It’s all about where you are when the smoke clears. Photo by: Chase Yocom
“Cooksey’s Hard Truth” presented by Scott Sports is a weekly editorial written by Chris Cooksey. Chris will be diving in and out of controversial subjects and bringing you his hard truth about the racing and the riders from around the world of Supercross and Motocross.
What a glorious Saturday night for Justin Brayton and the much maligned MCR team. They have gone from a team looked upon as a joke with a lunatic for a team manager [Tony Alessi] to a full-blown powerhouse in the sport. In the past, the MCR team was ridiculed for not listing the motorcycle manufacturer their riders used and seemed to be magnets for silly controversies. But last Saturday nobody was laughing at their expense. They reached the pinnacle of Supercross by winning Daytona. While winning a Supercross is an amazing feat, Mike Genova and Tony Alessi did it with no shortcuts. They didn’t hire a current champion or even a rider who has ever won a Supercross, and did I mention their best rider is a week shy of 34 years old?
The MCR team is a long ways from July 20th, 2013 when Mike Alessi’s brother Jeff Alessi shined a green laser in the eyes of Ryan Villopoto before the start at Washougal. This prompted a highly publicized blow up between Tony Alessi/Mike Genova and MX Sports/Davey Coombs. When reporter Steve Matthes got involved, the flame only spread. Tony even called into the Pulp MX show [Steve Matthes’s podcast] the following Monday. Tony had some wild accusations along with trying to further defend his son [Jeff Alessi]. If you have ever listened to the Pulp show you surely have heard the infamous Tony Alessi sound drops that Matthes plays every opportunity he gets.
Now that Mike Alessi is no longer on the MCR team, it turns out Tony’s passion is exactly what riders that are not related to him need. Anyone with a child knows as a parent you can get a little crazy defending them or trying to teach them how to be successful in life. Now that Tony can focus strictly on doing his job as team manager and not on protecting his offspring. The teams results are noticeably better. Mike Genova and Tony Alessi added a key component to the team when they convinced legendary mechanic Tony Berlutti to give up his retirement and rejoin the Supercross series. Berlutti lives in Las Vegas [near me] and I see him on a regular basis. He was doing just fine in retirement, but the opportunity to work with such passionate people who share his fire was too much for Berlutti to pass up. When Berlutti joined the MCR team, the respect and credibility they had been earning since that fateful day at Washougal became a reality.
It’s ironic that in the first year Honda isn’t they headline sponsor of the Daytona Supercross, they win. The 2018 race isn’t as large of an upset as the 1987 Daytona Supercross won by true privateer Rick Ryan, but it is still an upset of epic proportions. Not only did Justin Brayton defy the norms by not being on a true factory team, he defied Father Time. If you watched the Fox broadcast the last few weeks, they celebrated Chad Reed and his all time start record, but the record Reed really wants is the oldest rider to win a Supercross. Well, that record now belongs to Justin Brayton and don’t be surprised if he gets more than just this one win.
Supercross is a young man’s sport, but work ethic and determination can trump youthful exuberance. In most other professional sports, athletes are competitive into their early 40’s. While I don’t expect a 40 year old rider to win a Supercross, if you told me in 1990 that a 34 year old would win, I would have thought you were an idiot. Congratulations to Justin Brayton for pushing the age ceiling a little higher.
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