Monday Kickstart:
Millville, 2006

This week the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF traveled to the northern tip of the United States, as it visited Spring Creek Motocross Park in Millville, Minnesota for round nine of the twelve-race series. While Millville is famous for plenty of its track obstacles, including the “Holy Schmidt jump that the late Donny Schmidt made famous, the most distinguishable feature of the hilly course is the elongated whoop section that consists of two lengthy straight-a-ways, both filled with deep, rolling sand whoops. The whoops are the biggest separator on the track; the top pros go through them at lighting speeds, sometimes blitzing them and other times jumping several at a time, while slower riders hit nearly every one while bouncing their way through. In fact, the whoops at Millville are oftentimes where the race is won or lost.

And speaking of blazing through the monstrous Millville whoops, there was even a police-provided radar station that notified riders of their approximate speed while they went through. Normally used on the highway for automobiles, the radar gun was a great motivator for riders to help pick up their pace and try to improve their speed each and every lap.

Going hand-in-hand with Spring Creek’s deep and legendary sand whoops is Millville’s infamous Whoop Monster. Of course, Mr. Monster was out on the track, cheering the riders on throughout the weekend’s race, and was even spotted in the pits cruising around in his customized Whoop Monster vehicle, collecting donations for his privateer fund.

Though the whoops were welcomed at Millville, one thing that wasn’t received so well was the heavy population of bees in both the pits and the track. Team Rockstar/Bill’s Pipes/Suzuki’s Mike Brown was stung on the hand after practice on Saturday, and OLN commentator Erin Bates was another victim of a bee sting (hers was on the face), just to mention a few.

Since Millville follows the week of Loretta Lynn’s, it annually serves as the place for graduating amateurs to debut their talents to the motocross world. This year was no different, with the biggest hype centered around two riders who both made their way straight into factory semis following Loretta’s. Local Minnesota rider Ryan Dungey was picked up by Team Makita Suzuki and signed to a two-year MX Lites deal, while Oregon’s Josh Hill (who won every race but one last week at Loretta’s) went straight into the Yamaha trailer to also compete in the Lites division.

Both Hill and Dungey looked plenty fast in practice and easily qualified to line up for the final motos, it was Dungey who had the better weekend in his debut ride as a professional. Dungey rode great in both the dry moto as well as the mud one, garnering two eight-place positions that were good enough for seventh overall on the day. Since Dungey, who lives only a half-hour away from Spring Creek, was picked based on his speed and results from the B class instead of the A Class, there was some speculation about whether Suzuki had made a mistake by offering Dungey a ride, but Ryan definitely shut down the critics with his strong showing.

Dungey’s gear sponsor is Answer racing, who made Ryan special butt patches for both outings. The first one said “Thanks to the Man, referring to Suzuki Team Manager Roger DeCoster’s roll in taking a chance with Dungey and offering him a ride. For those who haven’t heard the entire story, Ryan was given an opportunity to “try out for the team in front of DeCoster, Ricky Carmichael, and the rest of Team Makita Suzuki. Based on his impressive speed (along with plenty of other attributes), Dungey was selected and added to the team. For the second moto, Dungey’s pants said “District 23, representing his local racing chapter. (Though ry few of the local fans were able to actually see it, thanks to the sloppy conditions…)

As for Hill, he too was on the pace, but bad luck prevented him from posting results as impressive as Dungey. In the first moto Hill was running strong and making his way to the front of the pack (running as high as 9th) when his foot hit one of the yellow track markers. This popped his boot up and into the back wheel, where it got caught between the swingarm and the tire. Hill was forced to dismount and roll the bike backwards in order to free his foot and get going again, but by this time nearly a minute had gone by. Though Hill’s lap times were good and he was charging through the pack again, he was only able to salvage a 19th-place finish in the moto. The following moto Hill fell victim to the muddy conditions (as did most of the field), and Josh finished 18th, good for 22nd overall.

