Steve Matthes Observations from St. Louis
By Steve Matthes
Photos by Carl Stone


We were in St Louis, home of the Arch, casino riverboats that “pretend” to sail while you gamble, and where Bernie Federko once racked up an incredible 107 points in the 1984-‘85 season. What an exciting night it was with a championship decided in the Lites class and with Chad Reed looking like a mere mortal due to his shoulder injury. Now the Supercross class is going to go right down to Vegas, and that’s where one of two things will happen: Either Kevin Windham will win his first title and forever erase the “best rider to never win a major championship” or Chad Reed will win and at the next day’s banquet, he will tell us all that he was just joking with the whole shoulder thing and that he wanted to make it close for the fans.

The track in St Louis was, as always, a good one. Lots of floor space, good dirt (so what if it was a bit rutty, have you seen Toronto?) and the boys at Dirt Wurx throwing in some obstacles that only a few 250Fs could do. I like it when not everyone in the main can do everything, but that’s just me.

I don’t know what it is with places like Detroit, Indianapolis and St. Louis but the fans in those cities sure like to wear jerseys to the races. Got a barbed-wire Bradshaw Fox jersey? Bring it out to the race! Make sure you tuck it in also. It’s good to see these people instead of the Look-at-me, I-might-get-on-TMZ crowd we get in Southern California, but still, can people please make sure the jersey is a maximum of three years old before putting it on?

So going into this race Ryan Villopoto was a runaway freight train, having reestablished what we all thought—that he was the best rider in the class and should win the title. He needed to win the race to win the whole shebang, and plenty of us in the pits thought that was indeed going to happen. (I even told Trey Canard’s brother that earlier in the day when he asked me. Hey, just being honest right…)

Well, Trey Canard shocked the world and brought home the championship in grand style, passing the guy he needed to in order to win. In a shocking reversal from the previous races, RV got into the lead and we all figured that Trey had a good run but who was he to beat the Next One? He buckled down and caught back up to Ryan, they hit and Ryan came out the loser in the whole deal. Tempers were flaring about the contact between the two, but in my eyes it was hard racing for a title. Nothing dirty happened folks!

So congratulations to Torco Racing Fuels Honda’s Trey Canard for really showing everybody again that you just never know what’s going to happen. (Well, except if you’re racing MX and Ricky Carmichael is on the gate with you…) Good job to the whole team and Trey seems like a really nice, humble, cool kid.  Wait till he moves to the 909 and gets a Benz and some raging tats and wants mad props from everyone.

Just like RC when he came up in 1997 and was the fastest guy yet lost the 125 title to (ahem) Timmy Ferry, I think it’s good to see RV face a little adversity in his career. He may not agree but he’ll be better for it in the coming years. Everything has pretty much gone his way and with his slow start and nagging injury in 2008, RV will remember this lost title for a long time.

Kevin Windham did what he had to do to try and win this 450 title: Win the damn race! He passed Reed early on and motored away for his third win in his fairly remarkable comeback season. You can take away a man’s ginormous salary, his full factory Honda 450 and his semi, but you can’t take away his pride! Good for KW and the lead is 13 going into Seattle.

 

Here's Reedy and his injured shoulder carving up the St Louis dirt. I bet during the week that he's probably hooked up to all these machines like Drago in Rocky IV.



I’m no doctor (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night) but the whole Chad Reed injury thing has me very puzzled. The press release I read said that he has a broken scapula, which is your shoulder blade. I worked the Google on the internet machine and here’s what webmd.com says about the scapula and hurting it:

“The scapula or shoulder blade is a bony structure found on the upper back that connects the upper arm to the chest wall (thorax).

-  The shoulder blade (scapula) is rarely broken (broken bones are also called fractures). Of all bone breaks, shoulder blade breaks occur less than 1% of the time. (However, all bets are off if you slam into a dirt mound at 30 mph)
- Scapular fractures occur more often in young men aged 25-45 years because of the activities and trauma they encounter. These occur with athletic activities, motor vehicle accidents, and other forms of blunt trauma. (Supercross might be considered athletic, and that crash was blunt all right)
- Broken shoulder blades are often caused by heavy forces (like endoing the crap off a tabletop into another mound of dirt) that might also include severe injuries to the chest, lungs, and internal organs. (Remember the coughing blood?)
-  Fractures (breaks) have been reported at many areas along the scapula.


Broken Shoulder Blade Causes
Scapular fractures are caused by direct trauma involving a large amount of force or violence. Associated injuries to chest wall, lungs, and shoulder occur in up to 80% of people with broken shoulder blades. Common causes of broken shoulder blades include the following:


- Motor vehicle accidents (uh, yes.)
- Falls with direct trauma to the shoulder (check)
- Falls onto an outstretched arm (nope)
-Direct trauma such as from a baseball bat or hammer (not unless Reedy calls his YZ450 “The Hammer”)

Broken Shoulder Blade Symptoms
Pain, swelling, and bruising may occur over the shoulder blade in the upper back or on the top of the shoulder overlying the coracoid and acromion processes.

