We didn’t forget about the 2021 Hangtown Motocross. The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship finished its full 12-round schedule with a trip to Rancho Cordova, the first time Pro Motocross had been at the facility in two years, and it was a fitting end to an excellent summer. Here’s a quick reminder of what happened: Dylan Ferrandis grabbed the overall in the 450 Class with 1-4 finishes, Justin Cooper went 1-1 in the 250 Class, and Jett Lawrence overcame a trio of crashes to claim the 250 Class championship.
Hangtown was the one Pro Motocross round with the most obstacles in its way, as Prairie City SVRA is California state property, in the middle of a years-long drought, and pretty close to a handful of wildfires. We’d heard every sort of rumor, from mask mandates to complete cancellation, in the weeks leading up to the race, but those issues couldn’t keep bikes from hitting the track.
What else went down? Here’s Kickstart.
Never forget. Hangtown's race date occurred on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and many teams paid tribute to the day's terrible events. Seat Concepts added a memorial patch onto the covers run by the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM team, which they attached via Velcro.
D'Cor Visuals added an image of the Twin Towers in the red-white-blue graphics on the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha race bikes.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing mounted red-white-blue graphics on their FC 250 bikes. This kit was supposed to be run by RJ Hampshire at the MXON.
Joshua Varize made the most of his time with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing. The team's decision to use Varize's Factory Connection helped him adapt to the FC 250 (a swap made possible by KTM-Husqvarna's shared components), focus on putting in the best laps possible, and end the season with a personal-best eighth-place overall finish. This two-race deal boosted the longtime Orange Brigade rider's profile within the Austrian group, convincing enough to warrant more support in 2023 and just as KTM-Husqvarna-GASGAS expands their 250 Class efforts.
Alex Campbell added a few championship celebration accessories to the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha YZ450F for Hangtown, including a clutch cover from Rekluse Motorsports...
A laser-etched message on the FMF Racing exhaust...
And a one-off ProTaper handlebar pad. What's in the hole? That's the button cluster for the ignition switch/starting map.
Dylan got a number one plate, P-Nut got a belt.
One last shot of the big three on a Monster Energy Kawasaki. Expect Yamaha's Tomac announcement and Kawasaki's Anderson news to come right on October 1.
Hunter Lawrence's Hangtown kit was a one-of-one. Alpinestars gave F1 racer Daniel Ricciardo's Race Service brand and artist Ornamental Conifer free reign on the Team Honda HRC rider's gear, helmet, and Tech 10 boots. Tagger Designs handled the paint on the SM10 Carbon lid.
Austin Black is one to watch. The amateur graduate went 18-18 at Hangtown, which earned him 17th overall on the day and extended his point-scoring streak to four Motos.
Justin Cooper and Jett Lawrence were among the last riders to roll onto the track during Timed Qualifying. Cooper executed a solid practice start on his Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha, which we caught as he clicked into the next gear.
Jett Lawrence dumped the clutch on his Team Honda HRC machine moments later. The teenager's start technique appeared to improve a bit after the summer break, and it helped him run near the front at races like Ironman and Fox Raceway, score wins, and claim the title.
Derek Drake didn't let mid-season heart surgery end his summer. The BARX/Chaparral/ECSTAR/Suzuki underwent a procedure to correct a lifelong condition in July, took a few weeks to recover, and got back on the bike in time for the final rounds of the Pro Motocross tour. Drake's one-lap speed at Hangtown was good, as he was 12th overall in Timed Qualifying, but he was just outside of the points in both Motos (27-25) and finished 27th overall.
Michael Mosiman was at home at Hangtown. A NorCal native that's turned lots of laps in Rancho Cordova, he was expected to contend for a podium but experienced issues, including a run-in with Dilan Schwartz, and finished outside the top-five (11-8 for 10th overall). After the race, Mosiman told us that he'd signed a deal with Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing to stay in the 250 Class for another two years.
Cooper Webb wicked things up in the second half of the season. The Red Bull KTM rider turned a 2:12.384 lap during the first 450 A session, when the track was at its best, and he ended the morning's Timed Qualifying at the top of the sheet. This will be an interesting offseason for the reigning 450 SX champion, as he's fully parted ways with the Baker's Factory and has hired Michael Byrne to coordinate his training and on-the-bike program.
Kevin Moranz told us earlier this year that his goal was to get a fill-in ride with Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM. The Kansas privateer was in talks with the team during the SX season (when Justin Bogle was sidelined), only to have a shoulder injury take him out, as well. Joey Savatgy's decision to sit out Hangtown due to an energy-draining illness gave Moranz a second chance to the factory-backed 450 SX-F, and he went 17-11 for 14th overall. We've got an interview with Moranz about his one-race deal on the homepage and our YouTube.
Moranz and the team made a few subtle changes to the bike to suit the temporary rider, but for the most part, he was on Joey Savatgy's exact setup, down to the settings in the oversized WP Suspension forks. While we're here, let's talk about how the little things matter to pro riders. The forks on the Savatgy/Moranz bike were pushed up a few millimeters higher in the clamps...
