Posts are a little slow of late. MuddyWatersMX.net is undergoing transition to a new technology platform and I’m working on a few other things. Converting all the articles and posts is a bit of a job so until I get them all done I’ll be limiting the new material. But stay tuned. The new site will eliminate the need for you to create an account to post comments, give you more flexibility in using the site, and be better for search engines so you can find things easier.

If you’re an MX fan, real MX — 2-minute laps, turns that not 180-degrees, off-cambers, uphills, downhills, simple things like that — you owe it to yourself to check out the freecaster.tv live coverage of the MX GPs. It’s really teriffic — great technical quality, nice user interface, and solid overall experience. SPEED TV, are you watching???

Oh, they have archives too, if you can’t catch the race live. But watching it live is very good.

ama-roadracerSPEED has announced a new, weekly TV show featuring AMA Pro racing beginning March 21 at 10:00 or 11:00 pm ET.

The show is primarily road racing. It will feature flag-to-flag coverage of AMA Pro Racing’s American Superbike and Daytona Sportbike, coverage of other road racing classes, and highlights of other AMA Pro disciplines.

Supercross announcer Ralph Sheheen will host the in-studio segments, Rolex sports car announcer Leigh Diffie will handle race coverage, and former Two Wheel Tuesday host Greg White will be responsible for pit coverage. The show will feature guest interviews, expert analysis, and industry news.

This looks like a really good show. It would be nice if they’d add some Moto-X coverage, but maybe we’ll get there. The on-air talent looks good with Diffey and White supporting Sheheen. I’m softening on Sheheen. If he’s willing to put the time and effort in to really push the sport I have to give the guy props. It’s been a long time — since Dave Despain hosted Motoworld back in the ’80s — since we had a full-on moto racing show. Wish I had a Tivo.

I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that Daytona is and will be the best SX race of the year. Mostly for all the reasons that make it the least Supercross-like of all the races — longer track, no 180-degree bowl turns, multiple soil types, varied obstacles, really rough.

What a wild get-off by Austin Stroupe in the 250 main. What carnage in the 450 first turn. What a T-bone by Milsaps on Mike Alessi. What a ride by Stewart to get back to 7th with a busted bike and probably a bang-up headache.

Great coverage on SPEED — the best all year. The ground-level shots were great. The real-time whoops coverage was very cool. Even the SPEED commentary team is getting better. Or maybe I’m softening up. But Shaheen seems to be learning something about the sport and is less reliant on overblown platitudes. Erin Bates’ malapropisms are much less frequent, and less noticeable.

This says they’re trying, and take their work seriously. I can respect that. Let’s hope they keep pushing to improve — just like the racers they cover.

The racing was good. Lots of action. Rough, long track actually made fitness an issue, not something that happens in any other SX race, really. Stewart took a beating in the first-turn crash that looked, to me, like he initiated it with a little too much front stopper. Front wheel went right out from under him mid-pack and created carnage.

Reed got held up but stayed upright, and made a good charge through the pack to catch a pooped-out Jason Lawrence in the last couple laps for the win. Milsaps rammed the crap out of Mike Alessi on the last lap to take third. Stewart managed to work his way back to 7th.

All in all, it was a great race. The best SX I’ve seen in a long, long time. Congrats to SPEED for really doing the show right. Michael Byrne did not rejoin the race after taking a pretty brutal hit in the first-turn melee. And Tim Ferry dropped out a lap or so in with some sort of ankle problem, also after the big crash. Here’s hoping both are ok.

lusk-kod-240By now everyone in the dirt bike world knows of the unfortunate death of FMX star Jeremy Lusk. I never met Jeremy but, by all accounts, he was a good guy. He was certainly talented, and the outpouring of public sentiment following his accident is a tribute to his character. It was so great the family is actually providing a live webcast of his memorial service.

What I want to say is that I do not mourn for Jeremy Lusk. Jeremy was an adrenaline junkie. I believe he knew he was risking his life every time he performed. I believe that’s why he did it. He lived for the thrill of cheating death, of doing something few, maybe no one else, would try. And I believe he knew there was always a risk of ending up on the losing side of the equation.

Some will say that racers are the same, but they are not. The difference may be small, and one of degree rather than kind, but it is different. Racers are not explicitly cheating death. They are competing with the track, with their fellow racers, and with themselves. But their challenges come in increments of 100ths of a second as they shave time off lap after lap.

No racer gets into racing with the idea of cheating death. It’s something else that drives them. For this reason I think it’s unfortunate that MX/SX have been packaged and sold as “extreme” sports. FMX riders, and extreme athletes of all kinds, are farther out on the ragged edge, looking for the biggest thrill they can find and willing to accept the consequences of their actions.

FMX riders will ride when no one is watching. They don’t do it for the money, the glory, or anything except the raw thrill of pulling a big stunt and surviving. Day after day, they charge head-first into far more risk than most of us — even racers — would ever knowingly accept. That’s what makes them special.

After base jumping and parachuting, FMX (and other motorized extreme stunting) is probably the most dangerous activity you can pursue. The real tragedy of Jeremy’s death is that it wasn’t a big stunt that killed him. It wasn’t some new, untried trick. It was a trick he had done a hundred times or more. Something he had landed, and even crashed, and survived over and over.

