MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT: (02/01/11)
BY JOHN BASHER & THE WRECKING CREW
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Riding Kevin Windham’s Geico/Honda CRF450 bike? Priceless! Look for a comprehensive review in an upcoming issue.
MINI-VIEW: RYAN DUNGEY
Having finished on the podium three out of four Supercross races so far in 2011, Ryan Dungey is in decent shape in the title chase. He sits 14 points out of first, and while he has yet to win, he’s been near the front.
What will it take for Ryan to chalk his first Supercross win of the new year? He will need a good start, plain and simple. So far Dungey hasn’t nabbed a holeshot, but it’s only a matter of time before gets to the first turn first. And then? Expect a great race between Dungey, James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, Trey Canard, and Chad Reed.
MXA: How difficult was it to mentally recharge the batteries after having such an incredible 2010 season?
Ryan: Going through the whole 2010 season was fun. Being able to win both championships in my rookie year and winning multiple races was obviously great. Racing a whole season is tough, because there’s a lot of wear and tear on the body, both mentally and physically. At the same time, when we put in all of that work and accomplished what we did, it’s great to look back and see that all of the hard work paid off. Preparing for the 2011 season was another step and another chapter. I knew that I had to move on and prepare for it. I took the time off that I needed to recharge the batteries.
As the season progresses so does Dungey.
How did everything go for you during the off-season?
Everything felt great. We advanced the bike even further and I felt great. 2011 brings a whole new set of opportunities. Now I’m just trying to defend my championship and win races. I know that I need to be there every single weekend. The slate has been wiped clean, and I just need to move forward.
“Phoenix was definitely a tough race. I didn’t finish where I wanted to be, but I learned. It’s only a matter of time before I start winning these races and going forward with the title.”
Now that four rounds are complete, what do you think about your results?
I feel good. It’s a tough class, and I have my work cut out for me. It’s a challenge that I’m looking forward to, and I’m just trying to put myself in the position to start winning these races. Everything feels better each round. We’ve been able to learn a lot with bike setup. Phoenix was definitely a tough race. I didn’t finish where I wanted to be, but I learned. It’s only a matter of time before I start winning these races and going forward with the title.
Did you make many drastic changes between your 2010 bike setup and this year?
No, we haven’t made anything too drastic. We’ve fine tuned the motor. Our chassis and bike was pretty much the same as last year. The suspension, motor work, and offset of the clamps is slightly different. We knew what worked last year and the areas that we thought could have been better. We’ve focused on those areas to help build a better bike. The whole team works hard. The bike works great and handles really well. Now I just need to put myself in the position to win.
Ryan has been a fan of the tracks so far.
What do you think about the tracks so far? Anaheim 1 was kind of an easy track; Phoenix was slippery; Los Angeles had two small back to back whoop sections; Oakland had bigger whoops.
They’re doing a great job on the tracks. They have all been pretty fun tracks. Anaheim 1 and Phoenix were long and tight tracks. Los Angeles was a long track as well, and in Oakland there was a shorter track with a longer and bigger whoop section. There’s always that one piece of the track that separates everyone out. I know that I need to get a good start and be up front. I will say that I’m enjoying the track layouts so far.
“I wouldn’t say that there are areas that I don’t do well in, but sometimes there are areas on the track that are so challenging that you have to really be on top of your game. Every track brings something difficult. “
Do you like to see a tough rhythm section, a bigger whoop section, or perhaps something else when you’re doing the track walk before each race?
There’s always that one thing, whether it’s a whoop section that everyone is struggling through, or a rhythm section that in order to do right you have to hit the corner before it perfectly. I wouldn’t say that there are areas that I don’t do well in, but sometimes there are areas on the track that are so challenging that you have to really be on top of your game. Every track brings something difficult.
In Oakland there was an extremely difficult triple that only a few guys were doing the whole day, and you were one of them. How difficult was it to jump?
When we got to the main I never did it, because the track was so slippery. It was a tough jump! It would have been easy to do, but there were these two little rollers before it. You had to time the rollers and then put your front end into the face of the jump in order to get the preload and drive through the face of the jump. That was definitely tough. As the night went on and the rain came down it got really slippery and kind of sketchy. When you’re coming out of a flat track turn and all of sudden you need to straighten the bike up, get the drive, and blow through the jump, it’s tough. Those are the rhythm sections where you need to hit it perfectly or you’ll mess up, and if you don’t do it then you’re losing a lot of time.
Have you noticed a tremendous spike in your popularity this year after winning both titles last year?
