Matthes Observations from Regina

By Steve Matthes

It was an off weekend in the good ol’United States of Ameriker (Chad Reed style) but in the quest to bring you readers something to peruse every week, I traveled up to my homeland of Canada to watch some racing. Regina, Saskatchewan was the locale and round four of the CMRC Nationals was the race and this is what I observed....

The track was pretty cool; it looked smaller than what it seems on TV (but then again I’ve been told the camera adds 150lbs, so maybe it also adds length to a track?) but it's still pretty cool. Track prep left a lot to be desired on Saturday for the open practice. It was pretty sketchy with the dust, and, in general, it was not very good. Some of my buddies that drove out from Manitoba like Lawrence “Cheater” HammMark “3rd place, missed 2nd by a point” Robitaille and Paul "The Upside Down Thermometer" were saying that the dust was very dangerous. When the CMRC guys asked about throwing some water down on the track, they were told from the club that the “guys that water are too busy racing” to do that. Huh?

So I saw CMRC’s Brett Lee with a watering hose in hand before pro practice and I heard he was even flagging! That’s commitment folks. I don’t get some of these clubs that hold the nationals like Regina and the dudes in Nanaimo; don’t they have some pride in their tracks? Wouldn’t they want the best possible track prep and presentation they could have for the country’s biggest and best riders? I hear that the eastern guys get it; why not the western guys?

So I show up Sunday morning and the track is literally a mud hole; it was ripped deep and watered to the extreme. It was so bad that more than a few guys didn’t go out for the first practice or just did starts. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum! After that the track was pretty good; I just thought that they could’ve maybe ripped it during intermission in spots and watered again. With the wind and it being the prairies, I realize that it gets worked pretty fast but there’s gotta be a happy medium somewhere. It’s still a good track, I think, just like to see some better prep.

This guy was ridiculous in Regina. On a track that wasn't very technical, he pulled away in the first moto so easily. His best time was over one second faster than anyone else.

Colton Facciotti is the man right now. The Blackfoot Yamaha rider has won every moto that he’s raced and made it look oh so easy this past weekend. Two holeshots, led every lap and looked dominant. He’s still in the hole to Tyler “T-Dags” Medaglia in the points but if he keeps up this riding, he should be able to win the title. There are five rounds left and he’s down 17 points. Very doable if you ask me. He’s very much like Kevin Windham to me, big guy that doesn’t look like he’s trying very hard but yet pulling away from everyone. He’s sneaky fast, for sure. His bike looked great also; very fast and seemed like it handled the high speeds and ruts with ease.

I’m not having any of this perfect season talk, however. Colt missed a round with a cracked collarbone and therefore is not perfect. The precedent is there with James Stewart in ’04 (I think) when he won every moto in the 125’s but missed the first two races with an injury. Nobody called him perfect then, and nobody should say Colt has had a perfect season. Part of the awesome-ness (is that even a word?) of having a perfect season is the part of not crashing and staying healthy. Something Colton has not been able to do. Still, like I said, he’s very impressive!

He told me in an interview after the race that he hasn’t been able to practice during the week because of the injury, which makes his riding even more full of awesome-ness.

Man, Colton was so good this weekend, he deserves two pictures! He just needs to open up a bit; he's pretty quiet and reserved. As the "man" in Canadian motocross, people want to hear him speak up.

Poor KD Beets. Kyle Beaton went out and holeshot the first moto and took off for his first (and long overdue) moto win of the season. Did you know that the last time my buddy KD won a moto was the last time I went to a Canadian National? I was beginning to think that I was some sort of giant leprechaun good luck charm. Second moto was going to plan when he holeshot again and was maintaining his lead when he slipped off the side of the track into some long giggle weeds and nailed some prehistoric boulders that were hidden from view. Beets cartwheeled his teeny, tiny body into the ground and DNF’d. The fear was a broken something, but after a check up at the hospital, it was just a bad bone bruise.

KD Beets was on it this weekend ... again. He's got a good program, a great bike and doesn't seem to care if he gets on team. Like Frank Sinatra, he's doing it his way.

I think he’ll be able to race the next round in two weeks because that’s how tough he is. Everybody knows I’m a big fan of his and I can’t tell you how many people told me that he’s the fastest guy in the class but to finish first, first you have to finish or something like that. I think he’ll figure it out soon, and I’d rather have a guy that has the speed and needs to work on consistency, than the opposite.

Tucker Hibbert showed everyone what was up the last two weeks. I wonder how many of his competitors go to bed, thanking the Lord he's not doing the whole series?

So who did benefit from KD Beets crashing his way out? Tucker Hibbert, that’s who. The snowmobile legend won his second MX2 race in as many tries with a 2-1 and who knows, he might’ve even passed Beaton in the second moto, it wasn’t like Beets was yarding him. Hey, Hibbert got 11th in a moto a few weeks back in the scorching hot AMA National so he’s no slouch. I wonder with the ease he’s won the last couple of races, if he’s kicking himself for not doing the whole series. I don’t remember being all that impressed with him last year, he was just one of the fast guys, but in the last two races, only Beets can match the Minnesota mafia member (other members include Donny Schmidt, Bruce Gates and Pat Donaho).

I have to be careful here because I don’t want my buddy Danny Brault to start humping his computer, but the guy that I was most impressed with besides the obvious ones was Kyle “Welder-Boy” Keast. In the crappy ass Saturday practice and the muddy-ass Sunday morning practice, he was out there riding every lap like it was his last. He didn’t care about the conditions or the fact that the practices didn’t count for squat. He just pounded out laps trying his hardest. It was almost like the movie Speed where the bus was going to blow up if it went below 50 mph; Keast must have something on his bike that will blow up if he just putts around. He got bad starts all day, outside of the top-20, and finished 5-6 on the day for 6th OA. And, of course, he was charging the whole time.

