Frid’Eh Update #21 | Liam O’Farrell | Brought to You by KTM Canada
By Billy Rainford
Welcome to Week #21 of the DMX Frid’Eh Update this week brought to you by KTM Canada. It’s Emily’s birthday today so we’re going to keep this one pretty short, even though we’re heading into the first week of racing in the 2023 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships out at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.
I’m just a couple days away from loading up the DMX Van for what should be the old girl’s final time heading out west, but you never know…
Teams from the eastern side of the country are doing the same and there will be a convoy of beautiful motocross rigs heading across the high side of Lake Superior on their way out to RAD Torque Raceway just outside Edmonton, Alberta, for Round 1 of the 2023 Canadian Triple Crown Series Motocross Nationals.
They’re building us a first-ever hybrid track for our riders to try out that will combine some aspects of both Motocross and Supercross. Here’s how it’s described on the Triple Crown website:
The Edmonton National track and format will be completely hybrid – something that will test the riders skills, as well as endurance. The mix between high speed motocross sections, and the tight technical sections of supercross is sure to be an instant favourite amongst the riders as well as the fans. Stay tuned for the Saturday race format.
“The RAD Raceway facility will undergo a brand new track build consisting of part oval track and part motocross track. The build concept promises to be the first of its kind for the Triple Crown Series, and possibly the first of its kind in Canada. The plan is not only to create a premier race event for the competitors and manufacturers, but a full festival of SMX and motorsport fun for the fans.”
Kimberly Reeves from RAD Torque Raceway
“Round 1 at RAD Torque Raceway will be a fun one. It’s the first time in Canadian moto history to see a hybrid track of supercross and motocross on the National Series. I think this will draw some great attention, and we are excited to work alongside the great folks at the RAD Raceway.”
Kyle Thompson, COO Jetwerx
I spoke with Brandon Dean from Vision Built Tracks and he was one of the 3 people heading west early to build the track. At that time on Monday he had yet to see an actual plan for the track, so he was unable to give me any details.
Liam O’Farrell is rider #21, but for the first time since 2008 we won’t be seeing the friendly South African chasing the Pro dream. Instead, we’ll see him at the first couple rounds on the Ryde TV broadcast alongside Ryan Gauld in the booth and Kyle Thompson trackside.
Liam came to Canada from SA and was a staple on our circuit. He was known for his fun-loving personality off the track and his intensity and fitness on the track. In fact, even last year as he was getting on in age, the last person anyone wanted to see behind them late in a moto was the smiling face of Liam. You just knew he wasn’t going to slow down or give up.
I remember going for runs with him on the circuit back in 2009. Running with him made the miles go by quickly and he was pretty damn fit to boot!
We got in touch with him this week and took him down memory lane a little bit, since he is now another rider in the “retired” category. Here’s what he had to say:
Direct Motocross: Hello, Liam. I haven’t seen you in a little while. Now that you’ve retired from serious Pro racing, I guess this is your retirement interview! Let’s do a little walk down memory lane with you. Remind us when you first came here from South Africa and who you were racing for?
Liam O’Farrell: Hey Billy, I guess this will be my last Frid’Eh update. 2008 was my first year and I was riding for Orange Motorsports.
What was your first impression of Canada and Canadians?
I was impressed at how generous people were. Everyone was friendly and willing to help out.
What was your best race here in Canada?
It would have to be Deschambault 2014 on the KTM 250 SX. It was a mudder and I got 2 good starts and went 2-2 for 2nd overall. It was my first and only podium overall in Canada and a day I’ll never forget.
What was your favourite track you raced on?
If you had to describe yourself as a racer, what would you say?
In the latter years of my racing, I would say I’m just one speed from start to finish. No sprinting but also no fading.
Looking back, what would you like to be remembered as?
That old guy that passes you at the 28-minute mark.
You were able to parlay motocross into a full-time working career. Can you tell everyone what it is you do for a living and with who?
I work for Priority Mechanical, our number 1 sponsor. I mainly install new construction air conditioning, fireplaces, gas lines. I also do the odd retro fit furnace.
Are you helping out Wyatt Kerr this season, as he’s now the new Liam? What advice would you give him heading into this season?
I am helping out Wyatt. I was hoping to ride with him a lot more to help him get ready for the season but the broken leg has stopped that, but I’m still trying to get to the track with him as much as possible to work on things. For him I would say he needs to trust the work he’s put in and believe that he can be a podium guy.
But then, as you alluded to, you fell and got injured recently. What did you do??? Would the leg have broken if you were 10 years younger?
