Observations: Whispering Pines

June 10, 2009 2:31pm | by:

  • The Kamloops facility was nice, the track was prepped pretty good and the riders seemed to enjoy everything. It's still weird that it was completely flat.
  • This is one of the Allison twins that I speak of. I think this is Parker (MD). But again, I cannot be sure. Nice family though.
This weekend I decided to skip the land of ribs and beef (Texas) for the land of poutine and ketchup chips. That can only mean one thing, I went to Canada! That’s right, it was the opening round of the Monster Energy CMRC Canadian Nationals and seeing as how it wasn’t far from my house, the flights were cheaper than Texas and it was the opener, well my mind was made up. That and Ferry wasn’t racing. I’m kidding about the Ferry comment… kind of.

Not sure how many people out there know this, but I’m Canadian. Yes I know, I rarely bring it up and my friends are reading this right now going “Wow, I never knew” but it’s true. The Canadian nationals are running well up in the northland. There was incredible growth in the early 2000’s and then it went a little stagnant as I feel the teams and riders realized that maybe they grew too big and too fast. It’s settled down the last few years but just like in America, the economy has hit the racing folks hard as well. Suzuki kind of pulled out and Honda is non-existent in Canada. The CMRC is trying to make it better with what they have to work with and I think there is less complaining than in years past. Maybe because there is a new $75,000 MAC’s convenience store points fund paid out to the top twenty combined classes.

The race was held in beautiful Kamloops, British Columbia and is really a nice part of the country. It actually is four billion times better than where I grew up and is right tucked east of the Rocky Mountains. The track was pretty good; it used to hold nationals back in the day and everyone said this year was better than the old days. It was fast, very sandy in spots and got pretty rough. One thing that’s weird is that we had mountains on each side of us and wherever we looked but the track was completely flat.

One thing that is always a problem in Canada no matter which race I go to is that dust is always an issue. This weekend was another one that was a tad too dusty. The track had cool built in sprinklers but they didn’t do enough to keep the moisture in. There was a water truck there but they never pulled it out to use on the track. It’s the polar opposite of America where there is sometimes too much water used. Isn’t Canada known as a country of many waterways?

The big winners of the day were the guys that we all figured would do the winning. Dean “Mr.” Wilson and Colton “Hold the” Facciotti both went 1-1. Wilson’s victory was never really in doubt and the Team Green youngster was in control from the first time he rolled out onto the track. He was in the lead early and sped off with an ease of Kobayashi eating hot dogs at Coney Island. This kid’s got a future in American moto and is using the first three Canadian rounds as a primer for his amateur races later this summer.

  • We ran an interview with this guy, Kornel Nemeth, earlier this week. He was really strong in both motos and if it wasn't for hitting a flagger, he would've finished second overall. He used to be a FMX guy also!
  • Here's the MX2 first turn crash that took out about four fast guys. That's KD Beets picking up his Yamaha. Not a very great way to start off the season. A small tear ran down my cheek here.
Why would a top American amateur ride the first three Canadian nationals you ask? Well that would be because he’s Canadian! Y’see, just like your big American legend Jeff Ward, Dean was born in Scotland and moved to Canada early on. He spent six, crucial, key learning years (I may be reaching here) in Canada before settling in America and racing. He’s got a Canadian passport and he’s Canadian. That’s all I know. You Americans claim the Flying Freckle and this is the same thing, so stick that in your pipe and smoke some haggish.

Facciotti’s win were a little more hard earned. In the second moto he didn’t get a great jump and had to pass some guys to get the win. Kyle Keast and Dusty Klatt didn’t make it easy on him and neither did the Hungarian Warrior, Kornel Nemeth, who late in the race, started catching him. Colton was dominant last year and maybe, just maybe, someone has something for him this year. That’s a big maybe. Facciotti really has a future down south if you ask me. He’s a fluid rider and is very smooth. It’s the age old question though: Do you want to be a big fish in the small pond or small fish finishing tenth every week? I suppose we’ll find out soon enough when his contract is up at Blackfoot Yamaha. JSR and Rollerball raced all the time in America and strived to be the best and racing down south made them better. That’s what I think anyways.

