Monday, June 30


Clearly, it was a night race.
Carl Stone photo

Every Monday I roll back into the Racer X office to be greeted with “So how was it?” It was especially important on this Monday, because this was the first night race, and, everyone had watched the stuff on TV. So how was it live? The concept was great, but they needed more lights. It was the opposite of what I thought would happen. David Clabaugh, who runs the event, always puts together first-rate stuff. In fact, there simply wouldn’t be a national in Colorado at all if it wasn’t for him, so the guy knows what he’s doing. Based on that, I expected the lights to be perfect, and I didn’t think it would be an issue at all. But even David didn’t nail it this first time. As soon as we arrived at the track on Friday morning and saw how sparse the spacing of the lights was, I knew we had a story. Things improved throughout the weekend, as a dozen light poles were trucked in from around the facility. It helped, but no one said “it was perfect.” But if you give Clabaugh another shot, I bet he’ll have it dialed.

On the other hand, I was really impressed with the atmosphere for the fans. The race had the feel of a summer concert or festival. There looked to be way more fans than previous races in Colorado, and many noted that those fans weren’t all wearing motocross swag. A few vendors told me fans were asking very basic questions, such as who was racing in what class. That means these were newbies who don’t follow every round. We could always use converts like that.

One other side effect/affect of the night race was track prep. The idea was to not disc the track up as deep as usual because big bumps and ruts would lead to big shadows. I talked to Villopoto about that on Saturday morning, and he said “The lights will be okay as long as it doesn’t get rough.” So they didn’t let it get rough. This also meant a challenge for watering the track, because A) you can’t water as much when a track isn’t as deep and B) water doesn’t dry up when there isn’t any sun on it and C) moist dirt is darker than dry dirt. So it was all a little experimental, and as far as I could tell, we had a track that was smooth and slippery. And there was even some dust kicking up in the last moto, something that hasn’t been seen at a national in decades. Hey, the only way to try to dial this race in was to run it in the first place.

The savior for all of this was the 2003 edition of James Stewart, who was in action again. Not only did Bubba wax everyone as usual, but he kept the fans on his side with every word he said. In his Monday Conversation with Steve Cox, he summed it up well: “I think, for a night race, it was all cool. I think, like I said in the press conference, it’s good for the sport. I think you can be negative about it, and you can say a lot of things, but I bet more people tuned in, and I bet more showed up here tonight than they normally would’ve if it was a hot summer day.”

After Stewart said good things in the press conference, Kevin Kelly turned to me and said “he’s just putting the sport up on his back right there.”

And hey, Stewart got engaged last weekend? Somewhere, someone told these racers that being married is where it’s at. At the press conference, you had 22-year-old Stewart (now engaged), 20-year old Davi Millsaps (now engaged) and 20-year-old Mike Alessi (who is no engaged, but dad always refers to girlfriend Dani as “my future daughter-in-law). I’d like the meet the trainer/coach/agent/parent/manager that started giving everyone the marrying advice. Can it really be a coincidence? It’s probably the same guy who said “Don’t ever tell the media anything about your bike or training program, ever.”

Brett Metcalfe’s mechanic received the first-ever ejection from the pro pits that I’ve ever seen. In the first Lites moto, the riders were riding over the track markers and nearly hitting the mechanic’s area. The AMA threw a hay bale down there to stop the riders, but Metcalfe’s wrench, Kyle Bentley, grabbed the haybale and threw it back over the side of the track. Then the AMA’s Jay Mitrowitz came over to argue, and the next thing you know, he gives Kyle the “You’re outta here!!!” Kyle should have kicked some dirt on Jay’s shoes at the very least. Man, the comedy potential of that whole scenario is through the roof. What if Kyle had bumped Jay stomach to stomach? Should the other Pro Circuit team members have come over to get between them and protect their guy? What was Metcalfe’s reaction when he came around and his mechanic was gone? Kevin Kelly gave me the funniest visual, imagining a full bench-clearing brawl, where other mechanics come sprinting out of the pits and into the mechanic’s area to join in the melee.

Something was in the air in Colorado (besides less oxygen and sunlight). We had the mechanic ejection, we had Josh Grant and Ryan Villopoto slamming each other in practice and nearly fighting, and we had the ongoing J-Law and Dungey battle. When the races for the win are the same each week, we need rivalries more and more. Be it mechanic’s versus the AMA, or riders versus each other, I’m all for it.

