Okay, I admit I’m pretty out of touch when it comes to Supercross. I enjoy watching sports that I slightly know how to participate in (even if it was decades ago), but I just haven’t ever been able to relate to that much flying through the air. I love riding dirt bikes when I get the occasional chance, but stadium Supercross has about as much to do with how I ride a dirt bike as a Saturday morning softball game has to do with the World Series; they’re almost not even recognizably similar activities. They’re really even further apart than that. I wouldn’t be afraid to stand at the plate and listen to a 100-mph fastball sizzle past me (doubt I’d be able to see it), but I’d be terrified to hit a triple wide open on a modern 450. Or a modern 250. Or a modern PW50.

But it was Saturday night at the casa and it was the season finale from Las Vegas on TV with the title on the line, so what the heck. I’ll try to rein in my fear. Hats off to Chad Reed for still being out there at 35. I remember him being a little peevish 10 years ago when I worked for Yamaha’s advertising agency, so it’s nice to see he’s had a change of heart. Seeing what other career options are available does wonders for guys born with an uncanny ability to make millions doing a thing the rest of us can only marvel at, I imagine.

Sadly, there seemed to be little respect for the old guy Reed when he moved into third in the Final.

Sadly, there seemed to be little respect for the old guy Reed when he moved into third in the Final.

I had just gone to feet up, Mr. Sulu, in the comfy recliner with fatty snacks and a beverage as the 250 Main was winding down. Charging hard from behind, after an earlier fall on the first lap, comes one Zach Osborne character on a Husqvarna, who needs to pass Joey Savatgy to win the 250 East Championship. Ain’t no way he’s going to make it. Or is he?

See it in slo-mo beginning at about 1:50 if you’re interested:

BANG! Okay, I was on Rossi’s side when he bumped Sete Gibernau off the track way back when, because from where I sat it looked like a legit accident where Rossi was doing his damndest to get his bike slowed and turned and didn’t quite make it… but Zach Osborne appeared to have not the eye of the tiger, but of the kamikaze; this was much more intentional ram than accidental bump. I waited for somebody to throw a flag or fire a Roman candle or whatever they do in SX. It never came, and in fact nobody was even outraged but me and my GF’s cats. Actually, the more aggressive cat, who’s an accomplished mouser, conveyed she thought it was a legit pass too.

Ahhh, “That was a very aggressive move,” said longtime SX announcer Jeff Emig, “a very very aggressive pass…” From my La-Z-Boy, it was more a vehicular assault. All Osborne lacked to recreate the naval battle from Ben Hur was a flaming bucket of coals jutting out from his front number plate.

Zach Osborne didn’t seem to give it a moment’s thought nor anything resembling an apology in the immediate aftermath, though he did give it up to the Lord Jesus Christ without whose grace and blessings he wouldn’t be here – along with a long list of sponsors.

Consultation with a few of my more SX-savvy pals resulted in a split decision; some agreed with me it was a truly uncalled-for premeditated takedown, while others think it’s just the nature of the Supercross game.

“Savatgy should never have been there,” said one vet MX friend. Possibly true, but if he hadn’t been, it doesn’t look like Osborne would’ve ever made the corner and would’ve wound up in the box seats. “Savatgy left the door open,” said another. Yes, and Osborne came through it and rode all the way through the foyer, across the living room and into the back wall of the den to take Savatgy out.

Not to take anything away from Osborne’s actual maniacal and amazing charge from the rear, which really was one of the most amazing motorcycle feats I’ve ever seen. But it really was a cheap low blow that gave him the win and the 250 East Championship. And he should’ve been penalized. Oh well, man, that’s like, just my opinion. Let’s move on to the 450 Main Event!

I think Ralph Sheheen said defending champ Ryan Dungey was up by nine points over Eli Tomac and only needed to finish 5th or better to clinch another championship, but I was swept away by Ralph’s “dancing with the devil of disaster” verbal flourishes and having a hard time concentrating.