Mike Alessi sits firmly in the captain’s chair in MX Lites points, but he remains in a lonely position on the track, as Mikey is the only member of the Red Bull/KTM team that is healthy and consistently competing in the series. Alessi commented on the situation at the press conference following the race. “I’m the only guy on the team right now. It’s kind of demoralizing because Pro Circuit has all these riders and all this help. It doesn’t really seem fair because they have so many riders on their team; they can just have those guys help out, and I’m just out there all by myself. It’s definitely a little demoralizing racing against a team that has all this help, and I’m just out there by myself. I guess that’s just the way it is.

The Red Bull/KTM team did have two riders pitting out of the semi to help Alessi out, but neither Tyla Rattray nor Nathan Ramsey were able to offer much assistance after facing problems of their own. Rattray, who was making his debut appearance in the MX Nationals, looked to be a strong contender until the second practice session on Sunday ended badly for the South African. Rattray began to swap through the long Millville whoop section, and when his wild ride came to an end, Tyla cartwheeled to the ground. The result of the crash was a dislocated right shoulder, which prevented Rattray from racing for the remainder of the day. “It’s really disappointing, Tyla said after the spill. “I just always seem to have bad luck lately. This was my first time racing over here and I was really feeling good on the bike and loving the track. I guess this is motorsport and things can happen, it is just such a pity; I was really looking forward to racing with those guys in the front.”

Nathan Ramsey, Alessi’s other hope for some assistance in his points battle, also left Millville injured and unable to compete. Nathan’s crash occurred on lap five of the first moto. Though we were unable to track N8 Dawg down for an interview, according to Team KTM personnel, Ramsey hit his head extremely hard in the get-off, suffering both a concussion as well as some severe lacerations to his face (near the chin area). We’re not sure if Millville will be Nathan’s last race as a Lites class competitor before he makes the switch to the MX class in 2007, but either way, we hope ya’ feel better soon N8!

Alessi was seen sporting his new signature line of Toolshed underwear in the pits this weekend at Millville. The elastic band is adorned with the “Alessi stylized logo that sits atop an American flag, allowing #800 fans a chance to really get up close and personal with Mikey…

Last but not least in Alessi news, Mike voiced his opinion in the press conference about the Motocross des Nations team selection that was announced at Loretta Lynn’s last week. “I really would have liked to have gone to the Motocross des Nations this year, said Alessi. “But, you know, it’s out of my hands. It’s up to the AMA and the top guys to decide who they want to go. I just don’t understand why I didn’t get picked to go. I mean, all-around, I’m pretty good at almost every single track, in any conditions like sand, hard-pack, and mud, and I’m the points leader, but I don’t know; it’s up to those guys, and it’s already too late.

Celebrating a birthday this weekend was Team Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, who turned 17 Sunday. Though his first moto was great, the rain and mud that Villopoto encountered in the second outing was not the birthday gift that he was looking for. When the mud was cleared and the results were tallied, Ryan wound up in seventh position in moto two. Even with his DNF from Washougal and his lackluster mud performance at Millville, series rookie Villopoto still sits just five points out of the lead position (behind MX Lites leader Mike Alessi) in the championship point race with six more motos to go.

One of the Motocross class competitors who was missing in action this weekend was Team Maestro Suzuki’s Jeff Dement. We caught up with Dement in the pits after Sunday morning’s practice session, where he told TWMX that a pretty spectacular trip over the handlebars left him with heavy hit to the head. “Head injuries are pretty serious, so it’s just not worth risking it. I’ve got a lot going on for next year, so I want to stay healthy and not do anything to jeopardize my deals, said Dement.

The Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit is hardly a stranger to the AMA Pro paddocks, but this weekend Asterisk unveiled their new medical unit, an 18-wheeler that will offer much more than the previous rig for injured riders as well as the Asterisk staff. We caught up with Asterisk’s Tom Carson to get the scoop on the new setup, and he told us this… “We’re pretty excited about the much larger facility that we are now able to offer riders. We’ve been working towards getting a full-sized semi for about the last four years. I’ve had my eye out, looking, and I just happened to be at Kawasaki one day when Mike Preston, the road race team manager, said he wanted to talk to me. He told me that he had a truck that he wanted to sell me, and to make a long story short, here it is… We own it now. Asterisk purchased it and paid for all the refurbishments. Basically, we gutted it and started from scratch in order to build ourselves pretty much exactly what we needed. We have a lot more area now, and are able to hold more gurneys downstairs. We also have a full therapy area for Eddie Casillas, our trainer, to tape people up and work from. We also now have a fully useable bathroom, a lounge area, and upstairs I have plenty of room to work with knee and wrist braces. This time around, we got a lot more organized and are able to provide an even better facility for injured riders. The Asterisk crew celebrated in the pits Saturday with a booth offering free ice cream to all.

Team Yamaha’s Heath Voss might have had a tough weekend on the track at Millville (Heath went 17-23 for 24th overall), but it was nothing compared to his flight going to Millville. Voss oftentimes flies himself and his wife to the races, as Heath is an experienced pilot whose second love in life next to motocross is aviation. But this weekend Heath had a very scary moment when his engine cut out on him several thousand feet above the ground. “When we were flying up here from San Antonio to Rochester yesterday, I started to smell oil. My wife right away said, ‘What’s that smell?!’ The first thing I did was look down at the gauges to make sure I had oil pressure, the temperature wasn’t too high, and that we had plenty of fuel. I found a nearby airport on my GPS system, so I did a 180-degree turn to go check things out. As I was turning, I saw the oil pressure drop—we had zero oil pressure. I pulled the power byou know, it’s out of my hands. It’s up to the AMA and the top guys to decide who they want to go. I just don’t understand why I didn’t get picked to go. I mean, all-around, I’m pretty good at almost every single track, in any conditions like sand, hard-pack, and mud, and I’m the points leader, but I don’t know; it’s up to those guys, and it’s already too late.

Celebrating a birthday this weekend was Team Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, who turned 17 Sunday. Though his first moto was great, the rain and mud that Villopoto encountered in the second outing was not the birthday gift that he was looking for. When the mud was cleared and the results were tallied, Ryan wound up in seventh position in moto two. Even with his DNF from Washougal and his lackluster mud performance at Millville, series rookie Villopoto still sits just five points out of the lead position (behind MX Lites leader Mike Alessi) in the championship point race with six more motos to go.

One of the Motocross class competitors who was missing in action this weekend was Team Maestro Suzuki’s Jeff Dement. We caught up with Dement in the pits after Sunday morning’s practice session, where he told TWMX that a pretty spectacular trip over the handlebars left him with heavy hit to the head. “Head injuries are pretty serious, so it’s just not worth risking it. I’ve got a lot going on for next year, so I want to stay healthy and not do anything to jeopardize my deals, said Dement.

The Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit is hardly a stranger to the AMA Pro paddocks, but this weekend Asterisk unveiled their new medical unit, an 18-wheeler that will offer much more than the previous rig for injured riders as well as the Asterisk staff. We caught up with Asterisk’s Tom Carson to get the scoop on the new setup, and he told us this… “We’re pretty excited about the much larger facility that we are now able to offer riders. We’ve been working towards getting a full-sized semi for about the last four years. I’ve had my eye out, looking, and I just happened to be at Kawasaki one day when Mike Preston, the road race team manager, said he wanted to talk to me. He told me that he had a truck that he wanted to sell me, and to make a long story short, here it is… We own it now. Asterisk purchased it and paid for all the refurbishments. Basically, we gutted it and started from scratch in order to build ourselves pretty much exactly what we needed. We have a lot more area now, and are able to hold more gurneys downstairs. We also have a full therapy area for Eddie Casillas, our trainer, to tape people up and work from. We also now have a fully useable bathroom, a lounge area, and upstairs I have plenty of room to work with knee and wrist braces. This time around, we got a lot more organized and are able to provide an even better facility for injured riders. The Asterisk crew celebrated in the pits Saturday with a booth offering free ice cream to all.

