Observations from the Space Needle

 

Qwest Field: Home of the Seattle Seahawks

 

By Steve Matthes
Photos by James Lissimore

The track was crappy; the dirt was like riding on a giant whale tongue. It never stayed the same, very soft and it rutted up bad. I mean real, real bad.  In the first practice, most of the riders feared for their lives.  Dirt Wurx moved some dirt around and let it dry some more and it wasn’t as bad in the night show but maybe I should stop my bitching, we could’ve had showers all night.

Maybe the solution to our SX “problem” is to make tracks crappy—it certainly made the racing more exciting. There was absolute carnage in the Lites main event, guys were flying off the track left and right. In the Supercross class, Ivan Tedesco, Timmy Ferry, Grant Langston and Davi Millsaps all stalled or crashed their bike in the main. I think Dirt Wurx should just pile mounds of dirt everywhere, flood it and let ’er rip!

 

 The challenging terra firma inside Qwest Field.


Chad Reed had a rough night. He again didn’t look that fast in practice. In the main, he nailed a crashing Ivan Tedesco (more on him later) and damaged his bike. He pulled into the mechanics' area and they tried to fix his sticking throttle, he then got frustrated and when he put it into gear, his bike took off! He somehow controlled it and was almost a lap down, but eventually finished sixth. He did this with a sticking throttle. It would have been easy for him to quit; it said something about Reed riding out there with something that could have injured him.

Grant Langston had a hell of a ride in the LCQ. He was way back and passed Heath Voss in the last turn for the final transfer spot. As a matter of fact, I wrote “GL-DNQ” in my note thingy and had to scratch it out. I never thought he would qualify and kudos to him for not giving up. He didn’t have a very good main event, but he passed a kidney stone earlier last week so, considering all that, I think he did pretty darn good.

I know you people are wondering: what happened to Tim Ferry and I can’t wait until Matthes tells us! Well, everyone’s favorite +30 rider was in second and looking good until a rock jammed into his brake pedal and he had to stop. He was later catching K-dub for third but had to race with Ivan Tedesco for four laps, which is cool, but Ivan was getting lapped!

 

Ivan Tedesco (9) and Jeff Gibson (40) lead the 450 pack. 



After the race IT and Red had words with Ivan telling Timmy that he (Timmy) has been screwing with him all year and he was blocking him on purpose. He went further and said that he is “going to get him next week, too!”  All of this right in front of an AMA official. I know Ivan is frustrated with his season full of crashes and disappointments, but does he have to take it out on an old man like Timmy?

We were all trying to think of what he possibly could have meant by “screwing with him all year” and could only think of Anaheim 1 where he doubled and Red tripled and was carrying so much more speed, he ran into Ivan in the following turn. Ivan’s mechanic, Tony Berlutti even got into the act, which sucks because earlier in the day he invited me to his buddy Greg Primm’s museum this week, and now he probably hates me and won’t let me go...

“Rocket” Rob Buydos of Parts Unlimited is organizing a really cool thing at three nationals this year: he is having the legends of the sport ride a parade lap at the beginning of the day on the bikes that the guys used to race. He did this last year at Mt. Morris and it was a success so he expanded it for the 2007 season. He is also having a bike show and autograph session on Saturday for all of the fans. Some of the riders he has lined up are: Jeff Stanton, Broc Glover, Mike Fisher, Steve Lamson, Jeff Emig and the Lone Wolf. How’s that for an all-star line up?

These guys are going to be in their old gear (when applicable) and the only rule is no four-strokes. Rob wants the fans to smell the sweet nectar of the two-stroke exhaust; he wants to take you back to a time when these moto-x gladiators captured your heart. Run out and get your tickets now!

 

 

Dusty Klatt had his best supercross ride of the year with an eighth in Seattle. It wasn't his best SX finish ever, though, he also finished eighth in Orlando last year on his Blackfoot Honda. 




Tyler Evans had a rough, rough night.  He must have crashed 800 times in practice and didn’t qualify for the main. He has also dropped out of the top twenty in points, which spares all of us from having to listen to him beg for a ride at next week’s banquet.

Mike Gosselar, RC’s mechanic—and one of the greatest mechanics of all-time—is reportedly going to retire after this year. He has bought some land up in Idaho and is going to settle down into the easy life. Go ahead, Mike, after a ton of championships and raising an MX family, you’ve earned it!

The Kawi guys really outdid themselves in Seattle.  They rebounded from a couple of average weeks and came out flying this week. First there was the requested Cherry Coke for myself, followed up with steak and chicken fajitas and all the toppings. Then to celebrate the championship, they had 26 pizzas and chicken wings after the race. The man responsible for all of this is Brian Barnhart, and since the series is winding down, I thought it would be great to recognize this culinary god.

 

Brian Barnhart makes sure Matthes is properly fueled for ... whatever he does at the supercross races each weekend. 

