The sun has certainly shone on the Campbell River Motocross track this season. Well, not so much literally, it was cloudy and overcast at the last race, but figuratively for sure. Whoever represented Campbell River at the annual scheduling meeting should be commended. The first race of the season, when hopes and dreams run rampant, was at Campbell River. Then the last race before the summer break, when sentiments are high, was also held there. Finally, the last race of the Island Championship will be held there on August 26th. That’s a lot of highlight races for one track!
Yes, sentiments ran high this past weekend, at least for me. I know I will see my motocross family again in a couple of months, but still, it’s tough to say good-bye…so I just say fare thee well. I found myself wandering around, watching the kids play and listening to the sounds of laughter emanating from the various campfires, thinking, ‘this is my tribe’. I laughed the first time one of the kids told me there was a wild man living in the woods behind the track, and I warned them to be careful, he probably eats small children. Turns out the joke was on me, there IS a wild man living in the woods behind the Campbell River track! They call him the Legend, and he came out to entertain us all this weekend. Some of the kids made an great little film featuring him and it got me to thinking. As kids we live to play, then somewhere along the line many people grow up (through no fault of their own), and play fades away, leaving only work and serious matters. I think this is what ages us. My clan, our tribe, plays every weekend. And the Legend, well, he’s still playing at the ripe old age of seventy-something; still launching off jumps and free-falling Chad Reed style into the sand. I somehow feel like the Legend made an appearance for a reason this weekend. Like he somehow embodies the essence of what we do and who we are, the ghost of our spirit, or something like that. He’s just one of us, one who’s never stopped playing dirt bikes. To quote Chase Krompocker’s recent Facebook status, “I like to play dirt bikes! I’m gonna miss playing dirt bikes with my boys!” We’re all so blessed to be able to go out and play dirt bikes with our friends and family every weekend. I too am going to miss it, I already can’t wait to do it all again in August!
This past weekend was the penultimate round of the series, and it was the last show down until August 26th. Some of the Championships are all but sewn up, while others will come right down to the last race. Since fifty points is the maximum a rider can be awarded at a single event, any rider ahead of the rider behind them by fifty points or more has now secured their position. So now is the time to look at the standings and see who can coast home, and who has their work cut out for them. Sorry, I mean who has their ‘play’ cut out for them!
50cc 4-6 Year Olds
Adam Polichek has owned this class, and except for one missed race he would have a perfect season going. He won again this weekend, although admittedly his only competition was little Sebastion Sulyok on his PW50. Adam’s secured the Championship. There are, however, four riders within 50 points of each other behind him. Ty Cyr is currently in second 12 points ahead of Charley Roberts, who is 9 points ahead of Sebastion Sulyok in 4th. Daxton Wilcox is 17 points behind Sulyok, but he tends to finish very well when he’s in attendance. Any two of these riders could end up in 2nd and 3rd, and two will be left off the podium. It should be an exciting final race!
