Not only did Red Bud usher in some intense heat, it also welcomed back a score of racers coming back from injury, including Tyla Rattray, James Stewart, and Christian Craig. And, as always, the Buchanan, Michigan, track served up a perfect track and a host a crazy fans willing to beat the heat. Yet again, Ryan Dungey and Blake Baggett took the top honors in their respective classes, but not before we all witnessed some amazing racing. Check out some shots from the day, and stay tuned for a Pit Pass video and more from the most patriotic race of the season.
Despite the intense heat, the hillsides were packed with fans. Shirtless. drunk, sunburned, and totally pumped about it. Hats off to 'em…
The dirt at Red Bud is second to none. It develops deep ruts while maintaining good traction for the riders. Rarely does it dry out to dusty levels. Most riders consider it to be one of, if not the, best tracks on the circuit.
The heat has been a relative nonissue so far in the 2012 pro motocross series, but it definitely made its presence known in Buchanan, Michigan. WIth a heat index in the triple digits, keeping cool was an absolute must. Many riders in both classes choose to wear cooling vests prior to the moto, including Eli Tomac and James Stewart. The vest keep the core temperature down as long as possible before the gate drops and the riders are on their own.
MotoConcepts' Jake Canada chose more remedial forms of keeping cool, opting for the wet cloth over the head.
At 47 years old, John "The Junkyard Dog" Dowd lined up at Red Bud in hopes at scoring a few points in yet another year of his marathon career. As well, he brought his son to compete during the amateur racing days before and after the professional races. We will likely see Dowd at his home track of Southwick in the coming weeks.
As the official energy drink, Red Bull also has a few Nationals where they are the presenting title sponsor. And since this was the Red Bull Red Bud National, RB's skydiving team dropped into the track before the gates dropped at the beginning of the day.
The crowd at Red Bud is almost as exciting as the racing. Can you spot the female Buddha and her unorthodox pedestal?
Malcolm Stewart's struggles in Supercross have continued into the outdoors. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance, his potential has greatly remained just that: potential. His raw talent on the motorcycle hasn't translated into results so far in 2012. The younger Stewart brother ended his day at Red Bud with 14th overall.
Red Bud welcomed Tyla Rattray back to racing as well this weekend. Out since the opening round at Hangtown where a crash in the first moto forced him to the injured list, Rattray rejoined Jake Weimer at the Monster Energy Kawasaki camp aboard his KX450F. His 4-5 moto scores proved that Tyla has definitely done the work to heal and prepare for his return. WIth a successful race under his belt now, expect Ratters to be in the hunt for podiums in the coming weeks.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett chose some red Scott goggles to match his red number plate. Baggett has held onto the 250 series points lead for most of the first half of the season thanks to his now six moto wins.
James Stewart is back! And despite some miscues in the first moto (tip-over, stalled bike, a crossrut) Stewie took third overall with 6-3 finishes. After the race, the number seven seemed encouraged by his results and is excited about how he and the team are developing.
The first 450 moto of the day claimed many a rider in the first sweeper just after the gate dropped. Mike Alessi, Andrew Short, Kyle Chisholm, and many others piled up in spectacular fashion.
Mike Alessi's participation in the first-turn crash put Alessi in the very back of the pack, but the 800 battled back through the back, broken side panel and all, to score 11th. He followed it up with a holeshot in the second moto and second-place finish. Alessi currently sits second place in points behind Dungey and ahead of Jake Weimer.
Ashley Fiolek is now 26 points behind Jessica Patterson with two rounds remaining in the WMX series after her win this weekend. If Jessica can bounce back after she gets her injured hand plated, she may just be able to edge Fiolek out for yet another championship.
The fans love Ashley.
For the first time all season, Ken Roczen failed to score a podium spot. He has scored third at every previous round, but Baggett, Barcia, and Tomac had a little more at Red Bud, and now hold the top three spots in the points chase respectively.
Blake Baggett now has eight moto wins thus far this season, but it was exactly this time last year where things started to unravel for BB. After his come-from-behind win last year at Red Bud, Baggett surrendered valuable to points to guys like Barcia and the eventual championship winner Dean Wilson. The question is: can Baggett keep the momentum going this year and avoid the same outcome from 2011?
James Stewart's Answer gear adorned the buttpatch "Myles"in remembrance of his close friend Rado's late son. Please check out mylessmilesthames.com and learn more.
J-Star/JDR/KTM, along with some of the other teams, are running carbon fiber gas tanks that look ultra trick. While admiring the factory parts, it occurred to us that boiled gas seemed quite a bit less of a pitfall for the teams, as we didn't see any tank coolers at all on the gate.
Chad Reed made the trip over to Red Bud on behalf of etnies and Journeys shoe stores. He had an autograph signing at a local Journeys, then came out to his favorite track on the circuit to watch the action. He said he is getting close to getting back on the bike and starting to prepare for 2013.
The Silver Bullet box never looked so good…well, it does look even better when it's full of CLs.
MIke Alessi's wrench went above and beyond the water bottle to cool his rider off after the final 450 moto.
How about Cole Thompson, huh? A privateer in the 450 class, Thompson put on a show in both motos, scoring 7-8. If this didn't put his name into a few hats, there is little justice in the world. He didn't exactly luck out on brilliant starts and or just yield from the mistakes of others; he put his head down and rode hard in both motos with few mistakes. Stoked to see the privateer doing it big.
Christian Craig returned from a broken wrist and scored a confidence-building third-place start in the first 450 moto behind Ryan Dungey and James Stewart. He missed the top ten in both motos, but we will see if he can build at Millville.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda's Tarah Gieger just missed an overall victory at Red Bud. After a second place finish in the first moto, she won the holeshot in the second and settled into short lead over Ashley Fiolek. Late in the race, however, she put the bike down, relinquishing her lead to Fiolek and surrendered multiple positions. Despite that, however, Gieger may be in the best position to win the championship. She is only nine points behind Patterson, who is nursing a broken hand, and has 18 over Fiolek. With two rounds left in the WM series, this may be her year.
Tommy Weeck garnered the replacement spot at Rockstar/ValliStar/Yamaha earlier last week, so he had a lot to prove at Red Bud. After bad luck in the first moto, he settled for a 19th place finish. He redeemed himself in grand fashion, though, in the second moto, finishing 8th and giving him 12th overall. Let's see how he does with two solid motos in a day.
What more can you say about Ryan Dungey this season? He is absolutely decimating the rest of the 450 class. His final laps in the moto are as fast as his first, his comfort level on his KTM is extraordinary, and his starts are Alessi-esque. He's got eight motos wins thus far this season, and he will have plenty more by year's end.
The MotoConcepts team showed their Patriotism with one-off graphics. Since Red Bud falls on the 4th of July weekend, it is always a stars-and-stripes affair.
This year, Red Bud gave away an ant farm, or rather, a piece of the adored track as a trophy to each of the top three. It's unique, we will give them that.
John Dowd wasn't the only "ol' man" to line up for some Red Bud action. Mike Brown, fresh off of his X Games EnduroX gold domination, came out to score some points in the 450 class. After riding quite well early in the first moto, Brown had bike problems and failed to complete the moto. His second moto didn't go much better, but the crowd was extremely pumped to see him out there spinning laps with the young bucks.
See you at Millville!