Good day and welcome to another edition of the Monday Gate Drop. I hope everyone had a great final weekend of June and a fun couple of days of riding. This Wednesday is Canada Day so let’s celebrate the birthday of our great country while still following the social distancing rules that are still in place. Happy Canada Day everyone!
As I mentioned above, I hope everyone had a great weekend and I hope the weather was as nice in your area as it was in Southern Ontario. I think June and September are my favourite months for weather as most days the sun is out and it’s not too hot or hasn’t gotten cold yet. That was the case this past weekend as the temperature and blue skies were perfect for riding. After a successful opening round two weeks ago at Gopher Dunes, AMO Racing held Round 2 of the Ontario Provincial Series at Walton Raceway yesterday. It was another great day for racing with once again over 600 entries, and by all accounts a fairly safe day. Not only was the turnout great for both Saturday’s practice day and yesterday’s race day but the Walton track crew did an exceptional job with keeping the track in good racing shape. As everyone knows, with the type of soil that Walton Raceway has and with the sun shining bright all day long, maintaining the track is difficult at best. Yes, there was some dust at times and by the end of the day the track was showing some wear and tear, but with all things consider I think the conditions were very good. There was also another great pro turnout yesterday with top riders like Cole Thompson, Tanner Ward and Sam Gaynor in attendance. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this column, it’s always entertaining when a fast group of pro riders come out to race local events. It’s also great for our young riders to be able to line the fences in between their races and watch some of our best riders race on the same track. I used to do the exact same thing when I was a kid and then I’d try to emulate the style and lines that the pro riders would use. With all due respect to all of the other riders racing the Cash Class yesterday, Cole Thompson appeared to be on a slightly different level on the rutted and challenging Walton track. His line choice, smooth throttle control, and momentum he carried through the deep ruts was fun to watch. I could honestly watch him ride the Walton track all day long and not get bored. Anyway, Cole took the win in both the Cash Class and the Youth Int/Pro Class and looked great while doing so.
Of course, racing wouldn’t be racing without some sort of drama and yesterday from what I can gather the local police were called at least four times from people within the gates of Walton Raceway. The complaints ranged from people not social distancing properly to the possibility of people being intoxicated. Now, I’m not for a second saying that either complaint wasn’t valid or cause for concern, because if someone or some people saw something they didn’t feel comfortable then it should be addressed. But it is confusing why these people wouldn’t first bring these issues to either track owner Brett Lee or AMO head honcho Ryan Gauld? As far as the social distancing thing goes, everyone yesterday was warned numerous times throughout the day to social distance and to try to stay in their small social bubble. So yes, in these interesting times that we’re now living in, it’s understandable if people have concerns about other people not following Government mandated rules. Also, I think the intoxication part of it goes without saying as there is just no place at the race track for excessive drinking. However, if these situations came up yesterday and you really had concerns, as I said, why not keep it inside the fences and talk to the people in charge of the event first? If they don’t do anything about it then sure take it as far as you want and call the authorities. But for someone or some people to call the police (four times) as their first reaction to concerns is extremely vindictive, in my opinion. You obviously were trying to get yesterday shut down and thus have everyone, including our youngest riders who were possibly experiencing their first ever race and having the time of their lives, pack up and go home. I don’t know who this person or people are but honestly, if that’s how you want to deal with issues you encounter at a race track, then please stay away and don’t come back until you want to be part of the solution. Add in the fact that just last week a rival association tried to get these races in Southern Ontario shut down, and you have two very dark incidents in our sport in just ten days. Obviously, every rule at the race track should be followed as accurately as possible, there is no debating that fact. But unless it’s very serious or directly affecting you or your family, mind your business and focus on the real reason you’re there. We in Ontario (and I say ‘we’ because at the end of day we’re all part of this large motocross family) are currently experiencing something very special. We’re very fortunate in Southern Ontario as not every region in Canada has racing going on, especially with over 600 entries. No one could’ve predicted the type of interest in racing that we’ve seen in recent weeks, I know I didn’t. But we have it and let’s not try to screw it up by doing things like calling the police because we see people standing too close together. As I’ve said a few times over the past few months, we’re sure living in very interesting times and as human beings it either brings out the best of us or the worst.
However, this does kind of begs the question, why are these AMO events in Ontario seeing such a large numbers of racers both at Gopher Dunes two weeks ago and yesterday at Walton Raceway? Well, I think it’s because of a few factors that have aligned themselves due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The first of which is that right now in Ontario AMO Racing is the only club to be currently holding events. So, if you live here and you want to race, you only have one choice. The second reason is demand, obviously. If you create a big demand for something then people are going to want it. With no racing through April and May and the thought that there might not even be racing in 2020, when the gate finally dropped two weeks ago at Gopher Dunes, racers were all over it. The third reason is that due to Covid-19 and the restrictions in place, going racing right now is pretty seamless. You sign-up online and pay for everything in advance, including the dreaded gate fees, you show up and someone shows you where and how to park. With the social distancing rules in the paddock you’re not really parked near anyone, so you have a little privacy, and you don’t have to leave your pit area for riders meeting as it’s broadcast over the loud speaker (why did no one think of this before?). People are suckers these days for convenience and right now these races are like going to Super Target in the USA when you can do all your shopping in one place. Another thing that I believe should be looked at for the foreseeable future, and this goes back to the creating a demand for racing, is that we don’t need to race every weekend. Every other weekend at most I think is perfect for today’s busy family. This gives everyone either a week off in between events to either go and practice or do something other than motocross. I’d rather have less races with 650 entries than more races with 300 entries. This type of schedule would work in regions like Ontario where we don’t have a lot of tracks to choose from, and if one Sunday race is a complete rain out then maybe you just move the race to the following weekend instead of trying to race and destroy everyone’s bikes. I don’t know, so far what is happening right now is working, so let’s leave it for the rest of this year (we may not have a choice for the rest of 2020) and perhaps for next year as well.
Anyway, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great Canada Day and also congratulations to all of the riders who braved the deep ruts at Walton Raceway yesterday. The next AMO event is schedule for July 12th at Gopher Dunes, and from talking to all of the pro teams, this race could be like a mini national as top riders like Cole Thompson, Dylan Wright, Jess Pettis, Shawn Maffenbeier, Matt Goerke, Tanner Ward, Marco Cannella and Jacob Piccolo may all be there. How cool would that be! Thank-you for reading, and if you have any questions or comments please email me at email@example.com.