Welcome to Racerhead and the start of either the Cooper Webb Era or another exciting 450SX main event where this time Ken Roczen holds on and takes the red plate back, depending on which man you’re a fan of. The race #2 and #94 put on last Saturday night was one for the ages, as it ended closer than any main event in AMA Supercross history, and that includes the ones before we had electronic scoring and timing. And not only was it the narrowest margin of victory in history, but Red Bull KTM’s Webb has the curious distinction of having led for less time in a main event than anyone who eventually won the race. He was a knobby-length ahead of Roczen. Cooper also kept it pinned on the face of the finish-line jump and flat-wheeled the landing, as Brian Deegan pointed out, which means he left it pinned—and that made the difference.
This all seems like 1993 again, when Jeremy McGrath took off at the third round at Anaheim, won the next four races, and changed the guard before our very eyes. Webb has now won four out of five, including that first one. The only real difference is McGrath went straight to the top after winning two 125cc titles with Peak/Pro Circuit Honda, while Webb's two years of Lites-class dominance with Star Racing Yamaha were followed by two years in the weeds as an imperfect fit on the Monster Energy Yamaha factory team. For whatever reason—or maybe many reasons—it's now working for Webb on the Red Bull KTM, and it's eerily similar to McGrath’s ascent, or even Ricky Carmichael’s after the fifth round of 2001, when he came from behind to run down Jeremy, who never won again.
But don't write off all the other guys just yet. Webb only just took the red plate back, as Roczen has also been riding incredibly well—but he hasn't been able to close the deal on a win, and Webb’s teammate Marvin Musquin is right there too.
And then there's Eli Tomac. From the eve of the opener at Anaheim, where we were having that big game of hide and seek with the truth about who was injured and who was not—remember Vital MX's Cooksey's direct question to Eli and his "You can see for yourself here in a little while, we're ready to let 'er rip" non-denial denial?—it's seems like there's a little something off with Eli. Sure, he won a race in the mud at San Diego, but besides that, he just hasn't been himself. And his crash and fade last Saturday night had many ready to put a nail in his coffin, which is ridiculous. He's obviously hurting still, and whatever he did in crashing on Saturday night compounded it, no matter how minor the spill. But he’s not done by any means.
Still, this rise of Cooper Webb has been something to behold. Whether it’s like that of McGrath in ’93 or Carmichael in ’01, when they completely took over, or like fellow North Carolinian Damon Bradshaw in 1990, when he won the first two rounds in only his second and third 250cc races but never won a title, remains to be seen. One thing that’s for certain is this is going to be fun to watch!
TONY SKILLINGTON (DC)
Before we get into all of the goings-on here for the week, I couldn’t help but notice the great news over in Europe regarding the FIM. Tony Skillington has been named the new CEO, and that’s good news for motocrossers and supercrossers everywhere. Skillington hails from Cork, Ireland, and I’ve been fortunate enough to know him since he helped me get a credential sorted for the 1987 125cc Grand Prix of Ireland at Kilinchy. He’s a frequent visitor to Monster Energy AMA Supercross, where he represents the FIM component, as well as MXGP and the MXoN every year. Our colleague in Europe “MX Geoff” Meyer did an interview with Skillington this week on his site MXLarge.com about his expanded role.
Geoff asked: “The Broc Tickle case, how is that proceeding?”
Skillington answered: “All I can say in regard to Tickle, it is top of the list at the moment, and every effort is being made to bring this case to a conclusion.”
While that may not sound like very big news for Broc (or Cade Clason, for the matter), I believe it is. AMA President Rob Dingman (now the chair of the FIM’s finance committee) and AMA director of racing Kevin Crowther (motocross commission) just went to the FIM in Switzerland for the big annual meeting, and I know they were going to make the handling (or lack thereof) of riders suspended for anti-doping a priority issue. Both know that the lack of action has become a blemish on both the FIM and the AMA, as well as both Feld Entertainment and MX Sports Pro Racing. To leave athletes hanging in limbo without knowing the length or terms of their suspensions for more than a year is inexcusable. I believe that with Tony Skillington’s new responsibilities, as well as new FIM President Jorge Viegas, all want to see action on these outstanding cases, and also to streamline the process. In fact, according to the minutes released by the FIM, it’s already begun:
“A proposal to change the current structure of the FIM’s judicial bodies that deal with Anti-Doping cases was put before the Board after consultation with the FIM International Medical Commission and the International Commission of Judges. The proposal will be put to the Governance Committee ahead of the next Board meeting in May.”