Maybe he was a little tired, or jet-lagged, or just off a bit. Maybe he even knew it, and pushed on anyway. Or maybe it was situational — the surface, the weather, or something else. Whatever it was, it caused enough of a slip to create a crash from which he would never wake up.

The top FMX riders cheat death with a style and grace that defies imagination. They live life in a fast lane that is so far past the normal spectrum most of us can’t even see it. Some people call them crazy, and a few actually are. Some will say they have a death wish. But I think they have an insatiable life wish. I think they want to see and feel and live at the very edge of existence.

Jeremy took one too many chances. He pushed one step too far on a night when he just wasn’t quite up to the challenge. We should mourn his loss because it has extinguished a flame that could light the way for all of us, showing us a fearlessness that can serve us all in our daily lives.

But we should not mourn Jeremy Lusk. We should celebrate his life, and let him live on in the ideals he so embodied. The thirst for life, the drive for going farther, the willingness to do whatever it took to reach his goals. While we may not want to emulate his actions, we would do well to emulate his spirit.

God speed, Jeremy (11/26/1984 to 2/9/2009.)

The AMA Pro Racing-sponsored team of Jeff Ward, Scott Russell, and Jason Pridmore completed the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 11th place. The team suffered a near race-ending pit fire around noon on Sunday, with four hours left to complete.

“Mr. Daytona” Scott Russell had just climbed into the car when he smelled fuel. The crew lifted the deck lid and everything went up in smoke. Russell dived out of the car as a hail of fire extinguishing powder was aimed at the flaming vehicle.

The crew worked to clean up the mess and get the car back on the track, managing to complete 649 laps and cross the finish line in 11th place.

Daytona Prototype, and the equivalent American LeMans LMP1, are probably my favorite kind of four-wheel racing. For me it brings back the glory days of Can-Am McLarens, Jim Hall’s Chaparrals, the incredible Porsche 917, and the killer Ford GT40.

The late 1960s and early 1970s were a golden era orf sportscar racing, when technology and innovation came from iconic mavericks more than big corporations. Wild ideas were routinely tried on the race track, and being different was a badge of honor.

Sadly, that has all fallen away, much as has happened in motorcycling. Technology has come too far. We know the very best ways to do almost everything. And advantage is measured in milliseconds by onboard computers. But I still remember…

usvmx_logo-th5Rick Doughty, of Vintage Iron fame has announced the new, national VMX series — the U.S. Vintage Motocross Series.

This has been in the works for a while. It’s the first vintage national MX series (to my knowledge) not promoted by the American Historic Motorcycle Racing Association (AHRMA). The off-road portion of AHRMA in general, and the MX group in particular, has suffered quite a few issues over the past couple of years. Many of the local and regional clubs upon which AHRMA was based began to chafe under the organization’s rules, politics, and restrictions.

Even my own Southeast region group defected and went off on their own in 2007 after months of internal discussion and debate. A couple of others across the nation did the same thing — establishing their own series and point structures. Add this to the existing base of non-AHRMA groups and you have a fairly large collection of riders who wanted to a national series outside of the AHRMA umbrella. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

I have mixed feelings about this. The sport of Vintage MX has grown and matured and it’s a natural consequence of growth that people will have differing desires and objectives. In this sense, the USVMX series is a sign that the sport is growing and the market is evolving to serve it.

Competition also serves to send a message to incumbent players that things may need to change. If there is enough momentum to support this new series, AHRMA will be forced to re-examine it’s policies and procedures in light of dwindling membership and attendance at their own races.

Make no mistake — it’s far from assured that USVMX will survive. There is always risk when a startup takes on the challenge of a well-established competitor. And that’s where I’m concerned. While VMX has grown, it’s not clear that it’s grown enough to support two national series. With the economic slow down it’s possible that one or the other will not survive.

If USVMX ultimately survives the consequences for a financially strapped AHRMA could be serious. The organization is already in severe financial trouble after a lengthy and controversial law suit. I don’t know what percentage of the AHRMA membership is just in it for VMX, but I suspect it’s not inconsequential. I would hate to see AHRMA seriously damaged.

I wish Rick and the entire USVMX team well. In the end, the market will win. What economist Joseph Schumpeter termed “creative destruction” will ultimately reshape the VMX landscape to what the market wants. It may be a bumpy ride, and we may not end up where we thought. But that’s the way it is these days.

ama24hrdaytonaThis is pretty cool. Former AMA Champions Scott Russell, Reg Pridmore, and Jeff Ward are planning to compete in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car event later this month. Russell, known as “Mr. Daytona” for his five wins in the Daytona 200 motorcycle race, and Pridmore are competing in their first sports car race. Ward, who has extensive race car experience and finished second in the 1999 Indy 500, competed in the Daytona event in 1997.

The American Motorcyclist Association is the primary sponsor on the car. To my knowledge this is the first time the AMA has ever done such a thing and, if the car does well, it could be great exposure for the association. Former AMA champ Ricky Carmichael, known as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) was originally scheduled to drive the event but withdrew, probably to focus on his budding NASCAR Truck career.

I don’t expect these guys to have a shot at winning, but I’d sure like to see them get a Top 5 and represent the motorcycle racing community in style. Here’s wishing them good luck.