- You will hold the injured arm close to the body (nope) - Movement of the arm will increase the pain (probably)
- You will be unable to lift the arm (nope)
- You may have pain with each deep breath due to movement of the chest wall with each breath. This movement may cause movement of the shoulder blade causing pain (this pain obviously makes Chad a top five Supercrosser in the world instead of normally being in the top one or two)
- Your shoulder may appear flattened or deformed (I’ve never seen Chad’s shoulder naked and have no plans to check it out so I dunno on this one)

When to Seek Medical Care (generally a good time is when your laying there on the track with a crowd of people standing around you, one of whom is holding a red flag and a bible). Call your doctor (Bodnar) if you notice these conditions:

- Pain with movement of the affected shoulder
- Swelling of the shoulder
- Bruising around the shoulder
-  If shoulder pain fails to improve within 3-5 days
(just go ahead and race a Supercross)

I’m going to try to get Reedy on a podcast interview this week for the reason why his pain tolerance is so ridiculously high and whether or not he even knows the names of some of those guys he was racing with in Detroit. [The podcast is up. Listen to it here.]

Let’s look at the final East Coast Lites standings and see what we came up with in a crazy year where only three out of the top ten in points finished every race. Seven guys either missed mains or crashed out! Crazy.

1. Trey Canard/Honda, 147 (An amazing beginning but an even more impressive finale. Trey has a smooth style but yet still looks aggressive)
2. Ryan Villopoto/Kawasaki, 137 (No big deal, he lost but still got back to the RV of old once injury got better)
3. Nico Izzi/Suzuki, 99 (kind of tailed off in the end and still needs to be in better shape but he made every main and has a bright future)
4. Branden Jesseman/Kawasaki, 94 (got stronger as the series went on, former champ still needs to be more consistent for the team he’s on)
5. Josh Grant/Honda, 91 (I don’t know, great rider, great bike--another disappointing SX series. Bring on MX!)
6. Tyler Bowers/Yamaha, 86 (nobody, and I mean nobody talked about this kid. Maybe that’s a good thing after all he’s been through, which is a solid first year of SX for a guy that’s too big for a 250F)
7. Ryan Morais/Yamaha, 84 (couldn’t back up his almost title win of last year but came on at the end and pulled out a podium)
8. Ryan Sipes/KTM, 84 (got another podium but more importantly he avoided injury for the first time in, like, forever)
9. Martin Davalos/KTM, 73 (should’ve done better, him and Grant were the third fastest guys in the class but he seems to crash a bunch)
10. Billy Payne/Honda, 71 (amazing ride for a privateer, shows everybody that if you have the skills, you always have the skills)

 

This is Kawi team manager Mike Fisher back in the day, getting some real good extension. No wonder he hired Timmy Ferry, look at the number 15 and O'Neal gear! I guess he's some sort of superfan or something. When I showed him this picture, the first thing he said was "Now that was a great bike!" Spoken like a true test rider. Did you know Fish is responsible for wider footpegs?

photo: Steve Giberson



There are three things that I know for sure Kelly Smith is a master at: He can grow a good looking beard, ride in the mud and holeshot motorcycle races. He only did one of the three this week but it was probably the one he enjoys the most, grabbing the holie on his Junior Jackson-modified Kawi. That’s two weeks in a row that a privateer bike has grabbed the start against the mighty factory boys, last week it was Moto XXX’s Eric Sorby.

Factory Yamaha’s team manager Jim Perry had a real good zinger this week. I was walking by and he was just standing there watching one of his guys swap out a wheel when I said in my usual smart ass fashion that maybe he should do less watching and more helping and he quickly replied, “When you hire good mechanics, you don’t need to help them all the time.” Of course he was my team manager there when I was a mechanic. Good one, Jimbo!

Andrew Short rode a good race getting third after a few weeks of not being his usual self.  For a few laps he was catching KW and Reedy and I was thinking that it might get interesting but lappers intervened and he settled for the final spot on the box. I like Shorty and I don’t care what he says to me after the race, I’m always going to think that we’re friends and our buddy-bond will not be broken by his emotional words to me. Not trying to scare you Shorty, but Ferry can’t ride forever and I’m going to need a new guy….

