Growing the American MX Nationals via track rotation

A while back I read something, probably in Racerhead, about the unfortunate reality that in order to get a new venue into the outdoor National series an old one has to go away. This is what happened when Broome-Tioga sold its event rights to Tony Miller and Freestone in TX, and more recently, when Glen Helen lost its rights to make way for Pala (which subsequently lost them to Lake Elsinore.)

Then, in a December Racerhead, Davey Coombs was lamenting how hard it is to find a National venue in the southeast, and how even when he found one he had to get a current track to drop out of the series to make room.

That “lose one to gain one” thing struck me as a real barrier to growth. It’s a throw-back, one of the last remaining vestiges of the good ole’ boy power and politics around which motocross was built in the ’70s. How can you really grow a series, and grow the audience for a series, when you have to permanently take a race away from one location to try a new one? And when certain promoters essentially get a lifetime contract — like a season ticket holder at Lambeau Field?

When you’re talking about just 12 races a year, you need a compromise — a way to try new venues, new cities, new tracks, new locations — without abandoning or bringing undue harm to the ones that got you where you are. It’s another way of growing the pie.

So I thought, “Why don’t you just do a planned track rotation?” I did a little spreadsheet to see how a simple rotation would work and it turned out you could easily expand the AmericanMX National series to 18 tracks with a little planning. And luck. Rotation is easy. Finding new tracks is really, really hard. Read More…

HRPSports – It’s not Bob Hannah

I saw a little announcement at Motocross Action Magazine titled HRPSports is Accepting Resumes. HRP. The lightning bolt. Immediately I recalled hearing Bob Hannah say during some interview that his wife Terri was running HRP again. I also thought about the Jimmy Weinert Training Facility and the Jimmy Weinert Racing team that’s competing in both AMA Supercross and the American MX Nationals this year. I bet I’m not alone in thinking, “Is Hannah getting back into the sport in some way?” Read More…

Who’s hard-core? My Dad’s Moto Guzzi tombstone

Moto Guzzi headstoneI went to a funeral today to pay my respect to the father of my friend, European Press Agency photographer Paul Buck. Paul and I have known each other since junior high school and back before either of us had a drivers license his dad Jim used to take us to the local motocross races. There’s a great story about someone (I don’t know who) forgetting to secure my bike to the trailer one race and it cartwheeling down the interstate behind us. But I digress… Read More…

Washougal 1980

Broc Glover and Mark Barnett battle for lead at Washougal 1980Update 1/30/2012: My friend Reese just notified me the Washougal ’80 pics are no longer online. He said he’s put up some Inter-AM and early Trans-AM pics instead.

Got a great email from motocross historian, CZ aficionado, and all-round good guy Reese Dengler. Reese attended the very first AMA MX National at Washougal, WA in 1980. In honor of the 2010 National he dug through his personal archives and pulled out some great photos. Here’s what Reese had to say:

On the occasion of the 2010 Washougal national I’ve dug thru my old slides and posted a few of my shots, (34), from the first Washougal national in 1980. You can see the shots on this web page,

http://www.ahrmanw.com/Stuff.htm

Some of these shots have never been seen before except by me and a few of my old moto-cross buddies.

There’s some great pics here. There aren’t any captions but if you use Microsoft Internet Explorer to view the thumbnail page you’ll see a title/description pop-up (this doesn’t work in Firefox.) Click the link above or click the photo to visit Reese’s photo page.

Project Two50 on SuperHunky

Matthew Cuddy of SuperHunky.com posted a great interview with Team Project Two 50 members John Nicholas, Mike Leavitt, and Todd Leavitt.

In case you don’t know, launching a privateer effort into the AMA Lucas Oil Outdoor Motocross Championships is a daunting proposition – especially if you’ve never done it before. Especially if you’re developing a brand new bike with some brand new technology. Especially if your whole team is a grassroots effort pulled together with some buddies.

So the team has had a few missteps and setbacks. They missed Freestone because they just weren’t ready. They missed Budds Creek because they didn’t get their entry in on time. Then at Red Bud they suffered a freak mechanical on the first lap of practice that ruined their day.

But the team is staying on task and on track to make their debut at Unadilla, followed by appearances at Southwick and Steel City. It would be great if they could get in more than three rounds this year, but budget is the biggest barrier. It’s really expensive to travel cross-country to make rounds in the western half of the US.

Still, the team has the chance to make an impact and get some attention. Based on the interview there are plans to add more riders for next year. Who knows, with the economy the way it is, there will likely be some excellent talent without a seat when the silly season music stops.

