Thursday, February 28


Just heard some old curmegeon say this on ESPNRadio: "I am a reporter. I am not a journalist. What is a journalist? Someone who makes journals?"

Good point--and I hope no one tells him about bloggers. This weekend I'm hoping to do more, um, reporting from the races, and I'll have plenty to report since this is the double stacked weekend. I have supercross in Indy and then Sunday morning I fly to Florida for the opening GNCC. It's always good to go to Florida at this time of year. We race ATVs on Sunday and bikes on "Super Tuesday," and then I get a few extra days of Daytona hi-jinks in before heading to Georgia for GNCC number 2. This is one of the most fun weeks of the year, not as good as Loretta's, but pretty darned good. We may get some riding in, we may get to visit Matthes over at Tim Ferry's house (TF15 now has a broken tailbone. Maybe Steve can help him....okay, that's enough). I know on Wednesday night it will be on in Daytona. I'll also visit my old man friend Tim in St. Pete. Should be good.

But I'm keeping my eyes on the prize. Reporting. I have a new trick up my sleeve to fix the crappy post-race interviews we do on the Supercross Live! shows. It's top secret, and hence I will share it only here for you "bloggers" or even "blog readers."

I'm going to write stuff down. Sounds crazy I know but I'm going to do it. I am going to write a few questions for each top riders before the race, and if they happen to make the top three and get on our show I'll have stuff ready for them. Then, I will take notes DURING the race and maybe generate a question or two from that. I'm a damned genius.

For example, I learn stuff from watching the supercross TV show every week (too bad the announcers don't seem to notice the same stuff). For example, in San Diego Chad Reed went inside on a step-on-step off to pass Millsaps for the lead on lap one. Millsaps later moved over and blocked that move on the second lap, so Reed had to adjust and try a different corner to make the pass later. He passed Davi on the start straight. When Millsaps got the lead later in the race (after Reed fell) Millsaps again blocked the move, so then Reed had to make a move in the sand. It was cool, but by the time I saw all of it closely enough on TV, our webcast was over. Unfortunately, it's hard to pick up on all of this stuff from about 200 feet away in the press box, but I watched those guys very closely in Atlanta, and I picked up on more such Reed and Millsaps work there. In the heat race, Millsaps kept taking a stupid inside line heading onto the start straight, and then stumbled big time in the sandy first turn. He was faster everywhere else, but those two corners made all the difference.

In the main, Millsaps fixed all that and was able to shadow Reed. This led Reed to an adjustment, trying to charge into the Wall/Stop Jump . He crashed.

This type of adjustment is the stuff riders don't tell you about until you pull it out of them. In San Diego, I only saw it the next day on TV and then I never wrote it down to ask Millsaps about it at the next race. In Atlanta, I didn't write it down during the race so I didn't ask him again. I'm going to write stuff down now and we'll see if it makes me a better reporter.

But once I get to Florida I'll just be hanging with buddies and all semblance of professional reporting will go out the window.

Wednesday, February 27

The Chaaaaaaamp

Years ago I saw a photo of Nicky Hayden on the podium of an AMA Superbike race. His smile was ridiculous. His smile, it's Cameron Diaz level wide. I mean, not even a James Stewart/Doug Henry/Andrew Short triple team effort could match the Hayden smile. I've made fun of that for years. At the Honda Red Bull Racing Supercross intro party this year, Tricky Daddy Hayden was there, so I finally got the chance to see if my smiling skills can measure up.

He....was probably a little freaked out.

Sunday, February 24

Brace Yourself

Millsaps in Houston

Millsaps in Atlanta

Do you want to know the real reason why Davi Millsaps finally got a win? What really led to this new confidence and big breakthrough? It took a major change in his program. It took the ability to embrace change, to look at the future and to leave the past behind. He had to come out of his comfort zone and evolve.

Look at the two Carl Stone photos above. Somewhere between Houston and Atlanta, Millsaps' classic neck donut was replaced by .... a Leatt-Brace!


He's also undefeated now racing with the brace. Looks like it works!

