Off weekend here in the USA and there are just three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross races left until the whole thing is a wrap, then we can start debating about the Motocross of Nations and all that. I mean, I will engage with you people on the Herlings/Tomac debate, but I would rather not. How about we not let one race on a fall day decide on who is better? How about we just say that both riders are amazing and the crown for “Fastest Man in the World" is shared? That is where I am at with this despite some media wanting to feed the flames constantly for clicks.
Ok, whew. Glad I got that off my chest. Here are some random topics for a random day.
– Blake Baggett of the RM ATV/MC KTM team has not had the kind of year he would have wanted, although he is a podium threat at most races. Last year, of course, we saw him capture a win and be a race-winning threat. Baggett’s adaptation to the new KTM 450 SX-F has not been as smooth as last year and he has also been the victim of some bad starts and crashes. There are times though when the “old" Chupacabra lurks in there. Practice times, late moto charges… That kind of stuff.
I found it interesting that Baggett said on the podium at Washougal that he might need to ride with some other fast riders to try and up his game on the weekends. Of course, uber-trainer Aldon Baker really made this popular with his pairing of elite guys. Riders like Chad Reed, Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart have usually had someone pretty good around them to practice with. But generally speaking, there is a pecking order of speed. Two main rivals do not usually work out well together although there have been exceptions.
So, while I admire Baggett's search to try something to get better, I am just not sure it will work. He was not riding with anyone on his level last year and he was, until injury, pretty amazing. Hey man, whatever works I suppose. I just do not have faith that these long-term riding buddy relationships work when two guys are the same elite speed. Heck, Jason Anderson barely rode with Marvin Musquin this year at Baker’s because, once Ryan Dungey retired, both guys wanted to be the alpha-dog.
– Chad Reed. Remember him? I texted back and forth with Reed this week about his plans for next year and he reiterated that he wants to still race, but only if someone can hire him. It didn’t sound like he wanted to do his own thing like he did last year. 2018 was a disaster for Reed, he hurt himself at Red Bull Straight Rhythm (an event he says he is doing again) and was never prepared for the season. It never really got any better for the 22.
Smash cut to this year and he looks to be in shape, he has been training a bit and hopefully he gets a chance at going out the way he wants to. I am not super optimistic that a factory team will pay him but what if he got some factory parts from Honda (he seems to be leaning that way) and does a deal with Bullfrog/MCR Honda alongside Justin Brayton? Team owner Mike Genova would seem to be the type of guy that would love having Reed under his tent, he has got the means to make it happen and the team has come a long way recently. I do not know anything for sure, just spit-balling here folks. I hope Reed races again, because I do not want that 2018 season to be my lasting memory of the legend.
– Recently Fly Racing had their launch up in Idaho for their 2019 line of gear. That part was cool and all that, but what was interesting to me was getting a chance to have Zach Osborne and the great Damon Bradshaw interview each other for a Racer X podcast. I found it pretty interesting in that their careers were totally different. Both were highly touted amateur racers, but Bradshaw was amazing right away and then, like some sort of comet, flamed out early. Osborne was a bust as a pro early on, went to Europe and slogged his way back to the USA to become a three-time champion.
Those parts of their careers are different but another similarity they have in that Osborne’s return to USA on a factory team (GEICO Honda) and Bradshaw’s return to racing after a year and a half off (in 1996) they both said they appreciated the chance more than they did the first time around. Anyways, have a listen, I found it very insightful, but I am a tad biased.
– 2019 silly season is in full effect right now and it looks like just about everything is settled for the big OEM factory teams. So, what is after that for some big names? I am not exactly sure, there are always the fill-in rides that will pop up when, unfortunately, injuries strike but seriously, there are going to be some great riders that have nothing when the music stops. We talked about Reed above but what about Malcolm Stewart, Justin Bogle, Dean Wilson, Tyler Bowers, Phil Nicoletti and Jake Weimer to name just a few? MotoConcepts Honda might take a guy, maybe HEP Suzuki, but the pickings are going to be slim for some of these riders and that is too bad.
With the big salary demands of the very elite few, there are only twelve 450F factory rides out there while, because of the regional series and lower salaries, there are twenty-three rides in the 250 class. Theoretically the goal should be making it to the premier class, aka 450s, to make serious money, but instead it seems to be a race to stay down in the 250s to preserve your career. If you are one of twelve riders, life is good. Other than that it is slim pickings, despite the fact that a tenth in the 450SX class is approximately thirty times harder than a tenth in 250SX. Yes, this is all ridiculous but, hey, at least I do not have to be one of those guys looking at 250SX wins and titles and wonder why my phone is not ringing at all. Tough gig for the 450 guys.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Octopi