MXA Mid-Week Report: Hangtown Overview

May 23, 2007
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Hangtown Overview

Even in semi-retirement Ricky Carmichael proved that he is stillÿthe fastest rider on the planet. By winning at Hangtown the Suzuki rider not only claimed his 145th win, but he was able to thwart (at least for now) any chance ofÿ James Stewart to pass or beat his record of successive wins.

David Vuillemin had to make a goggle pit stop in Moto one that pushed him back to 15th. DV put in a good charge for 7th in Motoÿtwo for 10th overall.

It was one of the more surreal moments of the weekend; afterÿbeing unimpededÿfor both practice sessions,ÿMitch Payton was disallowed from entering the trackÿfor Motoÿoneÿbecause he didn’t have the right credential. Here, Mitch gestures for some level of sanity as the track official blocks his way. Apparently, the fact that Mitch is handicapped, and, that he runs one of the most successful teams in history meant nothing to the official. Eventually,ÿcommon sense intervenedÿand Mitch was allowed trackside – no doubt helping his case was that he was blocking traffic when he refused to move his Mule out of the line.

James Stewart’s factory Kawasaki steps-out as he pursues Ricky Carmichael in Moto one. Even without his crashes, Stewart wasn’t going toÿbeat RC inÿthe second moto.ÿ

As usual a bevy of celebrities passed through Bevo’s Scott USA/Acerbis trailer during the weekend, including Rocky Williams who was once a mechanic for his brother Davy and the late Gaylon Mosier.ÿ
Following a Supercross series effort that saw him almost win the East Coast series title, Ryan Morais had a disastorousÿHangtown outing where he went 21/37 for 39th overall.ÿ

Reminiscent of the days when brother acts like Gary & DeWayne Jones, Tyson & Tallon Vohland, Bob & Billy Grossi, Ron & Jim Pomeroy, Pete & Tony Wankettÿcould be found circulating the track, Kyle (l) and Justin Mace both made the program on their privateer Kawasaki’s. The boys finished 36th and 32nd respectively in the 450 class.

Motoworld Yamaha had a horrible weekend. Up & comer Sean Hackley was running fast in practice until he crashed hard and was unable to race. The team’s top finisher was Branden Jesseman in 26th. According to the rumor millÿat Hangtown, the Motoworld team will cease to exist in 2008.

Mousse inserts may do a great job of thwarting punctures, but they are expensive ($100 per wheel) and extremely troublesome to install. Over at the Dunlop truck it took two tire technicians and eight tire irons to get the job done.

As the top rider in Japan, Akira Narita not only enjoys a factory Yamaha rider ride, but a personal deal with AZ House which is a big construction company. Akira came to Hangtown to practice for the upcoming Japanese Nationals and he finished 15th in the 450 class.

As part of their deal withÿHonda, the Moto XXX teamÿwas hosting Yoshihide Fukodome for the outdoor series. Fukodome won the Sunday morning consolation race and would go on to finish 40th in the 450 class.

In the day and age when the only people that surround riders at the races are eitherÿgirlfriendsÿor agents, it was refreshing to see Ryan Villopoto’s parents and grandparents in his weekend camp. Ryan’s grandfather was apparently more worked up about RV’s fight with Lawrence than anyone!

With the demise of Josh Hansen’s 2007 racing career, the club of knucklehead racers has lost it’s renowned leader.ÿIn his stead has steppedÿJasonÿLawrence, a seeemingly confused kid who simply refuses to play along. As refreshing as his independence might be, it is also somewhat sad to witness.

No matter your opinion of Lawrence’s on/off track antics, one thing isÿcertain – he is blazing fast.ÿThe Yamaha riderÿshowed amazing speed and determination to work through the pack in each moto. If he hadn’tÿhave gotten such bad starts (aided byÿhis punishment of having the last gate pick),ÿboth 250 races would’ve certainlyÿbeen even more exciting than theyÿalready were. ÿÿÿÿÿÿ

At 9:00 Sunday morning the crowd holding early entry passes swelled outside of the pits. The outdoor crowds may notÿreach the big numbers foundÿin the stadiums, but they show a level of enthusiasm and commitment that most sponsors would love to get in front of.

The Hangtown version of Murderer’s Row was comprised of MX luminaries (l-r) former national & world champ Danny LaPorte, FMF founder Donnie Emler, former national champ Bob “Hurricane” Hannah, and former factory mechanic Bevo Forti. Also in attendance at Hangtown was former national & world champ Brad Lackey, former national champ Donnie Hansen, and MX des Nations hero Danny “Magoo” Chandler.

Twenty years ago Horst Leitner introduced his four stroke ATK 604 with electric start. Although the bike was raced in the nationals under Greg Zitterkopf, he did so with the kick start version. The Alessi clan were the first to put electric start motors into a National program with theirÿ KTM 450s.

The latest in chic footwear seenÿat Hangtown were theseÿAlpinestars Tech 2 ankle boots which were worn by a few of the team mechanics.

First time National contender Andy Bakken wasn’t sure how much gas he would need to finish aÿ30 minute plus two lap moto so following the parade lap his dadÿ(and former factory Husqvarna factory rider and Baja 1000/500 winner A.C.) topped off the tank just to be sure. Andy put in a great rookie effort and went 31/24 for 28th overall.

Withÿlittle fan fare, no fisticuffs, and an imprerssiveÿhead down effort,ÿBen Townley avoided the crashes of his faster teammate and rode two steady motos to claim the overall win. Expect to see the fast New Zealanderÿunder the factory Honda tent next year.

Josh Hill took time out of his day on Saturday to hang with some of his friends on theÿWMX circuit. There was an impressive numberÿof women riders in both the Amateur and Pro races. After a 10th place finish in Moto one, Josh was blazing fast in moto two before his motor quit. He managed a 13th overall.

With the temperature hitting the upper 80’s, the Butler Bros./DNA Energy/BTOÿSports team cooled down in-between motos with a portable pool.ÿThe highest placing team rider was Jason Thomas who went 18/16 for 16th overall.

With RC on one side of him and James Stewart on the other, Kevin Windham found himself sandwiched by the two best riders in the world. To help give him every possible advanatgeÿhis mechanic Lars Lindstrom built a dirt bridge in the start gate.

Amid all the silly, nonsensible, last minute rules that the AMA comes up with, theyÿmight as wellÿadd one that makes sense – call it the Rookstool Rule. Kevin Rookstoolÿacknowleged what we all know – there’s not a racer alive who made anything of themselves without their parents support and a Rookstool sticker kit should be mandatory on every bike. Kevin drove down from Klamath Falls, Oregon to finish 24th overall in the 450 class.ÿ
Even considering Josh Grant’s 4th overall in the 250 class, the Sobe No Fear/Samsung team couldn’t really consider Hangtown a good weekend. Josh went 4/6 by moving backwards and Billy Laninovich went 17/32 for 22nd overall. For a factory Honda satellite team they need to be doing much better.

Steve Lamson no doubt wanted to do better than 35th overall, but crashes and being severely under-powered didn’t help his effort. Still, it was really cool to both see and hear his two stroke CR125 dicing with the four strokes.

The factory KTM’s are running tribute stickers to former KTM America President Rod Bush who passed away last year. Rod would be proud of the orange effort in 2007.


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