Saturday, June 28

I Believe In a Thing Called Laaaahve (The Darkness)

Man there a lot going on in this sport right now. While we're all talking about the lighting in Colorado, we're missing
A) the altitude is still here
B) Dungey and Lawrence hate each other (J-Law dropped some HUGE trash talk on Dungey today--listen to the whole interview during our audio webcast pre-race show at 5 p.m. mountain time. But I just have to give a hint. Ready? "Dungey calls me an embarassment to the sport, but he blew a supercross championship, and that's an embarassment." )
C) Mike Brown is back with Troy Racing for the FOURTH time.
D) Sean Hamblin did indeed just becomes "This Year's Sean Hamblin" by going from privateer to factory Yamaha. To me, I just ask why they didn't just do this deal back at Glen Helen?
E) Now Josh Grant and Ryan Villopoto are back to hating each other, which I believe is the 37th friendship turn between those two. One week they're hugging, next week they're fighting. This weekend they they're fighting. This is like Van Halen and David Lee Roth getting together and breaking up. Or a soap opera. Or Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Hulk Hogan.
F) James Stewart decides not to ride Friday practice on the same week we run lights for the first time ever??? He was here all day and yet he didn't ride. Is there something wrong here???
G) Mototalk still has a giant TFS thread going right now.
H) We secured some swag to give away on our audio webcast tomorrow, so tune us in. We'll give some stuff away during the first motos, and then debut a first: a live call in number for fans during the halftime show. This is really going to be cool. We'll announce the number at the end of 450 moto 1, and then you can call us in the tower and bench race with guys who love to sit down and talk about racing. Hear you then.

Okay, the lights. It sure didn't look like they had enough lights when we looked around this morning. But these big MUSCO things are apparently potent...and apparently not potent enough, because some team people weren't thrilled, so a whopping 15 extra light plants were brought in tonight to make sure it all works. Sometimes, I wonder if riders/teams feel the need to complain just so their voice get heard, but this time, man, it just didn't look good in spots. The additional light plants will take care of the light problem, but even that's not perfect because a bunch of light plants on the side of the track isn't the most aesthetic set up, and remember, we have live TV here. But I really hope this can all be made to work. If the lighting can be made to work for the racers, everything else will be awesome. The atmosphere of a night race in the summer is really amazing. This is like a concert or a festival. It looks cool, relaxed and fun. It's a step in the right direction, and I'm sure they can get the details sorted.

There's a lot to talk about here, so talk amongst yourselves.

Thursday, June 26

It is was it is really is now

"It is what it is" has become the key phrase in the motocross pits nowadays. Davey Coombs, ever the trendsetter, started running it a few years ago. Then Tony Soprano started running it on his show (credit Kevin Kelly for that reference.)

By 2008 it has become the most popular go to phrase in the sport-- even surpassing the once unstoppable prowess of "over it" for the number one spot.

During the pre-race press conference for the Las Vegas Supercross, Chad Reed ran "It Is What It Is" approximately 379 times--a true championship performance. But you can't blame Chad, the phrase works so well that you just can't help from using it.

"What's your take on what happened with Andrew Short?"
"It is what it is."

"How is the shoulder?"
"It is what it is."

"What's your team deal for next year?"
"It is what it is."

Davi Millsaps had even seen everyone's "It is what it is" and raised it, running a solid "It was what it was" when talking about Anaheim 1.

But now we've officially reached critical mass. On page 18 in yesterdays' New York Times, presidential hopeful Barack Obama brought the phrase to the level of the highest office. Ralph Nader had been stoking the flames with Obama recently, and Obama fired back with "He is just trying to get attention. His campaign has not been able to get traction. It is what it is."

Wednesday, June 25

Quite Possibly the Worst Lighting in the History of Television

Check out this awesome news clip we got together for the High Point National a few weeks back. I'm the guy in the giant shadow.

Tuesday, June 24

Where do you live

The fiance and I are getting married in a church here in Morgantown. We originally had these grand visions of an outdoor wedding (I was hoping to maybe do it at Unadilla or something, and maybe even have the groomsmen ride down the aisle on bikes, you know, something really classy) but in the end, it was just too hard to get that together. A church has all the elements: looks decent in photos, good parking, places to sit, even comes with a guy who can do the whole marrying part.

