Future West Moto Arenacross Opening Weekend by Brent Worrall
The Future West Moto Canadian Arenacross series kicked off just a few shorts minutes from my front door in Armstrong, BC on Friday night. Up until Friday we had great weather with temperatures at or around the mid-20s. Come race day, Mother Nature played her ‘what if’ card to perfection as our start was outside of the building. The rain was not heavy but it was pretty consistent on Friday, and in a discipline of racing where starts are not just important but a necessity, this added variable made things interesting. The track itself was a cool layout, which catered to and challenged all levels of riders. Usually in Arenacross it is the obstacles and tight technical corners that challenge the riders most. From my vantage point (which was the best in the house doing my ‘Live’ broadcast in the comfortable confines of the enclosed Press Box) traction on the hard packed surface was the biggest challenge for all riders.
Some riders struggled to keep the front and rear wheels from breaking loose while others made it seem as if they were running velcro tires on indoor/outdoor carpet. The entries were on par with last year and we hovered right around the 200 mark on both Friday and Saturday night. The local community once again supported this event and did everything they could to accommodate Future West. With over $60,000 on the line at the top level for four weekends of racing, the action in the Pro classes did not disappoint. On Friday night in both the Lites Class and the Open Pro class, series veteran Ross Johnson showed everyone what he is made of and why he is a Champ. Ross was simply the fastest man on the track and anyone that was there would find it hard to argue that. Ryan Lockhart did, however, manage to pull off a stellar performance in Friday night’s Dash for Cash defeating Johnson. Ryan was also a hard charging second in the Pro Open on Friday night. Both Adam Enticknap and I concurred that Lockhart had a great ride and was not far off of Ross’ pace at the end of 15 laps. I would like to throw in a mention of praise for Reyley Gallup who made the trek out for one night only to saddle up a GP Moto Goldentyre KTM. Gallup finished on the podium with a solid 3rd in the Lites class and fell in the Open main on the last lap while running 3rd. He would finish a solid fourth. Gallup would not line up Saturday evening as he would return to his native Alberta to attend the AMSA awards ceremony to collect his hardware as top dog in the 250 and 450 Pro Class. If you have not heard of Reyley Gallup before, you’re welcome.
Saturday saw a different tale on many levels and some for positive reasons. The North Okanagan Sun was back out in full force and it was more the kind of day these parts are accustomed to in early Fall. The start that had been a little slick the night before was very tacky and the gate drop hook up was on point. This to me was interesting as the rider who ran the table at the top level the night before, Ross Johnson got bad starts all night on Saturday night. He did manage to use his skill and race savvy along with cashing in on some riders early Moto misfortune to go 1-2 for the night. He won the Lites class main event over Jake Anstett, and Ryan Lockhart rounded out the podium. That’s right Ryan Lockhart a podium on Troy Smith’s Maple Ridge Motorsports 250F.
Ryan credited the 250 seat time and the extra track time to helping him to stay in the race flow and ready to go come gate drop. These days are very long for someone like Ryan who on a race day with his school duties can be there anywhere from 12-14 hours two nights in a row. The Pro Open would go to Brad Nauditt who looked like the Future West Arenacross veteran that we have all come to love and know. Brad on his GA Checkpoint Yamaha had a mishap while leading the Lites class on Saturday night that cost him a chance to win while leading. Johnson would collect second over Jess Pettis who also had a mishap in the Lites main. Pettis would score his first podium of what I predict will be many in the series.
I cannot end this without speaking about the Dash For Cash. Wow, what a beauty it was on Saturday evening. In one of the qualifying legs, Jess Pettis bounced Lockhart pretty hard and and Ryan did unfortunately go down pretty hard. To Jess’ credit and defence it was not intentional and he of course felt bad that his Ride 100% boss was knocked down. To me it was merely a racing incident that can often happen indoors and more often than not it happens in the Dash For Cash. The final of the Dash for Cash was an epic battle between Danyluk Racing’s Kyle Swanson from San Antonio, Texas and Tenino, Washington’s Ross Johnson. The much smaller and slighter in stature Swanson demonstrated amazing throttle control and confidence as he pirouetted his Suzuki 450 around turns that some of which had the radius of a pinhead. This battle culminated in a cat and mouse stand off on the last left hander before the finish line jump. Swanson literally stopped and blocked Johnson’s path. Ross waited patiently for Swanson to make the next move. When it was evident that Swanson had no intention of moving, Ross, in Kamikaze fashion, dropped the clutch at high RPM in and effort to knock Swanson down or launch over the backside of his bike. Swanson with cat like reflexes hit the afterburner switch simultaneously and narrowly launched the finish line double a whiskey throttle cable ahead of Johnson. Both riders, not having near the drive or distance to clear the 60 plus foot double, cased each of their landings. Both riders acknowledged each other’s efforts in a mutual show of respect. Kyle Swanson collected $1,000 for what this race fan was a true ‘One Lap Wonder Moment’ in Future West Moto racing history. I cannot wait for this great series to continue at the Agriplex in Cloverdale, November 6th and 7th.