50cc 7-8 Year Olds
Again, the leader of this class, Cameron Bradley, has been dominant and has secured the Championship. The race for the podium, however, is still on…barely. Hudson Scheres is a substantial 28 points ahead of Ryder Roth and should finish 2nd, and Roth leads Kyron Ketch by 16 points in the battle for the final podium position. That’s still a lot of points to make up in one round. Roth was quicker than Ketch at the start of the series, but in the last few rounds Ketch has narrowed the gap. In fact, he has beaten Roth in two of the last three rounds they faced each other, but not this weekend. This weekend the race results mirrored the standings exactly.[Gallery not found]
Justin Daniels appeared to have this class in the bag after the first couple of rounds, but a couple of bad motos and a rapidly improving Cameron Bradley have kept it close. Daniels leads Bradley by 14 points. Again, this is tough to overcome in one round, but all it takes is one bad moto. Kolton Pieters currently holds down 3rd, 20 points back of Bradley. The top three finished in their standing’s order this weekend in Campbell River. Wyatt Soderstrom is in 4th in the standings and has a mathematical chance of finishing on the podium, but with 42 points to make up he would have to be hoping for a no-show from Pieters. Damien Mclaughlin is just behind Soderstrom in the standings, but he finished ahead of him in 4th at Campbell River this weekend. Andrew Bradbrooke, who looked to be Daniel’s main competition at the start of the year, came back from injury this weekend and put in a solid 2nd place finish in the first moto, but did not ride the second.[Gallery not found]
85cc 7-11 Year Olds
Wyatt Youland was solid and fast all season and has wrapped up the Championship in this class. He also won both motos this weekend. Brandon Johnson has been the second fastest rider all season, but one bad moto and a missed race this weekend has given 2nd place in the series to Tanner Meyland, who has been pretty consistently 3rd behind Youland and Johnson all season. With his 2nd overall this weekend Meyland leads Johnson by a scant 10 points going into the final round. With Johnson generally holding a speed advantage over Meyland this one will go down to the wire. Johnson will need to not only beat Meyland, but also get a rider or two in between them. David Bradley, who started the series late, has been every bit the match for Meyland, often beating him in the latter part of the series – he could prove to be the spoiler! He beat Meyland in the first moto this weekend and was leading him in the second before he fell and handed the position over. Michael Masters was 4th this weekend and is also 4th in the series just ahead of Bradley Nelson.
85cc 12-16 Year Olds
Joe Nikirk has won every moto he’s finished in this class, including both motos this weekend, but one DNF (Did Not Finish) and one missed race have given perennial 2nd place finisher, Harrison Bradley, a 24 point lead going into the final round. With Bradley being so consistent, and with no other riders likely to beat him, he should win this Championship. Wyatt Scheres currently holds down the final podium position by 20 points over Tyler Wilson. Scheres was beating Wilson pretty consistently at the start of the series, but lately they are very evenly matched. It’s unlikely that Wilson will be able to put enough riders between himself and Scheres to make up 20 points, but one crash could do it. Sheres and Wilson finished 3rd and 4th this weekend. Tayne Schroeder, who’s new to racing this year, has been looking better and better every weekend and finished a solid 5th this weekend. Special mention must be made of Autumn Gould who’s currently in 5th position in the standings just ahead of Mitchell Nelson. She’s out there keeping the boys honest every weekend!
The situation for this title is similar to the older 85cc class. Harrison Bradley leads Joe Nikirk by 26 points here and should hold on to win this class as well. He actually won the overall this weekend and didn’t give up any points to Nikirk who suffered a flat in the second moto. Nikirk was still able to limp home in 2nd though. Wyatt Scheres is sitting in 3rd with a 22 point cushion over Wyatt Youland. Scheres generally beats Youland and should wrap up his second podium finish in this class. This weekend he was beaten by Austin Gregg though, who has missed a couple of rounds and holds down 5th in the series.
Camille Baker is a great gal, and a fantastic ambassador for Ladie’s motocross, but I must confess I get tired of writing the words, “Camille Baker won the Ladie’s class.” With Camille missing an earlier round and now going off to race the Women’s National series, it’s refreshing to report that Autumn Gould won this weekend and is currently leading the Ladie’s series! I’ve been raving about how well Autumn has been riding her little 85cc bike all year, and it’s great to see her rewarded with the series lead. Even if Camille comes back for the final round it’s unlikely she will make up the 21 point spread Gould has on her. Another new-comer, Ana Jellema, was 2nd this weekend and appears to have 3rd place wrapped up in the series. It’s great to see new blood doing well in the Ladie’s class![Gallery not found]
