Monday Morning Coffee Opinion Column

By Billy Rainford

Obviously, the big news for this Monday Morning Coffee was the ruptured achilles tendon for would-be 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion Eli Tomac. The collective heart of the sport sank when he slowed down and looked back at that left leg as if to ask himself, “WTF just happened? Is my leg still there? I didn’t even crash!

A torn achilles is a pretty big injury for an athlete. I’ve seen many, many of them in my days as a runner/triathlete/shop manager. I’ve seen complete ruptures, partial tears, and scar tissue surgical removal – all of which were no walk in the park for the person with the specific issue.

We’ve seen a lot of our top riders leave this Supercross series with injury but this one felt a little different. Eli moved into 2nd all time in 450 SX wins, he was about to close out his 3rd title, and likely the part that makes this most different is that he was wrestling with the idea of retirement.

As a 30-year-old racer, can you walk away from your sport like that? As a 30-year-old racer, is it in you to do the work it’ll take to come back to change your exit story? As a 30-year-old racer, would you even be able to come back and compete against the likes of Chase Sexton and Jett Lawrence? As a 30-year-old racer, do you simply accept your fate and head off into the sunset in full dad mode…

These are all questions Eli will likely be trying to find the answers to over the next few months of recovery. Sure, his heel will…heal and he’ll get back to normal, but will he feel the want or need to come back to the sport he was already planning to put a ribbon on?

Personally, I think Eli is the type of guy who could simply say, “Well, I guess that’s how it ends,” turn to his family and ask, “Anyone want to go get ice cream?” I think he’s strong enough mentally to be satisfied and happy with his amazing career, accept his fate, and move on with his life.

Having said that, I also think he’s young enough and tough enough to do the work it would take and come back to see if he can right this perceived wrong, but I’m leaning toward the first future timeline I mentioned. I guess we’ll have to wait and see where his head is at in the next few months.

For anyone unfamiliar with the injury and it’s prognosis/recovery, here’s a look at an example:

6 months from now puts Eli at next November/December getting back on the bike, according to “official” rehab protocol, but we all know how that goes for MX racers. I just don’t see him coming back to run a full season of AMA SX or MX racing again. I can see him suiting up on a Star Racing Yamaha and doing some whips for the fans during opening ceremonies at a few races, especially if they go back to Denver in 2024.

That was one of those heartbreaking moments in our sport that will be remembered forever. Whatever Eli and his family decide to do, he’ll remain one of the best ever and a solid ambassador for the sport, moving forward.

I always used my Colton Facciotti theory with Eli: if he’s racing then that’s who I bet on. Now I guess I’ll have to see if there’s a clearcut favourite between Chase and Jett Lawrence this 450 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross season…

Speaking of Jett, he clinched the 250 West regional title with his 3rd place in Denver on Saturday. Hunter Lawrence wins 250 East, Jett on the East, and now Chase will be the 450 SX champion for 2023. That’s a solid year for Australia and Honda!

The final round this week in Salt Lake City will be an interesting one. Chase can’t be touched in the 450 class, but knows this one has been handed to him, and the Lawrence Brothers will end up doing something fun and exciting together on the track at some point. Maybe they’ll ghost ride their bikes into Great Salt Lake! (Yes, I know that’s an impossible shot from the University of Utah campus. Go, Utes!)

And yes, I realize you have to be “in it to win it,” and I’m not trying to take anything away from Chase getting his first 450 SX title like this, but he’s a class act and so I’m looking forward to his victory speech; he’ll definitely make mention to the number of top riders being taken down this season.

Cole Thompson Brown Dog Wilson Supercross
#83 Cole Thompson in Denver. | Brown Dog Wilson photo

#83 Cole Thompson had a solid night in Denver in the 250 class. I made a comment that you should watch the “race within the race” with Cole and a few other riders and they didn’t disappoint!

Qualifying: 10th

Heat 1: 6th

250 Main: 9th

Cole sits 9th in points but only has 1 point over rival #41 Derek Kelley, who has been doing great lately. It will be a tall order for Cole to finish ahead of him in SLC, but we’ll see.

