Vital MX Pit Bits: Thunder Valley 1

This is a summer for privateers to get some attention, so we've got a batch of them, as well as the usual assortment of goodies.

Vital MX Pit Bits: Thunder Valley

What a beauty. Thunder Valley is nestled between two freeways in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just west of Denver. It got a decent makeover by the Schaefer Tracks guys for this year's edition, and was fast and flowing.

We've seen a variety of tools used for removing the cap on the CRM carbon fuel tanks. But there's actually one that's supplied with them...which is also made of carbon fiber.

Testing is a continual thing, especially when you're in the first year of a new bike. We spotted the GEICO Honda guys making a change to their engine spec on Friday morning (and they're just buttoning things up here). They'd been testing something new, and after finishing durability testing on the new part, it was incorporated into the race bikes. Oh, and that titanium tank...

The GEICO Honda guys were also making sure there was no shortage of oxygen getting to the airbox in the thin air at Thunder Valley.

The 51Fifty Yamaha team attended the first two Nationals of the season with their semi, but they're keeping it close to their west coast roots as the series heads east. Kyle Chisholm will hang out with the 3D Racing Yamaha crew for the bulk of the summer, and they figured out a hybrid graphic look for the bike. Kyle's crash that brought out the red flag was truly scary for the people who saw him rag-doll back down the jump...which is what prompted the fast call for a red flag in the first 450 moto.

Before the first 450 moto got restarted, the offending bump that caused Kyle to swap got flattened by the track crew. From our vantage point, seeing his bike ghost over the jump with Kyle nowhere in sight was equally spooky.

Pre-race clutch maintenance. We were bummed for Joey Savatgy and the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki guys with Joey's first moto DNF while leading.

Phil Nicoletti's bike getting a new clutch after practice. We like the idea of the baggie over the oil to keep flying contaminants from getting in there.

The other move of the week was Martin Costelo getting a shot with the River/Yamaha crew.

We spotted Alex Ray peeking at the time sheets after qualifying. He looked a lot calmer this week (and maybe a smidge less spectacular), but he said he wasn't nearly as fast as he wanted to be.

Handguards were on the agenda for the weekend, as the roost was brutal.

Benny Bloss doing fake suspension talk with Craig Monty.

After using one of the team's amateur practice bikes for Hangtown's 125 race, the Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha guys got a little more serious about the project, and built this one especially for Wil Hahn. It's more of a full-on race bike, and was sprinkled with ti bolts and other goodies.

Wil won this week's 125 race, and had some fun along the way.

There was a well-attended meeting with a USADA representative on Friday at Thunder Valley, and here a few of the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki guys check out some of the literature that was handed out. One thing that came out of the meeting that seemed to surprise some of the teams was that IVs are also among the list of banned items...and that there's a potential for riders to get caught for using them.

The USADA rep also made the rounds in the pits afterwards to answer questions one-on-one with the teams. After Broc Tickle's recent positive test, there were a lot of questions.

Michael Mosiman's mechanic, Scott Lillis, recently grew a new toy to play with.

With some extra time (and available hands) on Friday afternoon, the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna crew were doing a few projects around their rigs, like replacing the tiny wheels on their Scosche display with some bigger, more outdoor-friendly wheels.

This Fox gear's already out, but it's the first time that we'd spotted it in use on the track.

Ken Roczen also had some Fox gear that we hadn't seen. It's cool to see guys battle on the track, but have fun chatting about it afterwards.

Ryan Surratt moved up from the 250 class to the big-boy class in Thunder Valley, and was aboard a KTM 250 SX. He missed out on the points this week, but looked good. The 450 class looks like the way to get some exposure this summer, and we've heard at least one team manager lament that they opted out of it this summer.

Chris Alldredge continued his two-stroke tour, but a hard crash shortened his day and resulted in a trip to the hospital. Here's hoping that he's okay.

We met privateer Brian Medeiros on the way to Colorado (Wal Mart parking lots make good overnight stops for traveling privateers), and he had a rather weird incident happen on Friday. During the windy afternoon, his awning started to take off. In the rush to grab it, he ended up slicing his knees on his sharpened pegs. Ow!

Alex Ray does a doubletake to see that, yeah, that flagger does have an empty Go Pro case mounted on his hat.

Life's good with Jeremy Martin, as he took the overall and moved into the top spot of the 250 standings.

Fox was doing a little overhead advertising during the day.

Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team Manager, Jeremy Albrecht, checking in with Enzo Lopes.

Yep, Eli Tomac went home with the big trophy after the day's racing was over.

It was good to see Noah least for a bit. We did see him go down hard early in the day.

John Tomac usually treks to the top of the big hill to keep a watchful eye on Eli.

Near the S-turn section, we know we'll always find a bit of Colorado art, as this Husky fan returns every year.

Zach had a rough day in Colorado, crashing early in the first 250 practice, and then going down hard (and dislocating his left shoulder) in the first turn of the second 250 moto.

Trying to pull on really tight gloves over taped hands is tough, as the tape tries to roll. Zach's doing a little trimming here. The week off in the schedule is coming at a good time for him, as he'll get a chance to heal up his thumb...and now shoulder.

It was good to see Henry Miller score points in his first National of the summer, and he's now aboard a Yamaha after spending the Supercross season with the H.E.P. Suzuki squad.

With factory stars dropping like flies, it's time to get to know your privateers a little better. Dylan Merriam cracked the top ten at Thunder Valley, with a 9-10 score.

Cade Autenrieth (330) was 13th overall this week with a 13-12 score.

You all know Ben LaMay. You can find him under the TPJ tents.

And here's Brandon Scharer. He's back to full privateer status after spending some time with the 3D Yamaha guys.

Mechanic? Who needs a mechanic? Nick Schmidt was refilling the oil on his Suzuki before Saturday's action.

We also ran into Jake Masterpool, who was doing his own maintenance on Friday (and said he's been doing it for years). That's it for this week. Enjoy a weekend off from the racing action, and we'll catch back up at High Point.

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