From The Mag To The Web: Davey Fraser- The Ultimate Journeyman

By Mike McGill

Photos by James Lissimore

Journeyman is a common term, used regularly in sports when describing an athlete who is “technically competent but does not necessarily excel”, or who has “plied his trade for an extended period of time, generally for a number of teams.” When it comes to motocross there have been no shortage of journeyman racers who have travelled the circuits for many a year, always there, always battling, usually mid-pack without much fanfare but without these individuals where would the sport be?

Halifax Nova Scotia native Davey Fraser is one such individual. Davey raced his first Canadian Pro National way back in 2004 and, now at the age of 32 is coming off one of his best seasons. A season that included a top 10 placing in the outdoor Nationals, and a well-deserved podium appearance in Supercross. For those that follow the sport here in Canada the sight of Davey uncorking the champagne at Gopher Dunes last month was a welcome one indeed. Not only did Davey podium in Rounds 3 and 4, but the Carlson Racing Rider also finished up the 4 Round 450 Supercross Series in 3rd overall, behind only Cole Thompson and Westen Wrozyna.

Davey’s racing story started out a little differently than a lot of motocrossers. As a child growing up in Nova Scotia, he spent many weekends at the local Road Racing facility. Atlantic Motorsport Park in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. Davey’s father and his uncle were both avid road racing participants and in Davey’s words he “pretty much grew up at that track.” As he got a little older it was Davey’s turn to get in on the action and his father purchased him a cool little Yamaha TZ 125 road racing machine. In fact, Davey would continue to race the pavement right up until the age of 18 and even scored a few Amateur wins aboard his Suzuki GSXR 600 along the way. “I was about ten when I got my first dirt bike” he recalls “and I really enjoyed that. That’s what I was really interested in doing.” So even though pavement was in his blood, dirt was to be in his future.

Davey embarked on a solid, if not spectacular amateur career which eventually landed him in the Pro Class at the age of 15 in 2004. He soon realized that if he wanted to race Pro he would have to be, in his words “all-in” and his family backed him one hundred percent on his decision. “My parents were separated” recalls Davey, but they both supported me as much as they possibly could in their own ways, so that was great and really helpful for me.”

Davey toiled away on the National circuit for a few years with varying degrees of mediocre success. Some years he would make it to most of the rounds, other seasons not as many and for a few he would only be able to race locally and attended only his home National. “06,07 were pretty good years” he recalls, “but then in 08 I dislocated my wrist pretty badly. That injury still bothers me today. It took me a while to recover from that and in 09,10 and 11 I just raced pretty much at home and only did one National a year”. “Then in 12 and 13 I started doing more again.”

Things started to pick up even more for Davey in 2016 when he hooked up with his current sponsor Brent Carlson and his Carlson Racing Team. “That’s when I started racing the full series and 16 and 17 were probably my best years” Fraser finished up the 2016 season in 7th overall in the 250 class on his 250 2-stroke Husky and followed that up with an 8th in points in 2017. “Those two seasons really opened some doors for me” states Fraser. Carlson Racing Team owner Brent Carlson has fond memories of those days as well. Carlson’s eldest son Trevor had just turned Pro at that time and he and Davey became good friends while travelling the circuit. Carlson had two other sons who were racing as well and “we just kind of took Davey in as part of the team and part of the family.”

Of course, when you are a journeyman in Canadian motocross, you certainly don’t make enough money to survive on racing alone. “No” chuckles Fraser. “I work a day job.” A carpenter by trade, Fraser re-located to Abbottsford B.C. a few years ago so that he could be closer to Carlson Racings Headquarters. Currently, Fraser works for Westwood Construction which is one of Carlson’s sister companies. Other companies and businesses under the Carlson umbrella or Westwood Group include sand and gravel operations, excavating and new home construction. “Brent’s into a lot of things” explains Fraser. “I basically live with them and race for them. It’s been great for me.” Fraser goes on to describe that the Race Team is more of a passion for Carlson as he just loves the sport and not only do they run their own team but this past season they have also helped both Keylon Meston, who rode for MX101 and Casey Keast on the PR-MX Team. “Our own Team was smaller this year, but this was an opportunity for me to keep helping these guys even though they were racing for another team” explains Carlson. The situation is obviously ideal for Fraser who can also be found working in the race shop quite often. “If you want to keep racing this is what you need to do” explains Fraser.

Fast forward to Covid season 2020. The season started well for Fraser when he lined up and just missed qualifying for the night show at the Daytona Supercross in early March. We all know what happened right after that as the global pandemic shut everything down for a while. After a credible 13th overall finish in the stacked 250 outdoor series Fraser set his sights on the final Canadian Supercross rounds of the season. Feeling confident and fast Fraser’s optimism for a top placing was short lived as he crashed badly and shattered the talus bone in his ankle. The crash was bad enough that commentator Ryan Gauld wondered aloud on an episode of the Pulpmx Show later that fall if perhaps Fraser should maybe “consider retirement.” “Well, I’m sure he was just concerned about me” comments Fraser. “It doesn’t bother me. I generally don’t listen to stuff like that anyways.”

Undaunted Fraser pressed on into the 2021 season although the ankle continued to hamper his efforts to train for the upcoming season. “It still hurts a lot” laughs Fraser. “I lost my balance in the shower and brought down the whole curtain. Half the time it looks like I can barely walk.” While Fraser can find some humour in the situation his inability to run or even walk all that well certainly put him behind the eight ball regarding preparation for the upcoming outdoor series. “I’d never really mountain biked before, but I really started getting into it this past year as a training exercise. And I really enjoy it” states Fraser who was in fact on his way home from a mountain biking trip in Whistler, BC when I spoke to him for this article.

