Monday Kickstart: Bring on the Nationals

By the staff of TWMX. Photos by GuyB.

Talk about seasonal change…less than a week after concluding the SX season in Las Vegas, everyone made the trek to Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, CA, to get the AMA Chevy Trucks National season rolling. There were thousands of stories there, but here are a few that caught the eyes, ears, and shutter fingers of the TWMX staff last weekend.

The 125 class is wide open (or at least as wide open as it has been since James “Bubba” Stewart stepped into it last season) now that Bubba is out with a broken collarbone. Even though he’s supposed to only miss two events after having surgery on his broken clavicle, you know a lot of riders took notice when he went down in the 125cc main event in Las Vegas. Among them was Grant Langston, who dropped down from the 250 to have a run at the 125 title. You can see a video of Grant riding and talking about his move in the photos.video area of www.transworldmx.com. So far, the change looks like a positive, as he finished third and first in his motos for a second overall finish on Sunday.

If you saw Saturday’s practice sessions, you’d know that Grant sort of eased into the weekend. Early on, he discovered that the engine settings preferred by his teammates during testing produced more low-to-mid-range power, while he preferred a mid-to-top end powerband. After cruising through most of Saturday’s practice, they made some changes on Saturday afternoon to his bike to get him dialed in, and from then on he looked much faster.

[IMAGE 1]

Sunday’s 125cc overall winner, Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Mike Brown, rode two solid motos. He got close to Grant a couple times in the second moto, but couldn’t get around him. Mike’s starting the season healthy, which is good news for him, Pro Circuit, and Kawasaki.

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Plenty of riders made their return to racing at Glen Helen, including: Sebastien Tortelli, Travis Pastrana, Robbie Reynard, John Dowd, Mike LaRocco, David Vuillemin, Greg Albertyn (Glen Helen only), Michael Brandes, Casey Johnson, Ezra Lusk, Nathan Ramsey and, of course, Kevin Windham.

Sebastien had a good day going after scoring a fourth in the first moto, but a flat tire followed by a hard crash forced an early retirement for the day. We’re just happy to see Seb back, especially so soon after his serious knee injury.

Travis Pastrana injured his butt, toe and ankle between a crash in practice and another during his first 250 moto, but the most serious damage appears to be yet another knee injury. Here’s hoping that it’s not too serious. Can’t the oft-injured Pastrana catch a break?

Greg Albertyn’s ride at Glen Helen was supposed to be a one-off effort, but with solid 11-6 moto scores for eighth overall, you have to wonder whether there’s some Team Suzuki staff members who are wishing he was available on more than a part-time basis.

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Casey Johnson’s fill-in deal with Suzuki got off to a good start in the first 125cc moto, when he led a couple laps before being passed by Brock Sellards. Unfortunately, a trip over the bars finished off his day early. He’s on a temporary deal much like Sean Hamblin had last summer. Hopefully he can take advantage of it, the same way that Sean did.

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Speaking of Hamblin, a crash in moto one, and the loss of a contact in moto two slowed Hamy’s progress for the day. “Ilinked and it popped right out,” relayed a disappointed Hamblin.

If you take the number of mechanics and staff members from other teams cheering for K-Dub (which was substantial on Sunday) as a measure of respect and admiration for his riding style and skills, it’s obvious that he has some amazing talent. Seeing Kevin back in action and enjoying himself was one of the coolest parts of the weekend.

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Besides Pastrana, a couple riders suffered injuries over the weekend. Ryan Hughes crashed in practice and tore a ligament in his thumb. He said it made it difficult to hold on but it wouldn’t affect his results (third overall, injured, not bad!). Billy Laninovich crashed during his heat race on Sunday and injured his knee. He went on to win the LCQ and ride both 125 motos.

The NPG and AMA spiced things up a bit this year. They finally have a real podium. It’s made of aluminum and looks much like the one you see at Supercross. Also, during and after the national anthem, some pyro was set off including red rockets, bombs and sparkle fireworks. It was a definite enhancement to the first round of the Nationals.

Rumor has it RC’s mechanic, Mike Gosselaar, put in more than 80 working hours on RC’s outdoor bike the week before Glen Helen, but he wasn’t the only mechanic putting in long hours. When Grant Langston found out that he was switching classes, his first call was to his mechanic, Mike Williamson, who had just finished building his 250cc race bikes. That was at 2:30 AM on Tuesday. No doubt he had to put in some long hours of his own to prepare a 125 in time for Glen Helen.

