News 3 Feb 2021

Muc-Off Honda’s Oldenburg details AMA miscommunication

Confusion surrounding stickers and paperwork leads to main event start.

Image: Octopi Media.

Mitchell Oldenburg has moved to detail the confusion that led to him being pulled from Indianapolis 2’s 250SX East LCQ and then being granted an additional position in the main event following a miscommunication between AMA officials and his Muc-Off Honda team.

According to Oldenburg, the ‘chaos’ happened due to the frame sticker on his CRF250R – used for tech purposes – not correctly matching the AMA paperwork when he went to start the evening’s last-chance qualifier.

Oldenburg had crashed heavily in the heat race due to a mechanical and the team rallied together to switch out the motor during the short window between his heat and LCQ, only for officials to mistakenly rule that the team had illegally switched bikes, rather than just the motor, in order for him to make the last-chance. Once the error was cleared, Oldenburg was then permitted to start the final despite not actually qualifying.

That decision sent social media into a frenzy, especially once Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) decided he wasn’t able to race the main event and it appeared that Oldenburg was handed an alternate position, rather than Bobby Piazza (Yamaha) after he had finished fifth in the LCQ. Instead, it was later revealed that Oldenburg was due to start as a 23rd rider regardless of if Lawrence was lining up.

“Obviously, everyone saw the heat race crash; had a bike malfunction out of our control and it happens – it’s racing dirt bikes,” Oldenburg explained. “We scrambled back to the semi, my mechanic Nate, motor guy Jamie Ellis from Twisted Development, the truck driver, team owner Yarrive, they all got together and swapped the motor out. They all did that kind of fire-drill thing that you see once in a while on TV.

“Basically, I walked down to the line for the LCQ not knowing if my bike was gonna make it in time or not, I picked my gate and kinda just prayed for my bike to show up. Sure enough, it showed about two minutes before we fired the bikes up, pulled into my gate, got myself situated and was ready to go. I got tapped on the shoulder as soon as the 30-second card went up and was being told by an AMA official to pull my bike out.

“Obviously [there was] a lot of confusion, didn’t know what the heck was going on and nothing I could really do, so pulled the bike out. I went back and forth with the AMA guy; basically when you go through tech, you get the frame stickered. I’m assuming they use the stickers because you can possibly stamp a different frame with the same serial number or whatever the case may be.

“Anyways, what had happened was we got a frame sticker in Houston and we got a new frame sticker in Indy, so the paperwork from the AMA was not updated with the new frame sticker we got in Indy, it was still showing the old frame sticker that we go in Houston. Big communication… just chaos. We go back to the semi with the AMA official to show them this is the motor we took out, the is the bike obviously that we came back with and there’s not another bike on the semi, so there’s no way we could have switched bikes.

“This is everything that went down. My wife had filmed the guys switching the motor out, it was time-stamped so we were able to show them that and then as soon as we were able to figure out what the issue was, my mechanic had taken the new frame sticker off and underneath the new frame sticker was the old frame sticker that matched the paperwork. That was kind of the chaos of it, I guess, and I think at that point the AMA realised [they] messed up.

“Not knowing what was going to happen, I got my gear on and went down to the starting line hoping I was going to race, didn’t really know what was going to happen and left it up to them. Two minutes before the sight-lap, I got word that I could race, but had to line-up second row and basically take off as the 23rd rider. Not even 30 seconds after that, Jett was pulling his bike out and wasn’t going to race.

“That’s how I lucked into a gate. It had nothing to do with me being an alternate, I was never an alternate, it was just something that had happened and the AMA decided that they didn’t give me the opportunity to make the main, so this was their way of making it right. I don’t hold anyone at fault, I know everyone makes mistakes, things happen and I know 100 percent if they could reset they would have done it differently. Stuff happens and it’s just part of it sometimes. I don’t agree with how it went down, but there’s nothing I can do about it now.

“I’m just going to put my head down, focusing on me and what I can control. Unfortunately, I was riding really good in the main and had another bike malfunction, but I don’t know what the verdict is, if something got overlooked or if it was a separate issue or what – that was going to get figured out today. I appreciate the support from you guys and look forward to racing on Saturday night.”

Oldenburg’s night effectively ended near the halfway point of the main event when he encountered further bike troubles while circulating in fourth position, dropping him to ninth position in the depleted 250SX East point-standings following five rounds of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross season.