Tony Alessi kept his cool! (and didn’t beat up Josh Grant)


Let’s start at the beginning…

As you might already know from looking at my photo galleries, I went to round 5 of the 2009 motocross series in Lakewood, Colorado (also known as “Thunder Valley”). It was my very first time there, as I never had the chance to race on this track and retired before I could, so I was pretty excited. A brand new track I’ve never seen or been to before…it’s almost like getting a new girlfriend, you get butterflies in your stomach and you can’t wait to explore all these new areas (although being married to the best women in the world beats that any day)!

 

Alessi patiently waiting for second practice to start.

Alessi patiently waiting for second practice to start.

 

Anyways, I knew was going to try and race this round, only a few weeks (2 I think?) after his knee surgery, and I was looking forward to see how Mike would hold up, hoping for the best of course. I got to tell you, that kid is really tough, or he’s really good at hiding his pain! I got to talk to Mike and he seemed in pretty good spirits, his knee was bothering him but he wasn’t letting it get to him. After seeing him in practice, I knew it was going to be an hard day for Mike. Hi knee was really getting in the way and his riding style was very different, since he had to compensate so much on his good leg. He looked very uncomfortable but he wasn’t there to win, he was there to score as many points as possible. At least that’s the advice I gave him, and I got the feeling we were both on the same page, although I could see it was killing him inside to not be able to go as fast as he knows he can go.

Time for the action to start…

The gate dropped for the first 450 moto and Mike got a great start, as usual. He was quickly fading back though due to his lack of speed but was still in the top 10 about half way through the first lap. That’s when things got ugly…Josh Grant was right behind Mike and we all know what happened next. Grant deliberately took Alessi out (some will debate that this was just a “racing incident”, but I know better), and sent him crashing on the ground hard. I guess there’s always been bad blood between these 2, but I was still very surprised to see Grant pull this B.S on an already injured rider (then again some will say that Alessi should not have been on the track to begin with, but that doesn’t justify what happened imo).

 

Mike Alessi talks to reporters after first practice.

Mike Alessi talks to reporters after first practice.

 

When I noticed that Mike had gone down (I didn’t see the crash live, just on TV afterward), and was going back to the truck, I immediately followed (I was actually tasked to focus on Mike all weekend) to snap a few shots and find out if he was ok. Mike was in a lot of pain, he could barely walk. His girlfriend soon arrived at the truck and helped him get his boots and clothes off, and quickly checked his knee to see if it was still ok (see photo). Mike’s knee didn’t look ok at all, it was twice as swollen as before the crash…I advised Mike to go straight to the Asterisk truck to get x-rays, to make sure his bones were still in 1 piece (he was wondering if he should do the second moto). I then went back to the track to finish shooting the race.

And here’s what happened…

When the first 450cc moto was over, I walked to the Asterisk truck to try and get an update on Mike’s condition. It didn’t look good, as I was told to exit the truck right away and saw a bunch of grim faces before doing so. After waiting outside for a few minutes, I notice Tony Alessi exiting the Asterisk truck, looking real mad…Josh Grant’s team, Joe Gibbs Racing, was sitting 100 feet right in front of the Asterisk semi, and Tony was walking straight towards it! I grabbed my camera thinking sh!t is gonna get ugly, especially since AMA officials were already there talking to J-Bone (Joe Gibbs Racing team manager) about the incident, and Josh Grant was sitting outside on the back of the semi, talking with his mechanic.
I remember thinking “oh crap, this is gonna get ugly”! As I’m getting my camera ready, I look at Tony walking right by me, and he suddenly stops. He then did what I think I couldn’t have done if roles were reversed…he closed his eyes, looked up, took a deep breath, looked back down and re-opened his eyes, turned around and quietly went back inside the Asterix semi!

I’ll let that sink in for a minute or two…

Did that sink in? Are you thinking straight again? Yes, Tony Alessi kept his cool and came out on top if you ask me. It took a lot of control for him to do that, and I respect him more for it. Sorry it took me so long to get to the main focus of this story, but wasn’t it worth it?

Here’s a few more images of Mike Alessi from Lakewood below. Peace!

 

 

 

Now that's a swollen knee...this is after the crash, when Mike went back to the truck.

Now that's a swollen knee...this is after the crash, when Mike went back to the truck.

 

 

 

Mike's knee was hurting him a lot...

Mike's knee was hurting him a lot...

 

 

 

Getting ready for moto 1...

Getting ready for moto 1...

 

 

 

Mike is getting ready for the second practice session, in his own RV.

Mike is getting ready for the second practice session, in his own RV.

 

 

 

Mike's knee felt pretty good after the 2nd practice.

Mike's knee felt pretty good after the 2nd practice.

 

 

 

Mike tried to put in some strong laps during practice, but you could clearly see how much his knee was affecting him.

Mike tried to put in some strong laps during practice, but you could clearly see how much his knee was affecting him.

 

 

 

The AMA talks to Joe Gibbs Racing team manager Jeremy Albrecht about the "incident" between Grant and Alessi in moto 1.

The AMA talks to Joe Gibbs Racing team manager Jeremy Albrecht about the "incident" between Grant and Alessi in moto 1.

 

 

 

Mike walking towards his bike to go out in practice.

Mike walking towards his bike to go out in practice.

 

  • HamiltonWarriors

    Anybody have a laser pointer handy?

  • JQENTERTAINMENT

    What does Mike's age have to do with anything? Considering the amount of time, money and patience it takes to raise not one, but two professional caliber motocross racers, I'm sure any parent in that moment would've been heated and would feel the same way.

  • JQENTERTAINMENT

    What does Mike's age have to do with anything? Considering the amount of time, money and patience it takes to raise not one, but two professional caliber motocross racers, I'm sure any parent in that moment would've been heated and would feel the same way.