All kidding aside, I am super relieved that Davi Millsaps won a supercross race. I was afraid he was going to waste all of his talent and potential, at least, that's what I always hear is happening. I don't know why rumors of laziness follow Millsaps around so much. Maybe it's because he's a big kid so it looks like he's not in shape, or maybe because he has so much talent that it's easy to believe he isn't trying hard enough. Maybe it's because he advanced so quickly he seems older than he is, and hence expectations are too high. But for whatever reason, I often hear the "Millsaps isn't working hard enough" rumors ripple through the pits. I heard it as far back as 2005, when Suzuki made him ride the East Region 125 class because he wasn't ready. Then he went out and waxed everyone at the opener in Indianapolis. I heard it when he first rode a 450 at Hangtown in 2006, but then he made the podium at High Point. I heard it last year when he was really struggling in supercross, trying to come back from a broken femur. I heard it again when he was struggling to hold on and win the overall in Colorado. Or when he was gone altogether after that. And I heard the rumors harder than ever leading up to this season, including after he finished 7th at Anaheim 1.

Davi's been through some major changes to his program in the last year, which included moving away from training under the guidance of his mother, which, since everyone knows how close their program was, must have been a massive change. I was really afraid Davi was going to fall between the cracks and let all of that potential go to waste.

But in his heat race in Phoenix, he passed Tim Ferry and nearly passed Langston. It was just a heat race, yes, but it showed me that Davi was getting back on his game.

He held off Langston for a heat race win at A2, and was off to a great start in the main event. All that stood between him and a podium was a pass on his old rival Mike Alessi, but then Davi crashed on a tuff block. Then he pulled off with some sort of injury. I was ready to see that happen. Just when it looked like that potential was about to come through, Millsaps was hurt. What a waste.

But the injury turned out to be no more than the "elusive fart" as Ping called it. Davi was back in San Francisco and he led parts of the main and made the podium. Rode well again at A3 and made the podium again. Led part of the race in San Diego. Led again in Houston. He was getting closer and closer and that first win had now become more inevitable than hearing another story of "Dude, I heard Millsaps is lazy."

If you say "Reed led in Atlanta but then he crashed and Millsaps won," you'd be doing Davi a disservice. He was going faster than Reed, he was pressuring him, and he nearly passed him in the whoops leading up to the Wall of Death that took Reed down.

That's all good, because now I don't have to think: "Man, we would have some great racing going on if guys like Millsaps could just ride to their potential." Instead, he is riding to his potential and we do have good racing. Same for Windham. This is turning into a great season of supercross.

Saturday, February 23


And here we are live from the Georgia Dome press box (at least, live as I'm typing it, and by the way I am always typing live, which means that previous sentence means absolutely nothing). Okay now that I've wasted a bunch of time, here's the word from Atlanta:

Villopoto is racing but he doesn't look like the same RV51 we've come to know--and not just because he's now officially RV2. To me, the fastest guys look like the Torco Honda tandemn of Grant and Canard, Canard is especially impressive since this is his first supercross. Ben Coisey looks cool, almost a little old-school Cobra in his riding style, but his times aren't the equal of the others. The other impressive Lites rider is Branden Jesseman, who was third fastest in both sessions and actually looked fast doing it. Even in his hey day, I don't remember people watching Jesseman in practice and saying "dude he looks goooood."

On 450s, Chad Reed is a bad dude when we come back east. But so are all of the other "East based" 450 pilots, which includes Ferry, Millsaps and Windham. Still, I think Chad looks stronger this week than he did last time. The track, designed by James Stewart, was so darned simple that Dirt Wurx had to add some obstacles to make sure they didn't have 30-second lap times. So, out of the bag of tricks came stuff from A2's retro night--two "stop jumps" and two sand sections. That's really throwing off everyone's momentum and rhythm, and I think Reed extends his advantage over the field when the going gets really tough like that.

Okay, gotta sure to listen to the webcast tonight on

Thursday, February 21


Friday before the San Diego Supercross, Billy Ursic rolled out an advance copy of "199 Lives," a new movie about Travis Pastrana. It's not another Nitro Circus, this is serious stuff following TP's whole life. The guy has done so much that you often forget all the details along the way (except for that time he was on Letterman years ago--that will NEVER be forgotten). The movie is great and only because there just hasn't even been another guy on earth quite like Travis Pastrana.

Most puzzling in that movie is the part about his racing career. It just amazes me to watch Travis the racer. I stood there, watching a lot of these races live and in person, but it just doesn't seem possible that it really happened. There was a time when Travis raced full series and won races and scored points and won titles? No way! How could that be? It just seems so foreign to believe that Travis, eight years ago, reeled off an amazing win streak to end the 2000 AMA Motocross Tour as the 125 National Champion. I remember, when leaving Steel City that day, that I was totally relieved because I knew now matter how crazy this whole Pastrana thing turned out, he would always have a title. For real. The guy was always an accident waiting to happen, so I was just happy that he managed to get one, because you simply couldn't count on anything more.

