High temperatures and extreme humidity welcomed the Dirt Rider staff to the East Coast this past week. Jimmy Lewis was joined by photographer Adam Campbell, new guy Chris Denison, Publisher Sean Finley and Test Editor Corey Neuer on Sunday night after flying in from a WORCS event in Washington. We met up with Boston-based internet sales manager Jeff Melei and NY-based sales manager Damian Ercole, who organized most of our third annual Dirt Rider East Coast industry ride day.A lot of the world’s top companies and riders are based in the Northeast, so we’ve made a point of holding this annual event to stay in touch with the East side of the moto-industry.First on our agenda for the weekend, before heading down to Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, was the Southwick Motocross. Extremely humid conditions combined with the brutally rough and sandy MX 338 track made the Southwick National a survival contest for most of the competitors, including James Stewart, who was forced to retire from the first moto when he felt too fatigued to continue. Ricky Carmichael seemed unaffected by the extreme conditions, but his amazing 31-moto win streak was finally broken when he took over 30 seconds to re-fire his RMZ-450 after a small crash. The very-deserving Chad Reed finally won his first 250 moto because he was able to hold the gap, even once Ricky got back on his pace. Think about how many Nationals Chad and Kevin Windham might have won over the past couple of years if RC was not racing!Grant Langston had the added challenge of competing with a recently dislocated ankle (at the Hangtown National). He was again hauled off the track on the Asterisk medical unit mule after aggravating the injury during the second practice on Sunday morning. In spite of that, Langston won his second AMA National this year with a heroic 2-1 moto score. Mike Alessi proved again that he is for real by winning the first moto but a second moto crash left him with an injured shoulder. Mike Brown ended up second overall for the day but still holds the points lead—which is pretty amazing when you consider the number of factory-supported riders in the field.A three-hour drive after Southwick got us down to Englishtown, NJ for our Monday industry ride. Rich Schmidt and his staff did a great job prepping the Raceway Park track, which is home to the Kawasaki Race of Champions each fall.Factory Connection, Ohlins, Pro Pilot, Michelin, Bridgestone, Pirelli, Twin Air, SFB, Cycra, Boyesen, Arai, Smith goggles, Regina Chain, Husqvarna, Fast By Ferracci, Parts Unlimited, SBS brakes, Fox racing, Moose racing, Thor, Race tools, PowerSeal, Works Enduro Rider, Spectro Oil, Zoo York, Spy Optic and Active-8 were among the companies that had representatives on hand to show off their latest products.
The Dirt Rider staff got to work testing as many of these items as possible to share with you in future issues of Dirt Rider. We also gave these top industry personnel an opportunity to ride the great Raceway Park Racetrack, which allowed all of us to experience first-hand how the pro’s must have felt while trying to compete in hot, humid conditions.
Following our industry ride day, we added a second day at Raceway Park to try out some of the top support-team bikes. Samsung Honda, Factory Connection Honda, Motorsport Outlet Honda, Subway Honda and WBR Suzuki all let the Dirt Rider team spend a day riding some of the top bikes in the Nationals. As you can imagine, they were all very impressive in their own right. We’ll be sure to give you an in-depth look at each of the bikes in a future issue of Dirt Rider.
Just to keep our egos in check, we allowed Billy Laninovich, Travis Preston, Ivan Tedesco, Timmy Weigand, Turbo Reif, Rusty Holland and Mark Eastwood (a top British rider here competing in some Nationals) to share the track and show us how slow we are in spite of the top National team bikes beneath us. It was amazing to watch these guys put in 40 minute moto’s at race pace in the hot conditions. When you see the blingin’ cars, motorhomes and race equipment these guys have, it is easy to forget about the training and effort necessary to be competitive at the National level.Before heading home, we made one last stop on our East Coast road trip to the Spectro facility. We got a very impressive tour of the facility, and Spectro has a great group of enthusiast at the helm. East coast sales manager Damian Ercole (in the photo on the right) tours the warehouse. How many oil changes do you think that tank holds?We would like to thank all of the companies and individuals who attended the third annual Dirt Rider East Coast Ride day and a special thanks to the Active-8 and Red Bull staff for helping to provide the first class home base. Check out some more great action photos from the East Coast Ride Day courtesty of local photographer Scott Lukaitas. His gallery can be found online at www.lukaitisphoto.smugmug.com/gallery/598729/1