If Broc or Cade are reading this, I’d think they would read that as good news.
Last weekend in Arlington, Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda’s Vince Friese tore his knee up in practice, and he seems like he'll be out for a while. The team has already lost Malcolm Stewart earlier this year and is just down to Justin Brayton. But wait, that's Mike Alessi's music playing! Yes, the 800 hasn't raced supercross for a couple of years, but word is he's been called up by father Tony (the team manager) to jump back in starting next week in Atlanta. I don't think he's going to do all the rest of the races, but he should do most of them anyway. It'll be good (and weird) to see the #800 back in supercross, but I have little doubt his holeshot skills at least are still there.
BRP PURCHASES SELECT ASSETS OF ALTA MOTORS (CHASE STALLO)
We reported this on Exhaust earlier this week, but you may have missed it, so we’ll recap here.
Since Alta Motors announced it was ceasing operations in October 2018, there has not been much news on the future of the California-based electric motorcycle manufacturer. Would another company jump in and save the brand? Would it cease to exist altogether?
Well, we got some answers earlier this week when Bombardier Recreational Products, a Canadian company that makes various vehicles, announced the purchase of select assets of Faster Faster, Inc (Alta Motors) as part of their “longstanding interest in new technologies and alternate energy sources for the powersports industry.”
BRP, which owns Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, Can-Am on-road and off-road, Lynx, Evinrude, Rotax, Manitou, and Alumacraft, according to its website, said it has no interest in restarting operations of Alta Motors and assumes no liabilities. Reading between the lines, this is the end for Alta Motors as we knew it.
BRP says the purchase includes “certain intellectual property, patents and some limited physical assets from the former all-electric motorcycle design and manufacturing company.”
My, what a striking resemblance….
Remember back at the MXoN at RedBud when, after Team USA and most AMA-based riders did so poorly, talk about bike setup turned to how much stiffer all of the AMA-based riders’ settings were compared to the MXGP guys? The explanation was that because supercross is more than half the battle here in the states, guys set their bikes up much differently. And once supercross is over, it takes all summer for them to get used to the softness they might otherwise be using, only to switch right back to stiff as soon as outdoors ends and it’s time to look forward to more supercross.
Well, Thomas Covington concurs—only he’s struggling with it in reverse.
“Yeah, for sure they ride stiffer bikes here—they have to for supercross,” he told me recently. “And they ride so much of the year on it, then go to motocross, that it would be weird to just go down to that really soft setting like my GP bike would have. I do know that they get softer and softer as the summer goes on, but then they gotta jump right back to supercross settings. Well, I’ve had to go from really soft to supercross, and it’s been a challenge.”
As the learning curve continues, Covington feels like he’s in the right place, despite losing a couple of teeth before Minneapolis—and even after not qualifying in Arlington, where his practically slow-motion fade in the LCQ was kind of hard to watch. After all, Covington was good enough to win GPs last year. He's hanging with the Carmichaels like he used to in his minicycle days. When asked how different Tallahassee is from his old digs near Lommel, Belgium, he laughs, “Oh, it’s a lot different, for sure, though I do tend to go try to find the smaller cafe shops and places like they have over there [in Belgium].”
When asked if the GOAT himself ever jumps out there on the SX practice track to thrown down some laps, Covington laughs, "Yeah, every now and then, but for some reason every time we go out on the track, he says, 'Oh, let's do a moto backwards on the track....' I think that's the only way he's still got a chance when it's [Joey] Savatgy or somebody out there, because he's probably still got it all down, so he's a big fan of that. But yeah, he still gets on the bike and sometimes just comes out to help us with some sections and stuff.... It's been really awesome to be back there at The Farm with him and Jeanie and everyone."