Turns out that was prudent, because Travis never did win another national title (he did get the 2001 East Supercross Title at least). I remember those races so well, and I remember telling myself to remember those races, because Travis was just too good to be true for this sport, and you knew it wouldn't last. But even after telling myself to remember those good old days, I still watched this 199 Lives film and just said, "Dude, I can't believe Travis Pastrana used to race and win consistently every weekend."

The next day he was there in San Diego, rolling out of the pits and headed to the track. Travis was going to ride opening ceremonies, but when he rode out of the rig for practice, it almost looked like he was a racer again. Later, I got confirmation: he would be a racer, on a bike, at the GNCC in Florida next month.

At this point the thought of Travis racing and challenging for the win seems crazy. The first time he expressed interest in the Florida race was 2004, and if he had done it then, it would have been HUGE, because he was still supposed to be a full-time racer, but only the GNCC would have had him. Alas, back then, Roger DeCoster said no (or, as Travis explained to me, Roger didn't say no, but he looked at him like your parents look at you when you ask to do something stupid).

Travis made it to the GNCC by 2006, but then he put a hole in his radiator in the most nothing first turn crash ever.

Now he's back in 2008. Eight years and maybe 198 lives removed from being a national motocross champion. Honestly, his races have featured so many false starts and non finishes lately that I'm not sure if anyone is taking it seriously any more. It's too bad though, because when anyone looks back and remembers Travis from back in his racing days, they remember just how good he was. I'm not sure if that's a shame, or maybe it was just good while it lasted. We'll see in two weeks.

Monday, February 18

30 Second Man

It's not easy teaching a Monster girl how to use a 30 second board. I snapped this picture of Live Nation's Cliff Nobles demonstrating the proper technique.

There ya' go!

Sunday, February 17


Carl Stone photo

Back when Kevin Windham first broke into the pro ranks with Yamaha, they ran an ad campaign harkening back to the days of Bob "Hurricane" Hannah. After each win, they rang up the Kevin "Windstorm" Windham nickname in hopes of creating another Hurricane. Well, now I get the chance to get all poetic and symbolic and deep.

A giant windstorm swept through Texas last night, enough to trash most teams' tents and apparently knock out power transformers all over the area. It was also enough to ground us in the Houston airport this morning, and now we are stuck in Charlotte after our whole flight schedule got jacked up. The weather forecasters were actually right this time, since they were predicting these winds. Same for the forecasters who predicted the Windstorm would plow through the supercross field. Last weekend, Kevin Windham only notched fifth and never quite got to the same level he was on at Anaheim 3. But everyone was still calling the #14 for Houston. He designed the track, he had tons of fans from his native Louisianna heading in to cheer him, and then he threw down a faster lap than Chad Reed in the final qualifying session.

Then the main started and in a perfect script, KW and Davi Millsaps, who have been the biggest thorns in Reed's side this year, got out 1-2 while Reed was mired midpack. The culprit, unfortunately was Reed's teammate Nathan Ramsey. On the webcast, I theorized that riders like Ramsey may not actually want to get holeshots, because they know the pace up at the head of the pack on the first lap will be furious, and it will be a mad, nerve wracking run while trying to avoid getting landed on, knocked down, block passed and then ultimately called a "fader" when you actually just finish in the same spot you normally finish. Only Mike Alessi seems to truly enjoy getting a holeshot even when he knows everyone is gonna' blow by him.

Anyway, Ramsey got a good jump and not only inadvertantly pinched off Reed, he also blew the first rhythm section and sent everyone on a clumsy ballet of casing and facing through the jumps. Only Millsaps escaped, and everyone else was all bound up. Reed was going to have his work cut out for him, but then Millsaps fell, and Ferry and Short didn't put up enough of a fight to stop him--honestly, Reed slicing through those guys was fully MC like. But when he got to Windham, nothing happened. Windham didn't fade, didn't lock up and didn't get rattled at all. We always hear about how good Kevin could be if he had his mind right and just flowed like he knows how, and we saw it in Houston. Reed was aggressive and charging, Windham was just smooth baby.

And he was a winner. What a great story. The guy wasn't even sure if he could get a ride this year and now he's out winning a race. Also, KW traditionally gets stronger around the halfway point of the season, and since he actually seemed able to match Reed's pace throughout the day in Houston, there's a possibility of more wins this year.

