Thanks for droppin’ in on Weekly Dirt, the place to go each week to catch up on the latest news in the world of off-road. This week we’ve got a hodgepodge of off-road nuggets, so let’s get to it!
There was bad news for Kevin Windham this week, as it appears the GEICO Honda rider will be sitting out the rest of the AMA Supercross season due to injuries suffered in a crash this past weekend in Houston.At the time of the crash, Windham was locked in a fierce battle with James Stewart in one of the heat races and after exchanging leads with the Yamaha rider several times over the course of the race, Windham went over the bars and injured his should, wrist, hip and thumb.”I’ve definitely got a dislocated shoulder so that ends my season right there,” Windham said. “I’ve had my wrist examined by two doctors; one said it was broken and the other one said it’s not. It’s very swollen and black and blue so it’s hard for them to tell. I’m going to see another specialist and have an MRI done to see exactly what’s up. We just need get it fixed properly.”I can’t move my left thumb at all and my hip hurts. I’m not really sure what’s going on with either of them at the moment. I’m basically hurting all over.”Windham, who made his 200th career SX start, was having a solid season, and had just set the fastest time in qualifying for the Houston race.”It’s disappointing,” Windham said. “I’ve been lucky at avoiding big get-offs like the one I had in Houston for the past several years. Staying healthy has been a big part of my career going this long. But even after this one I’m not done. I’ll be back for sure.”Windham had no plans of racing this summer’s outdoor AMA Motocross Series and no offers to do so – so he’ll concentrate on regaining his health and making another run in 2013.”A big ‘thanks’ to all the fans who have Tweeted and left messages on Facebook wishing me well,” Windham said. “And to all my friends in the industry that have called or e-mailed. It really means a lot to me and my family. I’ll be at the New Orleans race and we’ll try to get out to Vegas for the finals. I want to stay involved and hang out with the fans as much as possible.”
Over $10,000 in purse money has been posted for the opening round of the 2012 AMA MotoTrials series, which will be held on May 19-20 in Cahuilla, California. If you live in the area and you’ve never seen a pro-level national trials, then this would be a great one to take in. Trials is a visually spectacular sport to watch first-hand, and a very rewarding one to participate in. For more information check out www.mototrial.us.Two prominent women MXers recently signed deals to compete in this year’s Women’s Motocross Championship (WMX) series. Honda just announced the addition of multi-time Japanese Women’s champ Sayaka Kaneshiro to Team Honda Muscle Milk, while Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki Yoshimura Bel Ray One Industries Losi announced the signing of Jessica Patterson.Kaneshiro will join three-time Women’s Motocross Champion Ashley Fiolek aboard factory prepared Honda CRF250Rs. After winning multiple championships in Japan, Kaneshiro moved to the United States and continued racing as a 20-year-old privateer, placing in the top 10 her first full year racing the 2011 WMX series, and grabbing a sixth at the 2011 X-Games Women’s Motocross event.Meanwhile, Patterson, a six-time Women’s Pro Motocross Champion, will round out an already potent Rockstar Energy Racing team including riders Blake Wharton, Martin Davalos, Hunter Hewitt and Jason Anderson.Patterson and Kaneshiro will make their WMX debuts with their respective teams at the first round of the 2012 Women’s Motocross Championship at the Hangtown Motocross Classic, in Sacramento, CA on May 19th.AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame 2012 nominees
The American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation announced this week its 2012 nominees for induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The names of 26 individuals, each highly accomplished in the sport, business and lifestyle of motorcycling, compose the ballot from which the class of 2012 will be selected for induction into the Hall of Fame.Hall of Fame nominees are selected from a number of specialties within two main categories. The non-competition category includes ambassadors/industry, design/engineering and leadership/motorcyclist rights advocates, and the competition category includes flat track, motocross/Supercross, off-road, roadracing, and specialty competition.The 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame nominees (alphabetically):• Mark Buckner – National/international motorcycling rights advocate, past state coordinator for ABATE of Colorado, past board member/president/chairman of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.
• Rod Bush (d. 2005) – Industry leader as former president of KTM North America and member of KTM worldwide board of directors, former member of AMA Board of Directors.
• Derek “Nobby” Clark — Factory mechanic and tuner for numerous World Grand Prix roadracing championships and Daytona 200 and Imola 200 victories from the 1960-80s.