Oh yeah! That’s something that I’m very fortunate to have. Last year, coming into the 450 class, I was a bit of an unknown. This year I definitely feel like the fans have been good to me. Even last year the fans were great. The fans have been there for me. To have that fan base means a lot. I just try to be there for them as much as I can be.
Thanks for your time, Ryan.
ANAHEIM 2 VISITOR’S GUIDE
A2 will be all pink, all of the time.
First things first. The Monster Energy Supercross series is heading to Angels Stadium for its second annual PINK themed race in support of finding a cure for breast cancer. The PINK supercross race will help fund the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure 60-mile walk. If you’re attending Anaheim 2, show your support by wearing pink.
Track address: 2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806.
Tickets: $20 to $75; available at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000. Tickets are also available at participating Yamaha dealers.
Pit Passes: The pits are open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Bring an empty Monster Energy can to the pit entrance for free admission to the pits (with a valid ticket).
Weather: Sunny, high of 74 degrees and a low of 48 degrees. Zero percent chance of precipitation.
TV schedule: Sunday, February 6th, 5:00 p.m. EST (250 class). 6:00 p.m. EST (450 class).
THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON
Tickle the dogitarian or Tickle the psychic? Me thinks both.
I like Broc Tickle. He’s a good kid. I still laugh that he thanked his dog on the podium in Toronto a few years ago. What makes Tickle especially cool in my eyes is that he can handle being picked on. I ragged on him several times after he gave props to his puppy. Thanking your dog the first time you reach the podium? Classic!
Now I have more ammunition on Broc. I thought it was unusual last year in a post-race interview I did with him after his Seattle Supercross win how he actually dreamed that he would win. Okay, that’s kind of neat. Now I hear that Tickle had a similar dream before Oakland this past weekend. Guess what? He won!
Does this mean that Broc Tickle is psychic? Maybe spirits in his dreams foretell his future. I smell something fishy. I only hope that Tickle has a dream about me winning the lottery.
Let’s make those whoops bigger!
It’s nice to see that the track organizers wanted to make it easy on the riders for the first few rounds. I applaud their smart decision to help prevent injuries while riders were eager to go out and pin it. I’m not saying that riders have settled into a pace, but they have calmed down a bit now that the series is in full swing.
Having said that, from here on out I’d like to see the track crew build whoops that a Monster Truck would have difficulty getting through. I agree with Jimmy Button. Jimmy said that the whoop sections need to be bigger to separate the field out a bit. Remember tracks in the 1990s? There were huge whoops back then, and the top guys excelled in them. Let’s get away from simplistic Supercross tracks.
Feel the good vibes, Bubba.
James Stewart was appalled in the pre-Anaheim 1 press conference when a journalist asked him whether he was going to change his riding style and move away from his “Checkers or Wreckers” image. Now that four races are in the books, it’s obvious that Bubba is trying to keep it on two wheels. Of course he’s going fast, but he’s far from the off the back, wide open throttled Stewart that we’ve come to expect.
I say good for him. He’s smarter than in past years and I no longer wonder if he will live when slicing through the pack after a poor start. James was championship material before, but now he has the whole package. To date Ryan Villopoto is the only rider to really stop him (although Dungey did get between the two at A1). James is third on the all-time Supercross win list. Look for number seven to be atop the podium quite a few times.
My hope is that Bubba finds his happy place, because when he does he opens up to the media. I like a jovial James Stewart, because it means that he will talk to me. When James is frowning there’s little to no chance of getting an interview.
Chad Reed is smiling inside.
Did you see at Oakland that Chad Reed and James Stewart are now BFF’s? For common folk (or those who don’t have teenagers), BFF stands for Best Friends Forever. The two were, dare I say, cordial to one another. I thought that the earth might have been knocked off its axis. I never thought in a million years that the two would yuck it up together. They wanted to kill each other last year, and the year before, and the year before that, ad nauseum. I can only imagine that soon the two will trade training secrets instead of curses.
Usually two enemies form a friendship because they share a common enemy. That’s not the case with Reed and Stewart. I know that it’s only the honeymoon period, but if these two competitors stay cool with each other it effectively will mark the end of an era. I figured that Reed was still mad about the Unadilla 2002. If you’re looking to burn some time, YouTube “Stewart vs. Reed.”
