Tuesday, May 27

Glen Helen

This guy looks happy to be here.
Apologies for not posting here over the weekend, but I sold out on the blog to work with the Racer X Motocross Show and the Racer X Webcast for the first time this year. So instead of in-depth analysis, you got my super-outdated post from Friday about rain and MotoBowl. Worse yet, one of the members of my bowling team actually read that post, and took offense to what I wrote. I was supposed to be making fun of myself and my very light level of stardom, but once again I’ve made someone mad.

So let’s keep that theme going with my rundown on Glen Helen. Maybe I will offend again. And thanks for Carl Stone for the photos.

Working with David Bailey was incredible. I’ve said it before, but the 1994 Nationals on ESPN featured Dave Despain and Bailey in the booth, and that was the best moto broadcast team ever. Alas, that summer was the only time they ever worked together. A good 14 years later I got my shot to be Despain, which is kind of like Suzuki telling Mike Alessi “This is Carmichael’s bike so go out and beat Stewart now, okay?” Anyway, I tried and DB was awesome as always. Motocross presents a lot of intangibles. You can break down football with X’s and O’s, but motocross requires an explanation of invisible elements like what’s going on inside a rider’s head during a moto. Bailey usually nails it, and he did again this time.

James Stewart looked better than I’ve ever seen him look outdoors. Without Carmichael there it’s hard to judge if he really is better than last year, but it sure looked that way. Plus, James now knows he can win races and fans over like he did before tangling with the GOAT. For years people have been hoping to see the old 125 class James come back. That James loved the spotlight and seemed to have fun every second of the day. But when you’re used to nothing but positives in your life, like winning every race and getting every cheer, getting beat by RC and booed by fans takes a toll. Those days are over, and I hope James gets his love of the game back, because the whole sport needs it.

Poor Mike Alessi tried hard to stop him. I wouldn’t have expected Mike to have gapped Ferry and the Honda boys by 20 seconds or so, but the boy has been putting in the work. Is he even close to Stewart? Nope, but he presents a difficult combo to beat in case Stewart does have trouble again. You know that Mike will get the holeshot and be consistent all year—which means he will gather a lot of points. The rest of the factory guys had mixed days. Davi Millsaps showed some heart riding through a few problems to a 3-3. I know Ferry was bummed with his 4-4. Townley actually rode better than I thought he would. He looked really deliberate in practice on Saturday and Sunday, and I thought maybe he was still struggling to mentally overcome his recent injuries. But when the races started, he rode well enough to have gotten on the podium if not for some bad luck. Michael Byrne was better than I thought he would be after coming back from such major knee surgery (his injury was even worse than Stewart’s).

Behind the factory guys comes the “hoping to be this year’s Gavin Gracyk” pack. One of them was Sean Hamblin, who was actually “this year’s Gavin Gracyk” before Gavin Gracyk. Hamblin rode brilliantly to 7th overall. And Sean was just as strong late in the moto as he was in the beginning. He’s working hard and with a few more rides like this, he may actually have some confidence. He hasn’t had that for a long time. When he gets it you’ll know, because then he’ll actually get some starts. Sean is one of those guys who doesn’t get starts when he doesn’t expect to do well. Kind of like David Vuillemin completely losing his starting ability at about the same time he lost some speed. And the exact opposite of Alessi, who would rather get the start and get run over in the whoops than start 10th and finish 10th.

Check out all of the sponsor logos on Hamblin's jersey.

Steve Boniface and Juss Laansoo are both only set to ride the first few rounds of the season, and then the travel budget will wear out and their season will end. The hope is to perform well enough at Glen Helen and Hangtown to get a ride from a team after that. Boniface rode well with an 11-12, but the Juss wasn’t as fortunate with a 17-29. Juss should be better at Hangtown, but I don’t know if he’ll be better enough.

