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Archive for My Thoughts

James Stewart Revolutionized the Sport of Motocross

James Stewart - Photo by Steve Cox

James Stewart revolutionized motocross in ways he never imagined – Photo by Steve Cox

You may not have noticed it, but our sport is changing. In the past few years motocross has gone through incredibly significant changes. Yes, the four stroke has become the dominant motocross technology and yes Leatt Braces are now prevalent in almost any motocross event across the country. However, what I'm talking about it something different.

Ever since James Stewart turned pro, his riding style has pushed the limits of what is possible on a motocross bike. It was shocking watching him hit bigger jumps than anyone else (on a KX125, no less) and scrub speed on every double, triple and table top. James Stewart's riding style was truly evolutionary.

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Is 2009 The Year that the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Nationals Make it Big?

Is 2009 The Year that the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Nationals Make it Big?

2008 was big for the AMA Nationals, 2009 will be bigger. Photo by Paul Buckley

The Motocross Nationals have had a tough struggle in recent years. Between mismanaged promotion, loss and lack of title sponsors, the dominance of Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart, and being overshadowed by Supercross, It is incredible that the sport of professional outdoor motocross has survived at all.

Thankfully, it has survived, and for 2009, the landscape of Professional Motocross is looking extremely prosperous. New management, new television packages, great competition and celebrity involvement in the sport are all helping to boost the popularity and exposure of Professional Motocross, and because of this, I believe that 2009 will be the year that the Motocross Nationals make it big.

New Management

MX Sports is running the 2009 Nationals.

For years, the Motocross Nationals have been struggling under the joint leadership of the NPG and the AMA. This relationship has just not worked out for the sport. While they didn’t necessarily do a bad job, they didn’t do a great job either, and as a result, the Nationals floundered when compared to the rapid growth seen by Supercross.

Thankfully, for 2009, MX Sports, has taken the reigns of the nationals, and I am excited to see the same team who runs the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals work their magic on the professional nationals.

Some have expressed criticism or doubt at MX Sports’ ability to run a Professional race, as up to this point they have only had experience running amateur nationals. However, I am faithful in the fact that they will be able to bring their skill and professionality into the Professional Motocross Nationals.

Update: In the writing of this post, it slipped my mind that the same people who run MX Sports, are also responsible for running the Steel City and High Point pro nationals for a number of years under the name Racer Productions. My mistake, hope you'll forgive me.

In fact, their expertise has already helped the Nationals. They have secured a new title sponsor (Lucas Oils), and an incredible domestic and international TV package (more on that later). I am really looking forward to seeing MX Sports bring the Pro Nationals into the mainstream and showing the world how incredible of a sport motocross is. For years, our sport has been in dire need of a good leadership team to steer the sport in the right direction, and I believe we have finally found it in MX Sports.

Domestic Television Package

The 2009 tv package for the nationals is awesome. Photo by Lee Jordan.

The 2009 Domestic TV Package for the Nationals is awesome. Photo by Lee Jordan.

For many years, one of the major aspects which set Supercross apart from Motocross has been the television packages. Supercross has almost always had better packages with more live races and more races aired on major networks. In the meantime, Motocross has been stuck on sub-prime stations stuck in terrible time slots and simply not reaching the audience it should be.

All that has changed for 2009.

Motocross will have an incredible Domestic TV package for 2009, and I believe that it may be just what the sport needs to make it big. We’ve yet to see exactly how well produced the individual races will be, however, one thing we know for sure is that they will have an incredible air time schedule.

Here’s how the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship TV schedule will look:

  • 3 Live Coverage events on NBC
  • 3 Live Coverage events on Speed
  • Remaining races have same-day coverage on Speed (450s) and Tuesday coverage (250fs)
  • First motos shown on the web

This package should help get the nationals out to more people, in a more timely fashion, and with a more professional presentation. As a heavy internet user, I am very excited for the first moto web coverage, and look for them to expand this avenue more in the future.

However, this setup is far from perfect. I believe that in order for Motocross to truly benefit from the change, there needs to be more live events, more events on NBC, same day coverage for both the 450s and the 250s.

In addition, there needs to be internet coverage of both motos. I understand that in the current format, the promoters are trying to leverage the first moto internet coverage to increase TV viewers, especially for the second moto. But, in order to truly take advantage of the many benefits internet content distribution can yield, the promoters need to fully embrace it by putting both motos on the internet.

International TV Package

Chad Reed is a foreign rider who has made in big in the USA. Photo by GuyB.

