Frid’Eh Update #12 Presented by Just 1 Helmets
By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
It’s Week #12 here for the Update and I can’t remember a rider making as big an impact on the flavour of the Canadian Nationals as Vince Friese did in 2014. From a media perspective, it couldn’t have been better. We had our headline every round because this story just wouldn’t let up.
When we heard Vince was heading north to be the MX2 rider on the Smartops MotoConcepts team last season, we all wondered what it might or might not mean. Most of us north of the border got our first Vince sighting during last year’s East 250 SX series when it seemed like Friese and Canadian rider Cole Thompson got together almost every round. It was fun to watch then so we had an idea it would be fun in the summer too. I say that as someone who writes about the races each week. Of course, we realized it probably wouldn’t be as much ‘fun’ for those lined up against him.
Vince came north with confidence and proclaimed he would and should be winning the Canadian MX2 championship because he really didn’t have any competition; he was the best. That didn’t sit well with the rest of the field and it was from that point on that the season took flight.
His main rival became Royal Distributing Fox KTM rider Kaven Benoit. Things got so strained between the two that Vince refused to say Kaven’s last name properly during interviews and constantly referred to him as “Bennett.” It was comical. On the other side, after Vince made fun of Kaven’s French-Canadian accent, Kaven would only speak French around him. Insults like this always beg the question, “How good is your French, Vince?!”
To be clear, I got along well with Vince last summer. He was always courteous and polite when I approached their pit for a post-race interview. However, I will say that I wouldn’t want to have to race against him in a 10-race series. He was in everyone’s head before the gate even dropped. I have to assume that was his goal. I even heard from riders who he knows that Vince told them not to line up between him and Kaven because, when the gate drops, “I’m heading straight toward Bennett!” You can’t make this stuff up, folks. It was classic gamesmanship!
In the end, the championship went to Benoit but Friese was right there at every event. The title really could have gone either way. Let’s hope he finds a way to return in 2015 because it really made the races the place to be every weekend!
Vince has been racing the 250 East Supercross series this winter and even lined up out west in the 450 class but sustained an injury and has been forced to sit out a couple rounds. He raced injured and then tried riding Press Day the following week but it was decided he needed some time off, so we haven’t seen him since.
We were unable to get in touch with Vince personally this week, but watch for a follow-up chat with him here on DMX as soon as we can grab him for an interview. Best of luck with the rest of your Supercross season, Vince. Heal well and try to talk Mike Alessi and the gang into doing our full series again in 2015!
The Update is brought to you by Just 1 Helmets this week. Distributed by Gamma Sales in Canada, Just 1 is fast-becoming a player in the North American helmet market. Recently, Blake Baggett became the first rider in North America to get onto a podium wearing one when he did it at the Daytona SX.
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Hey, guys. Although the snow is almost gone here in Southern Ontario, we are still a few weeks away from riding outdoors. Thank God, we had the Detroit SX this past weekend to fill the void. It was nice to see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd at Detroit, but dang, do I ever miss the Toronto SX and the World Famous DMX pre-party and after-party. But, like everything, life goes on. The action in Detroit was pretty good, but the individual rides put in by Eli Tomac and Justin Bogle were even better. I think if 250 points leader Marvin Musquin got a better start he would have challenged race winner Bogle. But nobody was touching Eli Tomac on Saturday night in Detroit. He was just that good!
Unfortunately, two more riders were injured in Detroit. In my opinion, it was a pure racing incident and nobody is to blame. Jake Weimer made a small mistake and Trey Canard was already committed. I wish both guys a speedy recovery and hope to see them back in action soon. This, and some other sad events lately, has brought up safety concerns and talks. I 100% believe the tracks are too fast. We really need to slow down the action, make the tracks more technical and allow them to get rougher to slow riders down. I also feel tracks and clubs should set rules for certain jumps. For example, Area 51 in Western New York has a rule that if you are in certain lower classes you aren’t allowed to do certain jumps. If you would like to attempt these jumps, you will have to get better and move up classes.
Any idiot on a 450 or even a 250f can hold a bike wide open to huck a big booter. We need to stop that and make sure the guys attempting these massive jumps are skilled enough to do so. Back in the day on 125’s and 250’s, if you didn’t hit most corners on point, you didn’t have enough speed to make the jump out of the corner. Nowadays, you can basically stop in the corner, adjust your goggles, find your girl in the crowd and then hammer on the throttle and not only make the jump, but over-jump it. We need to change that. Add in the fact that the new 450’s are too much bike for 75% of us out there and that is an instant recipe for disaster. I have had more than my fair share of bad wrecks and I cringe every time I see the red cross flags.
