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Once again friends, another weekend is upon us and the stage is set in Penticton, BC for the first of two Western rounds of the Canadian AX-Tour’s inaugural Canadian voyage. The top shelf South Okanagan Events Centre will host the BC round of this series, and I am looking forward to being in attendance on Saturday evening. I would take in both nights but unfortunately due to complications from my 2011 injury, I once again had to have another surgery this past Wednesday. My hometown of Vernon, BC is just a little over two hours from Penticton. The Fall weather here has been a little warmer than usual. With the current Southwestern stream expected to continue due to the strengthening El-Nino, it looks like we are in for a mild winter. From everything I am reading, this will keep the snow where it belongs, on the mountain tops, I hope! I am, however, leaving nothing to chance and plan to follow through with five straight weeks planned in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona once the gate drops on Supercross in January. With a couple of months left before that time arrives, the two current Canadian Arenacross Series will keep my Moto blood warm and flowing nicely. With the AX-tour back in action this weekend and the Future West Series resuming in Cloverdale, BC on November 6th – 7th (The same weekend as the AX-Tour’s conclusion in Calgary), it seems that race fans and riders in the Western part of the country have a lot to look forward to. The AX-Tour’s battles for the top spots really heated up in Sarnia, and Parts Canada has stepped up this week and thrown some gasoline on the already five-alarm fire that is blazing between Royal Distributing KTM’s Cole Thompson and Leading Edge Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jacob Hayes. Parts Canada has teamed up with the AX-Tour as the title of the newly coined ‘Amateur Allstars’ as well as adding a $25,000 ‘Triple Crown’ bonus to any rider that wins 3 of the remaining 4 ‘Clash For Cash’ 20 lap main events. This is huge news and as a race fan I have to think that the final two rounds, if at all imaginable, will provide even more intense racing action than the series has already seen. In a day and age where the risk versus reward equation is often heaviest on the first part, I know all of these riders will all bring their A game to lay claim to that newly added pot of gold. This weekend will be interesting as Penticton marks the first true-to-form type of venue which has seen this series take off and excel beyond expectations south of the border. Not to mention the fact that we will see a few new top level riders added to the mix, including the likes of Ross Johnson, Brad Nauditt and Jess Pettis. Once again friends, in broken record-like fashion, I will say, this type of racing has to be experienced to be fully valued and appreciated, both on and off the race track.
I have seen countless riders and race fans, young and old, show up at Arenacross for the first time. If you had to ask me from my experience with them at the end of their first night, two words come to mind: smiles and happiness are the common thread. There is just something about the adrenaline related intensity and excitement about this type of racing. The benefits to amateur riders, young and old at all levels, are immeasurable. The skill set acquired racing Arenacross is magnified tenfold and it never ceases to amaze me watching a rider’s confidence flourish as a result. I know that when the gate dropped on the AX-Tour in the East it gave the same opportunities to many up and coming riders that it has for years here in the West. Some of the names that come to mind, Ben Kongmany, Preston Masciangelo, Austin Watling, Tanner Ward and Marco Canella, just to mention a few. These kids are already well on their way to proving and validating why many have them on the radar for being the future of our sport. Now that they have some Arenacross experience, I believe that whether it is realized immediately or will surface in the near future, even more doors for them have now been opened. In the West I think to the likes of Casey Keast, Jacob Piccolo, Tyler Gibbs, Wyatt Waddell, Kyle Springman and Dylan Delaplace who I know for a fact would not have the bright futures and success they have had without their involvement in the Future West Arenacross Series. Whatever it takes friends, and I know sometimes that may seem a lot, but the sacrifices one must make to get out and participate in these events is worth every kilometer logged and every dollar spent. After all, it is our futures collectively; let’s all do our part to invest. If you are not involved on the race track and are in the industry or an industry that can help, I am sure both of these successful business ventures would love to have you on board. Both the Future West and AX-Tour series are run by the most respectable and professional people you will meet anywhere on the planet. I can also assure you from my experience with both of them that their goal is not money, it is quite simply the best interest of riders and race fans like you. Yes you, each and every one of you. I am not sure about you but that my friends has my race blood beaming with pride, and if at all possible, even more love for this great sport than ever.
I mentioned Casey Keast above and want to congratulate him on an outstanding job of doing us all proud at the past weekend’s Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada. Casey, who had been off the Motorcycle for four months, managed to account himself very well on what would prove to be his last race on a Super Mini bike. His starts were not as good as they had been in recent years at this event, and in a 6 lap race where coming from behind was difficult at best, his results were decent. The best Moto finish of 11th out of 23 in Moto one is something that Casey and every one of his many supporters is to be very proud of. Looking at the bigger picture and thinking about what Casey Keast has accomplished, experience and skill-wise, as a result of competing for three straight years in this race, is absolutely amazing. When I see where Casey is at, it reminds me back to my own youth representing Canada at the World Mini Grand Prix in the Race of Champions. Wining the Canadian National title as a 14-year-old, it entitled me to race the Yamaha Race Of Champions the following spring. That winter I rode a 125 all winter and in the spring I literally climbed back on the 80cc bike for that one-off race. My best Moto finish was a 7th and I was proud of that as I knew my future as a racer hinged more on what would happen next than it did that big race. I believe, in regards to Casey, this is very much the same. Casey has proven that he has the talent and by all accounts has the kind of support around him to make a career out of motocross if that is the path he chooses. I have gotten to know Casey Keast quite well and believe that he is happy that this one-off race is behind him. I also know he is forwardly focussed and very much looking forward to his career and next season on the big bikes. I won my first three Canadian starts on a 125cc Yamaha and one of them was riding a full second Moto with a broken leg. Nothing that Dr. James Worrall (my Dad) could not hold together with a little duct tape, okay a lot of duct tape. Back in the day at Mission at the end of the start straight there was a huge King Kong style mound that must have been 50’ tall. In my first Moto of the BC Championship race I did get a big Holeshot but flat landed that stupid mound. I knew immediately my leg was broken. After winning the Moto and returning to the pits, I regretted taking my boot off. The memories of what my parents gave me and supported me through are the most valuable thing I will ever own. Thank you both, I would not have the same value system, character or be half the man I am today without having all of the experiences this sport has given me.
Before I hit the forward thrust on this week’s Flight towards lift off into the weekend, a huge shout out and congratulations to Ryan Lockhart and his beautiful fiancée, Randi Ormond. On Wednesday evening at 10:02pm they welcomed their newborn son, Meston Ryan Lockhart, to the world. Weighing in at a healthy 12.2 lbs in all his shining glory, the birth of Meston gives a whole new meaning to a term Ryan has heard often over the course of his racing career – ’New Beginning’. Good luck to the three of you with these early treasured moment days along your continued journey through life, love and the pursuit of happiness. No friends, as earlier advertised, Ryan, due to these long awaited developments will not race in Penticton this weekend. On behalf of all Canadian Moto fans you are excused Ryan. Enjoy the family and we all look forward to seeing you in Cloverdale, BC for Rounds 3 and 4 of the Future West Moto Canadian Arenacross series. On a side note to that, Dylan Kaelin informed me on Wednesday night’s Canadian Moto Show that he will be lined up at the remaining rounds of the Future West Series. Whether he will be there for fun, to play for keeps or both, it will be great having Dylan Kaelin back where he belongs, at the race track with his friends and extended family.
Whatever you get up to this weekend friends, get out there, stay safe and keep that throttle pinned on filling your own treasure chest of memories. Until the next ‘Friday Flight‘ …….Airmail’ out………………