jim_dechamps_front_flip.pngEver since I saw the first BMX freestyle rider do a front flip on a bicycle I’ve been waiting for someone to try it on a motorcycle. To be honest, I didn’t think the physics of a motorcycle would allow it. But, as is often the case, I was wrong. Check out Jim DeChamps practicing front flips for X Games 14. I am speechless. I think I’ve seen everything now…

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The entire professional road racing community has been up in arms since DMG (now officially AMA Pro Racing) began making their presence felt. The complaints have been long, loud, and many. A person less magnanimous than me might even call it incessant whining. But I won’t do that. I understand what all the furor is about. The road racers were, more or less, happy with the status quo, and DMG have begun shaking that up — not always in a positive direction.

DMG may have misjudged some things. They will undoubtedly make mistakes. But they will learn — and learn fast. They will learn fast for one simple reason — they are in a market-driven situation. The new AMA Pro racing is a business and they are accountable to shareholders. The amount of money they return to shareholders is an unambiguous measuring stick of their success, and to succeed they must please two very important constituencies — the race fans and the manufacturers who support racing (at some level they have to please the racers as well, but not so much as the other two.)

This is a huge difference from the old AMA. In The Non-Profit Professional I wrote about the problems and inherent conflicts the old AMA business model presented to professional racing. The old AMA was a non-profit. They were answerable to no one, really. They ended up serving the whims of the manufacturers like a cheap hooker. The fans had no influence. The racers had no influence. They vacillated, prevaricated, and obfuscated. Flat track racing was dead. Outdoor MX was dying. And there was no one to hold the old AMA accountable.

This isn’t true for the new AMA Pro Racing. It’s a business. With profit targets and hard measures and clear goals and objectives. That’s how businesses are run. That’s how pro racing should always be run. Yes, you have to love a sport — you can’t set the same profit targets for flat track racing that you do for mega-million-dollar rock concerts. You can’t treat it like selling laundry detergent to soccer moms. You have to understand the needs and preferences of the fan base, and you have to deliver the marketing vehicle that manufacturers want.

The new AMA Pro racing has the experience of running the most successful motorsports franchise in the world. They know what it takes. They just need time to get acclimated to the new environment. But they will do it. At least that’s where I’m placing my bets.

parker1AMA Pro Racing (the new AMA Pro Racing) announced Thursday that long-time, old school flat track racer, former AMA Grand National Champion, race promoter, Motorcycle Hall of Fame member, and Texan Mike Kidd has been chosen to head the redevelopment of the national flat track program. This is good news. Kidd has been around the block more than once and knows the flat track business. He’s also seen the ups and downs of race promoting, being one of the first to bring racing to the small arenas in the mid-’80s.

I love flat track — watching those big Harley XR750s pitched completely sideways at 100mph in a mile race is awesome. The old AMA’s apathy toward flat track was exceeded only by their apathy toward outdoor MX. Flat track is a genuinely American form of competition and deserves much better. I’ve read that AMA Pro Racing’s Roger Edmondson is a big flat track fan, and this move to bring in Kidd is encouraging.

Kidd has done some very innovative things in his promotional career, but it seemed he never really had the big bucks behind him that he needed – even though he had the backing of Clear Channel for a while. It just didn’t work. But now that he’s got the backing of a group with both money and a love of the sport things could be very different. I hope so.

tsm_logo_blk_webHere’s another helpful and entertaining site in the two-stroke wars — Two Stroke Militia. The site was apparently put together by three guys in the northeast — Jeff Conboy, Tim Weeks, and John Nicholas — and features some of the best analysis and commentary on the two-stroke situation that I’ve seen. I’m happy to see that they’ve picked up sponsorship from quite a few companies that also love the smell of race gas and castor oil.

Check out this page on modern two-stroke weapons. Gotta love that new Maico! Is that cool, or what? Tubular steel frame, two-stroke motor, modern styling… Man, that’s cool. I’d actually buy a pit pass at a National to see stuff like that. Now if they’d just do a twin-shock version…

I’m going to buy one of their t-shirts. Check out their CafePress store and show your colors. I don’t know if that makes me a member or not, but at least they’ll know I’m a two-stroke supporter.

dirt_bike_modelHere’s another cool paper model — this time of the Yamaha YZ450FM. I don’t know who created it, but it looks like it comes from Japan. Someone obviously has real love for Yamaha motorcycles.

I found this via Dirt Bike Blogger. There are eight separate files to download for this model, so check out his post rather than my re-listing them all here. There are good articles on the site, but it’s got too many ads for my taste. I’m all for trying to make a buck, but if he’d tone it down a bit I’d be inclined to spend more time looking around.

Note: In 2009 this website moved to WordPress and the system referred to in the post below is no longer in use.
New MuddyWatersMX reader Chris Wilson recently asked the following question:

The code used on this site exposes the email address of the registered commenters. In the item in the right-hand margin that says “Logged in as X”, the name inserted as “X” is a direct email link to the address used when registering to comment. That means that any email harvester crawling this site will be able to collect my email address.

Can you confirm or deny and/or fix?

