No event on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship schedule comes close to RedBud. Sorry, but it’s the truth and this year’s visit proved it. Everyone we talked with was excited to be back in Michigan on the Fourth of July weekend, and you could feel the buzz building from the morning practice sessions all the way to the first gate drop.
These next few weeks will be an important moment in Pro Motocross. The top riders are healthy and ready to race, the upcoming tracks are some of the best and most challenging on the schedule, and everyone from casual fan to grizzled-jaded industry worker is eager to see what happens next.
What a time to be alive. Here’s Kickstart.
A hybrid lower is a new part on the Red Bull KTM 450 SX-F race bikes. The piece appears to take elements from the traditional solid clamp and the XTRIG-style split (look at Barcia's bike for an example), which has to give the orange bike different handling characteristics. After looking at photos from past races, it seems like KTM first used the part at High Point and that it hasn't made its way over to other factory European bikes (Husqvarna-GASGAS).
Red Bull is excited for fans to be back at the track and has come up with a handful of events to bring them around the riders, like Jett's Saturday morning donut giveaway and Coop's Kick Back on Friday night in the hospitality area. It was very cool to see the two-time SX champion hang out with the masses the night before one of the bigger races of the season.
We learned a little more about Justin Barcia's GASGAS setup over the weekend. Crew Chief Rich Simmons said that the bigger tank is mainly an insurance policy to keep Barcia, a rider known for revving the engine, from running out of gas, especially if he got to the front of the pack and hammered the throttle.
Simmons also explained that the decision to revert to a traditional spring shock was because the TLD team is learning more about Barcia's riding style and that they have a library of settings to help dial in the bike.
Team Honda HRC has a larger carbon fiber tank for Sexton and Roczen's CRF450R. Per the team, RedBud and Southwick should be the only tracks where they use it because the 30-minute motos on the sandy circuits tend to burn more fuel than places like High Point or Washougal.
The underside of the carbon container was wrapped in a gold foil, which reflects the heat from the engine and keeps the fuel from getting too warm and causing issues with the EFI. Looks bitchin', too.
Justin Shantie showed us a few new factory parts on Adam Cianciarulo's Monster Energy KX450 on Friday afternoon. The team has done away with the eye-catching oil cooler on the left side of the engine, and now, the oil cooler is built into the left radiator. The team also added a fan to the radiator to draw hot air through the vents. Kawasaki has also improved a few elements of the clutch system, including a revamped slave unit, more direct routing for the hydraulic lines from the master cylinder to the engine, and quick-release components that make mid-day swaps easier for the mechanics. See the red and green deutsch connectors near the engine hanger? They're part of the team's data acquisition package.
Hunter Schlosser's race rig. Respect.
Will the seven be on a blue bike or orange bike next year? That's still very much up in the air. Wherever AP goes will significantly impact the pit area, and we'd expect a final decision to come by the end of July (after Washougal).
RedBud's central valley at 5 PM on Friday...
After lots of chatter about how Thunder Valley and High Point were smoother and faster than years past, we were interested to see the way RedBud was prepped for the National. It's no secret that the Michigan track is deep, soft, and dare we say sandy, so it easily could have been ripped deep and watered heavily for the Pro race. So, how was it? "I actually think it was a little bit harder than years passed. It was not as deep in places, and it made for some really good racing," said Aaron Plessinger. "The way we were riding this track, it probably didn't look as rough as it was, but man, we were hitting them bumps with so much speed that it was insane."
Custom helmets will always get attention in Kickstart. Here's the 6D ATR-2 that Beams Designs did for Carson Mumford, which features a patriotic paint job in a matte finish.
Speaking of the Red Bull, if you're at the track at one of the next few races, you can purchase one of Jett Lawrence's limited edition tour t-shirts from the energy drink's hangout area in vendor row.
Here's a look at the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing work area, complete with spare wheels, complete exhaust systems, a fully stocked toolbox, pit boards, and a backpack of spare parts and pieces. The duct tape labels are a nice touch. Check back later in the week to learn what mechanics carry with them to the line.
