Honda Canada Racing Presents the Monday Gate Drop

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Good day and welcome to the first Honda Canada Racing Monday Gate Drop of the month of March. Yes, the first month of spring is here and it couldn’t come at a better time. I’m not sure what it is, but for the Canadian motocross industry, as soon as the calendar turns to March it feels like it’s time to ride. The weather has been so nice in Ontario that the home track of the GDR Fox Honda Racing Team, Gopher Dunes, opened its doors yesterday for a glorious day of riding. Yes, March is here and it’s time to go riding.

It was cool to see Gopher Dunes open yesterday.

As I mentioned above, this is such a special time of year as this is when so many people are heading south to get a head start on their spring riding. These days, there are so many great facilities throughout the Southeastern States that you can ride at. Whether you want to go and camp at one track for the duration of you time down south, or travel from track to track, there are so many options these days. Tracks like MP Country Line offer everything you could ever want in a motocross facility, and since it’s Moto Park on the south, you can hang out with a lot of fellow Canadians. A little to the east is Josh Woods awesome facility GPF in Cairo, GA. This time of year GPF is very busy as riders from all over travel there to ride. With the Monster Energy Supercross Series racing in the south right now, GPF is fairly close for riders to go there to practice. GPF is also the winter training home of GDR Fox Honda riders Colton Facciotti and Dylan Wright, so you will definitely see them there. With Colton getting ready to race the Daytona SX this coming weekend, you can bet he will be pounding the laps at GPF as he prepares for his first 450 SX.

A little further to east is Club MX in South Carolina. This multi purpose facility has been steadily growing for the past few years and is now one of the most popular tracks on the east coast. This winter riders like Kaven Benoit, Tanner Ward and Marco Cannella are all using Club MX as their home base. With multiple tracks, and the chance to train in absolute solitude (Club MX is really in the middle of nowhere), this is a great place to go and spend a few weeks riding. In between these great tracks are many more that have just about anything you could want. So if you’re heading south to get a little bit of pre-season riding in, whether it’s South Carolina, Georgia, Florida or even California, I hope you have a great time.

To celebrate his amazing career Davi Millsaps got to do a lap of honour during opening ceremonies in Atlanta. Photo by James Lissimore

I remember the first time I ever headed south to ride it was in 1989 when I was preparing to race the Intermediate class. Up until that year, my family and I had been hearing stories from other people who went down to ride almost every year. In those days, Florida was the hot spot as the State had a bunch of good quality tracks to ride at. That first year we headed straight to Croom and stayed at the Holiday Inn right off Interstate 75. The riding area at Croom was a stone’s throw from the Holiday Inn in those days, so we basically parked at the hotel and rode to the track each day. For anyone who has been to Croom before, you know how rough and miserable the tracks are there. With it’s deep sand and endless whoopedout straights, it definitely wasn’t the easiest place to go and burn your first laps of the season. At the time though I didn’t care as I was just happy to be down in Florida and riding with my family and friends. I also remember that during our stay there we ran into top riders like Ross Pederson, Donny Schmidt and Larry Ward. They were all staying at the same hotel and were pretty easy to talk to. This was the first time I had ever spoken to Ross so it was cool to meet him and chat with him about Canadian moto. Watching Ross pound thirty minute motos on that awful rough track for five days straight is something that I will never forget! He would do a moto, come in, grab a snack and some gas, and then go and do it all over again. Being at the same track as him definitely taught me a lot as it made me quickly go from my ten minute baby motos to longer ones in just a few short days. That first Florida trip was unforgettable and that is why I love hearing about our riders heading south during this time of year.

Unfortunately in Atlanta we saw a few more top riders crash out and sustain injuries. Photo by James Lissimore

As I said, this time of the year in the Florida area is very special as it becomes the centre of the motocross world. This past weekend in Atlanta we saw some very exciting racing as the second Triple Crown event of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series took place. I thought the first Triple Crown event at Anaheim 2 was okay as it was cool to see something different. On Saturday night inside the new and spectacular Mercedes Benz Stadium, I thought the racing was great. The track was a little slower than usual and it was definitely more technical than we’ve seen in recent weeks. When you combined the track and the intensity of the shorter races, I think the 2018 Atlanta SX was great. The only downside to it was that we again saw some of the top riders crash out with injuries. This time it was Justin Hill and Blake Baggett who suffered some misfortune and will now probably miss a few rounds. It’s crazy when you think about all of the riders who have gotten injured in 2018. I know we’ve had years in the past when there has been some injuries, but this season is just brutal. In Atlanta, it looked just rider error that caused the crashes, at least I couldn’t see any other reason. Hopefully this is the final time in 2018 that we see any type of injury in supercross.

It was great to see Chad Reed racing this past weekend, instead of just riding around and trying to survive. Photo by James Lissimore

On the flip side, it’s been incredible to watch Jason Anderson attack each and every round in 2018. With a massive points lead you’d think that he would be playing it safe and just racing for points. However, that just isn’t Jason Anderson as he just appears to want to win every race he enters this season. On Saturday evening, he once again got the job done and took home the overall win. It was also great to see Justin Brayton win a main event, Chad Reed finally finishing in the top ten, and to see Cooper Webb ride like he is supposed to. All in all, I think the first SX in this new venue was a success and now it’s on to Daytona and the toughest round of the series.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how Colton Facciotti finishes this weekend in Daytona. It definitely won’t be easy jumping into this series, especially on this tough track. However, we’ve all seen Colton do well in this type of situation, especially when he’s motivated to do so. With a good start and some smart riding, I think that Colton will do just fine on the difficult Daytona track.

I thought the racing was very exciting this past weekend in Atlanta. Photo by James Lissimore

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone is enjoying this first week of March. If you’re one of the lucky riders that have headed to warmer climates to ride, have fun and be safe! As I said, this weekend is Daytona, and then the following weekend we’re right back into the 2018 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series and Rounds 2 and 3 in Calgary. The season has started and it’s time to go racing once again. Oh how I love spring!

Good luck this weekend to Colton Facciotti as he races his first 450 SX in Daytona. Photo by James Lissimore