Thursday, March 20

Bradshaw Theory

I didn't become a really big Damon Bradshaw fan until after he started winning. Bradshaw came up through the ranks so quickly that getting pumped when he won was kind of pointless. I mean, we all knew he was going to dominate....until he stopped dominating. I don't know if anyone is sure what happened between 1992 and 1993, but it would be akin to James Stewart just going out there last year in supercross and suddenly "not having it." It seems impossible, but that was the case with Bradshaw in 1993. Soon, Jeremy McGrath had Bradshaw's momentum and mojo and the rest, as they say, is history.

At that point I started rooting for Bradshaw big time. I felt like the predestined champion of the future had fallen off the tracks and and things just weren't going to be right until he got back on them. I hoped he would find his old mojo again, but he retired instead. And it turns out McGrath winning was the greatest boon the sport would ever have, and things didn't really suffer too much without Bradshaw around. Shows what I know.

A few years later Bradshaw came back and I was ready for all the McGrath praisers to finally learn their lesson. Bradshaw was the greatest! Turns out I was wrong again. Bradshaw never got back to his old level. For whatever reason, that crazy speed just wasn't there anymore.

So I'm gonna' coin Bradshaw theory for two riders I've watched recently.

First is Ryan Villopoto. No, he hasn't dropped off to the point of possible retirement like Damon (Bradshaw was eventually crashing out of supercross races and finishing 16th at times in '93). But watching Trey Canard handle everything for the first few rounds of East action reminds me of Damon. He's just not the same guy right now. Going by past results, he shouldn't just be contending for this championship, he should be destroying it. Yes, Villo has a bad wrist. There's a reason for what's happened. But there was some sort of reason for what happened to Damon, too. Unfortunately that was way before the internet blew up so no one was talking back then.

Anyway, Canard is very much the McGrath to RV. In the early stages of 1993, McGrath wasn't neccessarily faster than Bradshaw, but he was putting his races together better. Getting better starts, riding more consistently. Bradshaw found his groove a few times and won a few races, but he never really got the rookie McGrath in his sights. We'll see if RV can do better.

On the GNCC side, my buddy Jason Raines trains harder and wants it more than anyone out there. But he was cursed with injuries and basically missed the entire '05 and '06 seasons with broken legs, and most of '07. He returned late last year just like Bradshaw did in 1995, but he struggled in the GNCCs. A full off-season to get going was what he needed, but man, after the first two races this year he still didn't look like the same guy he used to be.

My biggest hope here is that this whole Bradshaw theory is totally overblown and it won't actually apply to these guys. I've been wrong before and I've been wrong again, and when it comes to RV, I think we might all be eating our words if we doubt him too much (just like those that jumped off the RC bandwagon from time to time). This is a complicated game and it's hard to predict the future. I hope it's rosier for these guys than it was for DB's racing career.


ian and kate said...

wow, i certainly had no idea about that. i've heard of damon bradshaw but never what happened to him.
i happen to like your theory, however, things just sometimes don't go the way they're supposed to, and i'm pretty positive poto shouldn't be included in the theory.
for me, he's like a young carmichael -- even if a few races don't go as planned, he'll work his butt off to make sure the rest of the season is according to the books. it just wouldn't be like him to quit so suddenly.
but that's MY theory.
-a two-stroke girl living in a four-stroke world

Kreative said...

Truth: Damon Bradshaw just bought the house 4 doors down from my brother's. It's a huge mutha of a McMansion about 20 minutes out of Boise. Sign in the yard reads "Reduced $190,000!"

If we were to play the 6 Degrees of Separation game, the print rep at my old ad agency is best friend's with Damon's wife. Both total hotties (the girls, not Damon).

Matthes said...

I don't know if you're right and to be honest, I kinda skimmed the last part cause its midnight and I wanna go to bed but let me say this in no uncertain terms.....

Bradshaw F-ing rules.

(next to the Rollerball and Dogger)

Capaianc said...

Very strange comparison here Weege. Villopoto got slammed by a freight train at the first round, placed second in that slop in Daytona, then won the last round in Minneapolis, all the while turning lap times that are consistently faster than his competition, and you’re already predicting a Bradshaw meltdown? Unfortunately the Lites series is usually over before the real pecking order sorts itself out, but I think you’ll find that the best riders in the East are still Villopoto, Grant, and then Canard.

Anonymous said...

Injuries have dropped many phenoms out of contention.
I personally know a phenom that was going to be "the next" as coined by several mx stars. He was 16 and just signed a Factory contract. On peewees and 60's he even beat James Stewart straight up.
Before the start of his rookie season he broke his arm -COMPOUND FRACTURE. He has had some success (specifically in arenacross) but never turned into "the next".
I broke my navicular as well(ala RV) and have never been the same.


Jason Weigandt said...

Don't freak on the RV will become Bradshaw theory too much, gang. The two paragraphs I wrote simply point to some similarities between Damon against McGrath, and RV against Canard. I have no way of predicting a flame out like Bradshaw's, especially since it's probably a once-in-a-million level flameout that may never happen again. But...RV was expected to dominate and he has not. He was coming off of an off-season injury and that let his competition get a leg up on him. Same with Damon back in '93, coming off of a torn ACL.

I'm not saying RV is going to retire at the end of the year like DB. He's probably going to kill 'em all again soon. But you never know sometimes in this deal.

Good to see Damon's still a winner!

Again, no predictions for a flameout. Just saying the set up is there.

rocky said...

Interesting bench racing ammo, but I think there are some serious holes in your theory. Villopoto has already won more championships than Bradshaw did in his entire career. Bradshaw won a lot but he also imploded on a fairly regular basis, which left him with only one regional 125 SX championship if I remember correctly.

I think Bradshaw's deal was a combo of burnout (as you said he blew through the ranks very quickly) and McGrath dominance. Really though, the exact same thing could be said about Stanton. He was burned out by age 26 and also had a tough time coping with McGrath dominance and retired just one year after Bradshaw did.

Not to take anything away from Canard, but Villopoto is coming back from injury, got run over, had brake failure in Daytona, and came through with a solid win one week later. It's waaaaay too soon to tell, but if this is the beginning of the end for Villopoto, then yes, Weege, you did indeed call it first.

swizcore said...

I think the main contrast from RV to the Beast from the East is that RV still has that desire within and he really wants to live up to the expectations of his fans; Bradshaw was more of a self server and when his motivation began to wane he realized there was no reason to continue.

Another theory could be that while RV was a hot amateur prospect he was overshadowed by Alessi and Bradshaw was THE hot am with all the anticipation, that kind of pressure can affect different people in + or - ways.

I feel that Bradshaw just stepped out of it mentally and when that goes you have NO chance; RV still has that fire in his eyes and more importantly an incredible amount of talent.

My opinion-RV is currently more akin to Bubba in his first season or two in the big bike class, while he had the ability to go faster than anyone, crashes or other hinderances kept his results from showing that. RV is still the man but that may only last until his risky riding coming from behind results in a serious injury which I hope never happens because I still think he could break a lot of records before he is done.

Englishman in S.D said...

If I remember correctly Bradshaw was having BIG problems with his parents around the time he quit. Additionally he'd just signed a monster,multi year contract with Yamaha and had an enormous amount of pressure put on him to win everything.
His head just fell to pieces and the pressure he'd gotten from his parents and sponsors since he was a kid finally got to him .

Anonymous said...

hey it's the 26th and nothin new all week are u practicing for your honeymoon or what?we need to hear from u every couple days things are pretty boring in the northeast right now . raceway park opens this weekend finally