God knows all, but even the secretary at the place had to be suspicious of our motives. Oh, you coincidentally are all into this church thing at the same time you're getting married? Really?

The church wasn't going to make it that easy. As a requirement, they enrolled in this couple's counseling deal. They told us the counseling helps to determine what parts of the marriage we had to work on. But we were afraid the "counseling" was really just a way to snuff us out. Were we really getting married here for religious reasons, or did we just want a place with nice windows and a built in sound system?

We were really worried for the first meeting, and our fears where confirmed when the Reverend brought out this standardized test for us to fill out. It was just like the tests you took in high school - multiple choice questions, fill out the circle with a number two pencil. We've both been through this drill before. But the SATs never had a question this hard:

#9. Describe your living situation:

A) Alone
B) With roomate
C) With parents
D) With partner

How do you answer this in church? The correct answer is D, but that's living in sin. I could answer A and she could answer B, because a few months ago that was the case. But would they know we're lying? This is God we're talking to!

So I dug deep into the memory banks of such tests. I've been stuck for an answer before. How did I used to get out of this? Cheat! So I figured I would just skip that question, give the Fiance time to answer it, and then glance over at her paper and copy it. So I waited. A minute later I looked over. Dammit, she had left it blank as well

The Reverend was watching us closely through this process, and he surely noticed we both somehow decided to skip the most basic question on earth: Where do you live? Who can't answer this question???

Earlier in the session, the Reverend had asked for our address, so I felt things out and said "Hey, she's moving some stuff in slowly, should I just put the same address for both of us? Doesn't that make things easier?" The Rev. agreed and on we went. So I took the plunge and answered D) with partner. Whew.

The problem was, I looked back over and the Fiance had answered B) with roomate. Dammit!

When the Rev. had his back turned, I slyly began erasing my answer and switching it over to A) alone, so it would match her B) with roomate response. But that damn no. 2 pencil wouldn't erase. Now I had a giant smudge on the paper, proof that I couldn't even answer the most basic question on earth.

Surely the church wasn't pumped about people living in sin. Surely they would be even less pumped over liars living in sin. But now, we were liars living in sin who didn't even agree with each other. Might as well just apply for the divorce papers right now.

Friday, June 20

Do Work

No weekends off here, Blogandt is headed to North Carolina for GNCC Racing. Things have changed quite a bit for me at these races, there was a time when my number one goal at the GNCCs was to make sure I busted my ass harder than anyone else. (WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! the blog author is about to compare his job to that of a racer even though it's about 1/10000th as hard)

Back in the day I didn't really subscribe to the work smarter and not harder theory. I would work all day on Friday, get to the track late Friday night, get up on Saturday and be there by 6:30 or so, help Rodney Tomblin with the announcing by 7, do TV, announce the race, hand out plaques and awards, shoot pictures, do interviews and write stories, rinse and repeat again on Sunday, then drive all night to get home and sleep in the office to make sure the world had their stories, photos and results by the time they showed up to work on Monday morning. I literally worked some 24 hour days on Sundays.

I had convinced myself that I needed to do all of that. I was a one-man band at the GNCCs, I was the announcer, the TV talent, the writer, the shooter and the web master. But as crazy as that sounds, I really only did all that because I wanted to. I chose to make it hard. I was like the intern running to the kitchen to get coffee for the bosses. I was doing hard work just to prove I would work hard. Like many who have always wanted a job in this industry, I always promised myself that if I ever got one of those jobs, I would bust my ass. So I did just to prove it.

Took long enough for me to realize it's not really needed. Jason Hooper and I are hopping in the truck in a few minutes, and we'll get there when we get there. I will make sure to be at the track by the time the Youth race begins at 8, and I'll probably avoid writing the world's longest press release on Saturday and Sunday night (I used to put together 2000 words epics, complete with quotes from like 8 racers. And all people really want to know is "Who won?"). Most importantly, I'll enjoy it. The GNCC Races need to be just fun for me now, because it's no longer my only job. Luckily, the people are great and that makes it easy to enjoy.