In the end, I feel more riders really need to realize their skill set and ride according to it, but, unfortunately, we all think we are the next Tomac or Dungey.
St. Louis is where the action is this weekend. Let’s see my predictions:
1st Marvin Musquin
2nd Jeremy Martin
3rd R.J. Hampshire
4th Justin Bogle
5th Jimmy Decotis
1st Ryan Dungey
2nd Chad Reed
3rd Eli Tomac
4th Cole Seely
5th Blake Baggett
Short and sweet for me this week. A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY goes out to DMX bossman, ‘Bigwave’ Billy Rainford, and Vice Pres over at Mica Sports (Scott Sports), Aaron Barsanti. Also, a big congrats goes out to Alison Hindle and husband Matt who announced that they are expecting their first child. Have a great week everyone and always remember to #smileforBC.
Thanks, Jeff. You touched on a topic that has been thrust into the spotlight yet again in our sport. After the most recent injuries to Weimer and Canard, and the unfortunate death of young Tyler Hoeft, we have all been left scratching our collective heads wondering what we can do to limit the risks of this amazing action sport.
Yes, motocross is dangerous, we get that, but can anything be done to reduce the needless injuries? I once heard someone say as a result of a motocross racing death that, “It was his time, I guess. You can get killed walking across the street.” OK, let’s not kid ourselves, motocross is dangerous! You increase your risk when you line up against 39 other riders and head into the first turn of an outdoor motocross race. It’s more dangerous than stepping out your door. Saying “it was their time” is the equivalent to burying your head in the sand. We need better than that.
I’m a firm believer in the benefits and enjoyment of racing 125’s. Yes, there were injuries then too, but I don’t know that we need to put our sport in a 250/450 box. Who said those were the only engine sizes we had to race, anyway? Then, people say, “Well, a 250F is faster than a 125 2-stroke.” WHO CARES?! If everyone was on a smaller-displacement bike, it wouldn’t matter. I guess it’s like putting restrictor plates on cars to keep speeds down. Is speed even the problem?
If we slowed the bikes down and made changes to track design, would the action be less? I have to be honest, I enjoyed the weird Supercross track of the 1980s more than the cookie-cutter ones of today. They used to lack flow and were more like the outdoors. Were there fewer injuries and deaths then? I’m not sure, and this is the point Walton Raceway’s Brett Lee was trying to make when he guest-penned an article on the subject earlier this week. First, Kevin Windham got the conversation re-started:
And here’s Brett’s article:
Finding Answers: Making the Case for Safety
By Brett Lee
I am a promoter in Canada and a former racer. When a rider gets hurt, or worse, when a rider gets hurt on your track, it is a painful weight to carry. Those events come with a heavy sense of guilt and responsibility. It is something that has been the hardest part of my career; the part I have struggled with the most. Racers who drive through our gates are people we know personally, and those I don’t know, I relate to intimately through the love of this sport.
I have been fortunate to cover Canadian motocross from coast to coast, working with different tracks, promoters, clubs and racers throughout the years. I have made a career out of motocross. When I was a small kid dreaming of racing and riding bikes, I never dreamed I would be in the position I now hold and doing what I do. Now that my own racing is behind me, and each morning my ankle reminds me why I am a better spectator, my jersey hanging framed in my basement reminds me of why I would do it all over again.
What I think about now is the future of the sport. I have two kids. My oldest is 13 and he saved his own money to buy his first bike last fall. He has a track, more connections to the sport than I ever did at his age, and, more than anything, he wants to race. The thought and the emotion of my own son racing, coupled with him racing at our farm, is exciting when thinking of the highs associated with motocross, but I’m also very anxious when thinking about the devastating lows that can also follow.
The injuries witnessed from Detroit on televisions across the country are dull and light compared to the heartbreak felt at Freestone MX in Wortham, Texas, this past weekend. What is common after the past few days is the fear and concern raised by these incidents. It all comes from the united desire to better what we love and pushes us to ask everyone how to prevent, or reduce, what will invariably happen again.
Safety and what can be done becomes the conversation of the week. Web forums, social media, tracks, and shops become places of debate. Not just in small circles, but across the entire sport and around the world, which is good. It is a topic that needs all hands together to make progress that is real.
