Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day and welcome to this post Father’s Day edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. I hope that all you dads out there had a great Father’s Day, regardless of where you spent it and who you spent it with. It’s hard to believe that we’re almost into July. Yesterday was in fact the longest day of the year with 13 hours and 35 minutes of daylight as the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer – the most northerly circle of latitude at which the sun can be directly overheard. Sadly, the days get shorter now until December 21 when it starts back north again. So, get out and enjoy the long hot days of summer.

Awesome job by everyone involved with Supercross to pull off these final seven rounds.

Did you catch the final round of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series last night from Salt Lake City? Before I get to the multiple story lines that came out, not only from last night but from all of the final seven rounds, I think we should give some big props to Feld Entertainment and all of the people behind the scenes who helped to make these final seven rounds happen. Considering where we all were two months ago it’s a real miracle that they were able to pull this off. With other sports like hockey and basketball trying desperately to figure out how to finish off their seasons, Supercross was the first to do so, and they did it in style. Oh sure, there weren’t any fans in the stands and at times the Salt Lake City track didn’t look like much fun to race on, but in the end the racing was exciting, all three championships went down to the final round and Dylan Ferrandis, Chase Sexton and Eli Tomac were all very deserving Champions. Well done Supercross, now it’s time to head outdoors and try to make these series happen.

The three SX Champs of 2020!

As I mentioned above, the three riders that came into the final round with the points lead ended up holding on for their 2020 Supercross Championships. For Ferrandis and Sexton, both are repeat winners as they won the 250SX West and 250SX East titles last year. However, for Eli Tomac this was his first ever 450SX Championship. Over the past few years Tomac has won the most main events by far and has come up just short of the 450SX title on two occasions, so it must feel incredible for him to finally win. Ironically, Tomac became the first rider ever to win the 450SX title as father, definitely a cool stat and on Father’s Day no less. So Tomac rode smart in the main event to clinch his first SX title, Zach Osborne took the main event win (his first ever) after inheriting the lead from his teammate, Jason Anderson, who lost his seat with a few laps to go. Dean Wilson finished a solid third to make it an all-Husqvarna podium at the final round. These three Husqvarna riders appeared to be very comfortable in Salt Lake City as they were at their best in these final rounds. I’m always fascinated in the process an athlete goes through to reach the top. After a slow start to his season back in January, Osborne slowly improved before his massive practice crash in February. In that crash he injured his ribs, shoulder, back, and wrist I believe. The SX Series shutting down for 85 days actually helped Osborne as it allowed him to heal and then get back into shape. Whatever he did it seemed to work as he just got faster and faster during these final seven rounds. If we look closely at Osborne’s final rounds you could see his confidence starting to build. First it was a fast qualifying session, then it was a solid heat race, then he ran near the front in a main event, then he led some laps, then more laps. All of this culminated into his big win yesterday. The same could be said for Dean Wilson, who little by little clawed his way to the 450SX podium. Confidence and momentum are a wonderful thing, but it takes a long time to build and sadly a short time to lose it.

Congratulations Chad Reed on one incredible career!

Another incredible storyline from yesterday was Chad Reed and his final Supercross main event. This was Reed’s 264th start, and with his solid 10th place finish in the main event, it was his 210th top ten finish. Reed’s career stats are very impressive and so is his thirst for competition. To me what is most impressive is the number of times he’s come back from serious injuries. I mean, a year ago he crashed in Seattle and was landed on and run over, breaking his shoulder and ribs. Then again in November at the Paris SX he went down off of the start and injured his ribs once again. This affected his preparation for this season and he ended up coming into 2020 out of shape. However, true to Reed’s determination, he fought hard each weekend and by Daytona was looking more like the Chad Reed we know. Unfortunately, right after Daytona, the SX Series and world came to a grinding halt and in an instance Reed’s farewell season was in jeopardy. At that point I doubt anyone would’ve blamed him for relaxing and perhaps allowing the sun to set on his long and successful career. But you don’t rack up the stats I mentioned above without knowing how to make the best out of a bad situation, and through his Social Media we were able to watch Reed rebuild his fitness over the break. Reed showed up at the final seven rounds in Salt Lake City in incredible shape, riding a new Mountain Motorsports KTM (he began the 2020 SX Series on a Honda) and ready to finish off his career in style. Over the course of this past week there has been a number of interviews with Reed where he stated that as much as he was enjoying his time in Salt Lake City, he was very disappointed that there were no fans in the stands. After all, this farewell tour was designed around him being able to say goodbye to his fans and for them to bid farewell to him. Because of this missing piece, Reed speculated that he might, just might, come back in 2021 and race Anaheim 1 and maybe a few other rounds. Will he or won’t he? As long as he’s in shape and focused then I think he should race as many events as he wants. As I mentioned, his body has been through a lot over the years so I’m not sure if he has any lingering issues at 38-years-old. If he doesn’t then he’s a walking miracle as I don’t know too many motocross riders that aren’t in constant pain at that age. His tenth place yesterday was pretty remarkable so he obviously still has the speed and desire to battle with the best SX riders in the world. We’ll see what happens in the next few months as I believe it could be either way. Reed could either be done as we sit here today or he could keep training, race a few Outdoor Nationals in the fall and then race the opening few rounds of Supercross in 2021. Whatever happens from here, I know I’ve enjoyed watching Chad Reed since he first arrived on North American soil back in 2002. I’ve loved his style, his never say die attitude, and for years I’ve been happy when he’s found success. But most of all, Reed’s retirement represents the end of the greatest era in our sport, and honestly that makes me sad. Thanks for the memories Chad and good luck with whatever the future holds for you and your family!

