NORTHERN NOTES: BACK TO THE BARNS

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Armstrong, BC: Home of this weekend's opening round of the Future West Canadian Arenacross Championships. Photo courtesy of Stu McLean

Armstrong, BC: Home of this weekend’s opening round of the Future West Canadian Arenacross Championships. Photo courtesy of Stu McLean

 

“You know how riders always want to ride on a golf course?” he asks, “Well, the stuff we’re using this weekend is from the top layer of a golf course. It’s got a high amount of clay but there’s topsoil in there as well.”

 

Words by Danny Brault

Things are cooling off in most regions across Canada, except of course in our nation’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario. It’s taking over headlines faster than Rob Ford on a trip to Amsterdam. I shouldn’t be making jokes, but I’ve been listening to a lot of CBC radio lately and it’s wild how the media roller coaster is taking people through this whole tragic shooting incident at the Parliament that left one Canadian soldier dead.

My prayers go out to the solider and his family. I hope this whole terror strike thing isn’t to become an ongoing problem in our country. Let’s all do our part to protect the freedom and livelihood for everyone living in the Great White North.

Don’t let fear overtake you. Continue being kind to your neighbour, and in fact, get to know them more and beyond digital means. As we know from the tiny, but noisy, sport of Canadian motocross, this country is built up of many great communities from BC to the Maritimes and then north to Nunavut and Labrador. Visitors to Canada often comment on how friendly and laid back we are. Let’s maintain this approachable personality, but at the same time, be discerning with all of the crap going on in the world.

Okay, enough politics and drama. The CBC has those headlines covered.

This weekend the Canadian motocross community (if not physical then digitally) moves into Armstrong, BC for Round 1 of the Future West Canadian Arenacross Championships. Round 2 is the very next night (Saturday) and the whole series wraps up before Christmas, which seems to be favourable for riders, sponsors, organizers and everyone involved. It keeps things tighter and the blood flowing without a long gap between events. Find results, notes, photos and all that good stuff on Canadian Arenacross here.

Along with a stacked pro class, there's equal excitment to be had in a full amateur program during the Canadian AX Championships. Photo by James Lissimore

Along with a stacked pro class, there’s equal excitement to be had in a full amateur program during the Canadian AX Championships. Photo by James Lissimore

I spoke with Future West’s Stu McLean yesterday, who plays a big hand in the planning, promotion and execution of the Canadian Arenacross series. He’s excited for this weekend’s event in Armstrong, especially with what’s in store for the riders and fans in terms of the track.

“It was a six hour track build with myself and Chad Mabberley running the machines,” says McLean. “The big thing is that we have an outdoor starting gate, so that’s something new for the riders and fans. It allows us more floor space inside since the starting line takes up so much area. Regardless of whether we’re running the start outdoors; if it rains, we have a plan in place to groom and scrap the starting line.”

Dirt is always a concern when building a track indoors and McLean says the soil in Armstrong provides a unique opportunity for racers, one many can only dream of. “You know how riders always want to ride on a golf course?” he asks, “Well, the stuff we’re using this weekend is from the top layer of a golf course. It’s got a high amount of clay but there’s topsoil in there as well. We got a great deal on it and the beauty of the clay, for a track builder at least, is that things hold up longer and you don’t need to keep reshaping like you do with sand. We’ll do our best to keep lines building in the corners, and of course, our biggest concern is keeping tracks safe for amateurs and pros, but still trying to deliver enough challenge to keep things interesting.”

 

Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki's Pat O'Connor will be busy this weekend, as LED has Jesse Pettis and Teddy Maier competing. Photo by James Lissimore

Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki’s Pat O’Connor will be busy this weekend, as their young gun Jesse Pettis (not pictured here, but not much bigger) is on the line Armstrong tonight. Photo by James Lissimore

With a stacked pro class in Armstrong, and committed to the entire series, the championship is wide open. Names like Maffenbeier, Lockhart, Pettis, Hoyer, Anstett, Entiknapp, Johnson, Nauditt, Schmoke ……. can be found on the entry list for tonight and tomorrow’s action. McLean’s pick for Armstrong?

““It’s really hard to say, it’s going to be tight racing, but I want to go with the young guy, Jesse Pettis,” he adds. “He’s riding really well and I think he gained a lot of maturity this past summer.”

Can the teenager take down the Big Boys? We’re due for the next Beaton, Klatt, Facciotti, or Lange and Pettis appears to be next in line.

Also let’s not forget about Teddy Maier. The Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki is racing in the pro classes. Team Manager Jason Hughes enjoys the series and used to support it a few years ago will a full on race program. He’s got a good chance as any for taking the title, with the youngster Pettis and seasoned indoor (and outdoor) vet, Teddy Maier.