There are big things that could change the safety of the sport: bike size and track design are two that seem obvious, but, unfortunately, are very difficult to gain any consensus on and change. Manufacturers are years out from changing bikes, tracks are scattered, not really connected and heavily influenced by supercross. I had a promoter once tell us he needed big jumps for spectators and that motocross was an “extreme” sport. He was told to turn around and look at the pits: it is a family sport.
In my own experience, one of the biggest hurdles I have run into when questioning any of this is who holds the liability and understanding of what the issues are. Is it bikes, gear, tracks, speed? There is no clear point. The number of opinions match the number of people involved. And while the opinions may come from some of the most respected people in our sport they are still opinions without proven facts to support them, and, unfortunately, will prevent important action. At the top of this, the decision-makers are very hesitant to enforce rules limiting or mandating rules around safety. Ask why chest protectors are not mandatory…because there is limited science around what works, the regulations and cost associated with implementing a ruling and then the fear of the resulting liability if something happens. Real questions and concerns without clear answers.
So, I have believed for a long time that we need science, facts and understanding of how and why crashes happen and the impact of those crashes. I strongly believe one of the things that is a missing link in motocross around the world is an understanding of what makes our sport safe. With crashes, especially resulting in fatalities like this weekend, no one seems to talk about the actual crash. We pick up the pieces and move on. It is part of our sport. We are all tight and to dig into the details of it seems to be a cold approach to a sad situation.
We need to have a shared place where we can document crashes and injuries that allow for us to make the sport safer. Detail the conditions: Was it dusty, muddy, watered? Type of event: Regional, Amateur National, Pro National? Experience of track designer? Was it in the morning, the afternoon, at night? Did it happen in practice–first or second– timed qualifier or not? Moto one or moto two? If a racing crash, what position, previous results? Was he pushing him/herself? What was the bike size? Bike condition prior to crash? Bike condition after the crash? Photos? What was the rider’s age? What was the rider’s skill? Vet, Pro, Beginner? What was the rider’s condition prior? Did he have any injuries? Was the rider using any type of medication? What was the rider wearing? Helmet, neck protection, chest protection, types/brands? And photos of the equipment, and perhaps a place to send it for inspection? What was the track type? Supercross, outdoors, arenacross, man-made? The type of medic and response time? What are some eyewitness reports on the crash?
This type of information is sometimes gathered in ‘official’ investigations when lawsuits are pending. However, we, as racers, promoters, sanctioning bodies and organizations need have these questions asked to understand how to make the entire sport, whether it is supercross or a local race, safer. If we can draw links between safety equipment, bikes, riders, tracks, state of mind of competitor etc., then we can create profiles of the entire incident and make sound conclusions that can steer the sport in a safer direction with real information to make these decisions.
I believe this could be started as a website that riders themselves populate their information and experience. Update crash or injuries information in a pull-down menu that allow trends to be identified. Provide race medics with common forms that can be documented at tracks that are gathered then logged. If after a year we can give a profile of what the average rider looks like, what the average crash/injury is, then we can move in a direction to reduce, prevent, and minimize crashes and subsequent injuries. Not just reduce the catastrophic injuries, but reduce that which we calmly accept as just ‘part of racing.’ At this point, we have so little to go on other than guesswork and speculation.
To make really big change, it is going to take information and solid research presented by those with a big enough audience to make all take notice. It is going to take an entire industry buy-in to push for meaningful change with sound reasoning to support it. I am in: for myself, my event, my kid, and my customers. I want to understand what works, what doesn’t and what makes this all better.
This article got amazing response and was easily the most-read, shared, and discussed of the week – it got people thinking and talking. Of course, the ideas put forth in the article will take time and effort but, in the end, if we have actual facts to go by with regards to crashes and injuries, it will be well worth the effort.
Motocross is not a sport for wimps, but trying not to get hurt is also not wimpy. When you crash, you want to get back up and rejoin the race, no? How great would it be if we had statistics that might point the way to how that is best achieved?! More padding on our bodies? Probably. Altered track designs? Most-likely. Slower bikes? Maybe. Just think of how crazy we think it is when someone shows up on an old (or new) 500cc 2-stroke. Well, guess what? We might look back at 450’s with the same attitude one day. It could happen.
I’ve been at the track more times than I care to remember where a rider has succumbed to their injuries. In each case, I could point my finger at track design and maintenance. Simply put, if certain obstacles weren’t in place, and if they weren’t trying to squeeze 38 races into the day, these kids would probably still be with us. Something needs to be done.
