Man, what a series finale we got to witness at Fox Raceway last weekend! First-time champions, first-time winners, crashes, saves, and more…the race in Pala, California, had it al! Since the series finale was in our home state, the SML crew was out in full force and we were able to see, hear, and shoot a lot more than normal. Anton is still smashing away at his version of Kickstart, so I thought I’d share what I saw… Here’s Kickstart Part 1!
Jeremy Martin wrapped up his stint with GEICO Honda with a solid moto win. After the race, he joked that he was going to pound the pavement on Monday morning and look for a new ride, but the reality is that he is already set for 2021 with another team. Expect the news to drop tomorrow afternoon! It's gonna be good...
The morning practice sessions at Fox Raceway marked the last time that Justin Barcia and Broc Tick;e would share the track as Monster Energy Yamaha teammates. With the factory in-house effort dissolving and going to Star Racing, Barcia will join the Troy Lee Designs Gas Gas team. Sadly, Tickle has yet to secure a new ride despite finishing the 450 Nationals ranked 10th overall.
FXR/Chapparal/Honda's Coty Schock gave the new 2021 Honda. CRF450R it's MX National debut at Fox Raceway, piloting ML Testing's media test bike. With some enzo racing suspension mods, a Yoshimura exhaust, and XPR ignition mapping, Schock reported that the bike was heaps better than stock and he raced it to a very impressive 10th overall. "It's like a dream," he said. "We've always talked about finishing inside the top 10 and now we did it!"
Marvin Musquin had an off day at Fox Raceway. Though fifth overall doesn't seem bad on paper, the likable Frenchman didn't look like himself as he got great starts and was shuffled back in the pack. The day started off poorly for the Red Bull KTM rider when he suffered this crash during practice. See that wave of dirt in front of his bike? That's caused by his helmet! Ouch.
Cade Clason showed up at Fox Raceway unsure if he'd even be able to race as both of his knees were swollen to epic proportions. Apparently, the PR-MX rider had an allergic reaction to some recovery balm the night before. Fortunately, as he rode practice the swelling subsided and he was able to ride normally by the time the motos rolled around. Clason scored a point in the first moto with a 20th, and wrapped up the day 22nd overall.
We were stoked for our SML test rider, 20-year-old Rene Garcia, who qualified for his first Pro National aboard his Free The Peeps KTM 450 SX-F. Garcia finished 38th overall and says that he learned a lot!
We've seen it several times but we always get a kick out of the haidryer and PVC pipe helmet, glove, and boot dryer that the Monster Energy Kawasaki team uses to keep their guys' equipment dry.
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha's Justin Cooper and his girlfriend Jillian O'Grodnick were all smiling before the first moto. Fresh off his first win of the season one week earlier at Thunder Valley MX, Cooper was looking forward to notching another win at the series finale. Cooper was the fastest rider in both qualifying sessions, holeshot the opening moto and led many laps before some mistakes dropped him to third at the checkered flag.
There's a funny caption in there somewhere, but we're too enamored with Dylan Ferrandis' new Bell Helmet to think of one. Comment below and we'll send the author of our favorite an SML t-shirt!
Justin Barcia's Alpinestars pants had a sublimated butt "patch" at Fox Raceway with Bam Bam and Pebbles. Look closely and you'll see that Pebbles' dress features a Union Jack graphic, paying homage to Amber Rose Barcia's British roots.
What a year for Broc Tickle. The former 250 Supercross Champion put together a privateer Husqvarna effort with help from AEO Powersports in preparation for his return to action following his WADA suspension but was offered a fill-in ride with the Yoshimura/JGRMX/Suzuki team weeks before his debut in Tampa. Tick finished the SX season 20th overall in spite of missing a few races due to injury, and was then picked up by the Monster Energy Yamaha team for the Nationals when Aaron Plessinger broke his hand. Tickle had some great showings this summer - including a second in a moto at Loretta Lynn's Two - and proved that he is still a consistent top-finisher. Here's to hoping that he finds a solid home in 2021.
Our buddy Kai Aiello has switched over to off-road racing full=time in 2021, but he still came out to his hometown National to return to his motocross roots. The Husqvarna rider finished 26th overall.
We couldn't help but crack up when Jen Aiello told her son Kai to hold the bike because he didn't know how to properly pack his gate. You tell him. mom!
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha's Nate Thrasher joined the series with only two races to go, but the rookie turned in some impressive rides, including 12-10 moto scores for 12th overall at Fox Raceway.