But for the rest of you looking to break into this industry, don't forget to do the hard work part first, and then do the fun aspect a few years later.

Monday, June 16

High Point 3

Two theories always collide in this sport:

Theory 1: This sport grew based on the dominance of McGrath/Carmichael

Theory 2: To really grow, this sport needs competition and multiple winners.

How completely polar opposite can those theories be? We all say the sport needs good racing, but in reality we say it because that's what we want. Good racing solves all problems. Weekends are fun when there's a battle, and they're not as fun when there isn't. Everything else is just background. I always feel bad for people I know in this industry who work so hard to make better events, but all they can do is make 10% of the event better. Great racing is 90% of what people talk about.

And this High Point National didn't off up many action-packed battles. The facility looked awesome, the track drew raves, and I know our crew worked hard to make it happen. But Stewart and Villo OWN it right now on the track. The only highlight of the afternoon was either A) Matt Ware getting stuck in the mud (see below) or B) Ryan Dungey going OFF on J-Law in the press conference (See Racer X Motocross Show). Otherwise you just knew Stewart and Villo would take off, and they did. that really bad? We spend a lot of time and effort generating local press for this event. The local TV stations came out, the local newspaper wrote about the event, and the local radio station hung out all day on Saturday. And you know what's good? You can make any local reporter or fan an expert just by saying "You want to watch #1 and #7." On Saturday, I had to do some of the interviews with the radio station, and the DJ they had there running the show knew NOTHING about motocross. But he was an expert, instantly, by just saying "We've gone from the Carmichael era to the Stewart era." How long did it take for him to memorize that? 15 seconds? And then when the fans came to see the show the next day, that's exactly what they saw, the Stewart era.

So our sport is accesable to the casual (read: new) fan this way. that good?

After wrapping up another great day bench-racing with David Bailey, DB said "People love watching Stewart ride. TV needs to show that. Show Kobe. Show Tiger. Show James."

Good point...but. Here is why dominance looks better in basketball or golf than in motocross. When Kobe is on fire, he's hitting big shots with defenders all over him, and the game is still in doubt and he's making clutch shots. It's exciting to watch. Stewart jumping a double while all alone out front is not the same as Kobe hitting a huge three with two defenders on him. Stewart may win by 50 seconds and Kobe may score 50 points, but think about the difference in the excitement in watching those two accomplishments.

As for Tiger, all golfers are out there by themselves, so you can't compare. If motocross was all time trails, and everyone rode the track alone and did lap times, James would be like Tiger. But when there are 40 other guys and he runs away, well that's not the same.

What's my point? Still not sure, and I'm not sure anyone else is sure, either. We need dominance but yet we don't. Dominance is boring to the masses but makes it easy for the masses to follow the sport. Dominance is good and yet bad.

I don't know about these theories. What do you think?

High Point 2

How did they salvage the track from all the rain? The RP crew pushed A LOT of mud off to the side of the track. Our photographer, Matt Ware, found himself a big 'ole pile of it.

Saturday, June 14

It's Raining at High Point

Well, it just can't happen any other way. It has to rain when we have a race at High Point. It's been hot and sunny all week here. The rainy season ended on June 1. The race is no longer on Memorial Day Weekend (when, by luck, they had good weather here this year) but it's just like it used to be.

Weather will be better tomorrow. I don't have anything to write about because they canceled 450 practice, and the Lites rode in the mud which really isn't relevant.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, June 13

A Case in High Point

You want to know how fast a starter Mike Alessi is? Today we said we would have an open house at 3 p.m., but Mike and Tony and Dani showed up here at 11 a.m. That's four hours ahead of everyone else! And of course, that was the worst-case scenario, because High Point weekend is the time to clean and organize everything and make people think you're clean and organized all year.

Of course the Alessi early entry meant they saw my office as it really is: a complete mess. I moved to a new room in February, and I hadn't unpacked most of my boxes of stuff. You know, just in case I got fired or something. The rest of the place looked horrible, too. So when Tony said to me "Yeah we saw you're new office, very nice," I knew I was done for.

A few hours later and now my office looks good. That's odd. Everything is weird today. Steve Cox and Steve Matthes are working in our office, which makes no sense. David "A Year in" Bullmer is back, just like it was 2007. The Solitaire rig is in the parking lot. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki truck is parked up the road. The Dominion Post (Morgantown's paper) is covered in High Point stuff. Although this is the weekend where you get to stay home, it's the weekend that's strangest of all.