Up close with AC's Fox Racing ensemble. The RedBud setup was a throwback to Rick Johnson's look in 1986 and seemed very well received by the masses. We'd love to know the weight difference between RJ's thick cotton gear in the 80s and AC's thin, flexible mesh polyester...
This Roczen-Ferrandis championship duel is exciting to watch, partly for their similarities. The two Europeans are as well-rounded as they come, thanks to their experiences racing around the world (MXGP/SX/ US MX) and their ages (both are 27), and it shows on the track in their fluid, efficient riding styles. Have you looked at their stats after eight motos?
Qualifying Average: Roczen 2.5, Ferrandis 3.5.
Average Start: Roczen 3.0, Ferranids 5.5
Laps Led: Roczen 48, Ferrandis 16
Average Finish: Ferrandis 1.9, Roczen 2.9
Points: Ferrandis 179, Roczen 165
Shoutout to Ryan Surratt, who has followed the entire Pro Motocross tour (mainly behind the wheel of his van), lined up for all eight motos run so far, and is currently 20th in the 450 Class championship standings. The Team AllSouth rider posted 15-19 scores at RedBud, his best of the season, and ended the day ranked 18th overall.
Phil Nicoletti's tough summer continued at RedBud. The CLUBMX rider twisted his knee during Timed Qualifying (he had a pretty fast crash exiting this corner in front of us) and had to pull out of the afternoon's motos. Heal up, Phil.
The Alpinestars Racing Services support vehicle has everything their gear reps need at the track, including a complete inventory of gear for their riders, spare parts, assorted tools, and an on-site service area with water tanks, high-pressure sprayers, and soaps.
Zach Osborne's season might be over, but that hasn't curbed his involvement at the track. The defending 450 MX champ worked with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team in an "advisory role" at RedBud, complete with a headset and in-field access. We chatted with ZO during the morning about his recovery plans: he will take an extended break from riding so the lower back injury can heal and will put off surgery as long as possible, hopefully long after his career is over. How long of a break? Osborne doesn't plan to be back on the bike until October 1. Fortunately, he has a new one-year contract with Husqvarna that'll carry him through 2022.
Props to Ben LaMay for the points scored at RedBud. The longtime privateer finished 18th in 450 Moto Two, his best result so far this summer, and ended the day ranked 21st overall. LaMay is now living in Colorado and his independent program looks very well put together with support from longtime sponsors UFO, EKS Brand, Race Tech, and Wilde Chips.
Thought this shot of KR, with the American and German flags over the camping lot, looked cool...
Wil Hahn started his new gig with Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing at RedBud. Wilbur is the Team Trainer for the three-man squad, a role that will put him alongside Justin Barcia as the 450 Class rider spends the next portion of his career in Southern California.
Justin Cooper quickly recovered from his Lap One crash in 250 Moto One and worked his way back through the pack with close, aggressive passes, like this move on Jalek Swoll. Cooper ran Swoll to the edge of the track and forced the Husqvarna rider to check up so that he didn't run into the soft dirt wall.
Here's the same plot of land a few minutes into 250 Moto One. It was great to see people back at RedBud.
Jalek Swoll's RedBud didn't go as good as High Point, but then again, it's hard to beat your first career overall. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider finished eighth in 250 Moto One, went down during 250 Moto Two, got up, and raced back to 14th. Swoll ended up 10th overall and is now tied with Jeremy Martin for fifth in the point standings.
Jo Shimoda was solid at RedBud. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki put in the quickest lap of the first Timed Qualifying session, a career-first for Shimoda outdoors, and ended the morning second-fastest overall. His 6-5 finishes in the afternoon's Motos were solid, but he was just off the back of the lead group in both races and finished the day sixth overall.
Can't keep a fast man down. Jeremy Martin's season looked like it was over after a Thunder Valley crash stirred ongoing injuries and a separate practice incident resulted in broken fingers, but the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider got back to the starting line for RedBud. His wrist brace (support for a broken navicular) was replaced with a heavy-duty wrap of medical tape, and Martin made it through the day without much issue to go 5-3 for fifth overall. A championship is probably out of the question (he's down 64 points), but Martin will be a factor for podiums or moto wins if he can avoid mistakes and crashes.