I thought this was a good opportunity to explain how the system works for everyone. First, let me put your mind at ease. The content system used for MuddyWatersMX has been around a long time and its privacy features are quite robust.

The link you see in the right-hand column that says, “Logged in as YourNameHere” is only seen by you – and only when you are logged in. It’s just a link to your account settings, which are tracked by your e-mail address. No one else can see it. And no harvester can get to it. If you logoff the site you will see that your name and account info disappear.

The only place that your e-mail address is ever exposed — and this is exactly the same as Yahoo! and Google Groups e-mail lists — is in the FROM: address when your posts go out to the MuddyWatersMX mail list.

But we even give you control over that. The MuddyWatersMX system provides a completely anonymized FROM: address in outgoing list mails for any registered user who wants it. You can change this setting in your preferences.

I hope this clears up any confusion and thanks to Chris for prompting me to write it.

mx-sportsI just read the interview with Davey Coombs in the new Cycle News — Issue #29, July 23, 2008 — talking about MXSports and the future of the outdoor series:

We want to make motocross as cool, as competitive, as entertaining, and as safe as possible.

Live TV, improved facilities, adding new venues, listening to riders, listening to fans, taking a business approach that admits we have to modernize but recognizes motocross has its own unique value — that it does not have to be Supercross, just in the daytime.

I know many of my contemporaries have tired of modern stuff for a variety reasons, and I don’t argue with that. But I still like it enough to want it to get better. Outdoor MX has sucked for the past 15 or 20 years in ways that have nothing to do with the simple passage of time, and that really bothers me. We can’t go back &mash; it won’t ever be “like it was” in the ’60s or ’70s because that’s just not possible. The world is too different. Nothing is like it was back then. But it doesn’t have to totally suck, either.

One of the things Coombs mentions is the interest of Barber Motorsports Park in hosting an outdoor national. This is really exciting. If you have never been to Barber just imagine a 720-acre golf resort — except without the golf, and dedicated to motorsports. The folks at Barber are big into bikes. They have been trying to get a MotoGP but were snubbed. They are getting AMA Superbikes, and maybe a World Superbike round. The idea of a national caliber outdoor MX track on the rolling, wooded hills of the facility is very cool. Unlike many roadrace facilities where a track would have to be laid in the infield, making it basically a SX track in the sunshine, Barber is situated in a way that make one very cool MX course.

What would be interesting is that Barber would never run weekly, or even monthly, MX races. they would run a National, probably a Loretta Lynn’s qualifier, and maybe 1 or 2 other specialty races a year. That’s it. The track would never get beat out, the top soil would never die. Hell, they’d probably disc, smooth, and re-seed it between events.

The other thing that could happen is that Barber is setup to be a little “factory zone” — that is, a good portion of the land is zoned as commercial and industrial. It’s like a business park, intended for factories, R&D facilities, race team HQs, etc. Nothing is there yet, but there will be. It’s conceivable that a full-time private MX development and testing facility could evolve there. Birmingham is not substantially different from Atlanta, in terms of access to the southeastern US. It is just as accessible for freight and distribution, has about equal technology infrastructure, but far less issue with over population. With land prices and costs of operation that are often half of what it costs in California, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the logic in locating there.

With Gibbs Racing being the first satellite team to setup a full HQ outside of SoCal, and more riders moving to Florida and Georgia to find riding areas, I predict we will see more and more of this.

Coombs also talks about the need to be flexible, to accept the necessary changes. He talks about the one-moto format, but I think he sees this differently that some of us might expect. From what I’ve gathered watching a few of his RacerX Films appearances plus what he has written, I think he looks at it much more like the current Superbike format. Where there are two distinct races instead of one race in two halves. In other words, the National might be one moto, but there would be two of them. (That’s really going to screw up the record books.)

Personally, if I could get live TV coverage of a one-moto National on Saturday afternoon, I’d take that. As long as the fans on site got their full dose of racing, it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s a semantic issue. The AMA already awards points based on motos, not National wins. The National win is, in reality, insignificant. So we go to one-moto Nationals. We get two winners each weekend. And James Stewart has to win 314 of them to equal RC’s “National wins” record. So what.

So think about an afternoon of racing, there are two MX1 nationals. There are two MX2 nationals. The live TV guys can come in at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, or 4:00 and pickup a national race live. In an hour it’s neatly packaged, wrapped up at the end, and commercially viable.

Of course, there’s still the possibility that DMG could go all NASCAR on us and mandate some stuff that’s just not viable. That’s what may be happening in road racing right now. But DMG will learn. These are not idiots – which is a nice change.

Coombs also has a business-like approach to the Supercross-only problem — where a rider chooses to ride only the SX series and forgoes the outdoors, as Chad Reed and Kevin Windham have done, and as James Stewart is rumored to be doing next year. Coombs solution is simple and elegant – make the sport cool again so the riders want to race outdoors. Better race facilities, better purse money, more media coverage, better overall atmosphere. As Coombs says, we all grew up racing outdoors. It’s in our blood. Make it cool thing to do again and the riders will come.

As I have said here before, in my opinion the future of outdoor MX looks bright indeed.