• Ty Davis – Multiple championships in AMA Grand National Enduro, AMA National Hare & Hound and Baja 1000, 1990 125cc Supercross champion, multitime ISDE gold medalist and top American.
• Skip Eaken – Tuner/builder for riders who finished first in dozens of AMA Grand National Dirt Track competitions, crew chief for three AMA Grand National Championships and an AMA Superbike Championship.
• Jimmy Ellis – First AMA Supercross Series champion and multitime motocross champion.
• Sue Fish – A pioneer of professional women’s motocross racing in the 1970s and ’80s, multitime Women’s World Champion and two-time Superbowl of Motocross champion.
• Louis Gerencer – Multitime National Hillclimb champion and past president of the Hillclimbers Association.
• Charles Gustafson Sr. (d. 1951) – Indian chief engineer who developed the first side-valve engine that debuted in 1916, and is also credited with developing the first kickstarter.
• Tommy Hays – (d. 1941) The dominant TT rider of the pre-Grand National Championship era who won numerous AMA National Championships in four years.
• Jack Johnson – Multitime desert racing champion with numerous Baja 1000 wins, silver and gold International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) medalist.
• Ron Lechien – 1983 AMA Rookie of the Year, 1985 125 Motocross National Champion, multitime USGP winner, numerous outdoor national motocross wins and Supercross wins.
• Bob Leppan – World’s fastest motorcyclist 1966-1970 who directed the team that set the 2007 land speed record for production motorcycles.
• John Long – Bonneville Land Speed record holder, five-time U.S. Team member for Anglo-American Match Races, numerous starts in AMA national roadraces and Daytona 200s.
• Dennis Mahan – Mechanic for numerous dirt-track, motocross and roadracing champions, first U.S Motocross des Nations team manager, industry racing manager and product specialist.
• Rob Muzzy – Engine builder/tuner, crew chief, team owner and businessman with numerous AMA roadracing, drag racing, dirt-track and motocross titles and Daytona 200 wins, a World Superbike Championship and a Suzuka 8-hour endurance championship.
• Don Pink – (d. 1984) Dominant 1940s competitor in numerous disciplines, AMA congressman, founder of the New York State Dealers Association and the NY/NJ Metropolitan Sports Committee.
• Randy Renfrow – (d. 2002) Multitime AMA National road racing champion, winner of numerous AMA national races, and a consistent winner in 250 GP racing.
• Jarno Saarinen – (d. 1973) Finnish roadracing world champion and the first European to win the Daytona 200.
• Brian Slark – England-born motocross organizer in the 1960s, imported/built Rickman, Metisse and Cheney motocrossers and helped establish the Mungenast and Barber motorcycle museums.
• Rodney Smith – Multiple championships in AMA Grand National Cross Country, AMA National Hare Scrambles and AMA National Reliability Enduro, multitime ISDE gold medalist and top American, third in 1988 FIM 125cc World Motocross Championship.
• Gloria Struck – North American and European world traveler and motorcycling ambassador, Motor Maids member since 1946.
• Charlie Vincent – Top 1960s off-road racing competitor in the eastern United States, ISDT gold medalist and AMA congress delegate.
• Lance Weil – (d. 2006) Roadracer, mechanic, designer, fabricator and businessman, competed in Europe and the Isle of Man, and the founder of Rickey Racer.
• Al Wilcox (d. 2011) – Life member of the AMA and the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Club who flagged AMA races for 50 years (and WERA for 30), including 15 years at Daytona.
• Gene Wirwahn – Credited with building the foundation for the AMA’s government relations advocacy efforts, championed numerous legislative victories and actively promoted responsible riding on behalf of the AMA and the FIM.In the coming weeks, six new members representing the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2012 will be elected from these nominees — three from non-competition categories and three from competition categories. The Hall of Fame class of 2012 will be announced this summer, and the new members will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame at a gala ceremony on Nov. 16 at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, Nev., during the AMA Legends Weekend. Ticket information will be announced soon at www.MotorcycleMuseum.org.
When the dust settled on the 26th MasterCraft Safety/Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 last month, three of the four top teams expected to vie for the win had a rider in the hospital for at least an overnight stay. Even the winning FMF/Bonanza Plumbing KTM duo of Kurt Caselli and Ivan Ramirez experienced a high-speed crash, though Caselli acknowledged he was lucky to avoid hurting himself as well as his factory-backed 450. While it was the most competitive field in recent history, it also yielded a seeming record number of get-offs in Baja’s most notoriously rough areas.
