Racerhead #52Friday, December 30, 2005 | 2:07 PM
Honda is the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, and the undisputed leader in motorcycle technology. More motocross riders have won titles on Hondas than on any other bike. When you’re serious about winning, Honda is the machine for you.
In this article…
- Heath Voss
- Broc Hepler
- Kevin Windham
- Brett Metcalfe
- Travis Pastrana
- Mike Alessi
- Ivan Tedesco
- Chad Reed
- Ryan Clark
- James Stewart
- Grant Langston
- Davi Millsaps
- Josh Hansen
- James Stewart
- Mike Brown
Please say a prayer for Darin Motoda tonight. He was a really, really great guy. The whole sport lost a quiet champion here.
Looking back at these past 12 months, lots of things changed during the course of the year—for a lot of people. Jason Weigandt and I were bench-racing about this today, and we could hardly keep track of all of the transitions.
For instance, we’ve gone from the 250 class in THQ Supercross being one of the last bastions for two-strokes to the “AMA Supercross” class in Amp’d Mobile Supercross being a four-stroke free-for-all. ESPN2 is gone; CBS and Speed Channel are the new homes for the series. That in turn means farewell to Todd, Cameron, and Jamie, and hello to Ralph, Denny, and Krista.
Clear Channel is now Live Nation; Amsoil/Chaparral/Factory Connection Honda is SoBe/Samsung Wireless Honda (though Factory Connection is still there, just not so prominent in the title); and AMA Motocross is now (thankfully) AMA/Toyota Motocross.
But there’s still three Anaheims, and here’s a really cool pic for you to stare at for the next eight days as we get ready for the first one of 2006. It was put together by Mike Fisher—no, not that Mike Fisher. Click on it for your preferred size.
And look at Suzuki: A year ago people were still mentioning the “Suzuki curse.” Now they have both supercross titles, a perfect season, a championship in the AMA Motocross Nationals, the MX des Nations title, and the U.S. Open, thanks to Ricky. And Davi Millsaps and Broc Hepler won some races in the 125 class last year too. And while they lost Millsaps to Honda, they’ve added “Hot Sauce” to the mix.
The 2005 season started with Kevin Windham the unlikely early leader “perfect storm” in supercross, but ’05 ends with K-Dub on the sidelines in a cast. At least he got himself a big trophy through his efforts to go to Europe with RC and IT to help win the des Nations.
And if you don’t believe the 125cc motocross bike is going away, Kawasaki made one of these at this time last year. Now they don’t. The AMA Sports people even passed a 144cc overbore rule to try to help the tiddlers out in 2006, but the pulse here is weak.
Conversely, Kawasaki didn’t even have a 450 at this time last year. Now they do, and it looks really, really fast in the hands of a certain #7.
So far so good for Stewart, as he seems to have overcome his health issues and the penchant for crashing that marred his 2005 season. And while everyone is now expecting a war for the 2006 supercross title, Stewart will also be formidable in the outdoor nationals, especially now that he’s on equal equipment.
Remember Travis Pastrana? Travis was planning on being a full-time supercross racer at this time last year. Now he’s planning on being a full-time rally car driver. He’s also enjoying a life of absolute adventure that most of us can only dream of (or wince at).
When 2005 started, Ricky James was a hot young hero-to-be in amateur motocross. Then he went out and suffered a broken back in a crash at a big amateur race in Texas. As a result, Ricky’s no longer a hero-in-waiting—he’s got that gig full-time now. They say it’s hard to keep a good man down, so it’s almost impossible with a kid like Ricky James. Last time we saw him, he was racing quadcycles at the Lake Elsinore GP. That’s huge.
Jerry Bernardo called me today and told me about a new T-shirt he’d made with just three words on it:
He called Pastrana himself to tell him about it, and Travis loved it. But then he had to get off the phone because Kenny Bartram had just rolled one of his street rods. Life goes on (and off) and on for #199….
A year ago, Grant Langston’s deal with KTM fizzled, but the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team picked him up and gave him another chance. Grant was a big mystery last January, but he’ll start his ‘06 SX season riding with a #1 plate on his bike.
David Vuillemin went from a Frenchman living in Corona with a Yamaha factory ride to a Texan on a black two-stroke BooKoo Honda starring on a TV show. He also went from a No Fear to Thor, from the father of one to the father of two.…
As for the stateside Red Bull KTM team, manager Larry Brooks pretty much cleaned house before the start of 2005 and put an entirely new crop of riders on the new KTM 250SX-F. The once-unproven bike and team is now one of the most successful in the sport. Four different KTM pilots put the bike into the winner’s circle last year, and Nate Ramsey, Josh Hansen and Mike Alessi each came within a few points of winning titles. They’re all back, joined by the other Alessi—young Jeff— at least until Jay Marmont returns from a broken leg.
