Mailbag!
By:
Steve

Thanks for sending in the letters, sorry for the guys that didn't make it in but maybe your questions just sucked. Did you ever think about that?

Uh,oh. No he Di'nt!
"...a rider with a national number and a brother of a factory rider does not have a spare motor. I mean c’mon, this is professional racing!"
Uh, hey, aren't you usually a bit more "on your game" than this?
You DO know that it's 2009 out-there, don't ya?
You DO know that guys like Voss are BUYING their bikes, don't ya? (I know you got that one covered!)No worries, I just got a kick-outta your comment(s). Great write-up!
I like the fact that you covered "What lies beneath"
Hope all is well,
Manny 

Manny, thanks for the letter and you’re referring to my “Observations” column where I called out Tyler Wharton for not having a spare motor and having to resort to Lawrence being a good Samaritan in Jacksonville. I stand by that statement Manny, you shouldn’t be a professional racer if you can’t have three bikes. One for practice, one to tear down for spares and a race bike. It’s that simple, I worked for some riders and teams that were broke and bouncing paychecks to me and we had spare parts! Not to mention that the Wharton family has the resources to provide these things. Howz about asking your brother to buy you a bike and you sell it at the end of the year? I don’t want to hear any excuses, have the parts or don’t bother showing up. Especially when you’re in the 250 class and chances are your bike is heavily modified. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

And the Voss thing doesn’t count because Voss chooses to ride Hondas and pay for them, he likes that program and sticks with it. He can get rides with another OEM but doesn’t want to ride for anyone but Honda. It worked out for him also because he got a MotoConcepts ride with everything paid for.

 

Larry Brooks is obviously very good at his job and passionate about what he does, but......
1.  He seems like he can be a dick, for example throwing his son under the bus about moving up to the intermediate class.  I'm not much for lampooning your kids in public, but each to their own, who am I to tell people how to raise their kids.
The above is obviously not a question more of a statement but anyways.  
 2.  When Larry has tried to justify the bike setup problems they had at the beginning of the season he's stated that James races at a faster speed than he practices at.  I distinctly remember Jeremy Albrecht stating the opposite in the past that James was fast at a race but was way faster when he was at a practice track or testing, he could and would hang it out alot more.  So which is it?  Not that it's a big deal but it seems like a poor excuse and he's trying to justify something that should be taken at face value, the set up sucked and now its great leave it at that.  You've seen James in practice and testing and know all about the testing process so does his justification hold up?

 Thanks for sharing your infinite wisdom,

 Cory

Cory, I worked for Larry Brooks at Chapparral and he’s the best team manager I had, he’s also a friend of mine and I won’t stand for you calling him a dick! Just kidding, that’s what makes this world go around, different opinions. Whatever your feelings on LB, the fact is that James’s set-up at the beginning of the year was chosen by one guy-and that’s James Stewart. Brooks or anyone else on the team is not demanding to do something to the bike that James doesn’t want. I 100% agree with Brooks (and Stewart) that the settings were off because of the increased pace Stewie had to go at the races. Maybe they underestimated Reed, I’m not sure.
I don’t know any rider that goes faster during the week then they do at the race when they have 40,000 fans and 19 other riders around them racing for real. So yes, you hate Brooks but the set-up is not his fault.

 Hey Steve, you seem to have an unbiased opinion on everything except RedDog, so I would appreciate your opinion on a couple things.  After reading the posts on RacerX site, it seems nearly everybody is biased to either JS7 or CR22, and I was wondering if you think the little bump over the triple was either's fault, or just two guys pushing their hardest?  Also do you think that when James moved up to 450 class(outdoors), and was still on the two smoke, that RC's bike was better and that James had to ride way over his head to try to keep up and that’s why he has a rep for being out of control?

    Also, I think that supercross/motocross is 85% rider and 15% machine, and great riders can do unbelievable things even when their machines aren't perfect.  But I think NASCAR is like 95% machine and 5% driver, meaning no matter your driving skill, unless you have a car that is capable of 1st, no matter how good or how hard you drive it you won't advance over the mediocre driver in the better car.  What I'm getting at is, RC could have probably take a stock RM450 and still won the majority of Nationals he won, because his skills are far superior than 99% of pro level riders, but in the cars and trucks of the NASCAR series, no matter how much skills RC possesses, he would have to be in a truck that is at the top of its class before he could see the same results that he saw in motorcycle racing.  If you understand my point would you agree? 
Thanks Steve for your blogservations, observations and Podcasts!  You always seem to tell it like it is, and make me laugh at the same time.
Thanks again, Diego(Nickel on PulpMX)

