The Glen Helen USGP was a little bit of a controversial race as it rose from the ashes of the inability of MX Sports and the track to come together on an agreement to keep the long running AMA national there. Once those talks fell apart (and for more on that, just Google "Mx internet boards exploding") the Glen Helen people quickly picked up a round of the FIM World Championships to replace the AMA race and the newly minted Glen Helen USGP replaced the British GP.
So there really wasn't much time for riders, teams and for that matter the fans to soak everything in and figure out if they wanted to go to the USGP. And it seemed that the major teams/riders didn't want to race a race that meant nothing to them and that they would have to do some testing for in terms of having the right fuel/sound combinations. So in the end, we had Mike Alessi (KTM is so huge and successful in Europe that there was no way Mike was getting out of this one), the Motoconcepts Yamaha guys, a British kid (Max Anstie), a out of retirement ex-racer (Ryan Hughes), an off-roader (Ricky Dietrich) and a guy whose team just fell apart and he showed up in a pick-up (Grant Langston).
It certainly was far from "The Race of the Century" as some were billing it as but the Glen Helen track was done up in all its glory. The massive jumps and even more massive hills were ready for the GP riders and this was round six for those guys. Remember they are in a fierce battle themselves for the titles as going into Glen Helen defending champions "Movin" Marvin Musquin had a pretty big 26-point lead on Ken Roczen but Antonio Cairoli had just a 16-point advantage on his teammate Max Nagl.
I had asked Donn Maeda to get me on the TWMX staff list for press credentials and I fully expected to be able to cover the race for this site as well as Pulpmx but it seems that Youthstream (the GP promoters) weren't very excited to give me a pass to cover the race. They denied me a press pass and it didn't exactly make sense to me why they would do that.
I had just put up a podcast with GP reporter Geoff Meyer promoting this race and the GP season, I've done podcasts with Stefan Everts, Josh Coppins and David Thorpe among others talking about the GPs, I went to the German GP last year (spending a fair amount of my own money along the way), covered two MXDN's over there and am definitely doing my share of talking about the GP's (especially when compared to my peers.)
So I put in a call to Mario Marini who works for Youthstream over here in America and was in charge of American media credentials. He stressed that it wasn't him who denied m,e but he couldn't tell me who it was or what I did to get denied a pass. I tried to plead my case but he said that, "I shouldn't make a big deal out of this, that I should come and be respectful of the GPs and learn about them." So I hung up the phone even more confused because, as stated above, wasn't I doing that exact same thing with my columns and podcasts? (and with me talking and Twittering about it, I imagine there goes my Lommel GP credential later this year.)
What was funny was Mario telling me that "they" don't do it the American way, they don't get all mad and yell and scream about something that was written about them that they don't like. To which I replied that Davey Coombs (my old editor at Racer X and MX Sports big-wig) and Dave Prater (the director of supercross) have both gotten really mad at me before and yelled at me for something that I've written, but you know what? They've never denied me a pass to cover one of their races (and with that said, there went my 2010 MXDN credential.)
I have yet to find TWMX editor Donn Maeda's angry place but it's still early. I'm sure I’ll discover it at some point.
Hmmmm, something was definitely amiss here but whatever, I still wanted to go and see the GP riders so I got on the internet and purchased some tickets for the race. $70 bucks for general admission (that's a little steep in my opinion, more on that later), $30 for a pit pass (which was sold to me as a two-day pass but I could've driven a Panzer tank into the pits on Saturday as no one was checking for anything), and $10 bucks each day for parking in the "B" lot (but when I got there on Saturday, they told me that they took the Saturday option down and I didn't need to pay for it but no refund was offered). So all told, after service fees, I was into the USGP for $130.00! Like I said, I'm a fan!
Under the cover of the press tent (of course this was outside because I was not allowed in) a foreign journalist (all names withheld to protect future GP banishment) pulled me aside and mentioned that there was a call put in to my Monday night Pulpmx Show by a guy who calls himself "Guiseppe Louongo" (the owner of Youthstream) and that was the main reason for my denial of a press pass. I don't set this call up, the dude calls in and makes me laugh like crazy. It's some kook out there in internet land and I suppose I could cut him off but like I said, he makes all of us laugh. But "Guiseppe" is actually very pro-Youthstream and makes fun of the American riders and promoters and makes the point (over and over) that YS is coming to take over American motocross. So I suppose the American sense of humor is lost in translation.