Dungey got the holeshot and led a few laps. When Tomac passed him, he wasn’t able to knock Dungey down but he did make Dungey have to stop and regroup, then get going again. By now I’ve figured out modern SX is like the last lap of Daytona. Instead of wanting to be in second to draft the guy at the finish line, though, you want to be running second so he can’t ram you off the track in a corner! Dungey the champ was playing it just right, happy to follow along in second behind Tomac and take home the big trophy.

When Tomac mistimed a quad, though, Dungey had to pass him into the lead. Shit!, he must’ve been thinking. Sure enough, it took Tomac about three more corners to find a spot to shove Dungey off the track. But four-time champ Dungey’s obviously nobody’s fool and appeared to have a prearranged plan to re-enter, which he did, still in second. On the last lap and still in second, Dungey couldn’t help himself and passed Tomac again (maybe because Tomac slowed intentionally), looking back at him in mid-air and probably sticking out his tongue. Tomac had one last shot at shoving him off the outside of the track, but Dungey of course knew it was coming, stayed upright and finished fourth to take the title.

Actually none of Tomac’s tactics were nearly as egregious as Osborne’s in the 250 race, but they were still obvious enough even to me, and as he climbed off the bike Dungey said he couldn’t believe all the “cheap shots” out there tonight. Later, after he’d cooled down for the official interview, I didn’t hear mention anything about cheap shots, but he did profess his undying respect for Tomac and all the other competitors. (Maybe he’s looking for a Kawasaki ride next year or something?)

You get the impression everybody’s on notice that SX wants to attract more viewers by being more like the rapidly expanding World Wrestling Entertainment or UFC franchises, and anybody who’s not down – including the announcers – are just a bunch of big whiners who don’t understand how to generate revenue. I almost expressed myself on a forum, but I didn’t want anybody to call me “a queer ass quad-riding bunch of sandy vagina pussies” like they called these other guys who called out Osborne. Not being a real dirt guy, I have no comeback for that.

The only thing I could find in the Supercross Rulebook addressing safety says, in section 4.16: No rider may ride in such a manner as to endanger life or limb of other riders, officials or the public. Osborne’s takedown was really the only incident I saw where somebody could’ve got really jacked up, but I have to ask, what ever happened to sportsmanship, man? The thing that separates us from the beasts. Speaking of which, the rulebook also says: Riders or crewmembers observed to be relieving themselves anywhere other than in a fixed or portable restroom will be penalized.

Even when the takedown moves are only half-hearted, they’re still takedown moves. I don’t remember why I quit paying attention to Supercross, I sort of tuned out when my son moved on to other things, but there really is some amazing moto-talent on full display and I was on the edge of my La-Z-Boy through the whole thing. It’s always been a contact sport, but not like this.

It’s a shame if we’re going to let it go the way of all that’s worst in America, the mentality that winning is the only thing that matters. That succeeding by any means necessary, even illegal ones, is acceptable, because Jesus is on our side, and everybody else is a sandy-vagina loser. If you don’t like it, you’re fired.


At least none of the little dudes in the KTM 50 race took each other out. I suppose they’ll have to learn, though, if this is how we want to teach them to play. But since most people are always going to retain at least a vestigial sense of fair play (I’m still an optimist!), and since nobody wants to see their child get hurt, I’m going to postulate that all the barbarization of the most popular form of bike racing in the USA means is that we can expect to see fewer players going forward. I hope everybody’s down with that.



There is some justice. Not enough but some. This just in from the AMA this morning:

Monster Energy AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Decision of the Race Director,

Las Vegas, Nev., Supercross

On May 6, 2017, after the 250SX main event, a protest was filed in regards to an on track incident involving rider #17 Joey Savatgy and rider #16 Zach Osborne. After a complete review of the incident, including video and eyewitness accounts, it was determined by the Race Director that rider #16 Zach Osborne was in violation of the rule Appendix A.2.c.17.

A2 General Offenses and Penalties

  1. The following offenses will be subject to disciplinary action by the Race Director and/or the competent bodies. This list is provided as guidance to licensed competitors and event credential holders but does not restrict AMA from invoking penalties for other actions detrimental to the sport that are not specifically contemplated herein.
  1. Riding on or off the track at any time in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of other riders, officials or the public.

It was determined that the pass was aggressive in nature and per the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship rulebook, the current action in Las Vegas caused a fine of $7,500.00 to be issued.

