Monday Kickstart: U.S. Open

The U.S. Open Pro Circuit 125cc class marked the race debut of several new 250cc four-strokes, most notably the Suzuki RM-Z250, Kawasaki KX250F and the Honda CRF250F. Almost unbelievably, Motosport Outlet rider Tiger Lacey fielded the only full-sized Kawasaki in either of the big-bike classes, racing a KX250F borrowed from Joe Gomez of Gomez Racing, along with some Enzo Racing suspension from Ross Maeda. Though Lacey will contest a CRF in next year’s SX series with Team Motosport Outlet Honda, but he wanted to take a race spin on the green thumper. Unfortunately, bad luck and crashes kept the speedy privateer out of both Friday and Saturday night’s main events.

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There were a several Suzuki RM-Z250s in the 125cc class, piloted by (among others) Team MotoworldRacing.com’s Steve Boniface, Team ECC’s Evan Laughridge, and Sobe Suzuki’s Broc Hepler. Boniface’s RM-Z was equipped with a prototype Bill’s Pipes exhaust system, and the bike looked plenty fast. Close inspection of Hepler’s RM-Z revealed larger-capacity radiators, which had been lengthened by a couple inches. To further increase cooling, the radiator louvers were drilled out to the max. Hmmm… wonder if the Suzuki has tried Dave Kimmey’s Engine Ice?

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Team Amsoil/Chaparral/Factory Connection/Honda’s Christopher Gosselaar had the honor of debuting the Honda CRF250R, and gave the bike a spectacular first showing by spanking the competition on the first night of racing. “The bike is so easy to ride,” he told us. “There are things that I can do on this bike that I can’t even come close to clearing on my full-race CR125R. This bike is basically stock with suspension mods and a Pro Circuit pipe!” Lil’ Goose reports that though the bike rips in stock form, the PC exhaust gave it unreal bottom-end and mid-range.

If you look closely at that above photo of Chris Gosselaar’s CRF250R, you might notice that it looks pretty traditional for Li’l Goose, who has been known to run some of the lowest handlebar and cut-down seat foam combos around. “They want me to start out with a stock set-up,” said Goose. “I have to admit that it feels pretty good, too!”

Timmy Weigand of the Chuck Franklin/Racer’s Edge team also competed aboard a 2004 Honda CRF250R, provided by MXracer Magazine. Though Timmy looked impressive, his results were not up to his personal par.

The Honda CR250R of Ricky Carmichael had an external solenoid affixed to the cylinder’s electronic powervalve cover. Apparently, the device was part of an elaborate data acquisition system, which monitors throttle position throughout the moto. Ever listen to one of your buddies talk about how he was “wide open” in a certain section? Well, systems like this usually show that riders are rarely wide open, if ever. But what about RC? According to Ernesto Fonseca’s mechanic Kenny Germain, the race team was shocked to find at one of their outdoor tests, RC was wide open an unbelievable 98% of the time!

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It was good to see Casey Lytle competing at the U.S. Open in the Pro Circuit 125cc class. Last year, Lytle contested much of the 250cc Supercross series aboard a ReMax-sponsored privateer Yamaha. Since then, Lytle has landed a full-time testing gig with the Red Bull/KTM squad, and he’been invaluable in helping them set up the team’s race bikes. As a thank you, the team brought along a factory KTM 125SX for Lytle to race in Las Vegas. Decked out with his new national number 55, Lytle looked a heck of a lot like last year’s team rider, Steve Boniface. Unfortunately, bad starts kept him out of the main on Friday, and a hairy crash with Kelly Smith while leading his heat race on Saturday kept him out of that night’s main, as well. Nonetheless, it was great to see our buddy Casey out there ripping it up.

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And speaking of Casey Lytle, the Valencia, California, rider rode Friday’s practice sessions decked out in some borrowed Alpinestars riding gear. (Check the cool Sharpie marker mods, complemented by a cut-out number plate background!) Fortunately, Bob Rathcamp from Sinisalo—Lytle’s long-time sponsor—showed up before the main event with a set of ’04 Sinisalo duds for Lytle to wear.