It was only my second ride of the year and first time on the new bike, I had just finished breaking it in. I went through a high-speed flat turn standing and walked the front and the bike came down weird on my leg. The foot twisted but everything else stayed straight and broke the tib and fib. I think it would’ve broken even if I was younger but the recovery would be a bit quicker.
What, besides work, keeps you busy these days?
What do you miss about racing the series?
I’m hoping nothing this year. Once I’m back on the bike, I’ll still be racing AMO and I want to be at a few of the Nationals helping out Wyatt and the team.
What are you happy to leave behind about racing the series?
The training. Especially when you have a job and kids. The only time to do fitness is at 5 in the morning. I’m also not going to miss the roost.
OK, before we let you go, who will win the 250 class this MX season in Canada and will Dylan Wright hold on to his streak?
Wyatt is watching me type this so I have to say Wyatt. Haha. He’s going to have to beat some fast guys, that class is stacked. I am pretty confident Dylan will be champion again but it’s going to be hard to win every moto again.
Oh, and now you’re going to help commentate for the first two rounds of the series on Ryde TV. How the heck did this come up and are you ready for this?
Kyle (Thompson) texted me about a week ago and asked if I wanted to join him and Ryan (Gauld). I was like, yeah I do!! I won’t lie, i’m nervous, but I’m really looking forward to it.
Now I have to ask you to give us your top 5 picks for the 250 and 450 MX season in Canada.
I don’t even know if I want to pick 250’s, there are so many guys that could win motos. Ryder McNabb if he’s healthy, Jake Piccolo, Josiah Natzke, Tanner Ward, Wyatt Kerr. Can I keep going because there’s so many more? This is the class to watch this year.
450- Dylan Wright, Tyler Medaglia, Jess Pettis, Shawn Maffenbeier, Daniel Elmore.
OK, now we’ll let you off the hook. Thank you for playing along this week. Good luck announcing and I’m sure we’ll see you somewhere soon.
Thanks, Billy, for all the support over the years. I’ll see you at the races.
Podcast | 2023 Canadian MX Nationals Preview – 250 Class
Podcast | 2023 Canadian MX Nationals Preview – 250 Class
Podcast – Greg Poisson sits down with Billy Rainford to talk about the upcoming 2023 Canadian Triple Crown Series Motocross Nationals in what should be the deepest and most competitive 250 class showdown we’ve seen in a long time.
Find it wherever you get your podcasts. Youtube video to follow.
We did the 450 class too and will have that podcast and both Youtube videos up on Saturday.
Motocross Industry Gathers to Commence 2023 Pro Motocross Championship with Season Kickoff from Pala
|Top Athletes from 250 Class and 450 Class Speak to the Media
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (May 25, 2023) – With a mere 48 hours until the first gate drop of the summer at the KTM Fox Raceway National, the motocross industry gathered in Southern California on Thursday to officially commence the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, with a season kickoff event that featured a morning press conference from the Starlight Theater at Pala Casino Spa Resort, followed by an afternoon riding session at Fox Raceway at Pala. Several dignitaries from prominent partners of the series were on hand to speak to attendees, while a collection of the top athletes from both the 250 Class and 450 Class took part in a Q&A session with the media.
The conference was emceed by NBC Sports and Peacock host and lead commentator Jason Weigandt, the voice of American motocross, and featured several announcements that will be important to the upcoming Pro Motocross season as well as the ongoing SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) and its impending Playoffs and Final this September. Additionally, a new multi-year extension to host the opening round at Fox Raceway was announced by the Vice Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, owners and operators of the track.
The kickoff event was the precursor to the 2023 Pro Motocross season
and Saturday’s KTM Fox Raceway National.
Photo: Align Media
The halfway point of the 31-race SMX season served as an ideal opportunity to celebrate the successes of the recent Monster Energy AMA Supercross campaign, which saw more than 850,000 fans attend the 17-race stadium season, including four sellouts and record attendance in five additional markets. Additionally, Supercross enjoyed growth in television and streaming viewership from the multi-year partnership extension with NBC Sports and Peacock, which was complemented even further with a significant level of growth from international subscribers to the SuperMotocross Video Pass, which is now available for a limited-time 50% discount entering the Pro Motocross season.
The success of Supercross bodes well for the Pro Motocross Championship, which is already experiencing growth in ticket sales and will be easily accessible for fans watching from home with uninterrupted coverage of all 22 motos across the 250 Class and 450 Class on Peacock. Additionally, Race Day Live, presented by MotoSport.com, will kickstart each race day with a one-hour showcase of the final timed qualifying sessions for each class. With the addition of a 30-minute “halftime” between motos, Peacock will provide a total of 5.5 hours of coverage at every National. Not to be outdone, NBC will carry two live hours of coverage from the Crestview Construction Southwick National (July 8) and Honda Unadilla National (August 12), allowing both classes to be shown on network television for the first time, while USA Network will air next-day coverage of the FXR Spring Creek National (July 15) and Yamaha Racing Budds Creek National (August 19).
