Vital MX Pit Bits: Houston 1 7

There's so much to see and shoot here in Houston, and we've still got two events left before we exit Texas and head to the next venue.

Vital MX Pit Bits: Houston 1

The cavernous NRG Stadium is home for the first three rounds of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross season. Back in the day, we used to think that the Astrodome was huge, and  while it's still there, it sits in the shadow of this monster.

The Alpinestars Mobile Medical medic mules got a repaint that makes them more closely aligned with the rig.

With a persistent wind (see the flag) that kept things on the cool side, most teams had their full screens up on the awnings. Between that and Covid restrictions that prevent us from entering the team tents, it made it tough to get lots of the "traditional" new season bike beauty pics. That's okay. We caught Jay Burgess with his bike that he shares on race days with Michael Mosiman.

Most of the KTM/GasGas/Husky mechanics have been a bit skittish about showing off the WP air shocks, and even at the best of times it's tough to get a good shot of it while it's on the bike. During Friday's press day, Justin Barcia, Cooper Webb, Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson, and Zach Osborne were all running the unit. As for "missing it" at the intro while at the GasGas intro (where Barcia ran it), we were politely asked to sit on that info until Houston. From what we understand, the guys like the action of the shock, and really like that it stays more consistent through a main event.

Justin Barcia trying to tame the beast during press day's action.

Martin Davalos's Team Tedder KTM has a bit more gray to it this season.

After spending some time training at the Baker's Factory, Canadian Jess Pettis is back for another season of Supercross. He and his mechanic are working out of a WP Sprinter.

As usual, the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/KTM/WPS bikes are looking good, and they went a slightly different route on the wheels, opting for red hubs on their Dubya-built wheels, rather than the traditional orange.

Justin Bogle getting 'er done during press day.

Max Vohland made his Supercross debut in the pro ranks last weekend, as KTM brings their 250 effort back in-house.

Marvin Musquin loosening up his hands before hitting the track. He has a cool Houston/Space Center-themed helmet for the start of the season.

After missing all of the '20 Supercross season with a knee injury, it's good to see the fast Frenchman back on the track.

Cooper's metallic-painted Bell helmet pegs the bling-meter.

A big change for this year is the KJSR switching from two-stroke to electric power. The stands here are pretty trick, and each house four batteries, which can be used to recharge the bikes between motos, as well as powering tools or other items. The race hauler itself now houses a large array of solar panels on its roof. Depending on the event location, all the stands can be recharged via solar, shore power, or the generator on the trailer itself.

The sound of 15 of these bikes ripping around the track is totally different than before.

Caption time!

The Twisted Tea Suzuki rig has a cool new look. While the truck didn't feature the Twisted Tea logo during the outdoors, the bikes certainly did. It's kind of surprising to see the number of people who have commented about the "new" sponsor.

We'll have to wait a couple of weeks for Max Anstie's intro to the 450 class, after a crash on the Wednesday prior to Houston took him out of action.

450 rookie Brandon Hartranft (above), and the new slimmer Adam Enticknap will handle team duties for the time being.

John Short is the lone East entry for the BAR X/Chaparral/ECSTAR Suzuki Racing squad.

Phoenix Racing Honda is back with Enzo Lopes, and Josh Osby.

It's interesting to see where some of the displaced JGR MX employees have ended up. Dean Baker is now over with the Phoenix Honda crew.

There were lots of guys using the FMF goggles.

Those of you who also dabble in mountain bikes will recognize the Muc-Off name, which is now the primary sponsor of what was the Penrite team last year. Justin Brayton is the 450 rider, with Mitchell Oldenburg and Mitchell Harrison splitting the East and West duties.

BYOM. You'll find signs like these at a few of the rigs.

Jett Lawrence's Honda 250. Not terribly different from what he was riding last year, but definitely with a cleaner look.

Works Connection provides goodies like their start device and they also did up the personalized brake reservoir caps.