And the strangest part, by far, is the fact that we've brought in a bunch of cases of beer for our open house. As crazy as we are around here, drinking in the office is prohibited. Except for today. Once we get into that, we'll probably go and trash my office.

Thursday, June 12

More Texas

Since runs the streaming for our webcast, I have no idea how many people listen to our show every Sunday afternoon. For those that do, we salute you. I mean, if I had a nice Sunday afternoon to spend, I don't know if I would do it in front of my computer....

Anyway, we've been introducing a lot of fun stuff on the show lately, because 5 hours on the air is a long time. This week, we introduced a top 10 list, and I'll print that out on the left side of the blog in a few minutes. We also introduced a new segment called "Assume the Position," in which we select a random finish position in each moto and call the battle for it. This lets us highlight other riders that may not be winning the races. It's also pretty exciting, because you would be amazed how hard guys are fighting for, say, 18th place.

Here were the Assume the Position winners for Texas:

Lites Moto 1: 18th, Matt Lemoine. Lemoine fought all moto for this one, passing Tyler Bowers on the last lap to snag 18th.

Lites Moto 2: 16th, Adam Miller. Props to the privateer KTM rider, who crashed earlier in the day in those vicious Texas sand whoops. 16th actually made him the top KTM finisher, too, since the entire MDK KTM team took a powder in moto 2.

450 Moto 1: 22nd, Kyle Partridge scored it after a race-long duel with riders like Gavin Gracyk and Ryan Clark. Gracyk and Clark beat Partridge, but that doesn't get them any love in the battle for the Assumed Position.

450 Moto 2: After 16 riders failed to finish the second Lites moto in the heat, we decided to go with Red Bull Last Man Standing rules for this race. The last place rider still circulating the track at the end of the race? Dustin Gills in 30th place.

This "Assume the Position" program was such a hit that sponsors began calling in and signing on live during the show. But we at the Racer X Webcast don't want to split the industry's money up any further, so we decided to snag some outside sponsors. Kentucky Fried Chicken ponied up for the first 450 moto, so Mr. Partridge gets himself 22 pieces of chicken for his 22nd place finish (co-host Kevin Kelly and I snagged the biscuits that came with, sorry). We'll ship the chicken to Kyle overnight so it should still be pretty fresh.

Our second 450 moto was sponsored by David Oric and his 8 lb Oric XL vacuum cleaner. Congrats, Mr. Gills.

This week maybe we'll pull in some Lites sponsorship as well. And as an added bonus for our listeners this weekend, we're bringing David Bailey back. The Icon is the man and I'm pumped to work with him again. This show will be worth listening too.

Finally, props out to Steve "Do'h!" Flanders and everyone over at the fantasy league. The new Industry Guys class had given me new motivation to perform, as I'm sick and tired of getting my ass kicked by the DMXS fans like I usually do. Big thanks to my big hitters on the team this week, including Bobby Kniry, Tommy Hahn, JT$, and Ryan Clark. These underdogs scored well over pay for the weekend, and now I'm tied for first in the division.

When guys like Stewart and Villopoto are killing everyone in the battle for first, you need to find other things to focus on. Assume the Position and some fantasy moto keep it going.

Monday, June 9

Texas 2

Is everything really bigger in Texas? Well, this race was the biggest physical test I’ve seen for the riders in a long time. We all know motocross is physically demanding, but you don’t always see it. The tiredness was on full display this time, though. You could see the posture, you could see the speeds, you could tell these guys were SPENT. It made for an unpredictable day. The heat was so unrelenting that it drowned a cross section of the field. Some riders known for being tough faded, just like some known for fading, faded. You couldn’t count on anyone, really, because the jaws of 103 degrees were ready to snatch anyone at any time.

Brett Metcalfe was the worst. With about a lap and a half to go in the second Lites moto he just started losing time and positions, and barely made it to the finish. He completely collapsed over the bike as soon as he crossed the finish in 9th place. What's really amazing is that Brett, who must have been in a trance during that last lap, still managed to double over two whoops on his way to the finish line. Pure instincts, there.

