The 2022 Canadian National Pro motocross racing season is kicked off this past weekend in Kamloops, B.C., and the Jetwerx Rockstar Triple Crown of Motocross series launched back into full existence after two years in scaled-back mode. Whispering Pines Motocross track at Kamloops was the site for the first round of the championships and will continue to travel across the country with the nine-race series culminating in Walton, Ont., in mid-August. After the two-year hiatus, racers and fans alike are chomping at the bit to head out to the races once again.
One of the most talked-about of the factory-supported teams in Canadian motocross is the Gopher Dunes Racing Honda Fox team. The GDR team currently holds the Number One plate with defending Canadian champion with 24-year-old Dylan Wright. The well-spoken and bilingual Wright lives in Drummondville, Que., however, as a professional racer, he spends much of his time during the season training and living out of his trailer home at various tracks including Gopher Dunes. Wright started riding Honda CRF 50s at Honda Canada’s Junior Red Riders programme, something that is close to my heart because I was part of the team that started the project back in the mid-2000s.
Wright’s teammate is 16-year-old protégée Ryder McNabb from Minnedosa, Man. McNabb is a talented up-and-comer who has to be considered a threat to take the 250cc title this season.
Both riders knocked it out of the park on the opening weekend with overall wins in their respective classes, the next race in the Triple Crown series heads to Drumheller, Alta., this coming weekend.
During a recent media day at the popular Gopher Dunes track just outside Courtice, Ont., both Wright and McNabb put on their finest to meet the media, field questions, and put on a show on the track. There is no doubt the Honda riders will be a force to reckoned with this season; the riders looked confident, strong, and fast as they whipped massive jumps and shredded the sandy turns.
Team owner Derek Schuster has high hopes for this year’s effort, he was happy to speak about this year’s upcoming race season. “We have a long history of winning in Canadian motocross, we took over the reins of the factory Honda team back in 2012 since then our riders have brought home seven national championships, 76 individual moto wins, our team riders have stood on the podium 108 times, had 45 overall race wins and finally two Triple Crown titles. As far as competition goes, I consider the KTM Canada team our main competition with Jess Pettis in the 450 class and current 250 champion Jacob Piccolo in that class defending his title. I believe our guys can do it, we have assembled a great group of partners and sponsors. Our team members are on their game, they have been testing and preparing non-stop since well before the snow melted.”
Gopher Dunes has become one of four main riding facilities in southern Ontario that is open to the public. Schuster’s parents Frank and Barb Schuster established Gopher Dunes on family farmland as a riding facility back in 1986. Frank is an avid motorcycle enthusiast who started an excavation company back in the day, putting his earth-moving equipment to good use by carving out a track in the sandy soil and holding races plus offering the track up to day-use recreational riders. Gopher Dunes now has a retail shop and a few different track layouts to accommodate all levels of riders, plus they offer rider training for every age.
For a nominal fee, riders can ride to their heart’s content on any of the tracks, but eat your Wheaties; the Gopher Dunes tracks are mainly sandy with big whoops developing as the day wears on. Some people say one of the reasons Gopher Dunes riders are so good is because they train on one of the toughest tracks in North America. That thinking could well be true.
Canadian outdoor motocross has a long and storied history however when Jetwerx gained control of the pro motocross series in 2017, the series took another leap forward with more extensive media coverage the list of supporting sponsors grew and the series never looked back.
Even after live spectator events were put on hold for two lean seasons the series stayed in place; now Jetwerx has the Pro national outdoor motocross series plus an extensive North American Arenacross series planned for next fall. Additionally, Jetwerx owner Justin Thompson and his team have established RydeTV and recently teamed up with FOX Sports to bring all types racing into homes, phones, and computers with live streaming across North America. Check into it at www.rydetv.com and www.triplecrownseries.ca.
In other news, as predicted a few months ago, Canada will host a genuine Supercross in Montreal’s Olympic stadium on September 10, 2022. The race will be the first of a three-race FIM world championship series that will expand into a full World Championship in 2023.
What it boils down to is the future looks promising for the sport of motocross, manufacturer support is in place, enthusiasm is high among the riders, team staff and fans plus the youthfulness and energy of the professional people at the helm of the sport. I’d say 2022 is going to be an exciting season for motocross.
Check out these vintage Gopher Dunes photos!