And that's a wrap! The Las Vegas supercross came and went this past weekend and it marked the end of the arduous 17 races in 18 weekend's series. We all saw the race live on Saturday night so this SX-season ending column is going to focus on a little bit more off-the-track stuff. Mostly because I can't find any new ways to write "Everyone loves Kevin Windham."
The Vegas race is always a hectic one as there is parties going on, Pulpmx shows to tape and then back this year was the awards banquet on Sunday night. When I didn't live here, it would be a 5 a.m. every morning thing (except when I was a mechanic-then it was 4 a.m.) but since moving here, I'm a loser and end up going home early pretty much all the time.
Not this weekend though. The 25-year-old Steve Matthes was back in a big way! On Friday night I had Swap, Lutes, the Intern, and The Weege from Racer X come by the studio (re: my house) to record a special Pulpmx Las Vegas show. I brought together Transworld Motocross and Racer X in a union of love, affection, adulation, and stories. I was like Dr. Phil only sexier and less annoying. We had a great time doing the show and Lutes spoke a whole bunch more than usual. The Weege admitted that during Lutes' little career bio he gave us, he learned more about Brendan in that five minutes than he had learned in the previous six years of seeing Lutes at the races.
Then Swap regaled us with some stories from his early days at Cycle News and how he once tried to get an orange helmet.
Some guy called in pretending (I hope it wasn't him) to be Guiseppe Luongo which was pretty funny and x-rated all at the same time. Not sure what was wrong with him but we definitely had a laugh at that.
We even called regular co-host Kenny Watson and KW (not the one that everyone loves, the one that most people like strongly but some hate) was in full Saki-bomb mode and the call eventually ended with him calling me an idiot and hanging up on us.
Then on Saturday it was the Supercross followed by a visit to the Hard Rock Hotel to hit up the ultra-special VIP only Monster Energy party. I had managed to secure some coveted passes and dreamed of all the hobnobbing and epic bench race sessions that were no doubt going to go on inside the exclusive party.
Only it wasn't all that exclusive. My wife and I got there about midnight and looked for a special line that would accommodate us but there didn't seem to be one. We waited…and waited…and waited some more before I spotted Eric Johnson who works at Monster and asked him if there was somewhere to go for people with super-cool passes. Turns out there was. It was the line we were just in, so back we went and then, after a little while and after we didn't get any closer to the door and I saw some actual riders having trouble getting in, we bailed.
So my buddy Kenny Watson who works for Carey Hart, the owner of Wasted Space, could certainly get us a pass for that club right? Only he said he was at home chilling out and couldn't help. Then I texted Rockstar/Hart & Huntington rider Matt Boni and asked him what I needed to get into the party and where he was. The reply I got was "A wristband and I'm over it."
Hmmm, this partying down with the stars of Supercross was definitely not going the way I had planned it. So the Circle Bar it was! That was okay but around 2:30 a.m., we called it a night and headed home to the hounds.
On Sunday it was the awards banquet put on by Feld Entertainment at the Hard Rock. For those that don't know the history of this thing, let me recap it for you right here since I started going to them.
1996: Held on a flatbed trailer after the Denver Supercross. Pizza Hut was ordered and the riders got their checks from Roy Jansen. Good times for sure and I remember trying to do the math for that many pizzas bought and impressive that was.
1997: Held at The Joint at the Hard Rock hotel in Las Vegas and was a really good time with an open bar and pretty intimate at that. Add in the cool production, killer loud music, and some ice statues here and there and the amount improved over the previous year? Eight billion percent.
1998-2004: Continued great times at the banquet. Sometimes the bar was open just before the awards, sometimes all night, but no matter what, a massively good time was had by all. Where else can you drink (mostly) for free while getting all your moto heroes to talk shit on each other and tell you the real stories behind the scenes? Plus the ice sculptures were sweet. Bonus points for the inspirational story that was Jimmy Button walking on stage after a terrible accident in 2001.