Jeff Alessi was solid, too. That kid crashes hard so darned often, I’m amazed that he always gets back out there. Then again, I don’t think the Alessi clan knows any other way but to race. Jeff would probably keep racing even if, as they said in Rocky IV, “His body says stop but his spirit cries never.” Although the spirit crying never could be his dad or his brother. Love or hate the Alessis, but never doubt their desire (and I’m still convinced Mike will be a fan favorite by the end of the year).

Anyway, Jeff was fifth for a long time in moto two until he finally wore down. He told me he didn’t get winded, but his lats (side muscles under your shoulders) always get tired at Glen Helen. Those aching lats cost him a few positions late in the moto.

Another dark horse? California’s Jared Browne, who would have gone something like 16-13 if his bike hadn’t quit on the last lap of he first moto. Instead he went 26-13.

And the dark horse who wasn’t a dark horse was Kiwi Cody Cooper, who everyone seemed to know would be fast. Cooper apparently has been going faster than Townley and Ivan Tedesco while training back in Florida. Brake troubles cost him in moto one, but he came back for sixth in moto two. That’s bad news for the rest of the guys hoping to become “This Year’s Gavin Gracyk,” because if Coops keeps it up, Roger D and the Suzuki guys will start hooking him up.

Cody "Air Time Super Sky Trooper" Cooper

Chad Reed showed up just to watch the races. Chad held court a bit on Sunday afternoon, and he told me (and the rest of the pack of onlookers who hung on his every word) that last summer he was looking to party and have fun (sorry, Jeff Ward) but this year he’s kind of done with that, and now he’s bored already. So he jumped on a plane at 6 a.m. on Sunday just to watch. Why not just race? He probably would have if the whole L&M racing troubles didn’t take place. Anway, Chad is in awesome form right now and he’s not afraid to talk trash. Again, if done right, he could be a legend, but I don’t think people will take his comments well so I’m not repeating anything.

Austin Austin Austin! Be it the bike or the rider, for some reason Austin Stroupe seemed like a he would get his first outdoor win before Trey Canard. Stroupe delivered. Canard was good, too, but just a shade off even in the second moto when he had a better start. But the ceiling is high on both of these kids. Give either an extra shot of confidence and they may really start putting it together. I still think RV is the man in this class, but it will be a dangerous game for him until he goes on a win streak and breaks the spirit of everyone else. Right now he just doesn't have the invincibility cloak. I think everyone in the industry owes Brett Mettcalfe an apology. Was anyone talking about this guy before the nationals began? Well, he’s right where he honestly should be, which is at the front of the pack. If Brett can just avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time, like unfortunately usually happens to him, he will have a great season and could get a win.

Lemoine led a strong charge for the newly named Division 7/Star Racing team

Team Division 7/Star Racing Yamaha needs some props after snagging four top-ten moto scores from Matt Lemoine, Broc Tickle and Jake Moss. Wil Hahn looked good, too, and the bikes looked fast. Team Owner Bobby Reagan liked my jokes at the supercross banquet, as well, so I would have given the team credit even if they sucked.

Everyone wants to talk horsepower in the Lites class, although David Bailey wisely pointed out that getting in and out of the corner before Mount St. Helen is just as critical as actually having a fast bike. Still, when you see Jason Lawrence get a holeshot and win a moto while the next best on his team is Tyler Bowers with an 18-18, you have to wonder if Jason is overachieving.

J-Law wearing a damn chest protector?! Is he really taking this seriously?

As far as those supercross banquet jokes go, I didn’t even write about it here on the blog because I left that show too confused to really interpret anything. All I know is that people weren’t laughing. Now that I’ve seen everyone again, I have gotten a rash of, “Man, I thought it was hilarious but everyone around me wasn’t laughing for some reason.” So really, I still don’t know what to think.


Anonymous said...

i watched both the pre-show and the post race, as well as listened in on the race call you and Bailey did, and i was very impressed. Great job! You two seemed like an excellent fit together, too bad you guys aren't doing the TV shows on Speed together, that would be epic.

yamalink said...

