IT’S NO SECRET THAT EVERY RACE TEAM LIKES TO THINK OF THEMSELVES AS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. IT’S HUMAN NATURE TO THINK THAT EVERY MOTOCROSS FAN KNOWS WHO THEY ARE.
As he’s a neighbor of Motocross Action’s managing editor Tim Olson, we’d love to say Sean Collier volunteered to let the MXA wrecking crew take his 2006 Star Racing YZ250F and thrash on it. Truth is, Sean was busy at the Yamaha Supercross test track in Corona, California, and wouldn’t be able to help us in our quest to try out one of Yamaha’s latest race team bikes.
Yes, Virginia, we did say one of “Yamaha’s latest.” If you’re thinking that Star Racing is ineligible to be considered one of “Yamaha’s latest race teams” because they were a Yamaha team last year, you’re right and wrong. It’s true that the Star team rode Yamahas last year, but that was a completely privateer effort. For 2006, Yamaha Motor Corporation plans to elevate Star’s status by providing them with factory backing (along with Yamaha of Troy, MotoWorld and CrossX).
Star power: Star Racing’s rear fender is covered with logos from Polisport, Dunlop, O’Neal, Tornado, Wiseco, Applied, Sidi, Vortex, Shoei, SixSixOne, Big Gun and FX.
It’s no secret that every race team ever formed likes to think of themselves as the center of the universe. It’s human nature to think that every motocross fan knows who they are, what they are about and what makes them tick. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. And while the MXA wrecking crew knows all about Star rider Sean Collier, because he helps us with testing when he’s not on the road, we needed a refresher course on exactly who else is on the Star squad.
We had always been under the assumption that Star Racing was Keith Johnson’s team (much like Ryan Clark’s privately owned Team Solitaire). Wrong! It was an easy mistake to make, as Keith Johnson was acting as the team manager and his grandfather’s motorcycle shop, Bobby J’s, was their source of equipment. The oldest Yamaha dealer in the United States (Bobby J’s started selling Yamaha’s back in 1959), Bobby J’s is owned by grandpa Robert “Bobby” Johnson and is now run by Keith’s father, Stan Johnson. But Star is not a Johnson enterprise! Who does own it? It turns out the real owner of Star Racing is Bobby Regan. Bobby is the owner of Star Chevrolet/Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep in Wiggins, Mississippi. That’s right! Star Racing got its name because it is sponsored by a car dealership. Star Racing is not a bad name. It has a ring to it (and if it had been a SoCal team, it might have been named Cal Worthington Racing).
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THIS IS AN UNDERDOG ROSTER, BUT THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS WE LIKE ABOUT STAR RACING. WE’VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHY DEVELOPMENT TEAMS ARE MADE UP OF ESTABLISHED VETERANS.
Now that we told you the team particulars, we need to advise you that everything is changing for 2006. Bobby Regan still owns the team, but after three years, Keith Johnson is no longer with the team. In fact, besides Bryan Johnson (who is no relation to Keith Johnson), the team is made up of four new riders: former Motoworlder Matt Goerke, Former MotoSport Outleter Sean Collier and Ecuadorian amateur star Martin Davalos.
There is no doubt that this is an underdog roster, but that is one of the things we like about Star Racing’s approach. We’ve never understood why development teams are made up of established veterans, ex-factory shoes and 250 transplants. To our way of thinking, 125 support teams should be made up of young up-and-comersnot $300,000 stars. Even Roger DeCoster once suggested that the 125 class (more accurately the 250F class) should have a 21-year-old age limit to make sure that young amateurs have a way to enter Pro racing. This is exactly what Star Racing is doing this year, as not a single rider on the team is over 20 years old.
Outside sponsors: Star has successfully brought two automobile companies to the table with Lucas and Tornado.
Which takes us back to our conversation with Sean Collier. He didn’t have the horsepower to give us his factory-backed Star Racing Yamaha YZ250F, but we knew someone who did. We called Big Gun’s Mike Young. Mike is a former World Four-Stroke Champion and Grand Prix racer, and as the official pipe supplier of Star Racing, he had the juice to hand us a bike. It turns out that Mike Young is even more influential at Star Racing than we realized. Mike helped get Lucas Oil on board as the team’s primary sponsor, as well as Tornado (a widget you put on your car to improve airflow). Tornado isn’t looking to get into the motocross business, but they realize that motorcycle racers are young, active, influential and prosperous (just the demographics they’re after).
IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG BEFORE STAR RACING’S YZ250F WAS ROLLED INTO THE MXA WORKSHOP. AT FIRST GLANCE, IT WAS APPARENT THAT NOT ONLY DID STAR RACING CHANGE THEIR RIDERS, BUT THEY CHANGED THE BIKES.
It didn’t take long before Star Racing’s YZ250F was rolled into the MXA workshop. At first glance, it was apparent that not only did Star Racing change their riders, but they changed the bikes. They no longer get them from Bobby J’s. NCY is now the dealership the bikes are delivered through. As far as the companies behind the bike, it’s a laundry list of some of the best in the business: Big Gun, Wiseco, Enzo, Web Cam, Vortex, Tri Star, Sunline, Wirtz, Polisport, Factory Effex, Regina, Dunlop, Lightspeed, Ready Filter, Vortex, Crank Works and VP.
The first thing the MXA wrecking crew complained about on the stock 2006 YZ250F was how low the handlebars were. The first thing we noticed on the Star Racing bike is that they’re fine. Turns out Tri Star understood the problem and delivered the Star Racing boys a set of triple clamps with 10mm-taller bar mounts.
With that one squawk out of the way, we were ready to ride. Yamahas come out of the box with a really broad powerband, and that hasn’t changed on the Star Racing YZ250F. With Team Yamaha’s spec cylinder head, Vortex ignition, Wiseco high-compression piston, Web Cam cams, Big Gun exhaust and Young Gun cylinder coating, the end result is impressive. The power comes on instantaneously at the slightest crack of the throttle and pulls strong through the mid. It hits the rev limiter quickly, just like the stock YZ250F. That said, we love the power output of the stock YZ250F, and Star Racing’s YZ250F improved every aspect of it.
We can definitely say that Sean and the boys won’t have any problems with their suspension. Enzo has a long history in the suspension game, and while Sean Collier’s setup was a tad too stiff for most of the wrecking crew, its action was good. Enzo has an enviable record on the AMA National circuit as being the closest that a privateer can get to works forks. And Sean’s bike has the mix of stiffness and fluidity that Supercross demands.
This bike is a sano package. The engine work doesn’t try to turn the YZ250F into a mini-450; instead, it beefs up Yamaha’s already impressive power curve with an extra dose of power everywhere. It revs high, but best of all it revs quickwhich means that you get full use out of every pony (and you get to the next gear sooner).
The best thing about Star Racing is that they have brought a new mix of players into the AMA fold. They have four young riders, solid support from Yamaha, and backing from some of the best names in the aftermarket world. They may be underdogsbut we expect them to perform like pedigree pit bulls.
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