Monday, June 30

Colorado

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.

4 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I really like the night race from a spectator's point of view. It's cooler for the fans and you have all day Sunday to head back home, as opposed to having to take monday off work to go home. I think this is really the way to go.

Mike Martin said...

I think this is a great move for the sport. Greatly benefieted the sport, and didn't hurt competition, which was surprising to me. You can check out the rest of my thoughts here.

Anonymous said...

hi weeeeeeege
bye weeeeege

Whiskey Fisky said...

Would you and KK be willing to do a dramatic reenactment of the Kyle v. Jay matchup for the Red Bud Motocross Show. Maybe bring Bob Hanna in to whoop someone's ass. It really wouldn't matter whose, just anyones. think about it... J Fisk