Every time I go out to Westshore MX in Victoria I am more impressed than the last time. This time, among other things, it was the number of new riders that came out that impressed me. Although there still was not as many riders as we usually see at a CMRC race, there was a ton of new riders and riders who do not race the CMRC series. This was especially prevalent in the ever important 50cc class; the future of island racing. Looking at the results I count 25 names I do not recognize from the CMRC series, 7 of which are in the 50cc class. If each of these riders came to a CMRC race and rode two classes that would be 50 extra sign-ups in a series that is often getting close to only 100 sign-ups on a given weekend. Just sayin’. We have seen a steady decline in riders, especially in the 50cc class this year. Several events have had half a dozen or less bikes in the 50cc class, which I find disconcerting for the future prospects of island racing. This weekend there were 13 riders in the 50cc class, many of which are brand new to the sport. How is Westshore doing this? They are putting bums on bikes, and making the sport easier to get involved in. Westshore is doing almost everything right. They have regular practices on a well groomed track, they have bike and equipment rentals available for people who want to try the sport without investing half a year’s income to do so, and they are close to a major population. Owner Jeff Evernden always seem to rustle up good prizes, and the track is always improving; it was probably the best groomed track, with the best quality of dirt (trucked in) I have seen all year. Recently Jeff set up a mini track at the local Luxton Fair, took a bunch of his rental bikes down, and had over 200 kids experience the thrill of riding a dirt-bike! Several of those kids were out racing this weekend, and I’m willing to bet many more will follow. Us riders all know how addicting the sport is; any kid who gets the chance to ride a dirt-bike is going to want to do it some more! In fact, as far as I am concerned, Jeff only needs to make one small adjustment to have the perfect riding facility; he needs to get back with the CMRC! There, now that I have opened my yap, I will proceed to place my foot right down my own throat! If Jeff is making a go of it with 75-80 sign-ups, imagine what he could do with 150-200 sign-ups! More importantly though, imagine if you had that many riders how spectacular the racing would be on such a tight little track, and imagine if you could tap the large Victoria population and get 1,000 or more spectators out for a race! Imagine also a portion of that income going toward cash prizes that would draw even more riders to the track! I get excited just thinking about it! Having private races has proven to be great for feeding the bottom end, entry level of the sport; but CMRC caters to more seasoned and serious racers. Without the CMRC there would be no Raymond, or Walton, you couldn’t really have Provincial Championships, let alone a National Series. CMRC is what holds it all together on a Provincial and National level. It’s great to be doing all the things Jeff is doing, but at the end of the day you need a sanctioning body to tie it all into the larger picture. I have heard all the reasons Jeff is not with CMRC this year, and I am hoping he is seeing that what he saw as problems don’t need to be. He lost his CMRC races because he held a CMA race. I was there; that one CMA race drew approximately 6 riders from the mainland. Each of the 4 CMRC races he would have had would draw at least 50 more riders. I’ll do the math for you; an extra 6 riders with CMA vs. an extra 200 with CMRC! As far as I understand Jeff could still have his own series (sanctioned by CMRC) and run it concurrently. I dream of something like this; regular, spectator friendly races, close to an urban population. There is huge potential for Westshore to be THE island track. The combination of being privately operated and being close to a major population give it advantages no other track has. Tied to CMRC the world is its oyster!
Oh, and there was some racing this weekend! Let’s get to it.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see so many new young riders out this weekend making the 50cc starting line-up look half-way healthy! It’s very depressing to see six kids divided into two age groups in this class at many CMRC races. Jeff Evernden is looking toward the future and building the foundations for a long and healthy existence in Victoria. His track is particularly well suited to the smaller bikes. It is small, with lots of tight corners, and the ground is groomed to a perfect texture almost all the time now. It is an easy track for the little kids to negotiate, and perhaps the only track where little CRF 4-strokes can compete head to head with the faster, but more difficult to maintain KTM 2-strokes. In fact, this weekend the class was won by Cole Farup on his CRF! I don’t know where this kid popped up from, but this is exactly what the island needs; more young kids starting into the sport. With more kids comes more talent, and more sign-ups. With so many tracks hurting financially due to low turn-out it’s very reassuring to see a bunch of new little faces getting into the sport. Lets take a look at a few of them.
