It seems, pretty much everyday, we are talking some kind of smack on our text thread of friends. Probably more so the first couple days after a race. Just like everything, we all have opinions on what happened or shoulda happened. So I decided to recruit some of those big mouth friends for MXD360’s newest weekly article, Four A**holes & the Casual Fan. Everyone has a lifetime of racing dirt bikes, watching dirt bikes and talking shit about dirt bikes. That is everyone but Tez, the casual fan. Don’t get me wrong, he loves the sport like all of us. He has just never actually raced. Altho, that won’t stop him when it comes to having an opinion. Let the questions begin. [Reed Photos]
1) Eli didn't quite go 1-1 at home altho he did go 3-1 for the overall while looking once again, more like the Tomac we are all used to. Did he figure something out on the bike these past couple rounds or as he just sick n tired of hearing of being questioned and decided, "I'm gonna show those fools..."
NDel : I gotta say, I absolutely called this one. Last week, I said: “But yes, he’ll absolutely go 1-1 next weekend in the altitude, for sure. Maybe?...but probably not. Most definitely, kind of”. That is exactly what he kind of did, almost! It is clear that I have an affinity for forecasting race results with a rocket scientist’s precision. In my attempt to eliminate speculation, I sent him a DM to ask whether or not he found something on the bike to improve, or if he was sick of 4 assholes and a casual fan dissecting his outdoor season with intense and relentless scrutiny. He hasn’t gotten back to me yet either because he hasn’t seen it, or because it is not a Tuesday night and my nickname isn’t ‘Lil Denny’. [Editor’s note, Eli has been known to direct message me when I’d call him Elito and call me, Lil Denny, yea I cant make this shit up] Either way, with my newfound ability as a statistician, I have calculated my exact on odds winning the lottery next week. I will either win the jackpot, or I won’t. Those are pretty decent odds!
JR51 : Ahh, the age old question, do the elite have an "on" and "off" switch. Here's the thing, if Eli has the ability to turn Elito Mac off, and the mind blowing speed on, wouldn't he do it every weekend? I don't think that’s the case. I think it is equal parts Eli getting back to being hungry and throwing that extra 1% on the line, and the others coming back to earth a little bit. In a nine round series, the smallest of variances seem more profound. Normally a 3-4 race mini slump would be no biggie, Eli would recover from it. No time this year.
Tez the Casual Fan : 'I'm gonna show them fools' only works if you consistently 'show' them! Eli actually raced this past weekend in front of his home crowd and won, but is that enough to keep the fans from asking why he still sits in 4th, almost 50 points back? I don't think so. Wish I could be a fly on the wall inside that trailer.....I bet Tomac's win was the least celebrated ever, while the team members were surely more interested in how many points down is AC for the title. I thinks it's finally gotten to Eli that he's no longer 'the guy' on the team, and because of this he finishes the season to prove a point, showing up big again in Pala!
Checkz : Give me a break with the "bike" and "setup" excuses. Look no further than 10 feet away in the tent to find a guy winning on the same motorcycle. Eli might suck at setting his up or not be able to adapt, but that's on him... its part of racing. RC rode with handlebars on the freaking gas tank and a shock that seemingly never left the bottom-out bumper to a hell of a lot of wins because that's what elite riders do. It's not going to change, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's first or 6th this weekend. [Editor’s note, part of this question was especially for Checkz, don’t get him started on “bike setup”, which is odd considering he works for a Race Tech… a suspension company]
2) How frustrating has it been watching JMart having to ride near perfect lines and momentum to keep up with those Yamaha's? We saw it 2nd moto at Spring Creek as he chased Ferrandis up n down those monstrous uphills (Thanks Dad) and again second moto this past Saturday at Lakewood as he chased Cooper. Is he thinking to himself, dam, I forgot how fast those things were!
NDel : There are three certainties in life. Death, taxes and Star Yamaha’s starting up front in the 250 class of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series. What the shit? It seems the entire team effortlessly occupies the top spots on the starts lately. I think it is absolutely badass watching JMart wring that Honda’s neck while trying to keep up with the blue ACME rockets that make up the Star Racing Yamaha fleet.