Sometimes I don’t report on the Beginner class, because it’s not really intended to be a competitive class and Championship awards are not always given for it. I don’t think they are this year. The Beginner class is intended to allow new riders to get their feet wet, without facing the intimidation of twenty riders on the Junior line. For this reason I think it’s important that this class exists, but I also think it’s important that once riders are comfortable with the notion of racing that they move up and race Junior. I do, however, want to acknowledge how much we appreciate these new riders coming out and give them a few shots to show our appreciation. If the photos provide any inspiration and encouragement, so much the better! This weekend we had four riders in the class. Gabriel Skelding has been racing the class since the start of the year and is really starting to get the hang of it now. Gabriel’s exactly the kind of rider this class is for. He just started riding this year and really seems to love racing, but he’s needed a class like this to get his feet wet. I’ve seen tremendous improvement in Gabriel’s riding over the season, and some of these photos will show that he’s really starting to handle the bike well now. Jackson Boates, Kurt Kohlhofer, and Stephen Roy also raced the class this weekend and it’s clear that the class served them well. Look forward to seeing all these boys in the Junior class in the not too distant future![Gallery not found]
Dwayne Richmond has owned this class all year and has secured the Championship, and yeah, he won both motos again this weekend. Jason Cissell is in 2nd with a 29 point spread over David Maloney in 3rd. Cissell has been almost as consistent in his 2nd place finishes as Richmond has been at winning. He was 2nd again this weekend. Stuart Abernethy is only 12 points back of Maloney and could conceivably steal the final podium position if Maloney has a bad last round. Maloney has been able to beat Abernethy at all but two of the seven rounds to date, but is not nearly as consistent in his finishes as the top two in this class. He was beaten for the final podium position this weekend by Dan Nikirk, and beaten in the first moto by Abernethy and Dion Klassen. In fact, all of these riders and Dave Barnes, who didn’t ride this weekend (apparently he felt taking his son to the hospital was more important), have shown that they can run with Maloney. It’s very close on the track between all of them. This one should be fun to watch in August, especially if all the players show up to play!
Dean Tipper will be forever remembered for the horrendous crash he survived at the opening round here at Campbell River. Dean hasn’t raced since then, but he came back this weekend and finished what he set out to do back then by winning both Vet Jr. motos. Matt Kerrigan has also missed several rounds, but has come back with a vengeance. He’s won three out of the four rounds he’s contested and was 2nd this weekend. Dan Nikirk likewise has missed a couple of rounds, but he put himself on the podium this weekend. Series leader Shawn Aigner had a disappointing first moto, but stormed back to finish 3rd in the second moto and 4th overall. Aigner should win this class with his 24 point gap over David Maloney, but once again Stuart Abernethy is only 11 points behind Maloney in 3rd. These will likely be the top three in the class, but Vet Junior master Mathew Kerrigan is only 27 points behind Abernethy after missing three rounds. It’s not unusual for Kerrigan to gain about 15 points on Abernethy in a single round, but 27 points will take a small miracle. Stranger things have happened!
There is currently a tie atop the Vet Master class! Jason James and Dwayne Richmond both have 228 points heading into the final round. Few would argue that Richmond tends to be quicker than James, but James has been improving rapidly of late, and it could come down to a good start for this one! Derek Thompson currently sits in 3rd, but he’s missed the last few rounds while Dwight Dockendorff, who’s in 4th, started the series late but has been winning the class pretty consistently recently. If all four of these riders show up for the final round, plus a couple of spoilers, this could be one of the most interesting battles of the day! Only James and Richmond scored points this weekend, with Richmond gaining 6 points on James by winning both motos.
This class was added half way through the series to provide an alternate class for riders too young to ride Plus 40, and a bit too ‘seasoned’ to ride Junior or Intermediate. Luke Maedel leads Jason James by 16 points, with Matt Kerrigan 15 points behind James. These three finished 1-2-3 this weekend. Dwight Dockendorff is 7 points back of Kerrigan in 4th, but he has won every moto he’s entered in this class. He was absent this week, but if he attends the final round he could well end up on the podium in this class. As an added bonus, SG Power has donated a set of Fox gear to be awarded to a randomly drawn rider from this class. Thanks SG!
