Hammertime’s Reality Check | Daytona Supercross
Photos by Billy Rainford
Just admit it, Daytona is the greatest. There’s just something about it that brings out the most unique and gnarly style of Supercross racing every year. It’s so rough, there’s so many options all over the track as it starts to fade and burn out in the main events. It’s incredible looking at seven or eight lines coming out of each corner setting up the high-speed, sickly, rutted sections.
Even though it’s probably the roughest track of the year, it’s also the safest. With all of that extra size and longer lap times you get better spacing between the obstacles, sick long straights full of unique dragon’s backs and rollers that coming off of them can generate so much speed out of these factory bikes.
Because it’s not your standard Feld production, you always get the benefit of being a little bit more intimate to the track and the racing while watching the telecasts. Those sections where the camera is panning along just feet from the riders is a thing of beauty. You can hear every rev of those gnarly factory bikes and get a real perspective for how rough the track is.
It’s just all good…. and the winner of this race every year kind of goes down in moto folklore. If you asked me who won Phoenix or Pontiac Supercross seven years ago I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you off the top of my head, but I can always name the winner of Daytona and now maybe this second unlikeliest winner next to Ricky Ryan in the mud in 1987 can lay claim to such an awesome victory. Congratulations, Justin Brayton!!
So, Justin Brayton had 131 starts and never won a race. He has had some good success but at times has also been slightly in obscurity even when making starts. I’m 99% sure what finally got me kicked off Vital MX for good was when a couple of years ago in a thread about Justin I went on a rampage, and I believe I called him a “paycheck rider,” meaning, obviously, a guy that’s content to float around on a factory rider’s salary in around 10th place playing it safe every weekend.
Seeing the way he’s riding now at 34 years old makes me wonder, was he playing it safe all of those years or maybe he just didn’t have the tenacity and the ability to put it all together until later in his career. Who knows, it’s a tough sport but sometimes when these guys that have all of the talent put it together something amazing happens and that happened Saturday night to Justin.
It was classic watching Christian Craig following him down toward the podium on the bikes after the race giving him the arm wave of, “We’re not worthy!” Obviously, it’s well-known that everybody loves the guy and this was probably the most popular win in years that I can remember. Justin has made a shit ton of money over the years and now is riding his best approaching his mid-30’s so I hope he wins a couple more and, most importantly, stays healthy! What a win. You could feel the emotion in the air coming from a lot of angles.
Ralph, Fro and Ricky are a group of clowns. We need change. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would slander Ricky Carmichael or Jeff Emig (who are two of my favourite racers of all-time and have 14 championships between them), but in the announcing booth, they’re lappers!
Ricky is all over the map, but, unlike Jeff, he tries to get a point across but he doesn’t have the talent to deliver it. Jeff, on the other hand, is the biggest fence-sitting coward in media. Here’s a guy that, in his day, was not only a champion but a champion partier and badass. This guy could give insight into so many things with this platform he has insightful inside things a guy like him would only know because he’s been there, he’s there every week, and knows these guys.
Example: What are the riders thinking in certain situations? Shedding light on their personal lives, talking about how hard it is to keep your career on track while they’re starting to make so much money, about interactions with the rider and mechanic, the beefs between riders. What do they do in their off-time, anything interesting … all of the things that he knows but yet he says nothing, week after week.
Maybe he’s afraid of losing his job or just can’t coordinate his thoughts into speech, I don’t know. When Eli Tomac absolutely drilled Cooper Webb in that right-hander, the three of them couldn’t even come out and just say, “Yeah, what the hell, he cleaned him out!” They were all mumbling and stumbling sounding stupid trying to figure a way to puss out of saying it like it is.
Same thing with the Austin Forkner/Zach Osborne deal where Austin blatantly took Zach out crossing that jump face! Bottom line: I think they suck! Paging Daniel Blair and Mike Alessi. For all of the unwarranted shit Mike takes, that dude is smooth as melted butter in front of the microphone and nobody has lived the moto life like he has. Give him a job!
So, our four-time Canadian champ, Colton Facciotti, competes at Daytona. I love it. I was so stoked that even at this stage of Colton’s career that he randomly showed up and decided to race the gnarliest Supercross on the circuit. He did great, missed the main by one spot, but I didn’t expect much more, to be honest. You can’t just show up out of the blue and expect to do much at a full-blown Supercross for so many reasons, including lack of bike set-up, being used today gnarly intensity, and this time of year for a guy like him even being in race shape both physically and mentally.
Even though he’s one of the best outdoor riders in the world, it’s just such a different game. Just think about it, the guys that beat him in the LCQ… Tyler Bowers, Carlen Gardner (who the f@$k is that guy?), Dakota Tedder and Ben Lamay.
Look at the difference between indoors and out. If that’s the national in Canada, Colton flat-out smokes those guys, not even in the same league. But these guys are grinding Supercross laps in and out every week so they are just grooved into it and Colt wasn’t.
At the end of the day, congrats to Colton. That takes a lot of balls to do that out of the blue and he made everybody in Canada super-stoked. I know everybody followed his every move online all day until the live telecast, including me. Way to go GDR for getting him there…. and he had the best looking bike in the pits with those white Lime Nine graphics and the legendary #100 that so many incredible past champions, returning veterans after layoffs, and top GP racers have used!
Some random thoughts…
Austin Forkner’s aggression and really raw speed kind of reminds me a little bit of #259 back in the day. If he can just get his laps tied together a little bit more consistently, nobody’s going to beat him in this class before long.
I can’t figure out Jordon Smith! Usually he’s on the ground, getting bad starts or throwing out brain-dead take-out moves when it doesn’t matter. But when this guy starts throwing down some smooth laps after a good start, his riding style is amazing and obviously his aggression and speed are awesome. He’s fun to watch.
The way Tomac and Osborne tore through the pack after going down early was something to watch. Those guys are almost 2 in the same. They violently attack the track and can really hammer through the beat, torn up sections better than the rest of the guys with an intensity that takes as much sack as it does skill. Had Eli managed to pass Justin for the win Saturday night, does everybody realize that that would’ve been one for the absolute ages? Think about it, last-to-first on the most famous and gnarliest Supercross track of the year? That race would’ve been talked about forever much like James Stewart going from 39 to 1st at Budds Creek in 2003.
The sound of Jeremy Martin‘s HRC Honda 250 is pure violence!
#114 Brandon Hartfranft is a prospect out of nowhere, from where I sit. Dude’s big, fast and gets good starts. I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses. Look at Christian Craig. Can you believe this guy was banging nails three years ago? Jesus, what a talent. Awesome starts, skims hoops like Stew, and has a gifted riding style like Hanny… and he flat out rips outdoors. I don’t think you’ll see him off that factory Honda 450 anytime soon.
I still can’t wrap my head around how good Benny Bloss is — the dude’s a fighter, but man does he look like a goon being 6’6 or whatever. I like him!
It’s time for Luke Renzland and Kyle Peters to step up and do something! Jerry Robin and Josh Osby should just invest in their own ambulance. Those dudes are hazards out there! I wish we were seeing more of the real Jimmy D! Getting shit starts like he has been has been keeping him mired in the pack and now hurt. After a great start, things of gone straight downhill for Jimmy and that sucks!
It looks like all the Cooper Webb haters can take a seat…. did I really just say “haters”… f@$K my life! Before long, I’ll be saying “ I knoooooow riiight,” every time somebody says something to me! “Riiiiight”
Insta follows…Hey, kids, want to see who will be winning at SX soon, how to rip and market yourself? This is how!
Over and out. I’ll try to make it back next week, but who knows. Got to be inspired or f@$k it -:)