Who is ready for Walton this coming weekend? Photo by James Lissimore

With the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross now behind us, we can look ahead to the great outdoors and the beginning of both the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series as well as the Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series in July. But first up is Round 2 of the AMO Ontario Provincial Series this weekend at Walton Raceway. AMO and Walton Raceway are no doubt hoping to build on the success of the opening round last weekend at Gopher Dunes where there were over 600 entries and a great race day had by all. After an extremely slow start to our season (for reasons out of everyone’s control) our sport and industry in Canada are beginning to recover and build momentum as we head into the summer. Bike sales have been through the roof – as I mentioned last week bike sales for off-road and competition units were up 100% in May compared to last year at the same time. Consumers are buying bikes, parts, accessories, and in recent weeks have been riding maybe more than they ever have. Racing was the next step and thankfully that happened last weekend. We need to stick together, put aside any personal ill feelings that might exist between individuals and move forward as a united front. The reason I bring this up is that over the weekend there was talk about certain people trying to sabotage what we currently have going on in Southern Ontario. Calls were placed to certain municipalities, questioning why certain tracks were allowed to host races and conduct practice days, and asked if these government officials aware of them. It was definitely unsettling to hear, especially because as an industry we’re trying our best to recover from this pandemic. These are crazy times to say the least and we’re doing our best to get through it. Not only do we all know someone who has had their health affected by the virus, but we also know even more people who have lost their job or have been impacted financially as well. As I said, to recover we need to stick together and remain positive. Like any family, we may not always agree with each other, but we need to always support one another for the greater good. I reached out to a few people last night regarding this troubling situation and I received this passionate email back this morning. It was so well written that I thought I’d share it with all of you.

We’re all one big family in this sport and we have to try and stick together. Especially when times are tough! Photo by James Lissimore

“What we’ve always prided ourselves on in motocross is the fact that we call ourselves a community. This elevates us over other sports: we’re a bit of an underdog by way of national sports recognition and household familiarity, but our moto family is what keeps us coming back to the track weekend after weekend.  We share a love for this sport and that creates for most of us a lifelong bond.  We love moto, and with good reason.

Ontario had its first motocross race in 2020 two weekends ago at Gopher Dunes, and the second race of the season is scheduled for this Sunday at Walton Raceway.  Both tracks have been integral in establishing motocross as a legitimate sport in Canada, and they spent countless hours working alongside MRC and AMO to ensure motocross was added to Ontario’s Stage 1 Reopening list.  Their hard work and dedication have benefited us all – they laid the groundwork for moto to return to Ontario, regardless of club affiliation.

What is frustrating in all of this is the fact that complaints are being filed with their local and regional governing bodies. We expect complaints to come from those who are outside of the moto community, people who have never been to a race and are sensitive to the fear that surrounds all of us during a pandemic. But to receive confirmation that those who have been responsible for the complaints filed with Norfolk County and the Municipality of Huron East are from within the moto community is incredibly disappointing, to say the least.

If you do not understand how motocross was included in the Stage 1 list, all you have to do is ask. The MMIC is the body that represents us to the provincial government. They are knowledgeable with the legislature and are readily available to answer any question you may have.

Both Walton Raceway and Gopher Dunes are willing to share with anyone who asks what they have learned thus far; their phone numbers and emails are publicly available. There are nine tracks in Ontario that are operational right now and many of them have weekly promoters’ meetings to share valuable information on how their businesses are operating at this time. If you needed help, it would have been provided.  

We understand this is an incredibly frustrating time right now. Perhaps you can’t see your loved ones or you are struggling to pay bills because your business isn’t operational, or it’s just a difficult time in general. We get it. But to selfishly serve your own misguided agenda and direct that frustration at people who are paving the way so you can get back to racing, it’s incredibly telling of your true character. Be better. Your decisions reflect poorly on the sport so many of us actually love, and you’re doing yourself and your riders a great disservice.”

Thank-you for reading this week’s Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. If you have any questions or comments please email me at chris@mxpmag.com. Have a great week and please stay safe and ride safe.