Chad Reed is a foreign rider who has made it big in the USA. Photo by buy generic cialis online without a prescription

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In addition to the surprisingly good domestic TV Package, MX Sports has also secured, for the first time in the history of AMA motocross, an international TV package.

There are an incredible number of reasons why this is good for the sport. It increases the visibility of the sport as a whole throughout the world, increases the potential market for sponsors of the series, and exposes more children to the sport, ultimately increasing the number of motocross riders working, training and practicing to make it as a professional Motocross racer in the United States.

According to Nick McCabe, head of Commercial Development for MX Sports:

Making our series accessible to our international fans was a priority for MX Sports. We want motocross enthusiasts all over the world to have access to our programming and racing action.

This will ultimately make the AMA Motocross Nationals a more recognizable brand throughout the world and will build its popularity both here and abroad.

The full details of all the international television packages are not known at this time, but here are the few details we do know.

  • Broadcasted on the Motors TV, Nuvolari, Fox Australia, ESPN Brazil, and Greenlight TV networks
  • 430 homes throughout the world will be reached via the various broadcast networks
  • This deal will reach people in the European union, Russia, the Orient, Brazil, Australia, and more

Hopefully the international coverage of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships continues to grow and bring the great competition to the rest of the world.

Great Competition

The 2009 nationals will be more competitive than in 2008. Photo by Paul Buckley.

The 2009 Nationals will be more competitive than in 2008. Photo by Paul Buckley

The big talk throughout the Supercross season has been James Stewart and Chad Reed’s decisions to not race the Motocross Nationals this year. While Chad’s choice is nothing new, James’ was slightly surprisingly.

Regardless, the fact of the matter is that the two fastest motocross riders in the world will not be riding the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships.

And yet I still believe that this year will hold some of the best competition we have seen in many years. With the dominating riders taking the summer off, they are leaving the series wide open to the other riders to battle it out for the win. In recent years, we have seen Stewart and Carmichael take off for the win while the remaining riders battle for 2nd and 3rd. While these battles have been great, they have been under publicized due to the fact that they were for the runner up, and not for the winning position.

However, for 2009 these same riders will be battling for the win each weekend making the season one of the most exciting in years. Ryan Villopoto, MIke Alessi, Davi Millsaps, Andrew Short, Broc Hepler, Josh Grant, and many more riders will be duking it out all summer long for the National Championship. There is no clear leader in this pack, and I can’t wait to see who will come out as a winner.

While there is no obvious favorite heading into the series, I believe that Ryan Villopoto will transfer his speed and success from the MX Lites class into the Motocross class and once again have a phenomenal National season.

Celebrity Involvement

Brad Pitt's Pink Project is getting involved in Motocross in 2009. Photo from VitalMX.

Brad Pitt's Pink Project is getting involved in Motocross in 2009. Photo from VitalMX.

For years, celebrity interest and involvement in motocross has risen steadily. This trend has continued for 2009. The most recent development in this trend was Brad Pitt’s partnership with Carey Hart’s Hart & Huntington/Rockstar Energy team for the 2009 New Orleans Supercross. In an attempt to raise money and awareness of the devastation still present in New Orleans,

Pitt’s Pink Project helped support Hart’s team. The Pink Project is a subset of the Make it Right Foundation and the goal is to help rebuild New Orleans Lower 9th Ward. I find it incredibly inspiring that Brad Pitt chose the motocross community as an avenue to raise awareness of this project, and I believe that it is a sign of things to come and a representation of the power within the motocross community.

2009 is Going to Be Big

2009 is going to be big. Photo by FaeryBoots.

2009 is going to be big. Photo by FaeryBoots.

2009 is going to be a very big year for the Motocross Nationals. There are a number of growing factors which are all going to help boost the popularity of the Nationals to a whole new level. The competition will be fierce, the television packages superb and the promotion incredible. I am very excited to see how it will all play out, and I cannot wait for the upward spiral of our sport to continue.

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Christopher Dodd and Joe Courtney Respond to Lead Based CPSC Act Against Youth Motocross

CPSC

If you are a regular visitor here, or an active member of any online motocross communities, you probably have read about the outcry over the latest CPSC act which essentially outlaws youth motocross across the country.

As part of my fight against this legislation, I sent email correspondence to Connecticut’s Senator Christopher J. Dodd and Representative Joe Courtney. A few weeks after my emails were sent, I was somewhat surprised to receive a response from both politicians. I know many of you are actively fighting this yourself, so I decided to share their responses with the motocross community.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd

Christopher Dodd Supports the Ban on youth Motocross. Photo by sskennel.