MINI-VIEW: AUSTIN POLITELLI
It’s easy to overlook the baby-like visage of Menifee, California’s Austin Politelli. Then again, the kid is only 16 years old. However, with a helmet on it’s easy to tell that he has pro-level speed. What you might not know is that Politelli is a prince. No, not an actual prince of a country, but he earned the “Prince of Dortmund” distinction when he won the 250 Supercross race in Dortmund, Germany.
Politelli was on Suzuki’s amateur program for quite some time, amassing wins in the amateur Nationals and also the U.S. Open. However, a floundering economy left Austin without a ride. For 2011 he’s a privateer.
Knowing full well of Austin’s speed and style on a motocross bike (the MXA wrecking crew has seen him on our weekly trips to Glen Helen, Competitive Edge, Perris and Starwest), we enlisted his services Monday for a dream ride on Kevin Windham’s Geico/Honda CRF450. His duty? To be our photo rider. Here’s what Politelli had to say about his past, present and future.
MXA: You were on Suzuki’s amateur program for the last five years. What was that like?
Austin: It was great. When I signed with Suzuki I won my first race for them. I also won the U.S. Open 85cc Invitational in 2008, which was pretty cool. Before the U.S. Open I didn’t have much experience riding Supercross. I had done a few Arenacross races when I was in the 65 class. Thankfully before the U.S. Open I was able to practice Supercross quite a bit. I went to the Suzuki Supercross test track and learned quite a bit. I also spent time riding at Michael LaPaglia’s house, so I was well prepared.
Austin with some serious hardware.
You obviously have a talent in Supercross. Just a few months ago you raced several German off-season Supercross events and did quite well.
Yeah, they were pretty fun. I won the last day in Munich, and in Dortmund I won the “Prince of Dortmund” title. The tracks were set up like Arenacross, only they had really big whoops. I rode a Kawasaki at the first two races, and then I switched to a Honda in Dortmund.
You switched brands between races? That must have been difficult adapting to the different bikes. Why did you choose to do that?
Things didn’t work out with the Kawasaki team, so a Honda team stepped up at the last Supercross event and gave me a ride. The Honda must have worked better for me, because I won on it!
Did you have much experience racing on a Kawasaki or Honda before Germany?
No, not really much at all. I rode a Kawasaki KX250F twice before going to Germany, and then I rode a CRF250 for 15 minutes before the gate dropped. It was crazy.
Was it difficult adapting to the bike?
It took some time to adapt to the Honda, but there was an early practice session before Dortmund and I was able to set up my suspension. That helped me out quite a bit.
“While I was racing the first race in Germany the night show was about to begin and I just wanted to go to sleep. It was that bad! Then by the second day I started figuring things out. As for the food, it’s definitely different from what I’m used to, but not necessarily in a good way.”
Some U.S. riders adapt really well to the culture, time change, and particularly the food when they head overseas, while others struggle. Were you an adapter or a struggler?
[Laughter] It was definitely unusual. I had trouble adjusting to the time change and I struggled with jet lag. While I was racing the first race in Germany the night show was about to begin and I just wanted to go to sleep. It was that bad! Then by the second day I started figuring things out. As for the food, it’s definitely different from what I’m used to, but not necessarily in a good way.
Were you able to visit any tourist attractions?
I wasn’t able to go very many places, because I was only there on the weekends for the races. We walked through Munich a little, but that was about it.
Your dad mentioned that you’re thinking about going to Australia to race the National series this Spring. Why?
I don’t really have too much going on in the U.S. right now. I also don’t have very much fun racing the amateur Nationals anymore. I look at them all as sprint races, and if you don’t get a good start then you’re pretty much done. I’m still planning on racing Loretta’s. I’m going to Australia because they have longer motos, which will help me prepare for Loretta’s. Then I plan on racing Supercross next year.
Do you have anybody helping you right now?
No, I can’t really say that I do. I don’t even have a bike right now! Well, I guess I do, because I have a Kawasaki KLX110. I’m not sure what I’m doing yet for this year, other than going to Australia.
How did you get involved in motocross?
My dad used to race a quad for Suzuki in Supercross. He got me a quad when I was two. I got a Yamaha PW50 when I was four. Then I got a Cobra and worked my way up from there.
What did you think of your experience riding Kevin Windham’s Supercross bike as an MXA photo rider on Monday?
Oh man, it was awesome! The bike was unreal. It’s kind of funny to say this, but it was just good to ride, since I don’t have a bike. I hurt myself in Germany, so I had to take some time off from riding. I felt a little stiff on Windham’s bike, but it was definitely a dream to be spinning laps on it!
Why do you think people should help you out?
