Frid'Eh Update #17 Presented by Atlas Brace
If you are reading this now, something has gone terribly wrong...nah, just kidding. If you are reading this now then it must be FRIDAY! This week’s update is again brought to you by the new innovative ATLAS BRACE. ATLAS has brought a new concept and look to the neck brace market for 2012 with its debut. The Atlas Brace design features a dual chest and back support, which distributes the force of an impact onto a larger surface area, while at the same time transferring the pressure off of the sternum and spine area. Suspension was also designed into the front chest supports to absorb impact. Trust me, once you see the dual chest and back support and the suspension on the front you will see why this is the best neck brace on the market, in my opinion.
ATLAS is a Canadian company that has stepped up this year to sponsor a number of Canadian privateers and top pro racers. Guys like Kevin Lepp, Kyle Beaton, Nathan Bles, Shawn Maffenbeier, Dylan Kaelin and Jeremy Medaglia will all be wearing it this season.
Kyle Beaton and his Atlas Brace finished 12th at Seattle.
James Lissimore photo
Being week 17, this Update is dedicated to 2012 #17 Kiwi, Kieran Leigh. We spoke to him this week to find out what he’s been up to and what his plans are for this coming summer.
He had fully intended on returning to Canada this summer to represent the big #17 with the same type of support he got last year from Andy White and the folks at KTM Canada, but that will not be happening now.
His father has suffered some health issues, and, as Kieran says, “Just recently, my dad had a minor stroke and can't work for a while, so I decided to sit this year out and take over my dad’s job for him.” From all of us up here in the Great White North, we wish your dad a speedy recovery and hope to see you back here as soon as it makes sense to do so.
Kieran is always quick with a friendly word at the races and his positive attitude and ‘goose it’ riding style will be missed from the series in 2012. He promises that his plans are to return to Canada in the years to come and wanted to thank everyone for their support.
Unfortunately, we won't be seeing #17 Kieran Leigh at our nationals this season. Here he is competing in the New Zealand nationals ealier this year.
Here's James to get this update rolling.
Coming into last weekend, I think the most excitement I had for the Seattle Supercross was that I could sleep in my own bed and drive down in the morning for the first time all season. The racing itself didn’t present too much in the way of advance hype – injuries had decimated the field, Ryan Villopoto had already clinched the title massively early and other than Ryan Dungey coming back from injury, there wasn’t much to indicated that Villopoto wouldn’t turn his hometown race into a snooze fest.
Luckily, I couldn’t have been more wrong as I witnessed one of the wildest nights I’ve seen in my years covering Supercross. If you had told me that Andrew Short, a rider that had never won a Supercross in the 450 class was going to come back from injury, on a team that was hanging on by a thread from folding, and then proceed to grab the holeshot and lead wire to wire for his first win, I’d have thought you were drunk. Then, if you told me that a guy on 350 would almost grab the win, I’d figure you were high. If you topped that off by claiming that the dominant champion, who’d already long wrapped the title up and was poised to win out the rest of the year would tip over by himself and blow his knee out, ending his entire year, I would have been looking for a rubber room to put you in. But, crazily enough, that all happed.
Andrew Short is now a Supercross winner!
James Lissimore photo
That wasn’t all for the crazy, crazy night in Seattle, as Ryan Sipes – a rider who’d been struggling this year before finally crashing out, returned to race the Lites class and went on to win, when all the focus was on the title battle between Eli Tomac and Dean Wilson. Those two didn’t disappoint though, as they banged back and forth before Tomac would put Deano on the ground. I know Dean messed his shoulder up but hopefully they can continue their fight this weekend in Salt Lake City.
I was certainly happy to see Short take the win in the 450 class. You can’t find a nicer guy in the pits and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a little time around him over the years, shooting photos for his website, www.andrewshort.com (which was designed by our own Dawn McClintock and built by the same man who built DMX, Martin Anderson-Clutz) and Shorty’s always got a smile on his face. After so many podiums it was nice to see him break through. It was pretty funny after the race, watching the team load all their stuff up into a Sprinter van. With the financial troubles they’ve been having that win couldn’t have come at a better time. You can check out some of my shots of Andrew’s win over at his site so make sure to pop over and take a look: http://andrewshort.com/news/andrew-short-seattle-photo-gallery
Ken Roczen came this close to being the first rider to win a Supercross on a 350.
James Lissimore photo
Our own Kyle Beaton continued his strong comeback to racing after missing most of last year. Coming off his career best 11th at the previous round at San Diego, Kyle looked good all day at his practically hometown race even though he admitted he hadn’t practiced SX since before the San Diego race two months previous. With his speed coming back and his confidence up after two solid races, things are looking to bode well for the BC native as the upcoming outdoor season approaches fast.
