Frid’Eh Update #48 | Chris Fortier | Presented by Yamaha Motor Canada
By Billy Rainford
As I sit here typing and watching the 2020 Mini O’s live broadcast on Racer TV, our new 8 X 12 shed has been delivered and is now resting beautifully in our back yard. You know you’re getting old when a new shed gives you more joy than just about anything you can remember in recent years.
This is the first year in many that I haven’t been trackside for the Winter Olympics at Gatorback, so I’m pretty thankful to be able to watch all the action from home. We’ve got a few Canadians who’ve made the journey in these weird times, so I’ve been paying close attention to them.
Florida is where this week’s Update Honouree called home for a long time after leaving Quebec as a youngster. Chris Fortier is the rider we got in touch with this week who would have run the #48 had he been able to race in Canada this past season.
Here’s what Chris had to say when we got in touch with him from the city he’s now calling home, Joliet, Illinois:
Direct Motocross: Hello, Chris. We haven’t spoken to you for quite some time. We’d better remind people. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How old are you, where were you born, where did you grow up, and where do you call home now?
Chris Fortier: Hi, Billy, thanks for reaching out. My name is Christopher Fortier, I am 21 years old from Quebec City, Canada. My family and I moved to Florida when I was 10 and I have spent the majority of my life living there since. I traveled so much in the past years and my teenage years but mostly stayed in Florida. I am currently calling Joliet, Illinois “home”. Very close to Chicago. [Joiliet Jake! Google it, Bowker!]
How did you get into Motocross?
My dad got me into moto at a young age and I loved it, so we started racing and kept practicing. He built a track at home in Quebec when I was on 50’s and I rode quite a bit.
What was your first number and how did you choose it?
My first number was #2 because I really liked the way it looked on Jeremy McGrath’s bike at the time. I wanted the same font as him but I wasn’t able to get it done. I just ran number 2 with a different font imagining I had the same one as Jeremy. Haha.
So, you are from Quebec but ended up in Florida at a young age. Who did you come up through the amateur ranks battling?
I raced 50’s in Quebec and then stopped riding for a couple years when I made it to the US. I started riding and racing a lot on 85’s and hit quite a few amateur nationals in my teen years. I basically raced against all of the recent rookie pros as an amateur: (Chase) Sexton, (Austin) Forkner, (Tanner) Stack, (Joey) Crown, (Jace) Pennington, (Mitchell) Falk, (Jordan) Bailey, and (Sean) Cantrell, to name a few, and many more.
What was your best big US Amateur National finish and in what class?
I would have to say a 2nd place at the Oak Hill National in Texas when I was on 85’s my first year racing nationals. Later that year at Loretta’s I got a 7th and it meant more to me for my first year going as I exceeded my expectations. I had a couple podiums at major events but the 7th place finish my first year at LL in a stacked class was my most remarkable one, personally.
You’ve always been a rider with a ton of potential. Did being a Canadian living in Florida help or hurt any possibilities for you?
It definitely helped me. The tracks in the US are much better to train and learn how to go fast in tough conditions. In Florida you can ride year round which helps a ton as well. I was around a lot of fast kids racing so that helped me get better quickly as well.
You came up to race in Canada in 2019 and earned the #48. Can you sum up your series for us?
I raced the Canadian pro series 3 years in a row, starting in 2017. 2019 was looking to be my best year to date but ended up being the worst. I was going racing on a very tight budget and was practically doing everything on my own – putting my training program together, cooking for myself, doing my own bike maintenance at all times, and travelling across the country on my own.
At the first round in Calgary, one of the mechanics that was supposed to help me pack my gate at the race had noticed early in the morning that one of my fork seals was leaking. My team manager, Al Dyck, had him take the fork off and fix the seal as he said the “mechanic” was running his own suspension company now, but after he spent the day helping me out I felt like this guy had never been to a dirt bike race in his life.
When he put the fork back on he didn’t tighten the bolts on my front caliper enough causing them to back out and I had a terrible crash on the 2nd lap of moto 1 when my wheel locked up going off the face of a jump. My day ended early with a bad concussion and messed me up for the rest of the season.
My season was over with from there, having to take every day off to recover besides a couple days before Gopher Dunes in the east. I could have been killed in that crash if I wasn’t able to roll off the track as quick as I did.
I showed up at Gopher Dunes to my bike still being mangled from the first round with just about $3000 worth of damage to the bike having to try and get it back together with new parts on Friday afternoon to race Saturday.
Ouch. What did you do for the 2020 season?