The protesting party did not agree with the severity of the penalty and chose to appeal the Race Director’s decision. An appeal hearing was then convened and all evidence presented by both parties were reviewed. It was determined by the appeals panel that the penalty was justified. The decision of the Race Director was confirmed and the decision of the appeals panel is final. No further appeal is possible.

PS: I came across Dirtiest Block Passes on the Youtube. Not sure how old the vid is, but none of them seemed all that dirty in comparison.

  • Montana dave

    Why no Indy Mile? That,along with Springfield Mile & Peoria TT was fantastic!

  • BDan75

    Holy crap! I’m with you, JB: Don’t know much about supercross, but if THAT’s legal, there ain’t much point in having rules. I’m impressed it only took four days of deliberation.

    Anyway, while I love two-wheeled action, and while I can appreciate the obvious skill involved, this stuff does next to nothing for me. Might as well be a monster truck rally. (Kinda seems like it might be that as well, in some cases? I mean, they have great big flamethrower things, too.)

    I do notice the stands are full, however. Aaaaand…we get one round of MotoGP for 300 million people. Sigh.

    Wouldn’t have been surprised to see these ads around the arena:

    “If you don’t smoke Tarryltons…F**k You!”
    “Brawndo has the electrolytes plants crave.”
    “Hot Naked Chicks & World Report”

    • Jon Jones

      We truly are living in Idiocracy, ad-wise.

      • Gruf Rude

        It’s not just the ads.

        • Jon Jones

          I know. I just didn’t want to get started on politics or other touchy subjects.

  • Kos

    Bang on! Nail on head, JB! Finally somebody has the cojones to call it like it was.

    I watch a few different bike racing events. SX, MX, MotoGP and MXGP. In MotoGP and/or MXGP, Osborne or Tomac would have been invited to leave the track with a black flag.

    Shoot, Rossi was given a 0.3 second penalty two races ago because he might have gained a small advantage during the race WHEN ANOTHER RACER NUDGED HIM OFF THE TRACK (allowing for a straighter line through an s-turn).

    Good to hear about the $7,500 penalty, but that’s pretty toothless for what Osborne did. If the AMA/FIM had courage, they’d penalize him a spot or two, and then he’d lose the championship. Then, the lawyers, I suppose.

    I’ll leave with this: Roger DeCoster (KTM Team Manager) is a close friend of mine — I shook his hand once, 35 years ago — and I believe he would fire a rider that rode like Tomac did, and just let the chips fall where they may.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You are right. That’s exactly what I said in my comment above. KTM is a professional team and its riders are professionals. They are in it for the long haul and they know what it takes to be champions. Cheating doesn’t make you a champion.

  • Buzz

    Good lord Burns, must you politicize everything?

    • john burns

      mostly only stuff that so incredibly easily lends itself to being politicized.

    • Born to Ride

      That is why Burns’ articles always have the biggest and bestest comment sections!

  • Old MOron

    Holy crap, you’re right. That whole show is just as cheap, maudlin, lowbrow and all-that’s-worst-in-America as professional wrestling.

  • Jim Logan

    Thank you Mr. Burns. I couldn’t have said it better. I can not imagine Ryan Dungey going into a race with a plan to crash out his rival in order to win a title or anything else.

    • john burns

      He does seem like one of the guys in a white hat. I wonder why he doesn’t speak up more loudly to object to “all the dirty moves out there” in a more forceful way? And i wonder why Emig and the other long-time announcers don’t do the same thing?

      • Sayyed Bashir

        He is a professional and courteous racer belonging to a professional team (KTM). He knows the foul play is seen by all and will be taken care of one way or another. He just wants to concentrate on his own skills and avoid being taken out by the other guys. He knows what it takes to be a champion. Also his fans know what is going on and love him for it.

  • Vrooom

    I have to side with JB on this one. Block passes are one thing, but using your competitors bike as your brakes in a corner is another.

  • Chris

    Yep, there’s still right and wrong, and good and bad. I’m all for hard racing, but sportsmanship, character, etc. trump “hard racing.” Im sure these guys are under a lot of pressure and I get it. However, that’s when it really counts. Nice read.


