Monday Kickstart:
Glen Helen, 2006

For those who haven’t already heard, the big news coming from Glen Helen on Sunday afternoon was a first moto Ricky Carmichael crash that would end his day early, and jeopardize his chances of representing Team USA at the Motocross of Nations in two weeks. RC and Bubba were in the middle of a classic battle in the opening laps of the first moto, exchanging the lead back and forth several times. After securing the top position and extending his lead by a few seconds thanks in part to a slight bobble by Stewart, RC and his RM-Z450 swapped in a fast S-turn section of the track, and he went down hard on his left shoulder. “I made a mistake and he pulled away from me by about three seconds in like two corners, Bubba commented after the race. “I got back on him and then he made that mistake in the back… It looked like he caught a square edge and just swapped off. It was pretty bad. So on a day that was supposed to celebrate RC’s final fulltime season and the greatest career of all time, the G.O.A.T. slowly cruised his yellow thumper across the Glen Helen circuit and into the pit area. While Bubba checked out to take the moto win, Ricky went under immediate evaluation by Dr. Bodner and the Asterisks Medical crew. When all was said and done, the initial reports came back describing the injury as a contusion to the left shoulder, and initially X-rays showed no breakage, which is obviously great news! Once his trackside evaluation was completed, RC immediately left the Glen Helen facility to catch a plane back home to Florida for an MRI and further evaluation. As soon as we have an update on his condition and his plans for the MX of Nations, we’ll quickly pass it along. Here’s hoping that the G.O.A.T. is all right, and that any injuries heel up quickly…

You could easily describe Ryan Villopoto’s first full series in the pro ranks as a dream season. The young Kawasaki rider took first place at six of the twelve rounds in the National series, and only finished outside of the top ten once (12th at Southwick). Heading into Glen Helen, Villopoto had a 29 point lead over Mike Alessi, which meant he could clinch the Championship in moto one-a scenario very similar to last year in the Lites class with Ivan Tedesco leading Alessi coming into the last round. However, unlike last year, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team didn’t have to sweat it out with trouble in moto one. Villopoto charged to second place early in the moto, and got past Alessi with several laps remaining. From there, Ryan stayed calm and rode smooth to the checkered flag, securing the Championship. Is he the next RC? That is certainly too soon to tell, but there is no doubt he is the man to beat for the foreseeable future.

In his last race aboard a factory Honda (at least for now), Travis Preston went out with a bang, capturing his first-ever podium in the premier Motocross (450cc) class. The friendly SoCal native is somewhat of a “local at the Glen Helen facility, having spent a ton of practice days there throughout his amateur and professional career. That said, TP has always been fairly vocal about the fact that he’s not a huge fan of the National layouts that are prepared to challenge the sport’s elite at the season-ending event, despite his experience at the venue. “Yeah, I think next year I am going to run an extended swingarm, a paddle tire, and I may even drop a CBR1000 motor in my bike so I’ll be better-prepared for this hill climbing event, Presto joked at the end of the day on Sunday. But even with disapproval of some of the track builder’s choices, the home soil treated Preston well on Sunday, and we had the good fortune of catching up with him after the post-race press conference was completed.

You’re not shy about your opinions of the track here at Glen Helen, but the fact is that you still haul some serious butt here. Wh is it about this place that you’re so dialed into?

Well, you know what it is? I was riding down Interstate 15 this morning on my 650 on my way to the track, and I was just feeling it. I think I got an extra edge on guys by just starting my day with a high-speed ride down the pass from my house [BRACKET “laughs”]. No, to be honest, I think just the dirt alone here is to my advantage. I’ve ridden here for so many years, and the dirt here is soft and looser than most National tracks. It doesn’t rut up quite as much…

It’s pretty similar to the dirt you ride in every day by your house in the high desert, right?

Yeah, yeah… It is for sure. East Coast dirt is kind of tacky, and you don’t get that here. I use the soft loose stuff to my advantage. I was going down the hills pretty fast today, as well—faster than a lot of other guys—so that definitely helped. I think a lot of my desert, trail, and hill riding experience helps out here.

This day must be somewhat bitter sweet for you. You landed on top of the podium for your first time in the premier class, which is obviously a great way to wrap up the series, but it was also your last time riding out of the factory Honda semi. What was going through your mind up on the podium?

It still felt great. I was thinking about how I am going to cruise home, grab some adult beverages, sit on the couch, and talk about when I used to race motorcycles. Now I can always say, “Remember that last race when I got third? [BRACKET “laughs”] No, honestly, this feels really good, and I am just going to take it in and then look forward to next year—whatever that may hold.