Team Yamaha’s Heath Voss might have had a tough weekend on the track at Millville (Heath went 17-23 for 24th overall), but it was nothing compared to his flight going to Millville. Voss oftentimes flies himself and his wife to the races, as Heath is an experienced pilot whose second love in life next to motocross is aviation. But this weekend Heath had a very scary moment when his engine cut out on him several thousand feet above the ground. “When we were flying up here from San Antonio to Rochester yesterday, I started to smell oil. My wife right away said, ‘What’s that smell?!’ The first thing I did was look down at the gauges to make sure I had oil pressure, the temperature wasn’t too high, and that we had plenty of fuel. I found a nearby airport on my GPS system, so I did a 180-degree turn to go check things out. As I was turning, I saw the oil pressure drop—we had zero oil pressure. I pulled the power back a little, and the motor completely locked up as we were 7,500 feet up. We glided exactly 12 miles at about 105 miles per hour, which is my best glide rate, and we were dropping 500-700 feet per minute. I had about 1,000 feet to spare when I got to the runway; I put the landing gear down just before we landed, because when you put the gear down it’s like slamming on the brakes, and we just barely made it in. There was oil all over the runway, and the way the motor seized, one of the blades got stuck just right so that we couldn’t tow the plane back. My wife and I had to push the plane 5,000 feet to the hangar. We ended up having to get a ride all the way back to San Antonio, which is like 140 miles away, and then flew commercial into Rochester last night.

As he has in past weekends, Team Yamaha’s Chad Reed decided to skip Saturday’s practice sessions, and after his impressive performance in moto one it was obvious that it didn’t hurt him any out on the track. Chad got a great start and was able to lead the race for three laps following James Stewart’s mishap, before eventually being passed by Ricky Carmichael and relegated to second place. Chad remained on the pace, but was forced to drop back to third after his bike’s exhaust header pipe fell off.

James Stewart looked a little dressy while strolling through the pits on Saturday afternoon following his practice sessions. No, James was not trying to pull in the local Millville ladies with his stylish threads, he and his Fox teammate Ricky Carmichael were both posing for a photo shoot in the clothing company’s latest duds.

___________________

Mike Brown

Former 125cc National Champion Mike Brown has had an up-and-down year in 2006, but Millville went great for Brownie—Mike went 8-4 for fifth overall in the premier MX division aboard his Bill’s Pipes-tuned Suzuki RM-Z450. TWMX caught up with Brown in the pits this weekend, where we asked him about his plans for next year…

Hey Mike, what is your 2007 schedule looking like at this point?

Well, it looks like I’m going back over to Europe to race for the CAS Honda team next year. I’m really looking forward to it. You know, it’s not like I’m trying to get out of America because I can’t do well over here or anything, I just really enjoyed my time over there racing before, and I’m excited to see how I can do now.

Did you start to miss the lifestyle over there?

Yeah, it was fun there, for sure. It’s not like it is here over there; it’s more laid back. Another thing is that Supercross is really the main thing here, and I am kind of done with that. I want to ride outdoors only. It’s good here, but you really have to be on a top team here, I think, to be one of the top guys. Over there, it’s all outdoors, and I have a great team to ride for, so I’m looking forward to it.

Will you race MX1 or MX2?

MX1, for sure.

Do you know where you will be living?

I’m going to stay in England, but the team’s race shop is out of Belgium, so I’m sure that I will be bouncing back and forth quite a bit.

Do you know how long you plan on staying over there, or will you just play it by ear?

It’s a year deal; I could have done more, but I just want to go see how I do. If I’m not riding up to par, I don’t really want to be that far from home and not do good and not like it over there. I should do good, though. Like I said, it’s a good team and they are very well organized, so it should be a nice experience for me.

___________________

James Stewart caused a little bit of a stir in practice when he bested Ricky Carmichael’s lap time with a 2:25.788, versus RC’s 27.151. Like we all know, practice is practice and racing is racing, but due to Stewart’s craash while leading, the large Millville crowd never got a chance to see any fierce battling between the two superstars like Washougal fans were treated to at Round 8.

