This past weekend I had the opportunity to head south of the border to attend the Minneapolis Supercross, but as everyone knows they were hit with a massive snow storm. With the snow storm messing up all the flights, I was stuck in Toronto with no connection to Minneapolis. I figured since I am was Toronto I would rent a car and head to the Rockstar Energy Triple Crown AX event in Barrie, Ontario. I arrived around 2pm on Friday; the track was all set up and pro practice was starting. The Jetwerx track crew did a great job preparing the track at the Molson Centre. I was talking with one of the track crew and they has less than 24 hrs to put that whole track together. The night before, the local pro hockey team were on the ice for a playoff game and it ended at 10pm. The crew sprung into action and built the track in no time. Very impressive guys! After pro practice the riders had a chance to make changes and prepare for the night show. The doors opened for the fans at 6pm and all the riders set up their bikes and put up tables to sign posters for the kids that show up to watch there favourite racer. The show started at 7pm, and after they play both national anthems it’s race time.
When the gate dropped it was full-on race time. With this track layout, if you didn’t holeshot you needed to be patient as it was not so easy to pass on the soft dirt. As the race went on you really needed to pay attention to the ruts. If you didn’t you were going to cross rut and end up on your head. The track crew jumped into action and repaired the track after each heat. Their main priority was to make sure the track was safe. I am a big fan of that. Once the heats and the LCQ were over, the line was filled with the top 12 riders for the final. Arenacross tracks are super tight and lap times are just under twenty seconds per lap so there is no room for mistakes. Once the gate drops it’s time to race. The riders line up behind a gate that holds twelve riders. The Rockstar girls give the riders the countdown and once the board is turned sideways the racers have about five seconds until the gate is dropped.
As you know the results from the event, I don’t have to tell you that Cole Thompson on his KTM 450 and Jess Pettis riding his Royal Distributing Yamaha pretty well dominated the weekend. These two riders looked like they are ready for 2018. Yes, there is some luck with AX racing, but it also takes some skill. There was plenty of talent that night. Facciotti and Medaglia looked good but seemed to find themselves on the ground a fair bit. Cade Clason on his new Sky Honda ride looked good. He had a good weekend finishing second both nights. Shawn Maffenbeier and Marco Cannella looked good but they both had their own problems on the track.
This event was a double header, Friday racing was good and the stands were full. I was happy to see there is a solid fan base in the Barrie area. The following day I woke up to a snow blizzard. I knew this was not going to be good for families traveling to the Molson Centre later in the day. The snow plows were out in full force. The local radio station was telling the locals to stay home if they didn’t have to go anywhere special. Highways and main roads were in bad shape. Later that day the weather did improve, which gave the fans a small window to get to the track to watch some racing. I was surprised to see that many fans battled the weather. I am glad I showed up; the racing on Saturday was just as exciting as it was on Friday. There was plenty of racing from amateur riders to full on pro.
Once the races were over I jumped into my rental four-wheel drive SUV and headed back to the Toronto airport. My timing was perfect. The snow plows had just finished clearing Highway 400. I worked my way to the airport in plenty of time to catch my flight. The only problem was that almost all the flights out that night were grounded or delayed. I looked up my on the flight board and there was my flight for Montreal, it said “on time.” I thought maybe this is the time I should buy a lottery ticket. It was one of few flights that were not cancelled. I boarded the plane, we took off and I was home in my bed by 3am. The next day I heard that all highways were closed as the snow storm worsened and lots of cars were sitting in ditches due to the ice. Wow was I lucky to make it out, I thought to myself. As I was thinking about the bad weather I escaped, I poured my coffee and turned on the PVR so I could watch the race from Minneapolis.