Mike Brown had a turbulent 2005: A year ago, Brownie was preparing for an assault on Europe, racing the MX2 GPs for a Honda team based in England. It was supposed to be the last deal of his career. The deal fizzled, and he came home and went from the top to the bottom of the 125 rankings. Now he’s racing Suzukis and AMA Supercross for the new Rockstar Energy/Suzuki team, then hoping to make another title run outdoors—this time all the way the checkered flag.
There’s more changes around—too many to list here. Needless to say, I really hope the new year brings more growth to the sport, as well as stability.…
Here’s what’s happening out in California from Ping, who, like a lot of folks, was remembering Darin today.…
With just over a week until the season opener in Anaheim, riders are putting the finishing touches on their preparation. A rather large storm is headed into Southern California this weekend and will stay through Monday. Don't worry, though, the weather is expected to clear up and be fine next weekend. The rain means three fewer days for privateers and riders running behind on their 2006 testing and believe me, there are a lot of them. Every year, there are privateers and support teams showing up at Anaheim with mostly stock bikes because they haven't spent the proper amount of time testing.
Another rider who frequents that track is high-desert native Chris Gossellaar. “Li’l Goose” is filling in for an injured Troy Adams on the Monster Energy Kawasaki squad for the West Coast series. It took Chris some time to adjust to the bike, but he is looking very comfortable now and should be competitive. He is known for his holeshots and will have a good bike under him to get that job done.
Adams, who broke his femur at the Kawasaki test track, is already back in California spinning on a road bike and focusing on the motocross nationals.
The newest member of Ryan Clark's Team Solitaire is Justin Buckelew. Buckelew is riding a Honda 450 during the West rounds and will compete in the East Coast Lites division. Justin is riding great and looks like he will be a regular fixture in the Supercross-class main events.
Richie Owens was also trying to adapt to his relatively new Yamaha mount. Richie is the final addition to the MotoWorld Racing team for 2006, and he seems pretty excited about the new team. "I rode my race bike for the first time last week and I couldn't believe it,” he says. “It is the fastest 250F I have ever ridden! Yamaha does all of our motors in-house and they are awesome. I just need to step up this year and make it happen because my bikes are definitely good."
Another team switching brands this year is the privateer SoCal race team. Riders Clark Stiles, Jiri Dostal, and Brian Mason will all ride Yamaha 450s for the 2006 season. While Stiles and Mason have been on the East Coast riding, Dostal has been out west dialing in his new ride. All three riders will make main events this year.
Ping, by the way, is a full privateer now.
Changing gears, if you’re looking for a really, really cool gym to start your New Year right, and you’re right there in the middle of the SoCal MX crucible, you really should check with John Louch at this place: www.evolutionsportsclubs.com.
You may have spotted the ad that Joe Oehlhof asked us to run in Racer X letting his fans, friends, and sponsors know how much their support means to him in the wake of the first-turn accident last summer that left him with a fractured neck.
Something worth watching this weekend.
Finally, here’s a way for everyone to end 2005 on a good note: by helping out kids who really need our support. Here’s a note we got from our old friend Pete terHorst on the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Ride for Kids program:“If you have not heard about the Ride for Kids and would like to learn how your donation can help a child diagnosed with a brain tumor, please visit my online fundraising page at http://www.firstgiving.com/terhorst. As little as $5 will make a huge difference. You can donate by credit card and receive a record of your donation. All donations are secure and sent directly to the PBTF, where 91 percent of funds received support the foundation's research and family support programs. Thank you for your time and have a joyous and prosperous New Year!”
After the year we’ve had, and the way it ended, helping kids seems like a pretty good way to say “Auld Lang Syne….”
In his absence, we have decided to make better use of his spotless office. After all, if he’s gone for all of those races, we can use the space. For instance, today it become the office playroom for Trevor, Caleb, Vance, Billy, the kitten, and more.
Check back Monday to see what becomes of the place after we hold the company party there or something. Thank you for reading Racerhead; see you at the races in 2006. And be safe this weekend on the roads—don’t forget that New Year’s Eve is amateur hour.
Let's go Mountaineers!
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Check out THE MOTOCROSS OF 40 NATIONSin our Latest issue of Racer X available now.
The 2013 FIM Motocross of Nations at Teutschenthal, Germany, hosted teams from a record forty countries. Here’s how it played out for each of them. Page 90.