Tommy Hahn raced the 450s again and finished a very respectable fifth. He finished fifth at his debut 450 race in Minneapolis and last in the next two mains he did. So his finishes look like this 5-20-20-5. Tommy is nothing but consistent, I suppose. His bike had problems at Dallas and Detroit or so some people say, other people say that it was fine and he just got a rock in the chain. Who knows? I do know that the Motorsport Outlet guys have detuned his bike each and every week from Minneapolis until they are basically at a stock setting.

 

Here is Mr. 10th place, Jason Thomas. He of the little tiny body but big, giant heart. JT is coming to my house the week before Vegas SX to train with me. I'm going to have him chasing chickens and pulling me in a cart.



Jason Thomas got another tenth this week. That’s five for him on the season and he also moved into third in the revamped privateer points fund. He’s three points up on Eric Sorby and he told me this week that he’s really riding a ton to make sure that he gets that third spot because as he told me after the race, “You get to speak at the banquet and everything.” You know how Bubba’s whole life was about January 7th a few years back? Apparently JT’s whole life is all about speaking at the banquet.

Tim Ferry didn’t have a good night. Well, he did until the last lap of the heat where he skidded off the tabletop, crashed and didn’t qualify. He tweaked himself up a bit and used his provisional to get into the main. I really think that provisional is one great rule, no need to fix it….

I’m kidding! I still hate the rule but y’see Red just putted around in the LCQ because he didn’t want to go all out and take a guys spot, so he just did a couple of laps. I can still bitch about the rule because we don’t know how the big one five would’ve done in the LCQ. He was just playing it safe and using the rules. Very smart.

I’m sure most of you have seen that Ryan Clark crash in the LCQ. Ryan missed his brake on an on/off and shot over the berm onto the concrete and he slid another fifty feet until he was completely under the stands. Very scary for sure. Clark being the tough guy that he is got up with a limp but I think otherwise he’s fine.

Moto XXX is unleashing a secret weapon on America come the outdoors, none other than the goofiest guy to ever come out of New Zealand, Cody Cooper. Chicken Coops has been in lockdown in Tallahassee with Ivan Tedesco and Ben Townley, just riding and putting in motos. Coops had some good results last season when he came over at the end of the AMA Toyota Motocross Nationals and from what my sources tell me, is going as fast as Tedesco down there.

But don’t get too excited as somebody at Honda told me two hours later that he can’t believe how fast Ivan is going right now. Don’t you love the start of a new season?  I can’t wait until we see the new ///Alessi Weekly/// telling us that Mike is 23.4 seconds faster a lap on his Suzuki then his KTM. I dunno what all the crap means but Glen Helen is going to be good!

 

 

"Timmy, you just crashed in the first turn, are you ok?" "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just looking for Matthes in the stands to signal him that I'm not hurt."



Daniel Reardon showed up and raced the 450 class to probably help KW out and get some experience in the big boys’ class. He looked really fast but didn’t qualify for the main. He crashed in the heat, got a bad start in the LCQ and that’s all she wrote, folks! You’re probably going to see more Lites guys moving up as they see the success that Hill, Dungey, Hahn and others have had.

I eat at Subway a lot (I actually eat at a lot of places a lot) and it really bugs me when they have commercials promoting the people who make your subs as “sandwich artists” and you go in and the person is as much a sandwich artist as I am an Olympic diver. I’m not asking for what they do in the commercials, you know, all the toppings looking good and spaced out evenly and the hot girl smiling at you while she adds just the right amount of pickle…. But I would like the hairy armed dude to not just pile my olives on one end and not just “kinda” put on some pickles and then accidently put a gallon of mustard on one spot because that’s where it splattered out. I would also like them to not act like they were in the pits at Talladega Speedway and have to get my sub done in 2.4 seconds. To all of you “sandwich artists” out there, please have a little common courtesy and the smarts to know where to put the condiments and how much of it.  Whew…. I feel better.

So myself and a guy that announces on the Supercross Live webcast show whose name rhymes with “Reege” were discussing the music used during the opening ceremonies and we were wondering if whomever chooses it realizes that music didn’t stop being recorded in 1998. Here are some of the songs used: AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” was released 1990, Blur’s “Song #2” was released 1997, an old ass ZZ Top song that FOR SURE wasn’t released before 1998, Guns N Roses “Paradise City” hit the charts in 1987, and Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People” came out in ‘96. You’d think that the country’s biggest rock concert promoter might be able to do a bit better and keep up to date.

 

One of Shift Racing's mottos is "The choice is yours." Well, Justin Brayton's chose to race a 450 this weekend, and he did pretty well, finishing seventh in the 450 final.

 

Justin Brayton moved up to the big boys’ class and showed that he can run the pace. With Nick Wey also leading his heat for a little bit, we had a pair of KTMs leading each of the 450 heats. Say that again slowly. … We had a pair of KTMs leading each of the 450 heats… Justin was a steady sixth for the whole race in the main before a blazing Davi Millsaps got him, but seventh is nothing to sneeze at. He looked like he was in good shape as well; his lap times were consistent.

