Monday Gate Drop

ice storm

While it’s never a good time of year to have a severe storm, to have to go through the type of ice storm that we in Ontario had to deal with this past weekend is just cruel. With so many people trying to travel and prepare for Christmas, which is only two days away, the weather just added to the already high stress level. They were also saying on the news last night that some households might be without hydro until at least Christmas Day. I can’t imagine having to deal with that on a day that is only supposed to be about joy and happiness. I guess there is never a dull moment when you’re dealing with winter in Canada. As I mentioned in a previous Gate Drop, the sun is now on its way back north and the days will only get longer from now on.

Last week I posted a video from the 1996 Walton Pro National. I’ve had that video on VHS tape since I recorded it off TSN back in 1996 when it originally aired. With old racing videos floating around online, I figured now was as good a time as any to transfer it to our website. To do this I had to go back to my old high school in Shelburne, track down the film/video teacher to ask him nicely how to do it. Within a few hours it was all done and now we all finally get to watch yet another piece of Canadian motocross history.

The year 1996 was a very interesting one in Canadian motocross as I feel it was the year that the momentum really began to build back up again, but to get to this point we had to endure some pretty lean years. As you may or may not remember, 1993 was the final year of the CMA Pro National Series running from coast to coast with a series in which the factories supported and all of the top riders attended. That year was also significant because it was the final time that 500cc dirt bikes competed on a national stage in this country, but that is another story all together.

The CMA series in 1993 began in Barrie at the old Molson Park track, then it headed west to Austin, Manitoba (the roughest sand track in the history of sand tracks) and then on to BC before coming back east to Quebec. I was one of the lucky riders that rode the entire series that year and I can tell you that there was very little money and not a lot of excitement or hype surrounding the series. This was not only the fault of the CMA because at the time Canada was still recovering from the recession that hit in 1991. The biggest indication of the lack of money being circulated in 1993 was that Ross Pederson announced that at the end of that year he was retiring after his legendary career. Trust me when I say this, back then if there was no money for the Rollarball, there was definitely no money for the rest of us.

The following year in 1994 could be describe as a transition year in Canadian motocross as there was no national series to speak of. However, with the efforts of Mark Stallybrass, Carl Samson and Chris Lee at Walton Raceway, there was a shortened eastern series that drew a lot of fast riders from Canada and the USA, but no true coast to coast series. In 1995, it was a little more of the same with an eastern CMRC series, however the economy was getting stronger and the manufacturers were slowly coming around to the thought of spending money on motocross again. As dim as it was, there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

You see, back then, us Pro riders did make a little bit of money, but man you had to go out and chase it down. From 1995 through to 1998 I raced 35 times a year between Nationals, Provincials, Arenacrosses, AMA Supercross and the odd local Ontario race. It was a struggle but an enjoyable struggle at the same time. When SPI (Stallybrass Promotions Inc.) announced that the National round in Walton was going to be televised on TSN in 1996, I remember everyone was so excited. Finally, after decades of outdoor motocross racing in Canada, the races were finally going to make it to our living rooms. It was definitely a landmark moment in Canadian motocross history.

Walton fireworks

Walton Raceway sure looks a lot different now than it did in 1996.

As you can see on this video, there were a lot of fast riders racing that day. There was a very young Nick Wey, JSR, Marco Dubé, Blair Morgan, Axel Holvert, and Jeff Matiasevich just to name a few. It was a great day of racing and it really was the springboard to what we see today. The following year in 1997 was huge. The series headed back out west with rounds in Nanaimo and Edmonton (Antler Lake). In 1998, it was more of the same except for the addition of another round in Lethbridge and a trip to the east coast to the famous Riverglade MX Park in Moncton. Things were back on track and it all started with Mark Stallybrass taking a huge financial risk to get the one hour broadcast of Walton Raceway on TSN. I hope you enjoy watching it. I do have copies of it on DVD if anyone would like one.

Fast forward to present day and the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals. The field of riders is slowly falling into place with the GDR Honda signing of Colton Facciotti. Fans deserve a chance to see a healthy Colton go head to head with the likes of Brett Metcalfe, Cole Thompson, Teddy Maier, Bobby Kiniry, Tyler Medaglia and Kyle Chisholm. Colton deserves it as well. Yes, I did just say Kyle Chisholm as it’s looking like he will be back in Canada in 2014 riding for the Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha Team. Chisholm would be a great addition to the series as it would mean that in any given moto, there would be about eight riders that are capable of winning. On the political front, it’s looking like APG and SPI are making headway in figuring out an agreement to move forward. After such a momentum building year like 2013, this is very good news. Hopefully we’ll all hear something soon on this matter. After all, it is Christmas and the time for giving.

That is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and safe travels. If you currently don’t have power, I hope that it’s restored in time for you and your family to enjoy Christmas. Finally, if you want to win Nitro Circus tickets for their Hamilton show January 3rd, please check out the contest on our website. All you have to do is be the one of the first three to answer the trivia question. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at MXP!

santa on a dirt bike

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at MXP.