I don’t have all the answers but gathering statistics on crashes and injuries would certainly help us make informed decisions. Great ideas, Brett. Let’s keep the conversation going.
MX101’s 2nd MX2 Rider?
As we near the beginning of another Rockstar Energy MX Nationals season, most major teams have their riders in place and are busy with testing down south and fine-tuning things. We are only 9 weeks from dropping the gate at Whispering Pines in Kamloops, BC!
There have been changes over at the MX101 team – they are still on Yamahas but have switched gear brands. The team won’t have Jesse Wentland this summer, so, as the Yamaha representative MX2 team, they have an open Yamaha 250F seat to go alongside returning rider Dylan Wright. Apparently, they were within hours of signing Arma Energy Yamaha rider Mitchell Oldenburg to a deal last week, but his team has decided they are doing the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships and Mitchell will be committed to that.
With the CMRC rule that states a rider competing in the MX2 class here in Canada cannot have finished in the top 20 in either the 250 or 450 class in the AMA it rules out an awful lot of potential riders for teams north of the border. Names being thrown around the old rumour mill for the team include riders Josh Cartwright and Justin Starling.
Cartwright’s recent shoulder injury takes his name out of the equation. Last week in Detroit, Jeff tweeted the team was still looking and we received a message mentioning Jimmy Decotis‘ name, so throw that one in the mix. I’ve always been a supporter of Jacob Hayes. I’ve watched him at a lot of amateur nationals and was always impressed with his work ethic and his courteous personality. Can we throw his name in too? I’m sure there a bunch of fast young riders I’m not familiar with who would be more than willing to head north.
The problem for Johnny Grant, Kevin Tyler, and the MX101 gang is that Kaven Benoit, Jeremy Medaglia, and Shawn Maffenbeier are really fast! They don’t want to hire an ‘also ran.’ They are in the hunt for someone who can battle for wins and the title. I know the team is close to making a final decision and they are also close to making a big announcement regarding title sponsorship of the team, so I guess we’ll sit back and wait. I hate to wait…
Speaking of Dylan Wright, he will head to Hard Rock in Ocala, Florida, this weekend with his mechanic Cale Foster to race Kenny Yoho‘s I4MX Series there. If you’re down in that area, head on over!
Kyle Keast Podcast
There will be a lot of people interested and excited to hear that Honda Canada TLD GDR rider #30 Kyle Keast is hoping for a top 5 number by the time Walton rolls around in August. Although he’s taken a couple years off from full-time Pro-level competition, it’s great to hear that he is fully committed to his program for 2015.
You can listen to what the Lindsay, Ontario, rider had to say HERE.
2015 Team Canada ISDE
Team Canada Slovakia 2015:
Just when you thought Canada’s presence at international races was going to be nil in 2015, it looks like Team Canada will be lining up at the ISDE in Slovakia, after all. Like the MXON effort, inclusion at the International Six Day Enduro was in question. I saw on the Team Canada ISDE Facebook page that the team has been accepted to the 500-rider roster. I spoke with returning team member, Jared Stock, today and he was good enough to send this update over:
Hey, DMX and Fellow Motorcycle Enthusiasts!
I hope everyone has been getting the opportunity to throw your legs over a bike and get back to that feeling of freedom! In Calgary, the track has been absolutely outstanding with a few spurts of snow here and there providing some ultimate conditions. Today I am writing to give you an update on the International Six Days Enduro Team. After an amazing trip to Argentina in November of 2014, we are now set to continue our efforts in Slovakia in 2015.
Team Canada would like to announce a huge thank you to Mike Kelly, Jan Van Dijk and Bettie Devries for all of their hard work with the team. It was a pleasure to work with all of you and we appreciate all of the time you dedicated to our efforts.
For 2015 there will be a new management team in place with Earl Scott taking on the Team Manager position and Mario Jakowski stepping in to be the Paddock Manager. We also would like to thank these gentleman for stepping up and continuing the team in positive directions.
Earl and Mario will lead two club teams to Slovakia in September consisting of;
- Julian Cerny
- Philippe Chaine
- Jared Stock
- Thierry Lacombe
- Jean L’Ecuyer
- Patrick Tremblay
We have a brand new website launching soon where you can keep up to date on the team and read all about our 2015 ISDE Team Members. Be sure to check out our social media pages to keep up to date for now.