No one feels pressure from a rider's decision to switch teams like a mechanic. Contracted to the company on similar terms, but not necessarily attached to the racers, wrenches must consider factors like commute time to a new race shop, job security, and career paths every few seasons when riders work on new deals.
Potential future teammates? We've heard that if the Plessinger to KTM deal doesn't work out, Joey Savatgy is one of the next riders on Red Bull KTM's shortlist.
Something about the Evel Knievel kit looked right on Justin Barcia. We don't want to find out if BamBam would beat a reporter with a bat, though.
Feet off the pegs, still on the throttle. Christian Craig put in his best results of the season at RedBud, and 5-5 finishes put the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider fifth overall in the 450 Class. Is a podium possible for CC this summer?
Team Green. Adam Cianciarulo and Eli Tomac were once again near the front early in 450 Moto One, with AC ahead until ET found a way around at the halfway mark. Tomac's 3-1, paired with Cianciarulo's crash and lack of points in Moto Two, allowed Tomac to surpass his Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate in the championship standings.
You have to respect Dean Wilson's determination to keep a Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing FC 450 on the track. Unfortunately, Wilson's organ-jarring crash during 450 Moto One at RedBud might force him to the sidelines for Southwick. Feel better, DW.
It feels like we write a caption saying how great the race for the win was in the 450 Class every week. Can you blame us, though? This month is going to be primetime for Pro Motocross.
SML Superfans, RedBud edition.
You know what these firmer, smoother tracks are providing? Consistent lap times throughout the day. Riders managed to run a similar pace in both Motos at RedBud because the dirt didn't break down and become slow or rutted, which you can best see in the average lap times for the 450 Class. For example, Ferrandis and Roczen had a 2:09.623 average in 450 Moto One and a 2:09.139 in 450 Moto Two.
Arkansas/California privateer Brent Rouse and his number one fan.
The tree turn before the finish line is wrapped with RedBud's version of a Safer Barrier. Any of our readers have experience hitting this bag?
Shoutout to Brandon Scharer. The California native moved to CLUBMX a few years ago to work as a full-time trainer to the amateur residents, and when Joey Crown sidelined for the rest of the summer (lingering concussion symptoms), Scharer was offered a chance to get behind the gate for RedBud. A 2:07.780 in the very first Timed Qualifying session of the day was impressive and put Scharer fifth overall on the final time sheets. 21-21 finishes kept Scharer out of the points, but it sounds like he will get a few more chances later this summer. CLUBMX brought a new sponsor in for the weekend, Andiamo Restaurants from Michigan, and they've got openings for other events later this year. Hit up Mike Bonacci if you're interested in getting your brand on the bikes.
Levi Kitchen and Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha took advantage of the A-Class eligibility rule at RedBud. The Washington-raised/Louisana-based rider's breakout year in the amateur ranks merited a multi-year contract from the Yamaha squad, so this race served as something of a "soft debut." Kitchen was 14th fastest in Timed Qualifying, put in an impressive and consistent ninth-place ride in 250 Moto One, made it through an eventful 250 Moto Two to finish in 19th, and ended the day 14th overall. Kitchen will now turn his attention to his final appearance at Loretta's, where he's expected to be a front-runner in the Pro Sport divisions, and then go pro full-time at Unadilla.
RJ Hampshire earned his overall win the hard way. The last few weeks have been rough for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider after a crash in Colorado and snapped chain in Pennsylvania took away what could have been podium finishes. A few tip-overs while running at the front in both Motos made for tense moments, yet Hampshire managed to remount the bike and ride on to 2-2 results. He's now fourth in the championship points.
With Wil now at GASGAS, Seth Rarrick has assumed more responsibility at Star Racing. As the new 250 Team Manager, Rarrick will oversee the massive roster of riders (six total at RedBud with Martin, Cooper, Nichols, Frye, Thrasher, and Kitchen) as the squad moves its HQ to Tallahassee, Florida.