While the 50cc class was stronger than we have been seeing at CMRC races this year, the growth movement has not reached the 65cc class here yet! Only three riders showed up with 65cc bikes. Andrew Bradbrooke was on a tear and walked away from his competitors; in fact he managed to beat one 85cc rider who was having a particularly lackluster day. I don’t want to mention any names, but I will say that when this lackluster rider said to me, “I’m just not feeling it today”, the first thing I though was, ‘that sounds like a good response for the next time he tells me he needs a new tire’! Nash Thompson is another new name to me and he demonstrated some good form and determination in his second place ride. Another newcomer, Emmen Gabitous, rounded out the podium.
The 85cc class was also a little light on competitors (6) but there was still a couple of pretty good duels. The fastest 85cc rider on the island, Joe Nikirk, was in attendance and Steven Galey kept him in sight for most of the races. Steven continues to impress me, but in the end it was all Nikirk in both 85cc and Supermini. Galey was a bridesmaid all day, while Austin Gatey and Wyatt Scheres had some great battles just behind them; well, about half a track behind them by the end of the race! As I mentioned earlier Andrew Bradbrooke had a great day and beat our own Tanner Meyland in both Supermini motos, despite the fact that he was on a 65cc bike. Tanner ‘wasn’t feeling it’! I’ve already given you some idea how I feel about this explanation. As a parent I try not to push Tanner, but as one who spends a great chunk of my summer going with him to the races and preparing his bike I do expect him to put the effort in. As the saying goes, ‘as long as you tried your best’ there is no shame, but when you just go out for a trail ride…well, then I have a bit of an issue. His mother pays the moto bills and I think she has a bit of an issue with it too. Perhaps even more important than how D.J. and I feel though, is how Tanner feels at the end of it. A day like this one is not one he will want to remember. I like to think that, in the end, the little nudging I do is as much for his sake as it is for all the time and expense his mother and I put into the sport on his behalf. A big part of any sport is learning the truth in the old adage, ‘no pain, no gain’. Tanner gained nothing but a forgettable memory for his lackluster lack of effort this weekend. We, one the other hand, got to hang out with friends and eat the delicious salmon that was prepared and given away at the track this weekend!
The Ageless Classes
There are two top headlines in the Ageless classes this week. First there is the on-going battle for supremacy in the +40 class between Bryan Whitcomb and Paul Sprentz, and then there is the new arrival who has the ability to spoil it for both of them. A fellow named Brian Stone is back on the motocross scene. Let me back up for a moment to set this up. For about five years I worked at Duncan Motorsports. The original owner of Duncan Motorsports (before I worked there) was a man named Doug Stone. Doug had a son named Brian, and a nephew named Gary. Gary was my partner on the parts counter at Duncan, and for five years I heard stories about Brian Stone. Apparently Brian was very, very fast on a motorcycle, and apparently he did a lot of funny and impressive things on one. I heard about him racing scooters around the parking lot, jumping off the loading ramp, winning a lot of races, and just generally being the all-round super-talented nut-job that motorcycle legends are made of. This weekend I finally got to meet the legendary Brian Stone, and guess what? Not only is he very impressive on a motorcycle, he’s also a really nice guy! Despite the fact that Brian isn’t exactly in ‘fighting’ condition anymore (I suspect he has pounded more beers than motos over the last couple of decades!), it’s obvious he has a ton of talent on a motocross bike. He has that smooth, effortless style that the very best riders have. He won the Vet class handily, and raced competitively with some pretty fast kids in the Intermediate/Pro class. Brian didn’t race the +40 class (he may not be eligible yet), and neither Whitcomb nor Sprentz raced the Vet class, so they never actually went head to head. I will go about an inch out on a limb, however, and predict that Whitcomb and Sprentz will be battling for second if they come up against Stone in either the Vet Master or +40 class. Another fantastic rider dragged into the mix via Westshore MX! Great to meet you Brian, welcome back! As for the Whitcomb/Sprentz cage fight, they never actually got close enough to exchange any blows this weekend, but the battle is taking its toll. Sprentz has invested his entire heart and soul into defeating his arch-nemesis. He has been going to ‘hot yoga’ classes, visualizing success while weeping hysterically, and travelling to California to train with Roger Decoster (much to Roger’s surprise, who apparently slammed the door and went back to his own hysterically weeping as soon as he realized it wasn’t Ryan Dungey knocking!). Sprentz also invested in a new motorcycle and, most importantly, some very fast new JT gear that has apparently put him over the top. In fact, reports are that Sprentz’s wife says he has gone WAY over the top. Whitcomb, for his part, appears to be mentally beaten. He could be seen moping around the track, dejected after Sprentz stomped him in both motos. To be fair, Whitcomb took one of the nastiest falls I have seen in a while in the second moto. I know because he came very close to running me over! Maybe the pressure is getting to him. It definitely seems to be getting to Whitcomb’s marriage; apparently his wife had to be forcibly removed from a recent shin-dig when she went crazy and began engaging in unbridled merriment. She may or may not have exclaimed, “my husband may be losing on the track, but he still has his hair, his G.Q. good looks, and a really big….bus!” She also may or may not have threatened to start dancing on tables. In possibly unrelated matters, congrats on your recent marriage James! I have two things to say to Bryan. First, ‘failure lies not in falling down, but rather in not knocking the other guy down first!’ and second, ‘take him out!’ That may actually be just one thing, but it’s the only solution I see at this point; presuming Bryan doesn’t want to take up hot yoga! There were actually a lot of fast old guys in attendance this weekend. Track owner Jeff Evernden’s brother, Wes, was impressive with his third place in the +40 class, although he may have cheated and rode the track at some point before the race. Jeff himself rode a 1976ish CR125 to victory in the Vintage class, and passed a lot of unsuspecting 85cc riders in the process. He looked for all the world like Ronny and I would have looked in those years, riding in his blue-jeans and work boots! Nice touch. Terry Anderson, Rob Galey, Jay James, Gabe Girard and Jay Nowak all did their part in discouraging any thoughts I may ever have of racing in the age classes again. For whatever reason, there seems to be more fast Vets and +40 coming out to race at Westshore than anywhere else. Must be something else Jeff is doing right!
Like the 50cc class, the Junior class was reasonably well attended, but most importantly there were half a dozen new names on the sign-up sheet! The CMRC regulars dominated the top of the finishing results, but you just know all these new riders will be coming along fast. Not only is Westshore getting more riders out, their riders are also improving rapidly. I suspect this has a lot to do with their regular practices. It can be tough to drag yourself to the track to practice by yourself, especially on a rough, ungroomed track, but if a whole group of riders are getting together to ride a well prepared track it’s a lot more fun! This appears to be what is happening down at Westshore. Ryan Lalonde, Daniel Vanderbasch, and Kevin Scott (before he broke his leg), have all improved dramatically this season, and I suspect it’s because they have regular, enthusiastic practice sessions with other riders several times a week. Just another example of the things Westshore is doing right. My home track usually only grooms right before a race, and as far as I know no other tracks have regular, groomed, organized practices. You pay good money to be a member of any of the tracks (more at Victoria I think), it would be nice if more ‘value-added’ services like this were available elsewhere, but most of the other tracks seem to struggle just to survive. The difference may be a matter of ‘private enterprise’ vs. ‘volunteer non-profit’, or maybe it’s one of those things were the more you give, the more you get back…maybe that’s the lesson Westshore is teaching. Anywho…Brandon Williams won another one! After notching his first overall win last time out in Port McNeill, Brandon kept things going with another overall win this weekend. Williams, Eli Titus, James Cool, and Mac Holmes appeared to be the fastest in the Junior class, with Stephen Weme, Isaiah Haylett, Nathan Donohue, and Chris Mace just a tad of their pace. James Cool just came back to racing after a pretty severe injury near the end of last season, and he has taken his place right near the front of the pack. He was just behind Eli Titus for the holeshot in the first Junior moto, but snuck by early on. They had an intense battle all moto long. Titus dogged Cool throughout the moto, but the pass was never made and Cool pumped his arm in celebration when he got that first win under his belt. Williams came home third in the first moto, but won the second moto and the overall. Eli Titus was again runner-up which left him second for the day. Mac Holmes went down in the first moto, but was very impressive on his 2-stroke finishing 3rd in the second moto. We haven’t seen much of Holmes during the season, but he rides really well and is a great addition to the Jr. class. Cool finished 4th in the second moto for 3rd overall. Stephen Weme finished the day in 4th overall. Weme is another rider on the rise; he seems to be getting faster every weekend. He has always had great style, and now the results are starting to come. It’s my experience that if you have the style, the speed and results always tend to follow; conversely if you are winning with bad form it almost always catches up to you as the classes and competition get stiffer. Nathan Donohue again showed that he is going to be a threat in the Junior class very soon. This is another example of a rider who had good form when he was racing Beginner just a few months ago, and it was easy to see the speed was going to come. Looking at thousands of pictures every week gives me the advantage of comparing ‘snapshots’ of rider’s skills. I knew the first time I looked at my photos that Nathan was going to make his mark this year.