Photo by SSkennel.

Dear Mr. Martin:

 
Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Reform Act. I appreciate hearing your views on this important issue.
 
The responsibilities of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are some of the most critical to our nation. The CPSC is charged with protecting consumers from unreasonable risks of serious injury associated with faulty consumer products. Created by Congress in 1976, the CPSC is responsible for examining more than 15,000 types of goods, and has contributed to a 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the last 30 years. However, public alarm about a series of product recalls, particularly of toys and other products used by children has focused attention on major reforms to the CPSC.
 
As Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families, child safety issues are of the utmost importance to me. That is why I am proud to have supported the final passage of H.R. 4040. Signed into law on August 14, 2008, this critical overhaul of the CPSC contains key reforms that will help to protect American consumers.
 
This legislation requires that as of February 10, 2009, products intended for use by children may not be sold if they contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead, even if they were manufactured prior to that date. Other products may also not be sold after this date if they contain more than 0.1 percent of specific phthalates, which have been determined to cause reproductive development issues in children. You may be interested to know that on January 30, 2009, the CPSC voted to grant a one-year stay of testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers of regulated products intended for children under 12 years of age. This decision will provide CPSC staff time to finalize and clarify the four proposed rules relating to lead testing. The stay will remain in effect until February 10, 2010. For further information relating to the stay of testing, the proposed rules, exempt materials, or other issues relating to the administration of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act, please visit the Commission's website at http://www.cpsc.gov. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the implementation of this law closely, and will continue to support efforts to protect the health and safety of all children.

Thank you again for contacting me. If you would like to stay in touch with me on this and other issues of importance, please visit my website at http://dodd.senate.gov and subscribe to receive my regular e-mail issue alerts. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of assistance you in any way.

 Sincerely,
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD
United States Senator

After reading Dodd’s response, I was slightly disappointed. It is obvious that Dodd openly supported the recent bill. On the other hand, I can see where his point of view is from. The CPSC covers many other types of consumer goods besides motocross bikes and they are responsible for protecting children from lead in mass produced products.

However, I was surprised to see that he did not address the fact that this legislation was much farther reaching than initially anticipated and prevents children from riding motorcycles which contain lead that is never in contact with the child.

Dodd almost failed to defend the outlaw of youth motocross and instead just listed his support of the bill in general. I totally agree that many products imported into our country contain dangerous levels of lead and should be outlawed. Motocross bikes, are not one of these products and Dodd’s failure to address this oversight strikes me as an admittance that the CPSC has gone one step to far with this legislation.

Representative Joe Courtney

Joe Courtney Does Not Supports the Ban on Youth Motocross Bikes

Dear Michael,
 
Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  I appreciate your comments and having the benefit of your views.
 
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is charged with regulating and enforcing consumer product safety standards, has proven ineffective in its duties. Our nation bore witness to these failings in recent years, with unprecedented numbers of unsafe consumer products being pulled from shelves in  Connecticut and across the nation. The passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA, P.L. 110-314), which was signed into law on August 14, 2008, delivered promise of much needed change to the CPSC and consumer protection standards.  Since passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the CPSC has been responsible for implementing commonsense applications of the law. 
 
A major provision of the CPSIA established limits on lead content in children's products. Under current law, children's products cannot contain any component that exceeds a lead limit of 600 parts per million (ppm).  In response to these

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restrictions, many ATV manufactures have sent notifications to distributors regarding ATV parts that may exceed the allowable lead limit.  This in turn has impacted ATV businesses as well the availability of children's ATV for purchase. 
 
I understand concerns regarding the application of lead limits restrictions on parts that could, realistically, never cause lead exposure.  Under the CPSIA, the CPSC has the authority and responsibility to establish exclusions of materials or product parts from lead content limits if they will not result in absorption of lead into the body.  I would encourage the CPSC to closely examine ATV parts, including brake components, battery terminals, and other components that could be excluded from lead limits.  I would also encourage the CPSC to use the flexibility granted to them in this legislation to establish commonsense applications of the law and to improve information for those affected by the new requirements. 
 
As the CPSC moves forward with implementing provisions of this law, I will continue to monitor the balance of regulation for both practicality and the goal of consumer protection.  Should you have any additional comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.  For more information on my views on other issues or to see what I have been working on in Congress, please feel free to visit my official website at www.house.gov/courtney and sign up for my e-newsletter.
 