I think you will see a better Covington this week now that the worst of his fears—not even qualifying—has been realized. He just needs to learn SX this season, then turn it up this summer when he’s outdoors, where he is very, very fast. But that different bike setup thing between over there and over here? That’s really a thing.
CBD OILS (DC)
Have you ever heard of a guy named Scott McCarron? Unless you follow golf, probably not. He's a three-time PGA Tour and eight-time PGA Tour Champions winner. He's also the first PGA tour player to sign a sponsorship deal with a hemp oils sponsorship deal, with Functional Remedies. That's right, a professional golfer now has a CBD oils sponsorship, and according to Jimmy Button of WMG, whom I spoke to yesterday, the PGA is okay with it. And so is USADA, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
According to Yahoo Sports, "While hemp and marijuana are both cannabis species, only marijuana contains large quantities of THC, which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances upon which the PGA Tour bases its anti-doping policy."
"The chemical compound cannabidiol (CBD) is not prohibited," according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. "Athletes will not face an anti-doping rule violation for the use of pure CBD at any time (in or out-of-competition). But remember, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a pure CBD extract or oil from the cannabis plant. Anyone who buys a CBD oil, extract, or other CBD product should assume that it is a mixture of CBD and other cannabinoids."
If you're looking for an overview of where exactly the government stands on hemp and cannabis and CBD oils, here is a pretty thorough explanation of it all.
This is the eighth consecutive season in which KTM was able to win at least one 450SX main. In 2012, the Austrian brand got its maiden victory in the premier class via Ryan Dungey. On Saturday in Arlington, Cooper Webb got KTM’s 40th win in 450SX. KTM is now the fifth brand to get at least 40 wins in AMA Supercross. Honda (212 wins), Yamaha (169), Kawasaki (154), and Suzuki (73) all have 40-plus win. And since 2012, the year of KTM’s maiden win, only Kawasaki has been able to take more wins than KTM, with 48.
KTM 40 wins in 450SX
Ryan Dungey: 27 wins
Marvin Musquin: 6
Cooper Webb: 4
Ken Roczen: 2
Blake Baggett: 1
The only other brands to have wins in AMA Supercross are Husqvarna, Can-Am, CZ, and Bultaco.
KTM ATF 3X (DC)
KTM Motorsports is pleased to announce its Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team lineup for the 2019 American Flat Track Championship as the brand dives into full-factory support in the premier championship series in 2019. Riding aboard the championship-proven KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION, teammates Dan Bromley and Shayna Texter are set to contest the AFT Singles Championship in 2019.
Bromley, the 2018 AFT Singles Champion, heads into the upcoming season with the coveted number one plate as he looks to defend his first title in the Singles class. The Pennsylvania native is no stranger to the number one plate, though, as he holds many AMA National Championships in flat track racing. Bromley witnessed his best season ever in 2018, where he notched four wins and 13 podium finishes en route to his championship and he looks to build upon those race-wins for 2019.
The Daytona season opener of the 2019 American Flat Track Championship is shaping up as a super cool event, one worth sticking around for if you're headed to the Daytona Supercross or the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross. The new Red Bull KTM Factory Team was just announced as the Austrians are coming full-force into the most American of motorcycle competitions (and yes, that includes our beloved supercross).
AFT Singles Champion Joe Bromley and the impressively competitive Shayna Texter, who finished third overall in Singles last year, make up a formidable new team. It will be a boost for the AFT series, which has been making very good strides the past few seasons as the public rediscovers flat track, a discipline that was kind of pushed aside early in this millennium as the old AMA Pro Racing pushed Supermoto hard. Now the new AMA Pro Racing (well, since 2009) is firmly behind the discipline and the series.
Congratulations go out to everyone involved with the U.S. Motorcycling Coaching Association (USMCA) on reaching a big milestone, as they announced this week that there are now 100 USMCA certified coaches in the country between dirt bike coaches and sport bike coaches. Among the dirt bike coaches are some racing names you might recognize, including Jeff Emig, Trey Canard, Nathan Ramsey, Ashley Fiolek, Mark Blackwell, Josh Woods, Russell Bobbitt, Brian Garrihan, Preston Mull, and Mercedes Natvig. To see the full list of certified coaches and also learn more about the USMCA, check it right here.
