Steve Matthes' Observations from Glen Helen
By Steve Matthes

Photos by Simon Cudby

 
The final round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championships presented by FMF took place at Glen Helen. This is always one of the tracks that most of the riders dread, it has massive hills with sand, water and long straights thrown in there to tax the riders, bikes and teams. I honestly don’t like the track—it’s the last race of the year and the promoters seem to want to make it the gnarliest? It’s too rough to be as fast as it is; there are HUGE jumps that don’t belong on an outdoor track, and the crew throws too much water on it before each moto, in my opinion. I saw three horrendous crashes during the day. The idea isn’t to make it a survival contest. If they made it slower it would be better. At least they took out the chain-link fence of a few years ago.

The 1985 AMA Supercross season was winding down and with one race to go, Jeff Ward and Broc Glover were tied in points and Ron Lechien was 6 points back. Ricky Johnson still had a shot being only 11 back going into a funky two 12-lap main events. That was the last time I could remember that a title came down to the last race with four guys that could realistically win the title. What happened that night? The Dogger self-destructed due to his elbow being numb from a pain shot, RJ did good, and bad and a consistent Jeff Ward (with the help of not being DQ’d for riding backwards on the track) beat Glover by one spot in both mains and won the title. So what is the lesson? Consistency wins titles people. So……..

How’s this for consistency when it counts? 4-1, 2-2, 2-1, 2-1, 1-3. Those are Grant Langston’s moto scores since the title was blown wide open with James Stewart’s injury at round 8. So……

 

 

Langston's consistency later in the season earned him the 450 title.  

 


Grant Langston is the 450 Motocross Champion! He has added this title to an already impressive world title, two SX titles and the AMA 125 MX title. He rode great at the Glen, winning the first moto and riding to a safe third in the second. Good for Grant and good for Yamaha after their terrible supercross year. He really stepped it up when James Stewart went out and I don’t think it’s a case of Ferry, Alessi or Short falling off; it’s just GL8 bringing his game to a new level and being consistently great. Congrats to Grant, Andrew and “Puffy” Langston!

When Stewie went out at Washougal and Timmy Ferry became the de-facto points leader here is where the four contenders stood on the end of the first lap each moto.

Grant Langston    5—8—3—3—5—4—6—3          Average postion= 4th
Mike Alessi          6—1—1—4—4—2—1—1           Average position=2nd
Andrew Short      3—2—9—5—1—1—4—4           Average positon=3rd
Tim Ferry            23—14—6—25—9—5—5—10    Average position=12th

Now, I’m no Gary Bailey but it’s easier to finish well in a race when you’re up front at the end of first lap and Ferry was never there. Red Dog’s starts and luck went south and with them, his title hopes went as well. And remember that that’s just end of one lap-which means he was even further back then those numbers at the start. If I wasn’t so lazy I would go back and look at Ferry’s first lap positions all season and I bet you they got progressively worse. 
 

 

Ferry's poor starts made his shot at the championship more difficult.  

 


But Red Dog has nothing to be ashamed about in regards to his 2007 season; he was the revelation of the season and now gets to put his frustration into working hard towards defending America’s honor at the MXoN in 2 weeks. He proved that he can win races again and I couldn’t be any happier for the little guy. Oh, and just one more fact I’ll throw out there: Ferry was the only one out of the top four who suffered a DNF this season when his bike blew up while running 3rd at Southwick. Wonder if he would like those 20 points back?  It’s okay, Timmy, you’re a reader of Observations and I just want to tell you that I want to wear your skin……(I’m kidding, kidding….that’s a line from Blades of Glory).

He’s also testing Supercross on Tuesday this week in SoCal. How’s that for a vacation?

 

 

Alessi finished an impressive second overall in the series.  

 


Mike Alessi got second in the series and really came into his own this year. He cannot come from behind and win but does that matter when you pull just about every start? Nobody rides better when he has a clear track but, as supercross proved, I’m not too sure if anybody rides worse when they are in traffic. He needs a bit more fitness next season to be even better.

Speaking of fitness, Andrew Short needs some as well. His second motos at Texas, Millville, and Glen Helen did not help his title cause out. He is a great rider, and I said it before: He is the new generation’s Tim Ferry. He is going to be in a title hunt for the next 10 years and is a great guy also.

 

 

Villopoto won his second 250F Motocross title.  