                                                                  Sincerely,
                                                                  
                                                                  JOSEPH COURTNEY
                                                                  Member of Congress

Joe Courtney’s response, on the other hand, was much more reassuring. He addresses the fact that the CPSC has to outlaw unsafe products, but does not fail to mention that motocross bikes and ATV’s are not unsafe and their lead would never realistically come into contact with their youth riders.

I was extremely pleased to read that Joe Courtney has the safety, yet also enjoyment of youths across the country in mind and that he totally understands the impact of this ban.

Joe Courtney's reviews almost exactly reflect mine on this issue: The CPSC must continue to ban unsafe products, but they crucially need to exclude motocross bikes and ATVs in order to preserve the sport we love and the economic ecosystem which is the motocross community.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that not all politicians think alike. Obviously, if they did our democratic system would just not work. As a result, the lead politicians of Connecticut, and undoubtedly other states across the nation have different views on this issue.

For me, Joe Courtney sympathizes with my views while Christopher Dodd apparently does not. Because of this, I will continue to support Joe Courtney in his political ventures. If certain politicians from your state are supporting the review and modification of this latest CPSC act, then you should return the favor and support them in return. This will ensure that they see results from their actions and continue supporting pro motocross legislation.

What Can You Do

Paul Buckley Photos

Photo by Paul Buckley

Even if your politicians agree that HR 4040 is incredibly far reaching and needs to be reviewed, then cannot accomplish the goal of fixing this act alone. They need your help! There are a number of things you can do to help this effort, check them out below!

  • Spread the Word: Do you have a podcast or blog? Are you active on social networks? Leverage this communities to your advantage. Spread the word of this atrociety and make sure that all of your friends are aware of the ban and are helping in the fight.
  • Submit a Letter: The following letter has been prepared by the MIC to be sent to the CPSC in support of the petition and ultimately in support of the removal of this ban. Download CPSC Letter here
  • Sign the Petition: visit http://www.tomself.com/, submit your info and sign the petition.
  • Write to your Congressmen and Senators: Let them know the far reaching affects of this law and the many benefits provided to families by the small powers ports industry.**Thanks to Commenter Joe Roth, I have been made aware of an automatic system to submit a letter to your congressmen and senators which has been set up by the AMA. Check out the AMA’s Rapid Response System right away.**
  • Watch and Spread the Video: Matt Wozney of MXPTV has produced an awesome video regarding the ban. Watch it, spread the link, and embed it on your site. The more people aware of this issue the better.

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8 Most Inspiring Professional Supercross Bike Setups

Everyone loves looking at professional Motocross and Supercross bikes. They are the trickest and most advanced bikes in the world, and it is inspiring as a rider to look at the incredible bikes ridden by my favorite pro racers.

It is easy to miss the number of incredible bike set ups in the midst of Supercross races, controversies and penalties. That’s why I have rounded up the 8 most inspiring Professional Supercross Bike Setups, enjoy!
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Freestyle Motocross Star Jeremy Lusk Dies, Is This a Sign That FMX Has Come Too Far?

The Metal Mulisha Crew. Lusk on right. Photo from Jeff Kargola.

The Metal Mulisha Crew. Jeremy Lusk on right. Photo by Jeff Kargola.

Tragically, on February 10th, 2009, freestyle motocross star Jeremy Lusk passed away due to head injuries after a failed heart-attack backflip attempt. Lusk was a star in the FMX world and a member of the renowned Metal Mulisha team. The entire motocross industry was automatically sent into a sense of shock and mourning after hearing the news. As a community, we all pulled together to remember the great rider that was Jeremy Lusk.

Looking past his death, however, I believe that this incredibly tragic event is a sign to the entire freestyle motocross industry that perhaps the evolution of the stunts performed by FMX stars has gone too far. The FMX industry has been pushing the envelope for too long, and maybe it is time for something to change.

I don’t want to make the impression that the current crop of FMX tricks don’t require incredible skills, however, it has definitely gotten to the point that a rider with the guts to huck out the latest tricks will beat out a rider with serious motocross skills.

What Caused This Transition?

The Backflip is responsible for the denaturing of FMX GuyB Photo.

The backflip is responsible for the downfall of Freestyle Motocross. Photo by GuyB.

