This week, Jordan Powell joined Nick Paluzzi on a road trip to Cortez, Colorado, where they will stay with Geico Powersports/Honda rider Eli Tomac, and spend a week doing some Supercross training. You can also check out some of the action from our 2011 250 and 450 Shootouts, which took place last week at Zaca Station…
Before we get started, though, did you catch the sweet Andrew Short video by Stephen Potter from Area 315 Productions? CLICK HERE if you didn’t.
Also, our friend “Video Masa” from Troy Lee Designs cranked out this awesome video from our very own TransWorld SLAM race last weekend.
In spite of not having a ride lined up for the 2011 season yet, former Suzuki amateur phenom Nick Paluzzi decided that preparations for Supercross Lites 2011 must go on. That said, he, his trainer Buddy Antunez, and our Senior Contributor Jordan Powell, loaded up a truck and headed to Cortez, Colorado, to stay with the Paluzzi family’s good friends, the Tomacs. Nick and Eli Tomac have been racing together for years, and they have become good friends. After driving for 10-plus hours, the trio arrived at the picturesque Tomac Ranch. Unfortunately, the wet weather we’ve been enjoying in SoCal followed them to Colorado, and their first day was filled with gym time, some X Box, and many games of UNO…
Says Jordan, “This is the first thing that you see as you walk outside of the guesthouse at the Tomac Ranch. This is paradise!”
After a morning run, Nick Paluzzi and Eli Tomac hit the gym. Filled with every piece of equipment needed to be at the top level, there's no need to go anywhere else.
All kinds of memorabilia fill up the gym at Tomac's house, including these amateur titles.
It's hard to not be motivated while you're in the gym when the whole wall is filled with medals and magazine covers.
Eli isn't the only championship rider in the house; John Tomac has his fair share of trophies in the gym, too.
So what is there to do when you're not riding at the Tomac Ranch? You can either hop on the trampoline, or you can sharpen your bow and arrow skills by taking aim at the fake animals.
Besides dirt bike tracks, there is also a huge alfalfa field. Newcomers to the Tomac Ranch have to stand out there for 20 minutes in total darkness, or maybe they just made that rule for me.
For the past couple of days, Cortez, Colorado has seen nothing but rain. When the rain finally stopped, the only track that was good enough to ride on was the Eli's old supercross track. Here, Eli preps the track for the day.
Coming into the 2011 Supercross season, Eli is rocking a new number. With only one season as a pro in the outdoor series, he managed to get number 19.
Nick Paluzzi still hasn't found a ride for 2011, but that hasn't stopped him from doing tons of training.
Eli knows his way around a supercross track!
Paluzzi hasn't been riding on a supercross track for long, but he quickly adapted to Tomac's track.
Sitting on top of almost 80 acres, this Mark Barnett built supercross track is a newcomer to the Tomac Ranch. With sections resembling various parts of other supercross tracks on the circuit, this is the ultimate training ground.
Buddy Antunez is a regular here at the Tomac Ranch. Here, Budman helps out Eli and Nick dial in some sections.
Eli is definitely feeling comfortable on a Supercross track, and he shows it with this huge floater.
Not only does Paluzzi have some speed around a Supercross track, he also has some style.
The Tomac’s ultimate garage.
Souvenirs, or toys?
Stay tuned to TransWorldMX.com for more from the Tomac Ranch, all week long!
Last week, Zaca Station MX hosted the 2011 TransWorld Motocross 250 Shootout. The Honda CRF250R, Kawasaki KX250F, KTM 250SX-F, Suzuki RM-Z250 and Yamaha YZ250F were ridden, back-to-back, by five TWMX test riders.
Concurrently, we also conducted the 2011 TransWorld Motocross 450 Shootout as well. The exciting new KTM 350SX-F was included in the 450 comparison, since that is the class it is allowed to compete in.
Technicians and representatives from all of the manufacturers were on hand. While Wednesday was an open day at Zaca Station, TransWorld Motocross had the facility all to ourselves on Thursday, and all of the technicians were invited to suit up and moto, as well!
