Steve Matthes Observations from Colorado

By Steve Matthes

Just in case no one noticed, we got a sponsor for this thing! Merge Racing Technologies has stepped up and is pumping their new adjustable leak jet. It’s for four strokes and will help riders tune their carburetors better. This is a bolt on product that can help, in my mechanic days I was amazed by the people that would ask me simple questions about their bikes. Just a few jetting changes for the weather, elevation and track conditions make a big difference. Look, I pretty much would say this thing would be good no matter what but honestly, I really, really do think this product can be very beneficial to everyone. I’m looking forward to trying one on my bike.

What a day!  The AMA Toyota Motocross Championships presented by FMF was seven rounds deep and the riders chipped in and gave everyone a race to remember. We had a tie for the win in the 250 and a three-way tie for first in the 450 class! The 250s look like they are going to go down to the wire, and with James Stewart riding hurt, it’s giving everyone new life in the big boys class. The weather was awesome and I could swear I heard Bono singing on the hillside-“It’s a beautiful day/Don’t let it get away/It’s a beautiful day/ Ferry is going to win…”

This race is cool, even though it’s already three years old, everybody loves going to this national. It’s still a fresh track and the promoters work hard to get it good. I talked to a few local riders and they say usually the track isn’t very good but I think its one of the better nationals and every year you see improvements.

The soil was kind of sandy with multiple lines developing in every corner. Tim Cotter of the NPG informed me that the promoter buys the dirt from a baseball field company. Cool idea, I think Unadilla should be given this number also.

The second 450 moto was honestly one of the best races I’ve ever seen. First Millsaps was leading, then Stewie grabbed the lead and looked to be in control except Mike Alessi actually passed him a few times but never made it stick. Then I was thinking that Andrew Short was going to win it but he appeared to get a bit winded and fell off the pace. All the while Ivan Tedesco and Timmy Ferry were slowly coming up and catching the pack. It was so great to see 6 guys on the same straight going for the win. Then in the last four laps, Ferry passed everyone and got the moto win. Wow—that’s all I can say.



The battle to be Townley's ultimate man-friend is heating up.  

Simon Cudby photo


Spoke with Ben Townley and he’s a big fan of the column, reads it every week he says. He started asking me about his “mate” Mason Phillips who races up in Canada for KTM. I told him I thought the guy looked pretty good and we talked about him coming down to America. Then I informed BT that I’m done talking about Canadian Moto-X, too many emotionally fragile people up there.

Seems that we have a man-friend war going on for BT’s services. I remarked to Ben that I’ve been seeing J.H Leahle (RC’s man friend) hanging out with Ben and wanted to know, that with RC retiring, was J.H getting his meat hooks into him? Ben laughed and said that he had a man friend in Florida named Rueben (who came here  with him from Belgium and who’s sister is Stefan Everts’ better half). Rueben works on his practice bikes and helps him out. This is going to be almost as interesting as the title chase, me thinks.

Still on the man friend front, I met a British guy named Ashley at the Parts Unlimited Dealer showcase on Saturday night. He and his buddy (who I didn’t get his name) are the Thor/Cycra/Asteriks importers in England and were over checking things out. He came up to me and said, “How’s the man friend-ing going?” After assuring him it was going well, he mentioned that he was buddies with Billy McKenzie and Billy told him that he needed a man friend last week! Just like Hasselhoff, man friends have finally reached Europe.

They were cool guys, swearing every second word and I got the one guy to tell me he hates Pikies—you know, like in the movie Snatch.

BT must have been inspired from the Racer X “Matthes” sticker that I put on his helmet as he went out and finished 2-1 for the OA. He rode a great race and capitalized on Ryan Villopoto crashing in the second moto to win his fourth race of the season. Lots of people seem to talk about RV and his bad luck, but don’t forget that Ben actually has more wins and has had his own share of bad luck.

Makita Suzuki had a bad day at Lakewood. Ryan Dungey “and Dragons” had a good first moto finishing fourth but cartwheeled in the second moto and DNF’d. His teammate Ivan “Drago” Tedesco rode really good for 55 of the 70 minutes he was out on the track. His bike crapped out in the first moto and in the second he crashed while in the lead pack. No big deal, but he got up and his bike suffered from the same problem again as he limped around. It sure sounded like a gas problem to me, but I can’t believe Suzuki wouldn’t have figured it out by now as every other team knows to run a pump gas mix at Lakewood. All I know is that if RC was there, things might’ve got real ugly.

