Even though most of us are in the middle of more Covid-19 restrictions, I’m sure I speak for all Canadian riders when I say that we’re all excited to head back to the race track. With the announcement last night on the InsideX Show of the updated 2021 Triple Crown Schedule we decided to reach out to Brett Lee from Walton Raceway. With the opening round as well as the final round of the series at Walton Raceway this summer, a lot of eyes will be on the most famous track in Canada. Also, before the final round of the Triple Crown Series in August Walton Raceway will once again host the annual Walton TransCan. It’s going to be a busy summer at Walton Raceway and as Brett explains in this interview, he and his Walton crew are more than ready.
MXP: Hey Brett! How are things in beautiful Walton, ON.?
BL: Hey Palms! Yeah, things are great. I mean, we really wish we were open and taking advantage of this great spring, but like racing, you can only control what you can control. This has allowed us to get things done and do some careful planning. We are really driving forward in 2021.
Good to hear. We see many tracks across the country doing the same thing. Using this time to be ready when restrictions lift.
Exactly. We cannot change the situation, it is a Provincial mandate so we cannot get around it. We have spent time pulling up dirt and just doing little things around the facility. 2021 is going to look a lot like 2020 and to be honest 2022 may also be lean in terms of racing budgets and the world’s slow roll back to “normal”. We are going to offer practices, training, and a few other great events at Walton Raceway in 2021.
That’s amazing! Hopefully, you’re able to kick things off soon. Before we talk about racing. Walton Raceway recently announced that Peter Derry of Peter Derry Productions joined the Walton team.
Yes. Peter and I have talked for many years about trade shows and sponsorships. I have always respected the Motorcycle Shows that Peter has put together. He is really well connected in the industry and is good at presenting ideas to sponsors. Peter is dedicating time to build some industry partnerships for Walton Raceway. He’s committed to helping us and I think he’s going to be awesome.
That is great news Brett. Peter is a great guy and he’ll no doubt be a welcomed addition to Walton Raceway. What about Barry Hetherington? Is the ‘Weeman’ back on the track?
Of course! Barry has always made things happen here, made sacrifices that other people never would have done for us. He is old school in terms of work ethic…. It isn’t always pretty but he gets it done! Honestly so many people want things handed to them, want the big paycheck, want the easy days. They need a week at the Barry School of Life!
I don’t think many people could handle a week at that school (laughs). Okay, onto racing now. Last night it was announced that for the first time Walton Raceway will be hosting the opening round as well as the final round for the 2021 Triple Crown Series. That must be exciting?
Brett: Yeah, Walton Raceway will host the opener as well as the final round of the series. This is an opportunity that we are really excited about. It may never happen again. In fact, it won’t. This isn’t ideal for everyone to have such an Ontario-based schedule and we understand the frustration some feel, but we’re determined to deliver a National experience like no other event before. We have different forms of racing all on Canada Day weekend. Two complete Nationals with an amateur day in between! Also, the National on Sunday will be a sprint format with three shorter motos. This has never happened before so love it or hate it we’re rolling the dice on something different.
As far as the 2021 Walton TransCan, this is going to remain a racers event, where riders are the focus. TransCan has always been and will always be about racers. Both events will be in Walton but the experiences are going to be completely different. As you can imagine we’re very excited about this!
It sounds great Brett. I like the idea of trying something different. How did the idea of multiple rounds and the three moto format come into the conversation?
Good question! Last fall, we could tell restrictions might still be in place in 2021. Just like we now know there will be some lingering effects in 2022. Mel (Melody Hodgson – Walton Raceway), the Gopher Dunes team, the Sand Del Lee team, and Ryan Gauld had all done a great job in 2020 getting in line with provincial orders. So Ontario had an established track record to pull off races under heavy restrictions. The Jetwerx team laid out a schedule in a way to protect the series if we were still dealing with restrictions in 2021. And now, here we are and it turns out it was good planning.
As for the three moto format, I will eat that one. I campaigned hard for it and Jetwerx and the teams were open-minded to new ideas. Canadian Pro Motocross needs to differentiate ourselves and create cool conversations around Canadian motocross. I want to see Canadian Pro Motocross try some different ideas and not get stuck in a rut. We – the tracks, Pro teams, and the Triple Crown Series – need to bring in sponsorship and attract attention outside of the amazing teams and athletes by creating a story. I think there is more that can be done. What about different racing disciplines added to weekends, a 24-hour marathon online coverage weekend, a 45 min moto with pit and fuel stops, points system that gives out points at halfway or points for the fastest lap during a race like F1? Don’t get me wrong, I still buy into the fact that a 30 minute plus two lap moto is pure motocross, but we have this unique opportunity to get creative in 2021 I think we need to.
I agree, this is certainly the time to try a few new things and see what happens. What plans do you have for TransCan?
Ironically I talk about big changes with regards to the pro-nationals, but the TransCan will continue to be a rider first event. The experience, the investments, the goal of the event is to celebrate Canadain Amateur Motocross and its riders. Each year we want to celebrate the riders from the 50cc class right up to the 50 plus class all on the same stage. This year is going to feel super unique with events that bookend the series. We are excited about it all happening and what the future holds. We are one year away from the 30th anniversary of the Walton TransCan GNC as well as the 50th Anniversary of Walton Raceway. So there is a lot to be proud of when it comes to Walton Raceway and its connection to Canadian motocross.
Those are most certainly important milestones in our sport and I cannot wait to celebrate them with you. Brett, you’ve been involved in motocross in Canada for a lot of years. Where do you see the sport headed?
Palms, it’s crazy to think how long we have been doing this. I feel riding facilities are going to lead the way across the country in many areas. Riding areas are becoming much more difficult to secure so they’re going to become more important and valued. People do not have the space to ride and let’s face it, bikes need space — and obviously sound impacts those nearby the riding areas. I see this facility-building trend in Ontario and Quebec already. Gopher Dunes, for example, has a full-service shop, Pee Wee track, Supercross track, trails, camping, swimming, race team headquarters, as well as a motocross track in one location…. I see facilities developing into off-road destinations — not just tracks. Walton Raceway offers campsites, outdoor climbing areas, bicycle trails, and local partnerships in the nearby community. This will bring racers together on common weekends, creating more industry partnerships and creating a better overall experience for the entire family. We all just have to keep an open mind and keep trying to evolve our sport.
I also see electric bikes getting more popular in the coming years. Electric options are all around us. Five years from now I fully expect there to be big bike electric options to race. Publically, KTM and Honda have bikes in development as battery life is extending and they’re finding ways to save weight. This is the next “four-stroke revolution” in my opinion. Ryan Gauld who runs the AMO bought both his kid’s electric bikes this year and put it to me, “we might as well embrace what is coming.”
Hopefully, we are only weeks away from riding and maybe even racing at Walton Raceway. I know my family is looking forward to racing and also to visiting Walton and its surrounding area.
I hope racing begins soon and I believe it will. Honestly, we are eager to go but there is lots of racing season to go. We can race into the fall if we have to, there is always a lot of great riding in September and October across Canada. We all have to do it right and support tracks and clubs when they can open.
Here at Walton Raceway, we will be ready for sure. Walton One will just be cool. TransCan wise, Fox Canada is back with us, KTM Canada has stepped up for us and with amateur racers across Canada with what they have planned. Walton Raceway will also have a Kawasaki KLX110 fleet coming for kids to learn on, so we have a lot of really good stuff happening. I am excited to get going and if anyone wants to see what we are up to check us out on any social media platform (@waltonraceway).
Thanks again Brett for doing this and all the best to you, Melody, as well as your entire team!
Thanks, Palms, and keep up all the good work with MXP.