While the top of Justin Bogle's bike sticks were flush with the mounts, which stabilizes the front-end feel at speed but tones down nimbleness through corners.
The Dirt Diggers worked for weeks to get the Prairie City SVRA into race shape, efforts that continued throughout the day with heavy hands on the hoses and minimal tilling from the tractors. Considering what they're up against in NorCal, we'd say the conditions were pretty good, especially compared to the Hangtown of yesteryear.
Here are the rice hulls that have softened the Hangtown hardpack. The course crew added more organic material to the hillside sections this year, and it helped keep the track from becoming slick, dusty, and blue-groove.
CW2 and ET3. The two riders had a good battle over going in 450 Moto One, a match-up that ended after Tomac went down on Lap 13.
Thanks for giving us one more head-to-head battle, Ken and Dylan. The two riders were at the front of the pack early in 450 Moto One, broke away from the competition, and pushed to the end of the race. Sure, the summer might be over, but we'll watch these Motos for months.
Would you rather: go over rugged terrain effortlessly like Ken Roczen?
Or charge straight through the rough chop without a worry like Eli Tomac?
722 & 723
We liked hearing the various noisemakers that fans brought with them to the track this summer, especially after last's year's eerily silent races at Salt Lake City and RedBud. Here's hoping for more cowbells, air horns, and chainsaws in 2022.
Ryan Surratt had career-best results at Hangtown, as 8-8 finishes put the California privateer seventh overall in the 450 Class. Aboard a bike that he borrowed from Team All South's Abby McCullough, Surratt raced all 24 Motos, scored points in 16 of them, and ended the year ranked eighteenth overall in the championship standings. So what does the future hold for the 951? Check back soon for an episode of the SML Show with Surry.
Lots of talk about clickers, shims, valves, and flathead screwdrivers between Star Racing's Drew Hopkins and WP Suspension's Jim Anderson.
Miss it already.
Justin Cooper was on it at Hangtown. Excellent starts put JC32 at the front in both Motos and allowed him to ride unchallenged to the checkered flag, the first 1-1 overall win of his professional career. Cooper will be with Star Racing for a few more seasons, enough time to defend his 250 West Coast SX title and for another shot at the 250 MX National championship.
It was good to see Jerry Robin get some attention on the TV broadcast, especially after a long year of racing that saw him line up for 20 of the 24 Motos and finish as high as 16th in 250 Moto One at Hangtown. Don't be surprised to see Robin land a ride with one of the popular and highly engaged B Level 250 teams in 2022.
The last Moto of the summer was a bittersweet moment for a few mechanics, as lots of wrench turners will make career changes this offseason. Brian Kranz pushed Eli Tomac's bike to the starting line for the last time at Hangtown, as he will take on an in-house role at Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Derek Rankin joked that 450 Moto Two was probably the final time he prepped a race gate; Rankin will go back to Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM in 2022 serve as the crew chief for the restructured team.
Eli Tomac finished his term at Monster Energy Kawasaki with a win. Seeing ET3 hammer the KX450 around the track in 450 Moto Two one final time was a treat, especially when he wheel-tapped through the Washougal whoops and powered out of the high-speed turns.
An orange helmet racing someplace other than REM? MXA employee Josh Mosiman lined up for the 450 Class at Hangtown aboard one of the magazine's test bikes as part of an upcoming story. Mosiman was part of an early crash in 450 Moto One and worked his way back up to 30th, improved in 450 Moto Two for 27th, and ended the day ranked 32nd overall.
This shot of Robbie Wageman reminded us that there are only 69 days until a Day In The Dirt kicks off at Glen Helen Raceway. Have you started training for the fastest party in town?
That 450 Moto One crash took a toll on Eli Tomac. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had his left hand and thumb wrapped up for the day's second race, but it must not have been too painful because he still scored the W.
When Hunter Calle's holeshot device accidentally disengaged just before the start of 250 Moto Two, alternate racer Jordan Jarvis ran to the rescue and helped him set the hook before the gate dropped.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammates Austin Forkner and Jo Shimoda found each other in the top-five during the early moments of 250 Moto Two.
Team orders? Not quite. Olly Stone got Austin Forkner's attention with a neon yellow pit board while Matt Goodbred signaled Jo Shimoda from a few feet away.
Max Vohland's home race was also his season-best. The Red Bull KTM rider went 5-4 for fourth overall and cemented his standing as Rookie of the Year. Vohland told us that his offseason efforts will be focused on the technique and skills needed for Supercross, something he'll work on at the Baker's Factory in Florida.
Words of encouragement.
Josh Ellingson had a final message for Justin Cooper. From the sound of things, this rider-mechanic pairing will end in 2022, as "Jelly" is in line to work on the YZ450F for Eli Tomac.
Jett Lawrence's championship is massive for Team Honda HRC: it's the factory operation's first National title since Ricky Carmichael's 24-0 season in 2004 and first small-bore title since Steve Lamson in 1996, accomplishments that occurred within a year of bringing the 250 Class program in-house.
The race season might be over, but the real excitement is about to start. Be sure to check back and follow our social accounts over the next few weeks for the usual offseason news and coverage.
Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.
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