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Northern Notes: Singing the Blues

By Danny Brault

The unofficial ‘opener, to the Canadian racing season is almost here, the Toronto Supercross! Of course, hard to believe that the racing season is beginning anytime soon—other than maybe British Columbia, when they hit the track in Ashcroft on April 5/6 for the BCMA’s first regional event.

I say that, because as I’m typing this from my home office near Peterborough, Ontario (two hours east of Toronto), I’m sadly staring at five-inches of snow falling heavily onto the ground. This sucks. I’m never one to moan and groan over the weather; it’s one of those things we can’t change, like a man being a man and a woman a woman (oh, wait, those things are being ‘changed’ quite often these days), but this is getting ridiculous. We had a few sunny, warm days, earlier this week, but it was only a tease. Back to the snow and cold. Oh well, onward and upward.

I was looking forward to the Toronto SX, that is until I watched Daytona and saw Villopoto destroy everyone, and the Lites class hasn’t been overly exciting to watch. I’m still waiting for Cole Thompson to do something in Supercross this year. Aw, that’s a little harsh … Cole is riding well and top-10 finishes are more than respectable. Like you, I believe he’s got more in the tank, but whether it’s a start or lack of aggression, something is missing from the Rockstar Energy Drink KTM rider right now.

In digging through my old photo archives, I came across this flawless image of Cole Thompson's older brother, Justin, whipping it up at County Line MX Park in Florida. Backflips are cool, but I still get more excited for a good ol' whip.

In digging through my old photo archives, I came across this flawless image of Cole Thompson’s older brother, Justin, whipping it up at County Line MX Park in Florida. Backflips are cool, but I still get more excited for a good ol’ whip.

As I’m thinking of it, I’m going to send a quick email to Feld right now, requesting they include Thompson and semi-Canadian Dean Wilson into Toronto’s opening ceremonies. (If they do, here’s hoping Deano switches to his Canadian accent!). I’ve been harassing SX promoters on and off for the last couple years, asking why they don’t feature some local stars in the ceremonies? They’re always to figure out ways to attract more interest from Canadian fans, well then show some love for our guys! (Okay, email sent. I will share Feld’s response with you in next week’s Notes.)

Canadian fans finally get their wish for Toronto this year, with a long list of local heroes signed up to race. The Medaglia brothers, Kyle Keast, Kaven Benoit, Colton Facciotti, and and Kevin Tyler are on the entry list for Toronto. In the words of Wayne Campbell, “Yeah, right and monkeys might fly out of my ___ !”

Once again, we have a very limited group of homegrown talent to cheer for in Toronto. I understand all of the reasons that our guys aren’t racing … it’s expensive … it’s dangerous … you need to have a really good bike … you need to practice on real supercross tracks for more than a week. I get it, but regardless, so many of our guys are REALLY GOOD riders.

Talk is cheap, but if I could borrow the talent of a Medaglia brother or Facciotti, I wouldn’t hesitate in signing up. The song of a motocrosser doesn’t last long, so why not take advantage of every opportunity to race in front of 40,000 fans, on the biggest stage in the world? There’s no pressure, we fans don’t care if you finish dead last, we just want somebody to cheer for. And please don’t say “but they/I could hurt and be out for the nationals.” You can get hurt doing anything! In fact, most times, riders hurt themselves off the bike or while practicing at home during the week. Okay, I will stop ranting; this topic is played out and it’s probably never going to change.

More positively speaking, we do have Thompson and Wilson to cheer for, and Atlantic Canada’s Davey Fraser has entered the Lites class on a PR-MX Kawasaki. Btw- who in the heck is footing Fraser’s bills these days? I see this kid, who I really respect for getting out there every chance he gets, traveling all over Canada and the US and I’m always curious to know how he affords to do it. I know he’s not easy on bikes, parts and gear.

Never take advice from a Maritimer covered in tattoos, it only leads to trouble!

Never take advice from a Maritimer covered in tattoos, it only leads to trouble!