Last year at Fox Raceway, Hunter Lawrence opened a lot of eyes by pressuring Adam Cianciarulo for the win. Tragically, the elder Lawrence brother crashed in practice and injured his shoulder badly enough to sideline him at the season finale.
Alex Martin looked great during the morning qualifying sessions but sat out the race with a broken fibula in his lower leg. The Troll Train didn't even crash but jammed his leg hard enough to do the damage. Get well soon Alex!
Carson Mumford finished ninth overall at Fox Raceway, the event that his father Scott co-promotes with 2X's Myron Short. Twelfth overall in the final standings, Mumford's rookie year was impressive and it's been a pleasure watching him grow up and move through the ranks. Sadly, with the demise of the GEICO Honda team, Mumford is left without a ride even though he had two years left on his contract. We've heard rumors linking the Californian to the FXR/Chaparral/Honda team, but time will tell.
We thought this photo of Adam Cianciarulo leading the pack onto the track for the first practice session of the morning was cool. But what caused his rear wheel to leave the ground when the track was brand new and soft? A hidden kicker, or an aggressive amount of front brake?
Richard Taylor Jr. spent the early part of the summer racing in Canada, but mechanical issues plagued his efforts. He returned to the States in time to get in the last few 450 Nationals and he scored his first National points in Colorado and California. The Cycle Trader Yamaha rider was ripping at Fox Raceway, but a big crash in moto two may have left him with an injured acl.
Alpinestars went all out for its three factory riders at Fox Raceway. Eli Tomac's gear featured a pattern that looked much like the native art in his home state of Colorado...
While Justin Barcia's kit was covered in florescent frogs!
Chase Sexton's, meanwhile, featured a pseudo-over-jersey design that paid homage to Michael Jordan's Bulls jersey. Jordan is actually one of the reasons Sexton chose 23 as his permanent AMA number, and he said that the Fox Raceway kit design was a complete surprise.
When Adam Cianciarulo pulled off to change some settings on his Kawasaki KX450, semi driver/chef/team dad Brian "Big B" Barnhart kept cool air flowing through the bike's radiators with a portable Dewalt blower.
Now you see why we referred to Big B as the team chef....
Dylan Ferrandis' mechanic Alex Campbell was confident before the racing started, and for good reason!
Justin Barcia had a helmet painted up for Fox Raceway that paid homage to the great Jeff Stanton. "I'm a huge Stanton fan," he said. "How cool is this?"
Hi, Cory Flewellen!
We caught Troy Lee Facetiming a friend and showing off the graphics that will come on the new 2021 Troy Lee Edition 250 SX-F.
Hartranft's bike was decked out to match the 2021 Troy Lee Edition 250 SX-F, which is due to land on dealership floors this fall. We asked the team how Brandon was allowed to run the yellow numberplate backgrounds that come on the TLD Edition and were told, "Troy asked." Simple enough!
Jeremy Martin may have come up short on his bid for a third 250 National Championship, but it was a hell of an effort. To bounce back from a potentially career-ending back injury and perform the way he did is borderline miraculous. Martin will be back and better than ever next year, though, as he will join forces with a different team with the same goal: title number three.
Jagger Craig celebrated his sixth birthday at Fox Raceway and his dad Christian delivered with a second in 450 moto two!
When you realize your trainer isn't wearing socks.
After last week's social media skirmish between Jett Lawrence and Justin Cooper regarding Cooper taking his dog onto the podium, the guys at Patched MX whipped up a light-hearted butt patch for the Star Racing Yamaha rider.
Brandon Hartranft was left out in the cold with the Troy Lee Designs team switch to Gas Gas, but we've heard reports that he may end up on a green bike in 2021. Let's hope so! With three podiums and a career-best season under his belt, the New Jersey rider deserves something great!
Shane McElrath finished fourth in the last 250-class race of his career. Where will we get to see the likable North Carolina native display his talents aboard a 450? Shane-Sama told us that he has a few offers on the table and hopes to have news by the week's end.
Stank Dog: No Fux Given.
Wonder if these guys are chuckling about Stank Dog's kit...
Great ride for Jo Shimoda in the final 250 race. The Japanese racer crossed the finish line third and even pressured Jett Lawrence for second at times. On the podium, Jo-San remarked, "Well, I ride on. this track almost every day, so I felt good." We're sad to see the GEICO Honda team dissolve, as it leaves Shimoda without a ride at the moment. As mentioned before, we have heard his name connected to the Phoenix Honda squad.
