In motocross we call the time between the end of one season and the start of the next the "silly season." This is when rumours abound: riders swapping teams or series, new teams announcing themselves to the world or established teams telling the world they're folding their tents, old riders announcing retirement and young riders indicating their intentions for the upcoming season.
In reality, there is almost no down time in motocross anymore. Sure, our outdoor racing in Canada ends sometime in October, but then the one-off million-dollar Monster Cup goes off in that same month, the Canadian Arenacross Championship series starts in November, and AMA Supercross—the big show—fires up in January. A lot of interesting little tidbits of information are generated during the silly season.
The Monster Cup
The Monster Cup is a three moto format supercross that takes place in Las Vegas every year. The winner is awarded $100,000 unless he manages to win all three motos—then he walks away with a cool million dollars. James Stewart won the Monster Cup this year, but he didn't win all three motos. So he only earned a meager hundred grand for his day's work. Poor boy.
That's not what the buzz was about for Canadians this year, though. Between the pro races the card is filled out with amateur racing at the Cup. One of the featured amateur classes is Supermini—100cc small wheel bikes. The fastest young riders from all over America, and this year one Canadian, are invited to participate. Our own B.C. boy and our National Supermini Champion, Casey Keast, was invited to race this year. This in itself was exciting.
The Monster Cup is a huge event. Every motocrosser in North America worth their salt tunes in to watch it on TV. I have to admit I was telling people it would be impressive if Casey could manage a mid-pack finish. You can imagine my shock and exhilaration when Casey rounded the first corner in second. He didn't jump one huge jump on the track, which the top three were jumping, but aside from that he looked as fast as anyone and he held on for a super impressive fourth place finish. His second moto didn't go as well, but the statement had been made in the first. Our fastest young riders can compete on any stage.
2014 Kawasaki Arenacross Championships
I was only able to attend one arenacross race on the mainland this year, but I kept up on all the buzz and do have that one race as a frame of reference. The series seems to be growing in popularity and prestige. This year Jeremy and Tyler Medaglia, two of Canada's top eastern riders, made the trek out west to race the series against the likes of fast B.C. pros like Spencer Knowles, Ryan Lockhart and Brock Hoyer, as well as several fast Americans like Ross Johnson, Brad Nauditt, Jake Anstett and Ryan Abrigo. The result was one of the deepest fields of pros the series has ever seen.
There is plenty of media coverage on the pro series, so I won't dwell on it, but in a nutshell the Cycle North riders, Jeremy Medaglia and Ross Johnson, battled for the overall championship with Jeremy (Lites Champ) narrowly edging Johnson (Open Champ) out in the end. Brock Hoyer was the best of our B.C. boys, ending up on the podium in both classes, while last's year's champ, Spencer Knowles, seemed to have struggles on top of setbacks over and over again. Several crashes left him out of the running for a top spot overall by series end.
The whole country (in the MX world) is envious of us for this series. Props must be given to Future West Productions for their considerable efforts in making the series as good as it is.
CMRC National Series
There is a lot of buzz about this year's Canadian National series. The title sponsor has changed from Monster Energy to Rockstar Energy, and with this comes a new event format that will apparently include live music performances at most (if not all) rounds.
Anytime new 'energy' comes into the sport I like to think it's a good thing. Monster Energy has done great things for Canadian motocross over the past several years, but if their heart is no longer in it then I think it's great that Rockstar is excited to step in and fill their shoes.
On a sadder note, the B.C. based Cycle North team, which supported Ross Johnson and Brad Nauditt through last year's nationals, has announced that it is folding its tent this year. It's a bummer, as it was great having another B.C. team on the circuit, but it just shows how tough it is to make a go of it.
Also packing it in this year is Vancouver Island racing legend and multi-time national champion Dusty Klatt. It's always sad to see the end of an era, but Dusty did what he had to do. He's "bin there done that" as a racer, was no longer getting the kind of results he's used to, and has a beautiful wife and young child at home to think of now. We'll miss Dusty, and wish him all the best. Thanks for the memories, Dusty.
Rushing in to fill the void, apparently, will be a record number of fast Americans this year. It looks like the ever-controversial Mike Alessi is confirmed to be competing in our series this year, as well as returning champion Brett Metcalfe and a slew of others—if rumours are to be believed.
I know some people have issues with Americans coming in to steal our national championship, but as I've stated publicly I'm not overly patriotic in this sense. I welcome these riders who raise the legitimacy and prestige of our national series with their attendance. I just want the best racing possible. Plus, I still think Colton Facciotti can beat any of them!
The new generation
I've written an article for this magazine called Five Aces about the quality of young riders currently racing in B.C., and another on my own site called Competition Breeds Speed on roughly the same topic.
Without being overly redundant, I want to say that I believe this may be the best crop of young riders in the province since the early days of Klatt, Lange, Facciotti and Beaton. There are half a dozen or more kids with enormous talent discussed in these articles, but one stands out above the rest. I'm almost embarrassed by the amount of gushing I've done over Jacob Piccolo, but every time I think he can't show me anything more, he does. In the supermini class at the one arenacross I attended this year, Piccolo went head to head with Casey Keast in the supermini class. I've already told you how good Casey Keast is. Jacob is several years younger than Casey and rides a smaller displacement bike with smaller wheels, and yet he doesn't give an inch on the track. In the races I saw, Casey got the jump off the start but then Jacob hounded him, looking for a way by the whole moto. His corner speed is blinding. He managed to beat Casey in a couple motos during the series.
This kid shows so much promise he should be considered a motocross national treasure. Of course, since he's barely 10 years of age it's way too early to start counting chickens, but as it looks now Jacob Piccolo appears to have the speed, determination and family support required to go as far as he wants in the motocross world. His potential seems limitless. It's just exciting to watch this kind of talent come up through the ranks of our local racing community.
Looking toward the future makes it easier to accept the losses of B.C. sensations like Dusty Klatt and Kyle Beaton over the last two years.