Location: Catalina Island, CA
Date: January 6, 2010
Photographer: John Basher
Camera: Canon 1DS Mark II
Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8
Focal length: 185mm
Exposure: 1/1250 sec.
RICKY CARMICHAEL’S GAME PLAN: THE UNPUBLISHED NOTES
This past week I wrote my “One Photo & One Story” about Ricky Carmichael’s training journals that his mother, Jeannie, kept meticulously up-to-date on during Carmichael’s tenure as a Pro. Click here if you missed that story.
There’s more to the story. Rather than zero in on only a few weeks in the day in the life of Ricky Carmichael pre-retirement, it’s worth showing more of Ricky’s calendar books. See if you can decipher the year for each corresponding photo, and take a gander at what Carmichael was up to. It’s really interesting stuff.
SNEAK PEAK: HUSQVARNA MINI’S & SEAN COLLIER’S KX500
A few years ago MXA tested Sean Collier’s KX500 two-stroke against his KX450F AMA National bike. It was the ultimate shootout of raw power versus broad power. Believe it or not, most testers favored the light switch KX500 engine over the metered KX450F four-stroke powerband. As for Sean Collier, the once-Star Racing Yamaha phenom turned journeyman racer turned 9-to-5 employee, he began generating a cult-like two-stroke following every time he fired up his 1997 KX500.
Fast forward to Monday, when the MXA gang met out at the swamp-like Milestone track, which had been pummeled by rains. Leave it to Milestone to keep excited riders waiting an hour and a half to get through the gate, but I digress. The track itself was technical and treacherous, which actually worked in our favor. Most riders congregated to the Vet track, so the main track was great for testing.
Daryl Ecklund had a lot on his plate. He was in charge of shooting the 2017 Husqvarna minicycles in action. Thanks to the efforts of fellow MXA’er Dennis Stapleton, who rallied the riders together. While they were orchestrating a Husqvarna TC50, TC65 and TC85 shoot, I was testing the stock 2017 Kawasaki KX250F against a Pro Circuit-modified ’17 KX250F with the help of Justin Muscutt. Justin and I also tried out Pro Circuit’s suspension settings on the red-hot 2017 Honda CRF450. While I’d love to reveal our findings, it would be a disservice to you. Wouldn’t you rather read the full rundown in a future issue of MXA?
As the day wore on, we worked our way through various projects. Then it came time to ride Sean Collier’s KX500, only this wasn’t the bike that his father, Mike, had owned. Collier got help from a few friends and inherited a 2002 KX500. Sean was supposed to ride for MXA’s cameras, and then let Daryl and Dennis hop on his prized steed. Only Collier wasn’t feeling up to the task, so Daryl and Dennis played Rochambeau (that’s rock-paper-scissors for those who didn’t play the game during grade school recess). Ecklund ended up getting the nod. Rather than wade through puddles on Milestone’s main track, we headed to a secret riding location (in SoCal “top secret riding location” means somewhere probably illegal that is typically a rain wash). The spot offered loose sand that Collier’s KX500 picked up and threw across three counties. It was all Daryl could do to keep the front end down. A few times he fell off the back in an effort to wheelie on corner exit.
Meanwhile, Dennis Stapleton was scouting different opportunities for Daryl. He stumbled upon a ledge that had been created during one of those rare biblical Southern California downpours. Dennis idled down the ledge on the 2017 Honda CRF450, hooked a quick left back up the elvish San Juan Capistrano cliff (sans swallows), and tried to carry the front end over. The meek display of infantile effort generated a cacophony of laughter from Daryl and I. The friend that I am, I encouraged Dennis to try again. He acquiesced, approaching the second attempt with revered fervor and zest best kept for true offroad riders (which, evidenced by Stapleton’s lackluster foray into EnduroCross, he was not qualified for). The attempt was sure to be a calamity. I was right. Stapleton was tossed off the back like a vertigo-riddled rodeo clown riding a freshly branded Babe the Blue Ox. Cue Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who famously stated, “I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight.” And so Dennis was bewildered as the Honda CRF450 cut through Riverside smog with resounding success, falling to earth with a thud that only a motorcycle could make. Honda owners everywhere must’ve felt a disturbance in the force.
