It’s hard to find anything that gets universal love in these days of polarization (and polarization has spilled well beyond politics to encompass everything else). Red Bull Straight Rhythm, though, actually does seem to make most people happy. First, it’s all two strokes, which everyone loves. Second, it’s so darned simple it’s hard to hate it! RBSR does not make any claims about being serious or even important. You really can’t under deliver if you don’t make grand promises in the first place. Talk show legend David Letterman used to live by a credo that says you can’t get made fun of if you’re already making fun of yourself. That’s kind of how this event works. Hey, it doesn’t even count for anything! Don’t worry about it!
Plus, with RBSR vehemently not requiring training and throwing everyone’s bike prep to the side by using two strokes, it’s a pretty level playing field. We would never wonder about Josh Hansen’s chances to beat Marvin Musquin or Ken Roczen in a real 20-minute supercross, but in this format, well, he’s got a chance. I announced the TV broadcast for ESPN alongside Daniel Blair and we were both very curious how Justin Hill and Hansen would perform against the big names. At this type of event, they could win!
It turned out just about right, with Hansen barely eliminating Hill in three super close runs, and then Hansen getting narrowly edged by Musquin. Musquin, Roczen and Justin Barcia took the podium spots, and they’re legitimate big names, but the dark horses were no joke. As always, the event would be even cooler if riders like Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac were in it. Red Bull would love to have them, even though they’re Monster athletes, as proven at the Red Bull Imagination free riding comp a few weeks ago, which was won by Monster’s own Axxel Hodges. Really, every off-season event struggles to pack in all the top talent, as World Supercross is learning right now, or Paris, or any place else. I think, for what RBSR is, the assembled group was pretty solid. Also, Carson Brown won the 125 class, which is perfect. He’s a two-stroke social media hero. Well done, Carson.
Musquin, meanwhile, beat Roczen for the win. There was some buzz (literally) about the new EFI two-strokes KTM has launched into the MX space for 2023, but KTM people told me the bikes only showed up last week so the riders had very little time on them, and there aren’t really any fixes or mods yet for the engines. These were box stock motors with 450 factory suspension bolted to the chassis. The engines have major potential, but as of now they’re designed to have a lot of low-end power and very little top end, until they dial in any reliability weaknesses when they started revving them out (the mapping was even set up to limit the RPM). At some point the potential of this new two-stroke will be unlocked, but as of now, a lot of the KTM people thought Barcia, who still had the proven old carburetor engine on his GasGas, might have had an advantage.
Musquin said it was very strange to be told not to rev his bike in the air over jumps, but he stayed within the rev limits and won anyway. Is Marvin not one of the most underappreciated riders out there? Throughout his career he has beaten the best in the business straight up. Not enough to land the title he wants, but he’s beaten them more than most riders can say.
As for the rest of the event, there were some compromises in space and ticket sales due to jamming the whole thing down on Huntington Beach. The pits ended up closed to the public, which was not the plan but the local fire marshal shut the pits down at the last moment. Compromises had to be made for Huntington Beach, but it made for a spectacular scene. It’s the same old conundrum when holding a dirt bike—nicer facilities or a bigger footprint? What’s better? Well, this one wasn’t perfect, but was cool, and in this day and age it had a higher approval rating than most.
I had the chance to go to Florida this week and experience all that is the GOAT Farm. RC’s place is now the Star Racing Yamaha Facility that houses up to 11 riders! That’s right there are 11 bays inside the Star Racing facility so the team is equipped to house up to 11 riders if need be. Once you enter the facility you’re greeted by the old number 4 water truck and a picturesque green backdrop with orange rolling hills. That orange is the color of this Georgia dirt and let me tell you, it’s something that every west coast rider should experience. When you ask me what I was more excited about, the new YZ450F or getting to ride the track, I couldn’t give you a straight answer! When you walk around the facility you just get a feeling of all the effort that has been poured into these hollowed grounds over the years. The Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha team was nice enough to have us out for two days for a tour of their race shop/facility on day one and a full day of testing the new 2023 YZ450F on day two.