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Welcome to Racerhead and the last weekend off before everyone hits the ground running in the 2022 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, which begins next Saturday at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. We’re eight days away from seeing Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing's Dylan Ferrandis and Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence line up with their respective #1s on their bikes. Here’s a preview of that from the cover of the 2022 Souvenir Yearbook, hot off the presses as they/we say.…
There is also a sweet pullout poster in the book (as well as the latest issue of Racer X Illustrated) of Ferrandis on one side and a cool collage we came up with celebrating 50 years of AMA Pro Motocross through race images, magazine and program covers, the pages of Cycle News, and more.
The practice tracks are humming with activity right now—Racer X art director David Langran just bumped into Antonio Cairoli and his family out practicing at Perris Raceway and sent these iPhone photos over:
Benvenuto to the USA 🇺🇸 Champ 🍝 #ProMotocross@Antoniocairolipic.twitter.com/XcEcO1yygX
And the phones are also ringing off the hook next door at MX Sports Pro Racing as riders and race teams are trying to get their last-minute entries in, hard cards sorted, and just have everything figured out before the long trip out west.
On Tuesday there will be a closed-course practice session at Fox Raceway for anyone who is pre-entered for Pala (though if Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin shows up to ride like he also did today out at Perris, I hope they let him slide). It’s a chance for everyone to shake down their bikes one last time on the national track, without having to worry about amateurs or minicycles or anyone else out there. (A couple riders who won’t be out there are Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Malcolm Stewart, who has a knee injury that needs to heal, and Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb, who announced that he is taking the summer off after an uneven supercross season.)
As a fan, this is one of my favorite times of the year, but as someone involved with the production of the whole series now, it’s an incredible busy one. I’ve been getting a lot of calls and emails from all over the world about how to watch the races on MAVTV or the livestream on MAVTV+. Here are those instructions again from the press release:
For streaming and mobile viewers, subscribers to MAVTV Plus will receive live coverage of the motos that air on MAVTV in addition to tape-delayed coverage of the motos scheduled to air on NBC. MAVTV Plus will also feature exclusive content for subscribers, including qualifying shows every race day to see which rider will emerge with pole position and first gate pick. On-demand access to coverage from the entire 2022 season will also be available for fans who want to rewatch the action or wait to watch the drama unfold for the first time at their convenience.
New subscribers to MAVTV Plus have the choice of two plans for the most dynamic live and on-demand motorsports streaming service available - yearly ($99) or monthly ($6.99) - with an exclusive $10 discount now available for Pro Motocross fans using the code PROMX10. MAVTV Plus subscribers have the power to watch the 2022 season at their convenience, whether through live streaming coverage or replays via on-demand access, while also being treated to extended coverage of the Pro Motocross Championship.
Signing up for MAVTV Plus is simple. Users simply log onto MAVTVPlus.com and select “Sign Up Now” to register for an account. Pick and subscription plan, enter the proper billing information, and access to the 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship along with a comprehensive library of live and on-demand programming is at your fingertips.
The 50th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will kick off over Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 28, in Southern California with the Honda Fox Raceway I National. Full live coverage of the motos on MAVTV and MAVTV Plus will begin at 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET.
For more on the TV coverage this summer, let me throw it over to Weege right here:
I can’t believe this is happening! I’ll be back in the booth as the play-by-play commentator for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross this summer, but I’ll be joined by … a whole bunch of legends. I will miss working weekly with my guy Grant Langston (and I’ll say right now it’s simpler and easier to just work with the same co-host every week, and this was the same when I worked with Jeff Emig and David Bailey before GL). But we’re going to try a radical experiment and bring in a different analyst every darned race. This could be crazy, but it just might work. Credit to MAVTV for being flexible enough to try this, because the general consensus in the TV business is that familiarity is key. You’ll note most sports try to keep the same announcing lineup for decades. I know DC has been brewing this idea of a revolving door of personalities on the shows since as long back as his TV days 20 years ago, but this year MAV is going to actually let us do it.
First up? Both Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Johnson in the booth for round 1! RJ has been blowing me up for months about getting in the booth this year, and we’ve worked together before at Red Bull Straight Rhythm, so it will be pretty simple. MC has been amazing in his appearances on Race Day Live with Monster Energy Supercross, as well as those cool Kawasaki “Science of Supercross” segments. I know these two guys have opinions and they’re not afraid to voice them. That’s really the point of this whole thing. When you watch the NBA playoffs, you’re getting several games each night, which means several ex-pros telling you what they think, followed by a studio show where more ex-pros tell you what they think. Multiple voices are harder to incorporate in racing, where there’s just one big event each weekend. You’ll note, though, that the TV world is starting to loosen up. Fox Sports’ NASCAR broadcasts this year feature Mike Joy, Clint Bowyer, and a different guest each week. And ESPN has gotten raves for its “Manning Cast” of Monday Night Football. Turn on ESPN2 and you can still watch the game but instead hear the Manning brothers talk crap and interview guests.