A top privateer like Kyle Regal just might be looking for a ride. You never know.

Wouldn’t it be great to see a Team Warthog-style privateer effort based on two-strokes? The only option today, given the AMA’s homologation rules, is the YZ250, but that could change.

In any case, it will be exciting to see the two-smoker on the track. Best wishes to Mike, John, and Todd at Unadilla.

H. R. 4678 VMX – We are just collateral damage

collateral_damage_dvdIn warfare there is a term – collateral damage – that is used to describe damage to people and property which is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome. It is important we understand that, unlike land closures and noise ordinances, the latest threat to our vintage dirt bike hobby, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010, is not targeted toward vintage dirt bikes, or motorcycles, or even off-road vehicles in general.

It is targeted at the thousands of foreign manufacturers who ship electronics, toys, clothing, and consumer goods into the US. It is intended to make those companies subject to, and easily accessible by, the US tort system. It also includes any suppliers to those companies – such as companies that make boxes, pallets, packaging materials, straps, plastics, etc.

We, the vintage dirt bikers, are just a little invisible community that will be squashed if this bill passes. Read More…

Motocross head injury study launched

Concussion graphicAnnouncement at RacerX Online regarding a new cooperative program between Mayo Clinic of Rochester, MN and Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, MN to study motocross injuries – specifically concussion.

For more detail read the entire post at the link above, but here is an excerpt:

In an unprecedented move Spring Creek MX Park, home to the Millville National Pro Motocross race, has teamed up with the Mayo Clinic of Rochester to study motocross injuries – specifically concussions.  In a study done at the Mayo Clinic last year, it was discovered that roughly thirty percent of the injuries in motocross are concussions.  The goals  of the study are to study concussion occurrence and set up protocols for  returning to racing safely. The factor that makes this so ground breaking is the fact that this study team consists of an old but avid motocross racer, orthopedic surgeons that are interested in the sport,  and one of the countries’ leading concussion specialists…

This is great news. For far too long we — riders, racers, managers, promoters, and fans — have simply accepted injuries in the sport and, it seems to me, purposely avoided looking at them too closely due to a misguided  fear of liability.

I just don’t see how that’s a viable approach in this day and age, given all the technology and tools available to us. I’m very excited to see this new effort launched. Let’s hope there are more.

Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010

BadCongress.com logoWatch out. Congress is at it again and this time they may wipe out half the vintage dirt bike industry.

A couple of years ago the motorcycle industry was caught by surprise when Congress enacted, and then deployed, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) — almost immediately wiping out a $1 billion youth motorcycle and atv industry. Over the ensuing two years the CPSIA proved to be a massive screw job for all sorts of small businesses.

On Wednesday, June 30, 2010 the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed (by voice vote) another piece of legislation that could be equally devastating to the vintage dirt bike scene — the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010, H.R. 4678. The bill now moves to the larger Ways and Means Committee or perhaps to the floor for a vote.

This act is aimed at forcing foreign manufacturers into the US tort system for liability law suits. Like most laws, that sounds great in a sound byte on the news – force all those big Chinese and Taiwanese companies to be accessible to our thousands of personal injury lawyers.

The truth is that if you’re a vintage dirt bike fan and you buy or use any part that’s made in the UK, China, Taiwan, Australia, or Europe by a small manufacturer you may well find that part is no longer available to you. Those cool CZ parts Bertus brings in from Czechoslovakia? Not gonna happen if this bill passes. Nifty trials parts for your Ty250 or TL125 from Great Britain? Kiss them goodbye. Replica frames from GMC in Australia? Adios, amigo.

To get a little more insight into this bill I called Paul Vitrano, General Counsel for the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), to discuss it. Read More…

SwanMX Lone Star Series Round 1

Swan MX Park aerial viewAs I have done for the past few months, I worked track safety at Swan MX Park this past weekend for Round 1 of the Texas Lone Star Series. The weather for Saturday practice and Sunday’s MX race was awesome. But those “scattered t-storms” predicted for Saturday caught up with us about 4:00pm and put a halt to the night races.

It looked like we’d get the track back about 5:30 when a break in the rains came, but no sooner did they get it back in shape when another cloud burst hit and had rivers running through the course again. The red clay that makes up all the night track just doesn’t do well when you get that much water at once, and the night race had to be canceled. Read More…

MX Action two-stroke vs four-stroke

MXA wrecking crew rides, races, and compares Yamaha YZ250 and YZ250F.