- Instagram – @TeamCanadaISDE
- Twitter – @TeamCanadaISDE
We also want to give a huge thanks to those who sponsored and supported the team last year. As we are under new management we are looking to reach out to anyone that would like to continue their involvement with the team as well as anyone new that is looking to get involved. Feel free to contact us!
Thank you all and see you on the track!
Ross Johnson Update
I figured I’d give Washington State’s Ross Johnson one more chance to tell us he’s racing the Canadian series again this summer, but he wouldn’t bite. The reigning Future West Canadian Arenacross 450 champ said he will race locally in Washington this summer as well as head up to Prince George, BC to do his schools with the Cycle North gang.
Said Ross, “Just racing local arenacross and doing quiet a bit of schools and training up in Prince George. [I’ll] probably do some mx schools in Washington also. No outdoors for [me]. [I’m] staying where the money is…inside.”
Ross is also a new father so staying close to home and having more time to spend with his son, Lincoln, is likely a huge factor. He said he will get to spend tons of time with him until “I go back to Europe next winter.”
MXGP Heads to Patagonia Argentina This Weekend
After taking a week off, the MXGP series heads to South America in Patagonia, Argentina. For the first time, riders will compete in the land made famous by its pristine scenery and rugged terrain. Here’s a short intro video from MXGPTV introducing the event:
CBS Sports Network – DELAYED
Sunday 29 March: MXGP Race 2 – 05.00 pm EST (2.00 pm PST)
Sunday29 March: MX2 Race 2 – 06.00pm EST (03.00 pm PST)
Amsoil Arenacross Heads into Austin, Texas
Round 11 goes off this weekend in the trendy city of Austin, Texas. Chris Blose has emerged as the lead rider with only 4 rounds remaining after this weekend. This championship is far from over as the top 8 riders are only separated by 13 points.
Currently Residing in the “Um, What?” Category…
If you haven’t already seen this short video clip of Scott Champion whipping over a massive jump out in California, you should really give the following link a click:
Is RTR Performance Going Racing this Summer?
As we try to piece all the team pieces together for the upcoming Canadian National season, a few key teams remain unconfirmed for 2015. RTR Performance has been a staple at the races for the last few years, so I gave Eric Dube a call today to find out if any final decisions have been made.
Although he didn’t have a whole lot he could confirm, he did say that Michael DaSilva will be heading west and riding an RTR Performance KTM 450 for the first 4 rounds. Once the series heads east, depending on how riders are doing, Duroy KTM will take the lead for Michael.
Eric mentioned that he’s also let California rider Topher Ingalls know that there would be a 450 for him to ride at the first 4 rounds too. Again, this may or may not happen and, if it does, they may or may not head east. Topher recently had a fall that hit his head pretty hard so he is currently recovering from that.
Liam O’Farrell was set to head west for RTR but a little bird has told me that his lovely wife, Pam, is currently pregnant with the couple’s first child. Congratulations, guys!
EDIT: Liam was quick to fire an email our way after reading this. Here is what he said:
Pam is not pregnant lol. I couldn’t do the west because of work and I don’t have enough money. Just thought I’d clear that up. Haha that’s pretty funny though. Rumours these days.
There might also be something in the works that would see Josh Allen aboard an RTR KTM. So, although “as of right now, nothing is confirmed,” there has been a lot going on at the shop out in Kamloops, BC where it is supposed to be 22 degrees C this weekend. That hurt to type. I woke up to a dusting of snow this morning.
Davey Fraser’s Plans?
What are the likeable Nova Scotian’s plans, you ask? I was asking the same thing so I got in touch with, first his dad, and then Davey Fraser. They have the same first name. Here is a quote from the rider who pulled the holeshot a couple years ago at Riverglade and proceeded to go down the following straightaway shaking his fist. It was classic!
Well, It doesn’t look good for the west. I just got back from JWTF but was only for a week. We’ve still got more snow on the ground than I’ve ever seen. Be lucky if I even get riding before the Nationals start up and that’s too far to go and not be ready. But ya never know.
Sometimes you just know what’s going on until you show up at Round 1 and look around…
Thanks for reading this week. I heard on the news today that they set records for WARM temperatures out in the BC Interior this week. Well, we woke up to a fresh dusting of snow here in Ontario. It’s enough to make a guy want to turn around and head south again, immediately! We’re only a week or two away from what is supposed to be the start of the outdoor season around here! Anyway, enjoy the weekend, wherever you are, and be sure to check out all the racing going on all over the TV and internet.
This video may not be moto related, but it sure put a smile on my face. See you at the races…