You mentioned in the press conference that you plan on taking some vacation time off of the bike. Is that because you need a break from riding, or because you don’t have one to ride?

[BRACKET “laughs”] No, Honda’s actually really nice. They’ve told me not to worry about giving them anything back for right now, so I have my bikes to ride. Now I just need to find a team to ride for next year…

Comment on that a little bit. You went out today and proved that you’re capable of finishing on the podium, and you finished in fifth overall in the championship points standings. Why don’t you have a deal for next year?

I think I am just kind of a quiet, not too flashy type of a rider. I finished pretty consistently in fifth or sixth all year, but unfortunately that doesn’t catch many eyes. I think I am on a slow rise every year. I am getting a little bit better and a little bit stronger every year, but than you’ve got guys like Millsaps who’s on a much steeper ramp too becoming a top rider. It sucks, though, because I feel like I am just starting to get good. But everybody’s looking for the next Bubba. I am solid and consistent, but I think people feel like they already know what they’re going to get with me. I am not done, though… I am getting better, and I’ll put something together.

We’ve heard that there’s a potential ride out there for you if the team’s able to capture the necessary funding. Can you comment about that?

Umm… Well, all I can really tell you is that I’d like to be on MB1 suspension, Tokyo Mods motors, and ride Hondas [BRACKET “laughs”]. But other than that I’ve got to keep it pretty quiet. So if I have those things, I’ll be happy. We just need to find some financial backing and a truck, and we’ll be good. Do you have any money? [BRACKET “laughs”].

After finishing second to Bubba in moto one, Kevin Windham ran into some bad luck in the final moto of the 2006 season. On lap number four, the rubber strap that holds the works ignition box onto K-Dub’s CRF450R snapped, and the box and its wiring dropped and dangled down near his front wheel. Kevin was forced to pull off the track and into the mechanics area where his mechanic Alex Ewing and some other Honda technicians quickly zip tied the unit back on. K-Dub rejoined the race in eighth place, but the spread between the riders in front of him was just too much, and he was only able to work his way back to sixth by moto’s end. To add insult to injury, the AMA later penalized him one position for receiving outside assistance, and thus he ended the day with 2-7 moto scores—good for fourth overall. Despite the loss of position, Windham still wrapped up the ’06 National series with a second overall in points behind RC—just seven points ahead of teammate Davi Millsaps.

Speaking of Davi, here’s a huge high-five for an outstanding rookie series in the premier class. Mounted aboard a factory Honda CRF450R, The Duke showed the world that he’s no joke, finishing the series in third overall. “Unfortunately for James he had some bad races in the beginning of the season that allowed me to get third, but I’ll take it any way I can get it, Davi said at the post-race press conference. “It’s been a good year, for sure… I got a Supercross Lites championship, and then entered the outdoors on a big bike, not knowing really what to expect against these guys. I only had a couple weeks to prepare on the bike before Hangtown, but everything went really well for me. I had fun.

On a side note, our good friend and Jeremy McGrath’s factory Honda mechanic Lars Lindstrom hung up his wrenches for the weekend in an attempt to qualify for Glen Helen. With limited time to train and prepare, Lindstrom was still impressive, despite not making it into the show. We ran into Lars a couple weeks ago at Competitive Edge MX on one of his few days set aside to prepare for the race, and we were blown away at his conditioning. The likeable Honda wrench busted out two 45-minute motos at an impressive pace, leaving our money on “The Swedish Miracle to make the show at Glen Helen. Unfortunately for Lars, all the motos in the world can’t quite prepare a part-time rider for the rough and competitive world of an AMA outdoor National, and he eventually came up a bit short during Sunday’s qualifying, missing the show by just a few spots. Together with fellow factory Honda mechanic “Gothic J who wrenched for Lindstrom, the two gave it their best effort, and had a great time taking on new roles for the weekend.

Mike Alessi was of course disappointed to finish in second place in the Championship standings. In a somewhat surprising move, Mike announced after the race that he would be moving up to the Motocross class next year. “It would have been nice to win a championship, but you know you can’t always get what you want, said Alessi. “I really prefer the 450 over the 250F, it seems like I can ride the 450 a lot better. I feel so much more comfortable.

Team Kawasaki’s Michael Byrne had a good weekend, even if it was his last aboard a factory Kawasaki, as he is now one of the many riders without a ride for 2007. While he did crash during practice when descending one of the infamous Glen Helen downhills, the friendly Australian rider still managed to go 5-6 for sixth overall.