When we left the race and saw the pits totally tattered, it looked like a totally different place than it did earlier in the afternoon. After the Windstorm took to the track and won, will the supercross landscape be just as changed?

Saturday, February 16

Houston, We Have No Problems

It's all good here in Cowboy country, practice is complete and everyone made it through in good shape. The track looks prime, too, with awesome dirt and a cool layout designed by Kevin Windham. The riders jump over the start straight (although riders aren't going under the start while others are leaping over them). And how bout this for an unfair advantage: Windham beat out Reed for the fastest lap time. I'm telling you, Reed is winning the races but this gang is really keeping the heat on him. And honestly, K-Dub told us today that the track doesn't have any of the obstacles that his practice track does at home, so it's not like he's literally riding on "his" track. He just "is" on it today.

Of course 20 laps is a totally different story and Reed is no doubt still the man in this series.

I'm looking for a breakout ride tonight from Andrew Short, who was right there in the hunt last weekend and just needed to turn it up at the right time. This, sadly, has been Andrew's trouble for a long time, and if he ever gets aggressive when the time calls for it, he can start turning this close finishes into wins. Maybe tonight? Well that's a bit of a stretch but I think Shorty's first podium is on the way.

Don't forget Tim Ferry though. I see a little more aggression and body English from Red Dog this year, which is exactly what he said he would work on during the winter. If he can get another one of his (recently) good starts and nail all the jump sections immediately, hmmm...

Davi Millsaps didn't have a chance to get on the leader board because he had a flat rear tire in the second practice, so he missed a lot of laps.

Finally, Josh Hill was the only rider consistently going double-triple-double through the rhythm lane that connects to the start. Unfortunately, even though it looked better, I don't think it was any faster.

The Lites class is getting good. Not only did Ryan Dungey and Jason Lawrence go back and forth for fastest time in practice, but Lawrence made sure to stop by a few times while Dungey was cruising through the mechanic's area or taking a slow lap. Lawrence is working hard at getting in Dungey's head--this is such great theater between the two most opposite characters in the sport. Good versus Evil! Tonight from Houston.

By the way Dungey had the fastest time in the first session and Lawrence just snuck in to grab the fastest lap in session 2. It's really close between the two. And man, Lawrence is really hanging it out out there. He looks very comfortable riding the edge.

That's my take from Houston, I just wanted to make sure everyone knew I was alive and well. Yesterday, Toyota was cool enough to hold a ride day at Three Palms Xtreme MX Park about an hour from here. Bad Billy Ursic and I got to put in three long motos, and today I have so much acid built up in my legs that I can't even walk up and down stairs. It's unreal how sore I am. But I'm not injured, which is way better than the last time I went riding.

Hey Todd Jendro, one of the big supercross head honchos, is one heck of a rider. But I don't think he could have held up against Ursic, who is one of those guys that is just fast no matter when, where or what, and without even trying.

Three Palms is a sweet facility and I thank Toyota for having us. Now go out and buy a bunch of their trucks so they can open the track up for free again next year.

Wednesday, February 13

Shakes on a plane

On my flight out of San Diego on Sunday, a woman seated behind me asked "Hey, did you go to that BMX race or whatever?" I said yes. She followed with "Oh my, on our way out here, we met a racer. His name was Gary Hansen, I think?"

Me: "Oh you mean Josh."

Woman: "Yes! Josh. He was so nice. What a nice guy, and his girlfriend, or fiance, she was so sweet."

Me: "That's good to hear. Some people say Josh is kind of full of himself and acts too cool."

Woman "Oh no, he talked to us for a long time."
Woman 2 "Yeah and they had this cute little dog with them named Iggy. They're such a nice couple, they talked to us for a long time."
Woman "Yeah they even had a camera crew with them! Some kind of documentary. Maybe we will get on it!"
Woman 2 "Does he make a lot of money?"

Me "Yeah, you would be surprised how much money some of these guys make for riding dirt bikes."

Woman "Oh because his fiancee, she had this gorgeous ring on. I mean, what an amazing rock. It was HUGE. She had tatoos too. So did he. But they looked nice and they were all very sweet."

Me "Well that's good to hear. People sometimes think motocross riders are all insane daredevils, but most of them were raised with good parents and they're good family people. You kind of have to be to get started in the sport since it's so expensive."

Woman "Well yeah it would be very expensive. He must have a lot of money because....