 


 

Ryan Villopoto is the 250F Motocross Champion again. RV rode an aggressive first moto and lay up in the second to capture his second outdoor motocross title. He and Ben Townley proved to be the class of the field near the end of the season. We started off at Hangtown with five riders that looked like they could win on any given day, but by  the end it was RV or BT that were dominant in each and every moto.  The last few races BT had problems in one moto and just plain got beat the second time out. I’m not sure if it was RV coming on or BT feeling the effects of a long season; remember, Ben has never raced this many races when he was in Europe and only raced twice last season. I remember another Kiwi, Shayne King telling me when he raced over here that he wasn’t used to the amount and the intensity of all 28 races. So we’ll see these two rivals go at it again in 2009 when RV moves up to the 450 class to battle with Ben and his Honda 450.

I spoke with somebody that had seen a tentative schedule of the 2008 AMA Motocross Championships and there’s some big changes next year as Davey Coombs alluded to in Texas. Things are definitely looking up again after two great championship battles, and with the right tweaks, which I believe are coming, everyone is going to be happier about the travel pattern and weekend schedule.

Hannah Racing Products put out a press release that they are re-launching the famous HRP brand. Who hasn’t won one of their chest protectors or a copy of their design? I checked out the site and wow—some strong comments on there for sure. I think Bob’s wife Teri is the writer of such statements as these;

“Just ask yourself… weren’t you dying for Jeremy and RC to smack talk even a TINY bit?! Some guys spent their entire careers worrying about what other people thought about them. While others worried more about how they looked and having a good time. And some were soooooo quiet, you don't hardly remember they were there. And I’m NOT trying to take anything away from their accomplishments...but what ever happened to all the great ‘characters’ in this sport?!”

”Can you believe a desert rat, California kid, from a blue collar, low-income household, with hardly a nickel in his pocket – armed only with a high school diploma and a dream – was signed to a full factory ride? He forged on through HARD WORK – not natural talent – to become one of the greatest motorcycle racers in the world AND…he never went to a training facility, never had a manager, an agent…or even a trainer. Oh, and just an FYI…he wasn’t a big partier, didn’t use illegal drugs and didn’t use any kind of sport enhancing drugs or ‘supplements’…just old fashioned hard work, a balanced diet and disciplined training.”

“There will never be another Hurricane, because the sport that allowed this kid with nothing to live his dream, has given into greed, and destroyed the dreams of kids who don’t have parents with big bank accounts. I believe modern day MX is beyond the point of no return. Maybe it’s because…when you have that much money involved, the almighty dollar will always come first – not the riders or the fans? I don’t know?...”

Wow….those are some bold statements to make from somebody that only goes to Hangtown National every year. First of all, is HRP saying that the riders are taking PED’s?  Do they have any proof? “Modern motocross is beyond the point of no return?” Ok, let’s go back to box vans, no TV, riders having to get jobs when they retire and 200 people in a field to watch a race.

Look, I have respect for Bob Hannah, from everybody I talk to (and I saw him ride Calgary SX 1984) he had balls of steel and hated to lose more then anybody but why would he endorse this diatribe? The riders today get slammed by the old fans that seem to forget that many of their own heroes are saying that modern guys are better then they ever were! Go to hannahracingproducts.com to read the rest of how today’s riders suck.

The NFL opened its season and my mighty Raiders are 0-1. Not to worry though, the future looks good with this defense and JaMarcus Russel coming soon. The most amazing thing to me on the opening weekend was when I heard that the Denver Broncos’ Travis Henry has 9 kids by 9 different women!  That’s more impressive than any Peyton Manning touchdown toss. Can you imagine the support payments and the baby mama drama he has?

The Women’s Auxiliary of Motocross annual Motobowl tournament was on Thursday before the race and fans and supporters got to bid for the chance to bowl with celebrities of the moto world. I was a “celebrity” and was teamed up with none other then Brock Sellards, unfortunately nobody wanted to pay money towards a charity for the right to bowl with us. (Insert crying emoticon here). Me I could understand, but Sellards? He won 1999 Washougal National people! (Beating Ricky Carmichael, by the way.)