Also, Doc Bodnar told me that privateer Kevin Rookstool had some major heat issues, too. They had a lot of IV requests over at the Asterisk truck this weekend, some from racers who needed it to recover, and some who just figured it would help their recovery during the week. AMA rules don't allow riders to take IVs during the day and then come back and race a moto, but when the racing is done, everyone wants one.

The race really illustrates how competitive the Lites field is. Riders were dropping like flies in that second moto, but it was even hotter for the next 450 moto, and the attrition rate wasn't the same. Are the 450 riders in better shape? No. I just don't think they have to push as hard. In the Lites class, everyone on the track is just hanging on the cable and going balls out the whole way. You just can't do that when it gets to 103. It seemed like the 450 guys, veterans and privateers instead of factory supported 18 year olds, knew when to charge and when to chill out. Only at the very front did you see the same level of fatigue, because Short and Millsaps and Alessi and guys like that are pushing really, really hard.

James Stewart had zero issues with the heat. He's in really good shape right now, and he probably never gets to all-out speed anyway. Tim Ferry simply never gets tired. Those were known traits. But the rest of the field was unpredictable. Josh Summey, that was the tale of two riders with him. Faded in the first moto, charged from a first-turn crash up to 11th in moto two, and looked strong all the way to the finish line. Davi Millsaps took a few slow laps in each moto and then somehow recovered to charge past guys at the end of the races. Andrew Short rode his heart out for third in moto one, and didn't have much left for moto two.

It's actually kind of odd that we don't see stuff like this happen more often. A 30+ 2 moto at all-out speed should knock more guys off more often than this. These riders are in amazing shape. The most impressive of all? Ryan Villopoto. If we could hook up some sort of heat index/cardio rate/VO2 Max and strength equation formula on Ryan Villopoto during the second moto, surely it has to rank up there with any other athletic endurance accomplishment. He was just blazing fast, pushing incredibly hard, he never faded, and he looked completely normal after the race. His wins are always impressive, but on this day, you could actually see just how impressive it is.

Saturday, June 7


Not joking, not lying, totally serious, the thermometer on the announcer's tower today said 101.8 degrees during the second 450 practice today. 101.8! It was hot. It still wasn't as bad as Loretta Lynn's in August, which can reach that temp AND add ridiculous humidity, but still, this will be a real test this weekend. The track features a gnarly sand whoop section heading into the finish line jump, and that section alone, when combine with the heat, would beat most riders into a pulp. Somehow, the top dudes are gonna' send it for 30 some odd minutes. After supercross, the first few weeks of the Nationals seems totally weird. The races seem so much longer, the engines are strained so much harder, so much more stuff happens. After a few rounds, it makes sense again, but right now it seems so hot, the track seems so rough, the dudes are pushing so hard in battles for like 17th place. Man the Nationals rule.

The riders have it so hard. We have it super easy. We went to the race, watched the race, hung out with friends, and made each other laugh a lot. Now I'm on my fourth beer right now in our hotel room as we watch the Racer X Motocross Show upload. We've got five dudes crammed in one hotel room, and we've spent the last two hours watching You Tube videos on Brawndo Energy Drink (Ryan Clark's Title Sponsor), and You Tube videos on giant Belgian Motocrosser Ken De Dyker (who comes in a close second to Yoshi Fukudome as the best name in the sport). Now we're checking We've also had push up contest. We made plans for a Behind the Motocross where Kevin and I try to enter a Yamaha Riva 50 Scooter into an AMA National.

The show now needs another 90 minutes to render in, and then you can watch it late tonight for a preview of the Freestone National. For now, we're walking across the street to join just about everyone in the industry for margaritas at the Chilli's across the street. Yeah, we don't have it very hard.

Friday, June 6


Sorry, it was a busy week trying to cover a GNCC I didn't go to so I am only able to get to my stuff from Hangtown now.

And by the way, as far as GNCC is concerned, we finally have a battle on our hands as a gang of Anzacs (a Kiwi and two Aussies) swept the podium at the Kentucky race and David Knight crashed back to fifth. And Knight was getting heavy pressure when he crashed, so it's not like they got lucky.