(here it comes)

"....the girl he was with. Oh my. She had just the most amazing, you know, just, I don't know if they were fake, but they must have been. I mean, I've had some hot friends, but nothing like that. They were. They were amazing!"

Me: "Oh..Really?"

Woman 2 "Oh they were just so perfect. Just perfect. I mean, she must have spent a lot of money for those."

At this point several rows of people were listening--something about the conversation had just become very interesting to everyone else.

Me "Well, you know, he does have some money."

Woman "Yeah well what a great thing to spend it on! I've never seen a pair like that before!"

Tuesday, February 12

Lap Dance

Have you checked Bad Billy's Sign of the (Lap) Times at Racer X? I know we all like to talk about consistency and fitness and eliminating mistakes and putting it all together, but the top eight in the 450 main finished in order of their fastest lap times. The rider who can put in the fastest one lap wins, the rider who puts in the 7th fastest one lap finishes 7th. Hmmmm.

And how about Jeff Alessi getting in there!

Monday, February 11

A classic

Sunday, February 10


Man it was a good one last night, as Chad Reed says he's struggling with "something" right now and it's keeping everyone close. Perhaps the something is the jinx we put on him at Racer X by calling him the King of California, and then serving it up further when I said in the main "Chad Reed NEVER makes mistakes and throws races away." And then he crashed in the sand. That makes for good radio -- it was a nice piece of business right there.

I saw Chad's team manager Larry Brooks in the hotel today, he said indeed Chad has a few issues with himself right now (I surmise a small injury, perhaps) and LB really wishes he didn't make the races so interesting. The rest of the world hopes Chad never figures it out, because these races have been fun to watch.

What I like best about this series is that after six races, we still don't have a clear cut winner in the other pack. Ferry, Short, Millsaps, Windham and Hill all looked good at various times throughout the night, and they'll likely flip flop again at various times next week. The bad thing is, the injury bug is beginning to hit, with even the normally rubbermaid Mike Alessi out, and Tedesco, and Langston and so on. Those boys would have been right in there.

But the best highlight of all is the J-Law coming of age. Not only is he finally winning, he's still talking crap! I think a lot of people are hoping the kid just goes all out if he wins the title and drops some eff bombs, flips some birds and drops some vodka in his Monster can right there on the podium to just keep th ebad boy image rolling all the way. Lawrence is the anti-Dungey, and even though everyone likes Ryan, it's hard not to love the bad boy.

Got a plane to catch. By by 72 degree weather.

Saturday, February 9

Stay Classy

San Diego has served up perfect weather for the weekend, and as is normally the case here, the track was completely soaked this morning and is now dry and slick. That's what happens when it doesn't rain (for once) at a supercross. The track is cool, though, as several jump rhythms and sections didn't come together for the riders until the second practice session. The names up front in the lap times were all mixed up as well. Davi Millsaps looked fast in the first session and led the field for awhile, but then Chad Reed swooped in and took the fastest time with 'Saps second. The next time out, Andrew Short was putting in fast times , then Josh Hill came in a bettered it. The #40 was on top of the board for awhile, but then Speedy Reedy stepped up again to come up with fastest time. Tim Ferry and Andrew Short ended up second and third right behind him. And don't worry, Kevin Windham looked fine as well--the top five riders were all running 50-second lap times.

Mike Alessi broke his collarbone, though, which bums me out because I predicted Mike's consistency would make him a front runner in points by the time the series is over. I thought Mike would end the year top five--not so likely now.

And what's up with the hand injuries lately? Last January and February it seemed like if anyone got hurt, they hurt their ribs. This year, it's hand injuries--Hepler and Tedesco last week, now Manu Rivas/Gomez is out with a hand injury, and I just found out that Tyler Evans has been MIA with a thumb injury. And David Vuillemin is still smarting from a thumb injury he suffered last October, he told me some days it's good and some days it's bad--especially if he cases anything. Also, DV's knee is still jacked up from San Francisco, and he's worried because it's his right knee that's hurt and this track has a lot of right-hand turns. Hard to put your foot down when your knee is bad.

In Lites, everything is coming up J-Law again. He was a little faster than the rest of the 250F guys, and, it looks to me like Ryan Dungey is trying really hard to pretend there's no pressure for this title, when we all know there's plenty of it (and I can tell you he does know that too).

Reedy's gonna try to be the first rider to win five California races in one season. He's only lost in San Diego one time in five races here, and he was fastest in both practice sessions. That's a nice piece of business right there.

