MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT (04/25/12)
By John Basher
PHOTO OF THE WEEK, PART 1
We’ll miss you outdoors, RV…
PHOTO OF THE WEEK, PART 2
PHOTO OF THE WEEK, PART 3
PHOTO OF THE WEEK, PART 4
…and James Stewart?
ANDREW SHORT: BY THE NUMBERS
The clock was ticking, but Andrew answered the bell. You rock, Shorty!
I, for one, applauded when I saw Andrew Short win his first 450 race. How could anyone not be happy for the guy? After being so close to winning so many times and battling through injury and adversity, Shorty stayed the course and wound up in the record books Saturday night. Congrats to Andrew, his family, Larry Brooks, Jeremy McGrath and the race team.
Andrew’s first 450 Supercross race was at Indianapolis on March 24, 2007. Since that race in Indy (Andrew finished 8th) there have been 87 Supercross races held. That’s a span of 5 years, 28 days. 1855 days. 44,520 hours. 2,671,200 minutes. 160,272,000 seconds. And, knowing Shorty, the thought of winning his first 450 Supercross never left his mind for those hundreds of millions of seconds. Not anymore!
MINI-VIEW: ELI TOMAC
With the 450 Supercross and 250 East titles wrapped up, there’s only one number one plate left up for grabs. This past weekend at a surprisingly dry Seattle Supercross, contenders Dean Wilson and Eli Tomac fought tooth and nail for valuable points. Things got ugly. In the end Wilson hit the deck, injuring his shoulder, and Tomac nursed home a bike with a fried clutch and hammered shifter. I wanted to hear from Eli and get his thoughts on what went down in Seattle.
MXA: Is your elbow 100 percent?
Eli: Yes, it’s all good. It took about 5-1/2 weeks to get back on a motorcycle, so it was pretty dang quick. I was also lucky to have a ten week break off between races. When the injury first happened I went to the doctor and got freaked out. He told me that I needed to be in a long cast for six weeks. I was like, ?Whaaaaat?!’ We went to another arm specialist and he recommended physical therapy. I underwent aggressive treatment, but I didn’t even need to be in a cast. It worked out just fine.
Is it one of those things where you automatically get a second opinion from a doctor after you get hurt?
Definitely. The first doctor I went to recommended the second guy, so it wasn’t really a stretch. As a motocross rider I’m always looking for the most favorable answer [laughter]. However, this injury wasn’t anything too crazy.
Speaking of crazy, what is your perspective on what happened Saturday night in Seattle?
I think that everyone was just so anxious to get back out and race. The first couple of passes that I made on him [Dean Wilson] were aggressive. When I watched the race on TV, Dean’s first pass that he made on me, which was the same corner that I took him out in, was aggressive. But then once I passed him back the second time completely clean and he dive bombed me, that’s when I got mad. I got fired up when he pushed me off the track.
It was very impressive that you were able to jump right back on the track from the plywood.
I was lucky that the hay bale was gone, too. Things worked out well for me in that situation, given the circumstances. I literally didn’t lose any time. It was nuts!
What goes through your mind when you’re in the heat of the battle like that?
I was in the mood to go for the kill after Dean pushed me wide and off the track. I could have checked up and crash myself into the hay bales, but I decided to play it safe and ride off the track.
In regards to you and Dean coming together for the final time after the finish line, there are so many different ways that it could have played out.
When you watch what happened, you can see that Dean was fully committed to that corner. He didn’t let off at all. I think most guys would have known that I was going to go inside in that corner. When he passed me in that corner a few laps before, I checked up because I knew where he was going. I guess his thought process when I went inside of him was he was either going to make it through or crash. Pin it to win it!
It’s interesting that after the race you and Dean both agreed that you’re battling for the championship and things will happen.
Yeah. I wasn’t crazy emotional after the race or anything. I didn’t want the race to go that way. Dean is the one that instigated the aggressive racing, and I wasn’t going to put up with it.
What was it like trying to keep pace while stuck in third gear, which occurred from your run-in with Dean?
It was hard. I didn’t have too much of a problem for a few laps, but then at around lap 12 my clutch started getting smoked. The clutch fully tightened up, so it started slipping. Then I used the on-the-fly adjuster to loosen it up, and I almost stalled the bike in a few corners. The bike wanted to keep going, even though I had the clutch in. Luckily the clutch held up and I was able to shift the bike into second at the very end of the race. I was lucky to even get a third place finish.
What do you expect will happen at the last two rounds?
I’m not going to go out and clean him out again. I think that the racing will be aggressive, but I hope it doesn’t come to how it was in Seattle.
Have you prepared for the outdoors at all?