KTM’s Tom Moen was arguably the busiest guy at Zaca Station, as he babysat the 250SX-F, 350SX-F and 450SX-F. At the end of the day Thursday, he suited up and cut some fast laps of his own!
Our three test bikes are sitting under the canopy, but that’s Tom’s 450SX-F parked on the side of the KTM Sprinter van.
The 2011 KTM 250SX-F is a potent bike with a great engine and quick-handling characteristics. Chris Kinman was recruited to offer up a beginner’s impression of the five machines.
The KTM 450SX-F is also a beast in the horsepower department, and it requires a steady throttle hand to keep it in control. Like Kinman did in the 250 Shootout, Jordan Powell gave us a beginner’s impression in the 450 Shootout.
What are Moen and Kawasaki technician Mike Chavez chatting about? Perhaps about the best way to grease a shock linkage… Chavez has wrenched for many top racers in his career, perhaps the most notable being Damon Bradshaw, back in the day.
Pat Foster is one of our mainstay test riders. A former Suzuki support rider in his heyday, “Thoughtful” Pat is often the last test rider on the track, double and triple checking his opinions and impressions of each bike. Pat upheld his reputation this year, cutting laps while several of us were already halfway home.
TWMX Photo Editor Brendan Lutes was our intermediate-level test rider in the 450 Shootout. In between test rides, he helped shoot photos. Talk about multi-tasking!
Charlie Flippen was a top intermediate racer in SoCal in the early 90s, but now he fine-tunes the Honda press bikes for American Honda. Flipper lives only a hop, skip and a jump away from Zaca Station.
Fox Racing’s Warren Johnson came up to hand-deliver riding gear to some of our testers (and also to do some riding himself). Yamaha’s Tim Olson, a former Motocross Action editor, is no stranger to the shootout process. Kevin Aschenbach (@kbach66 on Twitter) accompanied Flippen to help watch over the CRF250R and CRF450R, and he also busted out some quick laps on both days.
Kyle Puerner is a long-time Transworld Motocross test rider. A winning Senior Novice-class racer, Puerner always offers up great feedback from a novice’s perspective for us.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we recruited pro rider Nick Paluzzi to give us the fast-guy’s perspective. With a seventh at his first-ever 450 National under his belt, we figured “Lil’ Swap” was up to the task at hand.
Zaca Station has some of the coolest step-up jumps around, thanks to the elevation changes the terrain has to offer. Kinman lofts the CRF250R skyward.
“President” Johnson, in action aboard his Ride Engineering CRf450R.
Honda’s media Sprinter van is without a doubt, the coolest moto-specific vehicle we have ever seen.
On paper, the 2011 Honda CRF250R didn’t receive a ton of updates, but on the track, John Elton noticed a huge difference between the 2011 bike and his personal 2010 model.
Senior test rider Rich Taylor is a legend in motocross testing, having done R&D for everyone from Honda to Suzuki to Dunlop to Dirt Rider Magazine. He’s been with TransWorld from our very start, back in 2000. RT rode the Honda – and the other four 250s – hard and put each of them through their paces.
Ed Guajardo (left) is the man behind the amazing Zaca Station MX facility. Here, Fast Eddie chats it up with Pat Foster’s dad, Ralph, and his pal, Dennis Vetter.
Legend has it that Ralph Foster is a terror on the High Sierra trails near the Fosters’ Bishop home. Ralph has a dialed-in 2009 CRF450R.
For comparison’s sake, we keep track of each test rider’s lap times with the help of X Racing’s Craig Davis. While lap times are interesting to compare from bike to bike, variables like track conditions and rider fatigue play a large-enough role to keep the times from meaning too much. Still, we spotted RT using some creative lines to ensure some respectable lap times. Sorry, Rich, but you’re busted!
Kawasaki’s Greg “Smitty” Lasiewski and Ryan Collins kept our KX250F and KX450F purring throughout the two-day shootout.
The KX450F packs a big punch right off the bottom and continues to pull hard throughout the rpm range. Kyle Puerner puts the Kawi’s big power to good use in one of Zaca’s looser corners.
After prepping the track to perfection for us, Ed Guajardo pulled his personal KX450F out of the trailer and enjoys the fruits of his labor.