    Blatant attacks on fellow riders during the race should be severely dealt with. You would think that the victims of this type of aggression would be pissed enough to punch the other guys lights out. Rightfully so.

  • John B.

    This article touches on one of my favorite subjects. Not Supercross; I know next to nothing about Supercross. Rather, in a post religious largely secular society such as the USA in 2017, where do people get their value system? Can the average person construct for himself a comprehensive and coherent moral code that simultaneously advances his interests and society’s interests?

    From what I see in my own children and millennials in general, they have certain logical flaws in their personal ethics. Say what you will about mainstream religions, but they provide a reasonably coherent code by which to live. This subject vexed Carl Jung nearly a century ago, which led him famously to declare, “God is dead!”

    To date, no one I discussed this issue with has agreed with me. Yet, it seems obvious it’s nearly impossible for people to develop a coherent moral code without relying, at least in part, on historical religious and/or philosophical texts.

    • Born to Ride

      Ethical philosophers such as John Stewart Mill and Emmanuel Kant have attempted to postulate logical approaches to ethics and morality that have penetrated into societal mores. However you could say that the categorical imperative is a logical argument for the the teachings of Christ, and perversion of the tenets of utilitarianism is the way in which religious groups have tolerated atrocities throughout history. Millenials often times lack proper instruction in logical approaches and analytical thought. We have grown up in an age where if you need the answer to a hard question, you don’t need to think about it and come to your own conclusion. Whup out your iPhone and consult wikipedia, and if that doesn’t give you a satisfactory answer, then visit a forum and pick an opinion that suits your ideology the best. Atrophied minds are as worthless as unintelligent ones.

      • John B.

        Let me give a simple example:

        My youngest son got thrown out of his freshman English course because he missed 8 out of the first 20 classes due to fraternity pledge duties. His 8th absence occurred on a Tuesday morning when he missed an 11:00 A.M. class. The previous night he was at the frat until 5 A.M. He slept a couple hours, woke up for class, showered, and got dressed. He had 20 minutes to spare, so he laid down on his bed. He fell asleep and woke up at 4 P.M.

        He texted his mother and me to say he got kicked out of class for excessive absences. We called him, and, among other things, told him to go see the professor and try to get back into the class. He could tell we were displeased.

        A few hours later he sent us a cheerful text announcing, “Problem solved, the professor let me back into class.” Upon further inquiry, we learned he told the professor he had been struggling with a chronic illness, which caused him to miss class (i.e., he lied). We were disappointed and dismayed.

        We called him on the phone to explain why this was not a satisfactory outcome. I explained that the professor either suspected or knew he was lying, and that although the professor let him back into the class he had good reason to question my son’s integrity. Further, I explained personal integrity is far more important than the english class. At the end of the conversation my son was like, “Take it easy Pop. I took care of it, and it’s all good.” I said, “NO! it’s not all good!! It’s the opposite of all good!!”

        I often see this kind of judgment from young people and it mystifies me. John Burns and I are the same age. Our generation inherited a moral code (largely derived from religion) from our families, and although we discarded and/or revised and/or rejected various aspects of the code we were given, we had a coherent moral code with which to tinker.

        For the most part, our generation did not impose religion on our children. As such, they were raised without a coherent and expansive moral code. Somehow, my son (and others) concluded lying to get what you want is just fine (Not a proud realization for his Mom and me). Unless Budweiser puts C.S. Lewis quotes on beer cans it’s hard to see how this generation will cope with life’s most vexing moral, philosophical, and ethical issues.

        Sportsmanship, integrity, and fairness mattered to past generations, and it doesn’t appear millennials share these values. Today, our culture worships material wealth and celebrity. In this context, it makes perfect sense to run another rider off the course as a means to collect millions in sponsorships and to achieve celebrity. No wonder millennials like their smartphones more than they like people.

        Materialism is a dead end.

