After fourteen weeks of non-stop racing, the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Series was in need of a breath of fresh air. That’s not to say that the on-track action has been boring, not at all, but the constant travel, the same stadiums in familiar towns, and similar outcomes at each race tends to wear on people. Luckily, we were treated to an excellent weekend in a new venue, as the series stopped in Nashville for the first time in history. The Tennessee town has long been a cultural center for food, music, and good times, but its recent rise to prominence made it a perfect addition to the seventeen-race series and we’re sure it’ll become a mainstay on the schedule. What’d we see in Daytona? Read on…
The past sixteen months have not been great for Martin Davalos and it all goes back to the first turn crash at the 2018 Arlington Supercross, which left the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider with a broken neck and damage to the ACL and MCL in his knee. Davalos has not been his usual speedy self in 2019 and a recent examination with doctors revealed that the damage to his neck has resulted in brachial plexus edema, which is damage to the nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the arms. Davalos said that the nerve injury causes his hand and arm to lock up, that he hadn’t ridden much since Indianapolis, and underwent a procedure in recent weeks to alleviate the issue. To win both the Heat Race and Main Event is a massive step forward for the veteran racer, as he’s been short on success in the last two years and has been vocal that his career is nearing its end. Davalos made it clear in the post-race press conference that yes, this win is important, but he hopes to land a full-time 450 ride in 2020. Considering his results outdoors on the big bike in 2017 and his long career indoors on the 250, it wouldn’t be a massive risk for a team to sign him.
These two went at it in Nashville. We watched Justin Hill and Justin Barcia trade passes on the track in their Heat Race and the Main Event, with each getting a few good moves in on the other. Hill isn’t known for aggressive riding, per se, but he seemed to hold his own against the block pass pro of Barcia. Unfortunately for both, hard crashes (Barcia in a rhythm lane) and health issues (Hill with a tweaked back) hindered their results to 19th and 20th.
With Forkner sidelined, the 250 Main Event was the first time this year we saw a new winner in the East Coast region. We figured it was going to be between Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton, two riders that have held podium spots throughout the season, but a block pass gone bad by Cooper put them both on the ground in the early laps. Both managed to remount and resume racing (Cooper, however, did have another issue) and reached second and third place in the final results. This helped them erase a massive portion of the point lead that Forkner had built over the year, but the crash and lack of win caused understandable tension between the two after the race. We could type thousands of words on the run-in and return to the front and what it means for both, but let’s just summarize it up quickly: the incident showed that they will need to eliminate unnecessary on-track issues from their careers, both are on higher level than some on the East Coast, and will be title contenders for years to come.
The one good thing that came from the crash was Chase Sexton’s anger-fueled ride through the pack. We watched the second-year racer rip around the track after the run-in and yeah, dude was taking out his frustration on the GEICO Honda with sideways scrubs over rhythm lane jumps and revs in the air. A lean angle at a low height is something you rarely see in Supercross…
By all measures, Joey Savatgy’s rookie season in the 450 class has been stellar. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider came into the year prepared and ready to prove a point in the premier class and has shown promise nearly every weekend. Nashville was good and bad for the number 17, good in the fact that he was fourth overall in qualifying and won 450 Heat Race One, but bad in the 450 Main Event crash that resulted in a DNF and what looked like an arm injury. On Sunday morning Savatgy said online that he was not seriously hurt and will do what he needs to be back on the track soon.
In addition to the inaugural visit to Nashville, the weekend was the biggest promotion in the series’ partnership with the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a non-profit that provides treatment to children free of charge. A number of teams paid homage to the cause with stickers, graphics, and gear, with much of it going to an auction that will direct funds to the hospital. Be on the lookout for the auction to start Wednesday, but for now you can see some of the stuff that was used, like the front fender stickers on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki bikes…
The graphics on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing motorcycles…
These Seat Concepts covers for the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM team…
The SmarTop/MotoConcepts/Bullfrog Spas/Honda for Ben LaMay...
The SmarTop/MotoConcepts/Bullfrog Spas/Honda for Justin Brayton...
The SmarTop/MotoConcepts/Bullfrog Spas/Honda for Mike Alessi...
Bell helmets for the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha riders…
And the full body kits on the JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing RM-Z250 bikes. You’ll see much more of the gear and parts throughout Kickstart, too.
A drilled brake line holder. Because when you’re a factory mechanic that’s looking for every advantage and have endless assets at your grasp, why not?
We will always have a place in Kickstart for custom painted helmets, but if you want to make your lid look unique without breaking the bank, a simple sticker kit will do the trick. Zach Osborne’s FLY Racing Formula helmet had a few decals added to the top and lower portion in Nashville.
