Good day and welcome to another edition of the Honda Canada Racing Monday Gate Drop. This past weekend the folks at Gopher Dunes put on an incredible called “Sandstorm”. This annual event has become a hit with riders in Ontario and this year was no different. With an Arenacross event on Saturday afternoon, a pit bike race and Shift Racing Holeshot Challenge on Saturday night, and then the big race on Sunday on the main track. It was definitely a great weekend at the Honda Canada supported Gopher Dunes Raceway.
Before I go into details of this past weekend at Gopher Dunes, I want to ask everyone for some help for one of our injured riders. Last Sunday, Vet rider, husband and father Jeff Hauck crashed while riding in Ontario and suffered a serious spinal cord injury. As I write this Jeff is still recovering in hospital and is obviously facing a long and tough road ahead. To aid in Jeff’s recovery, his friends and family have set up a GoFundMe page for people to help. If you can spare anything, please visit this page and help this awesome moto family in their time of need. https://www.gofundme.com/4fuhifs
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this past weekend Gopher Dunes hosted their annual fall Sandstorm event. To kick things off on Saturday afternoon the first race up was a very cool Arenacross event on the year old Gopher Dunes AX track. Although the AX race wasn’t very well attended by riders (this I will never understand), the racing was great and every single rider had a blast. My family headed down to race and my plan was obviously to race the Vet class. But, with only one other Vet rider signed up I made the decision to race in the pro class. So in the span of a few minutes my day went from pretty relaxed, to a little stressful as I had never intended to race at that level. Also, it was just any pro class, it had riders like Colton Facciotti, Dylan Wright, Tanner Ward, Nathan Bles, Austin Watling and Kyle Keast in it, so the talent level was pretty high. Anyway, after two races against these awesome riders I can say that I survived, and I didn’t finish in last. I did however get lapped more times then ever before in a motocross race as Colton Facciotti lapped me I think three times in the 20 lap moto. It was all in good fun though and I must admit that I was impressed that Facciotti was even racing this event as he leaves this coming Sunday for England and the biggest race of his season.
After the AX event ended it was time for the pit bike race and even more fun. Almost all of the pro riders entered including yours truly, who was racing in his first ever pit bike main event. With Kyle Keast absolutely dominating up front, my son and I battled each other hard in the back of the pack on some very cool Honda mini bikes provided to us by Derek Schuster. To be able to race my son in an actual real race (even though it was just a pit bike race) was very special. Even mom was there watching and taking photos so it was a very cool family event. As we approached the finish line she was all set up to take a photo of her two boys getting the checkered flag together, but in true racer form my son took me high on the final berm and put me right off the track. Although it ruined the photo, I couldn’t fault his aggression as he definitely didn’t want dad to get the better of this six lap intense battle.
Once the pit bike race was complete and the sun went down, it was time for the Shift Racing Holeshot Challenge under the lights. This event was also a lot of fun as just about every rider signed up for it. In the end the big pro winner was Austin Watling as he took home the big prize. After the holeshot challenge there was a pit party, and then on Sunday was a race on the main track. It was a great weekend of racing and congratulations to Gopher Dunes for putting on such a great event.
Prior to this past weekend, it was bike testing time as all of the Canadian motocross media folks gathered at Moto Park for the 2018 Yamaha Canada ride day. On hand for us to ride was the 2018 YZ250F, the 2018 YZ450F and just to make things even more interesting, the 2018 YZ250X two-stroke. It was a great day of riding at Moto Park with my fellow media guys, as well as Yamaha’s youngest riders Jake Tricco and Marco Cannella. Although there hasn’t been any major updates to the 2018 YZ250F or the YZ250X models, the 2018 YZ450F model has seen some significant changes. I was lucky enough to have tested this new bike out in California back in July so I was very familier with the inner workings of it. However, even with the time I spent riding it at Glen Helen it was still very good to ride at Moto Park, on a track that I know so well. The 2018 YZ450F is a really fun bike to ride, with some major chassis changes this new bike handles like a dream. It feels a lot lighter in the air, and with the new electric start, there is no more fussing around with a kickstarter. Here is a link to my 2018 YZ450F test ride story from the latest issue of MXP Magazine. Yamaha_17.04_v2 Thank you to Yamaha Motor Canada for the invite to their ride day, and also congratulations to long time Yamaha employee John Baylis who is retiring next month after 30 years with the company. John was one of my first bosses back when I used to race for Yamaha Canada, so we know each other quite well. All the best to John, and to Peter Swaton who is also retiring from Yamaha Canada. We at MXP Magazine would like to wish these two legends all the best in the future.
Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a safe week riding and I will see you at the races this weekend. If you can, please head over to the GoFundMe page and lend a hand to Jeff Hauck and his family. Have a great week and make sure you get out and enjoy some fall riding.