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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: REMEMBER WHEN?
The Budds Creek National was hot and sunny this year, but do you remember when a monsoon hammered southern Maryland in 2009 and crippled the track? It was the most rain I had ever seen at a professional motocross race (and I had the fortune of seeing Ricky Carmichael lap the field in the slog-fest of Millville in 2007). I shot this photo of Brett Metcalfe leading the second 250 moto while taking cover inside a huge pipe. It’s black and white for an added visual punch of gloominess.
MINI-VIEW: JEREMY MARTIN
While Star Racing Yamalube rider Jeremy Martin may have had a couple “off” motos, he rebounded to take the overall at Red Bud with a strong 2-1 moto finish, and followed that up with a second overall at Budds Creek. We tracked down Jeremy at Budd Creek where he was able to reflect on the last couple rounds.
By Jim Kimball
Photos by Scott Mallonee
MXA: Jeremy, “rebound” may not be the ideal word to use, but Red Bud went well.
Jeremy: Yes, Red Bud did go very well for me. At Muddy Creek I did have kind of a bad weekend, and everyone was saying, “Hey, what happened?” But it was just some typical bad luck stuff that happens to everyone once in a while. I got in a first turn pile up there, but went from last to finish top ten. In the second moto I got into sixth place, and just seemed to ride around in that spot for the entire moto. I don’t know what was going on. I really like the Red Bud track, and there I got some better starts and was able to get near the front. Everyone is riding so fast that right now you must be up front right from the first turn.
In that second moto at Red Bud you battled hard with your teammate, Cooper Webb, for the win.
Yeah, it crossed my mind that I would still get the overall win even if I just let him go. But I decided that I wanted to go for it a few laps from the finish. It took me a long time to get by Justin Bogle. Then Cooper was able to capitalize on a mistake that I made, and he got around me. So then I was sitting behind Cooper for a little while and realized that even if I stayed in second that moto that I would still have the overall. But then with three laps to go, I said “Let’s go for this!” I was able to close up on him, and I think those last three laps were pretty fun for everyone to watch. It went down to the wire, and I was right there, but I just could not capitalize.
Speaking of Cooper Webb, many portray you and he as bitter rivals.
Well, we are both on the same team, and [Yamalube Star Racing team owner] Bobby Regan has us here to win races and championships. I want to win, and Cooper wants to win. He’s been riding very well, and he put it all together for that win at Muddy Creek. We have definitely pushed and elevated each other. It does make it a bit difficult with us both being on the same team, as opposed to one of us being on another team like Geico Honda, because you are not pitting out of the same team. Like I said though, I think it’s good for us as it only elevates us both to higher levels. We are not best friends, but it’s not a big deal.
Has being teammates helped you both as far as bike set up, and things like that?
Actually, our bike set ups are pretty different. Earlier in the year when the West Coast Supercross series was on break Cooper was able to dial in his outdoor setup. Then when I had my break in the East Coast Supercross series I started with the setup that he eventually ended up with. But it didn’t work that well for me. He is taller than me and rides his bike differently than me. But at this midpoint in the outdoor series my bike is pretty dialed in. Of course you are always fine tuning things. The basics are pretty well set up. We just do some minor fine-tuning for each racetrack.
Your brother, Alex, had one of his better rides at Red Bud. Do you guys do much motocross stuff together?
That’s actually one thing that bothers me a lot. We very rarely get any time to spend together. He trains at Club MX, and I train at the Carmichael Farm. We did a lot of riding and racing together back in the day, and it was so much fun. We would train on the bike and off the bike. It was cool, as we are pretty much the same personality. I still get to see him on the weekends and often we will go out to dinner together on Friday or Saturday night. I’m pretty proud of him, as he has improved a lot this year. At Red Bud he had his best result of the season, and I was really happy for him. I am excited to see how the rest of the summer goes for him.
Now halfway through the series, and you having the points lead, what are your thoughts?
I’m not thinking about the championship. I believe that if you focus on that it will begin to eat away at you. It’s nice to have a weekend off now and then, but I love this job! I enjoy being at the races; it’s the off-season that I don’t enjoy. It’s enjoyable to be working hard during the week and see it pay off on the weekend. I enjoy being at the races! So, I’m just thinking about enjoying myself and winning motos.
It seems like you’re really having fun racing this summer.
That’s true. Although there have definitely been some times when I have come off the track pretty upset, I’m very fortunate. I think that everyone has a different personality, and a lot of how you are depends on the way that you were brought up. Racing is a very big thing, and it’s awesome to be able to do this. It’s a great career. But at the same time it’s a very small thing. There are so many people in the world that don’t even know what a motorcycle is. I look at it this way, I ride dirt bikes in a field. We are not any more special than anyone else.