I used to race a 1994 KX 125 that was pretty decent in the engine department and I definitely felt at home on. In that timeframe, the current year bike was 1998. My dad would always proudly say, “bla bla bla...and you’re racing a 1994!”, as if you justify a race result, or to add valor to a good ride\race. While I subscribed to that logic back then, in retrospect I think now, “well why didn’t I just get on better equipment so I didn’t have to ride as fucking hard to be par!?”. Although the comparison is not completely parallel, as I’m sure the Geico Honda that JMart rides is as good as they can get it, clearly there is something left to be desired when comparing it to the Yams. The second 250 moto was badass to watch. It was pure moto and an all out dogfight. I definitely appreciated the effort and commend Jmart’s grit. The intensity and adrenaline transcended through the tv and when the moto was finished, I had welts from the roost of the Lakewood course on my chest by way of stigmata and my beard was 75 percent thicker. Whew! That was gnarly.
JR51 : Oh yea it's story time. I love story time! In 2000, following my first year of Arenacross, my dad made the decision to move our motor work from California to Hickman Racing in Des Moines. Jim Hickman was a mastermind with those Hondas, and it resulted in me showing up on the gate, every single place I went, knowing I had the fastest bike on the track. Didn't matter if it was Tony Wenck's Riverside Raceway in Winterset, IA, or a full gate in the Pro Sport class at Loretta Lynn's, I weighed maybe 130 pounds and had all the horsepower in the world. There's no greater feeling than knowing you would likely holeshot and anyone that wanted to beat you would have to pass you.
Not only that, but they would have to make a damn good pass because you could beat them in a drag race to the next corner. That's the complete opposite of where J Mart is at right now. He knows he has to be beyond perfect to win these motos, and confidence is a fragile thing in this sport. And c'mon, not only is the dude underpowered, but it's been like 65 degrees and absolutely perfect weather most of the series. Fitness, where J Mart is known to shine, hasn't been as much of a factor either. Not to say Ferrandis hasn't earned this title... but J Mart has definitely gotten my respect for putting in the work and not complaining an ounce. [Editor’s note, he did seem a little pouty after Ferrandis took them both down at RedBud]
Tez the Casual Fan : So being the Casual Fan has allowed me to be almost oblivious when it comes to how bikes ride.... but seeing blue bikes up front into the first right hander doesn't take much attention. I mean seriously, if Stanley [Stan is our buddy who lives and dies with Yamahas and we may make a lot of fun of him because of it, hell, he’s probably tuning one of his bikes now with his phone, wait can you tune a 2005 YZ125 with their app?] can see it after his hours of pre-partying in the van with the windows up, then it's flat out obvious! [Editor’s note, picture Spicoli falling out of his van in Fast Times] Such a disappointment to know while you're at the gates that you have to get the hole shot....choose the best lines...race on the verge of catastrophe...and make zero mistakes to win. The real question is; how has JMart done what he's done just to be close? Bike should never trump (2020) race craft, but that's why there is another class... I mean, why do the 250 Yamis have such a distinct advantage, while their 450's can barely top 10?!? [Editor’s note, the motors are backwards dammit Casual Fan! Yea I don’t know why that works either]
Checkz : It's not frustrating for me because I'm not the guy eating roost, but as a fan, I love nothing more than watching a guy twist the grip off like he's tearing through a pack of zombie heads in an apocalypse. Things are looking grim, but he does still owe Ferrandis from Red Bud. I'm just a fan and I like fireworks and t-bones.
Denny : Watching JMart those two motos was almost physically painful to watch. But like Checkz just said, watching a rider have to almost ride perfect as he twists the throttle like Damon Bradshaw and physically attempt to hurt the motorcycle he’s riding it so hard, is intense as hell. I really don’t exactly recall why JMart left the Star team originally, I think it was because he grew tired of his bikes breaking. Oh Alanis, isn’t it ironic?
3) Is there a better dirt bike story than the unlikely career of Zach Osborne? He clearly made a statement that night in Vegas when he came from nearly last to put Savatgy on the group in the second to last corner to win the 2017 250SX East title. Also, can he keep this momentum rolling and possibly win the 2021 SX title?
NDel : I don’t dislike Osborne at all, but he’s just sort of “meh” for me. I do appreciate his demeanor, intensity and clutch performances though and that night in Vegas when he put Savatgy into the lemonade stand was absolutely badass! I can’t put my finger on it, but he’s sort of boring to watch, similar to how Ryan Dungey was for me. In my opinion, neither of them rode with flare that stands out or with distinguishable and memorable steez. But maybe being a rather boring racer on the track is the makings of becoming a champion..?
