Photos by James Lissimore
In our world, being the third guy usually comes with a little disappointment but also a sense of accomplishment. I could travel down two paths from that statement, so I’ll briefly touch on the first, and then dive into the other here in a minute.
“We” (Shawn and I) completed the outdoor portion of the Triple Crown Series third overall in the 450 class for 2022. Yeah, the ultimate goal wasn’t obtained but man, the road to the last step on the podium was bumpy as hell, but we made it, and we did it! We weren’t the only ones who faced adversity as Captain Canada, (That’s Tyler Medaglia for those who live under a bridge) who secured the number two spot in the series, also had his fair share of off-bike excursions. And while we’re talking about it, that guy who won also had it in limp mode by the end of the season, too! Now, it’s fairly safe to assume that most of the guys who line up on Sundays, or Saturdays in America, come to the gate with some sort of discomfort that restricts them from racing at 100%. But I think we need to give a little nod to the resilience of these three badasses and appreciate their ability to manage, adapt and increase their tolerance for pain in order to complete the task at hand. Congrats to Dylan on another championship, and Tyler for the best season I’ve ever seen you have. You guys set the benchmark in our country and sharing the podium with you guys at the season’s end is something I’m proud of. And of course, a big thank you, and congratulations to Shawn for one hell of a season!
Now, onto that other third place thing I was talking about…
How about Dylan Wright?! Just take a second and think about (or fire up the google machine and recognize) this guy’s results since 2019… He has not stopped winning! It’s been impressive, and from my standpoint, the improvements year after year have been more than something to write home about… over and over again! Ok, yes, this was his 3rd consecutive 450 title, but that’s not what I am referring to. Dylan has etched his name onto a very, very short list, albeit the third guy. BUT, what a list to be on!!
To the best of my knowledge*
Dylan Wright is the third guy to have a Perfect Season in Professional Motocross. Ever.
1. Ricky Carmichael, twice (LOL)
2. James Stewart
3. Dylan Wright
If that right there doesn’t give ya goosebumps, make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, or at least get your heart rate up a little, please check your pulse and ask yourself if you’re really a fan of motocross. What an accomplishment! Without question, this is one of the most extraordinary things in sports! To go undefeated, in anything, any sport, any length of streak overcomes an abundance of unseen obstacles that many are unaware of, or may take for granted. Therefore, and although it’s impressive, it may seem not as complex to the average fan. So, allow me to peel back a few layers and explain a bit of this from a fan, a fellow competitor, and a friend standpoint from the outside. And a mechanic and rider standpoint from the inside.
As a fan, it’s just awesome to see. We all love a success story and as we just mentioned, this story is rarely written! It’s like any other sport we enjoy, it’s always entertaining to see a team, or an athlete go on a run of success. We jump on the bandwagon and support it simply because it’s rare, and it’s damn cool.
As a competitor… FFS, just save some for the rest of us, man! Lol, it’s equally as cool to watch as a competitor, but it also comes with an amplified desire to beat him. I’m sure Tyler can attest to this, as could Shawn, but you start to question yourself – Is what I’m doing not enough? Am I that far off? Is it me? Is it the bike? Being as these three are veterans of the sport and two of which are eligible for discounts at Shoppers, they didn’t panic, stuck to the plan, and just kept doing the work. But at the end of the day, the best man won, and the 3 and the 5 are mature enough to accept that and the level of respect between these guys is the definition of sportsmanship.
As a friend – Man, it’s damn cool to see my buddy have this type of success. Hell, it’s cool to see all three of these guys, but obviously this new accomplishment from Dylan separates him from the rest. Since I’ve been around as long as I have, I feel like I have got to witness a large portion of his career. I don’t know about the younger/mini days back home at Sand Del Lee, but I first remember watching this kid wring the life out of a first gen Husky 125 a bunch of years ago. Fast forward a couple more years and I watched him land on the box at the gnarliest race of the year at Gopher Dunes as an intermediate rider under the wing of the MX101 Yamaha Team, which is where I currently hang my T’s. To ultimately, and coincidently landing back at Gopher Dunes, but now as part of the GDR Honda team where he has developed himself into one of the best riders ever to come from the Great White North. And, I don’t believe he’s done yet. I value our friendship, I have the ultimate respect for your ability, and I’m extremely happy and proud to see you achieve the damn near unachievable. Great job man!