Speaking of Suzuki, it was a fun filled weekend of DV for me!  I went to dinner with him on Friday night and then got a ride to the airport on Sunday night with him. He had a respectful day as he came from the back to go 8-5. What was more impressive to me was how he made me laugh so much during our time. Someone get a reality show for him, errrr wait—they already did and it didn’t go so well for him. Forget that idea.

After the race we were walking out and Townley was coming out of the Honda truck and DV started yelling at him-“Hey, wrong truck man, wrong truck—next year!”

James Stewart
was obviously not himself this weekend and I don’t want to wish him further harm but take your time healing Stewie! He was mortal this weekend and it made for great racing. He had the fastest practice time, and when he jetted out in the first moto, I figured it was over, but his neck and back injuries caught up to him and he faded back to fourth. He showed a lot of heart racing the second moto and hung in tough to get a second for the OA. After finishing the second moto he collapsed off of his bike and had to be iced down.

Everybody who has one, now is the time to dust off the “Believe the Hype” T-shirts. Mike Alessi is here, he’s fast and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon (well, besides maybe the Suzuki truck).  I think he will improve in Supercross also and see himself become a top guy, followed shortly after by Mototalk imploding.

In yet even more Mike Alessi news, he switched mechanics a while back and brought in Ed Longacre to spin the T-handles. But at Lakewood “Big Ed” was around the bike but Zach Osbourne’s long time mechanic Al Albiker was working the board and packing the gate for Mike. Add in the trainer and the Alessi sports psychologist, and you have a Source Awards-type posse behind the gate.

As far as Jeff Alessi is concerned, Suzuki was looking at him also but someone at KTM told me that it was a “very important weekend for Jeff.” It didn’t go so well for Jeff as he pulled into the mechanics area midway through moto one and collapsed off of his bike. Later on, I found out he was still feeling the effects of his Unadilla crash and got light headed in the Colorado air.

Jody Weisel was in the house! The editor of Motocross Action came out with the Glen Helen folks to check out the track and talk things over with the NPG. Haven’t seen him at too many races so I went over and talked to him for a bit. We spoke about the 2008 YZF 450 and some fuel injection concerns/possible problems.

Run for the hills, the off-road guys are invading the nationals! Bobby Garrison, Ricky Dietrich and Destry Abbot all showed up again to see what they could do. This time they all made it into the show. (Well, kinda-as Abbot got the alternate spot and raced the 2nd moto only). The “notorious number sixty-nine” Garrison did really good going 20-13 and Dietrich went 39-17.

Monster/Pro Circuit rider Brett Metcalfe came back from his thumb injury he sustained at Mt Morris and finished 5-5. He even led the first moto for a while before crashing. Pretty impressive and I guess that’s why Mitch Payton is giving him another shot after his injury plagued season.

As everybody knows, Red Bull is done with KTM, they are going to Honda, and MDK is running the KTM 250 and 450 programs in 2008. They have Ryan Sipes, Justin Brayton, Matt Georke and one more spot open for one truck. Nick Wey on a 450 and Martin Davalos on a 250F will be in the other truck. Nick has ridden the bike and likes it, DV also rode the bike and reported that it works fine in SX. Should be really interesting to see a top guy in SX on that bike.

As reported on, Darcy Lange secured himself a ride on L&M Yamaha for 2008…. Well, stop the presses as it hasn’t happened, despite Hammertime pronouncing it a done deal. I had not heard this at all and I usually hear most of the gossip, so I figured I would get to the bottom the rumor. Yes, they did talk to Darcy a couple weeks ago; nothing is done as Nathan Ramsey has not decided whether or not he is going to retire. If Nathan decides to race, then he is going to be Chad Reed’s teammate again. Darcy is also going through a health issue that he has to get through first, so it’s pretty far from happening. (Our sincere wishes there, Darcy.) Mitch Payton told me that he hasn’t discussed anything with Lange but his team is full next year with RV, Austin Stroupe, Brett Metcalfe and Christophe Pourcel.

