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Daytona 2004







The Race: Chad Reed loves to race. In an interview beforehand, he was asked ‘Are you worried about Travis Pastrana?’ Chad said ‘No, I’m not worried. I’m excited about having Travis back. He’s an exciting rider and the fans love him and I want to race him!’



To see the best Chad Reed, you need to see the best competitors – whether it’s RC, K-Dub, or Woody. Chad wants a guy to compete against so he can show his very best. At Daytona, Chad was the very best. He’s right on mark to do what he’s always wanted to do – win the AMA 250 Supercross Series.



Kevin Windham got hammered on the start. Kevin was mid-pack, and couldn’t get thru quick enough to get to Chad. That’s basically what we’ve seen between them all year – whoever gets the better start has the advantage. Windham showed what he’s all about though – he still got second.



Daytona was Mike LaRocco‘s 200th AMA supercross. And he still can’t get a good start! ; ) I’m not sure, but I think Mike’s fastest lap was lap 15. Mike seems to get more comfortable as the race goes on. It’s unbelievable he’s done 200 supercrosses. It’s a testimony to a remarkable individual. He’s not there filling space on the line – he’s capable of winning, and other guys are worried about him.



200 supercross starts reminds me of math – a lot of big numbers. Think about it – let’s say Mike has practiced an average of five days for each supercross. Add in all the outdoor races he’s done and practiced for. Don’t forget all the testing. How about all the traveling to those races. He’s still one of the strongest guys out there too.



The biggest surprise of the weekend was Travis Pastrana. I think Travis knew before the race that he would run out of ‘gas’ in the main. It’s hard to be away from competition for a year and jump back in at the top level. He’s only been practicing for three weeks, and coming back at Daytona you know you are in for a beating. Travis was exhausted after the race. His body and mind are healthy. I’m very proud of him – to come back and run at the top level is amazing.



Even though Travis was tired, he was the last one in the pits late at night still signing autographs.



James Stewart. I have to make two personal comments first: he’s not a very good graffiti artist, and I think I’m still a better dancer than he is.



All kidding aside, during the 15 minutes of a main event, and the 15 minutes afterwards, there is no one that can touch James. He’s elevating the sport and doing things on the track that no one else is doing. Off the track, he’s personal, charismatic, loves the fans, and gets people fired up. There is no one better.





The Television: It was great to work on the three hour TV show for the SPEED Channel with Chet Burkes and crew. Chet gives Brian Drebber, Ralph Sheheen, Greg White, Dave Despain and me a lot of freedom to do what we like and know.



Chet gave me a call and said ‘Rick, what do you have going for Daytona?’ I told him ‘I’ll be down there all week working with Suzuki. I’ll ask Roger if he wouldn’t mind me working with you on the TV show.’ Roger then told me it would be OK to do it.



1pm Friday was our production meeting. We talked about what we want to accomplish for the show. Then I went down to look at the track to help the Team Suzuki riders, and it also gave me some ideas for commenting on the show. When doing an event live, you can’t guarantee there will be action, so we wanted to have some other stuff to talk about too.



We do a short rehearsal before the show. Then we do our opening where Dave starts off, throws it to Brian and me, we do our ‘Hellos’ and explain what we are going to see, and throw it down to Greg and Ralph. After that, it’s on – we are going wide open.



We did what’s called a ‘semi-live’ show. We call the heats live. For the semi’s we talk over a highlight reel. Then we call the 125 and 250 main events live. I felt like sometimes when there was a moment of silence, I needed to carry the show. I need to remember it’s not my job to carry the show – sometimes it’s better for me to shut up. I wasn’t nervous, but there was some anxiety on my part because of my lack of experience in doing it. Sometimes I’d get a little long winded, and Chet will tell me in the headphones ‘Wrap it up – we are going to this now.’ We are being directed on the fly.



One of the hardest things about doing live TV is going to a commercial break. We’d hear in our headphones ‘We are going to break in 10 seconds … nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, … I’m not real comfortable in changing my thought to finish for breaks. I’d end my thought prematurely and say ‘Back to Brian’. Those top broadcast guys have a way of doing it in a very professional manner. Brian carried me in broadcasting, and hopefully I helped him in the knowledge of motocross. Brian’s job, besides being ‘the voice’ is almost like that of a traffic cop – he’s keeping everyone involved and moving.



I hope I can do it again next year. I watched the guys doing the 200 the next day, and I picked up a few tips on going to break, or tossing it to one of the other guys. A live show is not perfect, but neither is life. I like the mistakes part of it – it makes it seem more genuine.



All those guys made my job easy. All I had to do was talk about what I know – motocross.





RJ



p.s. It’s cool to have your own web-site. I can say ‘Thanks’ to Richard Norton from Suzuki for letting me ride that 800 Intruder Volusia Cruiser. It was a lot of fun to be able to show my wife all around Bike Week.



Click on the thumbnail to view the larger photos.



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Krispy Kreme 2 AM. Can’t figure out why I can’t lose weight

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After riding during the week, Travis and Davi get ready to ride their bicycles back to the hotel. It’s maybe 20 miles. Heck, I get mad when I even have to drive 20 miles now!

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Behind the scenes dirt in the TV booth. I borrowed the shirt from Dave, and you can’t tell I’m wearing flip-flops on my feet



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