After the tears stopped flowing, I was able to focus on Daryl Ecklund and the mighty KX500 once again. With each passing blip of the throttle Daryl was gaining courage, as most men wont to do when riding a mythical beast such as a 500cc two-stroke. As lyrical genius Great White (I’m being mostly sarcastic here) once quipped, “Once bitten, twice shy babe.” Ecklund got a bit too heavy-handed with the KX500 throttle and nearly looped out. His life flashed before his eyes. Fortunately Daryl had the forethought to tap the rear brake and bring the front end down. Given how three knuckle eggs congregated, riding bikes with the collective horsepower of our group’s IQ while conversing in a series of clicks, hand signals and braaaaps, to walk away from the shoot unscathed either speaks volumes of our ability to overcome danger, or prove that there are forces beyond our control that really run the show.
TWO-STROKE SPOTLIGHT: TERRY GASKELL’S 1993 KAWASAKI KX250
“I have a recent two-stroke rebuild up for your consideration in the ‘Two-Stroke Spotlight.’ It’s a 1993 Kawasaki KX250 that I purchased from Craigslist for $600. I am a 43 year old motocross enthusiast/racer. I enjoy anything for the late 1980’s to the early ’90’s, as those were the greatest memories I have.
“I disassembled the bike completely down to the frame. I did all the work myself outside of the paint and suspension. I had the frame professionally painted by a local friend of mine at Barnyard Kustoms. I also replaced every bearing and seal throughout the bike. I disassembled the engine and rebuilt the top-end with a Namura top-end kit, disassembled the power valves, cleaned them, replaced every seal and then reassembled.
“The bike has a Pro Circuit platinum pipe and a R304 silencer, oversized welded aluminum radiators, new Boyesen power reeds, Tag T5 bars, ODI lock-on grips, Motion Pro throttle/clutch cables, Motion Pro throttle housing, Guts Racing seat foam and gripper/ribbed seat cover, UFO plastics, and DeCal Works OEM graphics and backgrounds. I used the 1992 model graphics, as the ’93 model was pretty much nonexistent. I also installed new HD o-ring chain/sprockets, Artrax tires/tubes/rim straps/wheel locks, Factory Effex 7000 series rims, Magnum HD spokes, Pivot Works swingarm/linkage/shock bearings, OEM brake pedal and all new hardware throughout. I replaced the stock pegs with a wider set, both front and rear brake lines with new Russel units, along with a new air filter and kill switch.”
“As I mentioned, I do all the work myself, including building the wheels. I did everything except the paint and suspension. I appreciate the opportunity of having my 1993 KX250 featured.”
Please keep those submissions coming. If you would like your bike to be featured in the “Two-Stroke Spotlight,” please mxa@hi-torque. All I ask is that you give a breakdown of your bike and a detailed description of the build. Please also send a few photos of your steed. By submitting your bike for the “Two-Stroke Spotlight,” you agree to release all ownership rights to the images and copy to MXA. Please don’t email spam. Happy submitting your smoker.
VIDEO: 2017 RCH RACING TEAM
MINI-VIEW: MONSTER MOUNTAIN’S TOM BRINKMAN
Monster Mountain, located in Tallassee, Alabama, is one of my very favorite tracks in the world. I can say that, because I’ve churned soil with knobbies in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Costa Rica, the Canary Islands, and Italy. Monster Mountain’s track layout is pure fun. The dirt is the perfect mixture. Sometimes when I can’t fall asleep at night I think about doing laps at Monster Mountain and I start dreaming sweet dreams in no time.
A week before Christmas I ventured down to Alabam with good pals Scott Beard (Armored Graphix), Tim Castrone (Suzuki) and Glen Laivins (Cycra Racing) to rip laps around Tom Brinkman’s Monster Mountain. We spent two days riding the GP sand track and main track. It was an early Christmas present for me. In between moto sessions I caught up with Brinkman to talk about Monster Mountain. If you’d like to learn more info about one of the best tracks in the land, visit www.monstermx.com.