Friday, February 8

Everything's coming up Jersey

This is renaissance time for the Garden State, unlike anything we've seen since 1986 (when Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi were both in their primes, and the New York Football Giants were headed toward a Superbowl title--and you do know that Giants Stadium is in New Jersey and not New York, by the way. Yes, 1986--it's retro time in Jersey now. Bust out the IROC-Z!).

The obvious one from 2008 is the G-Men winning the big game last week, but how about Jason Lawrence delivering not one but now two SX Lites wins for the Garden State, which makes him the first Dirt Jerseyite to ever win a supercross. Not even the great Barry Carsten won one, and not even the GOAT of Jersey, Mickey Kessler. Of course, Mick came along way before 125 or Lites Supercross, and as Timmy Coombs always said, "That's a win in the support class, so it doesn't count." Timmy, of course, only races CR500s.

So as the torch is now being passed from Kessler to Carsten and now to J-Law, let's give the OG of Jersey some love. Yesterday, Davey dug out this awesome COVER PHOTO of Mick the Quick from Dirt Bike Magazine in 1974!

Kessler was/is from Farmingdale, which is also the home of Bel-Ray, which is where my dad worked. So Kessler was a true God in my eyes since he would KILL it at our one local track, Englishtown, and one time (back in 1986, of course) he actually gave Bob Hannah a serious run for his money. E-town is like that, though. The big factory dudes would roll up and visit New York City and then just show up in time to race, leaving them hung over and prey for the locals. How do you think Carsten is able to win the 125 class at the Race of Champions every year?

A few other claims to fame for Kessler: In the seminal movie Winner's Take All, Rick Melon comes off the track from practice and his mechanic/girlfriend/trainer/coach says "Hey watch for #56 out there, he is totally out of control." The movie, of course, was shot in 1986 and that was Kessler's number that year!

I know this because in 1986 Dad took me to the Arenacross/Mud Bog/Monster Truck show in Madison Square Garden, and the two fastest riders were Kessler and (ironically) West Virginia's #777 Mike Bias. One of the gimmicks back then was to hold a State Championship race , and in the NY Arenacross it was billed as a battle between New Jersey riders and New York riders in a team race. Each state picked one rep, and which ever rep got to the finish first won the State Championship for his locale. The other riders where there to block, ram and take dudes out to aid their team leader. I was all pissed when Bias, a West Virginian, was announced as part of the New York team! And then New Jersey still led until the LAST TURN when about 15 New York guys just waited in the last corner to take the Jersey guy out, and a massive brawl broke out, and in the end the New York guy came from a LAP DOWN to win the Championship.

I was BEYOND pissed.

15 years later I got a job with Racer Productions and Rita Coombs told me that RP had actually run that Madison Square Garden event. And....and....AND....that State Championship race was STAGED!!!! That's worse than Santa Claus and the WWF.

One time I remember riding with my dad (me on the awesome Yamaha YFM80 Moto-4 ATV and my dad on the Honda ATC 125 THREE WHEELER) and all of a sudden two guys came along in mega-tricked-out Honda Odysseys, jumping stuff and bashing each other. It was awesome. Then they stopped to say hi--and one of the guys was Mickey Kessler!!!! I was probably 9 years old at the time and thought "wow there is nothing the man can't do." And you through RC to stock cars was impressive.

I did get to meet Mickey a few times, today he designs the track at E-town. I've stated before that I'm too scared to introduce myself to Carsten. And J-Law? Same deal, really. Back in my yellow flagger days at E-Town Lawrence was a tiny kid on the #38 RM80, and he would DESTROY the 85cc classes. He would also race Schoolboy as a 12-year-old against 15 year olds on 125s. They were some of the most fun races to watch, because J-Law would battled and bang the big kids and the big bikes the whole way and sometimes he would even win.

Then Team Green would send in their hot shots for the Race of Champions, and Lawrence would actually get beat by Nick Evveneuo and the Dougherty brothers. I remember saying, he was never gonna make it...

Wednesday, February 6

Year of a Million and One Dreams

All of this wasn’t supposed to happen. My dad was born in 1950, and they built Disneyland in 1955. As a kid, my dad would watch all the “Disneyland is awesome” propaganda on ABC each week, and Disneyland became a mythical and magical place to him. But since he lived in New Jersey and Disneyland was in California, and this was the 1950s, he was sure of one thing: “I will never, ever, ever see Disneyland.”

