California State Capitol Welcomes Racers
With the opening round of the 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship just around the corner, MX Sports Pro Racing, the producers of the outdoor Nationals, and the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club, this year’s round-one host, joined forces to hold the annual pre-race/pre-series press conference, but this one was a little different in that it was held on the front steps of the California State Capitol building in downtown Sacramento and that race fans could attend.The 42nd Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic race, held at the Prairie City State Recreation Area located about 15 miles from downtown Sacramento, is one of the oldest races on the circuit and has been continually supported by the State of California, so the club thought it would be fitting to have this year’s press conference held at the State Capitol building. Some of the top factory teams parked their semis on Sacramento’s L Street right in front of the Capitol building, and they also had some of their race bikes on display, parked on the sidewalk for everyone to see.A few local and state officials, including California State Parks’ Director Ruth Coleman and California Assemblyman Roger Nielo, addressed the crowd from the podium. Afterwards, Coleman was given a #5 Ryan Dungey-autographed Rockstar/Makita Suzuki jersey, which was presented to her by the 2009 250cc outdoor champ himself.”My kids will be so jealous,” she said, laughing.Some of the top stars of the sport attended the conference and, afterward, participated in an autograph session, including Joe Gibbs Racing/Muscle Milk/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant, TLD/Honda’s Ben Townley, KTM/Jagermeister’s Mike Alessi, Honda Red Bull’s Andrew Short, Women’s MX Champion Ashley Fiolek and, of course, defending outdoor champs Dungey and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Chad Reed.No real new was revealed during the conference, though Grant and Alessi poked fun at each other in regards as to who was going to get the holeshot in the 450-class motos.Grant did say that he is fully healed and 100-percent ready to go following his shoulder injury which he suffered early in the year and that kept him out of the entire Supercross Championship. Grant said he was fit enough to have competed in the last few rounds of the Supercross season but decided not to so he could devote his entire attention on the upcoming outdoor Nationals.As expected, Townley said that he’s extremely anxious to start racing again following a slew of injuries that has kept him sidelined for over two years. Townley has raced in his home country of New Zealand recently but “not on a level as this,” he said. Like Grant, Townley, who attended the conference with his wife Lucy and three-month old son, says that he’s fully healed and ready to go.Alessi is another rider who is making a return to racing after breaking his knee early in the outdoor series last year. He too, he says, is back to 100-percent form and will be making his and KTM’s 350 debut in the United States when the gate drops on Saturday.The 42nd Annual RockStar Energy Hangtown Motocross Classic, sponsored by Coors, officially gets underway May 22, with opening ceremonies set to begin at 12:30 p.m.The Hangtown track will feature some changes, including new dirt that has been disked deeper than ever, according to a Dirt Diggers member. Tons of sand has also been mixed into the dirt this year, so the surface won’t become so hard-packed.The riders that attended the press conference, and another select few, will be “rewarded” with a one-hour practice session later this afternoon.Currently, it is sunny but cool here in the Sacramento area and rain is in the forecast for Saturday.