Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th December: Tracks closed. The rain up here in the hills keeps coming.

10 Things to Watch: Straight Rhythm

US MX

maddix park mx

www.racingxonline.com By Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo

Stewart’s Back

Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t say that James Stewart isn’t good in rhythm sections—it’s one of the things he’s known for! So it stands to reason he’ll be amazing at Red Bull Straight Rhythm, right? Maybe, maybe not. We haven’t seen him in competition since he left the starting gate of the second moto at Spring Creek, and before that his results had suffered since he’d tested positive for a banned substance in a drug (thought to be Adderall) he’d been prescribed. He has the skills to win this thing, but will his head be in the game? –Aaron Hansel

Hit or Miss

Red Bull Straight Rhythm was a big hit when it was first unveiled on the Internet. After all, what’s not to like about an innovative course being blitzed by our sport’s best athletes at obscene speed? But just because it was a sensation in video form doesn’t mean it’s going to be a smash in a competitive format with a live audience. Then again, it could be an overwhelming success—we just don’t know! If it works, we’ll probably see plenty more Straight Rhythms in the future. If not, this might be the first and last we’ll ever see. –Hansel

James Stewart will be back in action this weekend.  Photo: Simon Cudby
James Stewart will be back in action this weekend. Photo: Simon Cudby

Jump for Show Dough

The old adage “jump for show and corner for dough” doesn’t apply to Red Bull Straight Rhythm because, well, there are no corners! So, where will the guys make up time on each other? Creative jump combinations is one obvious answer, and you can bet some of the guys will be keeping their biggest and most daring moves hidden in the back pocket until the time is right. Expect big combos people! -Hansel

Travis Pastrana

There are so many questions that we could have devoted this entire column to Travis Pastrana and we still wouldn’t have had enough room to cover it all. How will he do in his return to dirt bike racing? Will he summon his stash of unreal talent and hold his own against active racers? Will he have a spectacular crash? How will his custom 500cc two-stroke handle the course? How long until the first back flip comes out? With Pastrana, the only thing you can count on is that you have absolutely no idea what’s coming next, which is probably why he’s so gosh darn thrilling to watch. -Hansel

Click here for Pastrana explaining his bike

Vet Class

How cool is it that Ryan Morais and Grant Langston get another shot at racing on a big stage? Neither one of them exited the sport the way they would have liked—Morais retired after his big crash with Trey Canard in Dodger Stadium in 2012 and Langston was never the same after having a tumor removed from his eye—and you know they’re both pumped to be back at it. It’s unlikely that either one will win the whole thing, but it’s going to be fun to see how far they get. –Hansel

Former AMA Motocross Rookie of the Year, Nico Izzi, returns to racing Saturday.  Photo: Nico Izzi
Former AMA Motocross Rookie of the Year, Nico Izzi, returns to racing Saturday. Photo: Nico Izzi

We’re Talking About Training

In a recent interview with Racer X, Josh Hansen seemed genuine in speaking about how he took racing for granted in the past. “I would hate to leave the sport thinking that I didn’t try to at least do a couple years of putting out some hard work and actually seeing what I could do. I just want to kind of do it for myself,” he said. Hansen hired trainer Ty Kady and will return to the Monster Energy Supercross in the 250 Class full-time in 2015 with help from Kawasaki and MotoSport. While Hansen admits his fitness is not 100 percent—it’s about “40 percent” he said in a recent MotoSport film—it probably won’t play a huge factor this weekend. Talent has carried Hansen in the past, but now it appears he’s putting the work off the bike in as well. Will it pay off this weekend? – Chase Stallo

“Back from the Dead”

That is what Nico Izzi’s Twitter bio reads. The former MX Rookie of the Year and accomplished amateur star—who Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard recently described as “just that much better”—is hoping to reclaim past glory. Last seen with Rockstar Energy Racing in 2013 before a second torn ACL in less than twelve months sidelined him, Izzi, according to social media, has been training and planning this comeback for quite some time. He recently wrote on Instagram: “Breakin in the freshy!!! Can't believe how good the new yamahas are.” Izzi will be on a Yamaha in the 250 Class hoping to open eyes for potential a full-time comeback in 2015. How will the former factory Suzuki rider do in his return? –Stallo

Brayton’s Debut

After spending the last five years between Toyota/JGR Yamaha (2010-11; 2013-14) and American Honda (2012), Justin Brayton will debut with his new team, BTOSports.com KTM, at Red Bull Straight Rhythm. “My team and all its sponsors have welcomed me with open arms, and I am very excited to get racing with these guys," the Iowa native said in a recent press release. Saturday will mark the first time Brayton has rode for KTM since 2009. How will he fare in his return to the orange machine? – Stallo

After spending the summer in Canada, Josh Hill returns to the U.S.  Photo: Simon Cudby
After spending the summer in Canada, Josh Hill returns to the U.S. Photo: Simon Cudby

Best Two of Three

Red Bull Straight Rhythm brings a unique format to moto, in which riders (250 and 450 separate) will square off head-to-head in a best-two-of-three format. Each class (250 and 450) will have two practice sessions (Friday and Saturday) with three runs at the end of practice Friday being timed, which will determine seeds for Saturday. Once seeded (1-16), riders will square off in a head-to-head format with the winner of best two of three advancing to the quarterfinals. The process will be repeated for the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. Also of note: the higher seed will have his choice of which side they want to run. Each class (250 and 450) will have a respective winner. –Stallo

Straight, Not Up “Hill”

The last time we saw Josh Hill on American soil—he raced the Canadian Nationals this summer—he was beginning to look like the Josh Hill of old. He scored a podium in East Rutherford and backed it up with a sixth in Vegas. Hill’s silky smooth style would seem to lend itself to an event like this. With no announcements on where he may land in 2015, this weekend could be vital for Hill’s future. - Stallo

BONUS

After spending his entire professional career with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, Dean Wilson will make his Red Bull KTM debut on Saturday. Can Wilson, who is coming of an impressive performance at the Motocross of Nations, carry the momentum into Saturday? - Stallo

 
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