We love Washougal. The Washington round in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship always offers up a good time, with quick stops at coffee shops/restaurants in Portland, incredible action at the track, and plenty of run-ins with friends in-between. Seeing the scenery of the upper corner of the country is a welcome change, too, especially after so much time on the East Coast.
This year’s visit went quickly, but it won’t be forgotten about soon.
Washougal’s slot on the schedule, just before the Loretta’s break in late July, is either loved or hated by people in the pits. There are grumbles about 27-hour, 1700/1900-mile trip from Minnesota to Washington that takes rigs a few days to and wraps up a 3863-mile, four-round run through the middle of the summer series. California-based hard card holders love the quick trip up the Pacific Coast, while those from places like Florida or the Carolinas must rough out their first cross-country flights in a few weeks. Riders fret over hard pack conditions that are far different than the sandy intermediate surfaces of Spring Creek or Southwick, plus the shadows incomparable to anywhere else. Most put their issues about the trip to the side as they drive alongside the river and might even be excited about the weekend by the time they turn right from Hughes to NE Borin Road. Where does the most jaded industry vet find joy at round eight? The redeye out of PDX Saturday night.
Remember what we said about electric water pumps in the 250 Class in last week’s Kickstart? BarX/Chaparral Racing/Suzuki had the units mounted on their RM-Z machines, a modification that’s said to liven up the engine of the yellow bikes. Washougal was the first time this year BarX had Preston Kilroy, Carson Mumford, Derek Drake, Dilan Schwartz all on the track at once and they filled places 13-16 in the overall rankings. The team will support Chase Yentzer at Loretta’s in August.
Get ready for another 250 under the Red Bull KTM tent. On Monday, the Austrian OEM announced Liam Everts and Andrea Adamo will be the team’s MX2 roster in 2023 and that Tom Vialle, the 2020 MX2 champion on the verge of being forced out of the class, will move to the United States to race SX and MX on the small-bore bike alongside Max Vohland. This decision, which looked to be little more than a rumor a few months ago, makes Vialle the third world champion to come to the US through KTM’s program in the last dozen years (Marvin Musquin in 2011, Ken Roczen in 2012).
Just another day at work for Ryan Dungey. The Red Bull KTM rider looked his best so far this summer at Washougal, and if not for a mechanical problem (an electrical issue that required an immediate data transfer to HQ in Austria), may have led more laps and measured his pace against Sexton-Tomac. It’s obvious that Dungey is happy to have things like they were years ago, with Carlos Rivera working on the bike and father Troy in the corner of the pit, while his competitive intentions are starting to come through more in post-race comments. A 2023 MX-only tour seems more and more likely every weekend.
A factory WP shock and a titanium Akrapovic Evolution silencer. Any guesses at the assumed value for these two race parts?
Want to buy the same parts as Team Honda HRC and support a racer? Check out Anchor Tape Co, grip tape cut-to-size for every major big bike and sent to your garage by 250 Class competitor Jack Chambers. The web store offers this wood handle roller, a must ease the application of the abrasive adhesive, but we’re really interested in the vented front number plates that are custom-made for 150 bucks.
Pro tip to improve stopping power? Take a scotch brite buffing wheel to the brake rotors to remove rust or glazed-on cleaners.
We spotted tire groovers in almost every factory pit on Friday. The trick, a must in auto racing and flat track, has become common in MX as teams attempt to get more flex and grip from knobs that are less slightly rigid and have more edges.
Four races left with the MX 1 plate? Although Jett Lawrence looks like a lock for a second straight 250 title, the Team Honda HRC rider straight told us in his Washougal HWYW he’ll be on the CRF450R next year, an advancement that’d require him to run his permanent digit 18.
Eli Tomac’s YZ450F was complete with well-earned red backgrounds at Washougal, a first for the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider this summer. When we asked if the stickers made any difference to ET after Spring Creek, he told us that it’s nice to have it, especially after a run of moto wins.
Sounds like this bike will be back on the track at Budds Creek, as Antonio Cairoli will line up for a few races, starting in late August, to prepare for Team Italy’s title defense at the MXON.
Ty Masterpool’s KTM was parked behind the SGB rig at Washougal; the team planned to transport the Texas privateer’s bikes to the races until a freshly broken kneecap will put Masterpool on the sidelines for the rest of the summer. Here’s to a quick recovery from the 250 Class rider.
Bummer not to see Levi Kitchen in motion at Washougal. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was around all weekend, from PIR on Thursday to the pits on Friday to his merch booth on Saturday, while a banner hung on the main road reminded everyone of the hometown hero.
It was downright chilly on Saturday morning, as gray skies kept the temperatures from going above the low 60s. No joke, we saw our breath walking to the starting line for Session One of Timed Qualifying but noticed out quickly it warmed up when the sun came out in 250 Moto One and contemplated zipped the sleeves off the OGIO jacket we had on. Pro Motocross has been very lucky with the weather this year; if Washougal was this weekend instead, temperatures at the track would be near triple digits.
Austin Black was one riders all the locals had an eye on, as the AEO Powersports rider lined up for his second race of the summer at his home track and turned in 18-23 finishes for 19th overall. Did you know Black’s family is part of the popular Thursday Night Motocross series at PIR? We didn’t.
Horsepower Hill. Three lines up the incline were already worn in by the 250 A Group’s first session on the track and encouraged riders to hang over the back of their bikes as they wheelied through the rollers.
The track crew told us their watering efforts started a week prior to the National, a must to keep moisture in the ground amid another dry summer. The PNW dirt as dark and lush in the race lane, a tacky topsoil over a concrete-hard base, thanks to constant watering that kept it from turning into the super fine dust that is everywhere else on the property.