PERFECT X 2 (ANDRAS HEGYI)
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner is having a fantastic start to the 250SX East Region. In each of the first two rounds, he was fastest in the combined qualifying sessions, won his heat races, and then led every lap in both rounds. The only thing he failed to do was grab both holeshots, though he did get one. This is the 11th season in which a Kawasaki rider has won at least the first two rounds in the small-bore class. And in those ten previous times that it's happened, only one rider did not become champion. In 2011, Josh Hansen started the season taking the first two in the 250SX West Region, but the champion at the end was Broc Tickle, Hansen’s teammate in on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki.
1988: Jeff Matiasevich (he won the first 3 rounds) champion
1989: Jeff Matiasevich (4) champion
2004: Ivan Tedesco (5) champion
2010: Jake Weimer (3) champion
2011: Joshua Hansen (2) not champion
1985: Eddie Warren (3) champion
1998: Ricky Carmichael (9, he won all the 8 rounds plus the shootout) champion
2004: James Stewart (5) champion
2009: Christophe Pourcel (2) champion
2010: Christophe Pourcel (3) champion
2019: Austin Forkner (2)
WHERE’S BRONC? (DC)
We mentioned Minnesota rider Gary Bronikowski last week in our "One-Liners" in The Vault—he was the last rider to ever score AMA Pro Motocross points on a Can-Am, and he did it four years later than anyone else riding the once-competitive brand. Well, we got some tips and notes from old friends, but no real leads yet.
I worked with Gary "The Breeze" Bronikowski at a Kawasaki dealership in Riverside when he lived in Southern California for a spell in the late '80s. He worked in sales. We once went in his red box van down to practice off Palm Avenue, one of only two times that I went, sadly. It was a great time riding, and just watching him ride. Others would stop and watch him, too. He used to joke that his national finishes never represented his ability because he raced like "stick man" (tight). I hope you hear from him. I haven't in years.
I grew up riding in a gravel pit in Carlton, MN. A couple regulars at that pit were Bronc and his teammate Johnny Martin (father of Alex and Jeremy). I was always amazed how fast they both rode on those (Can-Am) tanks! If you haven't already, check with the Martins and see if they know where he is. My family moved to San Diego when I was 14. I ran into Bronc on a CR125 at the riding area Otay Mesa. At a local race at Barona Oaks we saw Donny Schmit and mentioned that we saw Bronc, and Donny was stoked. That's a testament of how good a guy Bronc was. We exchanged numbers, rode together one more time and never heard from him again. That was roughly '87
Hope you find him.
THE VAULT: ONE-LINER (DC)
So for this week's Vault search, I was looking back at the old Pontiac Supercross races—the precursor to what is now the Detroit SX. The Silverdome was a state-of-the-art stadium back in the mid-seventies when it was built, and the first supercross race held there happened in 1976. The winner was Marty Smith on a Honda—his first AMA Supercross win. But finishing 13th in the main event was a local rider from Fenton, Michigan, named Don Sinclair aboard a Yamaha YZ250. And then 14th was a local from Lansing named John Deemer. Believe me, qualifying for an AMA Supercross main event is a big deal, even back then. Yet these are the one and only lines in The Vault for both Sinclair and Deemer, and I have never heard or seen their names before this morning, though I know Fenton was also the hometown of the late Brian Swink.
So does anyone out there know anything about what ever happened to fast, pre-Michigan Mafia supercross qualifiers Don Sinclair or John Deemer? Email us at [email protected] if you do.
Speaking of the “old” Detroit SX, here are a few program covers from the Motor City in years past.
Motor_City_International_Motocross_img738_Pontiac_ Davey Coombs Motor_City_Supercross_Program_Pontiac_Detroit_img737 Davey Coombs
The Whiskey Throttle Show took its first break this week so GL and I could catch our breath and look back on what has worked and what hasn’t. As with any show, there are always things that can improve. If you haven’t seen all the shows, go back and catch up on the ones you’ve missed. Honestly, each guest has really let us into their lives and told us stories they’ve never shared before.