Another reason that this hero...err, journalist told me for the denial was some things that I have written for the Italian Motocross Magazine about the USGP but I'm not really sure what exactly it was. I did an interview with Davey Coombs because my editor asked me to where DC laid out MX Sports decision behind the cancellation of the Glen Helen National whilst an email to the Glen Helen people went unanswered. I have stated many times (and I'll stand by it) that Glen Helen was a different race than the other eleven rounds of the AMA nationals and I understand MX Sports' wanting certain things from Glen Helen and when Glen Helen balked, it was all over.They obviously felt I wasn't preaching the USGP gospel enough and that they would teach me a lesson.
I stand behind my column over on Pulpmx.com (http://www.pulpmx.com/content/mxas-gone-wacky) where I take a stand on some comically bad writing by MXA about the GP. Look, we all have biases somewhere along the line (for example, I like Tim Ferry. A lot) but for a magazine who has spent a decade bashing the GP's and everything that they stand for (in the past year, before the USGP was announced they had run a grand total of two GP stories in the past year. And they were both stories by Chuck Sun about racing the Vet races) to write this story was amazing and if I ever write something so dumb, I hope all you people write me to tell me to step in front of a train immediately.
And there went next year's USGP credential and the 2013 MXDN at Glen Helen credential as well!
So that's it, I've laid it all out there on the good, the bad and the ugly about me not getting a press pass and that's 945 words that didn't need to be written and isn't about the event itself so let's get cracking at that shall we?
Antonio Cairoli is a bad-ass. This I already knew from going over there and seeing the guy but what he did this weekend was incredible. On a strange track with the odds stacked against him he went out and battled Mike Alessi in the first moto before waving the #800 by because his shifter fell off. He was stuck in third gear and once he realized that he could still jump everything in third, got back on it and passed Alessi back for the first moto win. I'm sure there were some fans there that were maybe thinking they wanted to see some Euros get their asses handed to them and for them to retreat back across the Atlantic but how could you not be impressed with the 222?
Second moto out (in the heat of the Helen, up to that point the hottest the GP guys had experienced was 65 degrees so the 90+ temps on Sunday had to drain them) he rode hard the whole way to third place and the overall on the day. Combine that with his challenger Nagl's bad luck in DNF'ing the second moto and it opened up some substantial breathing room for Antonio.
Ben Townley came out because if there's any one rider out there that needs to be racing its BT101. Townley has been cursed with bad luck ever since finishing runner-up to Ryan Villopoto in the 250 nationals in 2007. Ben made his debut at Hangtown and was pretty good for being off the couch for so long, he got a little tired, he stalled it and had a crash but to be top five speed after so much time off was nothing to be mad about.
At Glen Helen he was charging hard in the first moto and all over Alessi when they came together and it left Ben on the ground. A couple crashes later, he pulled it in with a damaged header pipe. I didn't see it and can't really say if it was dirty or just a racing incident but I think we know what side Ben felt it fell on when he pulled in front of Alessi on the parade lap and roosted the poop out of him.
Anyways, BT101 grabbed the second moto holeshot and took off for the wire to wire victory. It was quite an impressive display of riding ability and signaled that Townley is almost all the way back to where he once was. Great ride and this has to help his confidence no matter who was there or not.
In my eyes (and many others) Mike Alessi was going to go 1-1 at the GP and show everyone what was up. He's always gone great at Glen Helen and he certainly showed at Hangtown that his speed is as good as it's ever been. And he tailed Cairoli the whole first moto (briefly leading) and was right on him at the end. Ok, so he'll go 2-1 on the day I thought but in the second moto, Mike couldn't get it going and languished outside the top three the whole race. His fourth in the second moto was a bit of a shock (as was Clement "The MX Panda" DeSalle's third and BT's runaway victory) but he was right there the whole day and his 2-4 was good enough for second so it's not like the sky is falling for Mike and crew. He mentioned to me afterwards that his hands were beat up and that the longer-than-USA-motos (35+2 instead of 30+2) left him running low on fuel in the second race.
Marvin Musquin is a bad-ass. He decimated the competition in the MX2 class in going 1-1 and pulling out a massive lead in the series. I didn't see him make a mistake all day and he was simply on point on this day. Man, between Marvin, the KTM 1-2-3 sweep in the first MX1 moto, Jeffery Herlings and others, it looked like a KTM advertisement a good part of the day. The 250F's look very, very fast as well.
Look for Marvin on the line next year over here, he's not going to make the mistake that Stefan Everts did (his words, not mine) and miss his window to come to America, the land of big money, In N Out Burger and 24-hr grocery stores.
