If ever there were a motocross super-fan's dream vacation, this was it.
By: Milan Damnjanovic
I suppose before I get too far into this I may as well give you a bit of background on myself. Hi my name is Milan. I’m 25 years old from Western Australia. I started riding and racing at a young age. I am a big fan of Ivan Tedesco and Dean Wilson. I set out in May 2012 on a holiday which saw me catching the Las Vegas Supercross, Hangtown and Freestone Nationals. Due to a donation I made in the name of PulpMX to Road 2 Recovery, I was fortunate enough to get the unique opportunity to meet the ‘A Team’ of motocross journalism being Steve, Kenny, Tits and Pookie ( I forgot to mention I am an Engineer who failed English at school so if this is difficult to read I give my apologies, writing stories is not what I’m known for. Blowing shit up is.).
Deano Bambino throwing whips for the kids.
Our first stop was Las Vegas supercross. My girlfriend Casey and I rock in and the first person we spot is Mr Steve Matthes heading to the press box. Good to catch up with him and chat away for a bit. After chatting I leave him to head up to the press box and I take my seat for the first practice sessions.
Riders watching practice
I scored good seats second row back from one of the triples. Practice was interesting and very enjoyable to watch. Guys like Josh Grant, Dean Wilson and Justin Bogle put on a show and make it worthwhile and exciting with huge whips for the fans. The highlight of the practice sessions was when Mike Alessi bins it in the whoops and my girl Casey drops a good line of “He’s going to get it when he gets back to the pits from his Dad”.
Bogle showing off his style in Practice.
After practice it’s time to check the pits. It is awesome going up to guys like Byrner, JT, Jimmy Button, Grant Langston and so on and they take the time to chat. Even better they show some genuine interest in you and are very approachable. So it was a dream come true to “bro down” with some of my favourite riders of all time. Good times had and many of my idols met, I left the track a happy mx fan.
The racing came. I believe some Honda’s and a KTM won. I was watching the racers and thinking of what David Pingree said on the Vegas PulpMX show in regards to watch Practice, the fly by and then go to the parties. I believe this is sound advice for those who are coming to Vegas supercross and all championships wrapped up with several top riders out. Just in my opinion.
(The last time I was here was 2007 and I was superpumped to see BT and RV go “toe to toe” in the shootout. Alas, the first lap saw a snapped chain and fuel issues and Ryan Dungey won that snoozer.)
Seriously highlights for the majority of people would have been Nico Izzi’s Nac Nac’s and the guys whipping over the triples.
The tough life of a professional mechanic.
After goodtimes in Sin City the next stop was Hangtown, but not before a visit to the X fighters and the Racer X pro ride day at Lake Elsinore.
Be the match with the KING.
After some difficulty finding the complex (Courtesy of the GPS) we slowly roll in and discover a MX fans wet dream!!!! It was awesome watching the riders practice out here. This was another opportunity to meet idols such as MC, RV, Canard and catch up again with my man - Ivan Tedesco. In this environment it seems riders have less pressure and therefore it is much easier to strike up a conversation with them. So if you are in California and there is a pro ride day, go check it out.
Once again I could catch the guys like Bogle, Grant and Bambam throwing big whips. I watched Davalos smash himself before a double which was not pretty. But it was interesting to watch guys like Broc Tickle and Josh Grant riding much harder than Ryan Dungey. Ryan didn’t seem very comfortable at all so hopefully they got some good settings dialed otherwise he may be having issues come round 12.
Tomac getting info from the Rock while the guy with the Chihuahua tries to stare me down.
Then off to finally catch up with Mr David Pingree himself. Who is an absolutely top bloke. No Braaap bars offered, but yes it was a good time to chat about the track, riding and the triple step up at the back.
I was like a little kid this whole time grinning like an idiot. The riders must have been wondering who this weirdo was from “England” (not) but I had a blast. Just so everyone knows. Ivan was hauling ass and riding that 250 like it was his bitch. He was not F@#%ing around.
Josh Grant is always good to watch.
So as our day winds up, it’s time to race to Corona to visit Pro Circuit headquarters. I love the old bikes they have in there. Mc’s 1992 CR125, RC’s 1997 kx125, CP’s 2009 KXF250. I also get stopped by the guys behind the counter about wearing my FMF shirt, which I had completely forgotten about. Good times!
PC shop with my FMF shirt on.
Red Bull X fighters was many firsts for me. It was a first to finally visit Glen Helen. First to finally see JS7 on a Suzuki. Also, my first Pinky’s Hot Dog. In case you were wondering, all 3 were as I had imagined they would be – Epic!
Bubba handing down life lessons to these lucky kids.
Seriously though, watching Bubba around Glen Helen was an experience. I have seen Bubba ride once before at this point and I have seen MC ride twice at his peak and I have also seen JMB ride a CR500 at his peak. I get that same feeling every time I watch Bubba ride. That feeling like “dude this guy is the Effing MAN”. When he scrubbed the first huge downhill we could just about see his bars drag and that was the moment; the moment my mind was officially BLOWN. Stamp it 1-1 Hangtown. Oh wait.
Deano and I Friday afternoon.
Time for Hangtown, finally. I was very lucky on my trip because I was lucky to bump into riders in the most random places. Such as catching Tommy Hahn, his father and Ivan Tedesco at dinner. It is cool when no one else in a restaurant notices these guys, but they are so friendly and down to earth.