I believe that the backflip and subsequently the variations of the backflip are 100% responsible for the mutation of FMX from a display of skill to a display of guts. The backflip has become a necessary trick in any freestyle routine. Throwing multiple backflips and backflip variations is almost a guarantee for a good score, but if you don’t do one, despite how much skill you display in the rest of your run, your chances of a top 5 or even top 10 score are slim to none.

The backflip began as a demonstration of how skilled freestyle motocross riders have become, but it has readily transformed the sport. Now the backflip has turned into an avenue for aspiring FMX stars to be skyrocketed into fame without developing the necessary skills.

Why is This Bad for the Sport?

Scott Murray did not have the skills of the real freestyle motocross stars when he attempted the double backflip. Photo by GuyB.

Obviously, this transition has been horrible for the sport of Freestyle Motocross. As the number of riders who can do a backflip has increased, more and more of the top FMX riders have become riders who are not necessarily more skilled than their competitors, but simply have more guts to, quite literally, risk their lives.

Examples of this can be seen in a very real way in the evolution of both the backflip and double backflip in freestyle motocross competitions. Arguably, the first person to ride away from a backflip in competition was Caleb Wyatt. Even as a fan of motocross in general and of FMX, I had never heard of Caleb Wyatt until he landed the first backflip. He was an absolute no one. He had not honed his skills to the level of Travis Pastrana, Mike Metzger, Brian Deegan, or any of the other old guards of FMX. He just happened to have the guys to put his life in danger time and time again in order to land the backflip.

Almost exactly the same scenario occured with the Double Backflip. While Travis Pastrana is credited

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with landing the first backflip in competion, before him came “stunt man” (I do not believe he deserves the title of freestyle motocross ride) Scott Murray who attempted it multiple times, and in the process made himself and the sport of FMX look like a total joke. Skill wise he was clearly on a lower level than every other of the competitors he was riding with, yet he continuously threw himself into double backflips, constantly crashing and making FMX look more like an exhibition than a sport.

Almost all of the “old guards” of FMX will tell you that the backflip is not a necessarily hard trick. It just takes guts. As a result, many riders have begun to rise in the sport of FMX without having the right skills to put a flowing, consistent and stylish run together. This has ultimately dumbed down the sport and devalued the work all of the past stars did to make it a legitimate motocross sport.

It is a terrible tragedy, but I believe that it has taken the death of a comrade, Jeremy Lusk, into shocking the FMX world back into reality. This tragedy will, I hope, help bring FMX back to the grassroots and back to the times where skill, not bravery dominated.

What Can Bring the Sport Back?

Travis Pastrana is an example of a skilled FMX rider. GuyB Photo.

Travis Pastrana is an example of a skilled FMX rider. Photo by GuyB.

While I do not believe that the Backflip should be banned from freestyle motocross motocross alltogether, I do believe that some serious changes must be made. While the backflip is an amazing trick and one that I believe will continue to influence the sport, I firmly believe that the influence of the backflip on the sport needs to be reduced. I am unsure of how exactly this can be accomplished, but there are a number of viable options.

Maybe the number of backflips allowed in one run should be reduced, or maybe their point value needs to be considerably reduced so that a winning run can be put together with the prescense of only one or two backflips. I believe that it needs to be possible for riders to win by displaying that they have extreme freestyle motocross skills without actually doing a backflip. Sure, it was a great way to bring the sport to the next level. But in my opinion, its value has been considerably reduced and now it much be treated like any other trick, and must not be the deciding factor in a riders run.

A more viable option, in my opinion, is to change to layout of the freestyle courses. Return the courses to primarily, or all natural terrain hits to promote the evolution of new tricks, and limit the use of the backflip. With natural hits, the riders skill becomes more important than the ability to throw useless tricks such as the backflip and the riders who truly are the best rise to the back through difficult maneuvers perfected through years of time perfecting their skills.

Various competitions have already been formed with this format, and the response has been incredible. They have allowed skilled riders to rise over lucky or brave ones and has promoted the reemergence of basic, yet skillfully complicated tricks which ruled the FMX world prior to the evolution of the backflip.

What Will I Do Until This Happens?

As a display of my disgust at the current state of the Freestyle Motocross World, I will refuse to follow the freestyle motocross community until something changes. I am sick of riders putting their lives in danger performing stunts which are not even good indicators of their skill. I want to see FMX return to the times when skill rules and talented riders rise to the top of the field.

What are your opinions regarding the current state of Freestyle Motocross? How has the death of FMX star Jeremy Lusk affected your view of the sport? Let me know in the comments!

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