In other Stewart news, James commented in the press conference that he was completely healthy at Millville and feeling nearly 100% after his past crashes this season. “I’m fine, and I’m getting a lot better as the weeks go on. I’m definitely making no excuses. I had great lap times earlier in practice and was running good until I washed the front end out in a turn and had trouble restarting the bike, but things are good and getting better all the time.

After getting the third-place overall trophy, going through the awards ceremony, being interviewed for television, and finally going to the post-race press conference, James Stewart actually had to hand his third-place trophy over to K-Dub, as it was ultimately decided that Kevin Windham did in fact get third overall with his 9-3 moto scores. When the AMA finished their official points tally, Stewart was awarded 2-11 for fourth overall. Though TWMX was unable to confirm it with the AMA before posting this edition of Kickstart, from what we heard in the pits, the confusion earlier on the podium was caused by a penalty assessed by the AMA after the race for James receiving help from his team while pulling his KXF out of a mud pit during the second moto mudfest. Check back with TransWorldMX.com for confirmation on the rumor later in the week!

Seven was Ricky Carmichael’s lucky number this year at Millville; RC tied his own record for consecutive wins at a track this year when he easily swept both motos of MX class racing. As if garnering seven straight wins at a brutal course like Millville wasn’t enough, RC went ahead and set another record by lapping all 39 of his competitors at least once in the 12-lap race. What we’re wondering is if Ricky gets paid bonuses for getting first AND second place… See ya’ next week for Binghamton’s edition of Monday Kickstart.

a little, and the motor completely locked up as we were 7,500 feet up. We glided exactly 12 miles at about 105 miles per hour, which is my best glide rate, and we were dropping 500-700 feet per minute. I had about 1,000 feet to spare when I got to the runway; I put the landing gear down just before we landed, because when you put the gear down it’s like slamming on the brakes, and we just barely made it in. There was oil all over the runway, and the way the motor seized, one of the blades got stuck just right so that we couldn’t tow the plane back. My wife and I had to push the plane 5,000 feet to the hangar. We ended up having to get a ride all the way back to San Antonio, which is like 140 miles away, and then flew commercial into Rochester last night.

As he has in past weekends, Team Yamaha’s Chad Reed decided to skip Saturday’s practice sessions, and after his impressive performance in moto one it was obvious that it didn’t hurt him any out on the track. Chad got a great start and was able to lead the race for three laps following James Stewart’s mishap, before eventually being passed by Ricky Carmichael and relegated to second place. Chad remained on the pace, but was forced to drop back to third after his bike’s exhaust header pipe fell off.

James Stewart looked a little dressy while strolling through the pits on Saturday afternoon following his practice sessions. No, James was not trying to pull in the local Millville ladies with his stylish threads, he and his Fox teammate Ricky Carmichael were both posing for a photo shoot in the clothing company’s latest duds.

___________________

Mike Brown

Former 125cc National Champion Mike Brown has had an up-and-down year in 2006, but Millville went great for Brownie—Mike went 8-4 for fifth overall in the premier MX division aboard his Bill’s Pipes-tuned Suzuki RM-Z450. TWMX caught up with Brown in the pits this weekend, where we asked him about his plans for next year…

Hey Mike, what is your 2007 schedule looking like at this point?

Well, it looks like I’m going back over to Europe to race for the CAS Honda team next year. I’m really looking forward to it. You know, it’s not like I’m trying to get out of America because I can’t do well over here or anything, I just really enjoyed my time over there racing before, and I’m excited to see how I can do now.

Did you start to miss the lifestyle over there?

Yeah, it was fun there, for sure. It’s not like it is here over there; it’s more laid back. Another thing is that Supercross is really the main thing here, and I am kind of done with that. I want to ride outdoors only. It’s good here, but you really have to be on a top team here, I think, to be one of the top guys. Over there, it’s all outdoors, and I have a great team to ride for, so I’m looking forward to it.

Will you race MX1 or MX2?

