Monday Kickstart: Mt. Morris

This week’s story and photos by GuyB

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You’re not in California any more, are you, boy?

Yep, this week I headed to Mt. Morris, PA, which is south of Pittsburgh, and just north of the West Virginia border. Home to the Land of X; an ornery farmer whose main crop seems to be $10 bills (for parking on his land); and where even after two solid days of sun, you still might need a tractor to tow you out of the muddy area used for rental car parking.

The vibe in the pits was noticeably more low-key than the frenzy of activity at the California rounds. The spectators are another story. Some were there for the party, some seemed there to get noticed (a group of kung-fu clowns?) However, we did dig this guy’s banners, and he seemed pretty adept at picking podium finishers.

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It’s true, Roger DeCoster broke his collarbone by going over the bars while riding a mountain bike last week. That didn’t seem to slow down The Man, though. He was still on hand at Mt. Morris, and as usual, the Suzuki truck was a beehive of activity.

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Unfortunately, Sebastien Tortelli’s knee troubles continue. After hyperextending it in practice on Saturday, he rode four laps of practice on Sunday morning, and found it too sore to continue. He’s scheduled for an MRI early this week.

Akira Narita finished up his two-race stint in America at Mt. Morris. Akira brought along his own bike, which was a hybrid ’03/’04 model RM. The pipe was a full cone model that looked every bit as works as the one Mickael Pichon was using at Anaheim 3.

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Other things we spotted were Akira’s funky toe socks, and the translation key that his mechanic, Billy Felts, was using on Akira’s pit board. The only message missing was, “Sushi after race?”

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Though he’s still sidelined after getting surgery on his injured thumb, Branden Jesseman was hanging out at the Suzuki truck, and sporting a much smaller cast than the one he had in Las Vegas. Branden was clearly bummed about missing the race in Mt. Morris, but said he was please with the apparent success of the Mexican restaurant he’d opened with his father and grandfather a couple miles from his Fombell, PA, residence. If you’re in the area, look for the El Toro restaurant.

Meanwhile, with Casey Johnson on the mend after a crash ended his all-too-brief tryout ride with Suzuki at Glen Helen, Suzuki dug into their support talent pool and set up Floridian Brian Gray on Jesseman’s bike at Mt. Morris. Brian had turned in great rides at Hangtown the previous weekend, cracking the top 10. After settling in on the bike, he scored another top 10 finish in moto one, before dropping off the scoreboard in moto two.

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It’s cool to see a deserving rider get a crack at a factory bike. Hopefully he’ll get another shot or two at it before Branden returns, which he’s hoping will be at Red Bud. In the meantime, Branden will be sitting on his bike at home, dreaming of his return, and working on his rehab.

Oh, and if you saw the ESPN’s coverage of the 125cc action from Glen Helen, you saw Casey Johnn tossing something from his bike during moto one before the crash. Some internet message boards were ablaze with rumors that it was his grip. Sorry, conspiracy theorists. It was the rubber boot that covers the brake lever. It was bothering Casey during the moto, so he tossed it.

Grant Langston dinged his wrist in practice on Saturday, and was looking like he was trying to minimize landing impacts the rest of the weekend.

Ryan Hughes’ spanner-spinner, Jonathan Lowther, is a former GP mechanic for riders like Jamie Dobb and Steve Ramon, and is exceedingly familiar with muddy conditions. For pre-practice mud prep, he’s a big fan of silicone spray. But instead of spraying it over the bike and having it land on unintended areas (like seats, grips, or brakes), he sprays it on a sponge and wipes it on the areas where he wants it, instead. Just remember this phrase…”That’s how it’s done in Europe.”

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After Blackfoot Honda didn’t score a hoped-for sponsor and skipped the 2003 U.S. supercross season, it left Jean-Sebastien Roy without a ride for the winter. So it was cool to see him in Mt. Morris to prepare for the upcoming Canadian national series.

In a rather unfortunate practice incident last weekend, a track worker was crossing the course aboard a quad. Unfortunately, at the same time, Robbie Reynard was coming through the same section. The resulting collision left Reynard with a reported broken thumb, a tweaked knee and ankle, as well as a wadded-up frame on his KX. Fortunately, the track worker apparently didn’t suffer any major injuries, though he’ll probably be known forever as, “The guy that Reynard centerpunched.”

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There’s a new Vuillemin brewing. David and Erica are expecting a new arrival in August. Congrats!

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Trading places? David Vuillemin is sporting red hair, while Tim Ferry is sporting a black ‘do. Tim scored top honors in the Yamaha truck with third overall, going 4-3 on the day to Chad Reed’s 3-4 moto scores.

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In the ongoing Fox fashion check, RC had a cool butt patch on his pants for High Point. Coming into the race, he and Jeremy McGrath were tied at 89 wins apiece. Of course that changed on Sunday afternoon, with RC taking the win. He now sits alone on top of the AMA combined wins list with 90, and we’d guess that the pants are destined for Fox’s museum of moto memorabilia. What’s interesting is that it took Jeremy 14 years to amass his win total, while it took RC just over six years. At the post-race press conference, one of the notable quotes from RC was, “I’m the best rider ever.” Is it bragging if you can back it up?