MX Sports announced the legends lineup Thursday: RJ, MC, Broc Glover, Ryan Villopoto, Damon Bradshaw, Jeff Emig, James Stewart, Adam Cianciarulo, and David Bailey. Think about those names! Then Ricky Carmichael will hold the slot for three races, which air on NBC. Really looking forward to working with all of these guys. Rick Johnson was my damned hero when I was eight years old, and now he’s calling my phone! David Bailey held the spot during the nineties, and to me he is the gold standard of the analyst position. I’ve worked with Bailey before, but it’s still just shocking to get a chance to do it again. Also, I have a sneaking suspicion Broc Glover will be very good at this. Oh, and James Stewart!? James Stewart in the booth? This is gonna be really fun. By the way, it dawned on us recently that Stewart’s seminal Bubba Scrub debuted at Budds Creek in 2003. Are we already TWENTY YEARS past that? Where has the time gone?
I’ve always said the nationals are my 12 weekends of glory, the 12 Saturdays where I get to do the absolute best job in the world: watch racing, and talk about it. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge to find the rhythm and rapport with someone new every weekend, and I know some of these guys more than others. But I really don’t think it will be that difficult. I think it’s going to work. Be sure to sign up for MAVTV+ so you don’t miss any of it. We’ll even give you a deal:
Go to promotocross.com/watch for all the info at a glance. For MAVTV Plus streaming: use discount code PROMX10 for $10 USD off your Annual subscription (Valid until 5/29/22) OR discount code PROMX50 to receive 50 percent off your first month subscription (Valid until 6/29/22).
And speaking of all of the legends participating in the TV coverage, we decided on a similar theme for the free Racer X National stickers we give away at each round at the Racer X booth. Here’s what the first round looks like, with the first champion of the series, #1 Gary Jones!
Look for #2 Ryan Villopoto, #3 Jeff Ward, #4 you-know-who, to follow at each subsequent round. Again, they are free, and you can only get them at the Racer X booth at each track.
We are sad to report a couple of recent passings of old friends in the motocross world. Mike “MikeeeP” Patrick was one of the first pioneers and earliest proponents of the online motocross community. His site and forum Fresh Dirt was the online precursor to all of the moto-related bench-racing destinations that now populate the internet. A racer himself who lived near the old Cocoa Beach track, Patrick remained a motocross fan long after his own days on the track ended. One night in 1996, long before the races streamed live or were anywhere close to live TV, MikeeeP and his partner Jess Brin decided that they would type out all of the action happening at the Houston Astrodome SX and post it in real time on a website called Whip-It. It was a huge moment in the evolution of media coverage in our sport, because suddenly people all over the world could read about the race action as it was happening. That sounds downright humble today, but in 1996 it was a watershed moment.
I never really lost touch with MikeeeP, as he would pop into the comments on Facebook or my social media every now and then, but it’s been a while. The news of his passing this week, for unspecified reasons, was sad, but it brought back some good memories of those wild early online days and nights. Here’s a reminder of what it looked like way back when.
David Lindsey was one of those unsung heroes of the infield at motocross tracks all over the Midwest. A resident of Kentucky, Lindsey could often be found working the equipment, tractors, and water trucks at raceways like Muddy Creek, RedBud, and Loretta Lynn's. He was a very funny and talented man—he enjoyed playing guitar, singing, collecting vintage guns, and wrenching on pretty much any type of motorized vehicle. Tragically, he died on Tuesday, May 10, in a house fire in Pulaski, Kentucky. David Lindsey was 64 years old.
A 70-degree, low-humidity day at a prepped RedBud, with brand-new 2023 KTM four-strokes and two-strokes? Uh, yes please! That's right, most of the moto media outlets had the chance to go to RedBud on Tuesday and test out the all new KTM 250/350/450 SX-Fs as well as the 125/250/300 SX machines. Tim Ritchie and family were kind enough to allow KTM and all of us "magazine guys" to come ride their facility, and boy did KTM bring out a lot of bikes to ride. I ended up riding/testing six bikes in one day but was only allowed to ride the new electronic fuel-injected two-strokes five-six laps each. The two-strokes that KTM brought with them were pre-production units and were the only ones on North American soil, so they couldn't get them all roached out before they go back to the offices in Murrieta for some more evaluation.
As some of you know I am not a HUGE two-stroke guy, but after hearing about how much technology KTM brought to the table with their new SX line, I was excited to ride them. The new SX line is fuel-injected as well as electronic power valve-driven. No, these are NOT TPI bikes! All of KTM's new 2023 off-road two-stroke lineup has also now been upgraded to FI and not TPI. This means you will still need to mix your gas with oil, but now you will be getting more excitement with the FI-tuned two-strokes. The TPI machines were meant for lugging and low rpm riding, but these new 2023 KTM two strokes have bark and more pulling power than ever before. Even though I only got a few laps on each of the 2023 machines, I could tell immediately that the 2023 125/250/300 SX machines all have more pulling power than the older carbureted motocross two-strokes, as well as the older 2022 off-road TPI lineup. The 2023 KTM 300 SX was my favorite bike to ride all day (YES, THAT'S RIGHT) because it had so much rear-wheel traction as well as pulling power for a two-stroke. But you'll have to wait to watch the video to get more of the info on why it was my favorite.