Ken Roczen's CRF450R. One thing that's interesting is how Ken says this new generation bike doesn't react nearly as wildly to small changes in setup like his previous bike.

Chase Sexton laying down the power during a practice start.

Ken Roczen hard on the gas during 450 qualifying.

Chase Sexton set the fast time in 450 qualifying, but the top 13 were all within a second.

How about a machined aluminum pit board? You won't see a mechanic snapping one of these. Oh, and it was cool to see fans back in the fanfest, and in the stands for the racing Saturday night.

It'll be a few weeks before we see Shane McElrath back in action due to a shoulder injury.

A new season means new plastic on the gate. During practice some guys opted to remove the protective cover...some didn't.

Grant Harlan will be the lone entry for the TiLube/Storm Lake Honda team, as the team was unable to accommodate a last-minute request by Jordan Bailey to switch to the West coast.

HRT will have Austin Politelli and Kyle Cunningham under their awning, though Kyle has been busy teaching schools. It may be a few weeks before we see him in action.

Austin Forkner's Monster Energy Kawasaki. The team had a lot of work to do to build parts and pieces for the new bike.

One piece that they're still waiting on is a clutch cover to arrive from their machine shop. A stock one will have to do for now. An interesting item here is the Vibram (yes, the same people who make boot soles) grip material on the frame. Apparently, this stuff is really durable.

Let's see...ti front motor mounts? Check. New carbon skid plate and water pump cover? Check.

PC mod their own top mounts for the engine, and you can see the new ignition cover.

The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki guys were all wearing Scott's new goggle celebrating their 30-year relationship with the brand.

Austin Forkner on press day.

The translation? It's Joe's name.

Adam Cianciarulo about to go hella fast. Fox's Nor-Cal roots are showing. Oh, and for anyone who is confused, the AMA rule about no helmet attachments (like GoPro cameras) is for amateurs only.

Eli Tomac getting frisky during practice.

Fredrik Noren is on the privateer trail again, and pitting out of the Pirelli rig.

Jean Cros (848) finally made it out of Spain to get back to the U.S. (he was stuck there during the latter half of the '20 Supercross season due to Covid travel restrictions), and is teamed again with Bubba Pauli.

Everyone loves it when the Nissin rep stops by with cool brake goodies.

Aaron Plessinger's Star Yamaha. We like the matte graphics. Aaron likes the bike's setup. He looks much friskier on it now.

The new heat shield/boot protector on the FMF mufflers is pretty cool-looking.

The Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha guys have a sweet mounting spot for their ignition box, which makes on-track adjustments really easy.

Christian Craig is looking really solid on the Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha.

It's good to see Colt Nichols back in action. He's been on and off the injury bus.

Dylan Ferrandis looking forward to the new season and moving up to the big-bore class.

So what do you think of the new look of the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna bikes? The tri-color plastic is new, as are the updated Rockstar graphics. There are no air shocks on the KTM/Husky/GasGas sounds like they may not fit.

RJ Hampshire was on the gas on Saturday, but lost the front end a couple of times, which cost him in the results. Here's hoping he and the team can make an adjustment before Tuesday's action.

Zach Osborne had a big digger in Friday's press session, but it was good to see him come up smiling on Saturday.

You want reliable? Watch for Dean Wilson at the checkers of any practice session.

Who needs a mechanic? Fly/TPJ's Kevin Moranz checking tire pressure before hitting the track.

While a good portion of the attention in the 250 East class has been focused on Austin Forkner and Jett Lawrence, there are plenty of fast guys in here. It was interesting to see these two line up next to each other for their practice start.

Mookie is looking solid on the Yamaha 450. You know what was really cool to see back? Fans in the stands. Even with the limited attendance here, it makes a huge difference in the feel of the event, and the energy during the racing. The pod seating was fairly obvious when looking up from the floor, and we were happy to see most of the fans paying attention to the mask mandate. We can't wait to see how it goes in future events. What do you say we all get together again soon...maybe Tuesday?

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