I just know that someone needs to beat Facciotti in a moto soon or it could be over for his competition. He can’t get too much confidence too early or everyone will just see his long alien arms and legs leading the pack again this summer.

The Hungarian Warrior that I speak of is Kornel Nemeth, who was the surprise of the day in my eyes. He’s a GP rider from Hungary that races the German Championships for KTM. He had some time off and wanted to come to Canada to hang out and have some fun. He was definitely having fun on Saturday when he set the fastest time in practice. That doesn’t mean all that much as the guys don’t exactly push it that much but on Sunday Kornel got bad starts and rode fast to the front.

In the first moto he came from outside the top twenty (due to the fact he wasn’t aware of the starting procedure) to fourth. He was just methodical in the way he worked and picked off riders. Unfortunately for Nemeth, he hit a flagger who was on the track and got DQ’d from the first moto. He didn’t mean it but maybe there are some extra points given out in Hungary for hitting flaggers? I’m kidding folks but it was an unfortunate incident (the flagger found Kornel and apologized after the race) and I question the DQ. Maybe five spots? Maybe ten seconds? A DQ? Really? It was just a small flesh wound on the flaggers arm and according to Nemeth, the flagger kind of admitted they freaked out when they saw a 6 foot 3 inch Hungarian barreling towards them.

  • Here's Dean Wilson going around Eric Nye. Too be honest, I don't remember Wilson ever being this close to Nye but pictures don't lie. Dean-o is going to be a star like Justin Barcia and he's going to win all these titles for Canada and then all the teams will hire Canadian riders and then....sorry, I got out of control.
  • Run for the hills! Run for the hills! The WORCS guys are coming, Canada had it's own version of the
Anyways he was DQ’d but the second time out Kornel got a decent start and motored by a bunch of riders late in the race (and was catching Facciotti) to get second. Looking at the lap times, it seems there were some riders going faster on any given lap then the Hungarian but Nemeth had the ability to go the same basic speed for the whole moto. An example of the differences between the fastest and slowest lap of some guys (the obviously outlying laps being thrown out)

Facciotti-5.3 seconds
Keast - 4.4 seconds
Klatt - 6.0 seconds
Hungarian Warrior - 2.8 seconds

Before the MX2 race, Brady Sheren asked me who was going to get second and I said that Eric “Nye-alator” Nye would. The defending champion is one of those riders who can ride the whole moto and you never notice him. Then when the flag falls, he’s in the top three. Dean Wilson and the hometown Leading Edge Kawasaki boys of Teddy Maier, Nick “at night” Evennou and Brock Hoyer might have all been considered faster than the northern Californian Nye. But of course he went out and rode his usual solid steady race to go 3-2 for second overall.  He rode pretty well at Hangtown last week so I knew that he was ready to race.

Speaking of the hometown boys, Leading Edge Kawasaki is a shop based in the same town as the race was. The riders all tested out there a few weeks before the race and they were all thought of as a team that could do some damage. They also had a hometown hero Brock Hoyer who has probably put in eight million laps at the Whispering Pines track but for two of them, the race didn’t go so well. Hoyer crashed his way out of both motos, Nick Evennou had to pull out of the first moto when he got a rock to the forehead but raced hard to a fourth in the second moto.

Teddy “Bear” Maier said he wasn’t going to be 100% going into Kamloops but he could’ve fooled me as he went 2-3 for third overall. Maier is like Nye, sneaky fast. The MX2 class appears to be shaping up to be a good one as two of the favorites had what could pretty much be described as totally horrendous days.

Aron Harvey and Kyle “KD Beets” Beaton both ride for the powerful Blackfoot Yamaha team and their attack on the MX2 class is not off to a good start. In the first moto of the year, Beaton crashed in the first turn (some of the riders that went down with him said he caused the whole thing) and was dead, dead last. KD Beets got on his horse and rode hard all moto to an eventual tenth but immediately upon crossing the finish, he grabbed his hand and was in a lot of pain. He told me later that the adrenaline kept him going until the last lap when the pain overcame him and he almost couldn’t hang on. Beets went to the hospital to get his wrist looked at and the initial prognosis isn’t good. We’ll know more in a few days but the pre-season favorite of many might be already out of the running, one moto in.