Tom, how long have you owned Monster Mountain?
We bought it in May of 2010.
Where did you get the crazy idea of buying a motocross track?
I have no idea [laughter]. Actually, I rode and wrenched, raised two kids in this sport, formed a motocross safety council, and was a photographer. The one thing I said I would never do is be a track owner. I used to watch how hard track owners worked and thought that it didn’t look fun at all. The guy that had Monster Mountain before me was going out of business. There weren’t any interested buyers for the track. My son was getting ready to graduate from high school, and I got the crazy idea to buy the place. This is a special place. There’s not another motocross track on the planet that I would have been interested in owning. I didn’t want to see Monster Mountain go away, and I looked at it as a good opportunity to build a family business. I walked away from a $140,000 a year corporate job and went from clearing $10,000 a month to losing $10,000 a month overnight.
What is it about owning a motocross track that intrigued you?
It’s rewarding. The memories and friendships you make are priceless. Every time a rider approaches me and raves about the track, that’s what makes it worth the effort. We love this place and love the riders.
There are certain things that make a motocross track good. The dirt, elevation change, flow, and good spectator viewing are so important. Even the most storied tracks don’t have all of those parts. Some have great dirt, some have great elevation, and others have nice spectator viewing. However, none of them have all those elements. Monster Mountain does. It has incredible dirt, major elevation changes on both sides of the track, it flows really well, and you can almost see the whole track from everywhere. Look at Red Bud, which is an incredible facility. You can only see half of the track. Washougal is the most beautiful track to look at, but just like a GP track in Europe, you can only see sections of the Washougal circuit. As a photographer, when I walked up on the finish line and looked at the track while deciding whether I wanted to purchase Monster Mountain, I was sold. Social media was just blowing up, and I know computers pretty well. I figured I could market the track well enough that people could see how truly special Monster Mountain was. That was my vision. Put the riders first, give them a great track every day, and show that on social media. Monster Mountain went from losing a lot of money to being profitable after four years. Right now the skies are the limits.
Monster Mountain is very special from a media standpoint, as well. Your track is the only one since I’ve been magazine guy that has hosted not one, but two new motocross model launches–the 2014 Yamaha YZ250F and the 2017 Honda CRF450 a few months ago. That says a lot about this place.
Absolutely. I give Tim Olson, who was at Yamaha at the time, a lot of thanks. I was in Baltimore on a consulting trip. My son, Tommy, said that some guy from Yamaha called. I thought Tim called because of some warranty issue with Tommy’s bike or something. I returned the call, and Tim Olson said that he wanted to introduce the new Yamaha YZ250F at my track. He had asked around, and because it was an all-new bike, he wanted to unveil it at a track that no magazines had been to before. The rest was history. The Yamaha introduction was amazing. Yamaha sold a ton of those YZ250Fs. I think Honda is getting a really nice return on their investment with showcasing their 2017 CRF450 at Monster Mountain. It’s a big investment for manufacturers to fly the John Bashers and Daryl Ecklunds of the world, put them up in a hotel, feed them, bring the factory rig and the bikes. They don’t make that investment lightly. They chose Monster Mountain for the reasons I discussed. If you can’t take a good picture here then you must be a pretty lousy photographer and need to find another job [laughter].
The 2017 Honda CRF450 intro brought out Ken Roczen. He rode the track and loved it, didn’t he?
I feel bad for my son, Tommy, because he was in basic training for the Air Force when the Honda intro happened, so he couldn’t see Roczen ride. Ken was super cool to work with. It was incredible watching him ride. He’s a nice kid, and he really is just a kid that likes to ride dirt bikes. Watching him hit the Pro section was really amazing. He didn’t even look at the 100-foot triple. He knocked it out without even rolling it. The more technical 120-footer that you have to land blind and turning he rolled once. The first time he jumped it he threw an upside-down and backwards whip. I’m not so sure the Honda team was happy with him busting out those big jumps, but it sure was fun to watch. Having him and Shorty [Andrew Short] is the kind of stuff that makes owning a track worthwhile.