Next week we’re back at it with the colorful Ryan “Ryno” Hughes. This guy has reinvented himself so many times over the years that it will be interesting to see exactly who is right now. Ryno broke his femur a few weeks ago but he will limp his way into the TLD Saloon for what promises to be an interesting show.
And if you haven’t caught a live show yet, we have Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg on Friday, March 8. Twitch has an incredible story and I’m stoked for him to tell it. You can purchase tickets at www.road2recovery.com or at the door. Your $20 gets you into the show, free 805 beer, free pizza and ALL the proceeds go to R2R to help injured racers. I hope you’ll join us.
MORE GOOD LISTENING (DC)
Ping and GL are off to a great start with The Whiskey Throttle Show, and I really look forward to hearing from my old friend Ryno next, who’s raced SX, MX, MXGP, WORCS, GNCC…
Speaking of MXGP, are you looking for a good podcast based on MXGP and other big Europe-based events? James Burfield and Lewis Phillips have started a weekly on the MX Vice site—called MX Vice, conveniently enough! Here's the first episode. We look forward to adding this to our weekly playlist.
The first podcast is mostly about last weekend's Hawkstone International MX in England, one of the biggest preseason races of all in Europe.
Another great new podcast is the Real Talk 447 Show that Jeff Emig and Ricky Carmichael are hosting together. Longtime friends, briefly teammates at Kawasaki, and a pair of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers, not to mention two of the best bench racers I know. Check out their first two shows right here.
At around the 21:00 mark, Ricky and Jeff start talking about Cooper Webb's amazing effort last week in running down Ken Roczen, and RC talks about how it reminded him of his Anaheim 3 battle with Jeremy McGrath in 2001. And around the 34:00 mark they discuss the close finish between Webb and Roczen and where exactly the finish line was in the photo finish at Arlington—Emig even pulls out the rulebook to discuss it.
GNCC SUBMERGED (DC)
The AMSOIL AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, presented by Specialized, was to get underway this weekend with the Big Buck GNCC in Union, South Carolina, but the weather all week on the East Coast wasn't willing to cooperate. Two inches of rain came down on Wednesday night, adding to an already deep sponge. So rather than spend the weekend dragging the two dozen semis for race teams, sponsors, television trailer, and the hundreds of motor homes and trailers that follow the series, the folks next door at Racer Productions decided to postpone the race and save everyone what would have no doubt been some serious engine rebuilds. They are sorry for any inconveniences and will announce the rescheduled date as soon as possible.
"The woods are flooded, and it's not going to get any better," reported a frustrated GNCC trail boss, Jeff Russell, in the press release. "We had everything done, all set-up, and it just wouldn't stop raining. And apparently it's not going to stop. We can't park the fields, and I'm pretty sure our rigs are stuck here until next week. If I thought it was going to get better, I would go for it, but there's too much at risk."
Unfortunately, not everyone was happy with that, and JR and the rest of the GNCC folks came under some heavy criticism from folks who had already made travel plans, taken off work, and were probably just champing at the bit to start up the season. What they need to remember is that while no one here is afraid of a little mud, we are sensitive to tearing up large swaths of land on someone else's property to the point where it would be next to impossible to reclaim. Also, semi hauler drivers really don't like having their rigs towed out of a race, so imagine how they would feel if it was so bad that they needed towed in.
No one was happy with the weather, and they hated to postpone the opener after all of the work they've been doing to get everything ready to start the 2019 season. Hopefully, they will have better weather at the new opener, which will be in Florida at the start of Daytona's Bike Week.
DANGEROUS JOE BONNELLO (DC)
Finally, a shout-out and thank-you to “Dangerous” Joe Bonnello, the longtime SoCal photographer and all-around entertaining motorcycle enthusiast. He sent us his photo archive for safe keeping and for us to share in the pages of Racer X Illustrated and here on Racer X Online. Joe is a child of the sixties and seventies, but his photos of the late eighties and throughout the nineties are moto gold. Here’s a sample gallery, picked from one big box of a dozen big boxes.