Team Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s new Motocross Lites National Champion Ryan Villopoto was all decked out in Motocross des Nations gear for the second moto. His soon to be teammate Stewart, was also wearing his USA gear in the second Motocross Class moto. Both riders looked good in the one-off gear—we can’t wait for the des Nations.

Fox had a few new custom buttpatches made up for Team Honda’s Travis Preston. One of them was a tribute to his mechanic Frank “Fatkid” Latham, while another patch read, “I pity the fool!” So, what exactly did the latter mean? “That’s some crap that Donn Maeda from TransWorld Motocross came up with (laughs). You know, one of my friends back home gda technicians quickly zip tied the unit back on. K-Dub rejoined the race in eighth place, but the spread between the riders in front of him was just too much, and he was only able to work his way back to sixth by moto’s end. To add insult to injury, the AMA later penalized him one position for receiving outside assistance, and thus he ended the day with 2-7 moto scores—good for fourth overall. Despite the loss of position, Windham still wrapped up the ’06 National series with a second overall in points behind RC—just seven points ahead of teammate Davi Millsaps.

Speaking of Davi, here’s a huge high-five for an outstanding rookie series in the premier class. Mounted aboard a factory Honda CRF450R, The Duke showed the world that he’s no joke, finishing the series in third overall. “Unfortunately for James he had some bad races in the beginning of the season that allowed me to get third, but I’ll take it any way I can get it, Davi said at the post-race press conference. “It’s been a good year, for sure… I got a Supercross Lites championship, and then entered the outdoors on a big bike, not knowing really what to expect against these guys. I only had a couple weeks to prepare on the bike before Hangtown, but everything went really well for me. I had fun.

On a side note, our good friend and Jeremy McGrath’s factory Honda mechanic Lars Lindstrom hung up his wrenches for the weekend in an attempt to qualify for Glen Helen. With limited time to train and prepare, Lindstrom was still impressive, despite not making it into the show. We ran into Lars a couple weeks ago at Competitive Edge MX on one of his few days set aside to prepare for the race, and we were blown away at his conditioning. The likeable Honda wrench busted out two 45-minute motos at an impressive pace, leaving our money on “The Swedish Miracle to make the show at Glen Helen. Unfortunately for Lars, all the motos in the world can’t quite prepare a part-time rider for the rough and competitive world of an AMA outdoor National, and he eventually came up a bit short during Sunday’s qualifying, missing the show by just a few spots. Together with fellow factory Honda mechanic “Gothic J who wrenched for Lindstrom, the two gave it their best effort, and had a great time taking on new roles for the weekend.

Mike Alessi was of course disappointed to finish in second place in the Championship standings. In a somewhat surprising move, Mike announced after the race that he would be moving up to the Motocross class next year. “It would have been nice to win a championship, but you know you can’t always get what you want, said Alessi. “I really prefer the 450 over the 250F, it seems like I can ride the 450 a lot better. I feel so much more comfortable.

Team Kawasaki’s Michael Byrne had a good weekend, even if it was his last aboard a factory Kawasaki, as he is now one of the many riders without a ride for 2007. While he did crash during practice when descending one of the infamous Glen Helen downhills, the friendly Australian rider still managed to go 5-6 for sixth overall.

Team Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s new Motocross Lites National Champion Ryan Villopoto was all decked out in Motocross des Nations gear for the second moto. His soon to be teammate Stewart, was also wearing his USA gear in the second Motocross Class moto. Both riders looked good in the one-off gear—we can’t wait for the des Nations.

Fox had a few new custom buttpatches made up for Team Honda’s Travis Preston. One of them was a tribute to his mechanic Frank “Fatkid” Latham, while another patch read, “I pity the fool!” So, what exactly did the latter mean? “That’s some crap that Donn Maeda from TransWorld Motocross came up with (laughs). You know, one of my friends back home gave me the nickname Mr. T., but we never thought of it like Mr. T. from the A Team. When Donn saw that he just thought A Team right away. Now, he’s really obsessed with it.”

During practice on Saturday, we happened to catch a sight that not many people every see—at least during National practice. Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart had a little fun and did some goon riding that reminded us of our favorite goon-rider David Vuillemin. And while it was funny, James was still going faster around the rough course faster than we could ever even imagine. “I was trying to break the stop off the throttle (laughs). No, I was just having a good time,” James said. “It’s the last race, and I just want to have fun.”