2005: The banquet moves to the MGM Hotel and the result is just like in years past. That is, if the Hard Rock Banquet had a lobotomy. It’s tamer and loses some intimacy due to the massive room, and after it's all over everyone splits for the casino and being as how the room is so far from the casino, it seems like it's a ghost town in no time.
2006: Back at the MGM and I can't really remember anything from this year. In fact, I can't even remember if it was for sure at the MGM.
2007: The folks at Feld move it to the official hotel of Supercross, Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino and it's a bust. Just like The Fonz when he jumped the sharks (wearing his leather jacket) it was the beginning of the end. The effort was there but the theater style seats, no open bar and a weird vibe made for the worst SX banquet yet. When Ricky Carmichael got up there and gave a 45-minute speech recapping each and every year of his career, there were more groans and held bladders than in the POW camps in Da Nang.
2008: Back at Planet Hollywood and more of the same thing except Chad Reed broke down when talking about his championship. Oh and Jason Weigandt was hired (I use that term loosely) to be the MC and had most people not really "getting" his humor. I helped write some of the jokes and thought it was hilarious but I think it's safe to say that the Supercross community isn't exactly a free thinking, humor filled bunch. My wife was dying with laughter all night, unfortunately she was the only one.
2009: No banquet. The economic crunch was felt by everyone, even the fine folks at Feld. The entire ice-making sculpture community in Las Vegas also feels the cancelation and many go out of business.
So what about 2010? Well it was back at the Hard Rock and the newly renovated The Joint and I would say that it made a comeback worthy of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. The club was hopping, it was an open bar, there was good food (roast beef sliders were delicious), and the presentation clipped along at a nice rate. The Weege dumbed his jokes down, Larry Brooks accepted his award in a white T-shirt, Davi Millsaps gave us all a look into his soul, everyone cheered madly at the word "Windham" (literally), and a good time was had by all. I did notice that there was no state of the union given out by anyone at Feld (maybe after, in 2008, when the CEO of AMP'd Mobile went on about expanding Supercross and how they'll be there to the end only to close the doors a few months later caused some people to hold up on bold proclamations) but the ending video was cool. All in all, it was a fitting night to end a wild and crazy Supercross season.
The 2010 champ, Ryan Dungey, has been taking it a bit easy the last few weeks after clinching his first 450 title and you couldn't really blame him. With the slopfests of Seattle and Salt Lake City, why would anyone want to go out there and risk life and limb to try and win when you've got that title clinched and are facing another great challenge in the form of the 450 motocross champion?
But something about Las Vegas woke up The Dunge. Maybe it was the gambling (doubt it), maybe it was the lights and glitz of Vegas (doubt it) or maybe it was the simple fact that he got tired of people fawning over Kevin Windham and his two-race winning streak. I did a podcast with 27-time Canadian champion Ross Pederson a little while ago and he told me that, despite clinching titles and being the fastest rider around, he could not, just could not, let his competition beat him more than a few times. He said that sure, one win is okay, two wins maybe but he couldn't let his competition start even having the possible inkling of a thought that they were better. He had to, in his words, crush their spirit before it soared.
So maybe that was it for Dungey. Whatever it was, he crushed them on this night. A perfect 20 laps and a nice win for the Suzuki wonder kid. It was his sixth win on the season and put the capper on his year. Great ride, no doubt about it.
Jake Weimer won the 250 west championship a few weeks back but didn't it seem that people maybe didn't give him enough credit? Trey Canard had closed the series up near the end of the first leg of the series and then he jumped to 450's and shot the lights out up there. His east teammate Christophe Pourcel was a champion and is looked at by most everyone as the "next one"…I don't know, it just seemed that people forgot a little bit about little Jake Weimer.
