Country Grammar – Everything SX From The Mo’

Photos by Michael Antonovich and Jeff Kardas

You missed so much from St. Louis. The lack of live TV coverage made it impossible for the scant next day broadcasts to cover everything that went on inside the Edward Jones Dome, but that is why we are here and make the big bucks.

There were some tense moments during and after the 450 main event. Kyle Chisholm and Matt Goerke made contact, and the impact threw Chisholm viciously into the ground between lanes of the track. Suddenly the red flag flew and the Asterisk crew tended to the downed rider. It was obvious something was wrong when they pulled the back board off of the cart and placed a collar around the JGR fill-in rider's neck. His wife, Britney, posted updates onto Twitter as their time at the hospital slowly clicked by, and by morning it was revealed that the back pain and lack of leg movement and control he suffered was due to a "stinger." Chisholm was released from the hospital and homeward bound on Sunday evening. Feel better, Chizzy.

Confusion abounded during the 450 main event in regards to the legality of Ryan Villopoto's passes for the lead. His first steal of the position was overruled when it was said that he jumped while in a section yellow flags were present. A second separate crash after the restart brought out the cross and yellow flags, and as he and James Stewart went through the section, RV overtook the spot. Stewart stated in "HWYW?" that the move caught him off guard, because of the flags, and numerous protests were filed with the AMA after the race concluded. After a few tense hours, the AMA announced that the results stood and RV claimed the win.

St. Louis’ soil is considered the best of the 14 city championship. With the city and surrounding areas considered a flood plain, (the ancient Mississippi River extended about 15-miles wider than its current banks) the brightly colored clay has huge deposits of minerals. It breaks down in a positive way and is almost endlessly loamy as the bikes tread over it and break the hard pack seal.

After riders complained of dryness on the previous tracks, the The Dirt Wurx crew went the extra mile and soaked the track on Friday and Saturday morning. During track walk, there were even puddles in some low spots, and the entire track was soft and pliable.

The layout featured the longest whoop section we have seen this year, and it looked fairly deep and intimidating during the morning track walk. Come the night show, they were mowed down and seemed to be nothing more than slight bumps to factory suspension. Riders were not thrilled with this decision.

The last four rounds have been run in football stadiums, which leads to longer straight aways and a more open configuration when compared to the oddly shaped baseball diamonds of Anaheim and Phoenix.

Riders traversed the aptly named “Muscle Beach” sand section before they cleared the finish line double. A few small moguls were built into the silica during the morning, but were blasted apart and flattened in just laps of practice. They too were removed in time for the race.

Just before you walk onto the stadium floor, you spot this map of the track and the areas photographers are allowed to roam to, which is highlighted in green. It is common for those areas of green to shrink as the day continues on, for example shooters were clipped from going in the areas that ran alongside the finish line lane.

It is nice to see the racers and the track crew discussing obstacles, because communication only helps bridge the gap between the two group’s ideas and expectations. Villopoto has long pointed out things that he feels pose a risk or issue to himself and fellow riders with the Dirt Wurx staff, and will often pick debris from the dirt.

Jimmy Decotis and Vince Friese seem like a motocross version of the Odd Couple; Decotis is an underground favorite, mostly due to his two-stroke YouTube videos and laissez-faire attitude, while Friese is often villianised for his aggressive takeout tactics. Nevertheless, the two riders are training and traveling alongside one another as they chase the 250 East Series. Saturday’s main event saw the two riders finish¬†sixth (Friese) and seventh (Decotis).

Each season, the Munn Racing KTM team enlists a crop of little-known riders and carries them through the 250 East Coast championship, and in St. Louis they showed their wild card abilities. Lance Vincent lead the second heat race of the night off both starts (more on that in a second) and looked comfortable at the head of the pack. But while he was in first, his teammate, Todd Krieg, laid in a crumpled ball and was the cause of the red flag. Despite what the TV says, this is the true definition of irony.

We’d love to know what is said between Justin Barcia and his appointed mentor, Jeff Stanton. The two appear to be opposites; Barcia an aggressive and outspoken personality to Stanton’s intense and serious demeanor. Whatever it is works, since they have claimed a main event win and the Monster Energy Cup title together.

