The first installment of a two-part interview with top Canadian off-road racer and two-time Corduroy Enduro winner, Brian Wojnarowski.
By Danny Brault
Canadian off-road racing may not boast the some sizzle as motocross but there’s a good mix of talent across the board, in every region. For a good portion of the last decade, Machine Racing Yamaha’s Brian “Wojo” Wojnarowski has been the ‘top dog’ on the Ontario hare scramble, enduro and off-road scenes.
He’s battled with Canada’s best at the WEC National Championships, guys like Bobby Prochnau, Jason Shrag and Guy Giroux, and he’s consistently been taking home the gold in his own backyard for the last few years. It hasn’t been easy for Wojo, however. The now 35-year-old has been fending off the youthful aggression of Josh ….. and Zach Lewis. Most recently, Wojo earned his second consecutive Cordury Enduro Championship.
The three-day enduro has been happening in Gooderham, Ontario (2 hours northeast of Toronto) since 1953; to add your name to the long list of winners comes with a lot of pride. To have his name added to “The Log” is a big deal, especially to a local hero like Wojo. He made sure to celebrate by testing the durability of his Pirellis on the Orono pavement. Let’s learn a little more about what’s happening in the life of Wojo….
Below is a video of “Wojo”showing off his joy after winning his second consecutive Corduroy Enduro …it’s the simple things in the life that matter like testing the durability of a dirt bike tire.
MXP: Hi Wojo, what’s going on? I see you won your second Corduroy Enduro this September. How was that?
Brian Wojnarowski: It was really good this year. A lot of fun. Friday and Saturday, the weather was good and not too too tough. Saturday we got some rain but Sunday it poured. Rained so hard, you couldn’t tell if it was water or rock, it all looked the same with water bouncing off the rocks. Sunday was the trickiest day. Lots of water holes. I did great; no bike problems and only tipped over for a split second. It’s important not to mistakes up there (at the Corduroy), lots of guys watered out, eh.
It seems like it’s not a true Cord experience unless rain is involved in some capacity.
I certainly prefer when it rains because it makes it trickier. Every year that I’ve gone it seems to rain at least one day. I will take that over dust any day.
Tell us what it’s like riding the Corduroy course compared to other ‘tough guy’ events and off-road events?
It’s more challenging than any of the other tracks we ride in Ontario. There is much more challenging terrain out west, but it’s the amount of time that you’re riding that makes the Cord so tough. You could water your bike out in one spot and then you’re done. One mistake can kill you. The Xtinction Race in Alberta was really tough, but it was only two hours long. There were no water holes, but there was stuff to get hurt on. The Cord, it goes on and on and on. One bad day and you’re out for the weekend.
How long are the loops each day?
I think Friday was about 40 or 50 km; Saturday about 120 km and Sunday was cut short because the rain was so bad and we were behind schedule. Sunday we did probably 100 km. You’re not racing that entire 100 km, but there are trail riding sections between the tests. Sometimes the trail riding sections can be the toughest because there are lot of water spots and you can lose your focus because you’re not racing in those sections. The Cord is really hard on the bike; the mud up there is really braise and wears things out differently than other places you ride. If you get a chance to do it, try it. Come on up.
I wouldn’t mind trying, it’s close to my house. The amateur portion is only two days right?
Only two days and you don’t do the same tests as the pros do. If you can borrow some bike and test it, that’s the perfect place .
When was your first Corduroy and how many times have you raced it?
I think it was 2007 or 2008. I missed a few years because there was a national enduro the same weekend as The Cord, so I couldn’t go. I think I’ve done it six times.
Talk about your race this year. I see Quebec’s Phillip Chaine was there but something happened that hurt his time on Saturday’s loop.
On Friday, it was a short day and Phil and I were pretty close. I only beat him by 20 seconds on Friday. We were close. On Saturday, right before the end of the day, he either watered out or broke a case; I got word that he had problems. Obviously we would have been a lot closer on Saturday without bike problems. Once I heard he was out of the race, it changed it for me because he was the closest guy to me by far. On Sunday, I didn’t have to push so hard because Phil was basically out. We were close again on Sunday but he was out for the overall. There was a guy there I never met before, but he was super cool. Aaron Knopp. He was faster in the higher speed sections, but I felt like I had an edge on him in the snotty stuff.
Do you ride the same course/ trail every year?
It’s different all the time. Some tests end up being similar year to year. Depending on the route, there are new things or things we haven’t used in years.
What’s the best part of The Cord?
Greens Mountain is my favourite part. It’s the trickiest part with the rocks, and you can make a mistake there and really be in trouble. I go and ride Greens all the time because I think it’s really good practice. It’s my favourite spot.
With the event starting back in ’53, it’s one of the most historic races in Canada. It must mean a lot to you to win the event, I’m sure.
It is. Regardless of who shows up, it’s a cool race. Some years there have been some top guys, and that’s neat to have a chance to race against some world class guys.
What did (Machine Racing’s) John Nelson have to say after the race?
Oh, he had lots to say … what did he have to say? I think he was happy. I think the top three were on Yamahas. There were a bunch in the top 10 on Yamahas and he was happy. He would have been pissed if we didn’t do well because we put a lot of effort into it. He rode too and won the Ultra Vet class or Legends class they call it . It’s for the guys who are too old and dumb to quit . I think four days after he was still telling me how his butt was bleeding.
I believe you make out all right at The Cord in terms of payout? Not that motocross is anything special, but off-road pays less normally.
It’ good; I think it was $1200 for the win. It helped out. I haven’t done moto for so long that I don’t know what they have for payouts. Nelson has told me here and there and apparently it’s not much better. I don’t think anybody does it for money, maybe a couple do. But there isn’t much money to be made. Maybe Colton does, but that’s how it is.