Monday Morning Coffee | The Perfect Walton Storm

By Billy Rainford

I have to start out on a sad note with the passing of a unique individual, Junebug. He passed away from a blood clot and will be missed by a lot of people:

What would you say the percentage is of perfect weather Mondays after a muddy mess of a race day Sunday? I’m guessing it’s up around 99%! It’s got to be up there somewhere.

Well, it happened again this past weekend. As I type this, I’m looking out the office window at a perfect Monday. The humidity seems to be down a little, there’s little-to-no wind, and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Yesterday was quite a different story. It’s a tale that’s been told since Motocross began.

What was supposed to be our final look at some of our top riders before the 2020 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Tour MX Nationals kick off this weekend at Gopher Dunes, turned into an eyes closed sprint back to the pits. It got nasty in a real hurry!

We all headed to Walton Raceway for Round 4 of the AMO Ontario Provincial Championships (OPC) on a bright morning that looked like it could be a good test for the riders heading into The Dunes.

Yes, the humidity was through the roof. In the early morning hours you knew something was possibly up because you were already sweating through your shirt just walking from the house to the car. In southwestern Ontario in the summer, when the humidity gets up to those levels you can always expect some rain to move through the area at any moment, and that’s exactly what happened.

I got to the track a little later than I wanted. Yes, I seem to have shut my alarm off and gone back to sleep. It was not big deal, though. I got there just in time to catch the final practice of the morning and get a look at who was heading to the line for the first moto of the day, the 30+A group.

#3 Shawn Maffenbeier was headed to the line. Wait a tick, I don’t think Shawn is over 30 yet. Of course, he’s not. He’s actually 28, but he said he signed up for the wrong class and that the Youth Int/Pro races were the final ones of the day, and he wasn’t going to stay that late. Pfft, prima donnas.

I have to assume he wasn’t going to accept the ribbon for winning this class, but it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, as both #11 Davey Fraser and #64 Liam O’Farrell would also be on the line, not to mention #708 Jason Burke.

When the gate dropped, Shawn got out front and it was, in fact, a cakewalk. Shawn is looking fit and fast this season and should put his #3 Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha up in the podium mix.

Behind him, there was a nice battle between Fraser and O’Farrell. This was our first look at the rider from the maritimes who doesn’t show any signs of hanging up the leathers any time soon. Davey has found a home with the Carlson Racing Husqvarna team, and who wouldn’t want to keep hanging out with this great group of people?!

Davey managed to close in on and get around when the South African racer stumbled early on but Liam repassed him and crossed the line in 2nd place.

Jay got tangled up in the first turn and had to remount his bike in last place. Jay never seems to look like he’s going all that fast, but he carved his way through the rest of the pretty talented field and got himself all the way up to 4th by the end of the 5-lap moto.

At the flag, here’ what the top 5 looked like:

  1. 3 Shawn Maffenbeier YAM
  2. 62 Liam O’Farrell KTM +13
  3. 11 Davey Fraser HSK +19
  4. 708 Jason Burke HON +40
  5. #243 Eric Schildt YAM +1:02

Unfortunately, this would be the only look we’d get at these guys because it was just a few motos later when all hell broke loose.

I was there to see how the Pro riders stacked up, but I’m also always interested to see the amateur classes. I like to keep tabs on which Supermini, Junior, and Intermediate riders are hitting their pace heading into the big races.

Announcer Dave Bell wandered over to the fence for a while, but it wouldn’t last.

65 (10-11):

#521 AJ Beth and #158 Nathan Snelgrove put on a great show in the 65 (10-11) moto. They hit lapped traffic hard on the last lap and it claimed Nathan over by the big step-up. He ended up with a broken collarbone. Heal up, Nate.

Supermini (9-16):

#7 Bobby Gravel got out to the early lead and tried to run away and hide.
#138 Dylan Rempel has been the one to beat in the class. He had troubles early, but didn’t give up.
Gravel took the win.
But it was this close!
Good sportsmanship after the flag. Of course, you’re always willing to give out fist bumps when you win!

250 Junior:

#17 Josh Bryan had to make a bunch of passes to get the win in the 250 Junior moto. #441 Colby Older was leading but messed up and dropped back.

250 Intermediate:

#164 Wyatt Kerr was the one to beat in Intermediate. I still can’t get used to Preston Masciangelo’s new digits, 942. He had some bike issues and took a DNF in this one.
It was great to see #222 Kraig Reinhardt back on the track and having some fun in the Vet Class.
#5 Darcy Quinlan showed up in the 30+B class and gave #738 Steve Simms fits. In fact, there may be more to this story…
My van was parked next to the little track and I snapped a few shots of the youngest riders on the track. That’s #527 Ashton Babineau taking 2nd in Tykes.

+30 A Int/Pro:

There’s Shawn Maffenbeier lined up next to #22 Scott “Donk” Donkersgoed.
#416 Brandon Rodwell got to the first turn in the lead.
Maff got out front and stayed there.
Liam had a nice battle with Davey, and took 2nd at the flag.
Davey took 3rd place and first 250.
The writing was on the wall, and Robbie Quantrill knew it.
This didn’t look good.
We always assume riders from BC are good in the mud, like #381 Jake Piccolo and #214 Tyler Gibbs here, but it doesn’t mean they like it! Dylan Kaelin grew up not far away and knows the sky. He said we were in trouble.

I pedalled for the van with my cameras over my shoulders. I sat inside and looked around with my iPhone recording. Here’s how it looked:

At that point, the decision was made to call it a day. There was another bad one lining up just west of the track that would be hitting in the next little while, so that was it.

I hope everyone got out of there uninjured and that the damage to awnings, EZ Ups and RV’s was minimal at. It was a bit surreal to hear Dave over the PA asking that if anyone was injured to wave one of the medics down who were riding through the pits checking on everyone. It was like a post-disaster scene!

So, that’s all she wrote for pre-season races at the tracks we’ll be racing for the Triple Crown Tour series. I would have liked to see some of the Pro riders one last time on the Walton track in good conditions to get a better feel for where everyone is likely to stand, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

We’ll be doing our Annual Pre-Season Show this week. With the way things are still going, I think it will be best if we just do it via Zoom video interview call. Watch for that in the next couple days.

If anyone is in the area this week, let’s organize a group MTB ride in London on Tuesday or Wednesday. Spread the word and let’s have some fun.

OK, that should have gotten you through a nice cup of coffee to start your week. Have a good one and we’re now just 5 days away from getting our Pro nationals going. Fans won’t be allowed in but you’ll still be able to watch it all LIVE online and on TV.

Nobody take this too seriously! I asked for it by sitting in my van and recording the disaster instead of getting out to help. Shawn says, “You’re #1 and see you at the races…