Monday Kickstart: MiniMoto and SX Finals Part 1

We always love it when Kickstart fires up with good news, and this definitely brought smiles to the faces of everyone in the offices here at TWMX. According to most recent figures by The Audit Bureau of Circulations, the paid circulation numbers among MX magazines stack up like this:

TransWorld Motocross 75,492
Racer X 67,636
Motocross Action 66,287

So it looks like we need to give everyone the finger.

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Wait, you thought we meant¿oh, never mind.

While Swap headed out to Sam Boyd Stadium to watch practice on Friday, GuyB and Cooley strolled over to The Orleans Hotel & Casino to get a taste of the whole mini bike craze at its grandest scale at the MiniMoto SX. What started as nothing more than some backyard fun amongst friends back in the days of the original Crusty Demons of Dirt footage has escalated to amazing heights. Who would¿ve ever thunk it? Full-blown custom race bikes costing as much as your full-sized MXer, 384 entries ranging from stock 50cc amateurs to modified professional classes, and 5,200 spectators all filtered into Las Vegas. The event, organized by Tim Clark of MiniMoto Magazine and co-sponsored by industry giant Parts Unlimited, drew the likes of some of our sports biggest heroes. The King himself, Jeremy McGrath, made it out to Vegas to participate in the event, and ended up taking home top honors in three of the four professional classes. Tommy Hofmaster of Arenacross fame diced back and forth with MC in the modified 50cc pro main event, eventually getting the upper hand and taking home the win. Aside from that, MC was pretty much unstoppable. Joining him on the list of big names was Jeff Emig, Buddy Antunez, Joel Albrecht, Jeff Stanton, Guy Cooper, David Pingree, Kenny Bartram, Brad Hagseth, Trevor Vines, Jimmy Lewis, Denny Stephenson, Victor Sheldon, and TWMX test rider, Rich Taylor.

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Speaking of Rich, our boy almost won the 105cc pro class main event on Friday night. After leading the first half of the race, a bobble and resulting slap to The Orleans Arena floor put a quick end to Rich¿s glory, and MC grabbed the win. Rich got redemption, however, by taking home the victory in the last race of the evening; a team race which feature all of the top pros on hand. Each team consisted of three riders, each of which rode a different displacement mini (A la the old Motocross Des Nations format).

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Another TWMX test rider and good friend, Josh ¿The Hatchet¿ Stice, also represented by taking a heat race win in the modified pro class on Friday. Unfortunately, the same luck wasn¿t shared in the main event come Friday night. Hatchet, who had snatched the holeshot during his qualifier win, got another good jump out of the gate in the mainbut McGrath beat him to the first turn and pushed him wide. By the time Hatchet got situated he¿d been past by a few guys, and the chaos began. To try and describe the racing action in words wouldn¿t do it much justice, so lets just say that there was plenty of elbow throwing action going on. Obviously the AMA¿s Steve ¿All Holds Bared¿ Whitlock wasn¿t refereeing the event. A couple of bobbles and a crash kept Hatchet off the podium, but he had a great time nevertheless.

The Tommy Hofmaster/Jeremy McGrath battle previously mentioned turned out to be one of the best races of the entire weekend in Las Vegas ¿including the Bubba/RonRon Shootout shootout. Sano¿s Tommy Hofmaster got the holeshot in the 50cc Modified Pro class on his Sano CRF, only to have Xtreme Motor Company¿s Guy Cooper shove him out of the way in the second turn for the lead, while Jeremy McGrath got a so-so start on his Five-O CRF. MC caught and passed Hofmaster and was working on Cooper, but Hofmaster went to school on MC¿s lines and eventually caught the battling duo in front and a three-way dogfight ensued. All three riders held the lead at varying points, throwing elbows almost every time they made a pass, and the fans were on their feet the whole time. With only a couple of laps to go, and in heavy traffic, Hofmaster took the lead for good and took the victory over McGrath and an exhausted Cooper.