It was good to have Chad Reed at the track, despite the brace to hold his injured shoulder in place. The injury allowed Reed to spend a lot of time with the people that bought access to his VIP program and enjoy the city, but the time we spent around him in the pits and press box made it apparent that he’d much rather be on the track.
Benny Bloss made the trip to Tennessee to spend day with the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM team and interact with fans. Unfortunately, Bloss is still in the middle of his recovery from a torn ACL and is yet to get back on the bike, which means he’s out for at least the first three rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
Have to say that we’re a little letdown that Marvin Musquin has only had three custom painted helmets this year. Usually the Red Bull KTM rider has a couple of cool lids from French artist OCD, but this year was kept simple with a baseball themed scheme for the Anaheim rounds, a design that listed all of the East Coast locations, and this Jackson Pollock-inspired motif.
No, that’s not a new ProTaper bar pad on the GEICO Honda bike. It’s a GPS sensor that is paired to the data logger and allows the team to precisely detail what the bike is doing at certain points on the track.
Do you have a warm-up routine before it’s time to ride? Mike Alessi is one of the many riders that gets ready with some stretching and the help of a trainer. You might not have the needs to hire someone to help you loosen up on race day, but a few simple moves will make a difference.
Here’s a glimpse of the future, or at least SCOTT’s 2020 future.
Well, Austin Forkner’s patch certainly drummed up some comments on Saturday. For die hard race fans, you might get the reference, but for the others it’s a nod to Formula1 icon James Hunt. The Brit made his mark on auto racing in the 1970s for his fearless driving, carefree style of casual clothes over suits, copious partying, and promiscuous romantic life with thousands of women.
Unlock your combination. We have to say that the weekend’s Alpinestars boots worked really, really well with the Troy Lee Designs setup worn by Mitchell Falk at Nashville, especially with a black pair of pants that broke up the colors of the Beta jersey and Tech 10 kicks. Nice work to the TLD crew for this one…
Cole Seely had another colorway of the Beta gear and a painted helmet that matched. Expect the new gear to land at retailers soon.
Because every part has its place.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone; close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Air Trix aced it with this paint job for Cooper Webb, as the quote by Johnny Cash, photo of the singer, old west font, and worn in silver was perfect for the Nashville race.
Blast from the past. FLY Racing went into the vault and came back with the all-white style that helped solidify the brand in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like this is going to be something the public can get their hands on, so if you want to look like JG33, you’ll have to hit eBay and find some of the original stuff.
Metal flake? Check. Bold stripes? Check. Cartoon to note the nickname? Check. Alex Martin’s Arai helmet by CMS ArtWorx has all it and then some.
After catching a glimpse of these in Daytona, we made it a point to snap a good shot of the new Leatt 5.5 boots in Nashville. If you look closely, you can see a hinge at the back of the ankle, easy to close clasps, and sturdy contact patches on the inner panels. Seeing that this is a Leatt product, we have to assume there’s some sort of energy absorption material inside, too.
The last year has been eventful for Kyle Peters. First was his torn ACL in the snow at Minneapolis, then a podium finish just weeks later in Foxborough, and a summer on the sidelines after surgery. Going back to JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing is a huge help for Peters, as it kept him at his home base in North Carolina and in Nashville, he was in the mix for a podium finish until the late stages of the race. Peters has been a part of the sport for a few years now, either as a member of a team or a privateer, and it’s good to see him show his potential when it matters.
The Dirt Wurx crews opted against soaking the track during the week due to a chance of rain that was in the forecast, but the rain never came. There was little the track crew could do to beat the issues during the back to back practice sessions, but a heavy hand with the water truck before the last practice and the night show helped tremendously.
The biggest story of the weekend was Austin Forkner’s practice crashes and absence from the night show. The issues began in the first timed qualifying session, when he rode the rear wheel in the whoops and came off the bike in a vicious crash, the aftermath of which is shown here. Forkner was slow to get to his feet and needed some help to get to the side of the track but managed to make it back out for the next practice. Unfortunately, another small incident tweaked the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider’s knee even more and he was in clear agony. As we type this on Monday, the full extent of the injury is not clear, but it’s certain that there is some damage to Forkner’s knee that was too much to overcome on Saturday night. His 26-point championship lead has been cut to just three points over Chase Sexton with two rounds remaining.
The dirt at Nashville was not the greatest, as it was full of large rocks, some broken glass, and even some random trash. Like Seattle, we heard that a few riders opted for mousse inserts in their tires due to the high risk of a flat.
You’re gonna need to zoom in on Adam Enticknap’s 6D helmet by CMS Art Worx to see all of the details. It’s a full representation of all things 722.
Maybe we just didn’t notice at the first two rounds of his fill-in deal with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing, but Josh Grant has jumped over to 100% for goggles.
