Good morning and welcome to another edition of the Monday Gate Drop presented by DeCal Works. As I’ve said many times if you need a brand new awesome set of custom graphics then DeCal Works is the place to go. Just log onto www.decalmx.com and in minutes you can design any type of graphics that you want. It’s that easy, you design it and they will ship it right to your door with detailed installation instructions.
Well even though it’s a cold and snowy Monday morning here in Ontario and I’m freezing, I’m still sitting here with a huge smile on my face. I’m smiling because I was lucky enough to spend my weekend watching the best Supercross riders in world race at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. Even as a child, travelling to the Anaheim was always very special. In 1984 my dad and I were there to watch Johnny O’Mara win his first ever 250 SX main event. In 1986 we were also there to witness what is called by some the greatest SX of all time. That night the battle between David Bailey and Rick Johnson was epic and for 20 laps they had the 70’000 strong crowd on their feet. After that year my own racing began to get a little more serious so we were forced to cut back on our mini vacations to Anaheim. However, those father/son and sometimes brother trips will always be special.
With the exception of a little snow that caused a delay out of Toronto, my trip to Anaheim began like any other and was fairly uneventful. When I finally arrived at the stadium on Friday morning I was greeted by the very excited Brent Worrall and his wife Gisela who had also travelled down to California for rest, relaxation and of course a little Monster Energy Supercross. Even though it wasn’t even race day yet Brent was like a kid in a candy store as he wheeled around the pits and shook hands with his ever growing number of fans. Before I go into the finer details of the actual race, I’ll let Brent chime in with his thoughts of Anaheim 3:
“If the home of ‘The Happiest Place On Earth’ is in Anaheim, California somewhere, I believe I found it this past week. I am just wrapping up an incredible fun filled action packed few days here at A-3 connecting with all of the on and off track action for Saturday nights Supercross. My golden ticket being my press credentials allowing me to meander and mingle at will with all the movers and shakers and those aspiring to be night show makers. I could write this whole blog on how much this game has changed since the days when factory meant a box van and an awning fast forwarding to today’s more let’s just say ‘polished’ version.
I spent the better part of the last three days here in Anaheim with my many friends and family of the Moto industry old and new in a t-shirt enjoying the southern California sunshine. I am always amazed how much effort goes into the whole Supercross process for what equates to a three hour night program. I admire and respect each and everyone who has the heart and commitment to pursue their passion for this the most technical and financially focused discipline of the sport.
Yes most race fans myself included head into the pits and gravitate to the who’s who of the sport and yes now of course the #WhosNext, right? It’s human nature, everyone loves a winner. I am not sure exactly what it is, maybe an age thing, maybe it is rolling through life a little differently but this trip and these last few days were a real eye opener as to what goes into being the #NextOne. I was fortunate enough in Anaheim to see many of my Canadian friends new and old, some working with the series, some there spectating. The racing action did not disappoint and I just love the way this year’s edition just keeps re-inventing itself with plots thickening and variables changing from week to week. Ryan Dungey and Cooper Webb were full value for their wins no doubt about that and I am very much looking forward to heading to San Diego to witness this series writing of chapter six.
For everyone of those 22 riders that are under the lights when the TV camera’s are rolling there are four times that number in each class that pack up, head home, or watch the main events from the stands. I sat in the industry seating for the main events and one of the riders I followed the progress of and chatted with at length in the pits as fate should have it ended up sitting right in front of me when the gate dropped for are the marbles. Ronnie Stewart national number 69 looked good on the track in qualifying but he like many others who tried he will have to find just a little bit more in the way of luck and speed to get a chance for redemption and a crack at the main in San Diego. I am also following the progress and efforts of another top privateer who we will feature in the next issue of MXP Magazine. I will hit him up this week at a test track in an effort to get a little more insight into the many adversities and personal accomplishments and goals of privateer life. Stay tuned and be sure to grab the next copy of Motocross Performance Magazine as it is always great to read and hear a personal story of the journey’s of a charismatic inspiring individual who chooses living over existing.”
Thanks Brent and enjoy your week in sunny California. Even though we can all watch these races in many different ways, television (well some of us can) and YouTube, just to name a few, there really is nothing like being there. It’s not just cool to be there when the lights go out and the opening ceremonies begin, but also during the day to watch practice. Practice is the time when top riders quickly figure out the track and then they begin their cat and mouse game of who can go faster. In most instances the lap times these riders are putting in are sometimes two seconds faster than what they will be running that evening so at times it can be very exciting to watch.
