Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RJ Says: US MX GP at Glen Helen - my thoughts

I was very impressed with the layout of the entire facility - the pits, the press, the track ... the entire presentation.

Everyone from Glen Helen Raceway - Dr. Bud Feldkamp (track owner) to Lori (track manager), their staff including Carl, Steve, Bob did a great job in representing the United States and California in having one of the greatest motocross tracks in America.

I sat with Dr. Wolfgang Srb, President of the FIM Motocross Commission, and he was very impressed with the preparation of everything as well, including the track, especially with the fact that the event was put on with 60 days notice. He thought everything was top notch, and is excited to have the event come back next year.

The preparation and environment on race weekend couldn't of been any better. Probably many might of been disappointed because the crowd wasn't bigger. I think in part that is due to a few reasons: part was due to the fact the race was put together 'last minute', part was the weather (it was quite hot), part was Friday's massive traffic accident that paralyzed much of Los Angeles' freeway system - where people had spent up to ten hours stuck in their cars, deciding not to go anywhere over the weekend that required any driving, and, the biggest reason - most of the top American stars of supercross and motocross didn't come out to play. Those factors hurt the crowd. And of course, the 'e' word - the economy.

As far as Giuseppe Luongo, Youthstream, and the FIM - I thought they ran the races and schedule perfect. I liked the schedule - they had the "old man's" class early in the morning, with Doug Dubach reigning supreme. The Moates Cup, an idea conceived by Scott Cox was a great idea. I think Marty (Moates) looked down from heaven and was happy to see his legacy carried on. I would like to congratulate Zach Osborne for winning it. I know personally that Mike Alessi and his dad were disappointed in not winning it (it's a trophy and check going to the 'Top American' at the GP - both Mike and Zach finished second overall in their respective MX1 and MX2 classes). Technically, Mike had a 2/4 finish, and Zach had a 4/2 finish.

The competition - I thought it was awesome. The racing was great. Tony Cairoli showed why he is the world motocross champion (of MX1). I was excited to see Ben Townley shine so well in the second MX1 moto (by winning). Ben was running strong in the first moto as well, even though he fell down. It was great to see Ben Townley 'back'.

I was very impressed with both Tony Cairoli and Mike Alessi. They both ride the KTM 350, and both riders and bikes were astounding to watch. The holeshots they pulled in the first moto were phenomenal. They had five bike lengths on everyone else going into the first turn. So, if there was any doubt on whether the 350's can run with the 450's going down that long start straight and into an uphill first corner, there is no doubt.

To see the support on hand from past GP winners - Chuck Sun, Broc Glover, David Bailey, Brad Lackey, myself, Johnny O'Mara, and others, was great. And all of us thought - to a man, that all the top American riders should of been there racing.

I know they have contracts. I know they have concerns about winning National Championships. But to me, and others, the top American series riders should of been there.

Tony Cairoli was beating everyone at the des Nations last year in Italy. If I, as a top rider of today, had the opportunity race with him, and a chance to dethrone the World Champion, and on my home 'turf', that's exactly what I would try to do.

If you look at the history of American motocross, and remember, motocross originated in Europe, all the top US riders, the ones that make up the very best our country has produced - names like I listed above, and, Bob Hannah, Marty Smith, Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Jeff Stanton, Jeff Emig, Jeff Ward, James Stewart - have taken their turns, some more than others, in battling with the best the rest of the world has to offer.

I think it was a mistake by many of the top American riders not to race. Again, I understand there could be contractual or personal reasons not to race. But many didn't even show to support their country and our country's war Veterans on Memorial Day. They also gave World Champion Tony Cairoli the knowledge that he could win, leave, and know that no one dared to compete with him.

Some have said I called out those riders previously for not competing, and said they were 'sissies'. I did not say that. I said, as I'm saying here on Supercross.com, that I think they made a mistake by not showing up, and not racing. And they let a lot of people down, including the fans.

For whatever reason, they didn't show. For me, as a former racer, a former GP winner, and as a fan, it was disappointing to know America didn't have every star on hand. Mike Alessi, Ryan Hughes, Zach Osborne, and the other guys that showed for America did an awesome job representing our country - I wish the rest of them were there too.

Congratulations to Tony Cairoli for winning the US Motocross GP in MX1, and congratulations to Marvin Musquin in dominating both motos and winning in MX2. Great race, great event, great presentation, and looking forward to the Motocross of Nations near Denver in late September.


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World MX2 Champ Marvin Musquin number 1 with holeshot in his first race, on his way to dominating both MX2 motos

Ben Townley won the second MX1 moto

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