Anyway, the 450 thumper has once again proven to be the great equalizer. A bunch of privateers are trying to become "this year's Gavin Gracyk" and they're turning heads. Tops of that list right now is Steve Boniface, who turned in two good rides at Glen Helen and then two even better rides at Hangtown. Boniface looked super fast and smooth in practice on Saturday and backed it up with two good starts and two inspired rides in the motos. French guy fought for every inch of the track, battled the injured Townley and Short, and ended up 5th overall. He basically has no ride and no support and is just hoping to get something somewhere. This weekend he'll be in France to try a GP and see if anything sticks there. The big difference between Boniface and Gracyk '07 is that Boniface is a known commodity. Gracyk's potential upside was the great unknown last year, but Boniface has been around and had his chances.

Sean Hamblin has, too. But like Boniface, he's got motivation again and he's riding as well as ever. His results don't show the true story, as Hamblin moved from midpack into the top ten in moto one only to stall and lose a half lap restarting. He got 15th. In moto two , he had bike problems on the starting line, did a quick fix, rode a few laps and had to pull into the pits, and then came out on fire and charged all the way back to 18th. If you can get top 20 with a pit stop, you're going fast. If Hamblin has two more good weekends and Josh Hill has two more bad ones, you're going to see fans picketing in front of the Yamaha semi to get Hamblin on a works bike.

Jeff Alessi is flying the privateer colors strong now, too. I was super nervous putting him on my fantasy team last weekend. Tony Alessi told me Jeff would be fast, but that's as reliable as source as going to Hillary's campaign chief to ask about her chances (he said last week she would win it all). Jeff came through in the first moto for seventh and would have done the same in moto two until his shoulder popped out. But he popped it back in to help salvage 15th place for the Weigandt Warriors team. I thanked Jeff for that when I saw him at the airport on Monday.

So what's the deal with Josh Hill? He's done with Ryno now because Ryno picked up Broc Hepler, and Hilly didn't want to share a trainer with another 450 guy. Since that all happened, Hepler got hurt, leaving Ryno with no one, and then Hill suddenly started busting the belt out of his pants again and mooning everyone during the motos. Is it possible to get that out of shape that quickly? Hylton from Parts Unlimited told me Thor got the wrong size pants for Hill, and Hill told me his belt broke. That makes sense, except for the fact that Hill pants were also coming down in just about every moto last year. I don't think motocross pants are capable of containing what must be the longest lower back in the sport today. Maybe they can just make a Thor onesie?

Anyway, I think Hill will get better. He rode better in Hangtown and sometimes the younger riders just need a few races to figure out the pressure and the pace and stuff when they move to the big class. A few years ago, Davi Millsaps moved up and sucked at Hangtown, and then battled Chad Reed for a podium the next weekend at High Point. I think Hill's breakthrough moto is coming.

Ivan Tedesco is coming around, too. IT goes fast because he rides aggressive, and I think it takes him awhile to get comfortable doing that. Last year he missed the first few outdoor rounds with a concussion, and when he returned at Budd's Creek, he was a shell of himself. A month later at Unadilla, he finally looked aggressive again. Same thing in supercross, he looked timid in the first few races this year and then suddenly found his aggression in San Francisco. Then he got hurt. He looked timid at Glen Helen, and considerably less so at Hangtown. I'm pumped for IT, he deserves a few good rides.

Ben Townley is hurt, but that guy has come back from way worse to go fast again. Even the knee injury that took him out of nearly the entire 2006 season wasn't the worst he's had to deal with, BT told me that when he first came to America to ride for KTM, he crashed testing for supercross and said he nearly died. He recovered and won a World Championship. Some guys know how to deal with pain and block out the fear once they're recovered. Ben's one of those guys.

A lot of riders in the Lites class left Glen Helen believing they could run with the "big five" of RV, Stroupe, Dungey, Metcalfe and Lawrence. Unfortunately, a bunch of them had the chance to prove they could at Hangtown, and they didn't. Trey Canard is obviously capable of getting in there, but I think it will be mid season before we see anyone else consistently finishing in front of those main five riders.

Jake Weimer had the most inconsistent supercross season ever, and rectified things by finishing seventh in the first three 0utdoor motos of the year. But he dropped to a dissapointing 10th in the fourth moto of the year. You know what that 7-10 made him overall? Seventh.

