News&Updates

Who Knew Retired Life Would Be So Busy…?

2/1/2016
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I sure didn’t… If I did, I probably would have reconsidered retirement. Seriously though, the past week has been a busy one… but it was worth it; I got to ride four days in a row!

I flew up Friday morning before A2, and met up with the Oakley crew at Glen Helen to shoot some footage for the new Prizm lenses. It’s the latest and greatest technology which provides unprecedented control of light which maximizes contrast and visibility. It’s unreal! Oakley’s technology is second to none. I don’t even know how other guys even ride in other brands. It was a long day of shooting but we got it done, and then headed off to the races Saturday.

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(Right before A2, I helped out the Oakley crew with a shoot for its new Prizm lens at Glen Helen.)

I’m always happy to see the Kawi gang. It’s kind of like catching up with family you haven’t seen in a while. So it was good to do that and hang out with fans, sign autographs, and watch some good racing. The track was definitely a little tighter than normal, but the big thing was the size of the whoops. They were pretty big so there was carnage all over those things. That’s what really separates the men from the boys. You could see the speed difference for sure with more seasoned riders.  During practice I watched a bit, and if the Kawi team guys ask I’ll give them feedback, I’ll try to help. I actually rode with Wil and Eli on the following Monday and Tuesday.

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(I always enjoy seeing my fans and catching up with the Kawasaki boys. Not sure what race I’m visiting next but follow me at @Ryan_Villopoto2 on Twitter and you’ll be the first to know!)

Just before the races, Nick Wey called and asked if I wanted to ride flat track at Perris on Sunday. Pro flat tracker Bryan Smith and Danny Lizardo from Simi Valley Kawasaki, brought out a couple KX450Fs for us to ride. They were all-setup for dirt track with lowered suspension and different wheels and tires. It was a lot of fun. I never rode a bike like that, so it was sweet to try something new.

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(Up until last Sunday, I never had a chance to ride flat track. It was a little weird at first, but I had a lot of fun. Special thanks to Bryan Smith and Danny Lizardo for bringing out the bikes for us to ride.)

Right away, I thought it was weird not having a front brake (they only run a back brake). The second I pulled it off the stand, the thing just wants to roll away. At first it felt a little awkward, but I started to get the hang of it. It felt pretty similar to my racebike when you’re actually in a slide. But what’s way different obviously is coming into the turn— the entrance. You come in fully sideways, plus the bike set-up is completely different. The tires took a second to get a feel for, since they are treaded slicks versus knobbies I’m use to. I felt like I got better every time I went out, and I was impressed by just how versatile the KX is. It’s basically the same bike I’ve always ridden, just set-up differently, and I was surprised how good it worked going in circles. Don’t believe, me? Just check out the video

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(Never knew sliding around in circles could be so fun! Kawasaki’s KX450F is more than just a one trick pony, too, making for a great flat track bike. I’m in front, followed by Smith (No. 42) and Street Freestyle rider, Aaron Colton (No. 93).

The next day, we rode at Wil’s track at Milestone – just got warmed up, rode a little bit to shake the cobwebs off. Tuesday, we went to the Kawi track, rode a bit again with both the guys. We basically just chilled, hung out, but I also did some starts with Wil and I tried to help him out a bit; told him the secret to success is to squeeze the butt cheeks. After all, we all know how important it is to get a good start. It was a pretty mellow couple days, but it was great to get to the track and ride.

Before heading back to the #PNW I did some filming for Feld and its ‘The Science of Supercross’. It’s a new segment that will be airing during the races explaining a little bit about what’s happening while we’re riding; what the bike is doing, and why it happens. Jeremy McGrath tagged along second day, and we wrapped up the shoot at Kawasaki’s other track up on the hill in Corona. All in all, it was a fun few days, but after being gone for nearly a week, I was excited to leave the hustle and bustle of SoCal and get back home.

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I got a lot of riding in last week. We did some testing for Kawasaki and filmed for Feld Entertainment’s upcoming ‘Science of Supercross’.

It’s time to take care of some stuff around the house. Work on a few projects in the garage and whatever else I get into.

Last thing: Remember to mark your DVR for Thursday, February 25, as the Ridiculousness episode that I filmed a few months ago will air at 7pm (Pacific time) on MTV!

– RV

Anaheim 1 and Catching Up with Friends

1/21/2016
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Happy New Year everybody (don’t mind the slight delay, I’m retired, lol),

I hope everyone had a relaxing time with their families over the holidays — I sure did. So after cleaning up the backyard, and returning the empty keg following our New Year’s eve bonfire bash, my wife Kristen and I flew down to California for A1.