Ezra’s little brother Shane Lusk was one stressed-out Georgian on Friday. His Honda CR125R was scheduled to show up early Thursday afternoon, but it barely made it in time for him to get in two laps of practice on Friday. All things considered, the young Lusk looked good even though he failed top qualify on either night.

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Team Red Bull/KTM showed up at Las Vegas with some trick European lift stands. Used by most of the GP mechanics, the stands are powered by a foot-operated hydraulic jack. “They are marvelous,” said Andrew Langston. “They are really great when you are doing a top end or taking the suspension off. It kills your back, bending over to work on a bike all day.” Langston also added that he and his brother—Grant’s dad—considering importing the stands, but because of their weight they would have to carry a price tag of nearly $500! Ouch!

Speaking of the Langstons, Cool Grant gave his new permanent number eight its race debut on Friday aboard a very trick KTM 250SX. “The bike is a lot better than last year’s,” said Langston. “At this point in the game, I like it a lot more than last year’s race bike.” Still, we must admit that Langston appeared to struggle each time he attacked the whoop section inside the Grand Garden Arena, as the bike’s rear end appeared to do something different on each lap. Ultimately, it was the whoops that brought an end to Cool G’s weekend. After finishing a respectable seventh on Friday, Grant crashed several times during practice on Saturday and elected to sit out the event with an extremely sore shoulder.

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Grant’s works KTM 250SX was decked out with some of the trickest forks we’ve ever seen. The 52mm WP fork that graced the front of the number eight bike were simply massive, and word in the pits is that the titanium nitride coated lower fork tubes are so valuable, that these extra-coverage fork guards were built just to protect them from dings. And as if the size of the fork legs didn’t provide enough rigidity alone, the front axle was a whopping 35mm thick!

Numerous television crews were spotted throughout the weekend at the U.S. Open. Cooley spotted this Chad Reed impersonator taking some laps on Skippy’s bike wearing this quite stylish Bieffe open faced helmet—complete with helmet cam—after the afternoon practice sessions were done. Later, he again spotted someone else riding Reed’s bike, but this time it was FMX hero Trevor Vines. Cooley became even more suspicious when he spotted a chimpanzee being carried through the pits, wearing a Thor jersey, followed closely by former mulleteer Lorenzo Lamas, so he began to ask questions.

Apparently, Tag Entertainment, the same company that is producing Supercross the Movie, was on hand filming another movie, this one dubbed Motocross Kids. Once again, it is Alana Austin playing the lead character, but this time she is joined by Lorenzo Lamas of “Are You Hot,” “Renegade” and “Falcon Crest” fame. In the film, Alana’s character’s name is Callie Reed, which would explain the Chad Reed bike and gear. One thing that puzzled us, however, was the chimpanzee that we spotted being carried around, wearing Thor riding gear.

Reports about the motocross monkey were mixed, but from what we understand, he is a fierce competitor on the track in the movie script. Hell, the crowd in the Grand Garden Arena was even asked to clap and cheer for Cody the monkey during one of the lulls in the event’s program, which leads us to believe that the chimp is going to be an actual racer in the film. Now, we don’t know about you, but we can’t help but recall the old episode of Cheers, in which the fellas at the bar argue that one another’s jobs are so easy, that they could be performed by a monkey! Sure, motocross is blowing up and gaining a ton of mainstream attention, but when Hollywood starts making movies about monkeys winning Supercrosses, we have to sound the baloney and cheese alarm.

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And what about Lorenzo Lamas? We’ve enjoyed watching him judge painfully vain men and women in the recent reality show Are You Hot? on television, but c’mon, what sort of credibility does the Renegade bring to a motocross movie? Well, we must admit that David Hasselhoff would have been a worse choice. When Swap caught wind of Lamas’ presence in the pits, he urged TWMX‘s resident heartthrob Garth, to go ask for his Are You Hot? rating!

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Alas, Big Girth would have none of it, and there was no convincing him that he should approach Lamas for his opinion of his stunning good looks. That said, we’ve decided to predict what Mr. Lorenzo would have said… “Garth, you have that all-American, apple pie look, but with a dash of ruggedness thrown in for good measure. Your hairstyle is unconventional and shows that you are not too concerned with your stunning facial features, yet its lack of maintenance is not enough to disguise your true charm. Garth, you are one hot guy. I would do you. I’ll give you a 9.”