Diego, good question for sure. I think what we saw in Jacksonville is just what you said it was, two guys pushing their hardest. We always have this controversy near the end of every series, it’s nothing new and will always be there. I do think that James was jacking with Reed and letting him go back by and why he would risk that is beyond me, but that’s another column.
I know James has a rep for being out of control but if you ask me, RC crashed more than James ever did. He just tried and tried until he either won or ate poop. Eventually he figured it out and so did James (kind of). I think if you’re not crashing once in a while, you’re not pushing it and that’s why these guys are winners. This is kind of my own theory on James crashes and I’m not sure if it’s right but to me, a lot of his crashes come because he is so insanely talented that he’s trying to do things that have no safety net. There is literally no room for error, the G force’s on the bike and body are so gnarly, he can’t mess up even a bit. I’m working on this theory.
And yes, your observation on RC and NASCRAP are completely correct, you're not going anywhere near the front even if you're Goggles Pizanza.

Steve,
  Thank you so much for the all the awesome podcasts.  As a kid growing up, one whole bedroom wall was devoted to pictures of Glover, Ricky Johnson, Bailey, O'Show, Lechien, etc.  We could not wait for the new bike issues to come out to get the news and post the pictures up. So to guys like me, your podcasts are gold, thank you so very much.
My questions.
  Obviously, the 1983 YZ490 was the greatest bike of all time, except that you had no front brake after the first turn, What was the best bike you worked on, was there any one you hated?
  How "works" were the older Honda's before the production rule?  I know they had trick tanks and mag carbs, but what else did they have?
 What are the factory motors putting out for horsepower, 60-65?
Thanks very much,
Chuck

Chuckles, the Honda’s of 1985 were, to put it bluntly, the shit. There was nothing that was production on those things that I know of. They were assembled in Japan and shipped over in crates, they were the trickest of the trickest. The 85’s had a fuel pump the tank to get gas over to the other side because they were so low, mag side cases and a whole bunch of stuff that is just now making it to production bikes (Ti Springs, titanium damping rods etc).
The HP on the factory bikes is a hrad question to answer- in my experience (and I spent 7, 491 hours in the dyno room because Ferry was hurt a lot) every dyno is different and you can get different numbers depending on the day and the air around you. I would say that anything over 55, 57 is almost un-rideable. The teams are all about getting useable power out of the bikes, not the most. We had a Supermoto bike that made 62 or something like that but it had huge carb, filter right on the back of the carb and oversized valves. We let some moto guys ride it and they all said WAY too much. Every year I was at Yamaha, we made our bike slower and slower to make it more rideable and less tiring for a rider.
  As far as the 83 YZ490 being the best bike ever…ummmm…really? Can you believe that in 1985 Glover straight up beat Bailey on his YZ490 vs DB’s works Honda 500? This has to amount to one of the biggest upsets since that guy took down that giant but hitting him in the Achilles. There was no bike that I either hated or loved to work on, if pressed I would say the KTM was the easiest and the new aluminum framed 450’s were the worst. Everything was crammed in there!

 Hey Steve,
I am a huge fan of yours and both motocross/ supercross. I grew up riding quads because my parents would never get me a dirtbike. They always told me it was too dangerous. I finally gave up and convinced them to let me race quads. To me, motocross is motocross. After hearing other writers and their opinions, I wanted to know how you felt about us "couch racers".
Thanks,
Kyle

 Kyle, quads are ok in my book. I don’t think they should ever be allowed on a mx track with bikes though (Glen Helen, I’m looking at you). The thing that people who hate quads should understand is that the evolution of these race quads that the OEM’s have is something that helps our sport. The sales of these things are incredible and quad racers need gear, oil, exhausts etc etc. We need the quad gods to be successful and shouldn’t mock them. I also think after watching the pro guys at Steel City last year that those guys are pretty good at riding those couches.

