MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT: (11/24/10)
By John Basher
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Mike Brown is a jack-of-all-trades. Brownie has won races indoors and out (including the 2001 AMA 125 National title), the WORCS series, grueling offroad events, and also Endurocross races (shown here, from Las Vegas this past weekend). There’s no disputing that he is one of the greatest all-around riders of all-time.
MINI-VIEW: ZACH OSBORNE
Zach (left) talks with fellow American GP racer Michael Leib at the Fermo, Italy GP finale.
Virginia’s Zach Osborne is America’s great hope for a Grand Prix Championship title in 2011. The soft-spoken kid will be in his third full year of racing in Europe, and he has already made a name for himself among the GP elite. A win in Turkey last year, coupled with a fourth overall finish in the 2010 point standings, are good signs for Osborne.
I wasn’t surprised to see Zach on the line at Glen Helen for the USGP in May, nor was I shocked to spot him at the Fermo, Italy GP finale in the middle of September. I was, however, left scratching my head on Friday night when he sat down at the MXA table inside the AMA Hall of Fame induction banquet. It turns out that Osborne was hanging out with his trainer, and they stopped by the momentous event. I caught up with Zach to discuss his placement among the GP hopefuls, life in Europe, and his intentions in the following years.
MXA: How difficult was it to make the transition to living and racing in Europe?
Zach: For me it wasn’t so bad, because I knew what to expect going into it. I went to Europe when I was younger while testing for KTM. I’m from the East coast, and I’m used to a more low key lifestyle than most of the riders that grew up on the West coast. Those things made the move to Europe easier for me.
Didn’t you win an amateur championship over in Europe several years ago?
I won the Junior World Championship in 2004 in Latvia. I’ve done quite a bit of racing in Europe, and I did three or four months of testing on the KTM 85SX before it hit production. That experience has paid off, because the transition has been fairly seamless. I believe that my results show that.
Osborne wrapped up the GP series in fourth place and remained healthy for most of the season.
Where are you living in Europe?
I stay in England most of the time, but I don’t go back there every week. Usually if there are two GP races back to back I’ll stay wherever I’m at for that time. However, I try to go back to England as much as I can. When racing the GP series it’s very difficult to always be at home base, because the series goes all over the place.
Do you like living in England?
I like England. The weather isn’t so nice, but overall it’s a good thing living in England. I am familiar with the language and the culture isn’t drastically different. I’m happy with the team that I’m on. We all get along well. It’s a pretty private deal, because there are only seven people on the team. We’re a tight knit group, and we go to the races and get the job done.
How did an opportunity to race the GP series even formulate?
In 2008 I met someone named Nash Kane [unsure of spelling] at a Mimi’s Cafe in Corona, California, while I was riding for Yamaha of Troy and injured. I was sitting there by myself, and he and a few other guys came over because they recognized me. We had lunch together, and we joked around about doing some GP’s at the end of the year. It came about that Yamaha of Troy was on the decline, and the British team needed a rider over there because one of their riders had gotten injured. It was my only option at the time, and they needed a rider to spice things up for next year’s sponsors. I went there on a two-race deal, and now I’m going to be starting my third year in 2011.
The 2010 season was filled with success, because you finished fourth overall in the point standings. However, your shining spot over in Europe was when you won the 2009 Turkey GP. Things seem to be going well for you.
Yeah, things are turning up. I won a GP last year, I was fourth in the world this year, and I also won the British Championship. 2010 was the most successful year of my professional career, and it has been the only year that I haven’t been injured. I did suffer from a concussion this year, but aside from that I remained healthy.
“I was on the podium [in Turkey] and they were playing the national anthem. I kept thinking to myself, ?Okay, let’s get the anthem over, because someone’s probably going to shoot me!'”
Talk about the GP win.