UPDATE ON 2015 BIKE RELEASE DATES
Testing is in full swing. We’ve already received the 2015 KTM 250SXF, 350SXF and 450SXF, as well as the Kawasaki KX450F. The KX250F will be in our possession within the next week, as well as the Yamaha YZ250F. Next Wednesday, July 23rd, we’ll throw a leg over the 2015 Honda CRF250 for the first time. The following week we’ll get our hands on the ’15 Suzuki RM-Z450, which has the all-new Showa SFF Triple Air Chamber fork. In case you haven’t seen MXA‘s videos for our growing 2015 fleet then please tune in below. Look for more videos, website reports and photos coming soon!
2015 KTM 250SXF
2015 KAWASAKI KX250F
2015 KTM 450SXF
2015 KAWASAKI KX450F
2015 KTM 350SXF
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NOW THIS IS COOL: RED BULL X-FIGHTERS COURSE SET ON FLOATING LAKE IN MUNICH
ONE OF THE GREATS RETIRES: AN ODE TO JUSS LAANSOO
I was a Juss Laansoo fan from the very first moment that I saw him ride. Granted, I wasn’t a fan from the early onset of his professional career–I’m not Estonian, after all–but I can lay claim to taking up one of the first seats in the passenger car aboard the Laansoo Express.
Estonia is a world away. I’m still not entirely sure where it is on a map, but I know one thing–Juss Laansoo was likely its greatest export in 2005. The tall and awkward Estonian rushed onto the scene that year, scoring fifth overall in the 450 class at the Hangtown National season opener. For that, as well as other great finishes that summer, the AMA handed him Rookie of the Year honors. Juss finished 14th overall.
I had a nagging suspicion well before that glorious day in May all those years ago that Laansoo would make waves in American motocross. My secret? Behind the palatial MXA towers sat a gloriously intimidating sand track. Whoops formed the size of VW Bugs, with nary a moment to rest on the two-plus minute lap track. There was Juss, several months before Hangtown, absolutely manhandling the practice track like a boss. I had never seen anyone ride as effortlessly or quickly around the place. Mind you, this wasn’t a top secret locale—every Valancia based team knew about it, but MXa had the inside track because it was right next to our palacial offices. So to have some unknown 6’15” Estonian shred up the track was mind-boggling. I thought, ‘Shouldn’t this guy be playing basketball instead? Maybe he’d be better fitted as a center, or perhaps an NFL outside linebacker.’ Nope. Motocross was Juss’ calling. It didn’t hurt that long-time MXA test rider Alan Olson was also Juss’ mechanic.
My brother, who worked for MXA at the time, had a grand idea a few weeks before the Hangtown opener. He would make T-shirts to support our newfound friend. He had a buddy silk screen a design of my brother’s doing onto a few shirts. The design had an outline of Juss’ face, along with the words, “The Juss Is Luss.” I still have that T-shirt to this day. It’s sitting right next to my “Believe the Hype” t-shirt.
Laansoo’s career went the way of so many other professionals. He tried to make money but the wrong breaks came. He wound up injured time and again. A move back to Europe was his best option, so he took it. Then tragedy struck. On May 31st, while racing in Pärnu, Juss struck a tree stump that was left on the track. It caused him to crash, with initial injury to his ribs. It was then discovered that Laansoo broke his back. As of right now it’s not certain whether Juss will make a full recovery or not.
I could go on and on about stories involving Juss–specifically his dry and funny humor, which was made even more enjoyable by his thick accent–but I don’t want to bore you with the details. It was a privilege to spend time with Laansoo during his American quest to the top, and I’ll miss seeing him rip around the motocross track. Whatever the result, Juss, like so many other past professional racers, will not be weighed or measured based on his results. Humanity is far more important than how far you can twist the throttle. Heal up, Juss Laansoo.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: PART 2
Look at this awesome shot that MXA freelancer, Scott Mallonee, captured of Trey Canard this past weekend at Budds Creek. Talk about commitment from Canard! I love seeing this guy racing.