Kyle Beaton continued his strong SX showing at Seattle with a 12th.
James Lissimore photo
With CenturyLink field lying only two hours from the Canadian border, there were plenty of local Canadians at the race and it’s always fun to catch up. I wish I would have had more time but it was pretty awesome to see Brent Worrall and Chad Reed took a few minutes to talk to him in the press box and it really made Brent’s day. A classy move by the class act, Reed, and it’s great to see Brent adjusting back to life after his terrible Walton crash.
Aside from the Supercross, I had a chance to get out this week and shoot a few final photos for an upcoming feature on Kevin Lepp and despite recovering from the flu, we managed to get some shots before the weather could turn bad. Kevin’s heading back down to California next week to make his final preparations for the first round of the AMA Motocross series at Hangtown on May 19 and then back home to kick off the Canadian series at Nanaimo. I’m pretty excited to go to Hangtown again this year and seeing Lepp race will make it that much better. In talking to Leading Edge’s Pat O’Connor this week it sounds like Kyle Beaton may also head down to race at Hangtown and if Cole Thompson is on the line as well(Billy just told me that he won't be for Hangtown), it could be a great day for Canadians in Northern California. I can’t wait!
|Kevin Lepp is ready to get the summer started.|
|Lepp puts in a little practice in preparation for his US debut at the Hangtown National.|
|James Lissimore photos|
Ok, that’s it for me this week. I’m heading up to Whistler for on last weekend in the snow before this outdoor season kicks into high gear! Over to Billy.
Thanks, James, and have a blast up there in Whistler. I remember my best two days ever where up there in mid-May when we basically had the place to ourselves along with 40 fresh centimetres of snow! Speaking of Whistler, I saw that on Tuesday they will announce the six cities for the Global X Games and Whistler is one of them.
Right off the top I want to make mention of something that I think is really cool and I can’t wait to hear this youngster wring it out this summer! Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki team manager, Pat O’Connor, posted this picture up on Facebook last night, so I immediately contacted him to get the goods.
Young Jess Pettis from Prince George, BC will be screaming this Kawasaki 125 2-stroke this season.
Pat O'Connor photo
I can’t be the only one who gets excited just looking at a tricked-out 125 2-stroke on a bike stand, can I? This 2007 Kawasaki KX 125 is what young up-and-comer, Jess Pettis—who turns 15 May 4th—will be killing it on this year. He recently broke a bone in his foot while in California training for the World Minis with Kyle Beaton and is undergoing therapy. He hopes to get back at it soon, but his foot is still very sore. He will be competing in the intermediate class on this thing, but Pat mentioned he will also have a KX 250F by the time the Walton TransCan rolls around this August. His immediate plan is to race amateur day at the Nanaimo national. Pat said he did a complete restoration on this thing and that meant quite a few late nights getting it ready. Well, I think I speak for all of us who are 2-stroke die-hards when I say, “Well done, sir!” Good luck this season to Jess. He’s a great kid with a very supportive family behind him.
Speaking of 2-strokes, I caught up with Ontario intermediate rider, Hayden Halstead, to see how his experiment is going. Hayden has decided to take advantage of the rule that allows ‘B riders’ on 250 2-strokes to compete in the MX2 pro class this year. I asked him how it has been going and here is what he had to say:
“Awesome—it’s great! It’s definitely an advantage if you can control it. It’s really fast but not very rider-friendly like the 250f. The first 10 hours on the Mckee Zdeno Racing Yamaha where really hard to get used to. It’s been pushing me harder and into better shape.” He agreed when I threw my old-school attitude in his face by saying that the 125 and 250 2-strokes force you to ride aggressively, the way motocross was intended to be in the first place. He plans on hitting four of the eastern nationals at Gopher Dunes, Sand Del Lee, Ste. Julie, and Walton. He will be at the Walton ANQ and Hi Point race at Motopark this weekend, so watch for a few pictures, and maybe some video, of him ripping the place up on that thing.
I'm only posting pictures of 2-strokes today! Hayden Halstead will be putting this one through its paces this weekend at Motopark.
PerformX Racing’s, Todd Schumlick, passed on a message that #6 Yamalube Schrader’s SMX Racing Yamaha rider, Shawn Maffenbeier, will be joining his downhill mountain bike team at a few races this summer, including Crankworx in Whistler, BC. Todd will be at the training compound in California for three more weeks and said he is “as busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.” He also mentioned that he is a bit OCD. I disagree…he’s completely OCD! See you in a month, Todd. Here is a link to his downhill MTB roster that includes ‘Lil Muff.’