  • The MX1 pack comes roaring into the first turn. The start always came from the outside because the guys could hold it on and sweep the turn. Some dude grabbed the holeshot in the first MX2 moto from the 38th gate position.
  • Dusty Klatt
Aron “A” Harvey who won some races last year is a fast Nevadan that would be 1B to Beaton’s 1A for the title pushed his bike back to the truck in both motos. His Yamaha YZ250F giving up the ghost both times out and in speaking to some people, it appears that the same part was responsible both times. Too bad for Harvey but if there is a bright side, it’s that he was down a ton of points last year before almost taking the points lead (then got hurt) and that Wilson took 50 points and won’t be a factor when he leaves.

Some of you Americans might remember Dusty “Pug life” Klatt from his turn on Star Racing down south. You might remember him but chances are, you never spoke to him. Dusty is a quiet Vancouver Island guy that likes riding BMX, collecting Pugs and going very fast. Things didn’t work out at Star and he came back last season to finish national number two while riding for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. He was let go from there due to his subpar SX results but got picked up by his old team, Blackfoot, whom he won the MX1 title for in 2006.

The new (old) team suits Dusty well as he ripped through the pack in the first moto to get second. He was even catching Facciotti at one point before settling for second. That was cool and reminded me of the Klatt of ’06. Then in the second moto he was in second and looking good to pass Kyle Keast for the win when something happened. He couldn’t move ahead and eventually got passed by Nemeth and Facciotti. That was the Klatt of ’08. So we don’t know what we have yet but still, second overall isn’t too shabby first time out.

There are some twin brothers that race from Alberta named Jared and Parker Allison. They are a nice friendly Canadian pair that you cannot tell apart. At least I can’t. Jared ran a strong race for ninth overall in the MX2 class while Parker finished 11th overall. I was talking to Parker after the race but thought I was talking to Jared and then I learned there is another younger brother that races the “B” class in Canada but also raced this weekend’s national (which is legal up there). I’m so confused.

The 2007 Canadian champ, Paul “Goatee” Carpenter, is back with the same team he won with and the team should be nicknamed “Gangs of New York.” Teammates Bobby “Bob” Kiniry and cousin Jack Carpenter all comprise the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. Paul was frustrated with his results at the opening round as he just didn’t get the starts he needed and a fall in moto two hurt him. After he came off from his fifth in the second moto, he said that he felt he had the speed to win it. One thing about Carpenter is there is no quit in him. He was way back after his fall but worked hard to catch back up and pass the riders he was battling with before the crash. A third overall for Paul isn’t a bad way to start the series off though.

I thought Kiniry would be better but he had rear brake problems in moto one while cousin Jack was better than I thought with his eighth overall.

  • Kyle Keast is now on a factory team up there. Kind of. The man nicknamed the Dozer holds down a regular job during the week and then chases down the dream on the weekends. Kyle's good people.
  • The hometown Kawi shop is Leading Edge Kawasaki and they also have a race team. Teddy Maier rode great to a third, Nick Evennou had a tough day and Brock Hoyer, who has eight million laps on the track, had a real tough day.
I would like to take this time and thank the Monster Kawi team for their great hospitality all weekend. Me and my buddies Fireman Ron and Sexy Tight T-shirt Greaves watched from their truck tail gate and we even got fed with roast beef and noodles. Thanks guys!

For many years there has been a little underground cult like following for the Maritime Mariner, Mitch Cooke. Mitch has put in some good results here and there but can’t quite get over the hump and bring home a title that his talent seems to indicate he can. He had a number of good rides along the way (Blackfoot Honda, OTSFF Suzuki) but got let go from Suzuki after a disastrous 2008 season. In 2009, Mitch is riding as a full privateer aboard Kawasaki’s and has a little trailer and motor home to pit out of. I would say that although the money isn’t as good, the non-pressure, no results expected ride is great for Cooke as he rode strong this weekend to fifth in moto one and a sixth overall. Beating 2/3 of the riders on his old team had to have felt good, although the too nice for his own good Cooke would never admit that.