 

I read with great interest that the CMRC has secured a title sponsor for the MX series. I was pretty excited until I read this quote from the grand poobah of the CMRC in my BFF’s Frid’eh Update column:

“We can take it to another level,” says Mark Stallybrass on the signing of Monster Energy. “As far as series money, it was too late for Monster to look at that. It will allow us to advertise and promote the series, at each respective round, that much more. I can hire more staff to improve the presentation, the signage, and the way each track looks.”

Yeah, that’s it—make the track look nice and pretty for TV. How’s about this though—PAY THE RIDERS MORE!! When I looked at the purse this year, I was absolutely appalled that pro motocross riders were getting paid eighty dollars to finish 20th! Do you know how hard and how much money it takes to get 20th place?  When he says that it was too late for the series money, what does that even mean? It’s never too late to pay the riders more. [Ed. note: while it's true that the 20th place rider is paid $80 per moto for 20th in the MX2 class ($110 per moto in the MX1 class), the CMRC did increase the purse earlier in the year by $5000 per round and they now pay back to 40th place in the MX1 class. It's a step in the right direction and the Monster Energy title sponsorship has us excited to see what is in store for the coming years. Look for more on this in Danny's Frid'eh Update.]

Everybody always wonders why Seattle built an open dome when it rains so much here, but what they don’t realize is that Paul Allen, the owner of the stadium and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, is a bajillionaire and could really care less about this dumb little motorcycle race. When they built it, they came under criticism, but Allen did a study that found that in the months they played football, the rain level was pretty low. So, voila! They built an open stadium. Just to guard against unlikely rain, they also looked at wind patterns and figured that if it did rain, the wind would blow the rain against the back of the stands, thereby keeping the fans dry. You really should have known….

Kevin Windham, Steve Cox, RXC shooter James Lissimore and I had a good talk in the morning. We talked about the nationals, SX-only contracts and his gi-normous house and all of his air conditioners.  He says that sometimes his kids get lost in the house and they find them when one of the door chimes goes off, signifying which wing of the house the kid is in. KW was very honest, and open about a lot of things that I really can’t print because then he will never talk to me again. He did mention that a guy could get away with an SX-only deal because between the 18 WSX events, the X-Games SX race, U.S. Open and MC’s race, that’s all pretty good exposure for a sponsor. Did I mention that his contract is up at the end of the year? Just thought I would throw that out there.

 

Josh Hansen's antics are rubbing off on his teammate, Martin Davalos. 



The West Coast Lites were back and what kind of race would it be if there were no fights? Kyle Partridge and Martin Davalos got into it after the heat race when Davalos forced him off of the track right before the finish. After the finish, Kyle ran over and dropped off the top rope like Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and knocked the little Ecuadorian down. The AMA promptly DQ’d them for the rest of the night, which made me laugh—it wasn’t even that bad of a fight and yet when J-Law, Hansen and Grant all got into it at San Fran throwing punches, nothing was done. Again, all the teams ask for is consistency.

Jason Lawrence once again provided some entertainment in the off week. He allegedly got into a fight after trying to knock a rider down. He rode well in Seattle and finished second. The next time J-Law gets into some trouble, you can look for the internet to explode.

I caught up on my Alessi news this week. This was an interesting tidbit …
“Moments of Greatness!!!  I would say that sums up tonight's performance for Mike & Jeff Alessi and the East coast lites season after tonight's race in Detroit concluded!
 
“Tonight's hint of greatness came when Mike Alessi holeshot heat race #1 and disappeared,simple as that!  Mike won the heat with a nearly 10 second lead over the likes of Dungey ,Hahn ,and Laninovich , by turning the fastest lites time of the entire program (practice, heat races, main event) which was a speedy 47.76.”

"Moments of greatness?!" Who are they kidding? Mike Alessi is regressing, if you look at  the real results; he has done worse this year in SX and is probably the highest paid Lites' rider in the world. They are talking about a heat race... Do you think Ryan Dungey stays up at night, worrying that Mike beat him in a freaking heat race? Last time I checked, it was main event finishes that count. Also, claiming the fastest time of the night, when it's the first race of the night and the track is perfect is misleading--the track become tougher by  the lap, and that first Lites heat had the best  track by  far.

 

 

Michael Willard was the story of the weekend. The KTM rider accepted the wager on Mototalk and raced a two-stroke in Seattle. Willard not only qualified, he finished 15th and made around three thousand bucks from some Mototalkers.



The word in the pits is that WBR Racing went broke, and Suzuki took the team over to be good guys and help out the riders. Well, I know Brad Williams (owner of WBR racing) and I called him up to do an interview with him and it turns out that all of the rumors being spread are absolute crap. Look for an interview on www.racerxill.com later in the week. You will be surprised.