The second place rider was Zach Osborne, who's American but rides the GPs full-time. The Snack-Attack has just turned into the Zach-Attack and he scored a season best second place with some great rides. Weird that Osborne, who hails from Virginia and isn't a GH regular or anything like that, raised his game from his usual 5th to 10th place finishes into a second. He rode great all day and was on it and his bike looked pretty good as well. He was also the winner of the Marty Moates Cup, a cool idea from Glen Helen in where the top placing American is given a cash prize of $5000.00 in honor of the first man to win a USGP. Getting money after a race for his efforts must have been weird for Zach as the GPs don't pay any purse money.
I spoke to Osborne on this very topic on Saturday and he wanted me to quote him on the fact that the SX promoters seem to be making a ton of money and the purse money given out doesn't represent enough of a chunk of the profits. He said that it may as well be nothing if it's going to be so little. So clearly Zach is ok with this arrangement, I'm not sure I agree but he wanted to be quoted and I said I would do just that.
What of the rest of the Americans? Well the Motoconcepts Yamaha guys busted out their practice bikes for the race and had some mechanicals along the way. The best placing rider was Travis Baker with a surprising sixth in the first moto. T-Bakes rode great but his second moto wasn't the greatest as he got roosted with some rocks and his goggle lens popped out forcing him into the pits. Kyle Chisholm had some electrical problems on Saturday in the qualifier which forced him to have the last gate pick. The Chiz did the best he could do in going 9-11 for a top ten finish. Ryan Sipes didn't have a good weekend and didn't even line up for the second moto and it's safe to say that when he retires, he's not going to bring the family to Glen Helen for a riding vacation. Vince Friese went 20-14, Ricky Dietrich struggled all day, Justin Soule (an off-road guy) scored some points, Ryan Hughes wasn't nearly as good as I thought he'd be and was way back and Bobby Garrison scored some points on his Husky (he was probably right at home out there with the Aprillas, TM's and whatnot.)
And that's the thing with this race, I fully expected that the fast GP racers would be fast and do well. After all, speed is speed anywhere in the world but what I did expect was guys like Dietrich, Hughes, Sipes, Chisholm and Langston to all fill in the bottom half of the top ten and they didn't. I just thought that the Euros, in coming across the ocean, riding in the heat, dealing with Glen Helen and all its Glen Helen-isms and everything else that the SoCal crew would be in there but kudos to guys like David Guarani, Xavier Boog and Ken De Dycker as not only would they win a "Weirdo Names in America" contest but they haul ass whether it be Glen Helen, California or Lommel, Belgium.
Anyone who reads my ramblings over on directmotocross.com (Canadian Mx's number one place for all things moto) would know that I constantly rail on the CMRC and their scoring system. They are using a company that doesn't record placing, only points scored so if you don't go to the race, you have no idea if a guy DNS or another guy fell in the first turn and came all the way from dead last to get 21st. They're the same according to the scoring sheets. Which is a big fat zero. So anyways, here are the results from the USGP and yep, the same system is used. The CMRC and Youthstream, buddies forever. You actually have no idea how close that really is...
1 1 Musquin, Marvin FRA FFM KTM25 25 50
2 338 Osborne, Zach USA AMA Yamaha 18 22 40
3 183 Frossard, Steven FRA FFM Kawasaki 22 18 40– I was impressed with Frossard for sure. He was good.
4 94 Roczen, Ken GER DMSB Suzuki 20 16 36– I didn't see the same Roczen that I saw last year in Germany but he's still the real deal.
5 11 Simpson, Shaun GBR MCUI KTM 12 20 32– And Simpson was much better than I thought he'd be. This guy has been cursed with injuries for so long now, it's good to see him back and fast.
6 89 van Horebeek, Jeremy BEL FMB Kawasaki 16 13 29
7 45 Nicholls, Jake GBR ACU KTM 11 14 25
8 23 Tonus, Arnaud SUI FMS Suzuki 14 10 24
9 335 Verbruggen, Dennis BEL FMB KTM 7 15 22
10 21 Paulin, Gautier FRA MCM Yamaha 10 12 22
11 34 Roelants, Joel BEL FMB KTM 8 8 16
12 91 Karro, Matiss LAT LAMSF Suzuki 6 9 15
13 585 Baker, Travis USA AMA Yamaha 15 0 15
14 111 Herlings, Jeffrey NED KNMV KTM 13 0 13– I wasn't as impressed with Herlings like a lot of my Euro buddies were but I'm sure he just had an off-weekend.