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Ricky Carmichael’s former mechanic Chad Watts was back under the Honda tent but was wrenching for Nate Ramsey. Nate’s normal tuner, John “Bundy” Mitchell, was with his mom, who’d undergone surgery earlier in the week.

Young SnoCross phenom Tucker Hibbert made his debut as a full-time motorcycle racer last weekend. The eighteen-year-old retired from SnoCross last winter in order to concentrate on motocross. He’s hired long-time moto trainer Gary Semics and rides a privateer RM125.

Glen Helen sounded a lot like a four-stroke national as the gate dropped for moto number one of the 250cc class, with nearly half the field riding four-strokes. Among those, as previously mentioned, were usual two-stroke pilots, David Vuillemin and Nick Wey. Both riders unfortunately finished the day well below their expectations. Perhaps it was simply do to first race jitters, but one has to wonder if it was a matter of the big thumpers not agreeing with their riding styles. Word is that Nick Wey was spotted talking to Yamaha Team Manager, Keith McCarty, at the end of the day, and will be back aboard his YZ 250 this week. It will certainly be interesting to see which bikes gets rolled out of their semis next Sunday at Hangtown.

Glen Helen hosted a celebrity race on Saturday much like the Crossover Challenge in Anaheim during the Supercross season. The race included former pros, celebrities and industry personnel. The Godfather of Freestyle, Mike Metzger, won the race after a heated battle with freestyler Carey Hart. Metzger is concentrating on his racing skills for the upcoming AMA Super Moto series that he will compete in.

[IMAGE 7]

2003 Thor Celebrity Motocross National @ Glen Helen Results

Celebrity Race

  1. Kevin Vidana-Barda, marathon runner
  2. Todd Snider, pro mt. bike racer
  3. Aaron Cooke, pro BMXer
  4. Allen Cooke, pro BMXer
  5. Phil Tintsman, pro mt. bike
  6. Ken Block, DC Shoes
  7. Josh Sleigh, pro surfer
  8. Daron Rahlves, U.S. Ski Team
  9. Ross Robinson, Record Producer
  10. Matt Goodwill, pro snowboarder
  11. Jason Ellis, pro skateboarder
  12. Robbie Miranda, pro BMXer
  13. Marla Streb, pro mt. biker
  14. Sunny Garcia, pro surfer
  15. Steve Caballero, pro skateboarder
  16. Dave Metty, pro skateboader
  17. Jordan Burns, musician
  18. Salman Agah, pro skateboarder
  19. Mike Cox, snowboard exec.

FMX/MX Race

  1. Mike Metzger
  2. Carey Hart
  3. Jeff “Ox” Kargola
  4. Cameron Steele

Up and comer Mike Alessi was on hand at Glen Helen. He has a “collagen fracture” on his right femur that has him sidelined for another couple of weeks. Alessi said he plans on making his pro debut next summer at a few nationals and will compete in 125 West series in ’05. Keep your eyes on this kid!

The Honda team bikes were sporting these carbon scoops inside the radiator shrouds. They’re designed to aid cooling by directing more air through the radiators.

[IMAGE 8]

Back at the Indy Trade Show, one of the items that really generated a buzz among the dealers and press was the new Troy Lee Designs helmet. Their high-end lid features a great-looking design, as well as all the cool graphics elements that TLD is known for. Their goal at the time was to have it on a limited number of riders at Glen Helen, and they made it, but just barely. A batch of helmets arrived on Friday, and one was quickly sent out for testing, so that it would have the certification necessary to get through the AMA’s Tech Inspection. Meanwhile, one was being painted up for Ryan Hughes, who wore it on Sunday. They’re currently being tested so that they’ll pass all the safety standards, and should be in shops by September.

[IMAGE 9]

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TLD wasn’t the only manufacturer showing off new gear at Glen Helen. Nick Wey was sporting some red ’04 Answer Racing gear in Saturday’s practice sessions, but switched back to Yamaha’s preferred blue gear for Sunday’s race action. Check out the ribbed saddle on his YZ450F.

[IMAGE 11]

Chris Wheeler and Craig Decker are both test riders (Suzuki and Kawasaki, respectively), and were both aboard 250 two-strokes at Glen Helen. But next weekend they’ll both be riding a different manufacturer’s 450 four-strokes. Chris will ride a Honda, and Craig will be on a Yamaha as he gets ready for his summertime ride in Canada.

How long and how fast is the start straight at Glen Helen? In the post-race press conference, Ricky Carmichael described it as, “Ninth gear wide open.”

