Moto Mondays: Muddy Creek Recap

I know what you’re thinking… Moto Monday, on a Wednesday? Wth man? Well I’ve been extremely busy, there was a storm, my power went out, I work two jobs and am in the process of obtaining a third one, so take it easy on me. I don’t even have the time to say much about this one except that the KTMs are still dominating the 450 class and congrats to Cooper Webb who won his first pro moto and his first national overall, and would have gone 1-1 if it wasn’t for one of the closest finishes (and position steals) in motocross history by Blake Baggett in moto 1. But y’all just watch video anyway, so here are the highlights.

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Moto Mondays: The James Stewart Incident

Image property of Transworld Motocross.

Image property of Transworld Motocross.

Just as the pros did, I thought I was going to have a bye week for writing about motocross this week. However, something pretty freaking big just happened to come up over the course of the last several days, being one of the first major cases of alleged PED use in the motocross world with the subject being one of the most popular racers in the sport’s history.

James Stewart, a premier 450 rider and legend who is (was) a favorite to win the outdoor nationals motocross title this year, has been suspended by the FIM for allegedly failing a drug test that took place during the weekend of supercross in Seattle on April 12, 2014. The FIM claimed that Stewart’s urine sample contained an “adverse analytical finding of amphetamine.” Stewart can request and attend an analysis of a B sample in an attempt to clear his name and hopefully cancel out his suspension.

Outside of the issues that this arises for Stewart and his reputation, here are the problems with this:

1) Stewart and the rest of the world did not find out he had failed the test until June 17, over two months after the drug test was administered. If this is really such a serious issue, why did it take so long to release these results? Why did the FIM not take action immediately? And why are only certain riders “randomly” selected for these drug tests in the first place, instead of the entire field of both factory riders and privateers?

2) According to Stewart’s team, the traces of amphetamine found in his urine were most likely from a drug that Stewart has been prescribed to by his physician to treat ADHD. Those in opposition to Stewart are claiming that these drugs can enhanced mental and physical focus, thus giving the rider an edge in racing that others do not have. However, if Stewart actually has an ADHD condition, wouldn’t these drugs instead only be leveling him with other riders to regulate his body to react normally so that he doesn’t lose focus? Given the amount of times over the past few years that Stewart seemed “out-of-it” and even crashed randomly while in the lead or near the front of the pack in races, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did have ADHD and it had been affecting his racing negatively.

Fans in opposition to Stewart are calling him a cheater, a disgrace, and more. Those in support of Stewart are citing his condition needed to be treated, that he did nothing wrong, and that the people accusing James of foul play are just “haters” that want to see him lose. The thing is, with motocross just pushing the edge of major popularity, most fans have already made up their mind about what they think about Stewart before this incident ever occurred, and are using the opportunity to further their own judgements. The reality is, most of the haters really are just hating, and most of the fans really are just fanning out.

It is interesting to consider that in the old years of motocross, there were no drug tests administered. As my father, a former recreational racer told me, most of the guys racing back then at any level were just “country boys having fun.” There wasn’t as much money or national attention as the sport has garnered now, and according to my father, half of the guys would probably fail drug tests, not necessarily for PEDs though.

From my own point of view, I hope Stewart can appeal this successfully and hopefully put it behind him and get back into the mix of the 450 class as soon as possible. Love him or hate him, he’s one of the most interesting riders that has the ability to shake things up in a sport that fiends off excitement.

Moto Mondays: High Point Recap

As a testament to how competitive this outdoor motocross season is becoming, High Point featured some of the best and most technical races with multiple lead changes, the first time a non-KTM bike won the 450 class, and the first time Jeremy Martin didn’t win a 250 moto. James Stewart and Blake Baggett both left Pennsylvania with 1-1 victories this Saturday, but it wasn’t without stiff competition. Meanwhile, the current 1st and 2nd series points leaders in both classes seemed slightly off their element, and while both points leaders Ken Roczen and Jeremy Martin salvaged 2nd place overall finishes, it was clear that the championships in both classes have now been opened up. Check out the official video highlights from High Point below.

Moto Mondays: Thunder Valley Recap

With defending champion Ryan Villopoto out of the picture, the 2014 outdoor motocross nationals have been the most competitive they’ve been in a while, although a handful of popular riders are still making up the front of the pack. The two main KTM riders, 450 standout rookie Ken Roczen and former two-time champ Ryan Dungey, have been the most impressive overall, each capturing one of the first two overall wins this season. But other names such as Josh Grant, James Stewart, Trey Canard, and Villopoto’s fill-in rider Brett Metcalfe have all put together very solid motos in the 450 class, keeping the points tight and the races even tighter.