15 151 Kullas, Harri FIN SML Yamaha 0 11 11
16 77 Lupino, Alessandro ITA FMI Yamaha 5 6 11
17 148 Anstie, Max GBR AMA Yamaha 4 5 9– Max "a Million" was flying on Saturday during the qualis but didn't have the same luck on raceday.
18 37 Teillet, Valentin FRA FFM KTM 9 0 9
19 61 Friese, Vince USA AMA Yamaha 1 7 8
20 613 Decotis, James USA AMA Honda 3 3 6
21 628 Rossi, Joey USA AMA Kawasaki 0 4 4
22 19 Smitka, Petr CZE ACCR KTM 2 2 4
23 166 Tedder, Dakota USA AMA Kawasaki 0 1 1
24 871 Minor, Jared USA AMA Honda 0 0 0
25 133Tedder, Myles USA AMA Kawasaki 0 0 0
26 860 Cottrell, James GBR ACU Suzuki 0 0 0
27 339 Thacker, Michael USA AMA Honda0 0 0
28 170 Leib, Michael USA AMA Kawasaki 0 0 0
*Only 28 riders in the MX2 class? Ouch.*
1 222 Cairoli, Antonio ITA FMI KTM 25 20 45
2 800 Alessi, Mike USA AMA KTM 22 18 40
3 25 Desalle, Clement BEL FMB Suzuki 16 22 38– The MX Panda was hungry and he fed on some fresh American bamboo in the second moto.
4 121 Boog, Xavier FRA FFM Kawasaki 15 16 31
5 11 Ramon, Steve BEL FMB Suzuki 14 15 29
6 9 de Dycker, Ken BEL FMB Yamaha 18 11 29
7 39 Guarneri, Davide ITA FMI Honda 13 14 27
8 101 Townley, Ben NZL MNZ Honda 0 25 25
9 55 Chisolm, Kyle USA AMA Yamaha 11 9 20
10 2 Nagl, Maximilian GER DMSB KTM 20 0 20– Nagl crashed out in the second moto but in the first, his fitness was impressive as he caught up to the top two guys and was right there at the finish. Stefan Everts told me that Max wants to try the 350 again after initially deciding to stick with the 450.
11 4 Strijbos, Kevin BEL FMB Suzuki 8 8 16– Good to see Stijbos back near the front, I can still remember when he gave Van de Berk a run there in the mid-80's. What? It's not the same guy? I'm kidding.
12 22 Goncalves, Rui POR FMP KTM 5 10 15
13 10 Boissiere, Anthony FRA FFM TM 0 13 13– "Pass the" Boissiere was top TM on the day!
14 331 Aubin, Nicolas FRA FFM Kawasaki 6 7 13
15 19 Philippaerts, David ITA FMI Yamaha 10 3 13
16 6 Coppins, Joshua NZL MNZ Aprilia 0 12 12
17 88Langston, Grant RSA AMA Yamaha 12 0 12
18 52 Walkner, Matthias AUT OeAMTC KTM 3 6 9
19 777 Bobryshev, Evgeny RUS MFR Honda 9 0 9– This Ruskie is top ten in the standings right now and I was looking forward to seeing him but his speed was caught in customs.
20 8 Swanepoel, Gareth RSA ACU Honda 7 0 7
21 120 Soubeyras, Cedric FRA FFM KTM 1 5 6
22 928 Garrison, Bobby USA AMA Husqvarna 0 4 4
23 105 Hughes, Ryan USA AMA Honda 4 0 4
24 762 Soule, Justin USA AMA Kawasaki 0 2 2
25 152 Balbi, Antonio BRA AMA Kawasaki 2 0 2
26 75 Wouts, Kevin BEL FMB Kawasaki 0 1 1
27 184 Stapleton, Dennis USA AMA Honda 000– Easy to spot out there with the orange helmet on. But who was the graying older gentlemen waving him on in the back? Crazy Dave? Jimmy Mac? Lovely Louella?
28 74 Steinbergs, Ivo LAT LAMSF Honda 000
29 14 de Reuver, Marc NED MUL Suzuki 000– Marc pretty much just rode around out there, never a fitness freak, he almost fell over a few times because he was going so slow in the corners. I heard that he announced his retirement on the starting line for moto 2. I'm serious.