Our first stop was Kawasaki’s Irvine, California headquarters for its annual team kick-off. I’ve been to a lot of these over the years but it was great to be inside the race shop again. I was able to catch up with some of the Kawi folks that I don’t get to see very often. The amateur Team Green squad was there, too, so I met a few young guns that will hopefully follow in my footsteps and continue to collect championship trophies for years to come.

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(Eleven Supercross championships between the ‘2’ of us. To celebrate this achievement, the guys at Feld Entertainment had McGrath and I ride a hot lap during opening ceremonies in Anaheim.)

For A1, Feld Entertainment asked if Jeremy McGrath and I would bust out a hot lap on the track during opening ceremonies, it was fun. It was good to cruise around a bit, see everyone I hadn’t seen for a while, get back on a Supercross track, blitz some whoops, and show the fans I still got it, haha. Seriously though, over the years I’ve had a lot of fond memories inside Angel Stadium, so it felt good to be back.

Even though my motorcycle racing days are behind me, I still get to be a part of the Kawasaki team as its Brand Ambassador. That means we’re going to attend some races and do some testing. There will probably be some other things I will pitch in with too… as long as it doesn’t mean helping teardown the awning every Saturday night, haha.

I’ve been with Kawasaki my nearly my entire career— even before I turned pro, so I’m happy to continue being part of the family. I’ll do some riding at home when weather permits. After all, gotta keep the blade sharp.

In addition to representing Kawasaki at some of the bigger races, the plan is for me to lend a hand with testing. A lot of times, especially with a new bike like the 2016 KX450F, there are a lot of components that need to be run through. But team guys like Tomac and Hahn don’t necessarily have the time to test everything, since their focus is racing every weekend. That’s where I can help out.

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(I’ve had a lot of success inside Angel Stadium, so it was great to blitz some whoops, and see all of my fans again. I’ll be back down for Anaheim 2 this weekend!)

I can do a lot of the pre-testing and get some of the small stuff out of the way. For example, say there are five parts to test. I can try ‘em all and pick the three best, which eliminates a couple items the guys have to try.

After Anaheim, we returned home because my good friend Casey Stoner and his family came to visit. The last time I saw him was at the Argentina MXGP round last year so it was good to catch up, grill some meat, drink some beers, shoot some guns, and just hang out.

Next Stop: Back to California for a photo shoot with Oakley then Anaheim 2 Saturday night. Also, if you’re around Riverside, California Friday evening, stop by Malcolm Smith Motorsports for an autograph, or just to say ‘hey’.

See ya then!

– RV

First Time for Everything: Racing the SCORE Baja 1000

12/30/2015
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So, a few days before last month’s Baja 1000, I got a surprise phone call… “Do you want to jump in the truck, and race Baja with us,” asked Jonathan and Jordan Brenthel.

I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Obviously you know my answer, “Yes!”

Jonathan and Jordan own Brenthel Industries. They are a Southern California-based race shop that specialize in building off-road racing vehicles, like the No. 873 TT Spec truck we raced. For those that don’t know, TT Spec is essentially a trophy truck chassis with a production-based engine, like a stock Chevy LS3 V-8 with around 525 horsepower. In a lot ways they are similar to a trophy truck, only top speed is limited to around 117 mph versus 140-plus mph.

So away we went. I spent almost a week down in Ensenada, Mexico, eating some unbelievable street tacos, and having a whole lot of fun.

The week before Baja, we drove south of the border and did some pre-running in a Class 1 buggy to get a feel for things, and to see which direction the compass needle was suppose to point, haha. After that, we returned and headed to Barstow, California to put time in the driver’s seat. We did two 10-mile laps to get a feel for it and to set-up the controls.

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(After a quick pre-running session in Mexico, we returned to California to do an abbrieved shakedown near Barstow, California in the race car.)

Even though I had zero experience in the truck, or driving off-road, I wasn’t nervous. The only thing I was worried about was potentially messing up the race for my co-drivers, Rody Amaya and Jonathan. It’s one of the biggest off-road motorsports out there, and they put in a lot of work getting down to Baja, so I didn’t want to mess anything up for them. Go figure the steering rack mounting bolts sheered off early in the race, right around the 132-mile mark (this year’s race was a 840-mile loop). But believe it or not, it wasn’t my fault. Shit happens.

Before that, my co-driver, Robert Llewellyn said we were hauling ass – yet still in control – especially considering I’d never been in the truck before. So that felt good. I was happy to know that I had a decent pace. It wasn’t race winning speed, but for my first-go that certainly was positive to hear.

It’s hard to describe the sensation behind the wheel. The amount of suspension travel it had, and the things you could hit was unbelievable. It was plain stupid what you could run into with the thing. Of course you have to be mindful for rocks, and the tires— being careful with the sidewalls — so you don’t have any punctures. Also, not hitting rocks toward the middle of the truck, because that’s where the driveline is. Thankfully, the Falken tires did its job.