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Apparently the guys at O’Neal thought they’d play joke on Kevin Johnson and send him one of their old school chest protectors. For fun, Kevin figured that he’d wear it Glen Helen. Then Michael Brandes didn’t have a chest protector to use, so he’s been using Kevin’s current model instead. So here it was at round three, and Kevin was sporting a look that made old schoolers proud.

Apparently Kevin has a reputation for interesting fashion statements. He was spotted at a Morgantown restaurant wearing shorts and a pair of rubber rain boots…even though there wasn’t any rain in the forecast.

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Reality check. With some of the large teams, there are technicians upon technicians. It was cool to see Mike Brown grab a mud scraper and dig in with the rest of the crew after one of the practice sessions.

Jamie Little stopped by Travis Pastrana’s house over the weekend to check up on the recently sidelined “wonderboy”. Pastrana seemed to be in good spirits despite the fact he has retired from motocross racing for the time being. “My knee hurts pretty bad when I ride hard, like through whoops, and I can’t walk the next day. My femur and my tibia are rubbing together now because I have no cartilage left in my right knee. My bones are cracked and chipped already and when I ride they dent from rubbing together.” He said he has two options. If he continued to race, he’ll have to get his knee drained every single time because of swelling or he can stop racing for eight to twelve months and allow the knee to heal.

As you can imagine, Pastrana isn’t exactly sitting around. When we pulled up to his house he was out “mud bogging” in a Jeep. It has rained so much back in Maryland there isn’t much else to do. Travis said he has many things planned for the summer including competing in the Summer X Games. He said he may do a couple other freestyle events too because it doesn’t really bother his knee. For now, he has some Rally Car racing schools coming up that he’ll take part in, as well as some stock car driving opportunities. He said he may be competing in the “very cool” Super Moto series that McGrath, Jeff Ward and many others will compete in this Summer. Oh yeah, and you may see Travis in one of the national lawmower series’ races (yes, they actually have a series for lawnmowers!). It appears Travis has pulled the engine out of his Shifter Kart and put it in a sit down lawmower. Good luck with your endeavors, Trav!

In a recent interview with Transworld Motocross for an upcoming issue, Kevin Windham said he most definitely will make his return to Supercross next January. He said he’s not sure yet if he’ll compete in the first two international rounds but he’ll definitely be in Anaheim. No word yet if he’ll be aboard the two-stroke or four-stroke.

And finally…

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While the word from High Point Raceway is that the AMA Pro Racing guys say there’s nothing to worry about, and that everything will be worked out, there’s still no solid commitment for it to be on the schedule beyond 2004. After the second moto, Jeff Stanton and Ricky Carmichael hoisted this banner on top of the hill at High Point. Pretty cool.

ed by Travis Pastrana’s house over the weekend to check up on the recently sidelined “wonderboy”. Pastrana seemed to be in good spirits despite the fact he has retired from motocross racing for the time being. “My knee hurts pretty bad when I ride hard, like through whoops, and I can’t walk the next day. My femur and my tibia are rubbing together now because I have no cartilage left in my right knee. My bones are cracked and chipped already and when I ride they dent from rubbing together.” He said he has two options. If he continued to race, he’ll have to get his knee drained every single time because of swelling or he can stop racing for eight to twelve months and allow the knee to heal.

As you can imagine, Pastrana isn’t exactly sitting around. When we pulled up to his house he was out “mud bogging” in a Jeep. It has rained so much back in Maryland there isn’t much else to do. Travis said he has many things planned for the summer including competing in the Summer X Games. He said he may do a couple other freestyle events too because it doesn’t really bother his knee. For now, he has some Rally Car racing schools coming up that he’ll take part in, as well as some stock car driving opportunities. He said he may be competing in the “very cool” Super Moto series that McGrath, Jeff Ward and many others will compete in this Summer. Oh yeah, and you may see Travis in one of the national lawmower series’ races (yes, they actually have a series for lawnmowers!). It appears Travis has pulled the engine out of his Shifter Kart and put it in a sit down lawmower. Good luck with your endeavors, Trav!

In a recent interview with Transworld Motocross for an upcoming issue, Kevin Windham said he most definitely will make his return to Supercross next January. He said he’s not sure yet if he’ll compete in the first two international rounds but he’ll definitely be in Anaheim. No word yet if he’ll be aboard the two-stroke or four-stroke.

And finally…

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While the word from High Point Raceway is that the AMA Pro Racing guys say there’s nothing to worry about, and that everything will be worked out, there’s still no solid commitment for it to be on the schedule beyond 2004. After the second moto, Jeff Stanton and Ricky Carmichael hoisted this banner on top of the hill at High Point. Pretty cool.