Washougal Update: New Start, Retro Gear, No Reed
It looks like it will be another hot one for the racers in the AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Washougal MX Park in Washington tomorrow. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-to-upper 90s, but that will probably be a relief compared to the heat and humidity they faced last week at the Spring Creek National in Millville, Minnesota, where a number of riders wilted in the tough conditions, including Muscle Milk/JGR/Toyota’s Josh Grant, who collapsed after crossing the finish line in the second 450cc moto.(Photo right: The new start chute is shown next to the old start on the right.)Riders will be treated to a brand new starting area at Washougal. MX Sports, the organizers of the outdoor Nationals, requested that the track’s start chute to be lengthened and widened, so to accommodate their request, the start was moved about 50 yards to the right of the older and much shorter start chute. Tons and tons of dirt had to be hauled in to raise and level the start line area, which had to be built on a slope. The new sections will lead the racers into the same, left-hand first turn.The biggest news of the day came from Chad Reed himself. The 2009 450cc National Champion sent an email to his fans today announcing that he has been diagnosed with the energy-robbing virus Epstein-Barr and will not compete at Washougal, nor will he most likely compete at any of the remaining races.(Photo right: The startline area had to be raised and leveled.)Another buzz in the pits has to do with Josh Hill and the injuries his suffered yesterday while practicing back-flips for the Speed & Style competition at the upcoming X Games in Los Angeles. Hill, who is not competing in the outdoor championship, suffered a badly broken femur and multiple breaks to his pelvis. He also suffered injuries to his shoulder/arm area.Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey will be hoping to extend his win streak tomorrow, which has lasted since the second round of the series in Texas, but Dungey might have his hands full tomorrow. Kevin Windham, who joined the series last week at Millville, has always ridden the Washougal track extremely well and is expected to give Dungey a battle tomorrow, but only if his conditioning has improved since last week.In the 250cc class, Trey Canard is hoping to extend his win streak to three.The Washougal race this year is going retro, too, and many riders are expected to get into the spirit by wearing old-style gear tomorrow. Troy Lee Designs is getting in on the fun and will be supplying its riders Ben Townley and Cole Seely with Steve McQueen LeMan’s open-face helmets, which they will wear during their sighting lap before the main events.Hundreds of vintage motocross bikes were also on display on the infield of the track today, and many of these bikes – most of them in immaculate condition – will be ridden around the track tomorrow during intermission.Enjoying the display today were some of the northwest’s most famous riders of the past, such as Rick Burkett, Eric Eaton, and brothers Phil and Mike Larson.