When we spotted Kevin Windham unwinding the measuring tape, we knew shit was about to go down. And it most certainly did. K-Dub busted out one of the biggest transfers we’ve ever seen him go for, as he launched from the take-off of the triple, across the first rhythm lane, and down sided the finish line landing. Next year is totally going to suck without him.

James Stewart stated last week on Steve Matthes’ PulpMX Show that despite his victory in Atlanta, he is out of contention for the title. That has not stopped Stewart from chasing after race wins, as he grabbed the early lead in Saturday night’s main event. On the show, Stewart also made it clear that he plans to line-up for the Nationals and if he makes it through the summer unscathed, put off the surgery to repair his torn ACL until his retirement.

KTM brand mates Marvin Musquin and Andrew Short took in and discussed portions of the track together Saturday morning. Remember that the two were teammates during the 2011 season.

2013 has been bittersweet for Jake Weimer. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider came into the season fit and fast, thanks to his Aldon Baker-overseen regimen and he was recently engaged, but his on-track performances are hampered by injuries, illness, and mistakes. St. Louis was his second race back after a set of busted ribs, but his speed has suffered greatly. The only thing left to do is let the wounds heal and race as quickly as his body and breathing will allow.

Unless you leave in the 3G deprived badlands of the country, you know all about Instagram. Kawasaki’s Ken Essex gets the shot here, but did he use the Mosaic filter or #faded hashtag?

We mentioned it in the Andrew Short to BTO Sports KTM write-up a few weeks back, but we have to again acknowledge the growth Forrest Butler has helped guide the team through. From the days fully privateer effort to its factory KTM backed present, they remained in the paddock, overcome a poor economy and numerous changes, and are now a top place a rider can land.

Darryn Durham was swarmed by fans was the pit area opened to the public. We chatted with DD between photos and autographs on a timetable for his return from an Achilles’ tendon injury and how his time back aboard the bike has gone. Durham stated that because the strength has not yet returned, he would not want to risk further stalling the process by racing, but has enough control and support for freeriding and rebuilding his skill on the bike. He may sit out SX altogether and come back fully healed for the Nationals.

Following last week’s ATL. SX, PJ Larsen and Eleven10 Mods team owner Chad Sanner settled on a deal to bring Larsen off of his privateer Honda 450 and onto a Yamaha-supported YZ250F for the rest of the East Coast season and beyond. Larsen said that he flew back to his California home on Sunday afternoon, did a few loads of laundry, then headed back to the airport for another cross-country flight to test with the team. As you can guess, the East Coast in February is less than ideal in terms of riding, and they were only able to get a minute amount of testing done before heading to St. Louis. Larsen and the team struggled to get the carb properly adjusted during the day, but by race time all was good. PJ scored 10th in his debut ride for the team.

Thanks to his gear partnership with Troy Lee, James Stewart is now able to let the legendary painter have free reign on his Bell Moto-9. While this scheme appears at first glance to be the standard blue and silver color blocking, numerous swirls are placed in the silver squares.

Here is a closer look at the brushed circles, as well as Lee’s penned signature.

Chrome finish helmets have become a Red Bull trademark, but the highly visible paint has one major drawback: it is fragile and prone to chipping. Roost thrown from the powerful four-strokes of today can blow the paint off the object and show scuffs and wear easily.

Marvin Musquin was presented with a freshly painted Red Bull themed Airoh helmet of his own, this one done by OCD. Musquin is one of the many riders using the Italian maker’s premier lid, although it has long been part of Musquin’s gear set. We spoke with Airoh brand rep Kenny Adams about the helmet, which at just over 900 grams, is one of the lightest on the market. The brand is looking to build its presence in the US with their placement on the Rockstar Energy Racing 250 riders and its soon to be released US-spec offering.¬†

Matt Piva of Skullcandy dropped this pair of freshly painted Navigator headphones off to Ryan Dungey on Saturday morning. Tagger Designs, the company known for their Skullcandy themed lids, did the artwork.

While on a business trip to Europe in the 70s, the son of the owner of Bel-Ray was killed in a car accident. His briefcase was returned to his mother, who refused to open her departed child’s bag and see his belongings. When Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy ravaged the northeast last year, the home the brief case was stored in was damaged and the case was finally opened. Along the various papers were these mint Roger Decoster stickers.

