Last month, I attended the Progressive International Motorcycle Show after learning that freestyle motocross legend Carey Hart would be present. He wasn’t the only celebrity present. There was a good mix of icons from my adolescence (Carey, Kenny Bartram, and Scott “Mr. Daytona” Russell) and new faces in the motorcycle world (Aaron Colton, Elena Myers, Kyle Wyman, and Garrett Gerloff) to greet fans. Some of them were interviewed on-stage, and being the reporter/nerd that I am, I took notes.
Carey Hart was the big freestyle name so he was first. He talked about getting factory support for his team and how Ricky Carmichael was responsible for developing the bike and the champs that rode them, Ryan Dungey being the example. The interviewer joked about how RC had packed on a few pounds, but Carey said that RC would still beat him in a race because “muscle memory doesn’t go away”. An interesting thing he brought up was that he sees supercross as more of a team sport with mechanics and factor bikes while FMX is up to the individual because you can’t put things on a motorcycle to help you do tricks better (other than maybe grab holes or flip levers). Busy with his team and clothing (and most likely his family), Carey has no new projects planned in the near future.
“Cowboy” Kenny Bartram, whom I haven’t seen/heard much of these days, came next. He still had the cowboy hat, but he finally got his teeth fixed (back in the day, he used to get hassled for his missing bottom teeth). He remains active in the FMX scene with Cowboy Kenny’s Steel Rodeo Tour. Although he misses competing, he admits that it’s an “incredible feeling” to know that he’ll walk away from an event in good health. Kenny also share a little secret: FMX practices really only involve five minutes of practicing a run and the rest is just them riding around.
We then switched to street bikes with Aaron Colton finishing up the freestyler interviews. I’m not familiar with the Xtreme Drift League, but Aaron showed what sportbike freestyle was all about in a demo later in the afternoon. He began riding street bikes at the age of fourteen, which proved to be a difficult time with the 115-pound bikes and steep learning curve. Throughout the years, he’s worked his way up, and his favorite moment was winning a major event in 2006 in San Antonio.
The next event brought me back to my teenage Speed Channel-watching days. There was going to be a special interview with Scott Russell. Where have I heard that name? I wondered upon hearing the announcement. Then it clicked: Mr. Daytona!
A World Superbike and AMA Superbike Champion, Scott got the nickname after winning the Daytona 200 five times. He also holds the record for most 750cc AMA Supersport wins, a title that he says he’ll keep since they did away with the class. Despite his claim to fame, he didn’t do well on the Dayton course at first. He slowly figured out the “ocean of asphalt” and used a harder tire because so much heat was built up. Scott stated that his best rivals were Carl Fogarty and Doug Poland. When asked about his horrific accident at Daytona in 2001, he said that he knew it was the end. One audience member asked Scott about racing today, and he said though the new electronics in the bikes make racing safer (thus extending careers), it does take some of the rider out of the race because they don’t have to think about every little detail that goes into a turn.
Hearing all the interviews and meeting the riders were definitely the highlights of the Progressive Motorcycle Show. I want to start following sport bike stuff again. My interest in getting my own ride, possibly the TW200, has been renewed after talking with a dealer (the one I had originally talked to last year really discouraged me from getting a dual sport just because of my shortness). I had wanted to attend the beginner riders seminar, but the convention changed the schedule last minute and merged that seminar with the Yamaha Champions Riding School. Another thing they could’ve improved upon was the location of Aaron’s demo. It was in the corner of the convention center so you could only see him from two sides, which meant difficulty seeing from the back. It would’ve been cool if they had done it outside. Overall, it was a cool show with a lot of two-wheeled eye candy.
Click here for all my photos.