*Images courtesy of Paul Buckley & Acorace Photography.
Two thousand and twenty has been called the year of uncertainty for so many things, but in the last weekend of August one thing was more certain than ever and that is motocross racing in New England was alive and well. The Racer X Maine Event is a three-day AMA Featured Event at MX207 in Lyman, Maine that draws the deepest talent the North East has to offer. Riders and their families mark this event on the calendar every year as the one not to miss and countdown the weekends until the track is made home to a battleground for racing. Mother Nature tried to scare everyone away with a brutal forecast the entire week leading up to the event, but New England riders don’t shy away from mud; not when it’s time to race.
Friday was a picture-perfect day for dirt bikes. It was 76 degrees and sunny with a gentle breeze to make sure the American flag blew strongly in the wind, offsetting the fresh tilled dirt and dark green pine trees that Maine is so famous for. At nine o’clock the bikes took the track, giving everyone in the pits a preview of what this weekend had in store. This race draws a lot of new faces, which provides excitement for the locals as the new talent quickly learns the ins and outs of the racetrack. One of the big attention draws was the presence of former Rockstar Energy Husqvarna racer Jordan Bailey, who had shown up with close friend Justin Cokinos. He was there for two reasons; to have fun and twist the grip off a 125.
Saturday morning rolled around. Normally, the weatherman is always wrong, and they never know what they’re talking about. Right? Unfortunately, in this case, they were 100% accurate. They said it would rain, and boy did it rain. It came down relentlessly all day. It started just as timed qualifying was underway for the 250 A class. We got to watch about 1 lap of what “could have been.” The roar of the A class laying down their hot laps was the excitement everyone was waiting for. Dakota Alix, Chris Canning, Jordan Bailey, Stephen Czarnota, Gabe Gutierres, Aaron Lampi, Aaron Zielfelder, and so many more fast guys were on the track going as fast as they possibly could. It was perfect, but short lived. Before that session was even done, the skies were black, the track was wet, and none of that was about to change any time soon.
The weekend ran as a three-moto format. It was evident that anyone who wanted a good overall finish for the weekend was going to have to tough it out and handle the mud. The AMA #1 plates this year were tough to obtain. Riders faced all the elements, from the mud on Saturday to eventually closing the weekend out with a rough and battered track on Sunday. Travis Schneider ran the All-Star bib in the 51cc classes and was highly anticipated to be atop the FXR podium before the weekend was over. However, the mud would cause him problems right off the bat and take him out of championship contention. He did continue to show us what he was capable of in the motos to come. Canyon Richards scored the most wins of anybody during the week, and already looks comfortable aboard his 85cc.
The Aggressive Graphics 125cc Class has become a crowd favorite over the past few years. Last year’s battles between Ryan Sipes and Justin Allen had everyone talking. This year, it was Jordan Bailey vs. Bryce Shelly (with Justin Cokinos in the mix too). Shelly is fast. It’s only a matter of time before he catches the right person’s attention, but he is certainly turning heads in the meantime. Shelly put himself out front in motos one and two but had issues before making it to the checkers. In moto three he was able to take the win.
“Bryce was crushing it all week,” Bailey said in his post-race interview. “He kinda gave us a gift those first two motos and then in that last moto, I think everyone saw that.” Bailey would take the overall.
Everyone lines the fence when the 250 A and 450 A classes are on the gate. With $15,000 at stake for the EJP Pro Purse, it’s a sure thing that the field is going to be deep and everybody is fighting for position. The buzz around the northeast was strong, as everyone had different ideas of who would be out front. Canning and Bailey made it clear they would be two guys to contend with, and Dakota Alix right there as well. In the 250 A class, Canning would grab the first moto win and Bailey would take the second moto. But in the end, holding the briefcase and the AMA #1 plate, it was Gabe Gutierres with his 2-2-1 finishes. Canning had the 450 A class under control, going 1-1-1 as he has done many times before.
Upon receiving the Young Gun award, 6D Helmets also hooked Ryder Wren up with a brand-new helmet. This Maine native is full of talent and was beyond stoked to be selected for the helmet. Jude Smerlick also received a 6D Helmet as being the Unsung Hero of the event. He is a great kid on and off the track. He’s won at this event in the past and continued his winning streak this year. He flies under the radar and earns his success quietly. But we noticed, and we felt he was the definition of Unsung Hero. It was great to throw some love his way and we thank 6D for making Jude and Ryder’s day. And a big thank you to Factory Connection for keeping everyone’s bikes handling top notch as the track was changing constantly throughout the weekend.
The 2020 Racer X Maine Event presented by FXR was one for the books. The racing on Saturday was some of the muddiest conditions MX207 has ever had. But as they say, the cream will rise to the top. At the end of the weekend, it was the champions popping champaign (or sparkling cider for the kids) and the #1 plates in hand. Thanks to everybody who supported the event and came out!