The Show Must Go On! | The KTM Jr. SX Challenge
By Billy Rainford
When we learned that 10 of the bikes used in the KTM Jr. SX Challenge had been stolen two weeks ago while the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series made its annual stop in Atlanta, we figured it was curtains for the Toronto round the very next week.
Here’s the KTM USA Instagram post that went up after the theft:
Here is the official AMA article about the incident:
All 10 of the motorcycles were KTM 50cc dirt bikes used for the KTM Jr. Supercross Challenge – an event that provides 7- and 8-year-olds the opportunity to race on an official AMA Supercross course.
While there were six motorcycles left behind, KTM has not released details on whether junior event will continue at the remaining Supercross rounds.
KTM USA took to its official Instagram page to ask for assistance in locating the stolen bikes.
Unique parts to look for include: custom Nihilo stator and clutch cover with engraved KJSC logos, FMF exhaust system, ProTaper mini bars, unique ProTaper orange and white grips, ProTaper rear sprocket, KJSC graphics and Dunlop Tires with Dunlop stickers.
If you have any information or leads, contact KTM at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But not so fast…
The teams at KTM USA and KTM Canada joined forces and put in super-human efforts to make sure the Canadian kids got their chance to ride the Toronto Supercross track at the Rogers Centre. But getting 10 tricked-out KTM 50’s ready to go on such short notice is no easy feat.
So, how did they do it? Let’s find out.
As stated above, here is the list of unique parts on each KTM 50: custom Nihilo stator and clutch cover with engraved KJSC logos, FMF exhaust system, ProTaper mini bars, unique ProTaper orange and white grips, ProTaper rear sprocket, KJSC graphics and Dunlop Tires with Dunlop stickers.
It’s gonna be a long week!
We asked who we should speak with to get the full story on what it took to to make the Toronto round of the KTM Junior SX Challenge and Claudie Lapointe from KTM Canada gave us a couple names. We got in touch with Bruce Willis to talk about what happened and what it took to make the Toronto round even take place.
Direct Motocross: Hello, Bruce. Can we start at the beginning and take us through the theft? We know they were taken in Atlanta, but what were the circumstances?
Bruce Willis: Sure, Billy. After the Atlanta SX, when everything was packed up and put away, the truck driver drove to a motel where many of the teams’ transporters were stopping for the night. The KJSC transporter was lined up by a fence and at some point during the night, they cut a hole in the fence, broke into the side door and managed to take 10 bikes, and a few other items from the top floor of the trailer.
They did manage to leave 5 bikes behind and didn’t take too much stuff, but it was a big hit to the whole program, that’s for sure. The next morning when they got ready to leave, they discovered that they had been robbed.
Was there a point when you thought you’d have to cancel the Toronto KTM Jr. SX Challenge?
I really don’t think so, the whole team in the US takes so much pride in the KJSC program but this was the worst possible scenario for this to happen. I’m sure you have heard time and time again how hard it has been for the teams to cross the border. So, for this to happen, everything would need to fall into place – bikes, parts, graphics – and time was of the essence.
The sad part is that even though the bikes were stolen in the US, it was the kids in Canada that were going to be let down. There was no way we were going to let that happen, so we were all prepared to do whatever it took to get these kids behind that gate.
What was the next step in getting it rolling again for Toronto? Where did the bikes come from?
So, early Monday, the emails and phone call frenzy started. First was the bikes. The only way this could work was if we had the bikes here in the warehouse near Montreal, and luckily we did. Then the call went out to all the sponsors that are part of the KJSC and they were all on board, so it was looking good.
So, when did you have them in Montreal?
They arrived Tuesday morning at the office, so we uncrated them and did what we could, taking off the bars, pipe and silencer…stuff like that.
OK, so take us through the next couple days. I assume there was a small army of people working 24 hours a day to get this done?
Well, this is where it gets interesting. We get all the tracking numbers for the parts, which are to arrive Wednesday morning. Come Wednesday and it’s been bumped to Thursday due to bad weather. When I get in Thursday it’s telling me Friday.
I called UPS and they tell me it’s on the truck for delivery. That was a relief. The parts arrived before noon and we got to work assembling the bikes, putting on the graphics, and then loading them into the Sprinter van, none of which would have happened without the help of every one at the shop, and I mean EVERYONE!
Who are you giving the MVP to out of the group?
You know, I really believe that just one person can’t be singled out; it was a team effort. Everyone from myself and the whole KTM Canada crew, Pete Smith from the US that came down to help and guide us, all the sponsors who stepped up to get us product super-quick and who obviously took hits to their budgets with this unexpected event, and everyone at KTM USA who were making things happen behind the scene, and the people at Dunlop for having the tires with them and staff to install the 10 sets of tires. I think everybody involved deserves credit.
Will these be the bikes that do the rest of the tour?
Yes, once we got them back to the Canadian office, we got them crated back up and on a truck to the US to be prepared for the next round.
How do you actually choose the riders for the events?
There is a bunch of criteria, but the main ones that stick out to me are you need to be 7 to 8 years old, have at least 1 year competition experience, and have good grades at school. Anyone wanting more info can look it up at http://ktmjrsx.com/
Did you guys all get together Saturday night and celebrate together after all that?
You know, that was the plan but by the time the race was over and the semi was loaded it was late and so cold that a few of us went out but we were all so tired and had a long road ahead the next day that we stayed pretty quiet. But trust me, when the event went off without a hitch and we saw the look on all the kids’ faces, it was all worth it!
Well, congratulations on making this all happen. I know there were 10 young kids who were counting on you! Who would you like to thank before we let you go?
Thanks, Billy, I really appreciate it. Well, of course I would like to thank everyone behind the scenes that made things happen: the KJSC staff, Bryce, Hope and Pete for letting us be part of this amazing event, all the staff at KTM Canada for giving whatever it took to make this happen. Thank you to all the people from the other teams at the race for stopping by and offering words of encouragement and even offering help if needed. To the Canadian dealers who called offering bikes if we needed them, and last but not least, to the sponsors who are behind this: GE, TROYLEE DESIGNS, DUNLOP, FMF, PROTAPER, MOTOREX, OAKLEY, SKULLCANDY, WP, LEATT, GOPRO, MATRIX CONCEPTS, DC SHOES, MOTION PRO and KTM POWERPARTS and POWERWEAR. And a big thanks to guys like you, Billy, in the moto media for checking in on us and making the kids feel like Factory riders.