I had surgery on my arm during the spring to get some plates and screws taken out of my arm that were really bothering me and affecting my arm function. I took the proper time to let that heal. I have been working a lot this year to pay some things back that I owed from the last couple years and just trying to stay as fit as I can. Working out, cycling, kayaking and doing yoga is part of my normal routine.
What is it you are doing for work?
I am currently working as a forklift operator full-time and on my time off I deal appliances.
I worked on a forklift in a warehouse through university and loved it! What are your plans for this winter?
I am going back to Florida for a couple weeks in December with my girlfriend, Danielle, to go ride and visit my parents. I am currently living in Joliet, Illinois, near Chicago with her till she is done with her nursing program in college.
How about next year? Where and what will you race?
I don’t have plans set in stone but I currently have a KX450 with low hours and I would really like to hit some pro nationals in the US. Maybe some close to Illinois if I’m still in the area or maybe some closer to the south. We will see.
So, what does the future hold for you?
Not sure. I know I have a good group of people around me and I am always appreciative of the life I have. Just keep working and ride as much as I can for now!
Well, it was nice reconnecting with you and good luck with everything. Hopefully, we see you somewhere soon. Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Yes, I hope to see you again sometime, Billy. Thanks for doing what you do. I’d like to say thank you to my family, they are always there for me. Thanks to DT1 filters, Mika metals, Keith at KSR Wheels, Matt Andruk with ActiveRide suspension, Christian & Tommy at CarrXpert Chicoutimi, WW Ranch, TTI Logistics, Marco Dube, and everyone else that supports me.
I’ve pretty much been glued to the TV watching the live broadcast of the 49th Annual Mini O’s at Gatorback Cycle Park on Racer TV. Not being able to be there this year really sucks, but thankfully we can catch most of the action from the comfort of our own homes.
Unfortunately, they aren’t focused on the Canadian racers, so I’ve got to have the live timing window open as well.
There are more Canadians down there racing than I would have guessed, with all this COVID-19 stuff and the restrictions that have come along with it.
They even have a record near 5300 entries this year! I guess people are sick and tired of sitting at home.
Here’s a list of Canadians to watch for with one day (hopefully) left of racing to go:
#25 Tristan Dares – Rockwood, Ontario
250 C, 250 C Limited
#43(3) Noah Viney – Murrieta, California
Mini Sr 1, Mini Sr 2, Supermini 1, Supermini 2
#117 Easton Genest – Dinsmore, Saskatchewan
250 C Junior, 250 C Limited
157 Ryder Snelgrove – Essex, Ontario
51 (4-8) Limited, 51 (7-8) Limited
#158 Nathan Snelgrove – Essex, Ontario
65 (7-11), 65 (10-11), 65 (10-11) Limited
#164 Ryder McNabb – Minnedosa, Manitoba
250 A, 250 Pro Sport
#409 Brennan Schofield – Falmouth, Nova Scotia
125 (12-17), 250 C, 250 C Jr., 250 C Limited
#626 Ethan Darrach – Moncton, New Brunswick
85 (12-13), 85 (12-13) Limited, 85 (9-13), Mini Sr 1 (12-14)
Live timing link HERE.
Good luck to everyone competing.
I gave Jetwerx head honcho, Justin Thompson, a call this afternoon to see if there was any new information regarding the 2021 season. We all know they are in a very difficult situation with the coronavirus restrictions in place and it even looks like things are going to tighten up more before they loosen.
With that in mind, I didn’t think he was going to be able to tell me a ton, and I was right. However, if you’re at home and worrying about what the new year is going to bring us, rest assured they are working hard behind the scenes doing everything they can to see that we get to drop the gate next year.
At this point, there’s just no way things are going to go right back to normal, but maybe when the vaccine becomes available and we see good results, we’ll start to see things ease up and people can start congregating again.
They are in close contact with the teams and the manufacturers to see what they can do in 2021. Normally, we don’t see a new schedule until the middle of December, so it’s not like we’re behind schedule that way.
There’s really nothing much I can tell you besides that. If we can race like normal, we’ll race like normal. If there are still serious restrictions in place, it will be another limited schedule.
We’ll just have to wait patiently and see what the new year brings…
Here are a couple new ones from this week:
History of Canadian Motocross with Chris Lee, founder of Walton Raceway and the TransCan:
Jess Pettis Talks about 2021 Supercross and Training at Baker’s Factory:
Ryder McNabb Talks about the 2020 Mini O’s:
Have a great weekend, everyone.