MX1, for sure.

Do you know where you will be living?

I’m going to stay in England, but the team’s race shop is out of Belgium, so I’m sure that I will be bouncing back and forth quite a bit.

Do you know how long you plan on staying over there, or will you just play it by ear?

It’s a year deal; I could have done more, but I just want to go see how I do. If I’m not riding up to par, I don’t really want to be that far from home and not do good and not like it over there. I should do good, though. Like I said, it’s a good team and they are very well organized, so it should be a nice experience for me.

___________________

James Stewart caused a little bit of a stir in practice when he bested Ricky Carmichael’s lap time with a 2:25.788, versus RC’s 27.151. Like we all know, practice is practice and racing is racing, but due to Stewart’s crash while leading, the large Millville crowd never got a chance to see any fierce battling between the two superstars like Washougal fans were treated to at Round 8.

In other Stewart news, James commented in the press conference that he was completely healthy at Millville and feeling nearly 100% after his past crashes this season. “I’m fine, and I’m getting a lot better as the weeks go on. I’m definitely making no excuses. I had great lap times earlier in practice and was running good until I washed the front end out in a turn and had trouble restarting the bike, but things are good and getting better all the time.

After getting the third-place overall trophy, going through the awards ceremony, being interviewed for television, and finally going to the post-race press conference, James Stewart actually had to hand his third-place trophy over to K-Dub, as it was ultimately decided that Kevin Windham did in fact get third overall with his 9-3 moto scores. When the AMA finished their official points tally, Stewart was awarded 2-11 for fourth overall. Though TWMX was unable to confirm it with the AMA before posting this edition of Kickstart, from what we heard in the pits, the confusion earlier on the podium was caused by a penalty assessed by the AMA after the race for James receiving help from his team while pulling his KXF out of a mud pit during the second moto mudfest. Check back with TransWorldMX.com for confirmation on the rumor later in the week!

Seven was Ricky Carmichael’s lucky number this year at Millville; RC tied his own record for consecutive wins at a track this year when he easily swept both motos of MX class racing. As if garnering seven straight wins at a brutal course like Millville wasn’t enough, RC went ahead and set another record by lapping all 39 of his competitors at least once in the 12-lap race. What we’re wondering is if Ricky gets paid bonuses for getting first AND second place… See ya’ next week for Binghamton’s edition of Monday Kickstart.

rt’s crash while leading, the large Millville crowd never got a chance to see any fierce battling between the two superstars like Washougal fans were treated to at Round 8.

In other Stewart news, James commented in the press conference that he was completely healthy at Millville and feeling nearly 100% after his past crashes this season. “I’m fine, and I’m getting a lot better as the weeks go on. I’m definitely making no excuses. I had great lap times earlier in practice and was running good until I washed the front end out in a turn and had trouble restarting the bike, but things are good and getting better all the time.

After getting the third-place overall trophy, going through the awards ceremony, being interviewed for television, and finally going to the post-race press conference, James Stewart actually had to hand his third-place trophy over to K-Dub, as it was ultimately decided that Kevin Windham did in fact get third overall with his 9-3 moto scores. When the AMA finished their official points tally, Stewart was awarded 2-11 for fourth overall. Though TWMX was unable to confirm it with the AMA before posting this edition of Kickstart, from what we heard in the pits, the confusion earlier on the podium was caused by a penalty assessed by the AMA after the race for James receiving help from his team while pulling his KXF out of a mud pit during the second moto mudfest. Check back with TransWorldMX.com for confirmation on the rumor later in the week!

Seven was Ricky Carmichael’s lucky number this year at Millville; RC tied his own record for consecutive wins at a track this year when he easily swept both motos of MX class racing. As if garnering seven straight wins at a brutal course like Millville wasn’t enough, RC went ahead and set another record by lapping all 39 of his competitors at least once in the 12-lap race. What we’re wondering is if Ricky gets paid bonuses for getting first AND second place… See ya’ next week for Binghamton’s edition of Monday Kickstart.