It was crazy! We were in Turkey, and every morning I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to hear the Mosque bells ringing to call in all of the Muslims. It was one of those deals where it was too far east for comfort. It was sketchy. I was on the podium and they were playing the national anthem. I kept thinking to myself, ?Okay, let’s get the anthem over, because someone’s probably going to shoot me!’ At the same time it was cool to win. I flew to the race by myself from Belgium, and in Turkey it was just me, my mechanic and my team manager. We got the job done and got out of there as fast as we could.
Zach helped pilot Puerto Rico at the 2010 Motocross des Nations in Lakewood.
Do you have any family that stays with you in Europe?
Normally I’m on my own. My girlfriend comes to visit me most of the summer, but she’s going to nursing school, so it’s hard for her to get away to visit. This year my mom came for a little bit to help out with everything, and that made things a little better. Normally I’m on my own, except for my teammate, Jason. We just do the work to prepare for racing and hang out the rest of the time.
As a top amateur racer, was it ever one of your dreams to race in Europe?
As a kid I spent a lot of time there and I saw quite a few Grand Prix races. I stayed in Belgium and I was around Ben Townley a lot. I always looked up to Ben and I thought that racing the GP series was a possibility, but after the way things went here in the States, racing in Europe was my only option. Looking back, I had some crappy guidance. I made a few bad choices, but now that I’m racing in Europe I wouldn’t change the experiences that I’ve had for anything. In the long run of my career it was a good move. I plan to come back to the U.S. in a year or two and make another go at racing Supercross and the Nationals.
Being in faraway countries, you don’t speak the languages and aren’t very familiar with the cultures, but you’re representing America as our top rider. That has to be a good feeling to fly the American flag all over the world.
It’s pretty cool. Sometimes it’s surreal. There are a lot of people follow me because I’m an American racing the GP series. When I get on the podium it’s great, because it shows that Americans can do well on the GP circuit.
I bet that you were itching to race the Glen Helen GP this year, because while it’s not your hometown race, it’s in your home country.
It was awesome! I missed the podium by one point two weeks before Glen Helen, and then the weekend after that I had a bike failure while running second. This all happened right before the Glen Helen USGP. At Glen Helen everything came together for me and I ended up getting the Marty Moates trophy as well, which was great. Also, winning an extra $5000 was nice!
Not many Americans have won World Championships, but you’re knocking at the door of an MX2 title. Do you have any idea how amazing it would be not only for you, but also for American motocross, to win the title?
My goal is to win the title. I started training on November 1st and everything is going well so far. I’ll do whatever it takes to do that. I think the last American World Champion was Bobby Moore in 1994. It’s been a while, and I need to get the job done.
“The speed in Europe is very comparable to the U.S. The days of U.S. riders blowing the Europeans out of the water is over. On any given day someone can step up and win.”
How is the speed of the Europeans? At the Motocross des Nations this year Germany’s Ken Roczen was blazing fast and ended up winning his individual class, while Marvin Musquin rode well when his bike would cooperate. Obviously the speed is there for the top Europeans.
The speed in Europe is very comparable to the U.S. The days of U.S. riders blowing the Europeans out of the water is over. On any given day someone can step up and win. Take a look at Ben Townley in the second moto at Glen Helen this year. He ruined everyone. Townley didn’t win a moto during the Nationals, and while Mike Alessi did, Townley stomped Alessi at Glen Helen. As far as a true test about which series is better, there will never be one. If the European riders come to America then the American riders have the advantage, and the same goes if the tables were reversed. I do think that the professionalism, the training of the riders, and the series is much more disciplined in Europe. I think that’s why the gap has closed down so much.
I was at the GP finale in Fermo, Italy. That track looked smooth, but fellow American Jimmy Albertson talked about how some of the GP tracks are so nasty and rough that he feels like he’s trail riding sometimes. Do you share the same feeling about the tracks?
Fermo is quite special because the track was so ridiculously fast that it was hard to make any bumps. The track was like a highway. The sand races are more like an enduro than a motocross race, and some of the mud races are insane. Sometimes I have to make my bike last the whole moto, and then I’ll finish inside the top five.