MDK/KTM’s Nick Wey had what might’ve been his best non-mud ride of the year. He led his heat race for a while until Millsaps put an aggressive pass on NYK that left him on the ground. He told me that he felt like Kelly Smith in ‘99; there he is, on a KTM out front and—BAM!—next thing he knows he’s on the ground! Only this time it wasn’t Ernesto Fonseca on a Yamaha, it was a dude who is twice Ernie’s size on a Honda.

In the main, Tim Ferry caused Nick to crash in the first turn and he came from the back to get eleventh, passing DV12.com with one turn to go. He looked really good and when I told him after the race how great he rode, he told me to “Stick that ride up your podcast.” That’s funny stuff right there!

I was checking out the Gibb’s Yamaha bikes and noticed some real cool ignition cover screws and some black motor mounts. Upon asking, I found out that they were made in house at Gibbs Racing and will be available to the public soon. There were a couple of other cool things I saw that I cannot divulge because I don’t wanna get in trouble.

 

This mural really, really scared me this weekend. Notice the rock with nasty looking teeth, he also appears to be angry but luckily, Coy Gibbs is jumping away from it. Coy also apparently doesn't have a neck.



I have seen the Toyota Tundra that the Gibbs guys carry around with them but never really closely looked at it until this weekend. It turns out that team owner Coy Gibbs’ old helmet painter was chosen to customize the Tundra and he must be a little, um, off. It’s done up like a mural and there are skulls and demon heads and a real gothic look to the design. On one side there is a rider that, by all accounts, is Coy himself, and as you can see by the picture below he’s jumping out of the “demon pit” and away from that rock with those gnarly teeth… I guess the rock wants to eat him but he’s having none of that! Kinda humorous to me that Coy is running the #100 of his departed rider Josh Hansen. All in all, a very bizarre artists rendition of some dark place….

Kevin Johnson made the main and looked good in his heat. With him and Kelly Smith in the main and Chad Johnson getting the Racer X Gas Card, the Arenacrossers got back into the game in St Louis. We just need Reynard and Sellards to pick it up now. I don’t know what Robbie’s deal is but I hear that Brock is busy building and crashing (yes, crashing) airplanes. And no, I cannot confirm the rumor that Brock is building a time machine out of VW parts.

Of course after getting a bunch of emails telling me that bagging on AX guys is not appropriate when Lites rider Grey Davenport has made the mains and done well. So I watch Grey closer this weekend and he doesn’t make the main this week. Figures…

Davi Millsaps was fast. After hitting Kelly Smith in the third turn and sending him into orbit, Millsaps fell down in the aftermath. He was basically dead-last and came up to finish sixth and was moving forward quickly.

 

Here he is, the winner of the SX-Kevin Windham. This thing is coming down to Vegas, get your tickets now and make sure you stay at Planet Hollywood. That's where all the stars stay!



Only one half of the flying Sewell brothers made the main and it was Travis again. Shane got ninth in the Lites LCQ but I missed half of this race while I went and got a “Ram” dog and water. Travis finished the series in fifteenth and him and Billy Payne were the two “Who the hell are these guys?” in the East series.

Speaking of Payne, he finished a VERY respectable tenth in the series. Despite the brief six-year layoff from racing (which is like Guns & Roses taking 15 years to release Chinese Democracy) Billy rode great all year. I was distracted by the RV/Canard battle and didn’t see what happened but after the race there was pushing and shoving between Payne and Ryan Morais of YoT. And in honor of Tim Ferry, there was even some gloves thrown.

David Vuillemin crashed in the heat and had to ride the LCQ again. He’s probably never ridden as many LCQs as he has this year. He went on to win in and finish twelfth in the main. It’s been a frustrating year for Le Cobra, one of my favorite guys in the pits and the winner of seven career 250 Supercrosses has only two more left…

It was a stressful time for me in the first twenty seconds of the 450 main. First FTBM (Formerly Tuned by Matthes) Tim Ferry got together with another FTBM, Nick Wey and they literally flew across the pavement in the first turn. Then two corners later, the Millsaps and Kelly Smith thing happened, and Smith is another FTBM guy. It was chaos for me and my old guys for a bit there as they were sprawled across the dome floor.

Some guy named Tanner Riedman qualified for the Lites main and good for him, that’s something to be proud of. What’s even more amazing is that Tanner is from Bismark, North Dakota, a place I’ve been to a bunch and not exactly a hot bed of motocross.

That’s it for this week, as usual thanks for reading and send me some mail will ya? matthes@racerxcanada.com and I might even write back and everything.