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(The amount of suspension travel these TT Spec trucks have is downright insane. It was plain stupid what you could run into with the thing.)

You felt in control and safe, but all of sudden you’re completely out of control. It’s kind of the same thing with the motorcycle. I did that for so long, and was really good at it, so those ‘oh shit’ moments didn’t happen very often. But it was reassuring to know that if I did have any ‘oh my God, I’m going to crash’ moments, and I did roll, nine times out of ten, I would be totally fine. So to have that in the back of your mind is nice.

But at the same time, that can also be a bad thing. If you don’t understand the speed, or have any regard for what you’re doing, you can end up crashing a lot.

Overall I had a blast – obviously, I’ve raced and rode my entire life, which was fun and all, but having the chance to try a new sport was awesome. We are going to try and make some things happen next year, and potentially step in the truck a few more times.

Besides that, I’m just spending time at home with my family and hanging out for Christmas. I hope everyone enjoys the holidays with their families and I have some exciting news for next year that I’ll fill you in soon enough. – RV

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(I had a blast with the Brenthel Industries crew trying my hand at something different. Hopefully they’ll invite me back for more!)

Monster Cup, Riding Again, and Adventures on the Water

12/7/2015
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Hey everybody, I know it’s been a while since I’ve let you know what I’ve been up to. Even though I announced my retirement this past July, I’ve still been pretty busy. So let’s start with Monster Cup.

That was the last big thing we went to. It was good to see my team, and hang out with the old crew. The Feld guys wanted me to ride an exhibition lap before the night show began because I’m a past winner. But since it’s been a while since I’ve ridden Supercross, I asked if I could do a couple laps during practice just to get a feel for things. That was really cool. I enjoyed that, and also being able to ride the new 2016 KX450F. I hadn’t had a chance to ride it until then.

I was really impressed with the new bike. They increased the power a little bit, and they dropped right around eight pounds. For me, the biggest thing was how easy it was to ride, and the eight pounds it lost was huge, too.

We had a stable bike for all the years I raced it, but it is even more stable now. Over the years I had some little complaints here and there that we were always working to improve on, but it seems like Kawasaki nailed it with the ’16.

It’s not a whole lot different than the old bike. It just does everything a little bit better. I hadn’t ridden Supercross in over a year and a half and I was able to jump right on that thing and ride with those boys.

A lot of people were saying ‘you should race’, but practice was enough for me. Those boys have been putting in their work all season, so to think that I could go out with race with them is a real long shot. It was fun being back at races without the stress level of racing.

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Stay tuned for my guest spot on MTV’s Ridiculousness in February. It was fun to do but I wish I would have been quicker on my feet with the jokes!

After that, I flew back to California and did a episode of Ridiculousness. Rob and all the crew there are cool. The episode aires Thursday, February 25, at 7pm on MTV. I wish I would have been a little quicker on my feet with jokes and things to say, but it was a cool experience for sure.

A few days later the Transworld guys came up to Washington to film for Premix, a new video they just released. We were able to do some riding on a two-stroke that my mechanic Mikey built about six years ago. It was the last Stewart KX250 they built. The bike ran great and it was fun to ride the thing. It’s way slower compared to a new 450, and kind of raises questions in regard to how fast 450s are nowadays, and the things guys can jump… but I had a lot of fun and we were able to ride two different tracks, and drink some beer. I wasn’t even that sore the next day… guess I still got it, haha.

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A few years back my mechanic Mike Williamson built me this KX250. After a couple years collecting dust in the garage, I finally had a chance to ride it for Transworld Motocross’s new film, Premix.

Since then, I have been doing some stuff around home. Have had a few adventures on the water the last couple days. I just put in a nearly 24-hour stint moving a house boat 50 miles with my cousin… or I should say, helped him move it. He was the real Captain. It was a 44 x 27-foot two story house boat. We used my SeaSport as a push tug through the shipping and ferry lanes across the ocean. Yeah, it was pretty hairball, but he made it in one piece. Other than that, I’ve been doing a little bit of hunting. Haven’t got Bambi yet, but I’ve been trying, haha. Blacktail deer are pretty hard to hunt.

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My cousin and I moved his new two-story house boat 50 miles across the Puget Sound. We’re lucky we didn’t sink it!

A couple of weeks ago, I got the opportunity to get behind the wheel with the Brenthel Industries team for the Baja 1000. It was quite the experience, and I will fill you in on what happened next week. – RV

Best Wishes Letter from the FIM

7/15/2015
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Today was pretty special. The folks over at FIM, the largest and most recognized motorcycle racing sanctioning body in the world, sent me a note thanking me for my years of competition at home in the U.S., and abroad during Motocross des Nations, as well as MXGP this year. Obviously, this summer didn’t go as planned, but it was still nice to be acknowledged for my efforts. Check it out:

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