        • Born to Ride

          Ah, now i see that your intent was not to question the ramifications of the secularization of ethics, but to point out the irony of thanking God for ill gotten gains. I think, as with your son, pointing out that maintaining your integrity and character is more fulfilling than cutting corners(and racing lines) to achieve stardom and prestige, would be wasted on Mr. Osborne. Given that he made no apology or even mention of that blatantly illegal maneuver when being interviewed, he probably doesn’t even feel guilt. Hopefully his championship will have an asterisk next to it when people look back at his performance, but you’re absolutely right, in this culture, we revere those who make the gutsy move and step on their opponent’s throat to elevate themselves. You may be familiar with the popular phrase “zero f*cks given” as the rallying cry of self righteousness millenials. Often we revel in not caring about the world around us so long as we are able to express our individualism and pursue our desires. Those who reject society’s expectations and live alternative and nonconformist lifestyles are celebrated. Having alternative and nontraditional morality comes with the playing field, hence the proliferation of cultural relativism throughout popular culture. Such ideology is considered progressive, not unethical. It is a very delicate balance and exercise in compartmentalization. How do you respect and “understand” people of all cultures while simultaneously expressing that you do not care what anyone thinks while you engage in volatile acts of self gratification? I have no idea. I’m just a dude that likes motorcycles.

          • john burns

            Dude. I thought you were an engineer? Wow. thanks for the thoughtful discussion even though I suspect you and John B are both closet sandy vagina quad riders. Ahahaha!

          • John B.

            I definitely am, but Born to Ride is our ambassador to this Brave New World that has such people in it. And, he’s among my favorite millennials! There’s still hope!

          • Born to Ride

            I have been in school a looong time. I could have easily achieved a Master of Arts degree by now if I had different interests. The hidden value of being stuck in junior college for 4 years waiting to transfer is that you to take many history, philosophy, English, sociology, and communication classes that you would have skipped in engineering school. Critical thinking and oral/written communication skills are valuable even in the technical fields such as enginerding. I also commute 8 hours a week on my bike, so I have a lot of time alone with my thoughts to contemplate.

            As far as your impressions of me, how bout you meet me at Cahuilla creek and we will see who has sand in their vagina at the end of the day! Also, ain’t nothin effeminate about getting slideways in third gear on a raptor 700 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/15732f0108604bd4492f54477e3192ef3e11f40fababc120a463c0929315e322.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/764f4f9ec2c949dca802b8a79799774e47e9e1651dbfbb2e29a66a038ff1948e.jpg

          • john burns

            O, my vagina is beach-front property when it comes to MX. Just writing brochures for the Raptor and YFZ450 used to frighten me.

          • Born to Ride

            Last time I rode a 450 I overshot a tabletop and cartwheeled over a berm, taking a handlebar straight to the solar plexus. I had a bad time.

          • Old MOron

            “…to point out the irony of thanking God for ill gotten gains.”

            Ha ha ha, you youngsters. It’s not ironic if it has centuries of precedent to normalize it.

          • Gruf Rude

            Prosperity Gospel is just the most recent manifestation.

        • Old MOron

          John, your dismay rings painfully true. Cheer up, mate.

          “Somehow, my son (and others) concluded lying to get what you want is just fine (Not a proud realization for his Mom and me).”

          Your son is not the first to reach this conclusion. And even if he did so on this occasion, that doesn’t mean it’s his one overarching rule of life. People have been lying to get ahead since forever. Popes and plebeians, sinners and saints, no one is impervious to examination. I wonder if his professor’s perspective is not too different from my own.

          Besides, if you torture yourself over the way he played the game on this occasion, what are you going to do when he starts padding his resume after college? 🙂

          “Unless Budweiser puts C.S. Lewis quotes on beer cans it’s hard to see how this generation will cope with life’s most vexing moral, philosophical, and ethical issues.”

          Ha ha, they could do worse than pointing their browsers to motorcyle.com!

          “Sportsmanship, integrity, and fairness mattered to past generations, and it doesn’t appear millennials share these values. Today, our culture worships material wealth and celebrity.”

          Today? Oh, please. Do you remember one of the most disgusting shows ever televised, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”? That show had its debut in 1984. I’m sure there are earlier examples.

          “In this context, it makes perfect sense to run another rider off the course as a means to collect millions in sponsorships and to achieve celebrity. No wonder millennials like their smartphones more than they like people.”