I always try my hardest when I’m out on the track. I never give up, and I want to go far in this sport. I think that I have what it takes to do well.
Is there any way that people could email you in order to possibly help you out for the 2011 season?
Yeah, that would be great. My dad’s email is [email protected]. His name is Frank. I also have a Facebook account. People can contact me, but it’s probably easiest to talk to my dad.
PR: OSIRIS AND JOSH GRANT INK DEAL
Osiris Shoes signs AMA Supercross rider Josh Grant Footwear deal inked with rising AMA Supercross star #33 Josh Grant
Osiris Shoes, an industry leader in action sports footwear, is proud to announce the addition of AMA Supercross rider Josh Grant to their MX roster. Josh Grant has been on the pro circuit for almost six full years, and since day one has proven himself as a consistent podium threat and a rider who definitely has a bright future in the sport. Josh make’s his return to the AMA Supercross on Feb 19th, in San Diego at Qualcomm stadium. Expect shoe collaborations with Osiris and Grant in the near future.
Josh is currently sponsored by:
Osiris Shoes, Metal Mulisha, Alpine Stars, Dragon Optical, Factory Honda, MSR, MyPlash, Shoei, Calloway golf and Rockford Fosgate.
Established in 1996, Osiris is a leader in skateboarding lifestyle footwear. The brand has distinguished itself through its visionary aesthetics and creative marketing. As “The Great Mark of Creativity”, Osiris will continue to be the source for innovative design.
MINI-VIEW: GRANT LANGSTON
Grant performs the high school yearbook pose.
MXA: You must have plenty of entertaining stories from racing in Europe.
Grant: I do. It was cool riding with Harry Everts in Europe. In my first pro season of GP racing I didn’t qualify for a race, and he came up to me and told me, ?Don’t worry, buddy. You’ll be a World Champion one day.’ I thought to myself, This guy is crazy. What’s he talking about? Don’t patronize me! It was funny, because when I won the MX2 title in Finland during the 2000 season he came up to me, patted me on the shoulder, and said, ?I told you so.’ It was cool to have a four-time World Champion and father of a ten-time World Champion tell me that I had something special. What’s crazy is that when he told me that I was going to win the title then Steve Ramon would win the title the following year. You know what? He hit the nail right on the head.
“I couldn’t believe that I was sitting on the podium with the number one plate in my hand. If you would have told me two months before that race that I was going to win the title I would have told you that you were crazy.”
Were you surprised to win the 2007 450 National title? That was a whirlwind season with James Stewart getting injured and the title coming down to a four-way battle between you, Mike Alessi, Andrew Short and Tim Ferry.
My 2007 title was awesome, purely because of the fact that things were going so bad halfway through the season. I wasn’t even thinking about the championship. I was just trying to get on the box as much as possible. But then I got a new YZ450F chassis. There was a little bit of enthusiasm from testing and I wasn’t as frustrated anymore. The season just took off. I never had a season turn around so drastically for me. The second time I ever cried was after I won the 450 title at Glen Helen. I couldn’t believe that I was sitting on the podium with the number one plate in my hand. If you would have told me two months before that race that I was going to win the title I would have told you that you were crazy.
Grant, circa 2008.
You could say that the 2007 title was a result of Mitch Payton helping you out and offering a ride when you were struggling.
When I left KTM I was down on my career. I don’t think too many people believed in me, but Mitch was one of those believers. He told me that he would get me back on track and winning titles so that I could move back up to the 450 class, get a factory ride, and go win again.
Why did you and Mitch get along so well?
We had the same mindset. I love being around people that have confidence and want to win. I’m not about looking professional and wearing the team shirt. I want to win. That’s what I care about. He and I have the same mentality, and that’s why we got along so well.
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WHAT DOES IT PAY TO WIN AN AMA SUPERCROSS?
At the Oakland Supercross Martin Davalos (23) went home with a check for $360. Eli Tomac finished third and got $1000, while Nick Paluzzi cashed a check for $390. They won’t be retiring any time soon.
This is embarrassing. We can’t really blame Feld Entertainment for being cheap when it comes to the AMA purse?they are in business and part of business is to keep the costs associated with that business down. They don’t set the purse money…they simply pay it. So who can we blame? That’s simple!
(1) The AMA: As the sanctioning body the AMA has the fiduciary responsibility to look out for the well-being of the riders. But, because the AMA collects sanction fees from Feld Entertainment they are afraid to broach the subject of larger purses because they don’t want to endanger their own pocket books. They are robbing Peter to pay Paul..and they are Paul. The riders depend on the AMA to look out for their best interests in terms of licensing, track safety and purse structure. The AMA should be ashamed of the current purse structure.