Hamblin's jersey is full of sponsor logos...they just silkscreened in white.

Seriously, how does a guy like Hamblin pick up product or monetary sponsorship? He doesn't have a website for contact; I know he's been busy and hasn't had the time or know-how to market himself. I guess the same can be said for every hard workin' privateer.

Matthes said...

I was lucky enough to be one of those "onlookers" talking to Reedy and it was an epic conversation that should remain in our hearts forever.
Otherwise someone or some team will find us (I'm easier to spot) and shoot us dead right there like in the old western movies.

Mike Martin said...

It is awesome to see that Stewart is back having fun. He has had a tough couple of season, and I was starting to get worried that he may never recover. I am glad that he is back up to speed. It is also interesting to see that Stroupe was able to stay consistent all day long, and beat out Villopoto. Are stroup/villopoto last years townley/villopoto?

Matt said...

It was nice meeting you and Steve Matthes at Glen Helen this weekend! You truly are the Ryan Seacrest of Motocross! I'd like to see a video of Matthes doing some goon riding on different riders bikes at each National track this year! You could call the action as he rides over his head and almost Heplers himself into physical therapy!
Go Boniface and Stroupe!
Brian (Matt) Benline

Paul said...

good seeing you at the track, Jason. Bailey was the man on TV, but remember, YTMND on the web, dude.


Anthony said...

"I don’t think people will take his comments well so I’m not repeating anything"

This thread is worthless without heresay smack talk. What a tease. Oh well, I guess we can still hope Reed will repeat his comments on the next Mathes podcast.

Or maybe that other not mathes canadian former mechanic can fill us in.

Ben Trujillo said...

Weege, Love the Blog and this latest post was a great one, thanks for keeping us in the loop and thanks a bunch for the great pre and post race shows!

Jason Weigandt said...

Okay, I will help. Name a bunch of teams and brands in the sport and just talk trash on them. That will give you a pretty good representation on Reed right now.

Anonymous said...

As a fan that follows the sport closely, I'm also very interested in knowing why Reed is having difficulty coming to agreement with teams and sponsors. The obvious cause would seem to be money. If this is the case, I can completely understand the situation he is in, and I may even admire him more for holding out for what he believes he is worth. Motocross is a brutal (but amazing) sport that has a high risk of serious injury when performed at the top level. Pros go huge lap after lap off jumps that have blind landings. I think that with this in mind the elite few should be getting even more than they are (at least when compared to the salary of professionals in F1, NASCAR, basketball, football, baseball, ect.) The puzzleing part (to me) is that Reed said on DMXS that it isn't a money thing. I'm assuming that this also means it isn't related to his salary in the event that he gets hurt, or other such money related restrictions (like right of first refusal, ect.).
I can't imagine that he would be given anything less than the best parts/equipment in whatever quantity is necessary, so thats probably not the problem.
All the top riders seem to be able to bring in their own sponsors and form their own gear deals (as Reed himself has done in the past), so I doubt that the problem is a rights of self promotion thing.
I remember reading that Reed already has his own motorhome to stay in at the races, so I can't imagine he's stuck on getting his own semi or how he gets to the races.
I can't imagine that he's getting stuck on the length of any deal he is considering signing, as I believe he mentioned that he isn't planing on retiring for approximatly three years on DMXS.
I think this pretty much covers what seems to be all the normal sticking points, so now I'm left to speculate on what may be the issue:
Could it be that he wants to have the freedom to spend all his time as he sees fit, and that the people he's negotiating with want to prevent him from doing certain activities? Perhaps he wants to go skydiving, bungee jumping, base jumping, and race cars testing during the week and his employers want to prevent this? I've heard of team managers becoming upset when their rider gets injured doing something else, but I'm unaware of contracts preventing them from doing other things. This seems like an unlikely (but possible) situation.
Could it be that he wants to decide who his team mates are (if he has any)? To be honest, I really doubt that he cares that much about this issue because he has to race everyone anyway, and there is no rule that says you have to spend quality time with your team mates.
As you can see, I'm really struggling to come up with something plausible to explain why Reed's having a hard time putting a deal together. He's the champ, and he's not that old so I really doubt anyone is writing him off as a has been. Money would explain everything, but he said it isn't money. Unless maybe it is money and he is just saying that its not money so that fans don't think he is a greedy SOB?....
Someone on here knows the answer. Come on guys, clue me in!
(yes I know I suck at spelling)

Mike Martin said...