          You don’t need to put millions of dollars on the table to get people to cheat. Just go to any club racing organization and find plenty of cheating. Or think about this. You’re a lawyer. Why do you think we have anti-trust, anti-corruption laws, the Bill of Right, etc.?

          I sincerely hope that millennials don’t like their phones more than they like people. I don’t doubt that swiping left or right is much easier than putting your feeling on the line in real space. But people don’t take the path of least resistance forever.

          “Materialism is a dead end.”

          I’m with you, Brother. And I hope we’re right!
          Don’t worry. Some day soon, something will push my buttons, and I’ll be lamenting the younger generations on this very forum. You’ll be trying to cheer me up! (And doing a better job of it, I’m sure.)

          • John B.

            It had not occurred to me I needed some cheering up, but apparently I did. Thanks OM.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          On the bright side, there is eternal job security. If everyone was ethical, we wouldn’t need lawyers.

          • John B.

            Actually, aside from criminal cases very little lawyer work arises from ethical transgressions.

          • Old MOron

            Did someone say, “work”?

      • Markus vH

        If it matters; I ride a Honda NC750S – J.B., you’re welcome to check it out if you’re ever in Calgary – but the real reason why I frequent this site is the writings of J.B. and colleagues
        (sometimes only obliquely motorcycle related) with the often profound “annotations” of John B., and [in this case] Born to Ride – most appreciated when you’all don’t [exactly] agree on the obliques.

        • Born to Ride

          Ha, I like that I got an annotation with my call out. Don’t know whether to be flattered or offended, but I will concede that John B. has a deep well of profundity that I couldn’t hope to match.

          • John B.

            Hey man, you’re way ahead of where I was when I was your age, and you already know 50 times more about motorcycles than I will ever know. Just keep looking for answers and keep an open mind. You’re doing great!

    • Texarkana

      I think the main issue is lack of work ethic, character, understanding the value of a good name. It takes years to build a good name and about 5 minutes to ruin it. I have been working since I wad 12 years old. My family has a restaurant that I spent all my free time at (including while in law school). You know why, because it put food on the table. Imagine the majority of young professionals being 20-30 years old right now thinking that I have to work to put food on the table. They have never had to go through that process. Instead they think, what do I have to do to get the next i-phone. As a young lawyer, I find it hard to stomach the many things my colleagues do and say. I will never recommend a client to those type, ever. I want to yell out; Hard work people. It is not mystical. Work hard, do what you say you are going to do, keep your word, and you will be successful.

      • Born to Ride

        Funny, I have a similar experience. My father owns an auto repair shop, and I spent many a summer day helping out with the family business as a boy. When I was in high school I actually started punching the clock. I saved nearly every dollar I made for a year so that I could buy my SV650. When I graduated high school I worked part time there, part time at our local army-navy surplus store, and held down a “full time” load of classes at the community college. I agree wholeheartedly that work ethic is definitely lacking in many of my peers.

  • Gary

    I’m getting old. I’ll admit that. But it seems to me that nothing is good enough any more for the current generation. Professional boxing? Gloves are for pu$$ies. Bam … MMA cage fighting is born, wherein the apparent goal is not to out-point your opponent, but to kill him/her.

    Surfing huge waves crashing on distant shores? Nope. Put pontoons on a motocross bike and shred seawater.

    The rough and tumble of motocross? Racing on rugged natural terrain? Nah. Let’s BUILD a track with earth movers. One that tossses machines ever higher, forcing riders to risk life and limb for victory. Then let’s make the track so narrow and tortuous that the only way to pass is by ramming your opponents.

    I’ll pass on all of it.

    Good story, Burns. I’m with ya.

  • Tim

    I’ve been waiting to read someone calling out Tomac and Osborne. Both despicable rides to end up their seasons. I like Dungey and really liked Tomac both for their ability to ride. After Vegas, I’m no longer a Tomac fan at all. He had to do more than beat him, he had to take him out to win the championship and its blatantly obvious that’s what he was doing. Now next to not being a Tomac fan any longer, what about the AMA for allowing supercross to get this level of dirty riding tactics.
    Thanks for bringing this out JB.