The DMXies – Individual Awards and Words
Here’s another look at the 2020 Direct Motocross Awards – The DMXies.
By Billy Rainford
Most Dominant Pro Rider
Billy: I can’t believe I’m picking a rookie in the 450 class, but Dylan Wright is my choice for Most Dominant. Especially in the MX portion of the series, it never seemed to matter where he started, he was making his way to the front. He now believes he belongs at the front. Confidence is key and the rest of the field should be worried about a confident Dylan Wright, moving forward.
Greg: Although Dylan Wright definitely dominated the 450 series, my pick goes to Jess Pettis. Although he and Dylan had the same overall results at exactly the same rounds 1-1-2-1-1, Jess actually had more points than Dylan – 341 vs 335. I’m excited to see what Jess can do on the 450 and bringing the confidence from a hopefully successful US SX campaign. He will be a force to be reckoned with.
Billy: The biggest surprise of the 2020 racing season was the fact that there was even a racing season! It sounds crazy, but we were so close to not going racing that this is an easy choice for Biggest Surprise for me. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who worked so hard behind the scenes to get us to the gate in 2020.
Greg: I hope he doesn’t take this the wrong way, but definitely Dylan Wright. I fully expected him to end up on the ground a lot more than he did this season. Dylan has been known for a “checkers or wreckers” attitude in the past but this year he really matured as an athlete and really surprised me at each round. Great job, buddy.
Most Improved Rider
Billy: This one was pretty easy for me. I’ve never stood on the track and watched someone make improvements as obviously as Ryan Derry did this year in the Supercross portion of the series at Gopher Dunes. Standing on the infield with his dad, Peter Derry, it was amazing to watch him go faster and faster, trying rhythms and sections I didn’t think he was going to get.
Greg: Without question, Ryan Derry. His progress was obvious in the Supercross series. Each lap he improved and if a mistake was made he didn’t let that phase him. Completing rhythms that made others pucker and really starting to look comfortable with each outing on the track.
Feel Good Story of the Year
Billy: For me, seeing Westen Wrozyna win the FXR Pre Mix class was a high point. After all the work he’s put in over the years (hitting all the amateur nationals and even chasing SX dreams), he almost walked away from the sport but then the fun he saw in the Pre Mix class brought him back and put the smile back on his and his family’s faces. That’s what it’s all about.
Greg: I’m going to go with Billy on this one and say Westen Wrozyna. I’ve known Westen since he was 5 years old racing 50’s. I knew he was burnt out and wanted a change but he found a renewed interested in the Pre Mix class. He bought a used YZ125 and without a doubt provided some of the best racing of the series. Did anyone see him and Roberts clash in the final corner at Walton?!
Billy: I think that every time the gate dropped in the 250 class we could pretty much assume Jess Pettis was going to get his KTM up at or near the front. Jess is on top of his game right now and his reaction time is leading the way.
Greg: Keylan Meston. Whether it was MX or SX you could bet that the #10 Carlson Racing Husky of Keylan Meston was near the front. I guess when you’re that tall your elbows are wide!
Billy: I found talking to Logan Leitzel was a breath of fresh air this past season. He was always quick to give us his time and attention and seemed to actually give us very energetic and genuine interviews. He was up in Canada on his own in his truck, and that alone shows what kind of a dedicated rider and person the Pennsylvanian is.
Greg: I’m going with Marco Connella on this one. Marco was always quick to stop and give his thoughts on the day and was very professional about it. He made sure to put his own personal spin on it as well.
Best Style – The Jeff McConkey Award
Greg: Man, what a loaded question! If we’re giving it to a team, it’s hard to go against the entire GDR/Fox/Honda team. From the bikes to their gear, their set up was dialled.
If I had to pick one rider it’s going to Marshal Weltin. I just liked the aggression and style he brought to the track.
Billy: You couldn’t tell he was actually still an Amateur because he was running Pro plates at the Nationals, but #164 Ryder McNabb was still a yellow-plater. He was consistently the top-finishing Intermediate and it’s going to be fun to watch his progress as he enters the Pro ranks full time.
Greg: The yellow-plater that was really black and white, Ryder McNabb. It’ll be great to see how he does as a full-time Pro next season.
Track of the Year
Billy: How could I not give this one to Derek Schuster and the gang at Gopher Dunes? I couldn’t, that’s how. When we were at risk of not having a Supercross season, they stepped up and gave us a great track to hold the events. Thanks for all the hard work, gang. Obviously, all of the track owners went above and beyond this year, but I’ll give this one to Derek.