Lutes takes to the skies as he does his best Twitch impersonation.
Kawasaki also had former Women’s Motocross Association Champion Tania Satchwell on hand for support. Satchwell suffered a broken back a few years ago, but she still hauls on a MX track. With some training, we’re betting she could still crack the top five at a WMX National.
A certified riding instructor, Satchwell volunteered to give some riding pointers to our Video Editor, Mike “D.O.C.” Wood. By the end of the day, Mike was catching some air on the vet track and ripping some of the corners, too!
Kawasaki had a huge fleet of bikes on hand at Zaca, including Jeff Emig’s Team Mona Vie KX250F.
The 2011 Kawasaki KX250F was praised for it’s meaty powerband, but many testers – including Rich Taylor – had mized feelings about the new Showa forks.
The Kawasaki support rig is deluxe.
After missing last year’s shootouts due to late bike release dates, Suzuki was back in full force for the 2011 comparisons.
The 2011 Suzuki RM-Z450 is the quietest bike in the 450 class, but it still boasts an impressive powerband. Brendan Lutes was impressed with the bike in all areas.
Pat Alexander has held down many different roles at American Suzuki: everything from race team mechanic to race team manager. We’re stoked to work with him in the media relations capacity he now holds down.
Elevation changes are what makes the Zaca Station track so unique. Pro tester Ryan Beat flicks it over the tabletop that awaits riders at the very top of the track’s largest uphill.
Rich Taylor hits the step-up that precedes the top tabletop. Not a bad whip for an old man!
Had it been released in time, many testers feel that the RM-Z250 would have won the 2010 250 Shootout. Is it still good enough to win the 2011 version?You’ll have to wait for the January issue to find out! John Elton, pictured here, knows the answer, though…
Suzuki techs Kevin and Tool Time Tim help set the sag for Pat Foster, just before he goes out for one of his 43 motos.
Tim Olson and the Yamaha support crew were out for the shootouts.
Tim Olson and Pat Biolsi kept our YZFs purring all day. They also had some of the best between-moto snacks.
Tim Olson managed to spin some laps on both days of our test, after all of our test riders had been taken care of. Olson is arguably the fastest media rep at a manufacturer.
RJ Wageman is the son of former top SoCal pro racer Russ Wageman, who now owns and operated Pit Pro in the Santa Clarita Valley. RJ was our intermediate tester in the 250 comparison.
Having spent much of 2010 riding and racing a ’10 Yamaha YZ450F, Pat Foster looked right at home aboard the ’11 YZ450F
We invited our friend Mark Toguchi to come out and enjoy the track days with us. Yamaha’s Olson was amazed that the SoCal Old Timer already had over 80 hours logged on his ’10 YZ450F. The “Toe Show” was stoked when Olson offered to program his EFI mapping for him.
Toguchi was amazed at how much tuning could be accomplished with the Yamaha EFI mapping tool, and reported that his new setting made more of a difference for him that an aftermarket exhaust did.
Both days of our shootout at Zaca offered two distinctly different track conditions to test in. It was pouring rain in SoCal, the skies were overcast in Los Olivos, but never let go. On Wednesday, fearing rain, the track crew didn’t add any extra moisture to the track. The result was a rough, dry course that really forced the riders to choose lines carefully. For day two, Ed Guajardo ripped the track deep and watered it well, producing a rutted, tacky track to test on. Not surprisingly, the bikes worked very differently in the varying conditions, providing a good opportunity for our testers to gain a well-rounded impression of each bike.
Fox Racing’s Warren Johnson.
FOF (Friend of Foster) Dennis Vetter spun a ton of laps at Zaca.
Our buddy Eric Sherman made the four-hour drive to Zaca to join in on the fun.
Our newest member of the TWMX test crew, Nick Paluzzi, fell victim to the marker-on-the-helmet-cheekpads trick, and found that he had big blue circles on his cheeks after a long moto. Sadly, he was able to hide his face before we could document it!
The 2011 250 and 450 Shootouts will be published in the January issue of TransWorld Motocross. Until then, check out www.zacastationmx.com and plan your next riding trip! It’s worth the drive!