Butler Brothers Racing Jason Thomas had a good day, he ran up front and would’ve finished higher but his shock faded and he was just hanging on to get a ninth. Before the second moto I was talking to him and he said that if the AMA just wanted to cancel the moto and everybody draw their finish out of a hat, he would be fine with that. The AMA didn’t do that but he did get 15h second time out.

Grant Langston
had a tough day, he was fast but crashed in the early laps of moto one and then went down forty feet out of the gate in moto two. Seriously, I counted and at one point he passed 16 riders on one lap. Sixteen! He went 10-9 on the day. He’s also got some gear problems as M2R is in financial trouble (Mike Kiedrowski has also switched from M2R to TLD recently). He was also wearing Utopia goggles but something is up with them also as he is now wearing a pair of “Langston Racing” goggles. They look like Scott 89 frames with a strap that says Langston. And they’re not just customized for him either.

Don’t know who it was, but I saw a mechanic stick out a pit board for a rider that said “P-WTF?”   Oh, how I don’t miss those days of helpless anger.

Martin Davalos rode great, he was up front all day and finished sixth OA. Getting back to that MDK deal, I guess he’s in the truck with Wey because he has another year left on his deal and that truck will be the official factory truck with the other one being an MDK truck. Still not sure on how it’s all going to shake down but some of the Red Bull KTM staff has already been told they don’t have jobs for next year while others are hoping they can be kept on.

Here are the new Michael Byrne rumors—He’s going to MDK KTM, he’s going to factory Suzuki, he’s going to stay at Rockstar Suzuki and ride a factory 450, he’s going to Joe Gibb’s racing and he is going to EZ-Wider racing (ok, made that up). I don’t know what will happen but these are all out there. His super agent Bobby Nichols was there and asked me what I heard. (?!?) As far as the race is concerned, he got a banner in his wheel in the first moto and had to pull in to get it removed. That was scary as some Rockstar team guys almost lost some fingers with him rocking the bike back and forth trying to get it out. In the second moto he rode good to a sixth-place finish.

Gavin Gracyk went 6-10 for 8th OA on the day. He appeared to get tired a bit in the second moto and dropped back to 13th at one point. With a few breaks, and a big heart, he got back up to 10th.  I have had five or six riders and factory personal come up to me this year and wonder what is under Gavin’s CRF 450’s hood. I’m not sure if he’s cheating or not, but like I tell the guys, it’s 500 hundred dollars for a protest fee, post it!  (I personally think he’s riding great and I would love for someone to put up the five hundy so we can stop these whispers.)

Andrew Short
is the new Timmy Ferry…except that Ferry isn’t quite done yet. He’s a quiet, nice guy that is very grounded, has a cool wife, and just kind of goes out there and is fast without a lot of fanfare.  You don’t really ever notice him too much but at the end of the day you see that he’s done well. This was his race to win, but I wouldn’t worry too much he’s got a long career of winning ahead of him. He’s also a faithful reader of Observations; at least that’s what he told me to probably just get me to go away!

Another rumor—Motosport Outlet is still around in 08, just going to be a Team Green deal for SX and Outdoors. The person who told me this says that the only guy coming back is Kyle Chisholm.

Davi Millsaps won his first-ever AMA National moto and was looking good for the overall win when the altitude and his lack of conditioning bit him. He seriously looked so tired I thought he had a bear on his back. I know the Honda guys have been on him to revamp his “program” and maybe now that he sees how close he can get without being in top shape maybe the urge to get a trainer will be stronger for him.



Ferry impressed Matthes at Lakewood. More impressively, he impressed everyone there. 

Simon Cudby photo


Timmy Ferry won the second moto in an unbelievable ride, one that none of the fans will forget. He gutted it out in extreme conditions and was literally the last man standing at the end. His first moto was not as good as he crashed early on and then went off the track when he tried to pass another rider. He had to ride around the outside looking for a spot to re-enter and then had to pass all the same guys again to end up eleventh. The second moto ride was simply incredible and the heart and endurance and toughness shown was, well, incredible. He was always the last guy in the lead pack and just got stronger as the moto went on before going to the front. I know, I know—all of you people are just puking onto your monitors reading all this praise but ask someone who was there-they will tell you.