When I turned into an “adult” and I had my own money and time, I decided to spend it on the thing I love most: dirt bikes. When my dad became and adult and had his own money and time, he decided to spend it on what he loved most. I think he’s gone to Disney World in Florida 30 times, no joke. But this year, he came up with an idea—maybe he could tag along with me at an Anaheim supercross and get to see Disneyland? Yes, it’s not really better than Disneyworld, but, this was a way to say he finally got to see it after 57 years of knowing he never would.

We would fly on Friday, do supercross on Saturday, and go to Disneyland on Sunday.

But then a strange, unexpected, wild complication came about. The Giants made it to the Superbowl. The Giants??? The G-men??? The 2008 NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS???? How in the hell did this happen???

The Giants didn’t deserve this sort of attention. Two months ago, I was lamenting over the NFL schedule. The Giants play the Patriots like once every 10 years. What were the odds that they would be scheduled to play them in the last game of the season in the same season where the Patriots were undefeated? The Giants would be the poster children, the ones remembered in history, the ones seen in the background of photos with the caption “The Perfect Season.” What did the Giants do to deserve such this? The Giants aren’t like other New York teams that deserve this treatment. The Yankees have won so much that they deserve any franchise-crippling insult that comes their way. The New York Knicks have become the standard for everything that is wrong with professional basketball. But the Giants? Why did the scheduling gods make them the final Pats victim for week 17?

The G-men played a great game and made it interesting for sure, but the week 17 loss only seemed to remind me of how invincible the Patriots are. Even when you think you have them, they’re really just toying with you. I still had little faith in the Giants (although I did start claiming they were the second best team in the history of the NFL since they were beaten by the best team ever by just three points). I didn’t even talk trash for next weekend’s game against Tampa, even though my old roommate/manfriend Tim is a Bucs season ticket holder. I still had no faith in the G-men.

But they beat Tampa. The next weekend, we were boarding a plane on Sunday in Phoenix, watching the Cowboys march down the field and dismantle the Giants. Then, just before landing, the pilot comes on the radio to say the Giants have won again.

A few days before the next game against Green Bay, dad sends me an email. “Hey, I just realized yesterday that the day we go to Disneyland is Superbowl Sunday! And the Giants could still be in it, too! And the Patriots could make history!

Well, everyone on earth knew there was no chance the Giants would go further. America wanted to see Brett Farve take his shot against the perfect Pats. I saw something during that Green Bay game, though, and I told the HSCGIED now Fiance: “Hey, have you noticed, the Giants look dangerous!? They look like, they look like they can move and score at will. It looks like they can make things happen!”

Then they won. The Giants were going to the Superbowl!!!!! Awesome…except they Giants were going to become the Pats last victim. AGAIN.

I thought this would make the Disneyland trip even better, since now Dad and I would get to see our favorite football team in the Superbowl. Dad, though, wasn’t thinking that way. He had waited his whole life to see this park and he didn’t want anything to screw it up. And honestly, the Giants were just gonna’ get blown out anyway. Why would you want to see that?

On Friday he made his declaration: he wasn’t interested in watching the game. This should be a shock but it’s not if you know my dad. My dad is not a risk taker. He’s not a multi-tasker. He is robotically on point, on time, on schedule and does not deviate from set plans. And he always, always sets a plan.

I’m pretty much the opposite, in the same way we all try to do things differently from our parents. I think a lot of my motivation to work seven days a week, to never rest, to work at any and all hours of the day, and to not get mad or upset about it—is a knee-jerk reaction to my dad doing the opposite. I don’t plan anything, I just take it as it comes and try to do as much as humanly possible. To me, Superbowl and Disneyland in the same day is a golden opportunity to make the greatest day ever. To dad, it’s two conflicting things on the same day.

Much as we expected, it didn’t take long to get through Disneyland. We have seen most of that stuff in Disneyworld, plus it was raining and cold (welcome to sunny Southern California, dad). By 4:00 pm, there was only one thing left to ride—the Monorail. And that was the thing my dad wanted to ride most when he was a kid in the 1950s seeing Disneyland on TV. Turned out the Monorail was down for maintenance, and they told us to come back in two hours. The Superbowl would now be at halftime. The world was basically telling us “leave this park and watch the game.”

It took some convincing, but I finally got dad to go over to ESPN Zone, which was about a 5-minute walk away. Tom Petty had just finished up the halftime show, and then we saw it was 7-3. We had a game. Maybe I could convince dad to stick around.

