MOTOCROSS ACTION MID-WEEK REPORT BY DARYL ECKLUND
When this photo was released from KTM’s embargo on December 4th at 4:00 p.m. our social media sites went crazy. The 2015-1/2 KTM 450SX Factory Edition IV is a sight for sore eyes. On paper this bike is going to be a game changer. At 226 pounds and 60 horsepower, KTM has significantly raised the bar for all the other manufacturers. The down side to all of this? Price. This is a limited-edition race-ready bike, but at $10,199 how many racers can afford this? Regardless, we haven’t been this excited for a new bike release for quite some time.
We are just excited about the KTM 250SX Factory Edition as this was KTM’s weakest link in their array of models. On paper, the changes made to the transmission, powerband and suspension make it look like they fixed our complaints in years prior. We will just have to wait till we are able to hit the track with the all new KTM 250SXF.
GREAT EDIT OF THE 2014 AMA OUTDOOR NATIONALS
The Ride Engineering four stroke Tachometer/Hour Meter comes with mounting bracket and screws. Every dirt bike should have one for maintenance scheduling. Connects to spark plug wire, no batteries required. Shows engine RPM when running. Price: $34.95 www.rideengineering.com
16-YEAR-OLD ROOKIE WHITE JUMPS HUGE 220FT RHYTHM AT LACR
Justin Barcia is deep in the testing process at the JRG camp. He has been looking good with the wider power band of the YZ450F.
Like father like son.
Heading into A1 for the 2015 Supercross season, nerves are starting to rise with less than a month to go. Now is the time where mental toughness really starts to pay off. Hard work and believing in yourself are two of the most vital components to success.
Our very own John Basher captured this beautiful shot of the 2015-1/2 KTM 250SXF Factory Edition.
Marvin swept the Geneva Supercross with many of his friends and family being in attendance.
Cody Webb dethroned Taddy Blazusiak this year at the AMA Endurocross series. Emotions ran high with such an achievement.
RV is caught in Cali at Zaca Station rocking out with his portable speaker.
FITNESS TIP OF THE WEEK: HOW TO SQUAT PROPERLY
WHO WILL BE THE 2015 SUPERCROSS CHAMPION?
MXA MINI VIEW: EDDIE BABBIT
By Jim Kimball
Just like many of us, Eddie Babbitt dreamed of becoming a Factory Motocross/Supercross star. Also like many of us, age, responsibilities, and maybe talent we needed to step back. While many of us have to be content with riding with our weekend buddies, and enjoying spectating at pro races, Babbitt took it to another level, and started his own pro race team. With a brief foray into Supercross in 2005, Eddie then turned his attention to Arenacross, and began collecting multiple championships. Along with his race team, Babbitt has a multi-line dealership in Muskegon, Michigan where he sells about every type of power sports that you can imagine, as well as having one of the largest online oem parts stores around. Babbitt has indeed found a way to accomplish business and his racing passion.
MXA: Eddie, you’ve made some significant changes to your Arenacross Program for 2015 right?
Eddie: That’s right; we have made some big changes during the off-season. First, we are very excited that Tyler Bowers got offered a chance to join the premier 250 Supercross team with Pro Circuit Monster Energy Kawasaki. Being a part of a team like that, and racing Supercross, has to be every riders dream come true. Of course we hated to release Tyler, as we loved having him as part of our team, and winning those championships was an awesome thing to do, but we wanted what was best for Tyler and his goals. Moving forward though we have an awesome four-rider squad right now, and I think that you are going to be seeing some podium sweeps from Team Babbitt’s again.
Still it must have been difficult to lose Bowers.
It was difficult for us to release him; with Tyler we won multiple championships, in a row. He brought a lot of attention to our team, as well as the Arenacross series as a whole. There were a lot of tough decisions there as we were hoping that Tyler could get that next championship, not only for us, but for him too. But when you get an opportunity like the one he got, it was just hard for us to hold him back, and that’s how I was feeling. I felt like I was the dad that held your kid back from going and pursuing his dream, and I just didn’t want that on my shoulders. It was a situation that was best for Tyler, and the team, and this is what I hope holds true for the series from this point forward. I really hope that many of the future Factory Supercross starts are riders that come through Team Babbitt’s.
Who have you hired to bring the team another Championship?
Well, Zach Ames is back with us; he’s now been with the team for a couple years. Zach has continually been out there in contention for a championship, and actually held the points lead for much of last year’s series. We expect Zach to be a very serious championship contender this year. Jacob Hayes, who did an awesome job racing against us last year, is new to our team. I know that he is very excited to be on our program, as we are also excited to have him. I expect a lot of podium finishes from him as well. Chris Blose is with us this year. We raced against him some years ago in Arenacross in 2006, and 2007 before he went to Supercross where he did very well and had some great finishes as a privateer. Matt Goerke was our last rider signed. Matt has had such a great-varied career with his Canadian Motocross success, and winning an outdoor AMA National. So its going to be very interesting seeing some of the Supercross/Motocross veterans coming back to race Arenacross. I think that its going to be great for the spectators to see some of these names, and great for the series, and will continue to solidify Team Babbitt’s as top team as well.
I’ve heard that you have developed a stronger partnership with Kawasaki.
Yes, Kawasaki has taken more interest in the Ricky Carmichael Road to Supercross for their Team Green amateur riders, and has realized that we are a great gateway for those riders. Kawasaki is working hard with us to make things happen as far as getting a couple of these young prospects to get to several Arenacross rounds to score points. Certainly at times we are going to have a pretty full paddock with our four full time riders, and with one or two different Kawasaki amateur’s coming through at different rounds. We don’t have the exact schedule yet, or the riders’ names, but we will definitely have our pit full at some rounds.