We got a couple of tests in. I have been riding outdoors once a week and Supercross twice a week. I did some testing in California, but I’ve been in Colorado most of the time. I’m going to stick with living in Colorado this year and see how things go.
THE BATTLE FOR SECOND RAGES ON
Davi Millsaps leads the chase for second.
Everyone from Albuquerque to Zephyrhills knows that Ryan Villopoto successfully defending his Supercross title. That’s so last month. However, the war rages on for second place overall in the 450 class. Three riders have a realistic shot at winning the race for second place. Davi Millsaps (222 points), Justin Brayton (219) and Ryan Dungey (207) might be over 100 points behind champion Villopoto in the standings, but they are neck and neck for second best.
What’s the big deal about finishing second place overall in a series dominated by someone else? There’s the allure of being second best in a class stacked with talent. There is also the mention in the record books. And, oh yeah, there’s that money thing, too.
For the fans and media, it gives us something to talk about. The ship has long since sailed on any serious discussions about a championship battle (the series fizzled on March 9th, the day before the Daytona Supercross, when the press release went out that Ryan Dungey underwent surgery to plate a broken collarbone). As spectators we cling to the hope of a hard-fought battle, and the push for second place is exciting.
Ryan Dungey came back mainly to nab second place for KTM (the Austrians have never finished as high as second place overall in the 450 class standings). A crash in the main event thwarted forward progress, dropping him even further down the points ladder.
A month ago it looked like Justin Brayton was the second place guy. The Honda rider has been trying to cut down Davi Millsaps‘ point gap. After Seattle only three points separate the two.
Can Brayton bring it home for American Honda?
Who is my money on? I’d be willing to state that Justin Brayton will finish in the runner-up slot. Over the past four rounds Brayton has consistently finished higher up. Millsaps has moments of greatness, but isn’t quite as consistent. As for Ryan Dungey, he is fighting an uphill battle. There are few riders to get in the way between RD5 and the Brayton/Millsaps duo.
THE POINTS GAME: WHO’S MOVING UP?
“Bam Bam” will battle the big boys next year.
Race teams are well aware of the AMA rule instituted prior to the 2007 season regarding what it will take for a 250 rider to point out of the class. Are you? If not, here goes: “Effective with the 2007 season points, riders earning 120 points in an eight-race season in three seasons of Lites competition will be ineligible for the Supercross Lites Class.”
There is also a rule that limits how long a rider who wins the 250 East/West Championship can stay. The quick explanation is that if you win the title you get to defend it once, unless you have been in the class for three years. Plus, you can only win the title twice, no matter how few years you have been in the class.
Obviously Justin Barcia will be required to move up for 2013. Justin won the 250 East title last year and was given a year to defend his title. He did just that, and will become part of the 450 traveling circus next year.
Blake Baggett barely missed getting bumped up in 2013 by the skin of his teeth. BB scored 159 points last year, is over the mark at 128 points this season, and managed to fall two points short of the cutoff in 2010 when he earned 118 points. Blake will most likely move up after 2013. Other members of the 2013 graduating class will (probably) be Cole Seely, Eli Tomac, Blake Wharton, Ken Roczen, and possibly Ryan Sipes (if he manages to earn 42 points in the next two rounds).
If Dean wins, he’ll have to move up. If not, he can spend another year in 250 Supercross.
With the 250 West title still up for grabs, winning the title will determine the future for several different riders. Here are several scenarios:
If Eli Tomac wins the 250 West title, he has next year to defend his championship before moving up to the 450 class in 2014.
If Dean Wilson wins the 250 crown, he will be forced to move up to the 450 class next year. If, however, he fails to win the title, he has one more year in the 250 class (if he remains healthy). Should he score over 120 points in a regional Supercross series in 2013 then he is forced to move up in 2014. The word on the street is that Dean is moving up to the 450 class next year, regardless of whether or not he wins the Supercross title.
As for Cole Seely, if he closes the 15-point gap in the two remaining rounds of the West series and wins the title then he will have to move up to the 450 class next year. Why won’t he be granted a year to defend his title? Just like how Broc Tickle was kicked out of the 250 class after winning the 250 West last year, Cole Seely has been in the class for three years. However, should he fail to win the title this year then he’ll presumably have one more year in the 250 class before pointing out (Cole scored 147 points in 2011 and is rounding the corner at 119 points this season with two rounds to go).
It’s worth noting that all of the riders from 2007 through 2009 that earned over 120 points have either moved up or moved on. This includes Ryan Villopoto, Jason Lawrence, Josh Hill, Jake Weimer, Trey Canard, Ryan Dungey, Ben Townley, Ryan Morais, Austin Stroupe, Brett Metcalfe and Christophe Pourcel.
A MOTORCYCLE LOVE AFFAIR: WHEELS THROUGH TIME MUSEUM
Photos courtesy of Mike Basher.
