Texan Weekend – 2013 Houston Kickstart

Photos by Brendan Lutes and Jeff Kardas

This past weekend, the 13th round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series visited the state of Texas for the second time this season. This time, though, the traveling circus stopped in Houston, and after a weekend off, there was plenty to report from the Lone Star State. Defending Champion Ryan Villopoto took home his fifth win of the season in the 450 class while Wil Hahn managed to extend his points led in the 250 class. But that wasn’t all that went down, so sit back, relax with some coffee, and get your Monday started off right with this week’s Kickstart.

While the clouds in this photo might not be evidence of it, the weather in Houston this past weekend was perfect. Mid-70 degree temperatures greeted fans as they flocked into the pits. And throughout the day, the pit party was going off.

As has been the case in previous years, the pits were found on the opposite side of the street from the stadium, offering plenty of room for the teams to spread out and gave an incredible pit experience for the fans.

In order to get to the stadium, though, riders and mechanics had to ride the bikes down a walkway and across a bridge to the stadium. Needless to say, the added distance made it imperative for teams to bring all that is needed for possible repairs mid-race.

Here's what happens when bikes would break down and needed to be brought back to the pits. Brady Kiesel's bike broke down and his team was forced to load it onto the team Mule to get it back to the semi.

While there was a lot to report in Houston, perhaps the biggest news of the evening was Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto's fifth win in a row. This photo of the pack taking off for the start of the main event demonstrates all that anyone saw of RV for the entire night, as he won his heat race and transitioned into a decisive win in the main event. The win extended RV's points lead to 21 over Rockstar Energy Racing's Davi Millsaps.

GEICO Honda's Kevin Windham pulled off two transfers during opening ceremonies with one of them being easily the biggest he has ever done during opening ceremonies. During practice, the jump took him some time to sack up and hit, but once he did, he made it look easy.

Windham's mechanic Brian Calma said that K-Dub had ridden during the week—both Supercross and motocross. Calma joked, "Riding only during opening ceremonies wasn't cutting it for Kevin (laughs)." Apparently the extra riding helped him, as he made the transfers in opening ceremonies look effortless. Following his impressive leaps, Windham changed into his casual clothes and helped out with commentating during the night show.

Calma also joked that working on Windham's bike doesn't require much nowadays, as the opening ceremonies transfers are all that are required of him. "This dirt is from Toronto. I like to keep some dirt on the tires, because it makes the bike look cooler," he joked.

Early in the day, Yoshimura Suzuki's James Stewart was all smiles, as he turned in impressive times in practice and was running in a good position in his heat race. Where it all began to go wrong, though, was when he landed on a tuff block in his heat, beading his shifter and sticking his bike in one gear, forcing him to back off his charge towards Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto. In the main event, he had similar issues, as he went down and experienced front brake issues, forcing him to withdraw from the race. Check out "How Was Your Weekend?" to hear from him on exactly how it went.

Stewart has been debuting many different colorways of his new Seven gear throughout the season, and this weekend was no different. Only a few days before the Houston race, James hit up Seven's Roger Larsen to see if a black and yellow colorway was possible. With only a limited time to create the colorway, Larsen and the crew went to work, creating what you see here. It may be simple, but sometimes less complicated is the better course.

Here’s the backside of Stewart’s new gear.

Muscle Milk Honda's Justin Barcia has been wearing this new Spy goggle colorway this season. We did a Pit Pass video this week, which gives you an inside look into what it takes to outfit a factory level racer like Barcia with goggles for the season. Be sure to check back later in the week for the video.

The track in Houston was probably one of the most interesting this year, featuring unique obstacles like this vertical wall found only a turn after the finish line double. As it turned out, the wall didn't mix things up, but rather just added to the variety of the track. Throughout the day, many of the riders raved about the track and the amazing dirt.

The biggest, and most talked about, obstacles on the track were the waist-deep whoops. During the track walk, many riders spent some extra time inspecting the gnarly rollers, including 250 class points leader Wil Hahn. Here, he stopped between two whoops, showing just how deep they actually were.

If you want a tasty snack while wandering the pits at an upcoming race, stop by the BTO Sports/KTM pits where they're cooking up Bubba Burgers. We tasted these burgers and can attest to their magic. Unfortunately, at the end of the day—just as they had almost wrapped up cooking—bees took over the BBQ, creating a massive beehive.