So anyways, we showed up and were practicing together when I found out that Brock is riding for Monster Energy Kawasaki Arenacross team next year with Kelly Smith as his teammate. Then I found out that I was switching to lane 8 (which was sweet, because I was on lane 33 and Ferry was on 12-so I was closer to Timmy….Am I creeping you out yet?) My new partner was David Vuillemin, whose partner never showed up, thereby stiffing the dudes who bid to bowl with him, stiffing the charity cause, and also stiffing the fans. Who was this horrible celebrity? None other then Jason Weigandt! Nice Weege. Real classy. (He actually didn’t fly in until Friday because Racer X was still finishing up the Motocross of Nations program.)

So I bowled with DV12.com and Scott from New Zealand and a couple of his buddies. They flew all the way here to watch Ben Townley, Cody Cooper and they also said their dream was to bowl with DV and the “voice of the sport” Weege. I even bid on an Alessi jersey in the silent auction but got beat at the last minute. So to recap, people paid money to bowl with Weigandt but he hates charities, fans, Tyler Bowers, the sport and didn’t even show up. Nobody bid to bowl with me, but I drove 4 hours, I love the fans and charities.

With Dusty Klatt quitting/getting fired at Star Racing, the honor of defending our flag was left to Doug “The Icon” Dehaan and on Sunday he failed to qualify thereby setting up the first no-Canadian-racing-in-the-show AMA SX/MX in 2007. It’s too bad DD went out like this as it looks like he won’t be coming back stateside next year. On another note, I personally think the Dusty Klatt to Cernic’s Kawasaki is going to happen. Should be interesting to see if the Klattapus can rebound and make all of the guys on Motonews and Mxforum eat their keyboards.

James “Bubba” Stewart was back! Kind of, at least. James showed up on Saturday to sign autographs and hang with the fans and I thought this was a cool move. He had therapy on Sunday and couldn’t stick around for all the motos and it probably would’ve hurt seeing someone win a title that was his to win. He asked me if I had been doing the webcasts and when I said yeah, I started racking my hamster on a wheel brain to figure out if I had said something bad about him. But he said that he had enjoyed them and that it was a good job... Whew! Usually the only time somebody brings up my webcast or writing work is to complain about something I said.

I was very excited to watch Britney Spears get her sexy back this Sunday on the MTV Video Music Awards. After TIVO’ing it and watching it immediately upon getting home on Sunday night at 11:30pm-I want my 4 minutes back. And I want her to go away; she does not have her sexy back.

Do you remember last week when I said that I was a fan of Dale Kump? You don’t? Go back and read my Observations from Texas. Parts Unlimited’s Rob Buydos first pointed him out to me at Mt Morris and I’ve been keeping my eye on him since. I gave him some internet love last week and I got a photo from Scott Lukaitis and this email:

Hey Steve, this is Dale Kump number 423 from Lake Helen Fl.... I wanted to say thanks for the shout out you gave me and thanks for yours and Rob Buydo’s support. I wish I would have known sooner I had some fans…..thanks again.
Dale Kump

The Kumpster wrote in! Yes! This is cool! Here is a pic of my new guy. Yes, he is bigger boned but seriously, he’s fast. He has yet to make a moto but it’s not for lack of trying and I predict that next year to be the year of the Kump. Thanks to Scott Lukaitis for letting me use the photo as well.

 

 

The Kumpster in action. 



 

Is the Louisiana tease done outdoors?

 

Imagine you had a real nice girlfriend who was pretty good looking and best of all, she loved watching Star Wars with you and laughing when you farted and everything was bliss. Then she goes and gets a boob job and ends up really turning into a knockout, all your buddies are jealous. She quickly realizes that she can do better than your dorky ass and goes out and hooks up with your pal at some frat party. You end up seeing them making out that night and break down sobbing in front of everybody, thereby ensuring that you’re the butt of jokes for the next ten years. After all that she begs you to take her back, you do and she goes out and hooks up with the whole offensive line of the football team. Again, she cries her way back into your heart, the whole time you know that she will slip back to her slutty self at the first sign of tequila…. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to being a fan of Kevin Windham! You just never know what you’re going to get with KW and this week he went 5 and 1 in what might be his last outdoor race ever. Oh the ups and downs that this Louisiana tease gives you just makes you shake your head.

Ivan Tedesco crashed on Saturday and hit his head. After consulting with the docs, he decided to sit out on Sunday in his farewell ride with Makita/Suzuki. A fitting end to a frustrating season for IT. I’m looking forward to seeing a hungry Ivan Tedesco on his Honda in 2008.