Team ECC may have had a week they’d rather forget. Early in the week, while going in to have his thumb checked out, Shae Bentley had discovered that he had a spiral fracture of his lower leg (which already has a rod in it). Then, on Friday night their trailer was broken into, and the dummies stole Shane Bess’s riding gear and a stereo system. That meant that Shane had to make use of Shae’s helmet for the day, so he was sporting a number 104 on his head, rather than his usual 102. To top it off, Shane’s outdoor motor seized during practice, and he ended up using one of his supercross engines. Ouch.

[IMAGE 12]

You might remember our interview in the June issue of TWMX with Pierrick Paget. Besides running in the 650 class in the MXGP and Swiss National series, the Frenchman said that he’d be back for selected U.S. Nationals. True to his word, Eastie Boy was at Glen Helen, and though he’s not a fan of softer tracks (tons of sand had been added to the Glen Helen layout) he qualified for the national, where he finished 28th. What was really interesting was that he wasn’t aboard his own bike, but was using a rental from Motocross Vacations. Need a vacation of your own? www.mxvacation.com.

[IMAGE 13]

Round 1 of the AMA/WML Altex Computers Motocross Championship Series was also held at Glen Helen, and 25 pro women racers representing Germany, New Zealand, pro mt. biker

  • Sunny Garcia, pro surfer
  • Steve Caballero, pro skateboarder
  • Dave Metty, pro skateboader
  • Jordan Burns, musician
  • Salman Agah, pro skateboarder
  • Mike Cox, snowboard exec.
  • FMX/MX Race

    1. Mike Metzger
    2. Carey Hart
    3. Jeff “Ox” Kargola
    4. Cameron Steele

    Up and comer Mike Alessi was on hand at Glen Helen. He has a “collagen fracture” on his right femur that has him sidelined for another couple of weeks. Alessi said he plans on making his pro debut next summer at a few nationals and will compete in 125 West series in ’05. Keep your eyes on this kid!

    The Honda team bikes were sporting these carbon scoops inside the radiator shrouds. They’re designed to aid cooling by directing more air through the radiators.

    [IMAGE 8]

    Back at the Indy Trade Show, one of the items that really generated a buzz among the dealers and press was the new Troy Lee Designs helmet. Their high-end lid features a great-looking design, as well as all the cool graphics elements that TLD is known for. Their goal at the time was to have it on a limited number of riders at Glen Helen, and they made it, but just barely. A batch of helmets arrived on Friday, and one was quickly sent out for testing, so that it would have the certification necessary to get through the AMA’s Tech Inspection. Meanwhile, one was being painted up for Ryan Hughes, who wore it on Sunday. They’re currently being tested so that they’ll pass all the safety standards, and should be in shops by September.

    [IMAGE 9]

    [IMAGE 10]

    TLD wasn’t the only manufacturer showing off new gear at Glen Helen. Nick Wey was sporting some red ’04 Answer Racing gear in Saturday’s practice sessions, but switched back to Yamaha’s preferred blue gear for Sunday’s race action. Check out the ribbed saddle on his YZ450F.

    [IMAGE 11]

    Chris Wheeler and Craig Decker are both test riders (Suzuki and Kawasaki, respectively), and were both aboard 250 two-strokes at Glen Helen. But next weekend they’ll both be riding a different manufacturer’s 450 four-strokes. Chris will ride a Honda, and Craig will be on a Yamaha as he gets ready for his summertime ride in Canada.

    How long and how fast is the start straight at Glen Helen? In the post-race press conference, Ricky Carmichael described it as, “Ninth gear wide open.”

    Team ECC may have had a week they’d rather forget. Early in the week, while going in to have his thumb checked out, Shae Bentley had discovered that he had a spiral fracture of his lower leg (which already has a rod in it). Then, on Friday night their trailer was broken into, and the dummies stole Shane Bess’s riding gear and a stereo system. That meant that Shane had to make use of Shae’s helmet for the day, so he was sporting a number 104 on his head, rather than his usual 102. To top it off, Shane’s outdoor motor seized during practice, and he ended up using one of his supercross engines. Ouch.

    [IMAGE 12]

    You might remember our interview in the June issue of TWMX with Pierrick Paget. Besides running in the 650 class in the MXGP and Swiss National series, the Frenchman said that he’d be back for selected U.S. Nationals. True to his word, Eastie Boy was at Glen Helen, and though he’s not a fan of softer tracks (tons of sand had been added to the Glen Helen layout) he qualified for the national, where he finished 28th. What was really interesting was that he wasn’t aboard his own bike, but was using a rental from Motocross Vacations. Need a vacation of your own? www.mxvacation.com.

