Motocross

Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce

In 1978 director Michael Cimino released his masterpiece The Deer Hunter. In 1978 director Michael Cimino released his masterpiece The Deer Hunter. It was a brutal, intense and emotional three-hour capital-T Tragedy about…well, a lot of things – the Vietnam War, friendship, insanity, absurdity, Russian roulette and Rolling Rock beer. And deer hunting.
The film featured unforgettable performances from Robert De Niro, John Savage and of course Christopher Walken – and at the end of the year it scooped up five Academy Awards.
The thing is when I’m strolling the aisles of my hypothetical video store and I come to the big section marked ‘1978’ I don’t reach for The Deer Hunter. I always acknowledge it, give it a little reverential bow and I might even pick it up and give it the once-over but it always ends up back on the shelf. Then I plod on over to the ‘A’ section and grab that year’s other truly great film – National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Sure, The Deer Hunter was great – superb even – and featured some legendary performances. But Animal House is about a thousand times more fun to watch. It may not have won any Oscars but over the past 27 years it has become one of the most-quoted movies in American history. Just the other day I had a 15-minute Instant Messenger conversation with a moto-PR person, consisting entirely of Animal House quotes. Relax and let the memories come flooding back…

"Thank you, sir! May I have another?"
"Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbour? Hell no!"
"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
"Grab a brew – don’t cost nothin’!"

I could go on for days as could just about anyone who has watched this movie. It’s a classic in the more populist sense. The Deer Hunter was undeniably brilliant but Animal House is the one that keeps us coming back time and again. And if you haven’t been following the 2005 AMA Motocross Nationals, that pretty much sums up the season over here.
The ‘250cc’ class (now almost entirely devoid of 250cc motorcycles) is proving yet again to be a showcase for the unstoppable Ricky Carmichael. The Team Makita Suzuki pilot just keeps on winning – in fact he’s now gone two full years without losing an outdoor overall. Two years!
It’s a remarkable feat even if it has been overshadowed on occasion by some of James Stewart’s antics – pulling out of races, landing on Ricky and so on and so forth etc. But as entertaining and, indeed, historic as the 250 class is this season, the real fun is in the ‘125cc’ class (now almost entirely devoid of 125cc motorcycles).
While 125 supercross over here is split into regions when the outdoor nationals roll around it’s a full-schedule series. All the best riders in the country are on the track at the same time and the healthy mix of wily veterans and ambitious youngsters always makes for some great competition.
Only a couple weeks ago it looked like the 125 outdoor title was Mike Brown’s to lose. After falling out with the RWJ Honda team and bolting back to the States the Tennessee native had a point to prove. After consistent finishes and an overall win at Budds Creek in June, Brownie was comfortably atop the standings on his privateer Honda – backed by primary sponsor Jim’s Motorcycle Sales.
His impressive rides even earned him the privilege of being the first privateer ever named to the US Motocross des Nations team. If there were still doubters out there they were keeping pretty quiet.
The same can’t be said for the rest of the 125 class however. This year has seen moto wins by Brown, Grant Langston and young up-and-comers Mike Alessi, Josh Grant, Broc Hepler and Ryan Mills – and we’re only eight rounds in as of this writing!
One name is missing from that list, however. Ivan ‘Hot Sauce’ Tedesco has won three motos this year along with the last two overalls. Long considered a supercross specialist, Tedesco has been working on his outdoor game and it’s starting to pay off in a big way. His first career moto win came at the Thunder Valley National, round seven of the series and the first AMA National at the venue in two decades.
Tedesco stunned the moto-starved crowd with a 1-1 sweep that catapulted him over the struggling Brown for the points lead. A 1-3 finish at the following Washougal National in Washington State was good enough for Ivan’s second consecutive overall win giving him a 41-point cushion over Brown with four rounds to go.
The large number of moto winners is even more remarkable in light of the riders who are missing. Ryan Hughes was forced out of the series with a hand injury after only five rounds. The ever-so-likeable Frenchman Stephane Roncada was released from the Pro Circuit Kawasaki duties after struggling with an addiction to painkillers that nearly cost him his life. And Travis Pastrana is out racing rally cars. And when he isn’t racing cars he’s apparently crushing them in his monster truck (true story).
With all the talent in the Class Formerly Known as 125cc somebody needs to rise to the top and stake their claim – right now it looks like a ‘supercross specialist’ from New Mexico might just be the one to do it. The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot belongs to Ivan Tedesco.

Words by Jeff Kocan Photo by Steve Cox