By Billy Rainford

This time next week and we’ll be at the biggest motocross race of the year – the 2022 Thor Mini O’s Presented by Pro Circuit at Gatorback Cycle Park near Gainesville, Florida.

This race has always been a big one but it’s taken on a life of its own the past few years. With parking now spreading into the areas even farther off the property, it’s hard to imagine an end to it! It literally just keep going and going.

I’ve watched some of the best in the business race little bikes and compete in their last races as amateurs. It’s what keep me going back for more, year after year.

Going back through my hard drives I can find some pretty amazing video interviews from as far back as 2007 when I made the move back to Ontario from Vancouver, BC. One such interview that comes to mind is grabbing 12-year-old Tanner Ward back in 2011 as they were trying to start the long drive back home and chatting by the light of the car’s headlights. I’m not even sure what I was driving that time. Could it have been the 1989 Buick Electra Estate Wagon? I guess it was!

I also know that there weren’t a lot of people doing ‘Movember‘ back then and growing a moustache for the cause was a pretty big deal for me at the time.

2007 wasn’t my first time at Gatorback, though. No, not by a longshot. As a young racer, the dream is always to hit some of the big amateur nationals south of the border, like Ponca, World Minis and the Mini O’s.

I finally talked my dad into going way back in the spring of 1985 when I was just recovered from knee surgery. It’s the same surgery that would finally see the end of my running “career” in 2016, but it was perfectly effective between 1984 and then, so I’m not sure I could have asked for more from it.

It was definitely not the same track that greets riders these days. It was as hard as concrete back then. To be honest, I hated almost every minute I was actually on the track. I was still riding my Can Am 125 from 1984 and that in itself was a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from quickly enough! Maybe it wasn’t entirely the track’s fault.

If you’ve seen any of my latest photos and video from riding this fall, you’ll see #935 Mike McGill. He was at Gatorback that year, too, so you could safely say we go back a few years.

And you know what? We drove down there in a first generation Chrysler minivan! It was the 2.2 litre 4-cylinder model. To be honest, I would drive a 4-cylinder minivan right now if it were still an option. We blasted down the I-75 at 80mph with 3 people in the van pulling the 3-rail trailer with 2 bikes on it. And as I mentioned earlier, one of them was a 1984 Can Am 125, so you know there was some weight involved! With gas prices what they are today, I wouldn’t have any issue losing a couple cylinders.

The third person in the van was David Hanwell, also from London. He was a pretty fast Junior rider at the time. I think he’s moved back to London from Squampton, BC recently. I should try to find him.

Here’s a shot my dad took that year after I had been out on the track. I’m not going to dig for anything from me actually on the track because I know for a fact that none of them look good. If I remember correctly, I raced the C class and did not do very well at all.

At the Mini O’s back in 1985 on a 1984 Can Am 125. | Bigwave Senior photo

I know we’ve got a few of our faster amateur riders making the trip to Florida this year, as well as a group of Vet riders making the journey. Good luck to everyone and I’ll see you there.

If you’re reading this and know of someone racing this year, please feel free to fire us a message on one of our social media platforms so I can be sure I keep an eye out for them.

LRX Performance Arenacross

The 2022 LRX Performance Arenacross took place out in Brooks, Alberta, over the weekend.

The Pro/Am class has #61 Tee Perrott, the two Schmucki Brothers #515 and #125, #50 Wyatt Hasil, and #956 Josh Boot. The Women’s class had #50 Shelby Turner, #32 Stevenson, #24 Bancarz (greatest cycling name ever!), and #267 Brennan.

I haven’t found a link to full results, but we’ll pass them along when we see them.

Paris Supercross

The 2022 version of the Supercross de Paris had some big-time names in it this year! This race has been going on since 1984 and is always the biggest SX race of the offseason. 2022 was no different as Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb, Marvin Musquin, Justin Brayton, and Cedric Souberas gave the sold out crowd what they wanted.