Depending on how we’re running the track, it’s about 1.35 miles without the Pro section. With the Pro section included it’s a good 1.5 miles. The fastest lap that anybody had run on the track without doing the Pro section was Lance Kobush. He did a 1:49.56 on a Super Mini. Ken was doing 1:41s playing around on a bone stock 2017 Honda CRF450. He did a 1:51 with the Pro section in, which was Mike Alessi’s fastest time without doing the Pro section. That gives you an idea of how special Roczen is.
Can you define the soil type at Monster Mountain? It seems to vary from one side of the track to the other.
The north side of the track is 60-70 percent sand and 30-40 percent clay. It takes rain a lot better and gets good lines. The south part of the track is about 70 percent pure Georgia red clay. We have a winter Monster and a summer Monster. The summer Monster gets weekend warrior ruts that are three inches deep. The winter Monster develops 12-inch deep footpeg-dragging ruts, seven or eight in every corner. It’s harder to prepare and maintain the south side of the track, but boy does it get amazing lines. Watching Daryl Ecklund drag his handlebars, and then drag his hands and his handlebars separately was amazing. The traction is incredible. It took a long time to get to know the dirt. Doug Henry, of all people, gave me the best track advice. He came the first winter I owned it and said, “Learn how the water runs and you’ll have it whipped.” He was right. Once I figured out where the water ran after a heavy rain, I could change the layout so water wouldn’t pool up. That allowed us to turn the track over a lot faster so that guys could ride it sooner after a rain. Doug was very insightful.
If given the opportunity, would you want to hold an AMA National at Monster Mountain?
Sure, I would. These days it’s questionable whether it would be profitable, because the attendance is lower. I do think instantly this would be one of the highest, if not the highest attended race on the schedule. Given where we’re located, and the fact that riders will drive from Cleveland, Ohio, on a three-day weekend down here, it has a big following. The track is incredibly photogenic and would make for great TV. Even though I don’t think I would make any money holding a National, heck yeah I would do it.
FMF OFFERING EVENT SUPPORT AT SUPERCROSS
Coming off the 2016 West Coast Supercross Championship, FMF is excited for the start off the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season! The FMF Rider Support Crew will be on board to help out with any Rider Support needs. Keep an eye out for our FMF Event Support Sprinter van at the following races:
January 7 – Angel Stadium (Anaheim, CA)
January 14 – Petco Park (San Diego, CA)
January 21 – Angel Stadium (Anaheim, CA)
January 28 – Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)
February 4 – Coliseum (Oakland, CA)
The FMF Racing Sprinter will be located in the pits at all of the above 5 rounds.
INDUSTRY NEWS: DUNLOP INKS FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH SUPERCROSS SERIES
Dunlop Motorcycle Tires has reached an agreement with Monster Energy Supercross to be the “Official Motorcycle Tire” of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, a FIM World Championship, for the next four years, starting in 2017. Dunlop’s official status allows expanded marketing throughout the Monster Energy Supercross series, and more opportunities to interact with its customers.
Dunlop is the longest running sponsor of Monster Energy Supercross, and has won more supercross and motocross titles over the years—143 total—than all other tire companies combined. Additionally, since Dunlop developed the Geomax® MX3S and MX52 in 2013, every single Monster Energy Supercross Championship, and all but one Main Event, have been won on Dunlop tires.
Dunlop is also committed to supporting amateur motocross through the Team Dunlop program, now in its 11th year. Team Dunlop alumni have won professional championships, including top supercross contenders Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac.
“We’re grateful to Feld Entertainment for the opportunity to expand our interaction with customers, and we’re very proud of our commitment to American motorcycle racing,” said Mike Buckley, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Despite all of the ups and downs in the marketplace over the past decade, Dunlop never stopped supporting both professional and amateur motorcycle racing in the U.S. Racing plays a big part in the development of our tire technology for the public, so it’s an important part of our business. But more than that, we believe in the spirit of competition, and nothing embodies that quite like motorcycle racing. As the only company making motorcycle tires in America, it makes sense for us to partner with Monster Energy Supercross as we continue our commitment to motorcycle racing in America.