Can you spot the Wheels on the Ground signals? A handful of riders missed the waving cloth flag and LED beacons during practice on Saturday, a simple mistake that got the fastest lap times from the session deleted for Austin Black, Brad Burkhart, and Tommy Flora. Race direction has added more of the safety lights to the track this summer, a system a few officials are operate from a remote control.
Carson Brown had everyone’s attention at round eight. The heir to the BBR empire lined up in the 450 Class aboard a Dirt Bike Magazine supported, Pro Circuit tuned Yamaha YZ250 and revved the two-stroke to impressive 15-20 finishes for 18th overall. Brown tossed a few whips over the back jump in the morning session, but we thought he looked just as stylish tugging the roll-off string of the EKS Brand goggles.
You’ll see three new sets from Fox Racing’s 2023 catalog throughout this post. The company’s recent sale from Altamont to Vista Outdoor sent waves through the industry, as it’s the second gear brand to be purchased by big business this year after WPS/FLY Racing. It sounds like no management changes will take place at the corporate level, and that things will continue to go forward as normal through the transition. More to come on this soon.
We were curious to see how Lars van Berkel would do at Washougal, just because we don’t know how much hard pack there is in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the Shiptocycle/Honda SR/Motoblouz rider didn’t make it a lap in Moto One, as an issue going into the first turn caused him to go down and run into Roger DeCoster. Both were checked out by the medical staff on site and were cleared to leave with no serious injuries. Search for the rider’s IG page to see video and photos of the incident.
We’ve been thinking about these blue Tech 10s since we saw them in the Alpinestars display room at the WPS Sales Meeting. Yeah, they’ll be part of the 2023 catalog, alongside the gear that Tomac/Sexton/Lawrence/Anderson/Lawrence wore at Washougal.
The day started off quietly for these Australians living in Canada…
There was a lot of saw dust mixed into the dirt this year. It’s not like the Huffman family has a hard time getting their hands on the organic matter; the Huffman &Wright Logging Co has been clearing timber in southern Douglas County for over 70 years and is offering a 2000 bonus to new hires.
Not gonna lie, we were a little disappointed there was nothing wild or new from Troy Lee Designs at Washougal. The Washington race is a special one for Troy (it was one he always lined up for during his days as a pro) and they’ve used it as a runway for upcoming kits, collaborations with sponsors, and one-off bikes, but this year it was the standard red bikes and catalog gear.
Good to see Dilan Schwartz on the track. A complex scaphoid injury from an Anaheim Two crash sidelined the BarX Suzuki rider for most of 2022, but after three days on the bike, decided it was time to for a gate drop. Respect for the 14-15 finishes for 16th overall.
Battlin'. Scroll to the gallery at the bottom of the page for more action shots.
Joey Savatgy told us that a morning superman, resulting crash, and sore leg made him question lining up for the afternoon. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider visited the medics for a Toradol shot and used the sighting lap as the deciding factor for lining up in Moto One, when a rush of adrenaline convinced him to get behind the gate and post 7-7 finishes for seventh overall.
Race gas in the Pure Life water bottle? Living on the edge.
Brandon Hartranft went down hard in 450 Moto One, a crash that took him the better part of the opening lap to get back to his feet and on the bike from. Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports/Suzuki mechanics Travis and Mike were quickly at his side and helped straighten the RM-Z before the pack came back around (if they got back to turn one before Hartranft got going, he'd have been pulled from the race). Tough birthday weekend.
The Sexton-Tomac battle in Moto One came down to the rollers. Sexton's use of a tight line blocked Tomac from making any moves from the inside, so instead, he went wide and quadded into the whoops.
Enjoying the ride, racing for 14th.
Washougal Abstract, Piece One
Justin Barcia and Christian Craig's Moto One run was basically a battle for Team USA's MX2 spot. JB and CC went at it for most of the 16-lap race, a flurry of passes and moves that saw them 1.101 seconds apart at the finish line, with Barcia ahead. Craig did better in Moto Two, which got him a better overall result (fifth to Barcia's sixth). Both are apparently willing to ride the small-bore bike through the final races of the season, but it sounds like that wouldn't affect the AMA's decision too much; they will know by Unadilla.
Eli is hidden in here somewhere. Look for a reflection off the brake rotor.
Actual conversation we overheard between two Monster Energy girls: "They want us to run off the track. I don't know why, we have plenty of time."
Another great weekend for Joshua Varize and Derek Kelley. The AEO Powersports riders have proven themselves in the 250 Class this year, with Varize going 10-10 for 10th overall and Kelley 12-13 for 12th. Barring issue, they should be a lock for 14th and 15th in the championship standings.
The bravest man at Washougal? The ground-level camera guy that was placed at the summit of Horsepower Hill, feet away from the track, when riders are going their fastest and scrubbing over the crest.
Justin Cooper is facing a major point in his career. A win at Washougal puts him back on the radar, but he's out of contention for the title and the MXoN team, and already knows that he'll skip the 250 SX season in 2023. The 2021 250 SX East champion told us that he'd like to make a statement in these last few races, which are at tracks he's good at, so that he's not out of mind early next year.
The Aussie expats from the morning? They ended their day with a blast from the Lawrence brothers and a drink from the champagne bottle.
Washougal Abstract, Piece Two
It was on from this moment.
Ken Roczen said that his immune system took another hit at Washougal and was flustered in his 4-6 finishes for fourth overall. This has been a rough year for Roczen, who we've heard still hasn't put pen to paper for a Team Honda HRC contract extension, but a top-five finish and all but set top-five rank in the championship is pretty good considering the circumstances the two-time champion is going through.
Enjoy the break, because the last four are going to be wild.
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.