Alright, here’s where this whole situation gets very, very impressive!
Most of us ride and some of us race. So, we are clearly aware of how quickly things can go from good to bad. A simple front wheel slide out in a turn, put your hand out to catch yourself and your arm folds in a direction it’s not supposed to go, and boom, it’s over. There are hundreds of those little scenarios that are ALWAYS a possibility, not to mention something greater and more significant. In saying that, Dylan did not escape every moto without a crash and there were a few moments where the streak was in jeopardy. Fortunately, those incidents came without major consequence and this kid just put the blinders on, went to work, and clawed his way back to the front of the pack, every damn time. Being able to navigate his way through 9 Rounds, and 20 motos, (2 rounds were 3 moto sprints) and not make that major mistake displays a remarkable ability of control and focus. Not to mention, 20 first turns. It’s just mind blowing. There is a huge level of appreciation that I think most of us can relate to once we think about it like that. In the last 20 sessions riding your dirtbike, how many mistakes did you make? If I could remember my last 20 times on the bike that would be incredible in itself (lol). I know for a fact the last moto I raced, the number of mistakes I made would probably resemble my score after 18 rounds of golf. I don’t golf. So, you can do the math there, Ha! Yeah, ok, I’m not a professional and for good reason, so there is that factor, but still, you get what I’m saying. Hats off to you, Mr. Wright, for keeping your shit together for the long haul!
Now, it’s time to get off your seat and stand all the way up for a colleague of mine. This dude is about as solid as they come and would more than likely give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it. Oh, and he can also build you a motorcycle week in and week out and not have A SINGLE THING go wrong, all while the fastest guy in our country rides the wheels off the damn thing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for Mr. Justin Petker!
This guy has been just STACKING the crossbones (Fox Victory Logo) since becoming a race mechanic in 2014! (except for that one year in 2017, wink, wink) I don’t know for certain, but I would have to think he is the winningest mechanic ever in Canada and that alone is one badass label to have! A small portion of that had to do with the absolute LEGEND none of the kids these days know about, Mr. 6 Time himself, Colton Facciotti. But, let me stop you right there, Mr. 6 Time might only be Mr. 3 Time if Justin didn’t do his job and do it extremely well. Once Colton became eligible for those same Shoppers discounts that Shawn and Tyler get, the only thing that changed for Justin was the number on the bike. But, not for long because after only one season with a number 9, it was back to the usual – Number 1. Justin is no stranger to building some of the best bikes this country / sport has seen. And, to the best of my recollection, I’m not aware of any of his motorcycles ever having a mechanical failure. That is just as remarkable as what Dylan has done. Being a mechanic at this level, I’m extremely aware of what can go wrong while these guys beat the living hell out of these motorcycles for 35 minutes, twice. A .05 cent part can ruin a moto, a day, or in this case, ruin something that’s only been done 3 times by 2 of the best to ever do it in our sport. The attention to detail has to be switched on at all times and there is zero room for error, and yep, you guessed it, this guy just KEEPS delivering. No matter who rides the bike, you can absolutely count on it being as solid as the man who built it.
You’ve been the same dude since I met you, all the way to the last time I saw you just a couple of weeks ago. You were the first person to come to me during my moment with a sincere, genuine congrats and pat on the back. You’re one of the good ones, man, and my respect level has no ceiling for you. Congratulations on ANOTHER Championship and achieving a level of success that I firmly believe will never be matched or surpassed. Enjoy the Pizza and Chocolate milk, my man.