All jokes aside, Swap did want to catch up with Lorenzo Lamas for a quick interview, but was never able to find the elusive Hollywood star. Perhaps he’s a reader of Monday Kickstart, though! If you’re reading this, Mr. Lamas, how about e-mailing in your answers to these questions to donn.maeda@time4.com.

  1. We were impressed when we saw you jump over those cars on that celebrity stunt show, but quite disappointed when you threw it away trying to do a celebratory wheelie. Were you more stoked about making the jump, or more embarrassed about your loop out/brodie combo?
  2. Who is faster on a dirt bike; you or Fabio?
  3. How many of the chicks on Are You Hot? tried to sway a better rating out of you with sexual favors?
  4. How many of the dudes on Are You Hot? tried to sway a better rating out of you with sexual favors?
  5. Who is hotter; Ricky or Chad?
  6. When your co-star the monkey blows a scene, does he get spanked?
  7. Will you come riding with us?

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The guys at N-Style tried to convince defending U.S. Open champion Mike LaRocco to run a big, fat number one on the front of his Honda CR250R, but the Rock was having none of it. Instead, they concocted this special gold number five for LaRocco to run, full Las Vegas bling-bling style! We like it!

Though LaRocco didn’t have any matching gold jewelry, he did surprise us with a golden-locked mullet wig, which he wore gladly during his television pre-race interviews. For us, it was déjà  vu… If he’d had on some Suzuki MSR racing gear, we would have sworn we were in a time warp!

Travis Pastrana unthis time she is joined by Lorenzo Lamas of “Are You Hot,” “Renegade” and “Falcon Crest” fame. In the film, Alana’s character’s name is Callie Reed, which would explain the Chad Reed bike and gear. One thing that puzzled us, however, was the chimpanzee that we spotted being carried around, wearing Thor riding gear.

Reports about the motocross monkey were mixed, but from what we understand, he is a fierce competitor on the track in the movie script. Hell, the crowd in the Grand Garden Arena was even asked to clap and cheer for Cody the monkey during one of the lulls in the event’s program, which leads us to believe that the chimp is going to be an actual racer in the film. Now, we don’t know about you, but we can’t help but recall the old episode of Cheers, in which the fellas at the bar argue that one another’s jobs are so easy, that they could be performed by a monkey! Sure, motocross is blowing up and gaining a ton of mainstream attention, but when Hollywood starts making movies about monkeys winning Supercrosses, we have to sound the baloney and cheese alarm.

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And what about Lorenzo Lamas? We’ve enjoyed watching him judge painfully vain men and women in the recent reality show Are You Hot? on television, but c’mon, what sort of credibility does the Renegade bring to a motocross movie? Well, we must admit that David Hasselhoff would have been a worse choice. When Swap caught wind of Lamas’ presence in the pits, he urged TWMX‘s resident heartthrob Garth, to go ask for his Are You Hot? rating!

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Alas, Big Girth would have none of it, and there was no convincing him that he should approach Lamas for his opinion of his stunning good looks. That said, we’ve decided to predict what Mr. Lorenzo would have said… “Garth, you have that all-American, apple pie look, but with a dash of ruggedness thrown in for good measure. Your hairstyle is unconventional and shows that you are not too concerned with your stunning facial features, yet its lack of maintenance is not enough to disguise your true charm. Garth, you are one hot guy. I would do you. I’ll give you a 9.”

All jokes aside, Swap did want to catch up with Lorenzo Lamas for a quick interview, but was never able to find the elusive Hollywood star. Perhaps he’s a reader of Monday Kickstart, though! If you’re reading this, Mr. Lamas, how about e-mailing in your answers to these questions to donn.maeda@time4.com.

