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Once again friends another weekend is upon and us what a week it has been. First off, let me send a big get well wish to our friend Bobby Kiniry who suffered a serious crash in Sarnia. I texted Bobby and got a prompt response on Monday so to me that is the first bit of good news and that recovery has started. I would like to also talk a bit about the big news that broke here earlier this week by our editor Chris Pomeroy of Brett Metcalfe heading to the Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha team for 2016. Did anyone from the outside looking in see this coming? I can only answer for myself when I say, not me, that is for sure. I know Brett was in London at the opening weekend of the AX-Tour and it seemed a perfectly normal fit as Parts Canada had a big event that weekend. With Brett having Monster Energy Leading Edge, Thor, Kawasaki, Parts Canada connections in 2015 outdoors, and although he was miles from home in my mind, it was just part of the festivities. You will have to excuse me for a minute if it seems I am dwelling on this or making a big deal out of it but let’s face it, this is huge news on many levels. First off if you had to break the MX1 series down to heavyweights headed into 2016 that would put the current 2 of the 5 or so that come to mind on the OTSFF Rockstar Yamaha backed team. I know there is nothing that has been formally announced as of yet but I do know there is some serious heat to the fire that will see Vince Friese ride a Monster Energy Leading Kawasaki here in the premier class next season. As a race fan, wow, things are getting good already silly season-wise, and we are still riding outdoors and only two months removed from that great final MX1 battle of the season.
I predict by the time the gate drops at Round one, wherever it is in 2016, we will see the number of heavyweights increased by as many as 2 or 3 more. I penned an article a while back in MXP Magazine on Mike Alessi and I have done some follow up with him and his connections to get a feel for their situation. I will not get into details but I will say there has been some serious talks on a couple of fronts. Mike has just signed a Supercross deal with Smartop Moto Concepts and he and his stable mate, Vince Friese, will both ride Hondas.
With all the positives surrounding the MX1 class and the money being thrown around to secure the likes of these top dogs who have earned every nickel of it, what about the small bike class? Is it still important to win in both classes in Canada? You bet and I think the manufacturers will have their say on that come the annual meeting with them and our sanctioning body that is scheduled in a couple of weeks. Yes, let’s get the elephant out of the room in the form of the two-stroke rule. I hate to say it but I truly believe change is imminent and that does not mean I will or have to like it. Would the series and everyone else in the sport be better off if all the major manufacturers produced competitive two-strokes? You bet. I state this not as I side with any current colour of brand, it is just a simple fact of economics as well as the development of better riders. I often get wrapped up in conversation while diagnosing this dilemma that is too wordy, financially driven or scientific for that matter. One of the things that always keeps coming back to me is a quote from my buddy Pat O’Conner when I interviewed him in the mag here last year. Pat hit the nail on the head when he simplified his answer by saying, and I quote; “It is just simply the best way to go for the average rider.” BAAM, to me that was money! Money, is that what it’s about? I believe each and every one of us that lives, eats and breathes to make this sport as good as it can possibly be would be better off this way. Not everyone is a racer, not everyone will be a racer, but I believe we have a better chance of seeing them at a race in some capacity if we do everything we can to keep them around. Anything that has ever been built to sustain is done so on a solid foundation. I think two-strokes available for all would solidify the foundations of all manufacturers plus bring back some grassroots backbone to their products. Trust me, this would be a huge step. Will it happen? I believe it will and hopefully sooner rather than later. Keep in mind, this is just my opinion and yes I am one of those that was brought up on burning mixed fuel. Now back to the two-stroke rule as it sits. I look over at the signed number one Red Plate from Kaven Benoit on my wall with a CMRC Tech inspection sticker on it; note to self. You are a lucky guy; that is a rare item. Maybe I am wrong and there will be no change, but like many things in life, changes that first appear as a burden are needed for progress. I do know for a fact that there are many sacrificing everything they have to succeed on and off the track in this country that have opinions on this and they are not the same as mine. I have spoken to many who have a lot at stake here and do admit that if I was in their shoes my vote may go a different direction.