The big news in the fast classes was Dan Nikirk moving up to the Intermediate/Pro class! Even more impressive was the fact that he beat somebody in each moto; thank the Lord for mechanical DNF’s! Ryan Lalonde was both the fastest man on the track this weekend, and one of the people Nikirk beat! Thanks again to the Scott family for their bike loan service, which allowed Lalonde to still win the Under 30 class. Timmy Aiken won the Intermediate/Pro class, but I don’t think he will mind if I say this was helped along by Lalonde’s mechanical difficulties. It was great to see Tim riding again. He hasn’t been racing the CMRC series but he promised me he would be at Port Alberni. There are a lot of nice people in this sport, but Tim is a great guy among great guys! Perhaps attesting again to the improvement regular practice makes, Tim Aiken, Daniel Vanderbasch, and Kyle Morlock are all riding great at the moment. Throw Lalonde, Girard, James, Sprentz, and Brian Stone into the mix and you have some fantastic talent practicing together at the Victoria track. It’s no wonder they’re all improving so rapidly. Brian Stone pretty much had his way in the age classes, but even more telling was how competitive he was against the fast young guys. Stone didn’t look out of place at all as he ran near the front of the pack against the kids; he finished third in the first Intermediate/Pro moto, but had some hiccups in the second moto and ended up 4th overall. Of the 11 riders in the Intermediate/Pro class at Westshore, 7 of them do not race CMRC regularly. If they can be convinced to start coming out they will pretty much double the class size. Again, Westshore is getting the new blood out! The Under 30 class was pretty much divided into Intermediates at the top half of the class, and Juniors in the bottom half. Of the Juniors, another rider I am not familiar with named Keelan Porter, stood out. He didn’t ride in the Junior class, but he beat James Cool and Brandon Williams in the first Under 30 moto; he didn’t finish the second moto. Another guy I’m not familiar with, Seth Millar, looked like a very competitive Intermediate rider with a 4th place moto in the Intermediate/Pro class and a 5th place moto finish in the Under 30 class. We need to get these guys out to the CMRC races!
I have the utmost appreciation and gratitude for all the people volunteering to run the other tracks on the island, but the privately run Westhore track is doing a lot of things right. They are getting new riders out, and providing services other tracks are unable to. The fact that they have a large population base to draw from gives them an advantage, but it is the little things (like organized weekly practices and bike rentals) that are putting them over the top. I also want to be clear that in my opinion they are doing this ‘in spite’ of not being a CMRC track and not because of it. In fact, the last piece of the puzzle is getting hooked back up with CMRC. Can you imagine how exciting it would be to see 200 sign-ups at a race again! I know most of the tracks actually lose money putting on a CMRC race, and this is perhaps a luxury that Westshore can’t afford, but surely there is a model where 200 sign-ups can make more money than 80! I’m hoping Jeff will post his current stand on things on this blog. I really want to see him back on the CMRC schedule, and I sure hope any obstacles to this happening can be overcome.
I have posted a ‘Paypal’ link for people to order/pay for photo packages. I have a ton of great photos of almost everybody and I really hope to get them out there to you; I would hate to see them die a lonely death on my hard-drive. It is a huge job sorting through and organizing them; a little revenue would sure help inspire me to get it done! I really appreciate the support the community has shown me in regards to both this blog and the photos. I love doing it, and hope to do it for a long time to come!