  1. We were impressed when we saw you jump over those cars on that celebrity stunt show, but quite disappointed when you threw it away trying to do a celebratory wheelie. Were you more stoked about making the jump, or more embarrassed about your loop out/brodie combo?
  2. Who is faster on a dirt bike; you or Fabio?
  3. How many of the chicks on Are You Hot? tried to sway a better rating out of you with sexual favors?
  4. How many of the dudes on Are You Hot? tried to sway a better rating out of you with sexual favors?
  5. Who is hotter; Ricky or Chad?
  6. When your co-star the monkey blows a scene, does he get spanked?
  7. Will you come riding with us?

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The guys at N-Style tried to convince defending U.S. Open champion Mike LaRocco to run a big, fat number one on the front of his Honda CR250R, but the Rock was having none of it. Instead, they concocted this special gold number five for LaRocco to run, full Las Vegas bling-bling style! We like it!

Though LaRocco didn’t have any matching gold jewelry, he did surprise us with a golden-locked mullet wig, which he wore gladly during his television pre-race interviews. For us, it was déjà  vu… If he’d had on some Suzuki MSR racing gear, we would have sworn we were in a time warp!

Travis Pastrana underwent knee surgery to repair the damage he’s been nursing for a couple months now, and he is reported to be doing exceptionally well.

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Our good buddy Bob Barnett, aka Mr. Dirt, was strolling through the pits pimping the latest version of his Axis Perch, which features a breakaway pivot built into it. In the event of a crash, the entire perch can pop out of its fixed setting and rotate on the handlebar, thus saving the perch and lever from crash damage. We’re already huge fans of Mr. Dirt’s folding ARC levers, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one of these babies to test it out!

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Apparently, Boost Mobile/Yamaha/Troy Racing boss Phil Alderton was impressed enough with the Axis Perch to agree to run them on all the team race bikes in 2004. Check out Mr. Dirt’s web site at www.arclevers.com.

After winning the first moto of the 85cc class at the U.S. Open in convincing fashion, Team Honda’s Jeff Alessi suffered some serious injuries while battling for the lead in the second moto. Alessi either over-jumped the double portion of the triple jump or severely cased the triple, depending on who you speak with. The X-rays and MRI confirm that he broke his right fibia and tibia, shattered his right heel and broke the T12 and L1 vertebrae in his back. He will require three separate surgeries; one for his leg, one for his heel and one for his back. Jeff will undergo back surgery on Monday, October 13. This is a surgery that will require removing the broken vertebrae and replacing it with titanium, also known as “infusing” the back. According to doctors, the surgery will take about five hours and rehabilitation will take four to six months. Doctors feel that this is a very critical and necessary surgery in order to get Jeff back to racing. He is expected to make a full recovery.

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The number of four-strokes was astounding at the U.S. Open, especially in the Pro Circuit 125cc class. Regarding this phenomena, RC had the quote of the weekend: “Pretty soon, they’ll have to start holding Two-Stroke Nationals!” When questioned about the chances of him really racing a Honda CRF450R in next year’s 250cc Nationals, RC maintained that it is a definite possibility.

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We spotted this fax pinned up on the bulletin board inside the Boost Mobile/Yamaha/Troy Racing semi… Apparently, new team rider Mike Brown was officially released from his Kawasaki contract only days before the U.S. Open. Seeing Brownie inside the YoT semi gave us a sensation of deja vu, as this is now the third time he has ridden for the Ohio-based squad. Brown was previously a two-time member of the Honda of Troy team. “It feels great to be back,” said Brown. “I had never ridden a four-stroke bike before the YZ250F, and I can’t believe how great it is. All I can say, is that I will be pulling some holeshots in 2004.”

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Now one from the “please humor us” department: Internet bandit and loyal TransWorld Motocross contributor Steve Bauer is a good friend, but Swap has argued with him repeatedly over his frequent use of the bandana. The first time we saw SDB sporting a bandana was at the track, as he used a fancy red bandana to customize the fit of his motocross helmet. Since Swap once wore a red bandana around his neck in an attempt to emulate Rick Johnson, he let Bauer’s fashion faux-pas slide. The next time we saw the offensive scrap of material, it was lying on the passenger seat of Bauer’s new Dodge truck. At the time, it was obvious that he had removed it only seconds before rolling down his window to converse with Swap. It was at this moment that SDB was confronted about the fashion accessory. Laughs were exchanged, and we believed the bandana to have been abolished forever, unt