We did the 24 karat gold 110, which meant we had good connections for plating, we knew how to do it, we knew where to get it done, and we started taking it apart, pulled it down to the frame, and got the plating done in 24 karat gold. Then I had talked to him about going out to the track with it, and he said he would rather ride it at the track than on the street. So we went and bought the road-race body work, and we had Race Tech and they anodized all the suspension and put the Ti-Nitrate on the fork legs and all of that stuff. We got a power commander for the ignition and we lightened up the tail section a lot. The pinstriping was done by a company called Tagger out of Elsinore, and they do the helmets for Bubba. They were excited to get involved in this and they worked a couple months on the paint-job. So, to get it all to line up was a little difficult. We had to go borrow a bike and we pulled as many strings as we could. But the painter did an awesome job. We put this together in two days. We got all the parts on Thursday, and we put it together just in time to have it here and give it to Bubba. But we will have it at the Indy Trade Show this year also.”We caught up with Team Yamaha’s Heath Voss before the race. He has long been the sort of blue-collar hero for supercross, and he shared with us how he got over his sickness from last season, and where he feels he missed his calling.Heath Voss Mini-Interview:Dirt Rider: You were sick much of last year. How did you get through that and get healthy for Anaheim?
Heath Voss: Sagi Ishi, he’s a trainer back in Austin [Texas], and a lady, Dr. Nancy Benzel, had helped me through it. The trainer, Sagi, had the same sort of problem in his bicycle-racing career. Mine came about from my crash in March where I bruised my internals and kept training. I got really sick, and they just helped me through it. I had to slow down and take it easy for a while and do things real easy.So, you just gave your immune system time to catch up?
Yeah. And there are some vitamins and stuff like that I was taking that helped.I heard you got a chance to ride in a jet in the off-season.
An F-16, yeah. It was with the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron. It was awesome. I pulled 7 Gs and my abs were sore for about three or four days after that. I missed my calling. I should’ve been a fighter pilot. To go out and get to play with a $200 million piece of equipment, it’s just awesome.What are your expectations on into this series?
I’d just like to be top 10 in the first few races, and I’ll pick it up as it goes on. I hadn’t raced in a while until the two Canadian rounds, and I was struggling, so I hope to stay in the top 10 for now, and top 5 by the end of the series.You’re really the only guy that was racing the Yamaha YZ450F last year before the redesign. What do you think about the new bike compared to last year’s bike?
It’s night and day. The new bike is just incredible. It’s like we stepped into the space age. Just all of the small details, like the radiators are super-thin, and the way you sit on the bike, it just sticks to you. It handles great, and it feels great. The motors have always been awesome, but the bike in the past, when you sat on it, didn’t feel so comfortable. This year it’s totally new.
Mike LaRocco made his four-stroke SX debut at Anaheim, but he did have a noticeably different bike setup than most of his four-stroke brethren, as his CRF didn’t have the stepped seat. “I’ve got stronger legs,” The Rock joked. “No, basically, I don’t know. I just think it looks funny, and I wanted to design my bike so I didn’t need one. It seems awkward. But Pro Circuit did my motors, and we made it really friendly to ride, so I think it’s just one of those things where I’m comfortable without it, and I never really felt I needed to try it.”Another noticeable difference between LaRocco’s CRF and Windham’s CRF parked next to it was the KYB suspension on The Rock’s bike. According to the JC Waterhouse, LaRocco asked Honda if he could try the KYB stuff, and Honda said he could. LaRocco really liked it, so he asked if he could run it, and Honda said he could. However, the components are not full-factory components like those used by Stewart and Reed, but rather just international KYB components that are built to LaRocco’s specifications by Factory Connection.We caught up with Timmy Ferry before his debut on the Unbound Energy/MotoXXX CRF450R, and he was cautiously optimistic. “I just got here yesterday. But so far, it’s been good,” Ferry said. “Obviously, it’s quite a change from full-factory for so many years, but the equipment’s good, the motor’s good—Alan does great work—and the team’s got a lot of support behind it with an outside sponsorship from Unbound, so I think this year will be good. I’m just going to take it race by race and see what happens.”Timmy has a proven track record of being competitive on privateer equipment, spanning back to his days on the Noleen/Sizzler Yamaha team. He says his 6 months off of riding helped him adjust to the Honda quickly. “There’s definitely a little bit of a change, but I feel more comfortable on the four-stroke—and that’s what I was riding when I got hurt at the Nationals,” he said. “I didn’t ride from June until about 6 weeks ago, so it had been so long that it was more of an issue with myself just being uncomfortable, period, then getting used to a new bike. But the Honda’s a good bike and it fits me pretty well. It had been so long, I was jumping front-end high, coming up short, and that was me, not the bike.” He likes the low-pressure environment, though. “I have a lot less pressure. When I was at Yamaha, I was getting paid to podium or race for wins, so right now, I’m a privateer with this team and I’m happy to be here with no pressure. I just want to get back to where I was before the four surgeries. Race shape is a lot different from riding a bicycle.”Unfortunately for Red Dog, a crash in the whoops in his heat race sent him home for the night with a reported sore thumb.Chad Reed Mini Interview
Reedy filled us in on the relief of getting hurt in today’s hectic schedule.Obviously, you’ve made a big change this year, going from the YZ250 to the YZ450F. What have you had to change in your program and your riding style in order to adjust?