In what Fraser himself describes as “a pretty deep class” Davey had one of his best summers ever in 2021 as he completed the entire 8 round series and piloted his Carlson Racing Husqvarna to an extremely respectable 9th place overall in the final tally. “It was a lot of fun this year” remarks Fraser. “Battling with all the kids out there keeps you young.” Fraser was extremely impressed by the amount of young Canadian talent in the field this season as there was basically only one US rider, Kawasaki’s Darien Sanayei, lining up in the 250 class. “Yeah, I’d be battling with all these young Canadian kids. Guys like Ward, McNabb, Canella and Piccolo. They are all fast. Sometimes it was for 5th sometimes 15th but they were all great races. It was cool. It was a lot of fun.”

Fraser jumped up to the 450 class for the final 4 round Supercross Series. All of which took place over the course of a couple of weekends on the purposely built Supercross track at Gopher Dunes. Fraser was feeling good and while the field of top 450 riders had been depleted to a degree by injury, Fraser felt that his past Supercross experience, as limited as it may be would still serve him well. “Thompson (KTM Factory Rider Cole Thompson) is on another level admits Fraser, but after that I felt as if I had enough pace and experience to put in a top 5 finish. In fact, I kind of thought I could probably cruise to a top 5.”

Fraser’s prediction proved to be pretty accurate as he logged a 4th and 5th overall on the first two days of Supercross competition. “I felt I was riding pretty well” states Fraser. “The first night there was a lot of crashes, stalling, I hit Casey Keast in the whoops but honestly I didn’t think I would really need to push it that much harder to close the gap. You know, I thought I could probably go a little faster.” And that’s exactly what he did on the following weekend at rounds 3 and 4 of the Series. Fraser hit the podium in 3rd place on both nights after spirited battles MX 101’S Westen Wrozyna. “On the first night, I actually got the holeshot” states Fraser. “I was just thinking to myself, c’mon Cole pass me and get it over with so I can concentrate on my race.” When asked about his race strategy Fraser keeps it pretty simple. “I just tried to be smooth” he explains. “I felt pretty natural, I was having fun and I thought my speed was good. I would have liked my chances, even if a few more of the top guys were here.” Fraser goes on to explain that some of the things he learned from ace mechanic Scott Donkersgoed, who worked for the team in 2020 really helped him during his outdoor season and Supercross run this year. “I really learned a lot from his approach to bike set-up. He’s so experienced and so particular when it comes to things like chassis set-up. Especially on the steel framed Husky. He taught me a lot and I used that this year to help me.” Former Pro Racer and Team owner in his own right, Josh Snider came on board this year as the Eastern Team Manager for Carlson Racing, and he turned the wrenches for Fraser during the season. “I’ve known Josh since I was ten years old” explains Fraser. “We get along well, and he helped out a lot this season.”

And so, after 17 years of professional motocross racing. Countless numbers of moto’s, practice laps, miles travelled, crashes. bruises, broken bones and aches and pains. Money spent and a little bit of money made, Davey Fraser stepped onto a Professional motocross podium for the very first time. The look of joy and satisfaction on his, and the faces of those close to him pretty much said it all as he uncorked the champagne for the only time in his long career. Fraser finished the series just as he had on the final two days, in 3rd place overall. He’s in the record books now and no one can ever take that away from him.

“We were watching from home” comments Carlson. “It was so awesome. We were so happy for him” Carlson and the rest of Davey’s cheering section back in Abbottsford were all on the edge of their seats as the racing progressed. “It was so exciting” continues Carlson, and as the laps wound down, they started to believe that “it was actually going to happen” he chuckles. “It couldn’t have happened to a better guy” says Carlson. “He’s been working so hard for so long; it was great to finally see it happen.”

Currently, while not working, or enjoying his new love of mountain biking, Fraser hopes to take the speed and confidence that he built up during the summer and apply it to the Future West Arenacross Series which starts in Chilliwack, BC on October 16th. Fraser admits that he’s feeling pretty good about his chances even though there are expected to be some heavy hitters in attendance. “I’ve heard Tanner Ward, Jacob Piccolo, Tyler Gibbs and Julien Benek are all planning on being there. A few other fast guys as well I’m sure but I feel pretty good about my chances. And it’s right in my own backyard basically so that’s really nice.”

As for next season, Fraser’s plans as well as Carlson Racing’s are up in the air as of now. “I’m just playing it by ear right now” says Carlson. “We love it and would like to go racing again. I’ve been speaking with JSR (Jean-Sebastien Roy, KTM Canada Red Bull THOR Race Team Manager) regularly and we are hoping to work something out for next season. Fraser also hopes to be back aboard his familiar Carlson Racing Husqvarna next season but worries about the current state of the Canadian Nationals in this Covid era. “It just doesn’t seem the same anymore” states Fraser. “With the Series being basically based out of Ontario for the last couple of years it doesn’t seem legit. I know the Team Owners are concerned” continues Fraser and Davey also feels that many Teams, riders, and spectators alike are beginning to lose interest. “If we can’t get back to a truly National Series next year, I just don’t think it’s going to survive. I don’t think the manufacturers are going to support it anymore”

Hopefully, we can get back to a more “normal” type of Series next season and we can see Davey lining for an eighteenth Pro season once again on his Carlson Racing Husqvarna. It seems that at 32 years of age he’s just getting started and who knows. In the next few years maybe, we can look forward to possibly seeing a couple more podiums from the Journeyman.

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