 Steve,
Two questions:First, in the SPEED broadcast of the 450 race Ricky stated that Goose in the best mechanic of all time (or something along those lines). I was wondering if that hurt your feelings?
Second, America could be going into the toilet and I am thinking of moving to the great country of Canada. Being from Minnesota I'm halfway there. What would be a good town to move that is close to good motocross and roadracing?
Thanks for any input,
Luke

 Yes Luke, I saw that and shot of a few angry emails to RC. How dare he say that about a guy that has won a zillion races and titles. I have one national win and a half-assed sx win called Summercross! The thing with the mechanics (I’m sure you could get Goose to agree also) is that they’ve never had it easier. The mechanic literally just changes parts and makes sure things are tight. There is suspension, engine, test guys all waiting to help you. The guys in the old days (and Goose is one of these) had to drive across the country, do suspension oil changes, weld things, make sure their van was ready and a ton of stuff that the guys today don’t have to do. When I was at Yamaha were the only high profile team where the mechanics still did their motors and changed their own tires. And I heard through the grapevine that RC was mad at me for not accepting Matt Walker’s claim that he is the GOAT because MC had a lot more sx wins then him. How much time do you have on your hands to worry about some tubby guy not calling you the appropriate nickname? If I was him, I would send off a text proclaiming how in the world can he call Goose the best when Brian Luiness probably has more titles. Like who cares?
Where should you move in Canada? I don’t think you should move anywhere if you like motorcycle racing as it’s covered in snow half the year. Try Mexico.

Hey Steve, I was wondering if Yamaha is testing fuel injection & is looking into putting them on their bikes?
Do the bikes start easier with fuel injection? I didn't see that happen when Windham hit Stewart & tried restarting his bike when Stewart did another bonehead move pushing his bike in front of Windham when he & Reed crashed when Stewart missed a shift earlier in the Supercross season.
P.S. Keep up the good work. I look forward to to the podcasts as well as the articles. How about some podcasts from privateers who are struggling with the expense of trying to Peanut Butter & Jelly their way through the season like I did back in my local racing days. It’s got to be tough trying to compete against the Big Rig Boys.
Take Care.
Steve, Michigan Mafia Alumni

 Steve, thanks for writing in and I’ll be honest, I’m a little worried about the mafia right now. They haven’t been producing like the old days and I don’t know of anyone coming up through the pipeline. As a guy that worked for two mafia members (K Smith and Wey) and spent a hell of a lot of time in Southern Canada, I hope we can keep it going. Now onto your question…
   Yes, the Yamaha’s will be EFI next year (at least the 450) and they will be all new as well. In my podcast with Coppins he eluded to this fact a couple of times. When I was at Yamaha, they had an EFI bike so it’s not like they didn’t know this was coming or anything. I don’t think the bikes start better with EFI because most of the guys have gotten pretty good at not touching the throttle now when re-starting. I think the cam profile has more to do with whether a bike restarts easily or not as the more aggressive the cam, the smaller your window is to get everything lined up to produce a bang.

Steve, 
 Sorry to hear about Prince. Love your stuff, funny, insightful and informative, what else could anyone ask for? My question is: What is the typical salary of a factory pros mechanic? Not factory pro like Balbi or someone but a pro like Reed or JBS?
Kinetic1

 Thanks for the kind words about Princy, its weird how a dog that was only in your life for a year can really get to you. I didn’t cry or anything like that but I do get a lump in my throat like I did at the end of Titanic when I think about the little guy.
The salaries vary for sure but I would say they are in the 50-80K range plus the bonuses you get from your rider, which are typically 10% of the purse and any bonuses. Some guys are contract employees (Honda) and some guys are hourly and get overtime (Kawi). The hourly guys obviously work a ton of OT and their base salary is probably pretty low to make up for the expected time and a half they get for the weekend races.

  Hey Steve, I was wondering how much bike prep goes on between a Heat race and a Main.  Let’s assume Tim Ferry wins his heat race (embarrassing the competition of course) and has zero bike complaints.  Is there an automatic tire replacement? Are tires ever used for more than one race?  Are they trashed, given away or recycled?  I assume there are tons of decent, useable parts that are thrown out because they aren’t fresh.  In other words…Is there a laundry list of things to go through even though the bike only did 8 laps?  And why don’t they play Family Ties re-runs anymore???
Thanks
Jamin

 Jamin, there would be very little changed after a dominating heat performance like what Ferry would do. Maybe a new tire, depends on what he felt but I know that a lot of riders like a worn tire out there because in theory, a worn tire has a little more rubber on the ground than a new one. I don’t know what happens to the old tire, I know that sometimes a rider like Ryan Clark would get some factory take-offs here and there.
You don’t even want to know all the stuff I threw out at Yamaha that was perfectly good. It would sicken you. I don't know about the Family Ties thing, I was never a big fan of the show to be honest. I was a Cosby guy and I don't think you could like one if you don't like the other. The girl was hot in it though.