Nothing really obvious, other than adjusting to the power difference. But I think it’s just more the fact of every day you ride it, you learn something new about it. Nothing really jumps up and bites you and says, ‘Okay, you’ve got to do this different.’ It’s just little things, like you’ve got to be a little more calm on it—you can’t just grab handfuls because that thing will put you on your ass before you know it.You had some time off to go down to Australia this past off-season and hang out, and with today’s schedule, you don’t get a whole lot of opportunities like that, so how did that help you?
It was awesome. I think, in all honesty, the biggest gift I had all season long was going to Australia and breaking my foot. Honestly, that’s the truth of it. I felt like the season was long, and I’d been racing pretty much since ’98 wide-open, and then two countries later, and two lifestyles later, I finally got a break. It takes its toll. That was it. I just had to back away and heal up and get something else to focus on. To focus on testing, riding and training every day of your life, it kind of wears on you, so you have to think about yourself a little bit, enjoy your married life. To get a bit of a recharge was a good feeling. I’m excited about it this year.What was going through your mind when you broke your foot?
It was funny. At first, it was kind of like, ‘Dang, it hurts and this is a bummer.’ Then when I found out what was up, you kind of add up the time difference that it takes off, and I was excited. It was weird. I compare it with how I felt when I dislocated my shoulder. I knew there was a problem, and I had no time to fix it, and there was no use crying about it. The fact was I had a shoulder that needed fixing and I didn’t have any time to fix it. What do you do? Then it falls out five weeks before the first race, and I just was like, ‘Wow, that feels better. I know it’s going to have to be fixed, and it’s going to be fixed. I may miss the first round or two of supercross, but that’s life. I’m going to be better in the long run.’ And as it turned out, it was the best thing that ever happened. I was re-motivated, I felt fresher than I ever had, and I won 10 races that year and won the title. This year, hopefully, can be the same. Nothing changes. You’ve got the first three guys that can go fast and win races, but it’s all about the title and who can be there every weekend. It’s all about wins. The year I won, I was on the podium every weekend, and when Ricky won last year, he was on the podium every weekend. That’s what it takes.NorCal favorite Eric McCrummen went down before the night program and fractured his pelvis. The MDK rider will be out about 3-4 weeks, and no surgery is required to fix him up.SoBe/Samsung Honda’s Jake Weimer also went down hard before the night show. In the second practice, he had a scary endo over the track’s second triple. “I just tried to stay low off of the triple, and I just slid up the lip, front end down, short, and it was bad,” said Weimer after he limped over to talk with us. “It was not good. After that, I rushed over to the Asterisk deal, got taped up, got X-rays, ran and got dressed, ran back to the line, and it’s kind of a mess. But I’m feeling a little better, and I hope to just get some decent points tonight and salvage it.” Weimer rode tentatively in his daytime qualifier, but recovered for a strong seventh in the main.Many were under the impression that Broc Hepler would be riding the west-coast series in 2006, as he did in 2005. Although he was at Anaheim, he wasn’t racing. “I figured out that I would ride the East coast about a month ago or so, so that was the plan all along,” Hepler said. “We just kind of stuck to it. I feel like I could’ve been ready for tonight, but I think we can even get faster in another month and a half. Everyone’s going to have that time, too, so it’s good and bad. I’m just going to prepare myself and hope for the best.”For James Stewart, though, Anaheim was yet another successful, smart race—his third win in a row. “I want to win,” Stewart said. “It felt good coming up through the pack, and I was just trying to stay up, like I said. When I got up behind Ricky and Chad, I knew it was going to be a great battle.”James believes it’s valuable to have won three very different races. “I think, if we go back to the Canada rounds, I had three different races. I had one where I was leading and went down, and came back up to win that one,” Stewart said. “I had one where I got a good start and was out front. And I had one where I was outside of the top 10 at the start and came up and won this one. I feel really confident in my condition