Jarret Frye was very impressive at his second Pro National, finishing sixth overall aboard his Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha YZ250F. This kid is one to watch in the future!
A big congratulations to Jett Lawrence on his first 250 National win. After his dominant victory in moto one, Jett looked calm, cool, and confident on the line for race two.
Now THAT'S a holeshot! Just kidding...the top three racers were introduced to the crowd during the start of the pre-race parade laps.
What do you think? Did Wil Hahn get the shot? Probably not...
At the start of the first 250 moto. Justin Cooper led a gang of his Star Racing teammates through turn one.
When Jett Lawrence got into second early in the first moo behind Justin Cooper, we had to believe that Cooper's butt patch added some extra motivation to get past for the win.
Though they are teammates, you can bet that these two raced each other hard. Championship on the line or not, there were no team orders on the Star Racing Yamaha team.
SGB Racing/Maxxis/Babbitt's Kawasaki rider Jordan Jarvis rode into the record books by becoming the first female racer to qualify for a 250 MX National. She turned in 35-27 scores for 33rd overall. Very impressive.
Dylan Ferrandis' wife Nastasia kept a close eye on his every move throughout both motos.
It's been a heck of a rookie 450 season for Adam Cianciarulo and his mechanic Justin Shantie. Two National wins and second overall in his first premier class championship is really something to be proud of.
We texted Chase Sexton on Sunday and asked what he was listening to. "Probably some Halsey," was his answer.
SGB Racing/Maxxis/Babbitt's Kawasaki rider Alex Ray had a cool personal sponsor for the Fox Racing series finale. Custom Upfits is a Sacramento, California, business that specializes in customizing vehicles and building all sorts of wild trailers. ARay was driven to the races in style in one of Custom Upfits' Mercedes Sprinter Van conversions.
We've raved about the comfort liner in the Alpinestars SM-10 helmet...now you can see for yourself!
"The middle of the season was kind of funky for me," said Eli Tomac. "We can't be doing that next year. This will be the shortest off-season ever, and thankfully we will be racing Supercross next and I am looking forward to defending that title."
We can remember when our long-time test rider and National Pro Rich Taylor first got his son Richard into riding. RT's evolution from casual mini dad to full-blown race mechanic father has been a pleasure to watch.
We'd say that Adam Cianciarulo had a wild moment at the start of the first 450 moto!
Chase Sexton lost his visor only a few laps into the first 450 moto. "A giant rock got kicked up and was flying right towards my face!" he told us. The bullethead look, coupled with his basketball-themed Astars jersey, prompted several Mike Metzger references online.
Alex Ray had a great first moto going as he worked from well outside the top 20 and up into 16th. For some reason, we weren't surprised to see him pushing his bike off the track on the final lap of the race. Apparently, the stock battery in the KX450 can become overheated and cause the bike to stop running for a couple of minutes.
Look at all that freedom, just blowing in the wind.
On the line for 250 moto two, we overheard Dylan Ferrandis ask Jett Lawrence how it felt to have won his first moto. "It felt great," was Jett's reply. The two enjoyed some laughs until it was time to put their helmets on. Obviously, Ferrandis not overly stressed about wrapping up his first 250 National Championship.
Props to Cameron McAdoo for toughing it out and racing with a couple of broken fingers he suffered last week in Colorado. A 10th overall isn't the way he wanted to end the series, but his gritty ride kept him inside the top 10 in the overall standings.
The gap that Jett Lawrence repeatedly sent right past the finish line was impressive, to say the least. Angled, rutted, and chopped up on the landing, only a few of the elite sent the gap.
Go Go Jo!
Ferrandis, en route to his second title of the year. On Sunday, we tested him and asked if he'd come to the office for a SML Show and he replied, "I will be 4000 miles away on an island, but when I get back, no problem!" Enjoy, Dylan!
Colorado was in the house!
Jordan Troxell wrenched for Christian Craig this summer on the Honda HRC team. Check out that pit board...to say that Sexton and Craig checked out on the rest of the pack in the final moto would be an understatement.
Dave Feeny's final pit board message of the season.
We were surprised to see Zach Osborne so subdued after he crossed the finish line and wrapped up his first 450 National Championship. "That was long, and I heard every noise possible," he told Feeney.
Chase Sexton has been claiming an overall win this summer, and he certainly delivered! We can't wait to see what 2021 brings for number 23.
Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.