By John Basher.
The motorcycle bug bit me when I was 12 years old. Like many enthusiasts, I was introduced to motorcycles because of my Dad. My father was blessed with a mechanical mindset. That, coupled with an enthusiasm for all different sports involving wheels and an engine (planes, trains and automobiles!), led to his desire to buy several beat-up motorcycles and fix them up. His goal was to ride motorcycles in the fields and woods of our expansive land. It didn’t take long for my brother to become interested. At an age where I imitated everything that my brother did, I naturally followed suit. Before long my Dad, brother and I spent many evenings riding through trails until well past the sun had set.
The beauty of my Dad’s motorcycle desire was that he wasn’t interested in new age technology. Instead of riding current equipment, my father collected an ever-growing quiver of bikes that might have been considered rubbish by motocross purists. My Dad, much like my brother and I, didn’t care. We were too busy having fun having fun on antiquated machinery from which my Dad would nurse back to health from the depths of a junkyard.
As the years went passing by, I yearned for newer bikes in an effort to go faster. Twin shocks and air cooled engines wouldn’t suffice. Although we still kept many of the old bikes, my interest in riding those machines waned. The age of technological innocence was over for me the moment I realized that I wanted to race motocross. Once we invested in a Suzuki RM80 I rarely threw a leg over anything else. I usually left the old war horses marooned to a dark corner of our garage, moving them only when I needed to make room in the winter for our snowmobile.
I have no regrets over my decision to forego riding the machines of yore. My fascination with motocross has provided a lifetime of great experiences, not to mention an eventual job with MXA. And, as much fun as I’ve had riding new age bikes, it’s impossible to forget the memories that have been formed out of my family’s mutual love of motorcycles. Let’s just say that I had the best of both worlds.
With age comes wisdom and the realization that life goes in circles. My love for old motorcycles as a 12-year-old spawned into a propensity for riding the latest and greatest dirt bikes. And, in a shocking twist, my enjoyment of modern bikes has caused me to reflect, with fondness, on the ancient iron that I learned to ride on. Now I’m drawn to classic timepieces in the scope of motorcycle history. It’s no surprise that my favorite bikes were from the 1970s, because that’s what I rode (even though they were already over 20 years old at that time).
Naturally my Dad has a love affair with old motorcycles. This leads me to the reason for this story. My parents recently traveled to the western part of North Carolina to see friends. While in the Dad and my Mom were traveling to the western part of North Carolina on a recent trip my Dad couldn’t help but visit Wheels Through Time, a motorcycle museum that specializes in very early models. Take a look at some of the relics that my Dad spent the day drooling over. Very cool!
For more information on Wheels Through Time, please visit www.wheelsthroughtime.com.
LAKE ELSINORE HOSTS RED BULL X-FIGHTERS TRACK TOUR SATURDAY
The Red Bull X-Fighters Track Tour is coming to Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park this Saturday April 28.
Red Bull will be giving away X-Fighters tickets and merchandise to fans in attendance.
The first 100 visitors through the gate will receive $10 off the price of admission.
Gates open from 9:00AM ? 6:00 PM. All tracks will be available to ride.
Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park has announced that they will be hosting the Red Bull X-Fighters Track Tour this Saturday April 28. Red Bull will be holding fan giveaways including everything from X-Fighters merchandise to tickets to the May 12th round of the X-Fighters World Tour at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino. The Red Bull X-Fighters Tour was started with goal of introducing the sport of freestyle motocross to new countries and cultures around the world. Today, it is the largest freestyle motocross tour on the planet, featuring the world’s top freestyle riders throwing the biggest tricks in the game in diverse locations around the globe.
All of Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park’s tracks will be open to the public during the X-fighters Track Tour from 9:00AM ? 6:00PM. The first 100 visitors through the gate will receive a $10 discount on admission, so fans are encouraged to come early! For more information about the X-Fighters World Tour, check out their website at www.redbullxfighters.com.
RACE TECH OFFERS COBRA 50CC SHOCK BUMPERS
Race Tech has just released a Shock Bottom Out Bumper for the 2011-12 Cobra 50cc motorcycle. Through testing with top amateur mini riders like factory Cobra supported Hunter Yoder, we’ve found that the stock bumpers shred within a few rides; even as soon as a couple of laps! Race Tech uses a special poly-urethane foam, built to last and with stand the abuse of even the fastest 50cc pilots. The Cobra 50cc Shock Bottom Out Bumpers are in stock and available now from Race Tech.Part Number: SKBO143538
Retail Price: $19.99. For more information about Race Tech’s products, seminars and rider support program, please visit racetech.com or call our friendly sales staff at: (951)279-6655.