The summer is flying by. We spent most of May, June, and July at tracks around the country for the first half of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, including last week’s trip to Minnesota for the 2022 Spring Creek Motocross. The seventh race of the season lived up to the hype and brought even more parity to the point standings.
The 250 Class teams have kept the electric water pumps on their bikes for the summer series. Removing the mechanical pump takes a load off of the engine and allows for improved performance (it helped Team Honda HRC’s mid-season boost in 2021), but requires some additionally wiring to the electronics and custom mounts to hold it up for the demands of the 30-minute motos. We’re interested to see how many of these are on bikes at Loretta Lynn’s in August, because it seems like it’d be a “must-have” part in divisions like 250B or Schoolboy 2.
Is StegPegz going to be a new sponsor at Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha? Nate Thrasher added the frame-mounted rubber discs to his YZ250F, a mod he took from Levi Kitchen’s setup.
Zack Williams scored his first points of the season at Spring Creek, as the Minnesota native went 24-18 for 23rd overall at his home race. Williams, a sheet metal worker during the week and fixture in the 250 Class for the past few summers, has gone 25-23-21-21-37-26-24-18 through eight motos in 2022.
Getting your event shirt from the MotoTees trailer signed by the featured rider is the ultimate goal of the weekend, huh?
Post-race dunk tanks at Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha. Although the temperatures haven’t been too hot this summer, we’ve seen the usual assortment of trash cans/kiddie pools/camp showers that help riders rinse the roost off and cool down after long motos on the track.
Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX had Jeremy Martin’s YZ250F proudly on display at Spring Creek. The Minnesota race was a big deal for the team, as their visit to FXR’s facility on the other side of Minneapolis turned into JM6’s first laps since shoulder surgery. Did you see our Checking In With video with JMart? The tailgate talk covered plenty of topics, including what drew him to the independent effort, his short-term goals, and the possibility of WSX (not likely). You can find it on the site or our YouTube channel.
Same, but different. Stilez Robertson and Talon Hawkins had different generation Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing FC motorcycles at Spring Creek, with Robertson on the ‘22 and Hawkins on the ‘21 (the setup Joshua Varize was on during SX). How many other differences do you see between their bikes, parts, and gear? We’ve counted ten (goggles, gear colors, sublimated/iron on, back piece of the chest protector, handlebar style, pad color, spring color, number plates, transponder mounting, fork caps).
Shane McElrath’s consistency this summer deserves some respect. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has gone 11-7-12-14-12-5-13-9-14-11-11-15-10-11 through the first half of the year, results that become more impressive when things like the new bike and uncertain length of employment are factored in. McElrath sits tenth overall in the series standings, up 15 points on Garrett Marchbanks. We wonder if McElrath will be kept through the end of the summer, especially after the team’s recent 250 injuries, amid talk that Dean Wilson and Malcolm Stewart want to be back at Unadilla.
Minne-sorta Retired is a broad term, one that could cover everything from part-time concrete work with the family business to a start-up coffee company to a summer of top-ten finishes in the 450 Class.
Did you see our Fox Feature video on Ryan Dungey’s Spring Creek gear set? The one-off kit was supposed to be made for RD5 years ago, but his retirement happened before he got the chance to wear it. The drip was put on Dungey’s favored Flexair line.
Brandon Hartranft went back to the “fast” engine at Spring Creek, an amalgamation creation with input by Jamie Ellis at Twisted Development, team tuner Dave Dye, and technical partners like Suzuki and JE. Hartranft told the team their engine was too much on dry or hard-pack tracks like Fox Raceway and Hangtown, which prompted them to de-tune the bike at RedBud and Southwick. But now that the series is in softer and heavier conditions, Hartranft says he’d rather have an engine that feels snappy compared one that is tamed down and overworked.
The Spring Creek track seemed to have a harder, drier base this time around. A big storm on Friday morning soaked the track and led to some muddy motos during amateur day, but by midafternoon, the course was in prime shape for the excited competitors. Overcast skies on Saturday morning were key, too, because clouds kept the moisture locked into the sand until the sun baked it away later in the afternoon.
Pick and choose. It seemed like there were a lot of options around the track, from split lane turns to rollers and humps that were added to mix up the flow. The top guys were tripling into the sand wash from this rutted jump face.
Enjoy the ride.
Kyle Chisholm is in for the next few races as an independent with the Manluk/Rock River Yamaha squad in the 450 Class. A few years ago it seemed like Chisholm was at a career crossroads, unsure of how much longer he’d subject his body to abuse, but this past year has really rejuvenated the Florida racer and he’s committed to racing the World Supercross series with Craig Dack’s Yamaha squad.
It was great to see the fan support Alex Martin got at his last Spring Creek. Banners, posters, and Troll Training shirts were easy to spot in the crowd. BTW: is that Suzuki canopy from JMart’s amateur career?
Austin Black made his return to competition at round seven and put in 26-23 finishes for 23rd overall. It’s been a tough rookie year for the AEO Powersports KTM rider, as injuries kept him from lining up through Supercross and a concussion during practice at Fox Raceway One sent him to the sidelines for the past two months. Black being in the tent alongside Derek Kelley and Joshua Varize brings the team up to full strength, a first for them this year, and shows why the team is set to receive more KTM support in 2023.