FLY RACING & PONCA CITY TOGETHER AGAIN
Press release: Fly Racing is thrilled to return as the presenting sponsor of the 2014 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Ponca City AMA Motocross Championship that will take place July 19th–24th and be held at the Jack Blevins Motocross Park in Ponca City, Oklahoma. As part of the its sponsorship, Fly Racing is the official gear sponsor of the Ponca City event, as well as each of the other events in the Motocross League of America (MLA) series. The six-event series, comprised of events at Mill Creek MX in Alabama, Ponca City MX in Oklahoma, Silver Dollar MX in Georgia, Oak Ridge MX in Iowa, Indian Hills MX in Illinois, and Southwick MX in Massachusetts, has quickly established itself as one of the premiere amateur motocross racing series in the United States. Look for Fly Racing and its amateur rider support big rig at the 2014 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Ponca City AMA Motocross Championship and other MLA events throughout the remainder of the year. Fly Racing recently released its 2015 line-up of racewear, helmets, protective gear, and casual wear, which can be seen by visiting www.flyracing.com. Fly Racing 2015 racewear will appear in stores and online for sale this August.
MINI-VIEW: FREDRIK NOREN
At the beginning of the 2014 Lucas Oil Motocross Championship series, Fredrik Noren was traveling race to race with his girlfriend/mechanic, Amy, in a Chevy Express. Working in his home country of Sweden over the winter allowed Noren to get to the States. His Chevy as hotel and dirt bike transporter, Fredrik has spent the first part of the outdoor series traveling the circuit. That was prior to Muscle Milk Honda giving him the opportunity of a lifetime, filling in for Justin Barcia for the remaining Nationals. Two rounds in on his factory Honda, we caught up with the 22-year-old at Budds Creek.
By Jim Kimball
MXA: Fredrik, tell us how your ride with Muscle Milk Honda came about.
Fredrik: Well, I first heard about Honda looking for a fill-in rider after Justin Barcia got injured. Of course I was hoping that they may consider me, but I tried not to even think about it. Then just after High Point I got a call to see if I wanted to come out to California to try the bike out with the team. I told them that of course I would! It wasn’t a done deal or anything like that at that time, but then they gave me a contract at Muddy Creek and I signed – so that was it.
Noren was a legitimate privateer through the early rounds of the 2014 AMA Nationals. He lived in a van with his mechanic/girlfriend. They traveled across the country driving to the next race on the schedule; that is, until the phone call came.
What is the biggest change from the privateer KTM that you were racing?
There are so many big changes. It’s a completely different bike from the KTM that I was racing. If I had to say one thing, I would say that the power is the biggest difference. Handling and suspension are totally different, too. Other changes are with getting to the races. My girlfriend and I had been driving to the races all year in my Chevy Express. We have a fold-out couch and bed in it, so we got by with that. We would also stay at friends’ houses. So going from that lifestyle to now staying in California, riding during the week, and flying to the races has been a huge change. Now I can truly focus on my riding and training rather than getting my bike ready and driving all the time.
Your first race on the Muscle Milk Honda at Red Bud went very well.
I thought that my first race at Red Bud went well, too. The first moto didn’t really go to plan as I went down halfway through the first lap, but I did work my way through the pack and ended up 17th. In the second moto I had a very good start, and I was riding in fifth for a few laps. But then I started to ride a little bit tight and dropped back to tenth at the finish. I didn’t want to set any expectations for the first race, but it was all pretty good. Red Bud actually went better than I thought it would. Budds Creek went decent, as well.
This fill-in ride is a great opportunity for you, but has it created any pressure?
Firstly, the team has been great; they have not put any pressure on me at all. They want me to ride and have fun. That’s what they have said from the beginning. I put pressure on myself. I’m now on the best team that you can be on! I have the best stuff that you can get. There is nothing to complain about.
Have you done any practicing with your new teammate, Trey Canard?
No, we have not spent much time together yet. I see him at the races, but it’s so hectic that it’s very hard to talk much. Hopefully in the near future we will get to spend time together. He is an awesome rider and person.
When did you first come to America to race?
2011 was my first full season here, racing the motocross series. Then in 2012 and 2013 I broke my wrist. It was the same wrist two years in a row. This is my fourth year racing as an AMA Pro. Prior to coming here I raced some European Championships, and I also raced a World Motocross GP in 2012 when they had it in Sweden. So I did some racing before I came to America.
Although it was well before your time, Sweden used to produce a lot of GP stars, but recent years have seen Swedish riders having little success in the GP’s.
Yeah, if you look back in time, Sweden was one of the best countries to produce great motocross riders. I don’t know what has happened since though. I wouldn’t say that the Swedish riders are slow. We actually have a lot of fast guys. I often think that it’s due to the fact that not many of the riders have the money needed to race or have the support to race outside of the country.
What’s next for you?
Well I now have my American visa, so I can stay here over the winter to train. I want to race Supercross next year, too. That would be big for me. Coming up sooner, I’d love to race the Motocross des Nations for Sweden, and the Monster Energy Cup if I have the opportunity.