Evidenced by the Fermo track, Europeans aren’t afraid to jump. There were some big obstacles on that track!
Again, that track was a special case, because there were some big jumps. I was practically soiling myself, because there were some huge jumps! However, I enjoyed the track and I finished fourth on the day and fourth in the point standings.
Above is the Fermo GP finish line that, as Zach said, he was “practically soiling himself.”
You mentioned how you eventually want to come back and race in America. What sort of timeline are you looking at?
Right now there’s no reason for me to come back. I’m making good money in Europe and I’d be taking a big pay cut coming back to America just so that I could race Supercross and live here. I’m happy to be racing in Europe. I want to win a World Championship before coming home, but then I do want to make the transition and race here. I’d love to be on the Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, Geico/Honda, or Star Racing/Yamaha team, because if you’re not on one of those teams in the 250 class then you’re fighting an uphill battle. If I don’t come back to America and race a 450 right away then I’ll wait for the opportunity to get on one of those teams that I just mentioned.
Before the GP series starts do you plan on racing any Supercross events?
I have my eye on the first two East coast races, which will be Houston and Atlanta. I can’t say with certainty that I’ll be there, but I’d love to race some Supercross.
Thanks for your time, Zach. I can speak for many American motocross fans in saying that we’re proud of you for doing battle over in Europe.
It’s my pleasure. I’m having a great time racing overseas. I only hope to bring home the title.
ENDUROCROSS: THE MOST EXCITING RACING EVER!
Diehard motocross enthusiasts, heed this advice: watch an Endurocross race in person. Why? Aside from drawing a serious contingent of motocross riders, the racing is amazing. It’s not unordinary for the person with the holeshot to finish last, and the person who started in last place to finish first.
I had never experienced Endurocross before, because quite honestly I didn’t actually care about seeing guys go through rock gardens and over logs. How stupid of me! I attended the Endurocross finale this past weekend at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas to watch buddy and MXA test rider Dennis Stapleton take a stab at racing. I left the event with more than my fill of watching great racing, seeing gnarly crashes, and wondering how Poland sensation Taddy Blazusiak (yes, his name is spelled correctly) made such a difficult course look like a paved oval while everyone else struggled. Take a look at the photos below for a perspective of what Endurocross is all about, as well as the 2011 schedule. Trust me when I say that you won’t be sorry for attending one of these events. Better yet, bring your significant other, because she will stay dry, clean, and warm (three important factors when bringing your lady friend).
Aug 13………………Comcast Arena, Everett, WA
Aug 26………………Pepsi Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN (Friday)
Sept 17………………Citizens Bank Arena, Ontario, CA
Oct 1………………National Western Complex, Denver, CO
Oct 22………………Idaho Center, Boise, ID
Nov 19………………Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Here’s a photo of MXA test rider Dennis Stapleton’s built 2011 Kawasaki KX250F before it went through the Endurocross ringer. When all was said and done the bike had a bent radiator, broken and bent spokes, torn grips, destroyed tires, and wobbly wheels. When asked if it was worth it, Dennis happily replied, “Absolutely!”
If you can’t get over rocks and logs then don’t bother racing Endurocross (or practice, practice, practice before even thinking about racing Endurocross).
Lance Bryson is one of the masterminds behind Endurocross. The man talks a million miles an hour and has more energy than a hummingbird after pounding a dozen energy drinks. He is, as they say, good people. Thanks for the killer time, Lance!
Supercross has shenanigans, and so does Endurocross. In order to entertain the crowd before the racing started an “alligator hunter” dove into the water hole and pounced on an alligator. The Vegas faithful found it pretty funny.
Rocks are a common sight at Endurocross. The track had a rock-laden corner, as well as a tedious rock garden that left many pro riders looking like complete beginners. Riders had to face these sections every single lap, which meant that many of the competitors took rock naps several times. Body protection is a necessary item.
What’s the best way to get over many of the Endurocross obstacles. Keep the front end high while hanging on and saying a few Hail Mary’s.
