2016 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals: Time for a Change?
By Billy Rainford
By now, we’ve all heard the rumours: Walton Raceway will be off the schedule in 2016. As difficult as that is to believe, there may be some validity to it. The Walton National has been the end of the Pro season in Canada for a long time – it’s WALTON! In fact, nobody even says “the end of the season” we just say “Walton.” As much as we all hate to see the season come to an end, we’re always happy to congregate in the little town an hour north of London, Ontario, to give the current summer season the send-off it deserves.
But is all this about to change?
Apparently, after hearing talk from racers and industry insiders that Walton Raceway would no longer be hosting a national, co-owner, Brett Lee, approached the head of the CMRC, Mark Stallybrass, at the end of the day in Walton asked if this were true. When most heard this, they thought it must have been some sort of conspiracy-driven hearsay. However, when we asked Brett if this was the case directly, he confirmed that it was.
How can this be, you ask? Well, the story goes that the event has not been a favourite season ender by the head sponsors, like Monster Energy in days gone by, and now Rockstar Energy. Yes, they both love Brett and the gang, and acknowledge that he and Mark Perrin run, arguably, the best race experience on the circuit, but were concerned about the town’s distance to all the amenities, like hotels, population centres, and convenience stores that sell their particular energy drinks where they want to promote the event and their product.
A couple months ago, I got in touch with Rockstar Energy Canada‘s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, David Giancoulos. He was quick to point out how much he enjoyed the event at Walton Raceway and that he wasn’t opposed to them remaining on the schedule, but admitted he would be even happier if they could be closer to a big city like Toronto for the finale. He said the decision was in Mark Staybrass’s hands and that he would support him in his decision that he knew would be best for the series and its sponsors.
So, now what?
Well, Walton will no longer be on the circuit. Done. What could that mean for the Parts Canada TransCan? Great question. I spoke with Brett this afternoon and he confirmed they are not going to appear on the Rockstar MX Nationals‘ schedule but that the Parts Canada TransCan will go on as usual, August 17-21.
The next question would have to be about sanctioning the event. Historically, the TransCan is a CMRC-sanctioned festival. That seems like it would be a difficult pill for the Walton Raceway staff to swallow. Brett was quick to point out that CMRC sanctioning is still a possibility, but that he has other options to consider. Either way, he assured me the event will go on as usual for its anniversary year.
Also, he told us there will be a Pro race the Sunday following the conclusion of the TransCan. It will be a one-off race that should see all the major Pro teams race the event as well as lots of others who will surely follow the scent of money as Brett plans to make the purse something many won’t be able to ignore. Mark Perrin confirmed that the event will have the full support of Rockstar Energy Canada.
The Ottawa National at Sand Del Lee has also been rumoured to be on the chopping block. Well, since it was already mentioned elsewhere, I can confirm that we will not be making our annual trip to the nation’s capital after Gopher Dunes in 2016. Sand Del Lee is off the schedule. Could it have anything to do with the fact that the owners of both these tracks are the ones spearheading the Allied Promoters Group (APG)? Why wouldn’t it?
So, how will the 2016 schedule look?
We won’t know for certain until it is officially released, but the word on the street is that the west will look the same as in 2015. In the east, the absence of Walton and Sand Del Lee from the schedule opens up two slots. Where will we go? We’ve heard that the series will finish up at RJ’s just outside of Barrie, Ontario. The series last hit RJ’s back in 2004 and most riders agree it is a great track.
Rumours have also been circulating that the series will, once again, make a stop at Pleasant Valley near Truro, Nova Scotia. The series last hit Pleasant Valley back in 2002. This is the track owned by former traveling Pro, Mitch Cooke. If rumours are true, Riverglade would remain on the schedule keeping riders in the east for an extra week. This may actually entice riders from Quebec and farther to make the trip east with back to back rounds. Historically, the Riverglade round is low on Pro riders so this could help that out.
It’s an interesting time here in Canadian motocross. Silly season normally concerns the riders and not the venues, but this year is different. It does look like it’s time for a change. The Pro national deck will be shuffled and old tracks will likely be involved again. Walton and Sand Del Lee will not appear on the schedule, but we’ll still be heading north of London and Walton will still mean the end of the summer, just like always.
All of this comes as the annual manufacturer’s meeting just took place this past Monday where all of these changes are discussed. Most of the above is simply conjecture and makes for an interesting discussion and we will be sure to post the new 2016 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals schedule as soon as it becomes official.
So, what about the 2-stroke rule, you ask? Well, that’s another story…