Words and photos by Danny Brault
While making sense of my home office this week, I found a box of CDs (for those under 20 years of age that stands for compact disc) containing photos that I had taken back in the day. While going through my images, mostly from 2005 to 2008, it brought back all types of memories. It’s cheesy and overplayed but a picture really is worth a 1,000 words. I’m lucky to have traveled all over Canada, attended all kinds of races and events and I have met some interesting characters along the way. It’s hard to pin down one place or thing as my best memory, but I will say you won’t find a better group of people than in Newfoundland! With that, we kick things off in the first ‘Way Back When’ featuring a canyon jump from Bell Island, a short ferry ride off the coast of Newfoundland.
Brian House was one of, if not, the fastest racers ever to come out of Newfoundland, otherwise known as ‘The Rock.’ Sadly, House passed away in 2005 after being hit by another rider during practice at the Riverglade National in Moncton, New Brunswick. It was certainly a blow to his family, friends and fans, and also to the entire Canadian motocross community. In keeping House’s memory alive, the infamous ‘Blackfoot East’ crew holds a memorial race weekend in Newfoundland every September. They invite a handful of top pro racers to compete, teach a riding school and interact with the small but passionate Newfoundland moto family. In 2008, I flew to Newfoundland to take part in the race and cover the event. It was an interesting experience to say the least, too many stories to share here, but I did experience the endless pubs of George Street, had a Bell Island local hand deliver me a hot turkey dinner 10 minutes before my moto, and we even found a huge gap for Ryan Lockhart and Mitch Cooke to put on a show (see above pic).
In 2008, we saw one of the most competitive MX2 class ever, I think. On the factory teams we had Brock Hoyer, Teddy Maier and Nick Evennou riding for Leading Edge Kawasaki; Jeremy Medaglia (34) on a Suzuki; Eric Nye (eventual champ), Ryan Lockhart and Mason Philips on KTM; and of course Kyle Beaton (22) racing with Yamaha support but doing his own thing under the Clearbrook banner. And let’s give a shout out to Davey Fraser who is shown on a Label It Honda. Hard to believe but Jeremy Medaglia is entering his 6th season as a Pro! Man how time flies…
Chris Morgan created some chatter when he parked this big rig in the pits of Gopher Dunes. Rumours started swirling that Morgan was back in the game with support from Honda and one of their Powerhouse dealerships. Nothing ever materialized and we only saw this semi at Gopher where it provided an excellent source of shade for Chuck Mesley and South African, Kerim Fitzgerald.
Ever since landing his first factory gig in 2007 with OTSFF Suzuki, Tyler Medaglia has remained a title contender no matter which bike he’s on. This picture shows the roost and fight that Medaglia had to endure before taking his first MX1 moto win and overall at Gopher Dunes.
The very next weekend, Tyler’s younger brother, Jeremy, would enjoy his first Pro podium, taking second in an MX2 moto in Morden, Manitoba. Immediately after the checkered flag waved, Jeremy made his way over for a hug with his loyal and hard working wrench, Nick DiCristofaro.
With its bottomless sand and hard working men and machines behind it, Gopher Dunes is always the first track ready for action, no matter how bad the winter has been. In fact, even with the crap Old Man Winter threw at us this year, the Schusters are saying the track is dried up and ready for opening practice this weekend.
For the past month, Derek Schuster (above) and his dad, Frank, have been enduring soakers and sleeping in mud puddles in an effort to have Gopher Dunes ready for this weekend. Go team go, never surrender.
In winter 2007, I traveled down to Texas to catch up with Billy Whitley and his Cernic’s Kawasaki duo of Dusty Klatt and Jeff Gibson as they prepared for the 2008 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. While there, Whitley’s good friend and former Canadian Champ, Paul Carpenter, was also calling Texas home, developing his new bike and team.
I think it’s safe to say that the ‘King of Canadian Whips’ goes to Nova Scota’s Mitch Cooke. Here we see him getting sideways over a tabletop at Bell Island, Newfoundland during the Brian House Memorial Race. Damn he makes it look easy, eh?
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Billy Whitley built up this dreamland by managing a race team and winning Arenacross and Canadian motocross championships. When Whitley wasn’t wide open running his race teams, he also took care of a hunting reserve, restaurant, rental properties, and a storage facility. A great role model for not only racers, but anyone looking to start their own business and do one heck of a job at it.
We’re going to need a little more cash than that for Team Canada to kick butt at the Motocross of Nations in Latvia this September! Support our troops and donate to our 2014 Canadian Team here.