Bel-Ray’s Scott Lukatis brought the stickers to St. Louis and presented them to Decoster.

Since the pit area was located inside the America’s Center Convention space, the tractor trailers lined the city streets. Once the races were over, bikes were disassembled, and pit compounds stored, the trucks wheeled in and connected to their respective trailers. The building was a ghost town in just a few hours.

Late last week, a European source reported that former East Coast 250 SX champion Christophe Pourcel had inked a summer deal with the RCH outfit. This must not have been discussed with team co-owner Carey Hart, who stated that it was news to him in a tweet responding to someone’s congratulatory message. Do not expect to see the Frenchman aboard a RCH/Sycuan/Dodge Suzuki at Hangtown.

Both Josh Hill and Broc Tickle run Fox boots, but they are different models from the catalog. Tickle uses the flagship Instinct, which was a 2012 TWMX Product of the Year, while Hill runs the older F3. This is due to the major ankle injury he suffered in 2010, and the feel of the boot better suits his needs.

Two races into the Eli Tomac 450 experiment, and we must assume that it is not going as well as ET and team manager Mike LaRocco planned. The weekend in STL saw Eli run to the main via the LCQ, but he was again buried in the stacked field of competition. Granted, they have nothing to lose by putting him on the larger bike, but after his main event win at last fall’s Monster Cup, the critics have high expectations.

If you are from the Midwest, you may be familiar with Shades Of Gray, the helmet painting company run by Josh Gray of Belle, MO. His work is on the heads of numerous riders on the Supercross circuit and with St. Louis being the home race, he and his riders went all-out. One of our personal favorites was this Fly helmet complete with moments from Dumb and Dumber that belongs to Brett Cue.

All of the artwork is done by hand and is now Gray’s full-time business.

Although Jimmy Albertson now claims Shawnee, Oklahoma, he is in fact a Billings, Missouri, native. With St. Louis effectively being his home race for both OK and MO, Josh at Shades Of Gray presented him with this STL inspired Fly Racing lid. Its base is Cardinal red, with the iconic STL font on top and city skyline in back. It even calls out Nelly with a band-aid on the chin bar.

Tyler Wharton was on hand in St. Louis to cheer on younger brother Blake. The elder Wharton is a former racer, but his current occupation is running one of the Wharton’s Texas car dealerships alongside his father. Good to see you again, Tyler.

With Nico Izzi on the injured list, Blake Wharton is the lone 250 rider in the Rockstar Energy Racing pit. This is Blake’s fifth year as a full time racer, but one must take in to account the past injury plagued seasons he has suffered through.

This year’s STL SX crowd was one of the denser we’ve seen at the event, and even the upper decks were more populated than we are used to. While the congregated masses made it difficult to skim about the pit area, it is nice to see the sport is growing in terms of spectators.

These were not the only people we saw wearing jerseys and boots during our time in the pit area. Why?

Ryan Dungey is still searching for another main event win, as it has been weeks since he bested the field after an eventful night at the third Anaheim stop. Lackluster starts have forced the Red Bull KTM rider to work through the pack on numerous occasions this season, which is fatal to his chances at winning in this stacked year.

After starting the year so strongly, it appears that top-10 finishes are no longer enough to pacify Trey Canard. The Team Honda Muscle Milk rider has quietly looked quick in his heat races, but misfortune in the main event has kept him from stepping onto the podium in recent weeks. A crash in the opening moments of the main put him a lap down, but this was reset by the red flag. Trey appeared a nit disenchanted during his “How Was Your Weekend?” piece but was still upbeat and positive on the future.

Chad Reed seemed more light-hearted during the morning, and it showed in his performance during the night’s races. Reed even joked on Twitter after the race “I’m old, yes. Slow? Kinda. Washed up? Not tonite. But we aren’t giving up. Thanks to TwoTwo for believing in me.”

Reed looked to be back to his old form on Saturday, and it appeared that he and his team of mechanics have closed in on a suitable set-up for the new Honda CRF450. Reed claimed third place in the 450 main event.