The 2023 KTM 250/450 SX-Fs are essentially the same as the ‘22.5 250/450 Factory Editions, but the 2023 KTM 350 SX-F is much different than the 2022 model. There is more torque, better mid-range pulling power, and a top end that invites you to rev it out. It is basically a blend of a hyperactive race machine and a vet rider's lugging 450. I can't believe how much power this little 350cc orange four-stroke puts out. With the changes KTM made to the 350, you can guarantee I will be racing this sucker come next year somewhere. It feels 10 pounds lighter than a 450 and can be ridden a gear high at times even in deep East Coast loam. After a full day of riding, I was beat, but we managed to whip up four different first impression videos for you all that will be up right here on racerxonline.com in the next few days.
Oh and I can't forget to mention that getting to test new bikes somewhere else besides California is a big treat for me, and I want to thank KTM for allowing us to do so. There are riders on the East Coast who purchase dirt bikes, so I feel like we should go back east more to evaluate these machines. It helps me with settings, so that I can get the consumer a better direction on their bikes. The KTM reacts differently on the East Coast versus the West, and we discuss this in our video breakdown of each bike. I love new bike season, and yes, it's only May!
Read my full write up on the day.
More on the 2023 KTM intro at RedBud MX:
Jeff Matiasevich after winning the San Diego MTEG event in 1988. (It seems unfortunate that this one was not thought through a little more—it was just four years earlier and 20 miles down the road from San Diego that 21 people were murdered in a horrendous mass shooting at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro—one of the worst mass shootings in history.)
Speaking of ads, while working on our MAVTV+ 50-Day Countdown of the 50 years of AMA Pro Motocross, I have been spending a lot of time in the Cycle News Archives, collecting covers, win ads, and other assorted information to populate each year of the series, going back to 1972. While recently gathering things for 2015 I found the issue where Star Yamaha Racing's Jeremy Martin clinched his second straight title, which landed him on the cover of Cycle News as he going deep into an Ironman National berm. And then as I scrolled through the issue, it was obvious that Martin's time in that same corner was popular with the photographers and as well the advertisers who sponsor him. Great advertising minds think alike!
As I mentioned here last Friday, I was spent last weekend as a guest of Justin Brayton and Tony Wenck at Riverside Raceway MX in Winterset, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines. (Weege was originally set to go but knee surgery sidelined him, so I was the backup bench racer.) Brayton, who is easing his way into retirement this year, hosts a big race at Wenck’s track as a way of giving back to the local motocross community he grew up in. He invited friends like Damon Bradshaw, Phil Nicoletti, Denny Stephenson, and myself for a big celebration of Midwest moto. Dave Derringer and Wes Kain were there to announce all weekend, and a nice crowd came out to enjoy a beautiful weekend.
But not everything was beautiful, as Riverside Raceway and several nearby homes—including Tony Wenck’s own home—were in the direct path of a tornado earlier this year. Wenck got lucky in that his wife and two young daughters, who were in the house, survived the direct hit that literally destroyed their home by taking refuge in the basement. Their neighbors were not so lucky, as several were killed in the storm. The road that runs parallel with the track and the river is littered with downed trees and the rubble of lost homes and barns. It was humbling to see.
No matter, Tony Wenck has gone on with keeping the racetrack running, even while he and his family are living in a small apartment above a store in Winterset. He continues to give riders young and old a place to ride and race, ensuring that the next Justin Brayton-level prospect out of Iowa has every chance to learn, ride, and race dirt bikes. It was a great trip to Riverside Raceway and Iowa in general, and I look forward to hopefully going back in 2023, whether Weege wants to go or not!
Yamaha Beyond The Gate - S2E7
Here is a look at the best weekend of Yamaha privateer Calvin Vlaanderen's life as he won the MXGP of Sardinia with a perfect 1-1, with cameos from his teammate Arimas Jasikonis, and special guest star Lucas Mirtl, in this week's Between The Motos:
Here's Glen Helen RAW practice by the Vital MX crew, featuring Jason Anderson, Jo Shimoda, Shave McElrath, RJ Hampshire, and more:
“Hawaii is waging war on 'aggressive' feral chickens. The chickens are winning.”—SFGate.com
“Twitter CEO Defends Fighting Spam Accounts; Elon Musk Responds With Poop Emoji”—The Wall Street Journal
“New York made 11M bottles of hand sanitizer. Now it has 700,000 gallons it can't get rid of.”—Politico.com
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #20 with Logan Leitzel.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!