The racing itself was pretty entertaining to say the least, but our hearts do go out to Sondra Peters and the others who scored the event. With quick lap times being reeled off by the leaders, lapped traffic was backed up worse than an L.A. freeway during rush hour. The transponders that typically take a lot of the guesswork out of the scoring at a regular AMA Supercross or motocross were not mounted to the minis. Sondra and crew had to score everything by eye and hand. Sandra later said, ¿It was total chaos! I have four races that I still need to go back and score because my notes are so confusing.¿

Our new Editor at Large (or Editor That¿s Large, especially on a mini) Steve Cox even attacked the Orleans Arena track on his trick MiniMoto Magazine project CRF50F. Although he couldn¿t seem to keep the thing running for a whole race due to some technical difficulties, he had a good time for the most part. That is until Saturday. Cox helped out Wonder Warthog¿s Scott Kandel by driving his super-trick TT-R125 out to Vegas for Steve Bauer to race in the Media event at the MiniMotoSX. Saturday, Cox parked his red Ford Ranger in the VIP parking area, about 30-40 feet from the lot¿s entrance and with the bed pointed in the direction of the ¿security guards¿ at the entrance, with Kandel¿s bike and his own trick CRF locked into the back with a Kryptonite cable and heavy duty lock. When Cox made it back out to his truck at just after midnight, his CRF was gone. It had been stolen some time during the racing program. The thieves had cut the lock holding it into Cox¿s bed and lifted it right out of the truck. It is a 2004 Honda CRF50F with a BBR Twin-Spar aluminum frame ¿ but this frame is very distinctive, as it¿s a prototype, and it¿s the only one on the entire planet where the footpegs don¿t mount to the frame, but still use the standard chromoly peg mount under the motor. It also has Sano hubs on both ends with disc brakes operated by two levers on the handlebars, Sano Bombshell forks, a 12-inch front wheel, red-anodized Hardstyle rear sprocket, Bridgestone M401 and M402 tires, and Crower-modified motor that has the words Crower Power inscribed on the cylinder. It had white plastic and One Industries graphics and the number 211 on it at the time of theft. Any information that could help in the recovery of this trick little 50 would be much appreciated. Shoot an email over to Steve.Giberson@time4.com.

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The Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda team took on a new sponsor for the final round of Supercross in Las Vegas: The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Along with the new sponsor came new team plastic and graphics, and a new color scheme on the team¿s Shift gear. Kevin Windham and Mike LaRocco wore their usual riding gear (with logo additions), but the two also rocked the new look on their bikes. While in-between practice sessions on Saturday we caught up with team manager J.C. Waterhouse to get the scoop on the team¿s new look. Here¿s what he had to say¿

J.C., we don¿t know if you¿ve noticed yet, but your bikes are purple this weekend.

Yeah, they are¿ It¿s a very pretty passion purple (laughs). No, those are actually the Hard Rock colors. In fact, we got an exact color match to the Hard Rock limousines.

How did the sponsorship come about? Was it a last-minute deal, or had you guys been working on this one for a while?

It actually started a couple months ago with the possibility, but as these things go it kind of drug out and we didn¿t get the final approval from Hard Rock until about two weeks ago. From there we really had to jam to get what you see here together. There was the graphics package design and color, the crew equipment, and the riding gear, and it all really just came together at the last minute.

Are you happy with how it turned out?

Yeah, yeah, yeah¿ It came out really, really good. I think everybody thinks it¿s cool because it¿s different. Some people don¿t like purple, but we think it looks good.

How did you guys work out your deal? Did they just give you a lump of money to run their logo, or are there some other perks?

Yeah, it¿s basically as associate sponsorship deal with the cooperation of Amsoil, Chaparral, and Honda. The Hard Rock got the dominant look on our bikes for the weekend. When this whole thing began to take shape we contacted all of our sponsors to inform them of the opportunity and to see if they were interested in letting it happen. Everybody was really cool about it because it gets media exposure and gets the excitement back up. So everybody benefits from it in the end.

