driveway in a suburb of Los Angeles. Thompson's former business partner Michael Goodwin, the founder of what we now know as supercross, was long suspected to be behind the murders, which made national news for years. Eventually, Goodwin was arrested, then convicted in 2007. He has been in jail ever since on a double life sentence with no chance of parole. Goodwin's friends and supporters have long denied that he had anything to do with the crime. Here is the latest update from his defense team:
Michael Goodwin's habeas judge has given the L.A.D.A. an April 4th date to answer Michael's 21 Brady violations. Everything is on hold until then. We view this as a positive step forward.
On another matter, A Go Fund Me campaign has been started to raise money from Mickey Thompson fans to help correct the miscarriage of justice of convicting the wrong person, Michael Goodwin, of the crime of the Mickey and Trudy Thompson murders.
A good part of the money collected will go towards helping Michael in his legal and prison expenses, including providing for attorneys, should that eventually become necessary.
If you know of anyone who might want to help, please forward this link to them:
(Paul E. Blackford, a California private investigator, apparently set up the GoFundMe page. So far, there have been no donations made.)
Vintage Iron @ Mecum's Auction (DC)
Last weekend our longtime friend and MX historian/collector Rick Doughty was at the Mecum's Auction in Las Vegas, where some sweet and rare dirt bikes were on the block. Among the prized bikes was a Lito X-Cam gem that was one of only three ever built. It was estimated that it could sell for as high as $90,000; instead, it went for a whopping $135,000 plus 10% buyers' fee. For more on the bike and what makes Lito so rare, check out the auctioneers' notes.
Other bikes that made a splash were one of Jeff Ward's works Kawasaki 125 and one of the "Lumberjack" Rick Burgett's factory Yamahas.
And get this: Two brand new, in-the-crate 1986 Honda Mini Trails sold for $46,500! (Somewhere, @icollectmotorcycles is crying in his craft beer.)
While Rick was there, he got a chance to visit with Grant Langston and his dad. They even did a little bench racing over the 1989 250cc KTM Grand Prix motorcycle that Broc Glover raced in the last year of his professional career, back when KTMs were still white.
The Mecum Auction also had all kinds of cool motorcycle memorabilia and posters and gear.
Big day yesterday down in San Diego for the Fly Racing guys. They debuted to the press the new Formula helmet that we've seen on Osborne and Baggett this year. It's been five years in development and has some real cool tech involved in it as well. It's no longer just good enough for companies to produce a EPS-only helmet for the high end prices. Nope, like Bell with their system and 6-D with theirs, FLY calls their system AIS, for Adaptive Impact System. It's basically little cones that act as a crush zone. Then there's the energy cells placed in there that look like little bits of your brain to me...is that weird? There's an expanded EPS also and a carbon shell. The price is steep, it's $650 but it's got a ton of stuff in there to help your brain out. As we learn more and more about concussions and how they occur, the Fly Racing guys seem to be trying to cover both high and low speed crashes with this helmet.
So how is it? I rode today with it actually and although I could be biased here because I had an amazing day of riding on a track that was prepped perfectly (Thanks to Jason at Western Raceway!). So everything was good before I started doing laps you know? And I didn't test the helmet because thankfully I stayed upright unlike the last time I rode in the Hi-Dez with Keefer and crashed four times.
First impression is the chinbar is out further than the older F2 helmet which is a good thing, it's mega-light and very vented. I liked all that although in mud you'll have to cover up the chin bar vents. The weirdest thing is how quiet the helmet is...seriously, I had to kind of look down at my Yamaha to see what was up on the first lap out there. Anyone who has a Yamaha knows they're loud bikes, this helmet really muffles that. It fit my ears way better than the F2 as they seemed to fit perfectly in the "pocket" inside the helmet.
So far, so good for the Formula. Cool to see these companies, and Fly isn't the first by any means, really looking into making a better mousetrap. And helmet also!
Hey, Watch It!
In case you missed it, check out this cool video from Iceland by Shift MX featuring Jimmy Hill:
Check out this video from last week of Cole Seely throwing down some practice laps at the Honda supercross track:
Check out the E-Bike Desert Challenge:
More GoPro footage from Oakland's main events. We have Deano's view as he navigates his way to a sixth-place finish:
Then we have Shane McElrath, who finished in fourth in the 250SX West Region main event:
Finally, we have Adam Cianciarulo giving us a quick look at what he saw on the first lap of the 250SX West Region main:
Here are some highlights from the 2019 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado:
EnduroCross Champion Colton Haaker is about to launch another epic vid via his media company, Plaeco. Here's the trailer:
Matthes mentioned Fly Racing's new high-end helmet, the Formula. Here's a short video about it:
There is a well-written article about multi-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez and his love for motocross in the latest issue of Racer X Illustrated, written by Adam Wheeler. Now check out this shot below from an early 1980s Cycle News when Eddie Lawson was the current MotoGP Champion (then 500cc Road Racing) and still racing the Pro class in local motocross races!
Get well soon to our longtime friend and sometimes contributor Ryan Hughes, on the mend with a broken femur (ugh!) after a big get-off earlier this week.
On another unfortunate note, Blake Savage, the brother-in-law and training partner of Team Honda’s Ken Roczen, crashed last week while riding with Roczen in Mesquite, Nevada. He is currently paralyzed from the chest down. Road 2 Recovery is doing what they do best, which is jump in during a rider or industry member’s time of need, and they’ve send up this fundraising page. Please check it out and see if you can help defray some of Blake Savage’s mounting medical costs.
Random thought: If Broc Tickle were racing right now, and still with Red Bull KTM, that would make a total of four riders from North Carolina who are current factory KTM riders, as Cooper Webb and Troy Lee Designs KTM's Shane McElrath and Jordon Smith are all Tarheels. It's like North Carolina is the new El Cajon. Or maybe new (older) Bakersfield?
It's racing season, and contingency programs are becoming official. Kawasaki announced its Team Green Racer Rewards program earlier this week and Yamaha has boosted it's BluCru program for 2019, including nearly quintuple the money in GNCC racing. This is good news for racers!
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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 Petco Park in San Diego, 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.
Winner will be picked at the end of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season and announced on Racer X Online.
In addition to the bike drawing above, 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 Racing drawstring bag and water bottle. You will also receive a complimentary magazine with your subscription. See you at the races!
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races.