and where I’m at in my program, so it should be good.”Stewart says he felt consistent and in control. “I felt good. I felt I had a consistent pace going,” Stewart said. “Ricky was picking off guys, and I was just trying to stay behind him. That heat race, I just kind of rode the track when Chad went down, and I went around Kyle Lewis, and I was just kind of out by myself. I figured it was a good chance to check out how lines would develop in the main event, so I tried a few different things out there that actually worked out in the main event. These guys actually started jumping that triple-triple section in the middle, too.”Although the racing seems to develop slower, and the riders all look slower because they’re smoother on the four-strokes, Stewart thinks the pace is actually higher now than before. “I think the pace is better. There [were] three two-strokes out there, and they were all kind of farther back,” Stewart said. “I don’t know what to say about Chad and Ricky, but I know my team has been working great. We have one of the best bikes out there—if not the best. I’m just happy to be on the motorcycle that’s working for my advantage. The pace is faster, but it feels a little bit smoother because I’m more in control. It was good.”There were a lot of first-turn crashes at A1, one of which included Chad Reed in the first heat race. “The start was kind of weird this weekend,” Reed said. “It funneled really bad. The riders from the inside and the outside kind of met at a really weird angle. I kind of got the worst of that in the heat race, but I went to the outside in the main event where Ricky started in the heat race, but I didn’t get going the way I wanted to. Guys were going everywhere. I just need to improve a bit on it next week. I feel like my riding was a lot better—I felt good on the bike—and I was just happy that I stepped it up in the main event and did the triple-triple section, so it was a fun race.”Reed looked a lot more comfortable this weekend than he did in Canada. “The way I’ve been riding lately at the races is pretty pathetic, and to go down, I think that was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me this weekend,” Reed said, “I was happy to get out there and just race the way I know how to race. I just wanted to get out there and move around.”Reed has been critical of some tracks in the past that he considered too easy, but he liked Anaheim I. “I think the track is great,” Reed said, “The dirt was probably the best Anaheim dirt that I’ve ever ridden on. Some of the transitions could’ve been a little better, but that’s part of it. Other than that, I was talking to McGrath earlier [about how] it’s one of those tracks that you just needed to be consistent. I felt that it was a track that could really jump up and grab you, just like the smallest mistake that Ricky made.”On a bit of a somber note, Chad Reed said his mechanic of the past three years, Darren Sorensen (AKA: Rookie), got hurt in a motocross crash and is in the hospital, so Alan Olson was filling in. “Rookie, I believe, is in the hospital. The team hasn’t really talked about it a lot,” Reed said, “I heard last night that he’s in the hospital with some bleeding on his brain and stuff like that, and I think they kind of kept it away from me this weekend. I know very little. Two weeks ago, I think he overjumped a jump and broke his ankles, so it’s been a rough off-season. If it wasn’t me getting hit by a car, or my suspension guy getting hit by a car, or Rookie jumping and hurting himself, it’s tough. We’re down to a couple people, so it’s tough to come to the races and everyone has a lot of work to do, and to have Rookie in the back of your head. He’s not in the greatest shape right now. It makes it hard.”Ricky Carmichael held the lead in the main event for three turns before he went down in the whoops. “Chad started doing the rhythm in the center of the track there, and once I started doing that, I was able to close up on him and got by him,” Carmichael said, “It’s just a shame. I felt really good tonight, and I couldn’t put it together. I fell down, and I got beat. So we’ll go on to another race. It’s just a shame I couldn’t put it together for myself, my team, and everyone around me.”He felt like he let people down by crashing. “The track was tough tonight for sure. A long set of whoops, and they were trying to do work on them all day. The mistakes came. It was a tight track. It seems like you were bound up all the time. Everything was right out of the turn, but everybody has the same track to ride. The shame for me was that it was going to be a fun race, and it was what everybody wanted to see, and I just fell