I happened to catch Chuck Mesley on Facebook this morning so I thought I’d hassle him for a few minutes to see what this former natioanl top ten rider will be up to for racing this summer. He said he’ll be busy racing locally around Ontario and has his sights set on winning both the +25 and Vet Masters classes at the Walton TransCan. He added that, if he’s feeling good, he might line up on Sunday at Gopher Dunes and Walton for fun. I know that Josh Woods plans on making another trip to Walton on his 2005 Honda 250 2-stroke, so things could get interesting. Hmm, I wonder if Julien Bill’s Honda is still sitting in the barn?
GPF's Josh Woods on the podium at last year's Walton TransCan aboard his 2005 Honda 250 2-stroke. Josh is the winningest rider in TransCan history!
I just heard that fast youngster, Mitch Godkin, damaged his collarbone at a Loretta Lynn’s qualifier in Pennsylvania last weekend. Hope it wasn’t too bad. Sorry to hear it and good luck, Mitch.
Ryan Millar, is running a motocross school this weekend out there in Miami, Manitoba. The new dad has always been known as one of the most naturally talented riders Canada has seen, so you could do an awful lot worse than learning technique from him!
From Ryan: “Hey everyone remember to be here by 8:30AM tomorrow morning! You're welcome to come tonight and camp as well! Do not expect a back yard track. Both tracks are watered, prepped, and LEGIT. Still a few spots left!! Fill ‘em up!!!”
Hope it all goes well out there. I can’t imagine Ryan riding with a car seat mounted on his bike or a Baby Byorn strapped to his back, but I’m sure he’ll figure it out.
There will be racing at The Wastelands in Nanaimo, BC this weekend and they look to be putting in some great effort to make the races a big success with lots of prizes and payout to be awarded on Sunday. The CMRC is also offering a ‘first time free’ promotion that waives the membership fee for first-timers who have ‘commitment issues.’ It’s a great chance to get some riding in on the track that will host round one of the nationals in a few short weeks’ time. Word on the street is that Kyle Beaton will be there among other fast west coasters. You can check out the PR here.
I heard a rumour that we should be seeing another fast US rider pitted at our nationals this summer, but if I don’t hear back from the team manager, Josh Snider, before this Frid’Eh Update deadline, I’m afraid I will have to be ‘that guy’ and use the term, ‘that guy,’ while being ‘that guy.’ Sorry, but as Bruce Hornsby would say, ‘that’s just the way it is.’ All I can say is we’ve seen him before and he’s fast. Stay tuned…
I’m very worried about the quality of this Update because there is someone out there who really enjoys voicing his opinion on his perceived quality of these things. It’s all in good fun but it still makes me a little jumpy! Good or bad, he always lets me hear it.
James was at Seattle last weekend so I know he’ll be covering all the goods that went on in Washington…I guess I’ll just leave it there and get ready to head up to Motopark for a good day of ANQ and Hi Point racing. It sounds like there will be a lot of talent in the pro classes with #4 Kyle Keast (with mechanic Ryan Lockhart) racing on his Machine Racing Yamaha, Liam O’Farrell on his PR-MX TM, Chuck Mesley, Richard Grey on his OTSFF Yamaha, and Zeb Dennis, to name a few among, what I’m sure, will look like a bit of a Pro National up near Owen Sound. Watch for some coverage of this event next week here on DMX.
Ok, as I was typing this, I read on Twitter that James Stewart will be at Hangtown and actually racing! I don’t know about you, but my interest level in the AMA 450 nationals just increased exponentially. Like him or not, you can’t deny he makes racing a lot more interesting. Speaking of the AMA nationals, I wonder if the fact that Ryan Villopoto will be rehabbing all summer means we’ll see him wandering around our nationals cheering on his younger brother, Tyler ‘Typo’ Villopoto? He may have team obligations down south but, if I were a betting man, my money would be on yes.
I also had a short chat with California rider, Tyler Sjoberg, today about his feelings toward this summer. He took a hard fall at round one of the Eastcoast SX in Dallas and ended up banging himself up pretty badly—bruised heart, bruised lungs, bruised ribs. He said he was down for a few weeks, but has been back riding and is ready to take on the MX2 nationals up here if this is where he ends up. Like a lot of the American riders who come up here to race, he was quick to mention how much he enjoyed his time up here. Like anyone who is involved in Canadian motocross will tell you, it’s the racers and families that make our series one of the best in the world. From my conversation with Leading Edge team manager, Pat O’Connor, we will be seeing the fit and fast Sjoberg on the line at round one in Nanaimo.
Ok, that will do it for me for the week. Everyone have a great weekend riding, racing, or watching wherever the improving weather takes you.
Ok, I know I said I was only adding pictures of 2-stroke riders, but when I was grabbing the Josh Woods photo I happened to see this one of Dave 'The Scrubber' Blanchet and it put enough of a smile on my face to throw it in here.
See you at the races...