(2) The team managers: AMA Pro riders have short careers and they live at the mercy of a bunch of powers-that-be. The riders cannot be expected to put their short careers on the line to fight for higher purse money, but the teams, manufacturers and sponsors can…and they should. The purses are ridiculously low, but since the teams pay their riders many times more than the purse money in salary and bonuses?they don’t care about the purse. It is small potatoes to a team that pays a rider a $100,000 bonus for a race win. But, it’s not small potatoes to riders who don’t have lucrative bonus deals or big-buck salaries. At some point, the teams managers and their corporate benefactors need to do the right thing for riders (especially for the ones that their stars beat).
(3) Corporate sponsors: Do you know that Rockstar paid the AMA National Motocross promoters a rumored $2 million to sponsor the AMA Nationals. That $2,000,000 went directly into the pockets of the promoter (and not the individual National track owners). Shame on Rockstar! The men at Rockstar should have demanded that for their two million dollars that there be a rider’s points fund carved out of the big check. Or a rider concussion study. Or a safety research program. Or any good cause. But, instead Rockstar plopped the money on the table with little concern for the riders?only about their signage. And Monster is no better in Supercross. They pay big bucks and could easily put demands on Feld about how a portion of money should be spent. Will they? Did they? Should they?
(4) Everyone else. Every person in the motorcycle industry (and outside of it) needs to expose the shame that has been going on for the last 36 years. Think about this the next time you buy a ticket to a Supercross race. When you see two riders racing for 12th spot in the 250 West, do you know they that are squabbling over $10? Ten bucks is the difference between every spot after tenth place. That’s lunch money at a roach coach for most of us. If a rider won all eight rounds of the AMA 250 East/West series he would earn $20,000 (about what he could earn by schlepping burgers at Wendy’s).
2011 AMA PURSE PAYOUT
450 class…………….250 East/West
(Note: subtract the $200 entry fee from every number)
CHAPARRAL AUTOGRAPH SIGNING WEDNESDAY AT 6 P.M.
Chaparral Motorsports is proud to announce that it will host its annual Supercross Fan Appreciation Night on February 2nd, 2011. The Fan Appreciation Night will commence at 6 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Get the holeshot and come early to ensure a chance to meet and do a little bench racing with some of your favorite throttle jockey’s from teams. Invited guests include Ryan Villopoto, Jake Weimer, Dean Wilson, Broc Tickle, Josh Hansen, Ryan Dungey, Brett Metcalfe,Martin Davalos, Ryan Morais, James Stewart, Kyle Regal, Cole Seely, Travis Baker, Christian Craig, Andrew Short, Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen, Ivan Tedesco, Chris Blose, Kyle Chisholm, Tommy Hahn, Vince Friese, Justin Brayton, Davi Millsaps, Kyle Cunningham, Nick Paluzzi, Nick Wey, Austin Stroupe, Weston Peick, Jeff Alessi, Jared Brown and Alex Millican. Plus, Brian Deegan and Carey Hart.
NATHAN WOODS MEMORIAL FUND
“Everyone at the RiderDown Foundation is deeply saddened by the loss of Nathan Woods this past weekend,” said Bruce Vermeulen, President of RiderDown. “He was a great ambassador for our sport and will be missed greatly. We are accepting donations to help the family during this very difficult time and will be sending an initial check from previous fundraising efforts immediately in memory of Nathan. 100% of all donations mentioning the Nathan Woods Memorial Fund will be given directly to the family.” Payments can be made through your PayPal account or with any major credit card with all proceeds going to support Nathan’s family. When submitting your donation please enter into the notes field that it is for the Nathan Woods Memorial Fund. Please visit www.RiderDown.org to help.
STEVE RAMON MAKES HISTORY AT LE TOUQUET BEACH RACE
Steve Ramon. Photo: Christophe Desmet/Suzuki Racing
Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1’s Steve Ramon has started 2011 in the best possible way by fulfilling a career goal and giving Suzuki a first taste of success at arguably the most famous beach race in Europe. The 31-year-old Belgian rode for three hours across the French sand at Le Touquet to stand victorious and add the honor to his impressive resume.
