Ladies and Gentlemen … Welcome to Supercross 2009!
OK, well, actually, the first race hasn’t even taken place. But as far as the season, hype, interest, and action – it was on today.
Today was the Friday Press Conference at Anaheim Stadium. First, Team USA from the 2008 Motocross of Nations received their gold medals for winning the event that was held in Donington Park, England. (The team was James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, and Tim Ferry – see photos below.)
Next, host Jason Weigandt talked about how six ‘Legends’ in the sport will have a hand in designing six of the supercross tracks for the 2009 season. In addition, other changes are being made for the tracks this year – they are adding more corners with more lines, and shortening up some of the longer straights to try and make for better racing and passing. The ‘Legends’ helping with track designs are Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Rick Johnson, Jeff Stanton, Travis Pastrana and … and … heck, we forgot the sixth guy! (Oh well … we will remember at some point … )
The first big name rider introduced to the assembled media, 450 class ‘Rookie’ Ryan Villopoto. Ryan’s moved up to Team Monster Kawasaki, riding with the number 2 plate, and on the KX 450 F as previously mentioned. Ryan commented that he isn’t going to pressure himself to a win 450 class, but let it ‘come’ to him. Of course, racing is racing, and when out on the track, he also said it’s easy to get in and ride that fine line close to the edge : )
The next rider introduced was #14, Kevin Windham. Kevin seems relaxed and ready. Kevin said he knows that consistency counts, and, they aren’t making the podium any bigger these days …. and he wants to be on it … a lot!
The next rider introduced, #7, riding now for San Manuel L & M Yamaha, James Stewart. James seems to be in a great spot in his life – all the way around (not just on the motorcycle). He’s confident, well spoken, thoughtful, relaxed … and understands the big picture of life. Part of what James said today was that he’s blessed to be able to do what he does, and, he’s ready to go out and ‘earn’ a championship. James said the transition to Yamaha has been very smooth – no problems at all. He’s also wearing all new gear this season (again, see the photos below).
The next, and final rider introduced – Supercross Champion & #1 plate holder, Chad Reed, riding for Rockstar Makita Suzuki this year. Chad received a Championship Ring’ from Feld Motorsports Director of Supercross Dave Prater (see photo!).
Chad said that racing the recent Australian Supercross Series in his native Australia was ‘more’ than just supercross and racing to him. He was proud to see the sport being elevated there, and happy to be able to also spend time at ‘home’.
Interesting note: Chad has been practicing for the 2009 Supercross Season with former racing rival Ricky Carmichael in Florida since returning to the USA from Australia. He said ‘Ricky will always be Ricky – fast’ : )
Next, there was a long practice for the 250 class riders. Today was a gray, overcast day, but the track was perfect – dark, tacky soil, with a small sand section put in too.
Then came ‘the big boys’, the 450 class riders. The photos should tell you more about what we saw when they come out for their practice session.
The final thing for the day was heading over to Team Yamaha’s pit, where they held a press conference, hosted by Yamaha Racing Director Keith McCarty. Keith talked about some new sponsors of the team, and reiterated their ongoing sponsorships. The new sponsors include Tag Metals (handlebars, grips, pads – all used by James Stewart, Kyle Chisholm, Grant Langston, Broc Hepler and Josh Hill) and the ‘lab’ which is spearheaded by supercross/motocross legend Bob Hannah (notice the photo of Keith and Bob together). They are now also aligned with Factory Effex, AXIO, Mechanix Wear, G2 Ergonomics (a new throttle control device primarily), and Light Speed (carbon fiber protection products). They continue their relationships with Bridgestone, Akrapovic, Yamalube, VP Racing, GYTR, Vortex, DID, Cycra, and Braking.
Thank you to Feld Motor Sports for making this happen today.
In these photos, you’ll see Mike Alessi 800, Ryan Dungey 10, Tim Ferry 15, Grant Langston, Keith McCarty & Bob Hannah, Chad Reed 1, Chad with his Championship ring, Ryan Villopoto 2, Andrew Short 29, James Stewart smiling, James Stewart 7, Broc Hepler and James Stewart chatting, James Stewart 7, James with his bike at the press conference, the winning USA Team of the Motocross of Nations 2008, Ryan Villopoto at the press conference, Jake Weimer 19, Kevin Windham at press conference, and Kevin Windham 14.