HOW TO GET IN THE KNOW
Are you in the know? Enjoy every kernel of social media news? You’re in luck! Not only does MXA have Facebook and Instagram account, but we have a constantly updated Twitter accounts. Don’t miss out. We post the latest news, along with helpful tips, photos, live videos and more. Click here to follow our exclusive Twitter feed.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: GAVIN FAITH
Click here to read the interview with the 2016 Amsoil Arenacross Champion.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO OUR MXA SUPPORTERS!
2017 RACE SCHEDULES: BE THERE OR BE SQUARE
California is the richest race state in the union, with seven major events in 2017. Folks in Michigan should rejoice, as Supercross (Detroit), Arenacross (Grand Rapids) and the Lucas Oil Nationals (Red Bud) visit “The Great Lake State.” And those residing in the Pacific Northwest will be happy hosting a bevy of events, from Supercross to the AMA Nationals.
2017 MONSTER ENERGY SUPERCROSS SERIES
January 14…Petco Park…San Diego, CA (West)
January 21…Angel Stadium…Anaheim, CA (West)
January 28…University of Phoenix…Glendale, AZ (West)
February 4…Alameda Coliseum…Oakland, CA (West)
February 11…AT&T Stadium…Arlington, TX (West)
February 18…U.S. Bank Stadium…Minneapolis, MN (East)
February 25…Georgia Dome…Atlanta, GA (East)
March 4…Rogers Centre…Toronto, Canada (East)
March 11…Daytona Speedway…Daytona, FL (East)
March 18…Lucas Oil Stadium…Indianapolis, IN (East)
March 25…Ford Field…Detroit, MI (East)
April 1…America’s Center…St. Louis, MO (East)
April 8…CenturyLink Field…Seattle, WA (West)
April 22…Rice-Eccles Stadium…Salt Lake City, UT (West)
April 29…MetLife Stadium…East Rutherford, NJ (East)
May 6…Sam Boyd Stadium…Las Vegas, NV (East/West)
*Visit http://www.supercrosslive.com/ to purchase tickets
2017 AMSOIL ARENACROSS SERIES
January 13-15…Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids, MI
January 20-22…Royal Farms Arena…Baltimore, MD
January 28-29…Bridgestone Arena…Nashville, TN
February 4-5…Freedom Hall…Louisville, KY
February 18-19…Sprint Center…Kansas City, MO
February 24-26…Georgia Dome…Atlanta, GA
March 3-5…Landers Center…Southaven, MS
March 11-12…Smoothie King Center…New Orleans, LA
March 18-19…Moda Center…Portland, OR
March 24-26…Livestock Events Center…Reno, NV
April 1-2…Golden I Center…Sacramento, CA
April 22-23…Denver Coliseum…Denver, CO
May 5-7…Orleans Arena…Las Vegas, NV
*Visit http://www.supercrosslive.com/ to purchase tickets
2017 LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
May 27…Glen Helen…San Bernardino, CA
June 3…Thunder Valley…Lakewood, CO
June 17…High Point…Mount Morris, PA
June 24…Muddy Creek…Blountville, TN
July 1…Red Bud…Buchanan, MI
July 8…Southwick…Southwick, MA
July 22…Spring Creek…Millville, MN
July 29…Washougal…Washougal, WA
August 12…Unadilla…New Berlin, NY
August 19…Budds Creek…Mechanicsville, MD
August 26…Ironman…Crawfordsville, IN
* Visit http://www.promotocross.com/mx/tickets to buy tickets
2017 FIM MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
March 5…Pangkal Pinang…Indonesia
April 23…Valkenswaard…The Netherlands
July 23…Loket…Czech Republic
September 10…Assen…The Netherlands
September 17…Villars sous Ecot…France