“It’s incredibly important to provide our fans with the most seamless and accessible platform possible to watch our races, as is a transparent level of consistency across all 31 events of the SuperMotocross World Championship. Peacock and NBC Sports have delivered on that promise,” said Davey Coombs, President, MX Sports Pro Racing. “It’s also vital that our international audience, which is far larger and more passionate than people recognize, is provided with a high quality and proven streaming platform through a partner like Endeavor. To top it all off, not a single person on the planet will ever have to worry about missing a single minute of the action once the gate drops.”
MX Sports Pro Racing President Davey Coombs (at podium)
offered important insights and acknowledgements.
Photo: Align Media
|A collection of both 250 Class and 450 Class riders took to the stage to discuss their anticipation to the new season and their preparations for the summer-long 11-round championship that has traditionally served as one of the toughest tests in all of motorsports. Championship hopefuls in the 250 Class like Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper, Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda were accompanied by the division’s most established racer, Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin, among others. In the 450 Class, newly crowned Supercross Champion and last summer’s runner-up Chase Sexton was joined by his new Team Honda HRC teammate Jett Lawrence, who will debut in the premier division, former champion and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing Yamaha rider Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, and more, including Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cooper Webb, who confirmed his participation in Pro Motocross just days prior.
It was also confirmed that the series will see the addition of metal starting grates at Pro Motocross events, which aligns with the practice adopted by both Supercross as well as the FIM Motocross World Championship (MXGP) and the annual Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations. Coombs then welcomed the series’ sanctioning body in AMA Pro Racing, in addition to announcing that the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) will officiate Pro Motocross for the first time in more than a decade to offer another layer of competitive consistency to the entirety of SMX. Special recognition and attention was provided to RedBud MX co-owner Amy Ritchie, who along with her brother Tim will celebrate 50 years of moto at one of the sport’s most iconic venues for the FMF RedBud National, which has formally been announced as a retro-themed race on July 1 during the Independence Day holiday weekend.
The top athletes from the 250 Class and 450 Class
took part in a Q&A session with the media.
Photo: Align Media
Both Weigandt and Coombs took time to bring attention to the historic level of financial investment around the SuperMotocross World Championship, which will directly benefit the racers. The Pro Motocross Championship will see a purse increase of 42% this summer, while the SMX Playoffs and Final will pay out an unprecedented $5.5 million this fall, which will see $25,000 for the 22nd-place finisher in the 450 division, upwards of six figures for a top-10 finish, and $1 million for the 450 winner. Additionally, it was announced that the points scoring system for the SMX Playoffs will operate under the traditional 25-point scale that has been used for decades in Pro Motocross, was the structure for Supercross for many years, and is utilized as well in other series like MXGP. As a result, the progressive point system for SMX will see 25 points go to the winner of Playoff 1, 50 points for the winner of Playoff 2, and 75 points for the winner of the Final.
“The unification of Supercross and Pro Motocross, which represents the partnership between Feld Motor Sports and MX Sports Pro Racing in establishing the SMX League, is truly changing the future of this sport to the benefit of our athletes and our fans,” added Coombs. “This new era is long overdue, but we could not be more thrilled to see the historic impact the creation of the SuperMotocross World Championship has had already. This is just the beginning and the sky’s the limit for how much more we can bring progressive and effective changes to the sport and improve the overall health of the industry for generations to come.”
At the conclusion of the press conference teams, racers, and members of the media made the one-mile trek to Fox Raceway at Pala for an afternoon ride session. All officially entered participants for Saturday’s race took to the track for the first time, to allow the entire field to get a head start on preparations for one of the most important races on the entire SMX calendar.
Racers across both classes took to the track at Fox Raceway to wrap up the afternoon.
Photo: Align Media
The season-opening KTM Fox Raceway National will get underway on Saturday, May 27, to kick off the Memorial Day weekend celebration. Coverage of Round 1 will be showcased exclusively on Peacock, starting with Race Day Live at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET and followed by all four motos across the 450 Class and 250 Class, beginning at 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET.
Safe travels to everyone driving west this weekend. Good luck to those racing in Pala, California. Keep an eye out for the red DMX Van along the route next week. I’m not sure how much life the old girl has left in her!