It’s been an incredibly close and competitive season in the Junior class. Right from the start there were half a dozen guys who could win this class. It should be no surprise then, that who gets on the podium for the series Championship, and in what order, is going to come down to the last race. The top four riders in this class are only separated by 14 points total! Alex Haley leads the class by 8 points over Isaiah Haylett, who is only 4 points ahead of Stephen Weme, who is a negligible 2 points ahead of Eli Titus. With twenty or so riders often lining up for the class all these numbers can be made up in a single round. Any and all of these riders have been able to beat the others on a given day. The final round is going to be wild! Haley, however, tends to have his best rides at Campbell River. He was 2nd in this class at the opener, and this past weekend he was 2nd overall, and best of the Island Championship contenders. I feel kind of bad about this one, and would like to clear the air. After Wyatt Waddell had a very mediocre type day at the Nanaimo Amateurs I predicted that he would soon own the Junior class. I really didn’t expect him to come back at the very next race in Campbell River and win all four Jr. motos, but that’s what he did! I have to say though, that this is just the way of the MX world and none of our local Juniors should be offended or in any way put out by it. I’ve observed time and again over my thirty years watching motocross, that mini MX stand-outs almost always win in the Junior class. The fact of the matter is that mini stars like Waddell, or Joe Nikirk when he gets there, or any number of others I have seen over the years, are not REALLY Juniors even as they race the class. Based on the skills they have developed they are more like Intermediates, or sometimes even Pros, who are simply too small and too young to race those classes. We have an incredibly deep and talented Jr. class this year, and they should all be comforted to know that the playing field tends to balance out in the higher classes. Talented Juniors who started the sport later start to catch up to mini-stars who have been racing for as long as they can remember. In the end it’s about how long and hard you work at it, not when you started. Ross Pederson for example, who many would argue is the greatest Canadian motocrosser of all time, was never a mini star. He didn’t start racing until he was fifteen and he raced Jr. for two years, then he caught fire as a Senior (Intermediate now). Any one of our top Juniors this year could theoretically do the same. Isaiah Haylett, for example, was third this weekend in MX-2, but he showed heart and skill galore in the second moto as he charged from a bad start back up to 2nd by moto’s end. That’s what it’s all really about; having the heart, desire, and work ethic to do what it takes to win. There were a couple other notes of interest this weekend. John Kretzschmar, who I don’t think has ridden at all this year, knocked out a stellar 3rd place finish in the second moto. I don’t know who this guy is, but I’d like to see him race some more! Torin Ironside also had a top 5 overall on the strength of solid 5-6 motos. Torin’s another rider who seems on the cusp of putting a foot on the podium.
The Junior GP class is similarly competitive to the Junior MX-2 class, but circumstances have spread the top two out a bit more. Alex Haley again leads this class, but this time by a more substantial 36 points over Nathan Donohue-Bragg, who in turn leads 3rd place Eli Titus by 23 points. Haley pretty much cemented the class with his 2nd place finish, yes, behind Waddell, this weekend, and NDB looks pretty solid in 2nd, but the third wrung on the ladder is wide open. Eli Titus and Isaiah Haylett have had some epic races this season, and often seem to find each other on the track. They’re separated by 2 points heading into the final round! They found each other again in the first moto this weekend, with Haylett finishing just ahead in 3rd. Haylett however had problems in the 2nd moto and left the door wide open for Titus to lock up the final podium position for the day. They’re will be a lot on the line for Titus at the final round in Campbell River. He is 2 points either side of a podium finish in two classes. Depending how things go he could wind up on the podium in two championships, or almost as easily walk away with two fourths! There were two other notables in this class this weekend. First, Jake Thompson was back in action and looked great for the first part of the first moto. He was in 2nd for several laps, then he stopped coming around. Apparently he hasn’t been riding of late and was just out for some practice. The other stand-out was Tanner Cardinal, who scored a holeshot in the second moto and hung on for a 4th place finish. Tanner was pretty quick as a mini rider and as he gets used to the bigger bike look for him to be near the front of the pack in the fall.