down.”Carmichael has never won Anaheim I. “I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to win the first Anaheim, and I’ve never done that in my career,” Carmichael said, “I’m running out of time, so I need to do it. That’s for sure. I don’t know what it is. I think I’ve gotten third three or four times at the first race. If that’s any kind of omen, I’ll take it. I really wanted to win the first race just to sort of check off something on my list of goals, but it didn’t happen, so we’ll move on. This race always gets me some how, some way, so it’s over with and we’ll head to Phoenix. I really enjoy Phoenix.”RC is looking to improve. “I think that we can always be better, and for sure I think I can be better, but it takes a team effort,” Carmichael said, “They’re working hard, and they know they need to be better, and I know I need to be better, so we’ve got to do something, because what we’re doing, unfortunately, isn’t cutting it. James is setting the tone, for sure, and I want to try to make him work for it, and do the best we can.”Andrew Short was dominant in the Lites main, coming from quite a ways back to win it. “I switched my lines in the whoops, and that seemed to help. It’s just the first race, and I’ll be a lot better from here on out—as will everyone else—and I know we’re not going to get so lucky to have Langston and Ramsey go down,” Short said, “They’re going to be tough for the rest of the season. They have a lot of experience; they’re veterans and they’re going to be there, so I can’t get a bad start like I did tonight. Once I improve on that, I think I’ll be a lot stronger and I’ll be able to get out in front of the pack and put some laps in.”Short was noticeably faster at Anaheim than he was at Vancouver. “Yeah, that’s why I raced those races, so I would be ready here, and it worked,” Short said, “I put in some good laps tonight, and I still have a lot to improve on, but I think it really benefited me to race those races. The last Canadian race, I did horrible, and it’s a good wake-up call for me. I knew I had to step it up and I think I did. I felt a lot stronger this week, and it seemed to help. It’s going to be a long series.”So why all of the results now, instead of last year? What changed? “I put a lot of pressure on myself last year,” Short said, “I finally had a good bike, and I was on a very prestigious team with Honda, and I had it in my mind that I had to win. I was just kind of scared, and it wasn’t a healthy environment for me to be in, and now I realize that. Now I just try and have fun and it’s a great place to be and a great bike to ride.”Short thanked Jeremy McGrath on the podium: “I ride with him every day. Every day he’s at the track, I’m at the track, as well as Ernesto,” Short said, “We’re all kind of on the same program, and it’s really benefited me—especially to have someone to ask questions and there’s no one better for that than the King himself. He’s a great guy. I’ve learned a lot from him, and I can’t thank him enough.”Short didn’t expect that Langston, Alessi and Ramsey would all crash out of contention. “You never know with our class,” Short said, “It’s always very unpredictable. I didn’t expect Ryan [Villopoto] to be as strong—he was pretty impressive for his first race. I know I’m going to have to step it up. I also know that those other two are going to be tough—especially Langston. He’s won championships, he’s got experience. And Ramsey, it’s not his first time around the block. Alessi’s a quick learner and he has a lot of drive, so all three of us are ready for the fight, but none of us are going to take it for granted being up here. We’ve got a lot of work to do. It will be fun. It makes it fun going to the starting line when you never know who’s going to be up here. It feels like we deserved it and did something great. Maybe we can show the old guys something new, but I don’t expect it every week.”Ryan Villopoto just broke his collarbone four weeks ago, yet he shows up at Anaheim I and podiums in his first attempt after leading 2/3 of the race. “I just wanted top-five, and it wasn’t looking so good in the qualifiers because I had to go to the last chance, but I pulled it off,” Villo said, “I’m 100%, for sure. It doesn’t hurt at all. When I started riding, from then on, it was fine. No pain at all.”Scott’s Bevo Forte asked RV what he learned. “For sure, I need to breathe more while I’m out there,” Villopoto said. “I think I was only breathing like three times over the finish line, and after that, I don’t know if I was breathing or not. And also need to ride a smart race, even if you are out there. I’d rather get top three or top five than crash out.”