Your first effort was a Supercross Team; do you ever see a return to the bigger stadiums?
I do see that; Supercross is such a huge venue. I’m not sure if it would be some form of marketing sponsorship, or a full team. We have talked to some current big teams about partnering up, but it just has not worked out to date. With our large on-line presence it may be that we get involved again. But with that said, I am pretty comfortable doing Arenacross. It is a lot of fun, and does not take the whole year to do it. I’m just not sure I want a race team to be my focus for the entire year. Of course the payroll gets much bigger, and I don’t want to go out there to just make an appearance. It will cost a lot of money to be consistently in the top five, and if we cannot be top five I don’t want to do it. We have sold a lot of bikes, and parts because of our race team, and the successes we have had. We are actually in Kawasaki’s top twenty dealers, and number one in the multiple state region that we are in. Many people out there may think Kawasaki is all that we sell, so we may miss some Honda calls or Suzuki calls because of our strong Kawasaki presence. But I think soon you will see us helping sponsor some other brands. Last year we helped Jeff Gibson with a Honda. So you will soon see some other stuff from Babbitt’s.
How has the Arenacross series changed through the years?
Well, it’s definitely changed a lot throughout the years; that’s for sure. I cannot say that I have agreed with all the changes, because I haven’t. There’s been a lot of positive comments out there, with an equal number of negative comments – like the way they now do the points, and do things like the reverse gate pick. Some of that seems a little bit to me like punishment for the guys that do well, but I guess it makes it interesting. So, some of the showy part of Arenacross I don’t really like, and really wish that they would stick with straight up racing. You know; just let the guys go out there and race, rather than trying to make it the show they seem like they are trying to make it. I don’t really want to say much more against them though, as we all want this program to succeed.
Is the Road to Supercross aspect of Arenacross a big help to the series?
Well, first of all, I think that Ricky Carmichael has brought a lot to the Arenacross series. He has such a huge following, and I feel that it has been a great, great addition to Arenacross. I don’t quite know if I agree with every amateur rider having to come through arenacross to earn points for Supercross. But I can appreciate that they want riders coming into Supercross with some indoor experience. They don’t want kids to get hurt, and here they can learn how pro racing works. The bottom line though is that this is what they are doing, and you need to embrace it, or fight it and lose. Personally, for our team, it’s great because it gives Kawasaki a chance to bring some of their top riders through our programs. To get the points that they need to earn on our bikes. I’m really excited about this new aspect of Arenacross, and furthermore think that you are going to all the other manufactures doing this in the near future.
If Team Babbitt’s was not involved in Arenacross I suspect the series would be much different.
I’ve heard a lot of great comments regarding that, but have heard some negative ones too. You know, when we do something we want to do the best that we can. Babbitt’s wanted to do it first class. Our dealership is that way, and we operate our online store that way. When the team shows up to a race, we have the rig, we have the best bikes out there and they look brand new, the best suspension and motors, and our riders are comfortable and confident. They can be at ease and can be more successful. I think that it’s very important to be professional when competing in a series like Arenacross. We show up in a first class semi, and do the best job that we can in making our pits look professional. The mechanics, riders, bikes, and even our gear is as first class as possible. Denny Bartz does a phenomenal job; when somebody else needs a hand we are there to help them. If someone needs help with their motor, need a part, or whatever, we are there to help them. We don’t expect anything from this. We just want everyone who’s there to be able to do what they are there for – to race and be successful. We are a business, and we are at the races to promote this business. We are also there because I have a strong love for motocross. I love to win of course, but its also about relationships, longevity and having fun, Obviously, first and foremost, we are there for ourselves, but as I said, even if one of our competitor’s break a part and we can help we do. Whether it’s a clutch cable to a full wheel assembly we have helped a lot of different rider’s throughout the years to get their bikes able to race. The mechanics, that I am paying, have done work for our competitors to be able to keep their bikes together and race against us. There is much more to it, than just being they’re for yourself.
Often when some team or rider is so successful, you see some backlash, like wanting another team or rider to win. Have you seen that in Arenacross?
You know, we have heard some rumors about our competitors complaining. For example “this series should be named Babbitt’s cross.” But I just think that any time a team, or rider is dominating, that they will always get detracted to some degree. Everyone wants to be number 1., and some people just have a strange way about getting there. Everyone that is going out to race Arenacross can do the exact same thing that we have done. We don’t have access to anything that anyone else would not have access too. We get our Kawasaki’s from Kawasaki like every other dealer in the world does. We work with Pro Circuit, and whatever they are doing for us can be bought by anyone. We truly don’t have a foot in the door more than anyone else does. I think that it’s just the competitiveness of people. But I don’t look at life that way; if I am going to succeed its because of me; not someone else’s failure. I’m not arrogant about any of this. I love to do it, and I do the best that I can with what I have. Most of our riders have had opportunities to ride with other teams, and they have chosen us – I think that’s awesome. We have built our program by doing the best that we can, whether it’s the motorcycles, or the atmosphere. We don’t have drama in our pits, and we don’t blame or point fingers because we had a bad night. We figure out what we did wrong, fix it, and move on. That’s how I run my life and how I run my business.
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The Daimler Reitwagon is widely known of the first combustion engine motorcycle made. It was built in 1885. The original was burned in a fire, but many replicas, such as this one, have been built. This is the bike that started all our crazy two-wheel addictions.