Preston Masciangelo | How’d Ponca City Go?
By Billy Rainford
The Oklahoma city, Ponca City, brings back memories of when I was racing mini bikes a long time ago. It was a far off place where the best of the best amateurs would race each other every year, and I always dreamed of lining up there. It never happened for me, but it’s cool that the event is still going.
We had a Canadian there this time who has been lining up against the best amateur racers North America has to offer since he was able to balance on 2 wheels. Brantford, ON’s Preston Masciangelo and his family have been actively chasing the dream for years now, and Preston is hitting the age where his results will really start to be noticed by ‘higher ups’ in the industry.
We grabbed him for a chat to talk about how his time in Oklahoma went. Here’s what he had to say.
Direct Motocross: Hello, Preston. You just finished racing the event that’s been around for many years. Heck, I remember wishing I could go to Ponca City back when I was racing mini bikes! But let’s back up for just a second before we get to that. Can you tell us all where you’re from, how and when you got into motocross, and what other sports you enjoy?
Preston Masciangelo: Yeah, Ponca was great! It’s a race with a lot of history for many, but to answer your question I’m 11 years old from Brantford, Ontario. I got into riding dirt bikes when I was 3, and some other sports I enjoy are mountain biking, freestyle scooter, and some football.
Have you raced Ponca City before? Why did you choose to do this particular event?
Yes, I raced Ponca last year for the first time. It looked like a cool event on paper and I had always heard stories of the great Ponca City MX, plus we wanted to support the sport in getting this track back into use.
What did you think of the track and facility when you got there this year?
The track is super cool! It’s like cross between SX and MX. It’s got a lot of technical sections and the high-speed sections are really fast. The dirt is different from anywhere else that I race; it ruts up really high, but the ruts always stay soft. The facility is great, there are lots of options at Ponca besides the racing – concessions, games and the pit bike track are just a few. The best part is that it’s right in the middle of Ponca City so the hotels and restaurants are only 5 minutes away…No driving!
Was the hype and excitement there like it has been over the years?
Well, Motoplayground is trying to “Make Ponca Great Again” and every year it’s gotten better. I wasn’t around for the glory days, but it became an AMA National this year, so I’m sure it’s back on its way to being a major event in the USA.
How did practice go for you? Did you get comfortable quickly? Was there a tricky section to the track that gave you any trouble?
Practice went pretty well. I struggled with my lap times for the first part of the day. I was 10 seconds a lap behind the leaders and couldn’t find the right lines around the track. I found some of the really rutted, tight corners in the back of the track tough to get through and I wasn’t really being smart about my lines. I had been off the bike for 2 weeks prior to this event so I just wanted to ride!
Later in the day, me and my dad got to do a track walk during maintenance and I saw the lines I wasn’t taking when I was on the bike. My afternoon practices were only 3 seconds behind the leader, so I felt better going into race day.
Did they have the sidewinder track set up? Did you race it?
Yes, they did have the sidewinder open. Unfortunately, I don’t really stay for that stuff too often. We don’t have a camper so we have to get back into town, have dinner and get to bed. But it sure looked cool!
You raced 3, 85cc classes this year. Let’s break down the classes and talk about each of your motos:
85 (9-11) Open – 11th:
Moto 1: mid-pack start, cross-rutted and went over the bars, charged back to 12th.
Moto 2: 2nd in on the start, ran second for 3 laps, kid went down in front of me, I went down trying to get by, finished in 9th.
85 (9-12) Mod – 17th:
Moto 1: struggled with concrete start, moved through the pack with good laps times, finished in 9th.
Moto 2: back of the pack start, was able to race up to 18th.
85 (9-13) Open – 13th:
Moto 1: good start, 6th or so…ran my fastest laps of the weekend, finished in 8th.
Moto 2: mid-pack start, another decent moto, hit most of my lines, finished in 12th, definitely my best class.
Were you happy with your results? How could you have improved?
Not really happy with my results, but a lot of kids are putting in hard work down south. The competition is getting tougher every race. I need to work on mistakes and keeping focus. This time of year I’m back in school so I don’t get to stay on my summer program like I do for Loretta’s, but no excuses, I just need to clean up some stuff.
Who were you battling with?
I had some good battles in a few motos. Some of the kids I had to work on were Casey Cochran, Wyatt Mattson, James Clough and Daxton Bennick.
I’ve seen you at lots of other big American Amateur Nationals over the years. How would you rate the Ponca event this year?
I would rate this event 7 out of 10 right now…but it’s close to a few of the big nationals.
What’s next for you?
Next up will be the Thor Winter Olympics. We are going to try our best to get some training in prior to this event to sharpen my skills. I was lucky enough to be invited to Ricky Carmichael’s farm to do some prep work with Suzuki before Mini O’s, so I’m excited about that.
What will you do over the winter months?
Over the winter months, we hope to do some Arenacross racing and get down south for 2-3 weeks to get ready for spring nationals, but we’ll do a lot of gym and bicycle work here at home to keep me active.
What are your racing plans for next summer?
My racing plans for next year are to attend the American spring national series, Junior Moto X and then work on getting up to speed for Loretta’s qualifying. I have one more year left in the 85 (9-11) class in 2018, so I’m really going to focus on that class and make it the best year I can. After Loretta’s I’m hoping to see the Canadian Nationals come back and that will take us back to our fall schedule.
If the TransCan comes back, will you make time for that?
Definitely hoping Walton comes back in full force! It’s been on our racing program since I was 5, and whether I win or lose, it’s always pretty cool to race that event.
What’s your ultimate moto goal?
My ultimate moto goal is become one of the top Pros! Supercross is a big priority, as well as having a great outdoor career, but lots can happen between now and then so I’m just going to keep working hard and take it race by race.
OK, thanks for talking with us today. Good luck and hopefully I’ll see you at the Mini O’s. Who would you like to thank?
Thanks so much for the interview. First, I’d like to thank Direct Motocross for the opportunity, and also to the many sponsors and people that believe in me. Sponsors: Factory Suzuki/Ecstar Racing USA, Cernics Racing, MxTire.com, Thor MX, Atlas Brace, Forma Boots, 100% Goggles, 6D helmets, Marin Bikes Canada, Pod MX, Nihilo Concepts, Zeta Japan, Dunlop USA, Pro Circuit, PR2 Suspension, Tama, The Moving Box, Matrix Concepts, Mika Metals, DT1, MotoMade, Wiseco, Pro X, N-Style, Hinson Racing, MD Distributions, and Defiance Lifestyle.