The Glen Helen track this year was one of the longest in recent history, and featured some of the biggest jumps on the circuit. One of which was a huge uphill triple step-up, which the riders weren’t jumping on Saturday, but come Sunday—after some modifications to the landing and takeoff—they were making the leap without a problem. “I thought the sections were pretty cool,” James Stewart said. “I don’t know who thought of the triple step-up and thought that we were going to jump it—we ain’t freestyle riders. Everybody was kind of waiting on me to jump it and I was just like, ‘Man, I’m not going to get carted off for ya’ll!’ They shaved it down this morning (Sunday), though, and it was cool. I was just thinking that I only had five times to go out there, and then the season was done.”

The trophies were some of the coolest we have seen in a long time. Glen Helen had custom Fender guitars painted by Troy Lee for the top-three of each class.

TransWorld Motocross tester turned Factory Kawasaki test rider Michael Young managed to round up a full factory race bike for the race—ahhh, the perks of the job— however, after not even finishing one lap, our boy caught his foot, broke an ankle, and sprained another. Here’s to a speedy recovery Michael!

Another TWMX test rider competed at Glen Helen. Long-time tester Michael Sleeter raced a 2007 KTM250SX-F to 29-22 finishes for 29th overall. Next year, Sleeter will be aboard a 450SX-F in Supercross. He will also help develop the bike for the team to race in the ’07 National Series.

Once again, the Glen Helen promoters over-watered the long straight after the back section. While it appeared that it would dry out after practice, there was no such luck, as it remained a muddy mess all the way to the end of the day. By the final moto, there were ruts criss-crossing in all different directions, making for a very challenging section to say the least.

Opening ceremonies were an interesting site, as skydivers flew in from above and landed on a giant X placed on the start straight.

Team Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda’s Tommy Hahn had a great ride at Glen Helen and went 11-4 for sixth overall. Tommy missed most of the season after getting injured at the High Point round early this season. Since his return at Millville, the likeable rider has been struggling to get back to his former speed, but this weekend he definitely showed he still has it.

me gave me the nickname Mr. T., but we never thought of it like Mr. T. from the A Team. When Donn saw that he just thought A Team right away. Now, he’s really obsessed with it.”

During practice on Saturday, we happened to catch a sight that not many people every see—at least during National practice. Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart had a little fun and did some goon riding that reminded us of our favorite goon-rider David Vuillemin. And while it was funny, James was still going faster around the rough course faster than we could ever even imagine. “I was trying to break the stop off the throttle (laughs). No, I was just having a good time,” James said. “It’s the last race, and I just want to have fun.”

The Glen Helen track this year was one of the longest in recent history, and featured some of the biggest jumps on the circuit. One of which was a huge uphill triple step-up, which the riders weren’t jumping on Saturday, but come Sunday—after some modifications to the landing and takeoff—they were making the leap without a problem. “I thought the sections were pretty cool,” James Stewart said. “I don’t know who thought of the triple step-up and thought that we were going to jump it—we ain’t freestyle riders. Everybody was kind of waiting on me to jump it and I was just like, ‘Man, I’m not going to get carted off for ya’ll!’ They shaved it down this morning (Sunday), though, and it was cool. I was just thinking that I only had five times to go out there, and then the season was done.”

The trophies were some of the coolest we have seen in a long time. Glen Helen had custom Fender guitars painted by Troy Lee for the top-three of each class.

TransWorld Motocross tester turned Factory Kawasaki test rider Michael Young managed to round up a full factory race bike for the race—ahhh, the perks of the job— however, after not even finishing one lap, our boy caught his foot, broke an ankle, and sprained another. Here’s to a speedy recovery Michael!

Another TWMX test rider competed at Glen Helen. Long-time tester Michael Sleeter raced a 2007 KTM250SX-F to 29-22 finishes for 29th overall. Next year, Sleeter will be aboard a 450SX-F in Supercross. He will also help develop the bike for the team to race in the ’07 National Series.

Once again, the Glen Helen promoters over-watered the long straight after the back section. While it appeared that it would dry out after practice, there was no such luck, as it remained a muddy mess all the way to the end of the day. By the final moto, there were ruts criss-crossing in all different directions, making for a very challenging section to say the least.

Opening ceremonies were an interesting site, as skydivers flew in from above and landed on a giant X placed on the start straight.

Team Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda’s Tommy Hahn had a great ride at Glen Helen and went 11-4 for sixth overall. Tommy missed most of the season after getting injured at the High Point round early this season. Since his return at Millville, the likeable rider has been struggling to get back to his former speed, but this weekend he definitely showed he still has it.