Good day! I hope everyone had a great final weekend of summer. For my family, the summer of 2023 gave us a whirlwind of emotions from fear and uncertainty after our sons big crash in Kamloops, to pure joy when he finally got back on his bike two weeks ago, and then back on the ice playing hockey last night. I’m not even talking about the competition side of things as it will still be another month before he sees a gate drop or a puck drop. I’m just talking about seeing your child back doing something that you know they love and you know makes them feel whole again. We all need that, regardless of our age. However, for our children, it’s especially important.
So, what did everyone think of Round 2 of the SMX Playoffs in Chicago on Saturday night? It was certainly a different type of track then last weekend in Charlotte. This weekend riders faced longer lap times, and more of an outdoor type design. This, coupled with a nighttime race, left the riders struggling with not only finding the proper set up, but also with their vision as the lights from above created shadows and dark pockets on the track. With the higher speeds, ruts, and outdoor type bumps, this track demanded the utmost concentration during the two main events.
In the end however, we did witness some great racing as once the riders got comfortable on the track they let it all hang out. In the 250 class, Hunter Lawrence and Jo Shimoda were once again the class of the field as they battled hard for the win. Lawrence put himself back on the top step of the podium with a dominating 1-1 moto score. Shimoda ended up second overall, with Haiden Deegan finishing in third. The 250 class, as always was very entertaining and heading into this weekend in LA, it’s anyone’s guess who will take the win. In the 450 class, things also got interesting as Jett Lawrence rebounded with a vengeance and took the overall win. Jett won the opening moto with ease over his teammate Chase Sexton. In the second moto, Lawrence was again leading, but with a few laps to go he slowed down and waved Ken Roczen by. It was a move that will no doubt be talked about for some time, as Jett explained on the podium, he was not only trying to take points away from the 450 class points leader Sexton, but was also giving Roczen a ‘new baby’ gift (Kenny and his wife gave birth to their second boy last week). I can see why a lot of people didn’t like this move, it somewhat brings into question the integrity of sport. I mean, not often do you see a QB throw and intentional interception or a pro golfer miss a putt on purpose. However, you do occasionally see in other forms of motorsports, one driver let another by during the race. But, that usually has to do with helping a teammate instead of trying to cost them points. It was a bizarre move for sure but I’m not sure we can be too hard on the kid. He was simply trying to help himself win the big prize next weekend and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Was it an insult to Roczen for Lawrence to say that he was giving him a baby gift? I mean, sure, maybe, if you’re Kenny you’re thinking that you don’t take ‘gift’s from anyone in the form of moving over and allowing you to win a moto. But, that is between Jett and Kenny and they can sort it out. With his technique, personality, work ethic, and family history, Jett is the best thing that has happened to our sport in some time so as I said, let’s cut the 20 year old a little slack! At very least, it makes for some exciting storylines heading into the final SMX round this weekend in LA.
Moving onto the Triple Crown Series and this Saturday’s opening round of the AX/SX Tour at Gopher Dunes. The SX track at Gopher Dunes is now built, and a few of our top SX riders have been putting in some laps on it. From what I heard and saw in videos, version one of this track is extremely technical and more for the experienced SX rider. However, I heard this morning that this week the track is going to be modified and made more rider-friendly for all levels of SX riders, including amateurs! This is great news as several riders who want to race this weekend won’t have SX Suspension or a lot of experience on these types of tracks. Also, remember that the opening round is a day race so whether you’re racing or wanting to spectate, you have to arrive early on Saturday. The official day schedule will be out tomorrow, but from what I’m hearing there will be open practice on Friday afternoon, and then the pro-racing will begin around 1pm on Saturday. The racing format will consist of a Super Pole race (these are always exciting), a 250 and 450 main event, a Supermini feature race in between, and then a Super Final to cap off an exciting day of racing. I’m excited for the opening round, this past Saturday I was able to get a preview of how several of our riders are looking on a SX track. As you might or might not know I had Vision Built come out three weeks ago and construct a SX track on my property near Shelburne, ON. Since then I’ve had several pro-riders come out. On Saturday, it was like a mini main event as Tanner Ward, Jacob Piccolo, Tyler Gibbs, Zach Ufimzeff, Devyn Smith, Preston Masciangelo, and Daniel Elmore were putting in laps. My son and I even jumped in for a few motos, and we had a blast. I still enjoy riding SX during this time of the year, and it was also great to sit back and watch a few of our top riders dissect the track. If anyone, pro or amateur, would like to come out this week and do a little SX prep then please reach out to me at email@example.com. The Vision Built boys did an awesome job on the track and we’d be happy to have you out! Stay tuned for more news on Saturday’s SX race at Gopher Dunes.
Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great final week of summer, and I want to leave you this week asking for a small favour. When you have a chance this week, I would like you to give your moto loving kids a big hug and tell them how proud you are that they have the courage to throw their leg over a dirt bike and do what they can to exercise the gift of knowing how to ride. I say this because this past weekend we lost one of our cherished moto-brothers. Jason Slingerland past away after his courageous battle with the injuries he sustained in a scary crash last weekend. Our thoughts go out to Jason’s family and to those who knew him best. RIP Jason, you will be missed by everyone in the moto family!