Another weekend, another new style from Seven MX. We like the black sleeves and solid one-color torso that has become a trend recently, especially in Seven’s signature green. If you read swap’s Kickstart from Houston, you saw the orange version of this jersey. Bowers, by the way, finished tenth in Main Event.
Justin Barcia has hit the deck more than a few times in recent weeks and it is taking a toll on the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing rider. His crash in Nashville was particularly worrisome at first, as we watched him clasp his right arm immediately after standing up. The way he held his hand and arm made us think that he had suffered another unfortunate wrist injury, but the press release by Yamaha makes no mention of damage and says that both riders will be on the line in Denver.
Massive props to Justin Starling and Chris Blose for their results in recent weeks. Although they are part of the Gas Monkey Energy/AJE Motorsports team for the 250 West Coast region, both have jumped at the opportunity to ride in the 450 class on the East Coast as independents. Blose finished eleventh and Starling finished fifteenth in the 450 Main Event at Nashville, season best results for both in the 450 class.
Skillz Racing is known for their custom gear and in honor of the St. Jude event, they made Casey Brennan a jersey that looks like the “The Shirt Saves Lives” shirt that comes with a donation. Respect.
GEICO Honda went all-out with their St. Jude tribute by running white Cycra plastics and one-off D’Cor Visuals graphics. This will surely be a hot item in the auction.
Thoughts on the Alpinestars X Cactus Plant Flea Market collaboration? Your opinion on the gear is going to be heavily influenced by how much you read fashion or streetwear websites. We’ll type something more up later this week about the deal, as it’s in the same realm as the Fox X Supreme deal that sold out instantly last year.
How many sports do you know that have a number of the top competitors joking with one another moments before they take the track? It’s very, very cool to be in the tunnel at a Supercross race and we make the most of our time in the middle of it all.
Up close with the FXR Racing jersey designed by St. Jude patients and worn by Kyle Cunningham.
More tire talk. We were tipped off that a number of 250 teams were split on tire size at Nashville. Some wanted the wide footprint of the 120, while others wanted the narrow 110 to get through the ruts. What’s on your bike?
Looks like the motocross division at Hoosier got a hold of the tire cutter from the dirt track guys.
A lot of talent in one shot, all going about it a different way.
Remember Ryan Smith made waves for wearing jeans and a white shirt, then got reprimanded for having gear that wasn’t in line with the rule book? Well, that day changed the rule book for everyone as the AMA requirements went from “durable material that will protect the rider” to “material that is consistent with current industry standards.” Smith, a privateer with little support, managed to keep his working man look thanks to a custom kit that has a plain white top and moto pants that look like jeans, down to sublimated “stitches” on the side.
Dean Wilson always finds the fun in a situation. The Scot looked the part in Nashville thanks to a big belt buckle, cowboy boots, and a borrowed white hat for opening ceremonies.
What’s the mood like in the tunnel before a race? It’s much more talkative and laidback than you might think. Here’s a couple quick snaps from Nissan Stadium to make you feel like you’re in the middle of the madness…
Someone online called Ryan Sipes the modern-day Malcolm Smith and yeah, that sounds about right. The Red Bull-backed rider added the Nashville Supercross to his “race everything calendar” and was impressive in his return to the stadium series. One corner in practice caught Sipes off guard a few times, but when it was time to race, the former 250 Main Event winner put everything together for an early run at the front of the pack to an eighth-place final result in the feature. Be on the lookout for a Red Bull produced video series that should hit the internet anytime…
Look closely at the back of Jeremy McGrath’s Bell Moto 9. Yeah, that’s a Troy Lee Designs Speed Fin. We’ve heard talk that TLD wants to bring the iconic accessory back into production and this makes it look like a real possibility. Hell yeah.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone as excited to ride Supercross as Jordan Bailey. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider practically begged the team to let him race in 2018, but they held him off until this year. The extra time to learn the discipline has helped Bailey in his rookie season, as he’s hoovered around the top-ten without too many big issues. We expect him to put solid results in this summer during his second outdoor season.
What happened to Bradley Taft? The rocky roost at Nashville hit the CTR Motorsports rider in the eye and he looks like he did a round in the UFC ring. Before you blame the goggles, Taft says that the lens stayed in the channel as it should, but the angle that the rock hit was what caused the damage. It caused him to pull out of the night’s race, but he has a few weeks to recovery before it’s time to line up in New Jersey.
Check back this week for an interview with Roger DeCoster. Known for telling it like it is, DeCoster filled us in on the Red Bull KTM team morale, his role overseeing KTM and Husqvarna, and communication between the US and Europe divisions.
