The 2013 2014 Future West Canadian Kawasaki Arenacross Series has now officially reached the home stretch with the conclusion of this past weekend’s action. Armed as always with my everywhere I go, I take with me moto passion and a few extra layers of clothing to endure the well below seasonal value temperatures I pointed my Mazda 5 in the direction of the Heritage Park Facility. Upon arriving under crystal clear skies with the frigid taste of winter red lining my senses meter, I rolled into the landmark complex in Chilliwack also known as ‘The Barn Beats Built’.
I anxiously entered the top shelf indoor racing facility with all the anticipation and excitement a child would have upon entering his favourite theme park. I quickly set out to engage all my moto colleagues in sequence with handshakes, hugs and of course the occasional thumbs up! A little behind schedule and not a lot of dialogue with any of the major players that might get me up to speed on anything that would shed some light on what might be in store for the weekend. I rolled to my usual perch and was pleased to see a challenging layout to accommodate all levels with a set of grandstand side whoops and a nice double. The layout, reverse of the previous week, gave those who don’t favour right handers the opportunity to rail a few more turns with their foot on the brake peg.
Come gate drop, all in attendance, whether they had been to a round of this year’s series or not, were qualified to win a brand new KLX-100 pit bike. Over and above that we were on the verge witnessing some of the fiercest action and heated battles that this year’s series has seen this year. I guess you could say for those that remember some of the earlier days in ‘The Barn That Beats Built’ it was some ‘Old Time Arenacross Action’, the kind where you fought for every inch of real estate on the track and stood up for what you believed in off the track. I know you are probably at this point going “okay, what the heck happened?” I’ve got three words for you – Great Entertaining Racing.
The Pro-Am Lites on Friday night was led in wire to wire fashion by Maple Ridge Motorsports Canadian National #3 Tyler Medaglia looking confident and strong to the delight of his growing following in the ‘Two-Stroke Nation’ as I call it. As if that wasn’t enough for the faithful of the before mentioned but Jake Anstett out of Port Angeles, Washington put his Devol Racing KTM 250 two-stroke through its paces with authority cutting flawless laps with his best performance of this series so far earning him the rights to occupy the second step on the podium in Friday night’s Lites class. This race would also see Jeremy Medaglia, while moving forward, put a pass on his Cycle North teammate, which would see Johnson hit the barn floor and end up finishing 10th. Jeremy would claim the final podium spot with his Cycle North Honda and create a bit of a series points buffer between he and Ross.
The Pro Open Friday night race would see Truro, Nova Scotia’s Tyler Medaglia throw down a ‘Is It Live Or Is It Memorex’ like repeat performance of his Lites score. The hard charging Cycle North Honda rider, his brother Jeremy Medaglia, would score second on opening night of the weekend in the Open Class increasing his points lead to 14 by night’s end over his stable mate Ross Johnson who threw down an impressive charge of his own on his Cycle North CRF 450 from 10th to 4th in this moto on a track that some said was hard to pass on. Go figure! RMR Suspension Spectra Powersports FXR Yamaha rider Brock Hoyer also had a solid race and finished a well deserved 3rd.
The ‘Dash for Gash’ (not a mistake read on), and you know when I talked to Ryan Lockhart that came out of my mouth by mistake honestly but we both agreed after the fact it fit and here’s why: The Kal-Gard Lubricants Dash For Cash is called such because over and above the nightly Bag of Gold for this crowd pleasing spectacle they have put up another lump sum for the overall winner. Leading into Saturday’s action, Ross Johnson had 4 D4$ wins and Lockhart had 3. These two engaged in one of the most entertaining dashes that I have ever seen. Let’s just say the fact they were both on 450s, neither could be accused of ‘Bringing a Knife to a Gun Fight’
Upon entering the back barn, I thought Ryan was done but I’ve gotta tell you he pulled off a pass I did not think was possible and made it stick. Out of the backside into the left-hander that approached the whoop section that paralleled the grandstand, I figured the hairpin left at the end would see Ross come inside of Ryan but it did not happen. Only a double, a right hander and a sharp left separated the man I’ve been calling ‘The People’s Favourite’ from imminent victory, but what happened next constitutes what I have come to call the Dash For Gash as Ross hit Ryan at the apex of that right hander and they both ended up with complimentary “don’t worry we won’t charge you any extra” soil samples. This was literally five feet from the checkered flag where I sat with the bag of cash and one more Gold Star for the Kal-Gard Points Club Card. Ross would prevail and Ryan got up a little worse for wear but in his true character would chalk it up to racing and do his best to move forward.
I would like to mention how impressed I was by the numbers in the Beginner classes, New Kid Beginner classes, 50cc class, Ladies class and all developmental classes, which is a gauge, in my opinion, of the current upswing in our sport out here. I also got to sit down with 5-time National Endurocross Champion Bobby Prochnau and Chantele Bykerk and talk to them about their involvement in the series as well as about 5 others that gave arenacross a go for the first time this weekend. Cool to see someone who has such mad skills on a motorcycle try something a little out of their norm and have nothing but great things to say about it.
On Saturday night the Barn was packed to capacity in anticipation of some of the highly publicized action that went down on Friday night as well as those seeking an opportunity to win the pit bike that would eventually become the property of this year’s on-track pit bike sensation, Marlon Betchold. Marlon has been winning the Pit Bike Class dressed like Ricky Bobby of Talladega Nights fame in his colourful Wonderbread costume.
In the Pro Racing action on Saturday night, Cycle North Honda’s Jeremy Medaglia would score victories in the ProAm Lites and repeat in the Pro Open, widening his margin a top the leaderboard in the series championship. Maple Ridge Motorsports Tyler Medaglia would finish second in the Lites and Cycle North’s Ross Johnson third.
In the Open Jeremy would better his stable mate Johnson and Tyler would finish third on a very fast arenacross circuit, which these three for this moto would ride mistake free. Ross was wheel to wheel and tried to make a move on Jeremy but in the end Jeremy would hold the Philosopher’s Stone in the form of a widening points lead heading into the final weekend of action on the 7th & 8th of March in Cloverdale.
The Dash for Cash Saturday Night was not on Ross Johnson’s agenda so a rematch will have to wait till Cloverdale. The battle that did go to the gate, though, was between Maple Ridge Motorsports teammates Ryan Lockhart and Tyler Medaglia. Lockhart would score a gate to wire victory and grab another Kal-Gard Lubricants Gold Star to add to his frequent flyer card in quest for that title where he now sits only one victory behind Ross Johnson. I could not help but notice Ryan coming into the finish line corner a little hot that cost him the victory the night before. When I asked him about it on the podium he agreed he was having flashbacks to the night before. Great work Ryan and all of you who came out to support the racing in Chilliwack.
Look forward to seeing you all the Great Galla that is planned for the conclusion of this series in Cloverdale on the 7th & 8th of March where good times will be had and Champions will be crowned.