You can see more of Tim’s win, James’ Stewart’s heroic ride, exclusive race footage and just how damn rough the track was, plus hear and see their post-race interviews on the Racer X Motocross Show on Here’s the direct link:

It’s what we need for Canada!


Summey went 7-7 at Lakewood moving him to 11th in the series.  

Simon Cudby photo

Moose racing/Moto XXX rider Josh Summey went 7-7 on the day and moved into 11th in the series. He rode great and I bet he looks back at those five motos that he didn’t score any points in and wonder what if?  I had one team manager tell me that he has thought about hiring him for next year but the tattoos and shaved head scare him. I agree, he does look scary, but if you spend some time with him he’s a really nice kid. A very humble and hard working young man…. I sound like Wilfred Brimley right there. Remember eat your Quaker Oats, it’s good for you folks.

Ok, time for an intervention with Josh Hill. He DNF’d both motos this weekend. He looked okay in the first one but just rode off the track for some reason. I didn’t see what happened in the 2nd moto but his bike didn’t sound good in either moto. In fact, it sounded a lot like Tesdesco’s bike with the fuel problem. Slowly but surely his season is going off the tracks here. Five DNFs is not good for him or Yamaha. Next week the race is in his home state so hopefully he turns it around.

The heat was taking was causing some problems for the guys for sure. I was hanging out behind the gate for the first 450 moto and noticed that Ferry changed jerseys after the parade lap, Kyle Lewis was absolutely soaked from head to toe and there were more bags of ice and wet towels than a marathon. Usually Timmy is the last guy back on the parade lap and I knew something was up when he came early to then rip his jersey off Hogan-style.

The Campbell River Crusher, Dusty Klatt, his mechanic Glen and I had a good talk on Saturday. We were filling Dusty in with all sorts of ways to do better when he said, “Do you think that maybe I am thinking too much about all this stuff?” He related to me how he used to just show up and ride and now everybody has a theory on how he can do better. So Glen and I immediately started talking about the Trailer Park Boys with him. Alas, it was not to be as he struggled again in going 18-18 on the day.

This is what I said in my Hangtown Observations

 “In other news, I read that Star Racing is letting Dusty go back to the island for the summer. This is a bad move, if you ask me (which nobody really has, BTW). He is going to have to take three or four flights to get to some of the tracks which will wear him out over time. He is going to have problems with getting parts for his bike through customs, and he is not going to have anybody pushing him to focus on racing. I know that Southern California is not the greatest place to live, but Thursday’s at Glen Helen is like a national and that can do nothing but help our guy out.”
He went there after the second round and if you include Southwick when he wasn’t settled in at home, his average moto score is 18th. After he moved-23rd. He’s also dropped from 12th to out of the top twenty in points. I’ve told Dusty this theory so don’t go and think I’m talking poop here, I’m just laying out some facts.

I’m kind of kissing ass here, but the new Racer X is really good. The Inside Motocross story is amazing, the Vegas “Lights-Out” SX story is really, really interesting (and I could draw a lot of parallels between this race and the Morden national). Great reading and I’m not sure how I missed this, but did anyone else think that Makita ad with Dungey, Tedesco and RC all holding power tools is hilarious? And how about that Shift ad with Tyler Bowers wearing a goalie mask and a bloody machete? Geez… That’s for sure “cutting edge”. I think if you look closely you can even see Brock Sellards laying in the background.



This week ... meet Hank.  

Matthes photo


And finally here is the 2nd part of the exciting 3 part series-“Matthes’ Dogs!”  Here we have Hank who is the buddy to Fred,( whom I profiled a few weeks ago). Hank is pretty much the alpha-male between the two always wanting all the attention and scratches for himself. He also finishes his food first and stands over Fred, eventually intimidating Fred enough that he surrenders his bowl to Hank. Hank also seems to think its funny to pee in the house when we leave him, but when we’re there he uses the doggy-door. In short, he’s kind of an ass. He is however very loving and sits on my lap while I type sometimes, and is the only one out of our three dogs that licks faces.

As always, my email is, I love reading all of the letters, even from the crazy people!