1989_Bradshaw_and_Brooks_Bonnello_img735_ Davey Coombs 1995_Brian_Swink_Bonnello_img728___ Davey Coombs 1995_Pingree_Kiedrowski_Hughes_Bonnello_img724___ Davey Coombs 1997_Ricky_Carmichael_Bonnello_img731_ Davey Coombs 1995_Barry_Carsten_Bonnello_img729___ Davey Coombs 1989_Rick_Johnson_Bonnello_img734___ Davey Coombs 1999_Nick_Wey_Joe_Bonnello_img722_ Davey Coombs 1999_Nathan_Ramsey_Helmet_Bonnello_img723_ Davey Coombs 1995_Albertyn_Supercross_Bonnello_img727___ Davey Coombs 2002_Ricky_Carmichael_Bonnello_Southwick_img721_ Davey Coombs 1996_Steve_Lamson_Bonnello_img730_ Davey Coombs 1995_McGrath_Crash_Bonnello_img726___ Davey Coombs 1995_John_Dowd_Michael_Craig_Bonnello_img725___ Davey Coombs 1997_Ricky_Carmichael_Bonnello_img733_ Davey Coombs 1996_Jeremy_McGrath_Bonnello_img736___ Davey Coombs
And in looking through, I found a cool photo of RC from Budds Creek ’97 that reminded me of one of my all-time favorite MX photos, Broc Glover from the 1983 FIM Trophee des Nations, shot by Tom Strattman:
Arlington 450SX main event footage brought you by the Dean Wilson:
Jay Clark sent us this video his son made:
A quick look at Jordon Smith's heat race in Arlington:
Breakdancing to be an Olympic sport— Drudge Report
The 4th Annual Pro Circuit Open Presented By Kawasaki will roll into Tampa MX Thursday Night March 7, 2019 (Before Daytona SX). Gates Open at 3:00p Practice 5:00p Racing 7:00p
$10,000 Pro Purse • $1000 Hollywood Racing Pro Holeshot Award • $2000 Hollywood Racing Pro Open Qualifier Cash • $1000 Advanced Women’s Purse and $100 Holeshot Award • $1000 125 2-Stroke Open • $1750 in Pro Circuit Contingency for 85-112 Open Class
Supercross Format (Mains)
Class Structure: 50 4-8 Open • 65 7-11 Open • 85-112 9-16 Open • 125 2-Stoke Open (Amateur) • B Open • C Open • VET 30+ Open • Advanced Women Open • Pro Open
6334 Burts Road
Tampa, FL 33619
For event information contact Mike Floyd 813-924-4287 or [email protected]
Jason Weigandt had a great piece on Exhaust about the Daytona 500 and Gibbs Racing cars going 1-2-3, the Denny Hamlin winning in the #11 car—the same #11 that the late JD Gibbs wore in his own brief NASCAR career, as well as the same Denny Hamlin that JD Gibbs signed as an unknown prospect—which you can check out right here.
This follows Weege's previous piece on JD's sad passing that you should also read.
The DMXS Party Is Back
Millsaps Training Facility announces the 12th annual Free Military Appreciation Motocross Camp will be held April 12-13, 2019.
This free two day training camp is offered to active duty or retired military personnel (and immediate family) as a way for us all to say thanks for every military family’s service and sacrifice.
We will provide two full days of motocross training where riders on 65's and up will be taught the fundamentals of riding and racing a dirt bike including skills such as starts, turns, braking, whoops, rollers and jumping. The goal is to make you faster but also safer on the bike.
For more information or to register please go to our website http://www.mtfmx.com.
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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 in Detroit, all you need to do is stop by the Racer X booth—located in the main concourse—and enter into the drawing to win a new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F.
The winner will be picked at the end of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season and announced on Racer X Online.
The sweepstakes is just the start. Stop by the booth and subscribe for as low as $10 and receive a FREE 2019 Racer X Calendar and Drawstring Bag. You will also receive a complimentary magazine. See you at the races!