Dang, it's really disapointing to see that Reed is having trouble with the industry in general. I always assumed it was L&M that was instigating the problems. It is troubling to learn that the problem is Reed himself. I held out hope that he would race the nationals, but I guess I was wrong. I have never been a huge Reed fan, but I would love to see him redeem himself. It would be great to see him throw a privateer deal together and prove to the world that he can compete with Stewart. It would be great for the sport, and for Reed personally. Here are the reasons why I think Reed should race the nationals..

Jason Weigandt said...

Wow, I can't believe a 1500 words take on the racing at Glen Helen is on the verge of veering right into a Chad Reed deal. But Dan and Mike bring up some great points. How can Chad be unemployed? Well, it's not about money per se, but suffice to say it's never completely not about money. I mean, I'm sure every team in the sport would take Chad for 100k, but he's not going to accept that, obviously. So maybe what he is asking for is just too much, even if it is reasonable. Teams are facing some budget shortages this year as bikes sales are down and inflation is making an impact. So maybe no one is willing to come up with the bucks. Second, I know Chad wants super freedom over everything, from gear to team appearances, all kinds of stuff that gets complicated. Finally, if you want to believe the Stewart will ride a Yamaha next year rumors, well, scratch Chad from blue because there's no way those two guys will ride for the same brand. It just can't work. So I don't know the answer to this, but I'd say it's a combination of not meeting on on dollars and some other restrictions not making sense. Was that broad enough?

Anonymous said...

It's not all about Reed, however, we could have called just about any of the thousands of people who attended Glen Helen to hear who did what on the track.

Although your take on the action is very well received, I myself find the information that is otherwise unobtainable much more entertaining. The kind of info only a guy such as yourself or Mathes could (or would) provide. So... What gives?!?

Anonymous said...

Jason, don't you think you were too harsh on Bowlers? The kid is huge compared to his peers; seeing him riding that bike reminded me of that scene from the movie "Goonies" when the protagonist's older brother takes the neighbor's little bike and start chasing his brother down the hill.
As for Reed's plans for next year, here's my 2 cents.
My prediction is that he will ride Yamaha for the factory team or Joe Gibbs on a supercross-only contract. There are several reasons for which I think things will end up as I anticipate:
1) Timing: the more time goes by, the less time Reed has to test a new bike for the Australian supercross series which will be held in October and November.
2) Sponsors: Yamaha and Toyota are companies very close to each other and Toyota may want to sponsor the Supercross series in Australia and use Chad as a testimonial both here and there.
3) Logistics: I haven't read about any new team being in the process of being formed, hence timing is running out also on the logistic front. Keep in mind that both L&M and Joe Gibbs began pulling people out of other teams right after the Supercross season ended.

Bauer said...

Since I, too, was one of those "onlookers" you referred to, Weege, let me just commend both you and Matthes on your restraint and smoothness in divulging nothing...hehe.

cpsmith58 said...

Since I was not Weege or Mathes or Bauer or another onlooker, let me say this:


8pac said...

I believe that Reed is not an arbitrary trash-talker, and this is what makes me extremely curious to know his sentiments. Sure he says things bluntly (sometimes to much so) but he makes good points for valid reasons.

Whatever he said, I bet it makes a lot of sense and is very applicable/true... and that's why repeating him would be so very risky.

But while the truth hurts,
"it will also set us free".