Steve,
You have been around for the whole pre- and post- 2stoke vs 4stroke thing. Can you give me and most of the guys I race with some help with something? We can’t understand why we own 4-strokes.
We HAD to buy them or be uncompetitive. But then everyone got them and the pecking order is just the same. So it is no better (or worse) for being on 4-strokes. No answers to found on this point.
But we know we are paying more for our bikes, a LOT more to maintain and rebuild them, and resale is now real wildcard issue because of the rebuild cost issue. Costs really matter to amateurs (99% of the MX world) and we are paying the industry’s bills. It affects us directly and is affecting turnouts. It has to.
Then we look for the upside. Well; the pecking order is the same and we are paying more to do it. Noise seems to be the big external issue and these things are a big step backward.
 Then there is another factor and maybe I am speaking more for myself here… I have never felt as intimate with a 4stroke. I mean by this that with a 2stroke you get to a point, without being an ace mechanic, where you can (and have) tear the thing down, rebuilt it, etc. You now that bike and have confidence that you really know it mechanically. It is only then really “your bike.” The 4-strokes….  most guys I know are “mechanically afraid” of their 4stroke whether they say it that way or not. The bike is not your buddy the way it was before.
For the same racing we are paying more, scared to work on it, and making more noise (CO2 is the same). How is this better for anyone? The manufactures maybe? In the long run, if the sport dwindles, is that even true?
Why are we doing this? I am honestly asking. What got “fixed” and why is/was it worth the trouble?
John

John, you have good points for sure. I kind of blame the AMA because in pro racing they had a rule that said if your four-stroke was less than 550cc, you could race it in the 250 class. They never thought in their wildest dreams that someone would come out with a bike that was a little heavier but a whole lot more torque and HP then the 250’s. What if the rule said 350cc? Would Yamaha have developed the bike because that wouldn’t be as big of an advantage? Who knows but what we do know is that the thumpers were a whole lot better outdoors then the two strokes and the rush was on to compete with the other riders on Yamaha’s. Let’s not forget the people who bought the four strokes and drove the sales numbers up. The OEM’s were just giving the people what they wanted, more four-strokes! Now we’re here and all the points you brought up are valid and true. Be careful what you wish for I suppose.
We all wanted a bike that we could leave in third gear and ride around the track not worrying about making a mistake because you can still jump whatever it is in front of you.

Hello 
 I have a question to ask, do you think JS riding style is dirty? Or let me go one step further do you feel JS is and always has been a dirty rider?
Thank you.
Justin

Justin, not at all. I think he’s as dirty as he needs to be and can race as clean as you want to. If you want to get into a stuffing match with him, he can do it (where as a guy like Fonseca never seemed to be able to do that, he would just always end up getting pushed around out there) and if you don’t touch him, he can get around you like butter.

 

 

 

Comments

Flintsones?

Steve, surely you ment "Goggles Pizano".
Or were you refuring to the nights after a race win by Timmy.... http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Goggles%20Pizzano

Don't we want "Real" Privateers, anymore?

I think some of what we're saying in regards to the Tyler Wharton "no spares" situation may be a mix of BOTH of our perspectives...

Should he have a spare Motor? Yes!

Can he afford it? Dunno (Then there's the issue of room for spares on the Warthog rig. Been there, done that...last-year while sponsoring Dostal...who, btw, is healin' well!)

Can you ship motors to races? Yes (This takes $, too. Again, been there and I've got the wounds to prove it!)

Sad; but, True...kids like Tyler probably wouldn't even be at a lot of the races if it weren't for the Warthog folks.

I think the bigger issue was lost in translation: More than a few folks are squeezing all they can out of what little they have.

Some of this, to me, is a sign of the times and a sign of the afore-mentioned "Real Privateer" issue. Oh, and, let's not forget that this whole thing made for a reallllly good story!

As to Voss, well, to be honest...

Yes, he probably could have been handed KXFs or RMZs. He probably SHOULD'VE gone in that "direction"; however, Heath's a Bird of a Different feather. He does EXACTLY what he wants.

Now, about Teams "Bouncin' Checks" and what-not: As a Suppler to various operations in this sport, I can PROMISE you this: The days of not making good on your commitments are just about OVER!

Guys like me are payin' the fee's to make SURE that these guys look as ugly as they should on their D&B reports. On top of that, some of us are involved in "Direct Support" of/for various factory programs...and...we're making sure that EVERYONE knows who IS or IS NOT payin' up.

It's a Beautiful thing!

This is the very reason certain Teams have/are/will be disappearing...

As I said, "It's a Beautiful thing!"

Our sport will benefit from the "Better" organizations staying/growing and the "Lesser" organizations leaving.

Btw, great site. Great subjects. Good WORK, Eh!

Manny