Red Bud was another great weekend of racing, filled with not only great on-track action but a fair bit of interesting side-stories too. As an added touch of pizzazz, the Ritchie family (proprietors of the track since it’s inception) had these cool dirt ‘vessels’ made up into trophies for the podium finishers. Since the soil make-up at the track is one of the primary reasons why it is so widely loved within the racing world, it seemed like an appropriate thing to do.
Under a cloudless sky and moderately high heat and humidity, the fans were out in full force and were not just cheering, but making statements as well. Since part of the race was broadcast LIVE on NBC, many of them took the time to make their statements on national TV, and this sign says a lot to those in the know. Primarily it says that the sport doesn’t need James Stewart (Bubba Who?) and takes a jab at his reality television series (Bubba’s World). Taking it a step further, it makes the prophetic statement that Red Bud would indeed be Ryan Dungey’s World, as indeed it turned out to be. Whether or not we agree if the sport “needs” James Stewart is beside the point – we just thought it was a cool sign that made some interesting statements.
More support for Dungey, this time in the form of mock Target-palmed gloves like the Target and Nike sponsored rider from Minnesota (not too far from Red Bud) has worn the past couple of seasons. Dungey’s support in the midwest is huge, as he seems to be an ideal spokesman for the sport at least into the near future. Clean-cut, hard-working and poised in front of the microphone, he seems to be stepping into the role left by his predecessor Ricky Carmichael with ease.
But enough cheerleading about Ryan Dungey, there was also support for plenty of other riders around the track too – not the least of which was Dean Wilson. We spotted a couple of flags or banners proclaiming Wilson’s Canadian citizenship (apparently nobody from Scotland made the trip), which was interesting as England and Canada both vie for his participation on their MXoN squads. What’s more interesting than the flag in this shot, though, are the people surrounding it. Some interesting poses going on here for sure.
The subject of all this international affection – Dean Wilson himself – has pretty well set the sport on fire. In his rookie season, Deano’s more consistently up front than Barcia was last year (or this year) and now finds himself between his two teammates (Pourcel and Rattray) in the points race. With those two riders being quite experienced in this level of competition, not to mention both being former world champions, it’s nothing short of amazing that Deano’s beaten them both a couple times each this season. On top of that, he’s a great kid, and his Dad’s a riot too.
One of the coolest features on the Red Bud track is the big ski jump after the start, where riders air it out while completely pinned into the deep braking bumps and ruts at the bottom. One of the not-so-cool features here is that they added a drop-off to it this year, and this time it claimed the Asterisk Medical Unit’s Kawasaki Mule, while Doc Bodnar was aboard. He explained the incident to us, and he simply did not know they’d cut into the hill since he’d been over it earlier in the day, and his Mule flipped end-over-end down it, causing a little bit of damage to the Mule and almost none to the Doc himself. This could’ve been a huge disaster, so MXSports is looking into how to better manage these relatively new track features.
Red Bud played host to a number of riders who typically make their living racing in the woods or desert, as both major series – Grand National Cross Country and WORCS – had an off-weekend. Former 125cc National Motocross Champ and current WORCS champ Mike Brown was one of those who took advantage of it. Brown was able to snag the vacant factory KTM 250SX-F of Tommy Searle for Red Bud, which means he not only had one of the sweetest rides available in the paddock, but also got it for the best track of the season. Nice move, Brownie. His results were fairly respectable for a 37 (?) year old too – 19-12 for 17th overall.
Last year’s XC2 Pro Lites class champ, current points leader and factory KTM GNCC rider Kailub Russell also showed up to try his hand. Known as a very fast motocrosser (he’ll race Loretta’s in the A or Pro/Sport classes next month), Russell had a forgettable pro motocross debut. Crashing hard in both practices, he was slow to get back up to speed and wasn’t able to qualify. He did look good while he was on two wheels, though!