Interesting side note: Davey was with me during my one and only rental-car-trashing experience in Cairo, GA. I was against the idea, but after Mitch Cooke shared his tales of rental car adventures (“Oh, you’ve got insurance, then you’re good to go—give’er!”), it encouraged me to have a little too much fun, which ended with a broken radiator and my heart beating 448 beats/ min as I called the rental car company and made up an excuse…. Thank goodness they bought it, but I will never test those waters again. Lesson learned!

Okay, back to two-wheel news…

Let’s hear it for the Boys in Blue! Yamaha Motor Canada has taken flack for hiring US riders Nico Izzi and Kyle Chisholm, instead of offering the seats to Canadian butts. However, if we look two-inches below the surface, we’ll see that Yamaha has far from forgotten their own. I went straight to the horse’s mouth, Yamaha’s National Marketing Manager, Bryan Hudgin, to find out who they are supporting in 2014.

I shared with Hudgin a comment directed to the hiring of Izzi and Chisholm to the Rockstar Energy Drink OTSFF Yamaha Team, inquiring as to how much Yamaha has to do with the hiring of OTSFF’s riders because the OEM doesn’t invest as much into that team, as they did in the days of Blackfoot and past teams.

“We certainly do have input into Andre’s (Laurin) team, but ultimately he has the final call,” says Hudgin. “I support the riders he has hired for this year. As far as comments regarding that we are not supporting enough Canadian racers, I would expect we do more than any other manufacturer?”

Let’s take a quick look at which Canadians who Yamaha is directly supporting in 2014 (motocross-only). I think we’ll find the company has not forgotten their own:

BC – Brock Hoyer
BC – Spencer Knowles
AB – Jared Allison
AB – Parker Allison
AB – Jared Stock
AB – Matthew Davenport
SK – Shawn Maffenbeier
ON – Dylan Wright
ON – Kyle Keast
QC – Tim Tremblay

On a Regional level, Yamaha continues to support many amateurs and teams as well. They also provide one of the most sought after awards at each of the three Big Amateur Nationals, Raymond, Deschambault and Walton: the Yamaha Factory Ride, where three different Yamaha riders earn a YZ of their choice plus $2500 in parts and accessories.

Supported amateurs/teams in 2014 by Yamaha Motor Canada:

BCCasey Keast
SK – Schraders Yamaha local pros
AB – Redline Powercraft amateur team
ON – Motopark Amateur Team
ON – MX101 amateur team
QC – Xtreme Miller Sport
Atlantic Canada – Shore Cycle Team

“Yes, we have American riders,” adds Hudgin, “But our supported Canadian riders greatly outnumber American riders. There are only so many Canadians that are capable of winning a title. Unfortunately, of those riders, some are reaping the seeds they have sown with past decisions while others have negotiated good deals with other manufacturers.”

There you have it. As I said last week, before we throw mud, let’s go to the source and get the real-deal.

On the topic of Blue, MX101 has confirmed that they have hired Jesse Wentland to race the MX2 nationals for them, along with Dylan Wright. The idea is that MX101 is Yamaha’s MX2 team, while OTSFF focuses on winning an MX1 title. So why is Shawn Maffenbeier riding for OTSFF and not MX101 then? There were talks of moving the Swift Current, SK native over to the MX101 truck, but Maffenbeier wasn’t in favour of the idea and preferred keeping things consistent with a program and people who he had been working with for the last year. Fair enough. After some OK results in the MX2 class over the last couple of years, Yamaha is again a serious contender in the tiddler class; they’ve finally gotten a fuel-injected 250F on the market, and a handful of capable pilots (Allison brothers, Wright, Wentland and Maffenbeier) to keep it out front.

What do you think? Should the MX2 be broken up into East and West Championships, like it used to be? Both classes don’t get a huge amount of riders going coast to coast, but the MX2 class features less consistency from round to round. If we went back to two separate series, maybe that would encourage/ allow teams like Cycle North to keep racing? Something to think about.