We couldn't go through Monday Kickstart without featuring a pickupkit. This one even had its own satchel. No it's not a purse… it's a satchel.

How do you keep everyone safe from razor sharp footpegs? Slice a tennis ball in half and shove them on the pegs. We spotted these on Millsaps' ride while it was in the Rockstar Energy Racing pits.

When you have kids, supplies in the rig start to change. These toys and baby treats were sitting in the Rockstar Energy Racing rig waiting for little Dane Millsaps to break them out. As the day went on, we spotted the little tyke having some fun with his dad and mom.

During the Toronto round, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Justin Hill had a run-in on the track that saw him get landed on, leaving him with a broken hand and helmet that looked like this. The tire tracks and busted helmet weren't the only thing that happened to him, though, as he also was left with a broken hand. Reportedly, he will be out until next weekend in Minneapolis.

Just a week or so before Houston, Tyler Bowers got the call from Mitch Payton to fill in on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team for the injured Dean Wilson. Fresh off his Arenacross title, Bowers made the best of the opportunity, as he qualified well and parlayed that into a good finish in his heat race and an awesome ride in the main event where he finished fourth.

Muscle Milk Honda's Trey Canard landed on the podium. All throughout the day, Canard rode very well, turning in good qualifying times and riding even better during the night show. After winning his heat race by a solid margin, Canard went into the main with a ton of confidence. After getting a good start, he then moved into third early and never looked back. It goes without saying that he was ecstatic after the checkered flag flew.

While you can't tell in this photo, because it was taken before the gate was dropped, the tension between Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin and Rockstar Energy Racing's Blake Wharton were high following the race. Musquin claimed that Wharton was riding a wide line during the opening laps of the race, but Wharton said that he was just protecting his line. If one thing is certain, though, don't take your eyes off these two if they're around each other next week in Minneapolis. Musquin ultimately went down in the main while running second behind Wharton. Musquin finished third. For Wharton, the win this weekend was his first of the season and it solidified his hold on third in the points standings behind Hahn and Musquin.

Musquin was sporting these trick custom Alpinestars boot decals. Ah it's nice to be a factory rider…

Country singer Lyle Lovett was down on the floor shooting photos during the race. A long-time fan of motocross and off-road riding, it was very cool to see him really getting down and dirty in the trenches.

If you watched the race live on SPEED, it goes without saying that the aside from a few occurrences, the evening's racing was mostly uneventful. We ran into SPEED's floor reporter Erin Bates while heading to the airport and she had this to say, "It was kind of an uneventful evening. I found it difficult to find things to report on down on the floor because there wasn't much happening." In this photo, the diligent floor reporter Bates makes some notes for her on-television reports.

JGR/Toyota/Yamaha's Josh Grant's bike was on display in the team pit area in Houston. Grant is sitting out due to an injury he suffered during the beginning part of the season. No word yet on when he will return to action, but if he does, it won’t be until the outdoor season begins next month.

We spotted these cool custom Skull Candy headphones that GEICO Honda's Wil Hahn was sporting while warming up before practice. They're painted by Tagger Designs, and in our opinion are some of the coolest we've seen. In other news from the day, Wil managed to extend his points lead over Musquin by two points. Things are definitely getting interesting heading into the final two rounds of the series.

What does it look like when the 30-second board goes up? Here you go…

Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey had a strong night in Houston. After turning in the quickest qualifying time, though, he didn't have much for Ryan Villopoto in the main event. For the entire race, Dungey held onto second behind defending champion and points leader Villopoto. The runner-up finish helped Dungey close the points gap on Rockstar Energy Racing's Davi Millsaps for second in points. Dungey now sits only four points down from second.

BTO Sports/KTM's Andrew Short had a good showing this weekend. During the main event, he rode strong and on the final lap was able to muscle his way past RCH/Suzuki's Josh Hill to claim seventh on the night. After taking the checkered flag, the two riders were seen discussing the move, however, neither of them appeared heated about it and following the race, Hill was excited about his result for the night.

Gratuitous Monster Energy girl photo. See you next week!