    [IMAGE 13]

    Round 1 of the AMA/WML Altex Computers Motocross Championship Series was also held at Glen Helen, and 25 pro women racers representing Germany, New Zealand, Canada, Italy, England, Australia and the USA put on their usual good show.

    As is the norm when she’s visiting from Germany, Steffi Laier swept the two motos aboard her KTM. Tania Satchwell’s consistent 4-3 moto scores were good for second overall, while Jessica Patterson crashed three times in her first moto, but finished second in the second moto for third.

    [IMAGE 14]

    WML Pro Racing

    Results:

    1. Steffi Laier KTM 1-1
    2. Tania Satchwell YAM 4-3
    3. Jessica Patterson KAW 6-2
    4. Stefy Bau HON 3-5
    5. Sarah Whitmore YAM 2-6
    6. Alex Haupt KAW 5-4
    7. Shelly Harens YAM 87
    8. Kirsten Raemisch SUZ 9-9
    9. Jacki Hudson HON 7-12
    10. Marisa Hampshire KAW 10-10
    11. Sheena Patterson SUZ 11-13
    12. Kaide Garrett YAM 13-15
    13. Jessica Snyder YAM 18-11
    14. Jennifer Caputo YAM 14-16
    15. Tamra Fern YAM 15-17
    16. Tarah Gieger HON DNF-8
    17. Jaime Pamituan SUZ 17-19
    18. Bonnie Warch YAM 19-18
    19. Malerie Prochnavy KAW 16-22
    20. Jessye Davis YAM 12-26
    21. Ashely Boham HON DNF-14
    22. Jessica Foster HON 22-20
    23. Alyssa Culley YAM 21-21
    24. Mickey Gonzalez SUZ 20-DNF
    25. Katie Wakely YAM DNF-DNF

    Top 10 Points

    1. Steffi Laier 50
    2. Tania Satchwelln38
    3. Jessica Pattersonn 37
    4. Sarah Whitmoren 37
    5. Stefy Bau 36
    6. Alex Haupt 34
    7. Shelly Harens 27
    8. Kirsten Raemisch 24
    9. Jacki Hudson 23
    10. Marisa Hampshire 22

    Want more info? Check out www.womensmxleague.com.

    and, Canada, Italy, England, Australia and the USA put on their usual good show.

    As is the norm when she’s visiting from Germany, Steffi Laier swept the two motos aboard her KTM. Tania Satchwell’s consistent 4-3 moto scores were good for second overall, while Jessica Patterson crashed three times in her first moto, but finished second in the second moto for third.

    [IMAGE 14]

    WML Pro Racing

    Results:

    1. Steffi Laier KTM 1-1
    2. Tania Satchwell YAM 4-3
    3. Jessica Patterson KAW 6-2
    4. Stefy Bau HON 3-5
    5. Sarah Whitmore YAM 2-6
    6. Alex Haupt KAW 5-4
    7. Shelly Harens YAM 87
    8. Kirsten Raemisch SUZ 9-9
    9. Jacki Hudson HON 7-12
    10. Marisa Hampshire KAW 10-10
    11. Sheena Patterson SUZ 11-13
    12. Kaide Garrett YAM 13-15
    13. Jessica Snyder YAM 18-11
    14. Jennifer Caputo YAM 14-16
    15. Tamra Fern YAM 15-17
    16. Tarah Gieger HON DNF-8
    17. Jaime Pamituan SUZ 17-19
    18. Bonnie Warch YAM 19-18
    19. Malerie Prochnavy KAW 16-22
    20. Jessye Davis YAM 12-26
    21. Ashely Boham HON DNF-14
    22. Jessica Foster HON 22-20
    23. Alyssa Culley YAM 21-21
    24. Mickey Gonzalez SUZ 20-DNF
    25. Katie Wakely YAM DNF-DNF

    Top 10 Points

    1. Steffi Laier 50
    2. Tania Satchwelln38
    3. Jessica Pattersonn 37
    4. Sarah Whitmoren 37
    5. Stefy Bau 36
    6. Alex Haupt 34
    7. Shelly Harens 27
    8. Kirsten Raemisch 24
    9. Jacki Hudson 23
    10. Marisa Hampshire 22

    Want more info? Check out www.womensmxleague.com.