The first thing I notice when rolling in to Hangtown on Saturday morning at 7am, from the Super ticket tent at the first corner, is how short the start is. Watching video’s for all these years of Hangtown you get the impression the start is much longer, like most things in life.
Honda and KTM lane in the Pits.
However the racing was as good as you could ask for. Especially moto 1, 250’s. Baggett was going hard. El Chupacabra was back as he settled into a 5th in the first half of the moto then turned it up. Casey’s commentary at this point is “Is it 15 minutes yet? Where’s El Chupacabra”. I don’t know how he does it but watching him race up that hill and jump further than anyone else on the day as he closed on Barcia and Roczen put you at the edge of your seat with non-stop action.
This is around lap 3 or 4 left moto 1 250’s.
Chiz getting hosed down in his Freeguns.
What can I say on the 450 action; Bubba “was the man” plain and simple! I am not a big Bubba fan, but you can’t help but love him for how he rides. He just dominated Hangtown. He was controlled and looked super smooth. It was awesome watching Metty get up there. I was hoping he would hold off the Dunge but that Freight train was unstoppable.
Another interesting ride was Tickle. I am no fan of Tickle but he was riding really well and he seemed to really be attacking the track. Riding like his job depended on it, that’s for sure.
Moto 2 450 Start Alessi came from no where.
Coy cleaning boots for his guys.
After the racing it was time to catch up with Steve Matthes and Jason Weigant. No better time to bother them than when they are trying to get their post-race interviews. But seriously Weege is a funny guy and good fun to chat with about anything. Don’t let the wrestle raping taint your opinion of him, he is very approachable.
After some moto talk with the Media Kings it was time to catch up with Ivan again to see how he went and then off to the next stop.
The PulpMX YZ250 looked trick.
Tomac after a day filled with bad luck still had time for a chat and smile.
The Lions Den.
It was monday night and the 93rd Pulpmx show. I head back to Vegas behind the MGM grand to catch up with Steve, Pookie, Tits and the OG KW.
The show was a lot of fun and it was interesting to see how much work does go into it.
I can’t thank the whole crew enough for inviting me over and letting me see the inner workings of the show that we all love to listen to. KW is such a funny guy and watching the back and forth between Steve and Kenny is good hearted fun.
H&H race shop.
Then after some chatting with Kenny and business cards being exchanged we were able to visit the H&H race shop. It was such a good experience getting a tour of the Semi and shop from The Innovator. Honestly, Kenny does make dreams come true and we had a blast and this was so much more than I would have expected but Kenny, not to be outdone, had another surprise for me.
Since he had discovered I was a big old school fan of the man, we were invited to meet Carey Hart.
I have never been so in awe and the past week had been an experience of a lifetime. Something I will never forget!
FRO and Weege at work early.
The final chapter of my MX adventure took me to Freestone, Texas. My first rider encounter is overtaking Justin Brayton on the highway from Dallas to Freestone. Sadly it was not the last time he would be passed this weekend.
Seriously, in my opinion, this track sucks for the spectators. I don’t think there could be another track in the world that sucked this much for viewing displeasure. I don’t like to be too negative but after being at Hangtown and even knowing the facilities available at a State round track back home, this track left a lot to be desired.
JT what happened?
KTM guys don’t always get holeshots in USA.
It was good catching up with Tommy and Will’s parents who remembered me from all the random paths crossing. They are good people and it was good to see Tommy do well. Also seeing Weege again was good and being greeted with “are you guys still here?” Good times! (When will see the WWL rape classic commentary?)
BamBam attacked this hill like it owed him money.
This is how close it was for most of the moto. Until Bubba got the 2 laps board.
I thought Dungey’s comments in an interview after practice were interesting. “…We will see who has done the work today…”
This really stuck in my mind as after moto 2 Dungey was straight to the pits and in the bath. Meanwhile, after being interviewed for the win, Bubba sat on the side of the track and watched the 250 moto 2. To me this killed any questions on whether Bubba’s fitness is up to Dungey’s level. If not better!
Baggett launching the Sand wall.
The 250 moto 1. Did Tomac win? Oh, I was too busy watching Baggett launch that sand wall nearly every lap. He is the winner in my eyes. It was seriously the best thing about Texas. That kid has serious “balls”. It will be interesting to see if he can be consistent this year and make a run for the championship??
I believe the track officials got upset at me for running up beside the table top before the sand wall and cheering Ivan on as he came around every lap. Flashing the VIP lanyard did not impress them however, so I obviously was not entitled to do whatever I wished.
Ivan charging through the pack.
WMX? Well I must say some of my fellow spectators were not fans of WMX. One of the best quotes I heard was “Oh is it womens now? This is going to be a long 15 minutes.” Obviously they were pumped right? Me either as majority of the girls had to go single x 12 through the Texas 12 pack, which was painful to watch. I did witness Gieger GRENADE herself on the last of the Texas twelve pack in moto 1 trying desperately to pass Meghan Rutledge and all I had to say to that was “ouch”.
Ivan, Tommy and I at PC. Bro’s.
I ended my trip, once again, checking in with Ivan and Tommy. Ivan will keep charging until the end of the season, be sure of that, he is a fighter and won’t quit. You got to love that in a rider.
After chatting with Byrner, Izzi, The Hahns it was time to see Steve for the last time before we took off. Seriously all day I saw Steve charging around the pits doing work. The guy is a trooper. Thank you very much Steve for the introductions and just chatting about moto. Can’t wait until the day (year) comes when I can do it all again.