Is this something you¿ll consider again for the US Open as well?

Yeah¿ We¿re in talks with Hard Rock to try and make it bigger, and the same type of situation with somebody else is a possibility as well. You know, you see this kind of stuff a lot in NASCAR where somebody will give up a primary sponsorship for a single special event, and as you can see, you can make it work, so there¿s no reason to not try and pursue this type of thing. We¿re fortunate that we have good title sponsors that are willing to work with us though. This wouldn¿t be possible without them, either.

Along with the cash, did you guys work out something with the Hard Rock to receive free rooms, free drinks, free hands at blackjack, and the all you can¿t eat buffet¿ You know, the whole package?

(Laughs) I wish! Two months ago when this started that was actually part of the proposal. But because it went so long it was impossible to get rooms because that place is so popular for this weekend. By the time we actually finalized the deal there were no rooms left at the Hard Rock.

So did they at least put you guys up at the Motel 6 across the street?

(Laughs) Yeah, exactly¿ They put us up at the luxurious Motel 6. No, no¿ I actually got set up with a room for Sunday night after the banquet, so there was a little bit of a perk wrapped into the deal.

In addition to the new lod be much appreciated. Shoot an email over to Steve.Giberson@time4.com.

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The Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda team took on a new sponsor for the final round of Supercross in Las Vegas: The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Along with the new sponsor came new team plastic and graphics, and a new color scheme on the team¿s Shift gear. Kevin Windham and Mike LaRocco wore their usual riding gear (with logo additions), but the two also rocked the new look on their bikes. While in-between practice sessions on Saturday we caught up with team manager J.C. Waterhouse to get the scoop on the team¿s new look. Here¿s what he had to say¿

J.C., we don¿t know if you¿ve noticed yet, but your bikes are purple this weekend.

Yeah, they are¿ It¿s a very pretty passion purple (laughs). No, those are actually the Hard Rock colors. In fact, we got an exact color match to the Hard Rock limousines.

How did the sponsorship come about? Was it a last-minute deal, or had you guys been working on this one for a while?

It actually started a couple months ago with the possibility, but as these things go it kind of drug out and we didn¿t get the final approval from Hard Rock until about two weeks ago. From there we really had to jam to get what you see here together. There was the graphics package design and color, the crew equipment, and the riding gear, and it all really just came together at the last minute.

Are you happy with how it turned out?

Yeah, yeah, yeah¿ It came out really, really good. I think everybody thinks it¿s cool because it¿s different. Some people don¿t like purple, but we think it looks good.

How did you guys work out your deal? Did they just give you a lump of money to run their logo, or are there some other perks?

Yeah, it¿s basically as associate sponsorship deal with the cooperation of Amsoil, Chaparral, and Honda. The Hard Rock got the dominant look on our bikes for the weekend. When this whole thing began to take shape we contacted all of our sponsors to inform them of the opportunity and to see if they were interested in letting it happen. Everybody was really cool about it because it gets media exposure and gets the excitement back up. So everybody benefits from it in the end.

Is this something you¿ll consider again for the US Open as well?

Yeah¿ We¿re in talks with Hard Rock to try and make it bigger, and the same type of situation with somebody else is a possibility as well. You know, you see this kind of stuff a lot in NASCAR where somebody will give up a primary sponsorship for a single special event, and as you can see, you can make it work, so there¿s no reason to not try and pursue this type of thing. We¿re fortunate that we have good title sponsors that are willing to work with us though. This wouldn¿t be possible without them, either.

Along with the cash, did you guys work out something with the Hard Rock to receive free rooms, free drinks, free hands at blackjack, and the all you can¿t eat buffet¿ You know, the whole package?