And just like Dungey, Weimer seized control of his race and ran off for the win in another dominating ride. Jake holeshot the main event and checked out on his three teammates who were battling fiercely behind him. With both coasts combined the talent level that Jake had to deal with in winning this race was primo and he showed everyone what was up. On a track that demanded throttle control, precision and yet at the same time, balls of steel (because of the presence of the wide open Thunder Alley out back), Weimer showed that no one should forget about him in regards to the outdoor title or even next year in the 450 class.
The entire Pro Circuit team rode an amazing race and finished 1-2-3-4 on the night. Dean Wilson looked to the second fastest on the night but he made a few mistakes, tightened up and dropped from second to fourth in a lap and a half. Josh Hansen got second (my pick for the win this week) and Christophe Pourcel was third. Great job and congrats to Mitch Payton, Bones, Zack, Aaron, Paul, Kyle, Vincent, Shawn and the truck driver whose name I always forget.
Suspension guru Bones told me after the race that the sweep was solely due to the fact that he debuted brand new fork stickers on the teams bikes. Who knew?
I asked Mitch Payton after the race what he was telling everyone on the radio during the race and he replied "Nobody better knock anyone down."
Hey, guess what? Chad Reed was back this week and rode awesome to get a second on the night. Yeah I know you're saying that he's been back for a little while but I refuse to believe that was Chad on the #22 Kawasaki earlier this year. He has been a shadow of his former self while he comes back from injury, waits on the birth of his first child and basically goes through the motions. Anyways, this weekend he rode great the whole race to get a second. His times were consistent throughout the 20-lapper and he showed that he still has it.
But remember what I was saying about what Rollerball was saying? Well, I think Reedy needs to come out at Hangtown and show everyone what's up or those whispers about Chad being human are going to become screams.
I spoke to Reed, Weimer, and Jason Thomas after the race and you can find that right HERE.
Before the Vegas race, I heard Kevin Windham rescued a baby from a burning building, cured cancer, helped the starving kids in Africa, and adopted some Basset Hounds because the crowd was absolutely in love with KW all night long. He's turned into a media darling as well with his two dominant racing wins the last two weeks. Windham is a great guy and very comfortable in his skin and along with now being the veteran of the series (since Tim Ferry doesn't race anymore. Hold on, I have to stick my face in a bear trap now) helps out his popularity. He's shown the last two weeks that he's more than capable of running the speed but with KW, it comes down to how much he wants to put it out there. And by "it" I mean his neck.
This weekend he rode great in coming from the back to get third and showed some guys what was up. The crowd was absolutely loving him and it's funny to me to hear this because I remember when he was a slacker, not using his talent and stealing Suzuki's money. Funny how, with age, comes appreciation huh?
Let's take a look at the top 20 from each class:
1 1W Jake T Weimer
2 100 Joshua Hansen
3 1E Christophe Pourcel – Pourcel went down pretty good in the heat when he spun up the face of a jump and endoed.
4 108 Dean A Wilson
5 17 Justin L Barcia-JB got absolutely effed when he came roaring down with the holeshot in the heat race only to discover the track was uhhh, slightly watered. It resembled Salt Lake City more than anything. The riders were absolutely covered in mud and sliding everywhere in the muck. Next time someone needs to wake the water guy up.
6 20 Broc Tickle
7 577 Martin Davalos
8 585 Travis A Baker- great ride for the youngster Baker here.
9 116 Ryan Morais
10 38 Trey G Canard- Trey crashed a couple of times and had a rough night.
11 200 Cole Seely
12 126 Hunter Hewitt
13 175 Phillip J Nicoletti
14 92 Michael L Willard
15 592 Jake M Canada
16 68 Robert S Kiniry
17 69 Adam B Chatfield
18 613 James A Decotis
19 46 Ryan Sipes- Sipes was in fifth early on in the race before getting a chance to see and feel the "Justin Barcia Experience"
20 130 Kyle D Keylon
1 5 Ryan M Dungey
2 22 Chad Reed
3 14 Kevin W Windham
4 32 Kyle B Cunningham- Great, great ride by Cunningham on this night. I honestly didn't think he had this in him. Awesome!