Using a modified 2010 RM-Z450 Grand Prix machine – including a larger fuel tank, speedometer, different gear box and ratios and configuration to comply with the Enduro rules?Ramon swiftly hit the front in the race for the 11 laps of the eleven 15km course. A winner of numerous beach events and an extremely capable racer in the sand, Ramon faced some pressure on the final lap from Frenchman Jean-Claude Mousse, but was still able to take the checkered flag in the high-profile competition that was inaugurated in 1975.
CPSC LEAD TESTING DELAYED FOR KID’S ATVS
From ATVA: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has decided to hold off on requiring third-party testing and certification of kid-sized all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for lead content until Nov. 27, 2011, the All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA) reports. The testing and certification is required under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, which is commonly called the “lead law.” The CPSC is responsible for implementing the law, including accrediting laboratories to do the testing.
The CPSC earlier approved a stay of enforcement of the testing and certification requirement for kid-sized ATVs, which are designed for children age 12 and under, until Jan. 25. On Jan. 25, the commission extended the stay even further — until Nov. 27 — noting there are no accredited third-party testing facilities yet. The CPSC did say, however, that CPSC staff would conduct some testing.”In announcing its decision, the CPSC said that it received more than 400 comments asking for a stay of enforcement until Nov. 27,” said Ed Moreland, senior vice president for government relations of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), which is the sister organization of the ATVA.
“The CPSC pointed out that AMA and ATVA members were among those who asked for the stay,” Moreland said. “The overwhelming majority of those who commented used AMA-provided tools to do so, and I want to thank everyone who answered our call to contact the CPSC. “Now is the time for all riders to contact their federal lawmakers and urge them to support H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, to exempt kid’s machines from the CPSIA,” he said. “The easiest way to do that is through the ‘Rights’ section of the AMA website at www.AmericanMotorcyclist.com.”
MARYSVILLE TRACK OWNER BEHIND ON RENT: HOW FAR BEHIND? $60,000
From the Yuba City Appeal-Democrat: The new operator of a motocross track in Marysville is $60,000 in arrears to Marysville just four months into his contract, sparking criticism that city officials should not have signed him on. Todd H. Nelson of Loomis once had plans for a $109 million motocross complex in Placer County that never came to fruition. Nelson is in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings for debts totaling more than $11 million. Nelson has been notified by mail about his two overdue payments of $30,000 each as specified in his lease agreement.
The city has not yet received a formal response, but Nelson is scheduled to meet today with City Services Director Dave Lamon about another part of his contract ? a clause that requires work on a new bathroom facility to start within 30 days. That deadline passed three months ago.
“I’m really sore about this,” said Peter Brown, general sales manager at Roseville Yamaha. “This guy rolled into town and was able to get the lease on that track without any qualifications. They should have checked him out.”
Lamon said Tuesday he was aware of Nelson’s financial problems prior to recommending his bid to the City Council last September. “I don’t know how this necessarily pertained to what we were doing,” he said of Nelson’s failed plan to build a sports complex west of Lincoln near Thunder Valley Casino. “He was building a new facility, and our facility is already developed.”
California Motocross LLC, Nelson’s company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy ? reorganization ? in September 2008 and for Chapter 7 ? liquidation ? last year. Among his long list of creditors is Blue Lake Rancheria, a tribe-owned economic development corporation in Humboldt County, which he owes nearly $7 million. Nelson’s deal with Marysville “is an interesting development all the way around in light of the bankruptcy,” said Jana Ganion, the spokeswoman for Blue Lake Rancheria.
A highly competitive bidding war had preceded Nelson’s selection for the city contract, with some well-known regional motocross figures also vying for the deal. Brown and others said they were stunned when Nelson submitted a $120,000 -per-year bid ? twice as high as the next highest bid from a local motorcycle dealer. Brown has a promotions deal with Scott Davis ? the previous operator of Riverfront Park. Brown, along with at least a half dozen other MX businessmen, has a vested interest in the property’s future.
Nelson’s deal is similar to the one Davis made with the city in 2007. Davis, who operates E-Street MX, relinquished Riverfront Park in spring 2010, citing a failure to make payments in a difficult economy. He asked for a reduction in rent for the remaining six months as operator, a request denied by the city.
Davis also operates a state-owned facility and was a bidder for the new Marysville contract in September. He had operated the track since 2007. He had signed a 10-year $120,000 a year rent bid that City Manager Steve Casey said at the time was three times as what the city made under 30-year operator Charlie Sexton.
But the economy was still booming then. “They’ve seen a decline in participation,” Lamon said of motocross tracks during the recession. “A decline in disposable income means a decline in recreation dollars.”