Consenting adults only.
RedBud has a history of being kind to riders one year and cruel the next, something Adam Cianciarulo experienced firsthand at round four. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider faded back in 450 Moto One when nerve issues in his arm flared up and then had a strange crash in the early laps of 450 Moto Two that bent his front fender and displaced his controls. A second, separate incident with another rider later in the race didn't help matters, and AC finished in 23rd place. It sounds like another minor surgery in the offseason will be necessary to sort out tingling and arm pump issues.
Ken Roczen got very lucky in 450 Moto Two. The Team Honda HRC rider clanked the landing of the Leap a few times, something he told us took a toll on his wrist, and then had a separate big crash a few laps later when he stuck the front-end of his CRF450R in the soft sand and got ejected over the handlebars. Roczen somehow/thankfully was not hurt in the get-off, got back on the bike quickly enough to maintain a place in the top-10, and finished the Moto in sixth place. What does KR think about his recent riding? "I'm honestly just enjoying it. I shouldn't say I put the ego down, I just tried my ass off throughout Supercross and everything, and it didn't work out. But now I'm just trying to hit my strides and enjoy the battles. That's I think what's been the most fun. We've all been pretty close, the passes have been fun, and I think for the fans, it's really good to watch. So I'm just taking it weekend by weekend and check this off the list right now, looking forward to next weekend and just bring my A-game every weekend and just try hard. I just want to try hard and whatever happens, happens."
Is Eli back? Looks like it. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider was fast and steady throughout the day at RedBud (look at the consistency in his lap times through every session) and put in a dominant ride to take the win in 450 Moto Two. Tomac is down 50 points to Ferrandis in the standings, but with 16 motos left in the summer and undeniable speed, we cannot completely count out the three-time champion yet.
Starting to see more kids around the podium, a sign that the top riders are entering the following stages of their lives (amateur sensation-250 hotshot-450 rookie-established frontrunner-hall of fame worthy icon).
We are very interested to see how these two get along next year at Yamaha. Ferrandis and Tomac have interacted a few times in the parc ferme area by the podium post-race, their families seem to get along, and there's a high level of respect for each other's talent and dedication to the craft. We do not think this will be an instance of Tomac sharing any sort of speed secrets with Ferrandis, especially if he's still finishing at the front of the pack himself, but the experience that Tomac has is sure to help the entire Star Racing program.
RedBud's rowdy fans were back in full force by the podium, and yeah, it was hard not to share their excitement. Love to see it.
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.
We got our hands on @dirtbiketv1 ‘s latest Kawasaki build and had @pfo200 spin some laps on the tricked out KX250 before giving us his thoughts! Check out the full video on swapmotolive.com! | #tracktested #projectbike #kx250...
@methodracewheels new two-wheel development program “R1M” [pronounced R-one-M] will utilize Method’s elite two-wheel athletes and align them with marque events to showcase the development project. Click the link in our bio to see details of the complete wheel set. | #methodracewheels #lighterstrongerfaster #methodwheels #mrwR1M #methodr1m...
This week on the SML Show presented by @ogio_powersports and @fmf73, @joshhansen100 stops by the office to discuss his X Games experience, battling a close friend in supercross, and more. This episode goes live at 11AM on swapmotolive.com! #swapmotolive #sml...
We recently got our hands on the 2022 Husqvarna FC350 and had @pfo200 and @swapmoto spin some laps before giving us their input on the machine. Check out the full Track Tested video now on swapmotolive.com! | @onealracing...
This week on the SML Show presented by @ogio_powersports and @fmf73, @broctickle stops by the office to discuss his new gig at Monster Energy Kawasaki, testing/training, and more. This episode is live NOW on swapmotolive.com! #swapmotolive #sml...
This week on the SML Show presented by @ogio_powersports and @fmf73, @maximusvohland711 stops by the office to discuss his impressive first outdoor race, racing in Europe, and more. This episode is live NOW on swapmotolive.com! #swapmotolive #sml...