Well, here we are at our version of opening day in Canadian Pro Motocross. When the Jetwerx announced that Round 1 of the 2023 Triple Crown Series would be held at Rad Torque Raceway in Edmonton, there were definitely mixed feelings on the news. With a hybrid SX/MX track being built as we speak and a sprint moto format with the opening 250 moto not being held until 4 pm, how would all of this play out for the first race of this prestigious series? With the experienced crew that Jetwerx has onsite in Edmonton and the backing of the local Government, this opening round has the makings of something special. Not only will we get to see our top riders compete in shorter motos where they will no doubt be racing at top speed the entire time, but the later start could allow even more spectators to file into Rad Torque Raceway on Saturday. So with the opening round of the 2023 Triple Crown Series all set to go, let’s take a look at some of the other venues that have hosted ‘Opening Day’ in the past.
Over the years, we’ve had some great venues host Round 1 of our Pro National Series. From the RJ Motosports track in Barrie, Ontario, to The Wastelands in Nanaimo, BC, to Wild Rose MX Park in Calgary, to Whispering Pines Raceway in Kamloops last year, the list goes on and on. However, while the location of the opening round has frequently moved around over the past four decades, the time of year has mostly remained the same. Back in the early 1990s, Round 1 was earlier in May, with Molson Park in Barrie, Ontario, being the cool location. Actually, that race and venue was very similar to what we might see this weekend in Edmonton. A completely man-made hybrid track with a lot of jumps all in the setting of a popular main stream venue. The most controversial opening round was back in 1991 when the CMA run Pro Nationals started in Duncan, BC, in late March. Holding a pro-national that early in the season was difficult on the riders as very few were able to train down south in the months and weeks before. Also, the Duncan track was expensive to get to, seeing as everyone was forced to take the BC Ferry over to Vancouver Island. Thankfully, that schedule only happened once, and in 1992 and 1993, the series started in Ontario.
As we moved into the next decade, the opening round moved once again to Vancouver Island and to the Wastelands track in Nanaimo. Very few riders liked this track, but it served the then CMRC National Series well for several years. The views were great, and the track crew did their absolute best to make the track raceable. Later in that decade, the Ste Julie track in Quebec hosted the opening round for a couple of years in a row, and everyone seemed to like starting the series in the east. From there, the opening round moved back out west, first to Nanaimo again and then to the popular tracks in Calgary and Kamloops. During the pandemic, Walton Raceway hosted its first opening round as the national series was forced to remain on the east side of the country for the first time since 1996. Last year, with the travel restrictions lifted, we were back in Kamloops and the always-challenging Whispering Pines Raceway. So, while every opening round has had its own share of excitement, which type of track do the riders prefer for their first gate drop of a new season?
To answer this question accurately, I believe you have to look at each individual rider and how they want to begin a season. For a rider like Dylan Wright, who comes into 2023 in great shape and with a perfect 2022 season in his back pocket, I’m sure he’d love a rough track and a hot day over what we might see this weekend. However, if you’re a rider who is coming off an injury and didn’t have that great of an off-season, then they may welcome the format of this weekend. A hybrid track and shorter motos could allow some riders to remain in their comfort zone and stay precise for all three motos. The flip side is that there won’t be any pacing by any of the riders on Saturday as they will be going full-speed every time they’re on the track. The ideal opening round for any rider would be somewhere in the middle of what we’ll see this weekend and what we may see the following weekend in Kamloops, where it will no doubt be hot and rough. Our pro riders are in great shape, and they want to be tested early in the series. In fact, they need it for their confidence as they’ve done countless practice motos leading up to the opening round, and now they want to see if all of their training has paid off.
Hopefully, this weekend in Edmonton goes well, and Rad Torque Raceway can host the opening round for years to come. Just as Walton Raceway is the time-honoured host of the final round of the series, we need to find that perfect sustainable venue for the opening round. Let’s hope the racing is safe and exciting this weekend, and let’s hope the local fans embrace this race for years to come. As the old Hully Gully Raceway announcer used to famously say before the first gate drop of the day, “Pitter-Patter, let’s get atter.”