Current GNCC XC1 points leader and factory Suzuki/FMF Off-Road star Josh Strang also came up to Red Bud for the day. Strang’s also known as a fast moto guy, spending much of his training time on motocross tracks all over the country working on his speed and precision. For Red Bud, the Rockstar/Makita team gave up one of Dungey’s race engines for Strang’s ride, which certainly didn’t hurt his attempt. His results were fairly solid, as he scored his first pro point with a 20th in moto one. It’s likely that Josh wasn’t super-pumped on his ride, but then again, he came away uninjured and is just *that* much more confident in his abilities than he was before he showed up.
Former world and national motocross champ Grant Langston continues to struggle with his return to racing. Definitely a fan favorite no matter where he finishes, GL went down very hard in the first 450 moto (nearly cleaning this photographer out in the process!) when he drifted off the track in the corner and straightaway following LaRocco’s Leap and tumbled off the track. After laying there for a while and with everyone holding their breath to see if he’d recover, he hopped up and came back to race the 2nd moto (where he crashed again, but still ended up 21st). He’s a tough guy, that Langston.
This is the little tumble that took Justin Barcia out of the running for a possible win or at least overall podium finish. When he went down in this nasty, rutted, muddy corner, he allowed Canard by (who eventually went on to win) along with Rattray. Bummer for Justin, as he was clearly on a roll and looking to the front but there’s a big question whether he’d have had anything for Canard as the race wore on.
Once again, Blake Wharton had a great ride in both motos but somehow ended just off the podium so it wasn’t noticed as much as it should be. Wharton’s having a great season but is often over-shadowed by his equally impressive teammates. He’s got a win in him this season, just watch.
Tyla Rattray was in a position for the overall win via a 2-2 when he went down late in the 2nd moto. Solidly 2nd in points, Rattray’s really come alive this season and is ALWAYS one of the front guys or pushing his way to the front.
Last year, Josh Grant OWNED Red Bud, moving from the back of the pack both motos to get his first overall 450 class win. This year, well, Grant LOOKED super-fast, but he just wasn’t able to find the front of the pack either time out. Just a few clicks behind the battling trio of Townley/Reed/Dungey in the first moto, and a bit further back the second time out, Grant went 6-6 for 6th overall.
Darryn Durham was again one of the “really fast” pack of 250 guys, ending up 8th in moto one but he unfortunately ran out of gas in the 2nd moto while inside the top 10. Despite that, he was still scored with 20th, which wasn’t too bad, considering.
250 winner Trey Canard demonstrates proper whole-length-straightaway rut riding technique on his way to the overall win at Red Bud. The entire track was disced extra-deep and watered heavily to promote a rough, rutted, and gnarly National that earned the respect of every rider out there. The Red Bud legend continues to grow.
Kyle Regal airs it out over the big uphill step-up tabletop jump with the perfect form he’s becoming known for. For the umpteenth time this year, Regal finds himself battling with the elite of the sport in a true privateer effort that must be inspiring to a lot of the other riders. 7-7 for 7th right behind Josh Grant? Not too shabby.
Mike Alessi’s day was, well, not so hot. He looked and rode super-aggressive in qualifying, riding the 350 more like a 250, but could muster only an 8th place starting position (and was over 2 secs down from Dungey’s top time). Mediocre starts and a couple of blunders and a late-moto fade in moto two kept him way behind sniffing distance of the front pack for most of both motos. 10-9 for 9th.
Ashley Fiolek and Jessica Patterson provided edge-of-the-seat battling in both motos of the WMX class, which made it’s debut at Red Bud last weekend. It was a great race for both of these girls, as they pulled a massive gap over 3rd place both times out and put on a great show that certainly helped the case for women’s racing at the Nationals. Fiolek won both motos to break Patterson’s perfect season attempt short.
And with this spy shot of John Tomac wandering the pits looking for another overall win for his son Eli, we’ll call it a wrap for our Red Bud coverage. With a week off before the series heads to Millville, we’ll likely see the return of at least a couple of riders that were recently injured (Tommy Hahn being one, and possibly Ivan Tedesco). Check back here for coverage of the Spring Creek National, where we’ll try our hardest to provide quick, concise coverage with lots of eye candy to put it over the top.