Let’s talk about the 2/3 part for a second shall we? OTSFF Suzuki riders Tyler and Jeremy Medaglia had about the worst day that they ever could have imagined. Tyler, national number three, set the fastest time in practice, got good starts but simply didn’t have the speed of the front runners. The second moto he was way back as he must’ve crashed. If you told me before the race that T-Dags would get fifteenth overall, I would’ve said Bob’s your uncle.

His brother Jeremy stepped up to the 450 this season and crashed out in moto one and had bike problems in the second moto. His DNF-DNF score takes the cake for the worst day by a frontrunner by far.

Their teammate, Kyle “Raise the” Keast would not have been one rider that I would have thought would’ve done much on Sunday. He wasn’t good on Saturday and was marginally better on Sunday morning practice. First moto he rode around to sixth which was not where he should be but then in the second moto, he holeshot and led for a long time. He eventually finished third but it was the first laps led of his career outside of his personal sandbox of Gopher Dunes. He made poop salad out of his poopy start to the day.

One cool thing that the CMRC does is after Saturday practice, they get most of the top riders together under a tent and discuss things. How the track is, what they can do to improve it and whatever else is bothering the guys is all brought up and addressed in some way. Then after that happens, the managers all sit down and meet about things. This all started after the Morden mud debacle in ’07 and is a good thing, communication is key! No one riding or promoting the Canadian series is getting rich and they all have to work together to grow.

  • This is my buddy Fireman Ron posing in front of the same bridge that Sylvester Stallone walked on when filming First Blood. We stopped in the town of Hope, BC to check it out. This might have been the coolest thing all weekend. Check out pulpmx.com for a shot of Sly walking and then compare it to Ron. This was also the high point of Ron's weekend as he broke his ankle the next day.
But one thing that has always bugged me and gets my goat (what does that even mean anyways?) about the series is the fact the riders have to pay $200 for a transponder to be scored. You can rent one if you like but I’m sorry, when you pay for a license and show up to race, getting scored is not a privilege you should have to pay for. I think it’s the sanctioning body’s responsibility to provide scoring for the teams and riders, that’s what you pay for!

In honor of his WORCS series brother, Ricky Dietrich, scoring a top five at the AMA national in Texas, Bobby “Man the” Garrison came up north and raced both classes. Of course the WORCS guy raced both classes, he was probably wondering why he was just getting warmed up at the end of moto four. Garrison scored eleventh overall in 450’s and seventh in the 250’s. Good showing!

The surprise of the 250’s was KTM’s Kyle McGylnn. The Alberta native is an up and coming rider that got the break of securing a factory KTM ride this year. He repaid the brain trust with a fourth overall and has a bright future if he keeps it up. The kid with Beaton’s old ride, Spencer Knowles was also good this weekend and people speak highly of his future.

Someone was pointing this out to me this weekend, what is up with all the *ahem* pansy named tracks in Canada. Whispering Pines doesn’t exactly get the blood flowing, same with Gopher Dunes and Shadow Valley. Are we racing dirt bikes or sitting in rotating tea cups here? Contrast that with the American tracks of Thunder Valley, Steel City and Red Bud.

{LINKS}After winning a poop load of titles in Canada for many years, Honda Canada is simply non-existent in racing motocross up north. Last year Keast flew the blood red colors but now the top placing regular series red riders were Tim Tremblay in fourteenth (MX1) and Kory Snelgrove in thirteenth (MX2). C’mon Honda, please come back!

Thanks for reading and making it all the way to the bottom (especially you Americans) and I had a lot of good times this past weekend. Thanks to the fans that stopped me to talk, I appreciate you guys and thanks to the CMRC, the teams and riders for all that they do. If you now have a passion for all things Canadian moto, write me at Matthes@racerxonline.com and check out directmotocross.com.