Casey Keast put this peppy little YZ85 up front in the Supermini class at the third Annual Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas. Photo by James Lissimore

Casey Keast put this peppy little YZ85 up front in the Supermini class at the third Annual Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas. Photo by James Lissimore

I won’t dig in too deeply into last Saturday’s Monster Energy Cup, but I did grab a few quotes from Canadian 85cc racer, Casey Keast. The Yamaha Fox Racing rider left Vegas with a holeshot, top-3 lap times and a top-10 finish in the Super Mini class. It’s safe to say, every rider has dreamed of leading a race in front of thousands of fans and Keast got to live that fantasy—and then some with it being the ‘million dollar’ race. Here are a few words from Keast following his ‘all-in’ weekend at Monster Cup:

What it felt like getting a holeshot and leading the second and final Super Mini race at the Monster Energy Cup:
“It was an awesome feeling, but as soon as I saw yellow flags everywhere I knew something was up.”

Toughest obstacle at the MEC:
“Toughest jump? Probably the finish line. I had a get-off in practice over it. It wasn’t so much the jump itself, but it the little step up before, you had to downside it perfectly to make the finish line jump.”

Best part of Keast’s weekend in Las Vegas:
“My favourite part was probably the lap that I was leading; it made me feel like a top pro, which was really cool! It felt like I was on top of the world .”

Chris Pomeroy, who saw the MEC action live, goes into more detail on the Canadians’ weekend in Vegas here.

 

Masciangelo took a win, while Canadian Casey Keast's highlight came with a holeshot in the second and final Supermini moto. He proved he's right there with the best of them, running up front and setting lap times in the top three.

Here it is: Lissimore’s TOP PIC from the Monster Energy Cup. He explains why below. Photo by James Lissimore

I was in touch with Kevin Kinrade from Mongoose Machine, who is a distributor for Rekluse clutches and the Race Team Support Manager. Known for their easy-riding ‘automatic’ clutches, Rekluse also builds quality ‘manual’ clutches. He’s quite happy with the progress of the brand and products in Canada. For years now, they’ve been supporting KTM Canada’s race teams and they also help Rockstar Energy Drink OTSFF Yamaha and Cycle North teams.

“We’re getting busier and busier in off-road and motocross,” says Kinrade. “Things are moving along well with the teams, and then we have guys local to our shop, Ryan Lockhart and Brock Hoyer testing our products and giving feedback.”

I’m sure those clutches will be getting a workout with his test riders this weekend in Armstrong!

Ever wonder what the heck happened to Jolene Van Vugt, causing to her to be willing to flip upside down on dirt bikes and basically anything else Travis Pastrana and his cronies can send down and up a take-off ramp? You’ll find some clues in MTV’s new television series featuring Van Vugt and her growing up in London, Ontario. The series includes some great footage from her wee little days when she first got into motocross … and hockey … and skateboarding … and BMX … and anything else she could get into mischief with. Watch the progress of the Nitro Circus stuntwoman here.

Okay, before I leave you, let’s grab a few words from the man behind the lens, James Lissimore. A local to the Canadian Arenacross series, Lissimore lives in Mission, BC and has been attending these indoor events before mega-pixel existed and it took 14 months to process film and build a photo report. The aperture-loving Nomad was at the MEC in Vegas last weekend, and this weekend he’s back home taking in the action in Armstrong, BC.

 

Justin Hill must be watching old Mitch Cooke videos lately....  Photo by James Lissimore

Justin Hill must be watching old Mitch Cooke videos lately…. Photo by James Lissimore

Lissimore’s take on shooting photos at Monster Energy Cup in Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas:
The floor is really small in that stadium and the track takes up a lot of room so there’s only one tiny strip down the middle that you’re allowed to stand in. You can’t get near the start or any of the traditional spots you’d shoot. Plus, with all the photographers crammed into one tiny spot, you’re constantly tripping over each other. Obviously, don’t write about this in your column, Feld gets easily butt hurt if you complain about anything.

 

Justin Barcia ... can he win without a 'magic' Factory Honda? Photo by James Lissimore

Justin Barcia … can he win without a ‘magic’ Factory Honda? Photo by James Lissimore

Why does Vegas have poopy photography access?
Well, Las Vegas always has terrible access so there’s nothing I’d really say was my favourite. Honestly, with so little access we have to the track there, my favourite images were whips from practice that I shot from the stands, which I’ve included. Also, the shot of Keast getting the holeshot in the Super Mini class is cool from the standpoint that he’s Canadian. Too bad that race got red flagged but still great to see him in the mix.

Cole Seely moves up to the 450 class in 2015 on an American Honda CRF450R.

Cole Seely moves up to the 450 class in 2015 on an American Honda CRF450R. Photo by James Lissimore

His average settings for shooting at Sam Boyd Stadium:
Average settings for shooting at Las Vegas. ISO 8000, Shutter 1/1000, Aperture F4

His predictions for Armstrong this weekend:
I’m not sure who’s all racing this weekend, but I’d imagine Teddy will be good. Sounds like Enticknapp has a decent amount of AX experience so if he gets good starts I think he’ll be good. It’s always so unpredictable at the first couple rounds.

Enjoy your weekend, folks. Thanks for reading!