(Laughs) I wish! Two months ago when this started that was actually part of the proposal. But because it went so long it was impossible to get rooms because that place is so popular for this weekend. By the time we actually finalized the deal there were no rooms left at the Hard Rock.

So did they at least put you guys up at the Motel 6 across the street?

(Laughs) Yeah, exactly¿ They put us up at the luxurious Motel 6. No, no¿ I actually got set up with a room for Sunday night after the banquet, so there was a little bit of a perk wrapped into the deal.

In addition to the new look of the bikes, the folks at Shift had to scurry to get the new color scheme team gear prepared. We caught up with Shift¿s Rob Salcedo to get the low down.

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Rob, we just spoke with J.C. to get the scoop on the Hard Rock deal and understand that it came down to the last minute. What did that entail for you guys?

Well, the design of the team gear is already done obviously, but we had to change the colors around. Our Product Manager Brian Butler did a hell of a job getting this thing done in a very short time period. He basically achieved the impossible and got the gear here in just a couple weeks. That¿s a very short time period for making gear.

Does the actual color matching take the most time, or did you guys have a purple already that you could work with?

You know what? It was actually really ironic the way this all unfolded. About half way through the season we talked about doing something different and special for Vegas. The team has been running black all year long with the exception to the special yellow stuff for Daytona, so we felt like we needed something different for Vegas. We started brainstorming on what scheme would look good and we decided on the purple. It was just totally coincidental that they ended up landing the Hard Rock deal, so it all worked out great.

The Dave Coombs East/West Shootout was among the best 125cc races we¿ve seen all season long. Coming into the event it was hard to imagine anybody other than Bubba having a chance at the win. Take this with a grain of salt of course¿ After all, Ivan Tedesco had an equally impressive and dominant series out West, but Stewart just seems to be in a league of his own. Racing is racing, however, which is why they actually run them, and anything can happen. Remember last year¿s Vegas Supercross? Bubba was heavily favored at that event as well, but a main event crash not only sidelined him for the rest of the race, but also put him out of the first few Nationals as well. Anyway¿ On with the point. Bubba did accomplish what everybody figured he would. He won the race. But his win didn¿t come quite as easy as most expected. Bubba admittedly struggled on the Vegas track all weekend long while Pro Circuit Kawasaki¿s Stephane Roncada put in the fastest lap times in practice. An inspired RonRon came out swinging in the main event and fought off Bubba for the first six laps before eventually surrendering the lead. When most expected Roncada to fade and get yanked by Stewart, the hard charging Frenchman kept on truckin¿ and only gave up 3.3 seconds to the champ by the checkers. Great ride RonRon! 

In the pit area at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas the Dirt Wurx crew made a set of full-blown stadium whoops that the fans were able to walk through to get a taste of what their racing heroes ride through every weekend. We took a stroll through them ourselves, and with the exception of the section being a little shorter, the whoops were pretty close to identical to those found on the track inside the stadium. If you¿ve never had the opportunity to see a set of stadium whoops up close and personal, you may not be able to comprehend how gnarly they actually are, but take our word for it¿ They¿re no joke! Week in and week out they are the single obstacle that cause the most riders the most trouble. The bottom line? If you can¿t get through the whoops, you¿re not making the night show at a Supercross.

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Also in the Las Vegas pits, Clear Channel and the AMA set up an interview-style podium to additionally help connect the fans with the insiders that make up our sport. A microphone was set up in front of the podium so that fans with questions could interface directly with whoever was on the stand. Here, Yamaha¿s team manager Jim Perry and Honda¿s team manager Erik Kehoe, discussed the season and the championship race between Chad Reed and Kevin Windham.

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In the second factory 250 practice on Saturday we watched Travis Pastrana make an early exit off of the track and back to the pits. Assuming that he either had bike problems or was suffering from injury, we headed back to the pits to check in with the boys at Suzuki to get the skinny. According to Billy Felts, ¿Travis just doesn¿t ride that much.¿ After he gets a feel for a track he¿ll simply