Kyle Keast will most like just race the East Coast side of the nationals in 2013.  Photo by Clayton Racicot

Kyle Keast is going to actually practice somewhere other than Gopher Dunes this spring.
Photo by Clayton Racicot

“Incredible,” you must be thinking … two columns in, and Danny has yet to talk about his buddy Kyle Keast. Third time’s a charm and this week we have some news on the ‘Beast from the East.’ It’s sad but true Keast won’t be racing the Western swing, or Moncton National this year, but the Machine Racing Yamaha rider is making sure to hit every round with a sand track and hopefully he sacks up and race a US National. The guy has been working hard on his non-moto career over the last two years, taking on more contracts and expanding his metal-bending business, so he’s not quite in the physical condition he normally is. However, for the first time ever, Keast is heading south to Florida for 10 days, breaking in his new YZ450F and low-grade-suspension (LGS). Instead of blowing out berms everyday, I suggest he take down 56 clutches and work on his starts, but that’s just my two cents.

Random text from Machine Racing’s John Nelson this week:

“I’m gonna hit you with so many rights, you’re gonna beg for a left!!”

I’m not going to dig into Canadian Arenacross action, because the lads at DMX and GuaranteedMX have that covered, but I would like to congratulate Jeremy Medaglia on winning his first Canadian National Championship! It may not mean as much to him or others as an outdoor title, but it’s still a lengthy series that requires consistency, focus and fitness, especially with how deep the field was this winter.

I was working on WASPcam sponsorship negotiations with KTM Canada’s Race Manager, Andy White, this week and he announced to me some new rider signings. Seems that KTM is keeping the two-stroke mojo going, with Topher Ingalls and Liam O’Farrell agreeing to race a 250 two-stroke during the MX2 series (Topher for the entire ten rounds, Liam for East Coast and regionals only). Funny, I suggested to O’Farrell and White last year that Liam ride a 250 two-stroke in MX2, instead of a 450 in MX1, because the South African can really ride a two-stroke and has a better chance of a podium in that class, than a top-5 in MX1. I didn’t get much agreement then, but now it’s a good idea…. I could take these kids to the top, I tell ya! (That was sarcasm, in cased you missed it.)

I randomly called up recently retired, two-time Canadian champ, Dusty Klatt, to see how his new life in the real world is going. “Things are good; feels good to have some money in the bank account!” he said. The ‘Campbell River Crusher’ is crushing long hours in the oil sands of Alberta, along with his former mechanic and famed engine builder, Andrew McLean.

The two are working in a welding yard, preparing pipeline materials, so things aren’t getting overly greasy, except at the bars and strip clubs afterwards. Just kidding! Dusty’s really not that type of guy, he’s a family man and has been sending his pay cheques back home, instead of donating them to the local pub. I was surprised to learn that Klatt is already talking about getting a bike again, as I thought his plan was to remove himself entirely from the moto-scene for at least 10 years. Not so. With continuing support from Red Bull and Fox Canada, Klatt is planning to work with local racers on developing their speed and racing programs.

“I’ve been wanting to help younger riders for some time, so I hope to get it going this summer,” Klatt says. “I won’t be racing anytime soon, but I may enter a local race when I feel up to it. My knee is still in pretty bad shape and I have some surgeries and healing to go through before riding too hard.”

Finally, let’s hear it for Team Canada’s new Race Manager, ‘Flyin’ Ryan Gauld!  After organizing, managing and raising funds to support Canada’s effort at the Motocross of Nations for more than a decade, Carl Bastedo has stepped down and Gauldy is stepping up. So far, Gauld has received great financial support and we’re still 6 months away until the ‘Olympics of Motocross’ in Latvia. I, for one, feel this is a good fit for Gauldy and Canadian motocross. He’s got the energy, zeal and passion most certainly, but he’s always quite organized with money and making things happen. Probably the most interesting part will come if the riders don’t put in a good result and try laying down some excuses …we know Gauldy won’t be having any of it!

Wow, more than 2,000 words already? Okay, that’s more than enough b__s___ for you this week. I will save some thoughts for next Thursday’s Northern Notes.

Just giver.

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