By Billy Rainford

We’ve only got a couple Mondays before we’re lined up at A1 to find out who has done their homework and who is ready to take on this new Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series and try to dethrone Eli Tomac in what has to be his swan song SX season. We say it every year, but this sason could be the best one ever! Lol

I think the odds would have to be in favour of Tomac, but who else do you have in there to fight for wins and hopefully a championship? All the usual suspect will be back in action plus a couple back from injury and moving up from the 250 class.

Here’s how the 450 class ended up in 2022:

  1. Eli Tomac 359
  2. Jason Anderson 350
  3. Malcolm Stewart 314
  4. Marvin Musquin 305
  5. Justin Barcia 302
  6. Chase Sexton 292
  7. Cooper Webb 278
  8. Brandon Hartranft 178
  9. Justin Brayton 176
  10. Dean Wilson 152

With the return of #9 Adam Cianciarulo, #14 Dylan Ferrandis, #28 Christian Craig, #45 Colt Nichols, and #32 Justin Cooper moving up to the 450 class, and #94 Ken Roczen on a Suzuki, we’ve got a lot of new looks and things to talk about heading into this first round, that’s for sure!

Does Eli go into this one with that win at all cost attitude to end his SX career or does he leave a few wins on the table while weighing the risk vs. reward thinking about his long future as a husband and father?

#21 Jason Anderson finished 2nd last season and should never be counted out going up against his lifelong rival, Tomac. So why don’t I have him picked as my champion? Very good question.

Can #51 Justin Barcia pull a rabbit out of a hat another time and take the A1 win? I don’t think it’ll happen, but again, this is why we drop the gate!

My group texts always lay into me whenever I pick #25 Marvin Musquin in my top 3, but I don’t think you count him out…ever!

And will 2-time champ #2 Cooper Webb be the rider everyone fears again in 2022 like he used to be?

All the pieces are there to make this, wait for it, the best Supercross season we’ve ever seen! Anyone remember 1986 Anaheim? Let’s all hope we get this kind of a fight more than a few times this year:

I’m not going to talk about the 250 East/West series here, but I think I’m most interested to see how #128 Tom Vialle does over here in North America.

Tom Vialle“For me, it’s a new life. After winning the title in 2022 in MX2 World Championships, I moved to the U.S. and it was a tough decision, but so far everything has been so good. I’m training in Florida with Aldon and the group at The Baker’s Factory and everything so far, so good. I like it a lot. I enjoy riding supercross, it’s a new discipline for me so I have a lot to learn. I’m doing a good job training with the team and mechanic – everyone is really nice to me, so we’ve really moved forward. I’ve never raced a supercross here in the U.S., so I’m really excited about it. Just to go there and see what it’s going to be like to ride at night in the stadium, and to ride in front of so many fans is going to be a big thing for me. And then I will move to motocross in the summer, I am also excited for that. That will be a new challenge for me – a little bit closer to what I’ve been training for the last four years in Europe – but I’m really excited about racing both SX and MX for the first time in the U.S. For me, a lot of new things are coming and I can’t wait to start racing.”

I was trying to think of a story to tell for this column this week, and when I got thinking of that 1986 Anaheim SX it reminded me of a story from a the year before that.

A shot of yours truly at Southwinds in London, ON back in 1983. | Bigwave Senior photo

It was the spring of 1985 and I was out at our toughest practice track called Southwinds doing some motos with a few friends. One of my buddies was a smart fella named Patrick Poulin. He would go on to study Engineering at Western and now runs a massive international company and does whatever “consulting” means.

Back in those days, the coolest rider ran 900 numbers. I didn’t even put 2 and 2 together back then but it was simply because that’s how you got your AMA District 14 number assigned to you – they were just handed out in numerical order and we were into the 900’s at that time. Duh.

Looking back, I should have been #963.

Anyway, I was #45 then #145 and Pat was #14 and then he made the move to #941 to get with the cool kids. My other buddy, Kevin Reeve (AKA Snake) added a 9 to his #16 and became #916. See what I’m saying?

So, we were out doing our motos when we all stopped for a short break to refuel etc. before going out a gain. This place was notoriously rough. We always said that riding there made everywhere else seem like a cakewalk. It was true, to an extent, but never really made any of us winners, really.

Pat said to us that he was doing something different but much faster in the whoops section. To be honest, I’m not even sure were were calling them “whoops” in 1985. Were we???

Snake and I were curious so we asked him to show us.

The only photo I have of #941 Patrick Poulin on his 1985 KX125 at the Junior Nationals at Motopark. | Bigwave Senior photo

We rode over to the one section that had a long, hard section of “whoops” and waited for Pat to come at them.

Then he did something I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone, let alone anyone I actually knew, do…he came at them in a gear higher at speed! Huh???

#941 Patrick Poulin “skimmed” the whoops at Southwinds. The ones that ran alongside the entrance road facing Fanshawe Park Road.

Snake and I looked at each in amazement. Like I said, I think this was the first time I’d ever seen it!

After we were all done high-fiving each other, we all headed out to do more riding.

I came around to the whoops section to find Pat flat out on his back just seconds after taking a massive crash skimming the whoops…

We dropped our bikes and ran over to him. He was still rolling around when we got there and he pulled off his helmet. The first words out of his mouth summed him up perfectly:

I can’t remember the name of my physics teacher!

Patrick Poulin

Pat never skimmed these or any whoops again in his riding/racing career. He headed where he belonged, to university to thrive in acedemia.

But, to this day, he has the honour of being the first person I ever saw go at whoops in a gear higher and ride the tops. Looking back, I don’t even think he set sag back then!

PS His physics teacher was Mr. Hodgson. Mr. Hodgson was a great teacher and used to use me and my 1979 Lada in our physics tests. (I used to always park it in the teachers’ lot and it would drive them all crazy.) Things like, “If a Lada was traveling 80kph west…” but that, of course, is another story…

Have a great week, everyone, and have fun at the mall…that’s where you’ll find me!

Happy Birthday to Christopher Fortier and we’ll “See you at the races…” | Bigwave 2019 photo