To determine starting position for the night show each pro rider had to complete a hot lap. The riders were ranked by their finishing time. Taddy Blazusiak waits to drop the hammer.
The Orleans Arena was mostly packed with Endurocross spectators waiting to see a piece of the action.
It’s not uncommon for riders to throw elbows in the tight confines of the track. Although no punches were thrown, it wouldn’t be a shock to see riders get heated.
Although it’s not recommended, this trials rider wanted to get the best racing perspective possible for his buddies to check out after he stomped the rest of the trials class field. The trials class is completely separate from the Pro class.
If you want to see a dozen spectators run as fast as they can around an Endurocross track while holding onto Pro Taper handlebars (not doing so will disqualify you from the race), then Endurocross is your cup of tea. The guy in the lead is obviously a racer, while some of the big boys that took up the rear face planted from exhaustion.
Offroad ace Destry Abbott put himself in a precarious position while trying to qualify for the main, which only consisted of ten riders. Crashes were a dime a dozen.
Taddy Blazusiak (1) wrapped up his second consecutive Endurocross title on Saturday night, besting riders like Geoff Aaron (2). Taddy killed the class, running lap times over a minute faster than other pro riders. He was even scrubbing over tractor tires!
A happy Taddy.
AMA HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY HIGHLIGHTS
The 2010 AMA Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place this past Friday night at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas. To view the photos from the event, click here.
PRESS RELEASE: MX FOR CHILDREN EXPANDS SUPERCROSS CHARITY EVENTS
St. Louis and Salt Lake City Supercross Races Added to Fundraising Schedule
“I have supported MX for Children over the past four years because it is a great cause.” said Andrew Short, of Team KTM. “Seeing kids raise money to help sick kids and what these hospitals do for kids is very rewarding as a rider and a parent.”
The two new MX for Children’s Inside Line Experience stops, which present an exclusive backstage pass to Monster Energy Supercross for top fundraisers, will benefit Children’s Hospital of St. Louis and Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
MX for Children has raised more than $500,000 for children’s hospitals in North American since it was founded in 2006. Fundraisers are motivated to help children by advancing research for hydrocephalus — the #1 cause of brain surgery for kids. MX for Children supported hospitals, recognized as some of the world’s foremost pediatric health-care institutions, are dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care and clinical research, in several cities on the Supercross circuit.
Please visit http://www.mxforchildren.org/ to learn more on how to participate in the MX for Children 2011 Inside Line Experience events.
PRESS RELEASE: IMS ANNOUNCES FUEL TANKS FOR 2011 KTM 250 & 350SXF
IMS Products, the leader in aftermarket fuel systems for off-road motorcycles, is excited to announce the upcoming release of an oversized fuel tank for the 2011 KTM 250 and 350 SX-F. While still in production, the new tank is estimated to hold 2.9 gallons of fuel – almost a full gallon more than stock. The tank will utilize the stock shrouds and will feature the same Quick Disconnect Crossover Tube found on Husqvarna Crossover tank.
“We’re planning to have the KTM tank out by early January, but we’ve still got some testing to do to ensure this is the best product possible,” explains Chris Hardin, General Manager for IMS Products.
PRESS RELEASE: BLINGSTAR LAUNCHES NEW FACEBOOK PAGE
Stay up to date with latest insights on world of Blingstar
On the page you can find links to their featured products, rider bios, online store, and contact information. Blingstar also holds contests and product giveaways peridoically, so check their page often!
Get the latest news, photos, videos, and chances to win free Blingstar products by clicking “Like” button on their page!
You can visit Blingstar’s new Custom Facebook page at http://facebook.com/blingstarproducts
ON A SAD NOTE…
This past week two motocross legends passed away. Eyvind Boyesen and Rich Eierstedt left this mortal coil, leaving behind a legion of family, friends, and fans. If you haven’t read Jody’s touching recollection of these two greats, then take a few minutes out of your day to remember Eyvind and Rich (click on the names to be directed).