We’ll get in touch with Cole ASAP to get his thoughts on the racing up at Mile High.

I drove up to Auburn Hills MX track in, you guessed it, Auburn on Sunday morning. It was round 2 of the AMO Racing series and an Amateur National Qualifier for the TransCan, so I wanted to get up there and check out some of the local talent. Also, I knew a few traveling pro riders were in Ontario and would be up at the track that so many riders love.

It was 18C when I left London, so I was in shorts. I did plan ahead and brought rain gear and some warmer clothes, but I wasn’t expecting the temperature to drop to 9C by the time I pulled into the gates!

TIm Lee Motocross
Tim Lee.

It was drizzling already when practice was wrapping up and I knew we were in for yet another Auburn mud race.

Tyler Kirby AMO Motocross
#667 Tyler Kirby.
AMO Motocross Auburn Hills

I caught some of the action in the 85cc class and saw how fast young #667 Tyler Kirby was going. He won moto 1.

It was great to see they needed qualifiers in the 250 Junior class and I saw 2 divisions of them before the day was canceled.

Gavin Forsbrey AMO Motocross
#111 Gavin Forsbrey.

In moto 1, #111 Gavin Forsbrey was the one to beat. He won it going away and looked great on his GasGas.

Ayrton Pomeroy AMO Motocross
#26 Ayrton Pomeroy.

In moto 2, #26 Ayrton Pomeroy looked really fast and smooth on his Yamaha YZ250 2-stroke. He took the win ahead of #613 Cole Pranger on his Husqvarna 125 2-stroke.

Cole Pranger Ayrton Pomeroy AMO Motocross
Cole Pranger and Ayrton Pomeroy.

It was pouring at this point and medic Ron Cameron gave me the hand back-and-forth in front of his neck meaning they were going to cancel the rest of the day. Dave Bell was on the PA system and told everyone there was an even bigger storm cell heading our way in about an hour. That was my queue to head back to the van and get out of there before all the trucks and trailers started to get bogged down.

I managed to snap a few shots and a couple short video clips before I got the heck out of there. I was looking forward to seeing how some of our pro riders looked, but never got a chance.

#22 Tyler Gibbs was there and I talked with him for a while. He crashed at Saturday’s practice and told me he’d hit his head and wasn’t going to be racing that day. He’s since made an update on his Instagram page that shows something else:

Tough break, Tyler. Heal up and we’ll see you back at the races soon.

His 450 teammate #25 Daniel Elmore was also there, but I didn’t even see him! #34 Ryan Derry and #19 Wyatt Kerr were also ready to go. I spoke with both of them a little bit. It’s Wyatt’s week for the Frid’Eh Update interview so I didn’t want to do an official interview with him just yet.

I’m sure there were a few more of our guys there, but everyone was hiding in their vehicles at this point and I didn’t get to chat with any others.

My record at Auburn Hills MX is not great, to say the least. It’s been over a decade since I’ve been up there for a dry race! I’ll keep trying…

#409 Brennan Schofield raced a Loretta Lynn’s Qualifier at Lazy River in Georgia over the weekend.

 250 Pro Sport
Overall Positions
250 A/Pro
Overall Positions

Full results HERE.

Brennan plans on being in Edmonton for Round 1 of the 2023 Canadian Triple Crown Series MX Nationals at RAD Torque Raceway on June 3rd, so it’ll be great to see him do our series at the pro level.

Tuesday, Greg Poisson and I will be at Gopher Dunes for Media Day for the Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing team. We’ll grab some interviews, snap some photos and videos, and even try the race bikes on the track while we’re there! It should be a cool day, so watch for that coverage tomorrow.

I think we’re finally going to make it over to Turkey Point for some MTB riding too. I’ve been trying to get over there to try their trails for years and it looks like tomorrow might actually be the day!

OK, I hope you enjoyed a nice cup on this Monday morning. Have a great week and we’ll see you at the races somewhere soon!

On Sunday, I also stopped in to chat with Kyle Snelgrove and Nathan Snelgrove under their OG’s tent. I guess this seems like an appropriate way to end this cup of Monday Morning Coffee…