On the race track things certainly could not have been any more heated as the Arenacross Tour hit the midway mark in Sarnia, Ontario on the weekend. The racing on the track that was held outdoors at the Hiawatha Horse Park saw the heated on-track battles between the two series main sponsors’ (Royal Distributing and Monster Energy) riders escalate considerably. Cole Thompson and Jacob Hayes were not the only riders on the track but did their part to be the focal point of most of the media and Monday morning industry water cooler talk. I was not there but did watch the Live broadcast, and as a race fan and nothing else, I enjoyed it. I do know from experiencing these kind of battles firsthand in our Future West Arenacross series that they are a big part of the reason people fill the seats at these type of races. These Arenacross tracks are tight and when guys of equal or similar skill level are that close together week in and week out something has to give. Does this mean these guys hate each other? If you point to the fact that they exchange not as much of a glance in their post-race podium interviews, please don’t read too much into that. Cole Thompson and Jacob Hayes have seen a lot of each other throughout their career and they are now in a position that when the gate drops it is all business. The game of Cat and Mouse is better than a full-on slam or intentional T-Bone that I do not believe either would do to each other intentionally. Contact is a part of Arenacross racing and these guys know it. It is a fine line and they are professionals that can police themselves accordingly. Let’s just say, hypothetically, that if Jacob Hayes and Cole Thompson walked into the Dairy Queen for a post-race Blizzard and bumped into each other by coincidence, they would probably sit down together and have a good chat and have maybe a laugh or two. I do not think I need to remind anyone that Motocrossers are one of the tightest knit bunch of human beings on the planet. These guys know that things can go sideways in a heartbeat and I do not believe would ever intentionally do anything to jeopardize each other’s physical well-being. Some may say I am wearing rose coloured glasses but I am sticking to my guns on this one. Yes, Arenacross is tight but the speeds are not near what they are outdoors so we can get away with a little more in the way of contact. There is still two weekends worth of this first ever script to be written in this Arenacross Tour Series and guess what, the venues get even more intimate. Next weekend, Penticton’s South Okanagan events center is the battlefield for the first of two western rounds for the series. This venue last saw Arenacross-style racing in 2011 and I was disappointed as to how poorly supported it was. I am hoping that the level of professionalism behind this series and the job done to market it will see this racing weekend supported by riders and fans alike. I am looking forward to seeing how some of our western based riders stack up with likes of this tour’s best. I guess this is a chance to throw some names into the mix. Ross Johnson, Jess Pettis, Jake Anstett, Brad Nauditt, and don’t be surprised if you head to Penticton and see number 10; he is flying! That my friends will be Maple Ridge Motorsports Ryan Lockhart. Ryan is riding with a bit of an edge right now and has looked as good as I have ever seen him indoors. No pressure Ryan, I know you’ll do us all proud.
Friends, if you can get out to Pentiction I am sure you will not be disappointed, and I will say it again, this type of racing needs to be experienced firsthand to be appreciated. For what it costs for a ticket there are not many things in life that will give you that kind of entertainment value for your dollar. If you are an amateur rider I cannot say enough what indoor racing will do for your skill set moving forward. Over and above all of that, how much fun is it to race bar to bar with your friends and foes in front of fans and family that can see the whole racetrack? We are lucky to have the AX-Tour as well as the Future West Moto Arenacross Series doing the great jobs they are doing. The Future West festivities continue November 6th & 7th at the top shelf Cloverdale Agriplex at a venue that provides some of the best spectator and rider ambience I have ever experienced…period. A huge good luck wish to Casey Keast this weekend at the Monster Energy Cup as he lines up for the ‘3rd time lucky’ in that event’s Super Mini Challenge. I will be where I have been for each of these events at my buddy, the Sultan of East Rutland, Hammertime’s place. If you’re in the hood, stop by, Airmail invites you.
Let’s all go racing friends. Until next ‘Friday Flight‘ …….Airmail out………………