5 29 Andrew T Short- Shorty rode good in his return to supercross. Two podiums in five races was pretty decent no?
6 18 David D Millsaps- Davi's pants came down on him near the end of the night and that wasn't a pretty sight for sure. I haven't seen that many moons since Denny's had an all you can eat moons over my hammy special.
7 55 Kyle P Chisholm- The Chiz has been up front the last couple of weeks and this week ran third for a little while before tightening up and dropping back. What was the name of that Tom Petty song, "Learning to Fly?"
8 23 Justin D Brayton- Brayton was a few points behind Josh Hill for fifth in the series points and needed a good night to pass Hill in the points. As Brayton told me, the bonus for fifth in the series was a whole lot better than sixth seeing as how sixth was zero money.
9 10 Thomas K Hahn- Hahn needed to place 12th or better to pass Ivan Tedesco for top privateer and he did on this night. He rode well.
10 27 Nicholas A Wey- Wey was battling sickness all weekend and didn't have his best night. And no, he wasn't hung over.
11 26 Michael Byrne- Byrne has an offer from Valli Yamaha to race the nationals but isn't sure he's going to take it. He may just pack it in and for a guy that tied for an overall last year, that's a real shame.
12 47 Matt Boni- Boni and Thomas once again got into it after the race. These two have more ups and downs than Snookie on Jersey Shore.
13 67 Chris Blose
14 135 Josh R Demuth- Hey you can say this for the Hart & Huntington race team. They are tight as they just couldn't stand to be away from each other. 11th, 12th and 13th on the night.
15 58 Weston L Peick
16 62 Jason W Thomas
17 75 Joshua R Hill- Poor Hill, his season went downhill fast. Here's the thing that I've always said about these riders. If you're hurt bad enough to suck that bad on the track, stay home. You're not doing anyone any good by going out there and finishing where Josh has the last few weeks. Now, having said that and looking at the big picture on Hill's season, he was much improved and needs to just hit the erase button on the last few weeks. This kid is really, really talented.
18 644 Kyle D Partridge
19 474 Jake Anstett- From Port Angeles Washington! Home of Ty Birdwell.
20 916 Gray Davenport
I'm going too probably get some peoples noses out of joint here (oooo the big bad media doesn't understand and doesn't get "it") but I have to say, Christophe Pourcel needs to definitely change his attitude toward talking to the fans and the media. He's going to be one of the top riders in the sport for the next decade and is a joy to watch (moreso in motocross but still…) but if I was a team manager of a big team, I'd really question on whether it's worth it to pay this dude big bucks.
I know that getting him to do anything PR-related is a big chore, his press conference on Friday was basically a ginormous episode of not-caring-ness, he didn't want to come to the banquet to accept his trophy and had to be convinced to go (and then showed up looking like a refugee from a mid-90's Pearl Jam concert) and I tried to interview him in his truck and he really didn't care. Now, I know he was making a sandwich and maybe it wasn't the best time (lord knows, I might also be more consumed with the sandwich) but Jake Weimer took the time to talk to me and I asked Pourcel beforehand and he nodded. After that his answers were one word and Jake started answering for him at one point.
This is the third time I've tried to talk to the guy and he just doesn't care about me or really, any kind of PR work. Look, I get it- you want to be the mysterious, moody Frenchman who has the I don't care attitude but that's not going to work when you fall on hard times in the sport (for more on that, please see Lawrence, Jason) and you need the friends. With his exposure level going up tenfold next season, I'd definitely think about this off-track disdain for PR when I was getting ready to hand him a check (and one prominent team manager told me the same thing in Toronto) and be "the guy" next year.
I've had his agent tell me he's misunderstood, his mechanic has told me he likes screwing with people, Mitch has said he's a good dude and all that but to me, actions speak louder than words.
That's all I got this week, see you in two weeks when the sun is shining and we're getting roosted with rocks at Hangtown. Email me at email@example.com if you want to share your thoughts with me.