  • I know alessi wasn't on the ground when Josh hit him, I was just making a comparison. You say riders should always be ready to take a hit while racing, and trust me we are, especially when you're hurt you take even more precautions so that you don't get block-passed or hit in a turn.
    The difference is we expect to get hit either by accident, or during a regular block pass if you open the door a little too much….we DON'T expect to get taken out on purpose, or T-Boned (like Grant did to Alessi) out of nowhere on purpose. You say Alessi should have been protecting himself from getting hit like that, which I'm sure he was, he just didn't expect Grant to torpedo him like he did.
    I don't know about other riders, but when I was racing, I never thought of taking out an injured rider on purpose hoping it might end his career. When did good sportsmanship go out the window???

    Looks like we're gonna have to agree to disagree on this one 🙂

  • cquackaz

    mike alessi was not hurt on the ground when josh grant hit him…..josh hit him when alessi was ON HIS BIKE. alessi should have been protecting himself from getting hit like that. ALL the riders should be ready to take a hit. take out moves are part of the sport just like tackles in football. If a football player doesn't want to get hit then what are they gonna do? change the rules so that theres no more tackling?

  • Yes Alessi should not have been on the track, Yes Josh Grant can take him out if he wants to, and Yes Josh Grant is an ass hole for deliberately taking out an injured rider. So I guess if a rider crashes and is hurt on the ground, then it's ok if Grant runs him over to finish him right? I mean he was on the track so he should expect to get it, right? Because that's pretty much what he did with Alessi, he tried to end his career in that turn…

  • cquackaz

    If you don't want to get hit you shouldn't be on the track….if you think otherwise then maybe we should just stick one rider on the track at a time and just use a stopwatch to see who is the fastest….then we won't have anymore “incidents”

    take out moves are just part of the sport and if you don't want to get hit then go play some baseball

  • Yeah what Grant did was totally uncalled for, considering the fact that he knew Alessi was already hurt pretty bad and that he could have ended his racing career right there in that corner. Now people will argue that Alessi shouldn't have been on the track to begin with, and I agree with that, but it doesn't make what Grant did any less f***ed up then it is!
    I have to give Alessi props for trying to race in the first place though, even if it wasn't a smart decision. The kid's got heart.

  • motochick52

    i think josh grant had no rite doing that much worse could of happened to mike alessi if he wasnt able to get on the side lines of the track in time..and to deliberately take out an already injured rider is just f***ed up if you ask me

  • Not defending him, just stating it's pretty impressive for Tony to actually keep his cool for a change! Like I have anything to gain by kissing his a$$…thanks for the good laugh though 🙂

  • hardatwork13

    why am i watching tape of tony yelling watch mother f^&ker to josh at josh's tent? How old is Mike again? Why is his daddy crying for him? ronron is a kiss a$$ bitch for defending tony….

  • it okay, his cute anway

  • it okay, his cute anway

  • people must really keep their cool..

  • people must really keep their cool..

  • ronronmx

    Yeah, I remember that move…RC almost broke my leg that day, not cool! The thing is, in the corner right before that, he hit me hard enough to bend my front brake, so I couldn't slow down in the turn after where he put me in the bales. Big surprise when I went to use my front brake and cut underneath him….

  • Name

    ya i remember sitting at the top of a jump and josh almost hit me. purposely whipping his bike in my direction and yes i was off to the side of it out of the way. and i said did you try to hit me or what and he said no dude i didn't even see you there. and it was one of the ones where you had to really focus on your line and normally would shoot you to the opposite side of where i was

  • ronronmx

    Yeah, I remember that move…RC almost broke my leg that day, not cool! The thing is, in the corner right before that, he hit me hard enough to bend my front brake, so I couldn't slow down in the turn after where he put me in the bales. Big surprise when I went to use my front brake and cut underneath him….

  • Name

    ya i remember sitting at the top of a jump and josh almost hit me. purposely whipping his bike in my direction and yes i was off to the side of it out of the way. and i said did you try to hit me or what and he said no dude i didn't even see you there. and it was one of the ones where you had to really focus on your line and normally would shoot you to the opposite side of where i was

  • Thad Friday

    Im sure that tony realized that he might be thrown out of the pit area if he continued into the Jgr pit. As for being an intentional take out, I dont think so! Ronron,one of the dirtiest moves I have ever seen was at Hangtown and you were leading RC in the 250s. Man, that was an outright cleanout,I really felt bad for you dude.

  • ronronmx

    You're right, bad press sells and that's all you hear about, most of the time.

  • John Nunley

    How often we only hear the bad press. (it sells right?) Thank you for giving this story a better slant, for the Alessi's anyhow. I only wish the their mini bike days had been as well handled.

  • ronronmx

    No kidding!!! Now that's a great idea, and I'm not being sarcastic! 🙂

  • ronronmx

    Phil! Man it's been a while since we last spoke…glad to hear from you dude 🙂 We did have 4 great years together didn't we?
    Yes Josh knew exactly what he was doing…oh well like you said respect for both riders and hoping to a great season for them 2 in 2010. I hope to see you at the races next year.

  • namedfdd

    Team Alessi needs a reality show.

  • Phil Alderton

    Good story Ron Ron……..Having seen the collsion only on television, I thought it was a basic “racing incident”. However, with you being there and reporting it differently sheds some new light on it for me. Having spent some time with you from 1996 through what, 2000?, I have a lot of respect for your insight into these kinds of things.

    I respect both riders and hope they both have good seasons in 2010. Alessi riding the 350 KTM should be interesting.

  • Chad

    Nice story… thanks for the insight SR.

  • You know, I have never had a good view of Tony. Mike has been getting better in my eyes and I am starting to like the kid. However, this incident really surprised me, maybe Tony is getting better as well. I sure hope he is!