With a 30 point lead Corey Cardinal will likely win this class. It should be noted that Corey built his lead despite missing a round, while the 2nd and 3rd place riders in the series scored points at every round. On that note, Ryan Lalonde still holds down 4th in the series despite missing three rounds! That said, the battle for 2nd and 3rd is extremely tight and very interesting. Jason Abernethy is a rookie in the class and is currently 3 points ahead of Daniel Vanderbasch for 2nd place. He even beat him this past weekend when he scored and awesome 4-3 for 3rd overall. That’s very impressive for a first year rider in a class where a lot of talent has pooled up. Vanderbasch is a sophomore in the class, and has to be a contender for ‘most improved’ rider. Vanderbasch tends to be a little quicker than Abernethy, but has been plagued with mediocre starts, inconsistency, and he’s also had mechanical difficulties a couple of times. He had one of his off motos this weekend in the first moto, I think he blew up his bike, but bounced back with a 2nd in the second moto. That’s why you bring two bikes if you can! Blaine Morrow was 2nd in Intermediate this weekend, and Abernethy was 3rd. Chase Krompocker had his best moto of the season in the first MX-2 moto. He got the holeshot and ran with Cardinal and Morrow for most of the race, eventually finishing 3rd. Of course the holeshot and the result are the important factors, but I also noticed that Krompocker had his flashy riding style back. I think he’s been riding a little tight all year, but he seems to have ridden himself back into form just in time for the fall series…which he usually misses to play hockey! Plus, I think he also blew his bike up in the sand; he didn’t score any points in the afternoon motos. It’s been a bit like the AMA series this year with the Intermediates; a lot of attrition. The first moto of the year had over 20 bikes on the line, the most recent one had 5! One of the reasons it was decided to have the last race of the Island Championship in the fall was to give riders an opportunity to heal up injuries and repair broken bikes. Hopefully there will be 20 healthy riders back on the line at the final round in August. I can’t wait for the race between Abernethy and Vanderbasch for 2nd in the series! With the final round in the sand at Campbell River the battle is on! Vanderbasch may be generally a bit quicker, but Abernethy’s home track is the sandy Port McNeill track and he’s right at home on the sand. This one’s going to be a barn burner!
Jason Abernethy will certainly finish 3rd in the Youth class, which again is very impressive. The battle in this class will be for the Championship. Daniel Vanderbasch is currently 2 points ahead of Corey Cardinal who, as mentioned, missed a round. Cardinal generally beats Vanderbasch and 2 points can be made up in a single moto, but when it all comes down to the final round anything can happen. A start, a crash, or a flat tire could be the difference in this Championship. If Vanderbasch gets goods starts he has shown that he can run Cardinal’s pace. In Campbell River this weekend Vanderbasch and Blaine Morrow both showed they could run with Cardinal. Over the course of a twenty minute moto the three of them never gapped each other by more than the distance of one missed shift! In fact, Morrow beat Cardinal straight up in the second moto. He got the jump off the start, Cardinal took a couple of laps getting into 2nd, and then could only barely inch up on Morrow over the rest of the moto. If Damon Riesach, Connor Barnes, and Ryan Lalonde show up for the last round the battle at the front of the Youth (and Intermediate) class is going to be intense. You have to presume that, coming back from his National’s tour, Lalonde is going to be even a bit more dominant, but the rest of the crew seem to be getting closer and closer. We’ve now seen instances where Riesach and Morrow have beaten Cardinal straight up, and you gotta know that Vanderbasch and Barnes have it in them as well. You also can’t count out Abernethy, who had a podium moto and a 4th overall this weekend. Abernethy is the only rookie Intermediate in this group and he’s been creeping up on the pace all year. Who’s fastest in August is going to come down to who keeps riding and training through the summer. This class too is going to come down to the last moto of the season. Man, it’s just sooo exciting having this many fast Intermediates!
I know I talk a lot about who’s winning, and who’s riding well in these reports, but I hope we all know that’s not really the most important thing about what we do. I almost cringe to refer to the age old saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” but really that’s it. At the end of the day it’s about the friendships you forge, and those individual little battles, whether they’re for first or last, that will stay with us. As with any game there is an internal reward for improving, but the real value is in having fun and improving the quality of life itself. Games are a form of play, they are meant to make us happy. The Legend understands this. He lives in the forest and plays on. My tribe gets it too. We love playing dirt bikes.