Sadly, a hard crash by Cooper Webb in his Heat Race busted up the visor and perfect paint job. Webb was saved by the red flag and restart that came after the Stewart-Enticknap collision, and he made it into the Main Event with a second-place finish. Webb got out to the early lead in the Main Event but was understandably beaten up by the Heat Race crash and said that he couldn’t comfortably match the pace of Tomac and Baggett. Still, a third-place finish compared to Marvin Musquin’s sixth-place finish means that Webb added even more points to his lead in the championship standings.
This was appropriate for the Nashville race.
Yeah, you can get your hands on these Bell Moto 9 and Arai VX Pro 4 helmets. Tomac’s patriotic pieces always sell well for the Bell Helmets crew, but we had to double-check that the Arai lid isn’t a custom creation; it’s a production scheme called “Navy” in their catalog.
We’ll likely never know what went wrong with Eli Tomac’s Monster Energy Kawasaki in his Heat Race. The team frantically worked to get a new engine in the KX450 frame before the LCQ and he made everything happen in the LCQ and Main Event for his fourth win of the season. Did you see How Was Your Weekend? In our post-race chat Tomac said that he was riding at 90-percent during the feature, that he still had more in the tank and felt like he could control everything that was happening in the race. Wow. He also explained that his recent results were greatly influenced by “tightness” in his arms, but that he’s felt much better recently. The win puts Tomac second in the championship and he’s down 21-points to Webb, but he could make the final few weeks in the season very interesting.
From wrenching to driving, Jason Watkins does everything necessary for the TXS Productions team. During the cold spell that hit around the Minneapolis round, Watkins’ van froze up and he borrowed a stranger’s Lincoln to make it to the race on time. Life on the road is something Watkins has done for years and he’s always down to talk at the races if you have the time.
What could have been for Ken Roczen. The Team Honda HRC rider was deemed the guy to beat after taking top honors in qualifying, his win in 450 Heat Race Two, and solid start in the 450 Main Event. Things went sideway when he tangled with Joey Savatgy's bike early in the race and was flipped over a berm, but Roczen remounted and rallied to finish eighth at the checkered flag. It seems like all of the health issues have been cleared up, and with that we have him even higher in the championship mix outdoors. Will we finally see a series of Roczen-Tomac duels?
Homecoming King. Nashville is a short two-hour drive away from Alex Ray’s place Tennessee, so A Ray was by far one of the most popular riders on the track and in the pits. We recapped his weekend in Nashville, which was topped off by meeting his nephews and a 17-place finish in the Main Event, during the Kickstart podcast. Hit the main page when you get done with reading this and give it a listen.
We were impressed by Mitchell Falk’s early laps in the 250 Main Event. A rookie in the series, the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider was in the mix near the front of the field and looked in control during what was only his third feature race. Falk slipped down the running order as the laps clicked off, but the ninth-place result is a career-best for the California native.
At Daytona Lorenzo Locurcio told us that he had taken a spot with BUD Racing in the MX2 division of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship, a move that would pause his Supercross season. Unfortunately for the Venezuelan, visa issues prevented him from getting to Europe and turmoil in the South American country kept him from getting it cleared up in time. With no chance of getting things sorted in time, the spot went to Mitchell Harrison and Locurcio as back to racing Supercross with the Legends & Heroes/Kissimmee Motorsports team in Nashville, where he finished 12th in the Main Event.
The grates in Supercross mean that you have to prep them a little different than the concrete pads many of us are familiar with. Every mechanic has a coarse brush in their bag to get the middle of the pad free of debris before their rider rolls into position.
Someone at the Yamaha machine shop got creative with their starting block designs.
So what’s the smoke from Eli Tomac’s bike? We asked Bruce Stjernstrom for the answer and he said that Tomac is incredibly abusive on the clutch, to the point that the engine oil heats up and turns black over the course of the moto. The smoke is from oil that came out of the breather hose and went onto the mid-pipe of the exhaust, thus the smoke.
It’s an international affair at the TiLUBE Honda By Buddy Brooks team, as they now have Venezuelan Anthony Rodriguez on the Honda CRF250R alongside British rider Steven Clarke. Rodriguez joined the team after it was determined that Blake Wharton would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, but had limited time with the Honda on a Supercross track prior to Nashville. Unfortunately, issues kept both Rodriguez and Clarke from finishing the Main Event and they were ranked 21st and 22nd, respectively.
Something interesting we learned in our chat with DeCoster is that Marvin Musquin has been offered a contract extension from Red Bull KTM but he has not yet signed it, opting instead to focus on his championship chase before putting pen to paper. We, and many others for that matter, expect Musquin to sign the deal and stay with the team that he has been on since 2009, when he was signed mid-season by the factory team in the MX2 class.
Feeling loose. Nashville was a great day for Zach Osborne, as the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider finished third in his Heat Race and posted a career-best fifth in the 450 Main Event. Even with the injuries and learning curve that Osborne faced at the start of the year, this has been a solid rookie season in the 450 class.
Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.
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