Steve Matthes Observations from San Francisco
By Steve Matthes
Photos by James Lissimore


I was in San Francisco for 36 hours and it rained for 30 of them.  I feel like I went to a Supercross and a lake broke out.  I’m still so wet and cold that it seems funny right now.  Anyway, the track actually held up pretty good until the mains and rains came. (That’s funny also.) Dirt Wurx actually dumbed down the track a bit and, combined with the delayed practices and cutting back of the main events, made the night way better than it could’ve been. Good job, everybody!

 


 

Reed dominated in San Francisco.  

 


Chad Reed won, which was actually a surprise because he’s had trouble in the mud before.  He didn’t just win—he dominated, really. Very impressive win for the two-two and after the race he was alluding to the fact he changed his goals and some ideas after James Stewart got hurt. When asked what they were, he said he couldn’t say. This on top of him not telling me who his trainer is in my podcast interview with him a while back, the guy has more secrets than that stupid Lost TV show.

BEETS! BEETS! BEETS! Canadian arenacross legend Kyle Beaton made his first AMA Supercross main event in his second try. Good for the little guy, he started at the back in his heat, took a few laps to get warmed up and then rode great to a sixth-place finish. In the main, Beets was running top ten for two laps before slowly slipping back and eventually becoming mash-Beets. I spoke with him after the race and he wasn’t bummed at all, just very excited and happy about his ride. Now he knows he can do it and confidence is a scary thing. Watch out for K.D. Beets next week.


 

J-Law earned his first win in the San Fran slop. 

 

Jason Lawrence almost got the holeshot in the mud and then was gone! He led every lap and withstood a couple of challenges from Tommy Hahn and Brett Metcalfe to take his first-ever win. He really made it look pretty easy while his competition was maybe a bit faster but not nearly as consistent. He didn’t swear on the podium or anything, and looked to be on his best behavior. Up until this win he was in the running for biggest disappointment of the SX season, but he’s turned it around.

Hopefully he doesn’t turn it around like Jake Weimer who turned his season around with a win in Phoenix, then turned it back the way it was going and has had two bad races. He finished last this weekend after getting 15th at A2. He needs to turn this around once again. His race scores this year? DNQ-1-15-22.

 

 

Jacob Marsack put in an incredible ride for fourth.  

 


A privateer got fourth-place in the main event! Jacob Marsack of the Bad Boy Energy Drink team rode a great race and just missed out on the podium. He really rode a smart race and was like the tortoise when all the rabbits would pass him and then crash all around him. His dad is his mechanic and after the race everybody was so happy that nobody noticed his bike boiling over. I told him to shut it off and then while his dad was on the phone calling people to tell them the news, Jacob just started pushing his bike away.  Dude, you just got fourth—somebody else will push it back to the pits! Congratulations to the Marsacks on this great achievement.

Kevin Windham is a happy man and a happy Kevin Windham makes his competitors very mad. KW continued his strong season with a second place finish. He came out in his heat and SMOKED everybody and secured the first gate pick. It’s gotta make him smile when he beats all the guys that Honda decided they wanted to support instead of him. His bike is 5 or 6 pounds heavier but the pressure that came with the old bike probably weighed a lot more. Think about this: The best KW has ever rode was when he came back from breaking his femur at Suzuki and had low expectations at Factory Connection. Now Honda took his bike away, cut his pay and basically told him that they believe they have three guys that are better than him. I have to believe that Windham would be terrible on a game show like The Price Is Right but excellent at being the contestant that just pushes a button to avoid the “Whammy.”

Speaking of Windham, he had no ride this past off-season for a bit and was shopping himself around and ended up testing a KTM. I hope that’s not a big secret to anyone; after all, he wasn’t under contract to a team. What am I getting at? MDK/KTM’s Nick Wey isn’t having a good season and after having some meetings about it that included Nick, the team decided to go back to basics with bike setup and just run what KW had seemed to like. What were the results?  A season best seventh-place for Wey. In my experience as a mechanic sometimes a rider and a team can end up chasing their tails trying to get things better on the bike. It’s good to take a step back and get back to basics sometimes.

Again on the Windham thing, I help with the interviews down by the podium after the main events for the webcast (and what I mean when I say “help” is I ask the riders for an interview and then hand over the mic and headphones. If I get hurt, look for a monkey to be my replacement.) When the 450 main was over I needed KW’s interview. I looked over and there he was by himself just standing there waiting for me to finish with Reed, nobody around and pouring rain. Trust me when I say some riders would never stick around and wait in that situation. Kevin gets it.

I saw the movie of the year on Friday night. It was a quaint little art film about a Vietnam vet that takes a little boat ride up a river ... only his name is John Rambo and he wipes out a whole freaki'n army while he’s at it! Rambo was good, serious.