At Anaheim 3 the two fastest lap times came from the two points leaders as Ryan Dungey and Cooper Webb each earned their class pole position. These two riders have really come into their own in the last few weeks so it was no surprise to see them mastering the technical A3 track. I can honestly say that I never thought Dungey would be as good as he’s been so far in 2015. While he’s always been one of the fittest riders on the track, this year he looks leaner and meaner than ever. He also seems to have found a little extra speed from last year so when you factor in these two items as well as his cerebral approach to racing, the former 2010 SX champ could soon become unbeatable in this series. So far Dungey is one of the special stories of 2015 and I hope he keeps up his high level of riding.
One rider who just a few short weeks ago was on top of the world was Ken Roczen. As we saw at the first two Anaheim’s Roczen was the dominate rider, however last weekend in Oakland we saw a small crack in his armour. At Anaheim 3 Roczen looked very good in practice on the very technical track and actually lead the lap time battle for a short time. However, when the gate dropped on the night program Roczen looked to me to be a little unsure of himself. Maybe he’s sore from his Oakland crash, maybe he’s playing safe until the series heads East? Whatever he’s doing he’d better stop as riders like Dungey, Reed, Tomac, Canard and even Seely are slowly gaining the confidence to run up front and challenge for wins each weekend. If this scenario keeps up and I don’t know why it wouldn’t as long as everyone stays healthy, the rest of this series is going to be incredible.
Another rider who I was very anxious to see ride in person was Chad Reed. After all of the drama surrounding the 22 in the last few weeks I wanted to watch his riding to see how it actually compared to the riders who have won main events so far. After watching him at Anaheim I can report to all of the Reed fans out there that he will win a main event sooner than later. He looks great and although he’s a fraction off the lap times of Dungey, he does have the speed and smarts to win. In the main event he didn’t get off to a great start and after making quick passes on Barcia and Baggett, Reed and the leaders pretty much stayed where they all were on the one lined track. After talking to Shane Drew (who works for Reed) he told me that they’ve struggled a bit on the West coast tracks simply because Chad goes back to Florida each week and practices on his track which has completely different dirt. Shane went on to say that while this has hurt them so far, their set up and Chad’s riding is only going to improve as the series heads East.
So that was my weekend at Anaheim 3, well at least the exciting stuff. It’s always great to go to one of the Anaheim’s as it really is the birth place of SX. This weekend was particularly special as so many fellow Canadians also made the trek down this weekend. The MX101 guys were there in full force with their Factory Fan Experience, Dylan Wright was also there with them. In talking to Kevin Tyler about 2015 he told me that the MX101 Yamaha Team is very excited for Kamloops with their duo of Wright and Jesse Wentland. While Wentland is a shoe in for the MX2 class and I would think he’ll be a title contender, the team is yet to decide which class Dylan will ride. He’s been riding a 450 and he rides it very well so there is some thinking there to move him up to the MX1 class and let him have some fun with the big boys. I don’t think they can make a bad decision here as Dylan is certainly stronger and more mature than your average 17 year old. I say either throw him in the MX1 class or take advantage of the MX2 two-stroke rule and let him ride a YZ250.
Other Canadians that were at Anaheim this weekend were MXP photo guru James Lissimore, Rick and Brady Sheren were on hand to check out their Atlas and 100% riders, also Darcy Lange and his family were down to Disneyland for the week so they all stopped by to watch some racing. It’s always great seeing some familiar faces in the pits as everyone just loves going to the races.
So that is it for me this week. Stay tuned this week for a Frank Hoppen Anaheim photo report, Brent Worrall will check in after he heads out to the test tracks and we’ll have a different kind of interview for our weekly Yamaha Motor Canada Amateur Profile. I hope everyone has a great week and in case you were wondering, Wiarton Willie arose from the depths of his earthly ponderosa and did not see his shadow. So this means that spring is just around the corner. That’s pretty hard to believe this morning as there’s a foot of fresh snow on my front lawn. Oh well, I guess we have to trust this little critter even if he’s just a little critter who doesn’t seem all the bright.