Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Straight Rhythm; Slow Down And Enjoy The Party 21

What do you think? Does Cooksey have a point? Or is he being too cautious?

Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Straight Rhythm; Slow Down And Enjoy The Party

The 2019 Red Bull Straight Rhythm was one of the most entertaining events this year for multiple reasons. It featured motorcycles from multiple eras and riders from yesterday, today, and tomorrow, who pushed their two-stroke motorcycles to their absolute limit. The event had star power and presented the perfect opportunity for younger riders to make a name. With all that said, if I was a team manager I don’t know if I would allow my riders to continue to compete unless the course evolves. These guys were taking big chances and young KTM prodigy Maximus Vohland had a scary crash that could have been career-changing. 

We were stoked to see Max Vohland walk away from his crash in the whoops.

As of now, his injuries do not seem too severe, but a similar crash had life-changing consequences for RJ Hampshire in 2015. 


The 2015 crash left RJ with a brain injury and long recovery that has significantly changed his life and career. After the 2019 Houston Supercross, I asked RJ about his recovery and the impact that crash had on him.  He said, “I lost a lot of memory and kind of had to relearn Supercross. I lost a lot from it and it took a while to get it back and I still feel like I am not where I need to be, but we have made a lot of progress.” Anytime dirt bikes race it’s dangerous and promoters of the Straight Rhythm have proactively made the event as safe as possible, but it’s time to slow them down again. 

The teams and riders have mastered the current course design and are reaching dangerous speeds on vintage (and modern) two-stroke bikes. The current speed checks are not effective in slowing riders. In addition, speed checks present their own potential issues, much like when AJ Catanzaro launched out of control. His wild ride ended up as a highlight that will live forever, although it could have easily ended a horrific life-changing accident. My solution is simple, add a rodeo-style barrel and have riders flip a donut around the barrel anytime the track needs a speed check. Also, get rid of the whoops or have them immediately following a barrel speed check.

Now before all the meatheads bombard me with comments like “This isn’t golf,” “The sport always was and will always be dangerous,” “Stop being a snowflake,” or “Wrap them in bubble wrap,” let me explain. The sport is constantly evolving, riders and machines are getting better and going faster. I am always searching for ways to limit catastrophic injuries and no matter what safety measures are taken the sport of SX/MX will always be borderline insane. The danger is part of the appeal. Much like the NFL using rules to protect star quarterbacks, we need to protect our stars too. In an era of instant media, consumers follow their favorite riders and we need these stars healthy as often as possible. 

Parker Mashburn.

My other reason to add safety is to keep current, newly retired and the future stars competing in this event. In combat sports, they often match aging former champions against unknown up and coming fighters. This builds the name of the younger athlete, a passing of the torch so to speak. This is much like what we saw when Parker Mashburn took out SX/MX legend Ryan Villopoto. We all know Villopoto isn’t the dominant champion he was in his prime, but still, it’s RYAN VILLOPOTO! Fans are asking “who beat Villopoto?” and Parker Mashburn is far more well-known now than before the event. I would be willing to bet he gained a considerable amount of Instagram (@parkermashburn) followers last Saturday night. The notoriety Parker gained would have taken years racing traditional events.

Ken Roczen.

Competitors are racing vintage bikes not meant for modern tracks. Ken Roczen used one to beat the powerhouse Red Bull KTM team and their modern-day motorcycles. He raced a vintage 2006 Honda CR250R last raced by Jeremy McGrath. All the vintage motorcycles held up but let’s slow them down before we see a bike snap like Seth Enslow’s in Vegas. 


The Red Bull Straight Rhythm is as much a show as it is a race, and half the fun is reminiscing about the ’90s. Let’s slow them down and enjoy this party-filled event before some corporate stiff steps in and ruins all the fun. 

Follow me @chriscooksey61 on Instagram and Twitter and @Cookseymedia on Facebook.

Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective. Or tell him why he's wrong.