Tim Ferry pulled two holeshots in San Francisco. Yes you read that correctly--now look out your window and see if any pigs are flying. He pulled a massive holeshot in the main event and led the first three-quarters of a lap. That was about the highlight of the night for Timmy as he struggled in the mud to a 10th place finish. I didn’t call him after the race for the first time in a while so I thought I would re-create how our conversation would’ve gone…

SM: “Hey Red, good ride!”
 TF: “What are you talking about? I got tenth.”
 
“Yeah but I thought it was an incredible tenth”
“Do you even watch the races Matthes?”

 “Yeah for sure, you holeshot the main and rode pretty much the perfect race. When you wanna hang out again? I’m available pretty much anytime”
CLICK …

Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s David Vuillemin’s season took a turn for the worse when he caught his knee in a rut and popped it out. He limped off with a DNF and flew to France on Monday to go see his doctor.  We used to joke about this guy in France because DV would literally jump on a plane on Monday, see this guy on Tuesday, and be at the test track on Thursday ready to ride. He had David’s trust 100 percent and every time one of us would have a slight pain, we would ask Keith McCarty to fly us to France. It never worked.

One of the best rides of the night that you won’t see on CBS and people probably won’t talk much about was Yamaha’s Broc Hepler in the LCQ. He flew off the track in the first lap, somehow kept his bike running and came from last to second to qualify. It was four laps, people! Truly a great ride and he kept his faint title hopes alive.

Just to take a negative and make it a positive, Tim Ferry did move from fifth in the points to third. I’m just saying….

He did that because Mike Alessi had a tough night. He was at the back of the pack in practice times and never looked comfortable in the slop. He got second in his heat but that was more of a case of getting the holeshot and breaking away then really riding well. And unbelievably, he didn’t get a good start in the main. Ferry holeshot and Alessi got a bad start… Next you’re going to tell me that The Police got back together.

Part of my obligation to you readers is throwing things out there that I hear in the pits for your perusal. One of those things that a team manager brought up to me is that the Wonder Warthog Racing program (which is a great thing for the privateers by the way) takes donations and helps raise money for itself through on-line auctions of riders gear. Somebody from the WWR program approached this team manager’s rider to ask for gear but the manager’s point was that they (WWR) are in direct competition with every team in the pits for sponsor dollars. Why should he help out another team of privateers when his own team is all privateers?  Just a thought as WWR expands their program over the years.

Nathan Ramsey didn’t make the main event and that’s quite a blow to his season standings. Oh, you’ll see his name in the main event results with a 16th but he had to use his provisional to get in and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a stupid rule and I refuse to acknowledge Nate Dog’s 16th. So there.

 

Davi Millsaps is nuts ...  

 

Davi Millsaps is nuts. He got the final podium spot and really could’ve won the damn thing. He was not scared, tripling, flying off the track, knocking Tuff Blocks everywhere. Man he was fast!  Good to see him recovered from his inability to fart, which knocked him out of last week’s race. He is capable of being so good; he just has to get serious.

Hart & Huntington Honda had a good night, putting both of their riders in the main event for the first time. Troy Adams even got 9th! Good to see the privateer team rebound after a couple of poor weeks. Tim Ferry swears that Adams is going so fast during the week it’s ridiculous. We at Merge Racing are also excited because they use Merge motors and suspension, thank you.

How about the Blose brothers! The Fun Center Suzuki team riders both made the top ten with Chris getting 8th and Michael 10th. Good job to both of them for this achievement. Will and Tommy Hahn both made the top ten as well. When was the last time that happened? Paging Billy Ursic….

I was at the MDK/KTM truck and Justin Brayton mentioned that I needed to stop writing bad things about him, which took me by surprise because: a.) I don’t think I wrote anything bad specifically about him; and.) b. That he knew who the hell I was. He said he was joking but team manager Danny Paladino quickly brought up the negative comments that I made about the team last year. Danny was upset with me a bit for writing that I didn’t think Mitch Payton was staying awake trying to think of ways to beat Danny’s team. Obviously, my column was a super-dooper motivator for Justin and I imagine he woke every day to a picture of me on his mirror. You know, like when Rocky had Apollo Creed up there in Rocky III. Just one question, when do Justin and I wear some really short shorts and hug each other in the surf?

Chad Reed is a bad dude. In his heat race, some mud kept getting stuck in his rear brake and stalling out his bike. He would just pull the clutch in, stand up and kick it over and keep going WFO! That’s some serious cajones right there to not be worried about jumping triples when your bike keeps stalling.

Brett Metcalfe pulled a “Windham” and eased up when he got the final lap flag. He thought it was the checkered and this allowed Tommy Hahn to pass him for 2nd place. A real bummer for sure. I wonder what the difference in his Kawi money was between 2nd and 3rd? If I had to guess, I would bet that his brain cramp probably cost him in the neighborhood of $10, 000.

Well that’s all I got this week, I’m still trying to dry out and fight this cold that’s no doubt going to be returning with a vengeance. I didn’t know a human body could have so much snot in it. Email me at matthes@racerxcanada.com to share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!