The big announcement this week was that Cernics/Moose Racing Kawasaki is going to switch countries and ride the Canadian series. They have Monster Energy backing them and with Paul Carpenter, Jeff Gibson and Tucker Hibbert, they should do well. As a matter of fact, I am picking Paul Carpenter to finish second in the series behind the Jesus of Canada (JSR). He’s fast and in shape—you will all be impressed.

Davi Millsaps was very fast, on a rutty, crappy track. He was a little bit out of control but in the end captured second-place. He just manhandled his bike in the ruts and was tripling the rhythm section and making up a lot of time on everybody. For six laps he was faster than Stewie and was very impressive.

I had to laugh this week when I saw a flyer for Jamey Grosser’s SX after party. He had invitations all printed up with “Hosted by the retired people’s champ, Jamey Grosser.” First of all, Jamey, you didn’t retire. Retiring means you never have to work again. I haven’t seen your tax returns, but I would bet you didn’t make enough money from racing to retire. Second of all, you were forced into “retirement” when the AMA refused to issue you a SX license. And why are you the “People’s Champ” anyways?  Who are these people and when was the voting?

Dusty Klatt had his best finish of the year with an eighth. He rode a smart and steady race. I spoke with him for a while before the race and he told me that he was looking forward to the outdoors and the MXdN. I am also amazed as I get to know him, that he is probably the mellowest person in the world. He makes my lazy dog Buddy look like a ball of lightning. C’mon, Dusty—get mad and rip your shirt off!

 

Yamaha's Josh Hill had a great night in Seattle. He won his first-ever heat race, led four laps of the main event and finished third behind Villopoto and Lawrence. 



I wandered by the MDK pits where I ran into DV12.com. What was he doing after the race? He was taking the tent down with the rest of his team. He used to do this at Yamaha from time to time, but we all figured it was because it was contract time. He was making himself as useful as he could. I have seen him do this a few times this year. That’s great to see and if I was on his team, I would really want to bust my ass for this kind of rider. He also moved into fifth in the points and wrapped up the top privateer award in Seattle.

Did you know that on DV12.com, you can sign up on instant messenger and actually talk to David if he is online? I asked him if he was nuts and he said it’s cool to talk to fans. If only Kevin Federline shared that point of view.

As I was talking to DV, a guy ran by and yelled out “Hey Matthes!” I looked over and asked him if I knew him. He said no, but said that he loved my columns and then yelled out “Matthes for Prime Minister!”  I swear I didn’t make this up. DV was standing right there. Here’s to you, Mr. Drunk-Canadian-who-wants-me-to-be-prime-minister-guy, you made my night.

Moto XXX/Moose Racing’s Kyle Lewis raced in the penultimate supercross of his career and made the main event. I talked to him before the race and he really didn’t seem too excited about the whole thing. I really hope Live Nation does something for him next week in Las Vegas. Lewis and I used to yell at each other in my XXX days, but I do respect all that he has done in the sport and he should be recognized.

James Stewart rode a flawless race and clinched the AMA and FIM Supercross championships. Get used to it people: he looks like he is going to win this thing for a long time. When he was introduced in the opening ceremonies, he went into the crowd and gave away his helmet. I thought that was pretty cool, and when I asked his dad about this generosity he had this to say: “I'm always happy. This is Big James! This is me. I’m always happy. You guys know that. Everybody knows Big James. I'm always happy.”
 

 

 Big James is really, really, really happy right now.



I normally like MXA magazine, they aren't as bad as everybody makes them out to be, but in the new issue they really did a hatchet job on Nick Wey. They were talking about the privateer and what really is a privateer. (They should have known that I was bringing this same subject up in Racer X two months ago, so there.) They incorrectly said the top privateer award is $100,000—it's not that much, more like $25K and a trailer. They also went to town on Nick, asking other privateers if Nick was a "true" privateer and how he would lose money if he went on to a factory team, etc. Not a word was mentioned about Travis Preston (who has equipment that you cannot buy) or DV (a teammate of Nick's and the winner of the award this year). If you are going to bury a guy, make it fair and bury these guys also. Nick is not doing anything wrong; he is following the rules and, as I talked about two months ago, it's the system that needs to change. Don't make it a personal thing.

I also like in the same article, Steve Whitelock of the AMA says that his idea of a privateer is "a guy who doesn't get paid to race and who drives to all the races and has a friend help him out." Uh, Steve—take a look around, that rider does not really exist anymore.

Whitelock goes on to say that he had a problem when the sponsor wanted to give DV the money last year (except that isn't true, DV declined to take it) and there isn't a rule that defines who a privateer is (there is, it just isn't decided by the AMA). He has a problem when the definition is made up by the people who give the money away (It's their freakin' money!) and the topper to the whole thing: "The AMA doesn't differentiate between riders." So, RC is treated the same as Barry Carsten? Here's an idea: get a roundtable or something going and let's just get a new working definition of what  a modern privateer really is.