JR51 : I remember in the 90s, watching Zacho ride the wheels off the early KTM minis, and the kids just seemed to have "it". I didn't think "it" would be a notoriously bad wrap of fading and an early passport to Europe, but here we are. Here's the thing...how many kids are just like Zach? These teams spend six figures a year on these kids through the amateur ranks, building them up while they knock down 3 lap title after 3 lap title. Then they get to the pro ranks, have some crashes and injuries, and boom, it's on to the next one. I mean, Marchbanks won the freaking Daytona SX and now he's on the Club MX team from Pro Circuit Kawi. Give the kids a chance to learn! But back to the topic at hand, is there a better story? I love the underdog mentality. It's definitely one of the best stories and the dude is about to become a 450 Outdoor Champ. There's but one title that remains...the 450 SX title. My prediction? Don't bet against Zach. I'm gonna take it a step further. The 16 wins the 450 SX title, and then leads the USA to regain the proud Amercian glory with a MXdN title and win for the stars and stripes. Boom. How's that for a next chapter for the story?
Tez the Casual Fan : Oz is a beast....period! I think he's finally gotten comfortable and confident on the big bike and knows exactly how far he can push it! Lets be honest...race craft is different between the 2 classes. Oz has now shown he's willing to do whatever it takes to win, rather that be aggressive or with precision....capable of both, which makes him an incredibly smart and intimidating rider to the pack. I'm hoping he continues to evolve and makes another statement this winter for 21SX!
Checkz : While it's a good story and Osborne is a likable guy and great role model, so is the rookie phenom who stumbled and was humbled only to come back to win. It is looking like the 16 will be able to seal this one and have a feel good ending. And it's a great time for it because I think it may be his only shot. The rookies are nipping at his heels and figuring out this 450 game. I see a changing of the guard coming in a hurry. Barring injury (yea...big ask) I don't see AC not being your 2021 Champion no matter where they race.
Denny : I absolutely love Oz and think he deserves a movie about his career. Kevin James could play him in his younger years with that Leo Dicaprio guy playing him now. And if you don’t agree with me, then kiss my ass.
4) A.C. and Sexton have both had an incredible rookie season of MX, while A.C. kicked the year off with some wild n crazy 450SX rides, how will Ferrandis fair in the 450 class come 2021? Win races? Top 5?
NDel : AC, Sexton and Ferrandis are all champions and success in the 450 class is to be somewhat expected, given their performances in the 250 class. Ferrandis will be just fine come 2021 and starting line of the 450 class. Between MX and SX, I am still undecided which one Ferrandis riding a 450 has more aptitude in, but I’d put him in the top 7 with confidence. That said, 250 champions usually carry their success through a transition to the premiere class, so long as they don’t break their navicular in the process. [Editor’s note, ouch, yup, don’t do that. I tried that and it didn’t work very well.]
JR51 : There's one difference between AC & Sexton and the 14 of Ferrandis. Elite, consistent starting. And the races they've been amazing, they started up front. Ferrandis hasn't been able to secure consistent starts on the hands down fastest bike in the class. He needs to figure that out before AnaheimOrWhereeverTheHellTheCovidSXOpenerWillBeIn2021 or else he's gonna learn really fast how hard it is to come through the pack in the 450s. He's gonna be good, but that's the difference between consistently good, or flash in the pan good. We shall see.
Tez the Casual Fan : The king of 'What did he just say?'.....besides the podium interviews, I enjoy watching the Frenchman. He has an abundance of talent and hunger to be the best, which you can clearly see when he rides. Again tho, is he at an advantage on the Yamaha 250....what happens when he throws his leg over the heavy and bulky 450? I feel as if he'll be humbled when he moves up, spending the majority of the season eating roost and wondering if he should have thrown the title for another year of owning the pups!
Checkz : Out of 9 SX races, Ferrandis only won 3. And that's with unquestionably the best bike in the class. He now has to transition to a YZ450 that has proven difficult to perform on at the highest level for many great riders. While he's an extremely talented rider, I think his rookie season won't look much different from what we've seen from his soon-to-be new teammate Aaron Plessinger (remember that guy?).
Denny : In 2021, I see Deelun Furrandees running 5th to 8th in 450SX and around… 5th to 8th in outdoors. I can also see his riding coach and trainer Daveed Vuilemin yelling and throwing shit a lot next year. Rookie season’s are a bitch. Its also possible DV might even blitz a set of whoops at the Yamaha test track in a pair of flip flops and a Speedo just to show Dylan how easy it is.