Max Vohland was one of the few 250 Class riders to run the paddle in Moto One, but dropped it for the standard knobby for Moto Two. The Red Bull KTM rider told us this was a mistake in his opinion because the v-tread helped tremendously on the start and that his experience with it in different conditions would have helped him take on the hardpack corners. Watch our HWYW video with Vohland to hear the teenager talk more about testing with the factory team.
The Nick Wey-Jo Shimoda pairing is producing results. We recently had Jo on the SML Show to discuss working with Nick and getting his first US MX win (you can watch it on the homepage), while Wey called into Monday night’s PulpMX Show and explained how Jo’s mom asked him to add the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider to his program midseason. Both are good listens at the inner-workings of the rider-coach dynamic, especially in the relationship’s early days.
Darren Lawrence watches everything his boy’s bikes do on the track. Immediately the race, Dazzy and techs from Team Honda HRC and Showa debriefed in the cooldown area to talk about the suspension and balance of the bikes ahead of Moto Two.
The first turn at Spring Creek is not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re in the 450 Class. A long, fast straightaway dumps riders into a flat, tight 90-degree right hand turn, a curve that makes some of the best lock up their brakes and rewards those who are willing to stay on the throttle.
Fredrik Noren was back in the mix at Spring Creek, his first race Thunder Valley due to back issues. The BBXM rider was impressive in his return, especially considering the countless bumps and holes hidden in the sand track, and went 11-17 for 15th overall.
Loose is fast.
Remember, Spring Creek is a home race for Christian Craig. CC turned lots of laps at the track during his sabbatical from pro racing to work for his father-in-law a few years ago and that local knowledge helped him turn in 5-3 finishes for fourth overall. Craig is a favorite for Team USA’s MX2 spot.
Good to see you cutting laps, Cade. The SGB Unlimited rider sat out the start of the summer due to a knee injury, but after a few weeks off and some MTB miles, made the trip to Minnesota, where he issues saddled him to 37-37 finishes.
After a rough showing at Southwick, Justin Barcia bounced to 6-5 finishes and sixth overall at Spring Creek. We heard that after some recent searching the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing team went back to their 2021 setting this weekend, which makes since: that bike won Spring Creek last year. Barcia is Team USA’s other favorite for the MX2 spot, a decision that will be made during the two-week break and announced at Unadilla.
Every MX fan knows this shot. We got up the stairs with seconds to spare before 250 Moto Two took off…
And clicked off a few frames as the small-bore bikes clicked through the gears. It’s interesting to see the different techniques used by guys, from the classic weight over the rear wheel to the Euro-influenced stand and surge.
Hunter Lawrence was way, way out front in the early laps of 250 Moto Two, a much-needed start for the Team Honda HRC rider. Unfortunately, the advantage evaporated when the red flag flew, the pack was re-racked on the line, and the gate dropped again. Given the 450 Class expectations for Jett next year, this summer can might be the time it takes Hunter to put everything together and be a favorite in 2023.
The red flag sent teams into a frenzy, as mechanics quickly worked to get their tools and parts in order for repairs and refilled their fuel bottles up so that the bikes could be topped off on the starting line. Race officials noticed the hectic few minutes and gave everyone added time to run, not ride, back to their pit area so they could get anything they extra.
In a time of sheet metal starting blocks and custom-built steps, we have to respect the two pieces of wood that Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki used for Ryder DiFrancesco. Did the amateur rider bring these with him, or did they poach them from underneath the PC rig?
Jake Masterpool made quick repairs to brother Ty’s bike on the starting line. The privateer’s KTM got twisted in the opening lap pile up and he was one of the few to actually benefit from the red flag.
Pierce Brown’s crossbar message? FUN. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider seemed to be better after a few string of tough motos and 12-9 results put him ninth overall.
See the big roost thrown up by Seth Hammaker’s rear wheel? That’s why you don’t ride right behind the competition.
The crowd turnout through the first half of the season has been great. And with the on-track action being this good, how could you not want to see it in person? The next few rounds are some of the best on the series and we expect the fence lines to be full at Unadilla/Budds Creek/Ironman. Don’t miss it.
Post-crash carnage. We didn’t know about the Nick Romano/Nate Thrasher incident during Moto Two until the 411 rode by with steam pouring out of the coolant system. Thrasher will line up for Washougal, but Romano will sit on the next round with hopes of healing up ahead of Unadilla.
Defend your vision.
Sounds like this is the extent of Jett Lawrence’s FMX skills. We asked the Team Honda HRC rider if he’d ever think of learning nac-nacs or can-cans to stoke the masses, but he quickly said that this whip was a stretch and that he’d rather keep his feet on the pegs as much as possible, a fundamental point to the JL18 style.
Eli Tomac really made sure to celebrate this 1-1 at Spring Creek. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was under pressure from Chase Sexton all day, battles that we’ll have to re-watch a few more times to fully appreciate, but the wins extended his streak to seven. With nine motos to his credit and a few overalls, Tomac has taken over the top spot in the point standings.
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.