Greg: This one definitely goes to the track that no one would pick as their favourite track to race, Gopher Dunes. “Dig” and the crew stepped up when we needed them most and put on a great first national. Then when we needed them again they put on one hell of a SX series. Where did they find hard packed dirt!?
Billy: I’m going to give this one to Kevin Tyler and the gang over at Sand Del Lee. Being in the vicinity of our nation’s capital, Ottawa, I was pretty sure we weren’t going to be going that way to race this season. I always enjoy the trip there and wandering around the track shooting photos is always a highlight of my season.
Greg: This is a hard pick to give. I’m so thankful and stoked that all the track owners/promoters stepped up during the craziest year we’ve ever had. Under watchful eyes and pointed fingers they pulled off a series that was very close to not happening. I’m giving it to Derek Schuster, Brett Lee and Kevin Tyler.
Billy: How could I not pick that crazy (silly, actually) battle between Cole Thompson and Matt Goerke at the final round of the SX portion of the season?! You had to know it was coming, as the two got close on the track, but I will admit that I was surprised at just how silly things got.
Greg: Dang, this one is the hardest! There were some great battles. In trying to pick something else I’ll pick Sam Gaynor and Shawn Maffenbeier. I can remember these two finding each other on the track in more than just one moto. They kept it clean but they definitely gave it 100% to beat each other.
Billy: Dario Zecca isn’t going to win a Pro National, but that’s not the point for him. Our sport is held up by the hard work and dedication of riders like Dario. The health of our sport is measured by guys like him. I asked him a question as he was sitting on the line ready for the gate to drop and he smiled and simply said, “I just love riding my dirt bike!” You’ve just got to love his attitude.
Greg: If I was to pick a racer, it would be Dario Zecca. That guy always had a smile on his face and just genuinely was stoked to racer his dirt bike.
My pick is going to the Hotdog Vendor himself Kevin Tyler. After losing their title sponsor just before the season, KT could’ve let that leave a sour taste in his mouth. But as he always does, he had a smile on his face at every race and was always down for a great conversation.
Amateur Rider of the Year
Billy: Sebastien Racine is my choice for this one. He’s got a great attitude and is going to be a rider we’re keeping a close eye on for many years to come.
Greg: Same as Billy.
Rookie of the Year
Billy: This one goes to Jeremy McKie. I’ve been waiting to see what he could do once he made it to the Pro ranks, and I think he’s still got a ton to give and prove, but finishing 7th in MX (after a write-off final round) and 4th in SX made him a pretty easy choice for me. This kid absolutely hates to lose and is going to be fun to watch over his career.
Greg: Same as Billy.
Female Rider of the Year
Billy: This one has Eve Brodeur‘s name written on it in indelible marker. Until Eve decides to hang up the leathers, it’s going to be difficult for someone in the MX discipline to dethrone her. I’ve seen a few young riders who may do just that in years to come.
Greg: Eve Brodeur, without a doubt. She stepped up and sometimes raced 4 pro motos a day!? What is this, the early 2000s?
Pro Rider of the Year
Billy: This one is also easy for me. Winning the 450 class in his first year in the class is enough for me to hand this coveted award to Dylan Wright. Just how many titles he’s capable of winning is the question that remains to be answered.
Greg: Dylan Wright. Dylan stepped up and completely handled his first 450 campaign with poise and maturity.
Person of the Year
Billy: We added this one in there for this particular COVID-19 year. There’s going to be nobody more surprised than the winner of this one. Ryan Gauld is my choice for Person of the Year.
I’ve heard stories about how he took the reins early on last year and even spoke directly to Ontario Premiere Doug Ford on the phone! I think it can be said that we would not have had a series had Ryan not done so much work to make it happen. Of course, there were others involved in the fight, but we are picking one person for the award, and this year it’s going to Ryan.
Greg: If there was ever a question in anyone’s mind where this guy’s heart was, it’s in Ontario and Canadian Motocross. Without him we wouldn’t have put a tire to dirt this season. Thank you, Ryan.
People’s Choice Rider of the Year
We put this one out for a public vote for the first time, and the response was incredible! Thank you to everyone who was passionate enough about their choice to get involved. It took us a long time to count the votes and we thought we may have to enlist the help of Ernst and Young!
For 2020, the People Choice for Rider of the Year goes to Tallon Unger (Can we nickname him “Herman,” please?).
Thank you for another successful year here at DMX and at the races. See you in 2021 and beyond.