After this past Saturday’s race at Thunder Valley, we now have 4 different moto winners through 3 rounds with James Stewart taking moto 1 and joining Grant, Roczen and Dungey in the list of riders with 450 class wins this year. Unfortunately for Stewart, the first moto win wasn’t enough, and his finish in 3rd place in moto 2 gave him a 1-3 for the day and left the door open for Roczen, finishing with a 2-1, to take the overall.

Ken Roczen also had a strong start to this year’s supercross season, finishing 1st in his first 450 main event ever, but ended up getting outraced by the star veterans over the duration of the season and dropping down in points. Only time will tell if Roczen is more conditioned to take on the entire 450 season at the elite level he has been racing so far.

To see what else went down this weekend, check out the official highlight video of Thunder Valley below.

Moto Mondays: Hangtown Recap

This Ken Roczen kid just doesn’t let off from impressing the world in his rookie season on the 450s. After winning his first ever 450 supercross race and placing 3rd in the supercross standings at the end of the year, Roczen has already placed himself ahead of the pack in the 450 motocross championship. After a narrow defeat in the final turns of moto 2 last week that kept Roczen from winning his debut national, Ken placed a commanding 1-1 this past Saturday at Hangtown, not only redeeming his loss to Ryan Dungey last week but also taking the points lead away from him. Here’s the video highlights from this week’s dominating performance.

Moto Mondays: Glen Helen Recap

A lot of riders were quoted as saying that Glen Helen is a true “man’s track,” as it has more uphills and downhills than any other track on the Lucas Oil Pro MX circuit with almost no even ground. The nationals haven’t been held here in a few years, and mostly everyone was excited to see it rejoin the series, especially as an opener. Here’s a highlight recap of what went down on Saturday at this legendary motocross park.

Motocross and TV – When Sponsorships Have Gone Too Far

LOPMX

This past supercross season, Monster Energy Supercross took a big step towards expanding exposure by having all but three of their races broadcast on the now popular and widely available Fox Sports 1, with the remaining three races broadcast on Fox Sports 2. This was a welcome shift from the supercross broadcasts on the now defunct Speed TV, and most fans were happy with the coverage.

Outdoor motocross coverage however, has been a different story. The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series over the last few years has been broadcast mostly between NBC Sports and NBC, but many races (including most first motos) weren’t available live or could only be accessed through the Alli Sports online stream. With the sport growing rapidly in popularity, fans have been asking for Lucas Oil Motocross to work out a better, more consistent television schedule with all races being aired live and on the same channel.

Instead, Lucas Oil Motocross will now air their first motos on the new MavTV, a channel that most people do not even get (unless they have DirecTV and the standard sports package). That means that Comcast users will be left out of the mix. To make matters even worse, NBC Sports, which usually broadcasts the second motos live, will be broadcasting the second motos for at least four of the races after they actually happen, some in random times such as 1:00am… meaning that most fans will already know the results hours before they get a chance to watch the races.

This is a horrible step back in live coverage for the sport of motocross, and many fans are very unhappy about it. Instead of using the opportunity of broadcasting live on a standard channel that mostly everyone gets, therefore increasing popularity and growing the sport, Lucas Oil is pretty much holding the motocross coverage hostage for the sake of MavTV, attempting to give the channel a boost in popularity instead of the sport.

What is important to realize is the motive behind this; Lucas Oil, the main sponsor of the pro motocross championship to the point where they’ve branded their name into the title of it, also owns MavTV. That’s right, Lucas Oil is more concerned with promoting their own channel than giving the fans a fair and widespread television coverage of the sport they love.

What’s ridiculous is that this may have potential to hurt both the brand of the outdoor motocross championship and Lucas Oil’s reputation. Lucas Oil is already the leading oil product company in the United States. They already get their name attached to the name of the motocross series. They even have the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts Stadium named after them, which has been regarded as the best stadium in professional football for the past 3 years in a row. They don’t need more exposure, they’re already winning the damn contest. But somehow instead of thanking the fans that have supported them, they are using their unique positioning to be selfish and hold the MX season for ransom in order to promote a television channel.

There’s not much the fans can do except complain to their current cable/dish providers and request for them to add MavTV (which is what Lucas Oil wants you to do) or to go to a place that has DirecTV to watch the channel. Me, I’ll just call around town to find the nearest bar with MavTV and pay for a couple beers instead of paying a cent to get that channel myself. Between all the energy drinks that these riders don’t even drink themselves, the “I’d like to thank (insert 10 sponsors)” speeches after a victory, and now this television coverage chokehold, I think we can officially say that the sponsorships that once helped build this great sport have gone too far.

 

For now, you can still watch all the races via the live steam on the Lucas Oil Pro MX website: http://www.promotocross.com/motocross/live

For the complete list of the Lucas Oil Pro MX television coverage, visit here: http://www.promotocross.com/mx/tv-schedule