Of course every table was full. I wouldn’t give up. We had to put ourselves in position for something to happen. So we went to the bar—standing room only—knowing full well that no one was going to leave right in the middle of a close and historic game. But we had nothing to gain by leaving. We stood next to two Australian women who were on vacation and heard about this big game. They had no clue how this American football thing worked. “Excuse me, but do you know why they keep stopping?” asked one, much more used to rugby and Australian Rules Football, which just keeps on playing, like soccer. I did ask them if they had ever heard of Chad Reed. They hadn’t.

It was fun to talk to the Aussies, but what it really accomplished was killing some time to keep us in the bar. Then a miracle happened. A guy sitting at the bar had reserved a table, but when his buzzer went off, he decided he liked the bar better. “Anyone here want a table for two?” he said. I snatched that buzzer from him, he told me to say my name was Estrada, and in full CHiPs fashion I did just that. The hostess seated us in the big screen room, which meant we had a full-on perfect view of a GIANT screen, and within minutes of sitting down we watched the GIANTS march down the field and take the darned lead in the fourth freaking quarter. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

A few minutes after that, the Pats marched right down the field and scored again, looking like the team they should have looked like the whole game. Dad and I shrugged and gave the Giants credit for a good game. But this was the way it was supposed to end.

By some miracle, a minute later the Giants were fighting up stream, and then Eli threw what is being called The Miracle Play to be Named Later. By then, Giant fans were standing on chairs, screaming and going nuts—and this was at ESPN Zone in Anaheim, California. When they won, the place went even crazier. And Dad and I got to see it together, only because he wanted to go to Disneyland. A few minutes after that, Eli said he was going to do the same thing.

Hey that was a dream come true.

Sunday, February 3

The Duke's Duel

Years ago, the fortunes at Team Suzuki were so dire that people started talking about "The Suzuki Curse." It seemed like any time someone got momentum going for Roger's team, an injury followed. Then came 2005, and RC, and everything changed. Also new to the team that year were a pair of Lites riders, Davi Millsaps and Broc Hepler. Between RC's greatness and the potential of Hepler and Millsaps, the world was about to be painted yellow. RC did his part, but Millsaps and Hepler never quite developed into the racers Suzuki needed them to be to win championships. Both ended up notching wins for the team, but neither grabbed titles.

Hepler and Millsaps moved on, and Millsaps even notched an East Regional SX Title. But they still had trouble racing--going fast was pretty easy for them, but they just always had trouble putting it altogether.

Hepler's troubles continue. The rumor was that he broke his leg this week, and that turned out untrue. But then he ended up breaking his thumb tonight.

But Millsaps, he might get it. I heard some people bagging on Davi. His weight always seems to be a topic. Last summer he had some personal issues at home, and it led him to purchase his own facility for riding and training down in Georgia. And he had ex Miss Supercross with him and as soon as a rider has any cracks in his armor, you start hearing about "the girl trouble."

But Millsaps is just too damned talented to lose it all. After showing a few signs here and there early--he passed Ferry and nearly zapped Langston in a heat race in Phoenix, he won his heat at A2, he led the main in San Francisco--he finally put it altogether tonight and rode 20 solid laps. Now he's positioned himself as perhaps Reed's biggest challenge for wins. Kevin Windham pushed Chad hard for a few laps but ended up fading way back, and everyone else racing Reed is basically a known quantity. Chad knows he can beat these guys now that Stewart's out. But Millsaps is a new matchup for him, and I believe the speed is there. Of course it is. It always has been there for Millsaps. Can he actually put it together though? After tonight, it's starting to look like he might.

Credit Reed, though. Like a quarterback calmly engineering a fourth-quarter comeback, Reed just hung around, weathered the storm, and ultimately did what he needed down the stretch to pull this out. Reed admitted it wasn't his best night, but he still won. He also won in the mud last week. Get Chad on a dry track when he's feeling it and it could be scary. And you know he'll be looking to scare some people next weekend. The rest of these guys were too close and he needs to make sure no one gets confidence on him.

As for J-Law winning the Lites? Hey, I am very tempted to talk about how I knew Lawrence when he was a prodigy just hammering away at Englishtown 10 years ago. But I' m going to stay away from that, and just see if the Garden Staters can unite for one more win in the SuperBowl tomorrow. The trouble is, even if the Giants put up a good fight, the Pats have a quarterback who can work the fourth quarter a lot like Chad Reed worked the final 5 laps of tonight's main.

and he had trouble la