Seems like every time we see Dean Wilson, his eyes are locked onto his phone. Seriously, we spotted Dean three times during the day tapping away on his iPhone. Dean has good reason, too; his Twitter is updated and interacted with all day. Find him at http://twitter.com/DeanWilson15

Meeting of the minds. Moto Brand Manager Nate Hawley of DC Shoes, Eleven 10 Mods rookie Brady Keisel, JDR KTM’s Malcolm Stewart, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill, and Hill’s grandfather.
Despite the fact he has the East Coast “off,” Malcolm Stewart has attended the last two races. Word of where Mookie may head if and when the JDR/J-Star/KTM shudders is murky, as he is said to be in talks with a handful of teams, but his desire is to ride the larger 450 all summer.

We do have to give Friese proper acclaim for his rides this season. He qualified and finished well during his time in the 450 class on the west coast while riding a mostly stock Honda, and his three finishes in the 250 class have been nothing to scoff at it.

This little piece of motion picture mastery was on loop in the BTO pit area. Surprised Ronnie didn’t trek over to STL for some ice cold Natural Lights.

Justin Hill is making a splash in his rookie season aboard his Pro Circuit bike, but his STL main event was rough and far from what he expected. A tip-over in the sand section stalled his Kawasaki and by the time he was able to get it re-fired, the pack was about to put him a lap down. Hill looks rebound to next weekend in Daytona.

Ryan Villopoto’s win closed the gap between the defending champion and current points leader, Davi Millsaps. RV scored 25 points to Millsaps’ 15, which puts the deficit at just 12 markers. Can Millsaps continue to hold on to the red plate, which has adorned his bike since the first race of the season? Only time will tell.

Looks like the Presidential Fitness Test is coming to Supercross. Hopefully Doc G can write a note and get us out of the mile.

We've seen this exact group of riders on the podium a time or two before. Funny how even though some things change, others stay the same.

Marvin Musquin's night in St. Louis was not an easy day at the office. Marvin timed second quickest in the timed qualifying session, but a crash in the second turn of his heat race knocked him down to last place. A hurried sprint through the field would place him into the main, but the lanky rider stumbled in the sand on the opening lap. Musquin recovered, began his second charge through the pack, and claimed fourth place. It was a strong effort by Musquin, but finishing off of the podium when the current leaders finished 1-2 two weekends in a row has only increased the points deficit. Musquin trails Wil Hahn by 17 points.

Cole Thompson is a warrior. The Canadian is once again funding his racing program and has no major support from any team or OEM. His eighth place finish in the main is even more impressive when one knows that he was carted off of the track during the day's second practice.

While these past three races have been trying, Zach Bell has learned valuable career lessons with each weekend. Bell once again stalled his Geico Honda in a bowl turn just before the finish in the heat and dropped out of transfer position, but his wire-to-wire LCQ win put him in the main, where he finished ninth.

Double-double. Wil Hahn brought the momentum from his Atlanta win to St. Louis, and he coaxed his Honda around the oddly-shaped first turn to take the holeshot and early lead. He spent nearly the entire main event under fire from Wilson, but he rode a calculated race and reacted calmly to Wilson's block pass attempts. When Wilson would try to square off Hahn, the new point leader simply slowed, cut down, and blew back by Wilson and into the lead.

Finally, some main event passing. All race long, we saw racers swap positions and fight tooth and nail for each and every spot. Reed and Villopoto made the most passes of the race, as Villopoto went from fourth to first twice (he was knocked back three spots on the restart for jumping on a yellow flag) and Reed worked by three riders himself. Ryan Dungey passed five riders to claim fourth.

Much like the 250 main event, Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart ran a calculated race for the lead. Stewart played the role of Hahn while Villopoto was the aggressor, but their race would have a different outcome. Once he overtook the spot, RV motored away to his third win of the year.

Congratulations to Justin Brayton on his recent engagement.

St. Louis marked Bobby Kiniry's first race as part of the N-Fab Yamaha team. The ride will carry him through the SX season and he will return during off-weekends in the Canadian National championship to race the American series.

Only Roger Decoster can turn a fully grown man back into a 10-year old autograph seeker.

Like we said, this was a “thing,” and multiple individuals took part. Top that, Indy.