30 616 Phenix, Kyle USA AMA Yamaha 000
31 40 Leok, Tanel EST EMF Honda 000
32 204 Gassin, David USA AMA Yamaha 000
33 90 Pourcel, Sebastien FRA FFM Kawasaki 000- What in the hell happened to Christophe's brother? From challenging James Stewart at the MXDN (and incurring the wrath of Big James yelling at him after the moto) to now having trouble scoring points at the GP's? Wow, I know he's been injured but man, he's struggling.
34 38 Martens, Yentel BEL MUL KTM 0 0 0
35 46 Sipes, Ryan USA AMA Yamaha 0 0 0
36 139 Dietrich, Richard USA AMA Kawasaki 0 0 0
Grant Langston's team (J-Law Racing) may be falling apart around him but he decided to show up at the USGP to get some practice in and see how he can do. On Saturday he struggled in the qualifiers but told me that his bike was like a sewing machine out there (the GP's have lower DB levels as well as different fuel regulations) and he had no power so for Sunday he put in a piston and a camshaft to help offset the lost power and early on, it was evident that it was better as he ran up front before crashing. Then his body started cramping up and he rode the rest of the moto doing the best he could do. He pulled out early in moto 2 with what I presume was the same problem. Rumors in the pits have Valli Yamaha talking about taking him out for the rest of the nationals.
The crowd on Saturday was really bad, like someone called in a bomb-threat bad. I didn't expect this race to be on par with the AMA national but on Saturday, I was scared about the attendance on Sunday. Luckily for the promoter, the vendors it was better on Sunday not anywhere near the national crowd but still a lot better than Saturday. I'd say that there was 15% of a national crowd there on Sunday and of course, that's highly accurate.
Josh Coppins is one of the sports good guys, he's a friend of mine and is winding down a great career racing the GP's. He's developing a new bike for Aprilla and trying his hardest out there but has had some problems with DNF's recently. He's riding the new 2010 model but said they cannot get the power right in the bike and he's going to be switching back to a 2009 model for this weekend in France. He crashed and lost all his coolant in the first moto but in the second one, he finished a credible ninth. Afterwords in THIS interview I did with him, he mentioned how happy he was for his buddy Townley and how the fans that did show up at Glen Helen were hard-core fans and knew their stuff.
Josh found it funny (as pretty much every person did) that I didn't get a credential for this race but when I mentioned that I wanted to visit the Lommel GP in August he offered to get me a pass as well as let me stay at his house which is nearby! Man, I don't remember ever hearing a rider not named Tim Ferry offering me his house to stay at. You stay classy Coppins.
Myself and many American fans were looking forward to seeing “Top” Jimmy Albertson race as he has gone over there and signed a two year deal with the Martin Honda team. Albertson found some success in the pre-season races and now in the GP’s, he’s been up and down with the recent injury to his shoulder falling in the “down” category. Jimmy tried to ride this weekend but went down hard on a downhill in practice and was forced to sit out the race. A real bummer for Albertson as he was slated to ride Hangtown for the factory guys before hurting his shoulder and now this latest set-back has to be a bummer. Get well soon Jimmy!
I was talking to one of the US Honda guys who was helping out the Honda Europe teams and he expressed some shock that at the set-up that Martin is running when it comes to the engine. He thought that it could be a whole lot better and that he was going to hook Albertson up with the latest stuff the US guys are racing with. Then Albertson came up ten minutes later and mentioned that he thought his bike really needed some more power. So if Jimmy is up front on the starts more once he comes back, you’ll know why!
In what has to be a massive embarrassment to Youthstream, the second MX2 moto had to be red-flagged when the Red Bull finish line arch blew over and landed on some riders. Yes, you heard that right. Ironically enough, it did land on a Monster Energy rider thereby striking a blow for the bull in the never ending bull vs claw fight.
By the way, it was announced that starting next year, the GP's were now going to be a Monster Energy sponsored series. So now a giant claw can fall on a dude. I'm kidding people...
I gotta wrap this thing up, my fingers are going numb but I think that the endless internet arguing over which series is better, which riders are better, whose coffee is better, etc, etc is silly and never to be solved. But what I do like about the GP's is the dedicated wash bays (because if you're a spectator, do you really want to step in muck from a bike being washed or "accidently" get sprayed by a mechanic while you look at a bike?), I like the lower DB levels because you can actually talk to a guy next to you and I like how they run on time in the GP's. Like, the gate drops when they say it's going to. Every. Single. Time.
$70.00 to see a GP in America
$30.00 to see the pits of a GP in America
$20.00 to park my car at a GP in America
$10.00 in fees for being smart and paying ahead of time to see a GP in America
Seeing all the future stars of America before they come here?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat.