2018 Monster Energy Motocross Des Nations

The gang here at The Collective Experience is all about bringing our fans and followers closer to sport and digging deeper on all of the inside action. Often times we are asked to showcase different viewpoints and insights about the sport from a multitude of sources. Not a bad idea, considering how much goes on during a race event. From the pit sights and interactions to the racing and nail biting moments, the races have a lot to talk about. More than we actually realize sometimes. With so much going on, no two people experience everything quite the same way. That’s what makes this sport and our Moto community so unique. With that notion in mind, we wanted to take a different look at some past races. Yes, they happened some months back, but it’s never a bad time to recap a race, no matter how long ago they happened. A staple in Supercross star AJ Catanzaro’s camp, Mackenzie “Mac” Engel delivered us his take on the very famous and industry rattling 2018 Motocross Des Nations held this year at the famous Red Bud MX facility…

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Mac - This was a bittersweet race for a few reasons in my mind. First, I know I’m one of many fans who was looking to see a true Tomac-Herlings head to head race to settle the dispute of whos the fastest rider on the planet. I still think that title is still up for grabs, but I’ll say with confidence, if ET3 is an alien on a bike, then Herlings must be a God. The only reason why I’m putting Herlings in front of Tomac for now is because of his consistency overall. I paid close attention to both the Lucas Oil Motocross series and the MXGP series this past season and there’s no denying Herlings if nothing else is consistent, along with being completely dominate whenever he’s out there injured or not. But I’m still not convinced he’s faster than Tomac, maybe I’m biased because I’m America, but to be fair I’ve seen Tomac pull some truly impressive rides all season long and in seasons before, possibly more than Herlings. I think that if you put Tomac in the MXGP series that he'd probably be just as dominate in most races as Herlings has been, just not as consistent throughout the season. Its hard to compare the two series because of formatting and the general track layout/jumps. Personally, I think the tracks here compared to over there are night and day, and I think that’s proven by the multiple changes made to Red Bud leading up to the race to, what I would call it a more GP style track.

Second reason was of course the weather. Yes, I know this is motocross rain or shine, bad weather shows the better riders, blah blah blah. I get it, and I agree with it, but when it comes down to it, this is the MXON, a race with the greatest riders on earth. I wanna see dry conditions, fast lap times, fat whips, and head to head bar banging racing. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the race, because I enjoy every race no matter what the conditions are, but I think most would agree with me when I say a nice sunny day with perfect track conditions makes for a better show. 

Third and probably most obvious is that the results from our boys weren’t what I was expecting at all. Even with the conditions I thought we'd be fighting for wins all weekend. I was most shocked by Barcia only because when he generally sees mud and the true Bam-Bam comes out he leaves everyone in his roost. With the track being as rutted and nasty as it was its not surprising that there were a lot of mistakes being made. I think the speed from all three of the riders were there just a string of bad starts, tip overs, and next to no vision all made it hard to put down consistent lap times especially when you can barley grip the bars with all the mud. 

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At the end of the day it was still a spectacular race to watch. like I said I love every race there is in Moto, and there were so many crazy incredible things that happened that weekend. The one thing that sticks out to me still is Jorge Prado absolutely putting it down in the first race. Going against a field of half 450’s and leading for 20 min of the Moto on a 250. I’ve heard a lot of B.S. saying there’s just not that much of a difference with these bikes in conditions like that and I’m not arguing that at all, I’m simply saying there’s a ton of skill involved in putting in a ride such as that one. Unfortunately, he eventually dropped back to 7th and got stuck there for the rest of the race, but a statement was made. Prado is going to be one of the greats….without a doubt.

As always it's special to watch Herlings ride, the guy just seems unstoppable. And how about Cairoli, he put what I would call pretty dominate ride in the qualifying race and solid day on Sunday with a 6-4 finish. I know he’s been one of the best over on the MXGP circuit forever, but leading up to the race he suffered from what looked like a pretty hard crash in the Imola Qualifying race that I was certain was going to effect his speed for the MXON. And, of course how could I end this blog without mentioning everyone’s favorite team, Puerto Rico! Such an awesome story behind the forming of this team between Pastrana, Windham, Sipes and an honorable mention to Ronnie Mac. Something I thought I’d never get to see again was Windham and Pastrana racing in something as major as this again, truly the highlight of the weekend for me. Naturally, TP199 went out in the only way he knows how- attempting a backflip on a jump in those conditions was icing on the cake. So many different aspects of this weekend that prove motocross is the best sport out there!

2018 Red Bull Straight Rhythm

Mac - Let’s start this out with saying that RBSR is one of the greatest events for Supercross. Why? Because it’s not just a race-it’s a party for the sport! There’s none of the Supercross season pressure, just the competitive push from the other riders to go a little bit faster than the last guy did. Ultimately, I can say with confidence that every rider there (including Stanky who bit it real hard, hope you're good brotha) was just there having fun riding with a bunch of friends. Best race that I’ve been a part of-ever!

p/c Tyson Ryder

p/c Tyson Ryder

Now, lets get down to the recap. By the way, if you thought this was a full race recap you’re going to be disappointed. This is the recap of the RAK Racing TCE crew, through our eyes. The weekend started with practice Friday afternoon. After sitting in LA traffic for what felt like 72 hours we pulled into the pits-we meaning myself, AJ Catanzaro (a.k.a. James Stewart for the weekend for the weekend), his mechanic Jeremiah, AJ’s mom, fiancee, and brother. The beautiful 04 KX-125 was sitting on the stand waiting for “Bubba” to rip her down a half mile of the prettiest jumps I’ve ever seen. While watching practice the excitement really set in. Being able to be there trackside watching this unique event was the coolest thing I’ve seen. The next day couldn’t come fast enough!

We woke up at the crack of dawn, drove to the track and the first thing I saw was Spencer Luczak (the builder and owner of the James Stewart tribute bike) sleeping outside on a cot. He had chained himself to the bike. That’s the level of dedication the team had for this event. As the morning went on the rest of the crew arrived, along with all the other teams. Tents were being set up, the track was being watered and groomed and it was the perfect start to a crazy day. The whole day leading up to the race was filled with helping AJ go faster wether that was having his gear ready, food ready between practices, water and hydration, looking out for better lines, and anything else to make the end result better. This was by far the best behind the scenes experience I’ve been a part of.      

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As far as the actual racing went, well if you watched it you’ll agree with me when I say that this style of racing is one way to get your blood pumping! Head to head drag racing turns the normal sport of Supercross into a whole different animal. It was unreal being track side as the night went on watching Dungey and Villopoto go at it like they never left the racing scene, watching “Bubba-Stew” and rookie year McGrath throw it down 90’s style, the energy was definitely flowing! RAK Racing was cheering (screaming) trackside like there was a million bucks on the line. We brought the party for sure! Stank dog didn’t do as well as most of you were probably hoping for. That was one gnarly crash he took sending all of it at the last second in the first 250 round which knocked him out of competition for the 125 class as well. As the night went on Pourcel's bike blew up, Dungey was still Dungey, and Villopoto was riding one of the nicest looking 250’s out there and doing it in serious style. AJ was racing in a way that the real James Stewart would have been proud of.

At the end of the night it was Shane McElrath topping the box for the 250 class with Dungey and Villopoto following up. For the 125 class, well myself and the rest of the team were confident that AJ could bring it all home for the win. He was riding so smooth and with so much confidence, it felt like nothing could stop him.... Until Carson Brown decided to start doing a rhythm half way through the night that ended up being about a bike length quicker. That kid was FLYING, but none the less for a rider who’s never raced this event or ever raced a 125 in his entire career, second place for AJ Catanzaro is damn good. Carson brown took home the gold with Luke Renzland taking bronze. 

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This whole behind the scenes trackside experience I was able to be a part of really made me fall in love with the sport more and gave me a much bigger appreciation for what these athletes go through to have a career like this one. It truly felt like a one of a kind experience and luckily it doesn’t have to be. If being in the pits, working along side with the race team, being able to talk to and help the riders with a number of things sounds something you’d like to be apart of then The Collective Experience has just that. They offer packages that get you hands on with the Supercross scene like you’ve never imagined. Head over to www.thecollectivexp.com to check out what they offer.

Want to see first hand what the experience was like? Check out this video below:

Mac’s perspective gives us a great look into what makes this sport so great. We were proud to have Mac on the team and take in all the races have to offer.

Stay tuned for more insights and behind the scenes action from the riders and sport that we all love.