Are you coming to Texas (or just staying there and coming to the race?) We'll crank up the Racer X Motocross Show Presented by Toyota live in the Toyota Zone on Vendor's row at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Come on by and get yourself on camera. Toyota hooked me up with a sweet 1983 Corolla with 372,000 miles on the ticker so please show them some love. Car has vinyl seats and the brand people tell me it was garage kept with one owner. Must have been a smoking owner.

Monday, June 2

24 motos of advertising

Not much more to say than this: Stewart and Villopoto are doing what everyone is afraid of. They're establishing dominance early. Could this be 2004? When Stewart destroyed the 125s every week and Carmichael did the same in the 250s, basically making the whole season into a big ad for 2005? So many elements are similar, from the rider in the main class (Carmichael then, Stewart now) possibly switching teams, to the rider in the smaller class (Stewart then, Villopoto now) matching the lap times of his future rival despite using a smaller bike. The racing for the win was boring today, I'll be honest. But 2004 was even worse, because Carmichael won every moto and Stewart won 23 out of 24 of his. The sport survived, and we will this year, too.

And I know, it's early in the season, but right now this is starting to seem like destiny.

Sunday, June 1

Hangtown Practice 2

The track is running in reverse this year, and I'm not sure if the riders actually like it this way. There were a few odd transitions yesterday, such as where the track hooked back onto the first turn. There was an odd little jump to get the riders over the berm on the outside of the first turn. But the AMA picked up on that and removed the jump, and now the section flows much better. My colleague Steve Cox would like to take credit for this because he told the AMA the section would be better without the jump. However, Cox thinks removing the jump will open up passing opportunities. I say he hasn't won, then, until someone makes a pass in that section.

The fine tuning of the track after yesterday's practice has led to faster lap times. Way faster. Lites riders were a good 4-5 seconds faster than they were yesterday, and then James Stewart came out and went so fast that I think he actually went faster than the speed of time, and we're now operating on Eastern Standard Time. James has actually won the first moto now, two hours before it starts.

Okay, he was four seconds a lap faster than everyone else. But that is a time zone in motocross terms.

Everyone else is closely matched on times, Mike Alessi, Ferry, Millsaps. Except a podium battle between that gang, while Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco look a hare off of that pace, and Ben Townley should basically wear a suit of ice packs after taking yet another big header in practice yesterday. If you're counting at home, Townley now has a bad shoulder and ankle, and he sliced his elbow open pretty bad during the week. Dude.

In the Lites, this is another chance for the field to either A) prevent Ryan Villopoto from walking away and building confidence or B) piss off Ryan Villopoto by running with him again and then really making him work hard and kill everyone for the rest of the summer. At some point last year, Townley had gotten into RV's head a bit, and RV responded by digging deeper and getting stronger. So it's a dangerous game to play with him out there--beating him now may only make it worse later.

Still, you're looking at six big faves in the Lites, RV, Stroupe, Metty, J-Law and Canard, and a bunch of riders desperate to hook onto that.

Tune into our webcast at 12:30 Pacific (unless Stewart really did ruin our time zone). We'll have interviews with a ton of big names on our pre show, including Millsaps and Short, as well as surprise speedsters from like week like Ryan Sipes and Matt Lemoine. Be ready.

Practice at Hangtown

First, I'm updating this from the NPG/AMA Media Tent! High speed internet from the motocross track! Better yet, while I'm typing this I'm watching the live lap times from the GNCC over at High speed internet from the motocross and the GNCC on the same day!

Anyway I am desperate to step up my performance in the fantasy leagues this year, because I almost lost my Racer X Office Championship to Billy Ursic in Supercross (I only won on a ridiculous technicality in the rules where we had one throw away score, so I sandbagged and skipped the Seattle race so I would have all the big hitters available for Vegas for a massive one week score and championship).

So I have been snooping for dark horse top ten picks. Cody Cooper paid off last weekend. This week I have the suddenly fast Steve Boniface, and then Tony Alessi told me Jeff Alessi was faster than Mike riding this week. Now, I know the A number one rule of motocross journalism is to ALWAYS take Tony Alessi hype with a grain of salt. But there was Jeff, running top five in the second moto in Glen Helen. There was Jeff, top ten lap times all weekend here.

Jeff. Don't crash. Please.