Team Green Kawasaki’s Dave Gowland used to be Ross Pederson’s mechanic back in the day and I got a Rollerball story from him this weekend. Dave couldn’t remember the race but they went out the Saturday before and really tore it up. Stayed out all night and when they got to the track Ross laid down underneath the box van all morning sipping on a Diet Pepsi. When I asked how he did, Dave said that he killed them that day. Was there any doubt about this? Let’s see RC do that.

Butler Brothers Racing Jason Thomas went 38-17 on this day. His wheel broke (a few guys had that problem) in the first moto and he just rode around “half the moto with my eyes closed” to a 17th. He hates the track and was so eager to get out of there that he was helping his team fold the tent after the race while he was still in his gear!

“Downtown” Mike Brown raced Glen Helen and did pretty good going 6-7 on the day. He has been in Europe racing the MX1 class all season and reveled that he has signed there for 2008 also. He was supported by MDK on Nick Wey’s bike for this race and brought with him his suspension which was KYB to replace the Honda’s Showa forks. Brownie also brought with him a really cool, one piece carbon airbox/subframe that was not allowed for some reason.

After slumping for a couple of weeks, Team Kawasaki came back strong this week with a full breakfast platter and pizzas for lunch on Sunday. Way to finish the season strong guys and thanks for everything this year and I’m looking forward to (getting) bigger and better things in ’08!

The Moto XXX guys are real big on taking bets all season on pretty much anything to do with Moto-X. Sometimes their truck looks like the betting window at the MGM there’s so much “action.” This week the bet was how Brown was going to do in his return to AMA Motocross. Ten bucks got you 3 picks on Mike’s combined point total on the day; 5 bucks got you one pick. When it was all said and done, the pot contained a couple hundred dollars and the winner with his one pick, nailing the 29 points that Brown did get, was Motocross Action’s John Basher.

Did you know at Glen Helen that five riders out of the top thirteen in 450 points didn’t race? That’s almost half!

Speaking of Moto XXX, Kyle Lewis completed his final full season on Sunday. He told me that he is going to keep racing some outdoor races here and there on tracks that he enjoys. (Glen Helen and Washougal) He wants to keep his number until he’s 40. He’s done well at Glen Helen before and him DNF’ing both motos is no way for this warrior to go out. He cartwheeled down Mt Saint Helen in a very scary crash early in the second moto and called it a day.

Honda came over before the motos and presented Kyle with a framed picture of his 1987 San Diego 125 SX win over his photo shoot he just completed on the 2008 CRFs. Chuck Miller and a bunch of staff came over, including his old mechanic Shane Drew for the presentation. I thought that was real classy of the Red Riders.

And in even more Moto XXX news, Josh Summey was looking forward to passing Jason Lawrence in the overall points race for the year and being the second guy to have an assigned number which should put him around 20th or so. He DNF’d the first moto and finished 10th the second time out.

I honestly thought that Josh Hill and his move to the 450 class was a bad one. My thinking was that he was out of shape on a 250F so he would get even more tired on a 450. He still needs to get in better shape for sure but his 4th in the second moto in Texas and his 8-5 at Glen Helen was pretty good. His agent told me that Hill will never ride a 250F outdoors ever again and a Yamaha guy told me that he will be back on a 250F next season so something’s gotta give next year.

I’m getting excited for the MXoN in a few weeks. We will see RC demolish everybody for the last time on an outdoor track, Timmy Ferry get revenge from 2003 and RV match up against Antonio Carioli. Also, with Josh Coppins, Chris Pourcel, Kevin Strijbos and some others dropping out, it’s playing right into Team Canada’s hands. I’m on a “special assignment” for Racer X Magazine (DC said something about a free T-shirt and hot dog) but I will be writing an Observations from there.

 



After almost selling out last week, Moto XXX still has some very special “Manfriend” shirts available for sale at http://www.motoxxxstore.com/. They are selling for $14.95 on-line right now. Get yours now!

Well that’s a wrap people!  We’re done for the season and I’ve enjoyed filling all of you in on my observations from the races. I appreciate the mail and even get a real good laugh at the people who want to beat me up over something I wrote. I’m going to try and make it some off-season races to report on and might even squeeze a column in here and there about my thoughts on other stuff. Send in your mail to matthes@racerxcanada.com