Here’s the official Press Release after the event:

Ken Roczen and Matt Moss Win in Paris

All weekend long Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen had some good fights at the 39th Supercross of Paris, and finally it’s Ken who bring back home the ‘King of Paris’ trophy as he won the three races on Sunday. First experience for Ken in Paris and first win, first experience also in the SX2 class for Australian Matt Moss who is the new ‘Prince of Paris’.

Once more the public was there this year to celebrate the main European Supercross, and a total of 40000 spectators come at Paris la Defense Arena to cheer their heroes. Two of them battled both nights for the win: Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen.

#94 Ken Roczen.

Eli won the first round on Saturday, but today Ken replied by winning the three races! It was a perfect night for him, as he didn’t make any mistakes to beat Eli in the three races. Winner in front of Eli Tomac (2/2/2), Justin Brayton (5/3/3), Marvin Musquin (2/5/4) and Cooper Webb (4/4/5), Ken is the 2022 King of Paris and USA won the team’s classification.

#102 Matt Moss.

In the SX2 class we saw again a rider winning all three races; yesterday it was Chris Blose, today it was his teammate Matt Moss who got great starts to win the overall classification as Chris was unfortunate with a crash at the second start and another in the main event. Second today was Jace Owen (8/2/2, followed by Brice Maylin (3/5/4) and Cullin Park (2/3/9) who lost his chances due to a crash in the last moto. Moss is the new Prince of Paris, with Jace Owen and Chris Blose on the podium.

Next year the Paris Supercross will celebrate it’s 40th birthday, and Larivière Organisation has one year to prepare the event who will be organised on November 18th and 19th.

Prince of Paris podium: Matt Moss, Jace Owen, Chris Blose.

Prince of Paris: 1.Matt Moss (AUS, Kawasaki), 96pts ; 2.Jace Owen (USA, Honda), 91 ; 3.Chris Blose (USA, Kawasaki), 84 ; 4.Cullin Park (USA, Honda), 73 ; 5.Brice Maylin (FRA, GasGas), 66 ; 6.Yannis Irsuti (FRA, Kawasaki), 66 ; 7.Julien Lebeau (FRA, Kawasaki), 55 ; 8.Lucas Imbert (FRA, Yamaha), 46 ; 9.Quentin Prugnières (FRA, Kawasaki), 45 ; 10.Thomas Do (FRA, Honda), 37

King of Paris podium: Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Justin Brayton.

King of Paris: 1.Ken Roczen (ALL, Honda), 9pts ; 2.Eli Tomac (USA, Yamaha), 11 ; 3.Justin Brayton (USA, Honda), 24 ; 4.Cooper Webb (USA, KTM), 26 ; 5.Marvin Musquin (FRA, KTM), 28 ; 6.Cédric Soubeyras (FRA, Honda), 34 ; 7.Greg Aranda (FRA, KTM), 45 ; 8.Anthony Bourdon (FRA, Yamaha), 54 ; 9.Julien Roussaly (FRA, Yamaha), 56 ; 10.Maxime Desprey (FRA, Yamaha), 59

Canadian Kate Kowalchuk was in attendance and was grabbing us photos and videos throughout the weekend. She’ll also be getting us an overall report from her experience in Paris, so be sure to watch for that.

Kate Kowalchuk with Kourtney Lloyd at the 2022 Paris SX.



Courtney Schmale back at Home Now

Not only did Courtney Schmale survive this horrible crash, but she’s now comfortable and recovering at home.
With Jared Stock. Unbelievable!

It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we were cycling in shorts and taking our jerseys off between sessions on the MX tracks around here! Well, we’ve now been hit with some snow here in London, Ontario, so I’m not sure if we’ve seen the last days of riding or if we’re going to get a nice thaw and some warmer weather.

Our grass is covered but we’ll wait and see what things look like on Wednesday before we give up on loading the bikes and heading to a local track for another Wednesday Vet ride.

With the extra days added to the jam-packed schedule at the Mini O’s, I guess I should be thinking about pointing the #DMXVan south down I-75 anyway!

I hope that was enough to get you through another cup of coffee this morning. Have a great week, everyone.

Have a great week and we’ll see you at the races… | Bigwave photo