Why?Caselli put the blame not on the renewed interest or deeper fields but on a SCORE rule change: “As far as crashing goes this year, you know, they upped the limit on the [overall diameter of] Trophy truck tires from 37-inch to 42-inch. Some of the guys are running 42s with 28-inch rims! I don’t know if anybody knows how big that is, but it’s huge!“When you get a bigger wheel like that, obviously the horsepower is there [in] the trucks to push it [and] you’re going to make bigger bumps. And everything you’re riding in San Felipe is developed from trucks–all the Trophy trucks, all the buggies, they develop the course to get rough and we [on bikes] have to try to figure out and adjust the bike to make it work through truck whoops.“Well, when you’re running an 18-inch [motorcycle] wheel compared to a 42, you’re going to be a little off so what I found is you can’t set the bike up anything like what you’re used to racing in the States or even just racing a motorcycle race. It has to be completely unbalanced–the front end has to be a lot stiffer and ride a lot higher; the rear end has to sit down a little bit lower but also move a lot faster, rebound’s a lot freer just to keep the front end up on the whoops and [let] the rear end track through all of those big bumps.“The rocks were the biggest issue, I believe. I know ‘Brownie’ (Mike Brown) and I spent two weeks pre-running, and every day it was, ‘Man, if these rocks weren’t here it’d be fine–we wouldn’t have a problem!’“With the whoops we’re able to do a certain speed and that’s about as fast as you can go through the whoops. There’s no doubt that myself or anyone on my team or Honda’s team or Kawi’s team, we all have the same capabilities. We can all ride just as fast; nobody really is outstanding [compared to] anybody else.“I think it just came down to lines and staying safe. I mean, I went down in the first 30 [miles]; I crashed and I really had to take a step back: ‘Okay, just get the bike there [to Ivan].’“It’s tough. It was the first race [of the series], there was a lot of hype, a lot of teams, there was a lot of good riders, everybody’s talking about it. For us [on bikes], it was like going into Anaheim 1 after being off for so long.“This year it’s a learning curve for KTM and myself. I don’t have a lot of experience in Baja, [but] I’m learning slowly. I’ve got some great assets between Ivan Ramirez and Quinn Cody. For me, it’s really fun–it’s something new.”What isn’t new is Caselli’s trust in the hybrid bike that KTM provided for him and the Brown/Cody pair. Basically, it consisted of Caselli’s AMA hare & hound rolling chassis and a factory-built 450 Rally engine. Carbureted.“Internally, there’s quite a few things that are different [from my hare & hound motor],” he confesses. “It runs a lot cooler and it’s got a lot of power. We’re running a lot of power in the hare & hounds, but that Rally bike is in its own league!“We were all, when we first went out and tested the bikes–myself, Mike Brown, Ivan and Quinn–we were all pretty amazed how much horsepower it was putting out and how fast it was but also how smooth and reliable it felt. It’s not a supercross motor that revs to the moon; it’s really mellow, strong power that you feel like you’re in an overdrive just kind of cruising when you’re going top speed.”And as if that wasn’t enough, Caselli reveals that there’s more available: “I guess I can say that the gearing that we tested with was…more of a motocross gearing than what we ran in [the race]. We did 118 miles an hour [in testing] and that was with gearing that we could’ve got a lot faster with. I really think in the 1000 and 500, we’re pushing around 125 miles an hour and that’s something that you can run all day on that motor. It feels strong and it feels completely reliable. It makes me smile because I know we definitely have the fastest bike out there, but it’s also going to elevate the level for everybody. (By comparison, the JCR Honda CRF450X reportedly tops out in the 112 MPH range.)“A lot of people have their doubts about KTM [durability in Baja] and I’ve never had a doubt in my mind that the bike can finish both [the Baja 500 and 1000] with no problem,” Caselli insists. “I’m looking to prove that, and how we finish, that’s icing on the cake.“I’m in this for a few years so I really want to put some emphasis on building a strong base and building a structure around KTM’s Baja effort and just continue our program.“It was definitely fun–not so much winning the San Felipe 250 in 2012 but starting a new era, starting a new presence in Baja and bringing that prestige back to desert racing, to off-road racing.” —Mark KariyaThanks for stopping in and be sure to check back next week for more off-road news.