Kyle Keast exploding a berm! I wonder if his dad taped a Timbit underneath his visor, he'd go even faster?

I asked him about why he does that. Maybe it’s something he needs to do to get “into” it, but he just shrugged his shoulders and said that he didn’t know why he rode like that and then mumbled something about having to roll up the rim and eat a Timbit. 

Blair rode great this weekend! He told me that his time in Georgia really helped him out and it sounds like he's helping Colton out a ton also. This is a good picture also, despite Danny Brault making fun of my camera all the time.

The Blair (Witch) Morgan Project was playing again this weekend. You know the plot by now: the battle scarred Canadian warhorse that everyone likes goes out and reaches down into his fountain of youth and shows the kids he still has it. Only while doing this he also has some incredibly bad luck happen and everyone wants their money back and goes home pissed off. Blair got his second podium in a great battle with T-Dags in the first moto, getting third by .00000001 seconds. Second moto out, he came together with T-Dags off the start and was around 10th or so when he reached down and was in position for getting an OA podium until he got a flat and dropped back.  His 3-11 for 7th OA wasn’t indicative of his riding.

Now I know that Blackfoot prides themselves on being the best racing team in Canada, the most titles, they make the champions, blah blah, but this is not the first time they’ve gotten a flat in a race. (Facciotti’s flat in Nanaimo last year cost him the win, no doubt about that.) It’s curious to me why they wouldn’t use mousse inserts in the tires? When I was at Yamaha, they had a saying about them being fooled once and that’s okay. Fool them again and who’s the fool? In 1985 Broc Glover had a master-link come off and cost him the win, and, therefore, every Yamaha that takes the track since then has a press-on master-link. Hey, Colton cannot afford any mistakes from here on out to win; a DNF could cost him the title. Every top team in America uses the inserts and some would say that Michelin, BF’s tire sponsor, make the best mousse out there (meaning the most tube-like feel for the rider as possible). I just think that every top team in Canada should use them. No excuses.

Here is your MX2 points leader, Eric Nye. He's a nice guy and it's his title to lose right now. Jury is still out on if giving yourself a nickname is okay.

Somehow, last week, Eric “The Nye-a-lator” Nye went 5-2 and increased his points lead in the MX2 class. This week he got second and stretched it out to 38 over Aron Harvey. Eric might be the “slowest” fast guy I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t have the balls to the walls style of a typical MX2 guy; he’s not blowing up berms or hanging off his bike; he’s just not making any mistakes and going fast. Nice guy also. I met him when he was at Mach 1 Yamaha and his teammate was Ezra Lusk in 2003. He’s got a good grip on the title now and it’s his to lose.

You know who’s come up the last two races to help the KTM boys out? None other than Phoenix SX winner, Casey Lytle. One of the nice guys in the sport, Casey’s just giving them some tips on what the MDK boys are doing down south and no doubt helping out the riders with the mental game. That’s cool to see the USA guys putting effort into Canadian racing.

The Campbell River Crusher is still fast, that's not even a question. Why he isn't warp speed anymore is the question.

Won’t be long now before we see a RXC cover with Dusty Klatt’s face and a “What’s Eating Dusty Klatt?” tagline. The 2006 Canadian Champion just doesn’t look like the guy that I thought would battle Colton for the title. First moto, he was in third when he stalled his bike and got zapped by like four guys. I honestly figured, no big deal, he’ll get all those guys back and still get third. Nope, he couldn’t do it and finished seventh. Second moto out, he got third behind Simon Homans and couldn’t beat a guy that he smoked in ’06.  People I talk to say he hasn’t had it all year; he’s not the same guy that looked so, so promising back in the day.

I know he’s still battling suspension problems on the Kawi but no excuses; he wouldn’t have beaten Colton this weekend if you spotted him 10 seconds. I hope he figures it out soon. I like the Campbell River Crusher and am cheering for him. He still looks really good on the bike, just like the Klatt of ’06 ... only slower.

Marc Travers has a good theory on what’s happened to Klatt and how he can get better, but it was like 1AM and we were having a few drinky-poos so I don’t remember it all but it honestly made sense.

Jeremy Medaglia is really tiny, he might be even smaller than Beets. Combined they weigh as much as my left leg. J-Dags rode good this weekend!

Monster Energy/Cernic Kawasaki’s other rider Jeff Gibson isn’t exactly matching expectations either. Last year’s number three rider is struggling worse than Dusty. He has trouble breaking into the lead group; he got a third-place start in the second moto and went backwards faster than I down a double cheeseburger from McDonald's. He told me that every time he pushed it he got pumped up and tight, then he had to back it down to make it through and that he’s frustrated. It was right around this time last year that Jeff figured it out and became a podium guy. Let’s see if he can do it again.

Never let it be said that I just bag on riders and don’t care about them, however. Jeff was on my flight from Regina to Minneapolis on Monday morning, and, in a move that Rupert would love, I got him upgraded into first class so he could have a comfy seat and relax and think about how he struggled this weekend. Just kidding, Jeff!

I hung out with Danny Brault this weekend and the Destroyer Film guys Chris (Cory) and Cody (Trevor) in what I like to think must’ve been the “Southern Ontario” pavilion. We just needed Jay Burke and Label It Guy to make it complete. Anyways, Keast, Chuck Mesley and Kerim Fitz-gerald (by way of South Africa) were all travelling together and hanging out. It was fun to chat and get to know them better and get dozens of “Noise” quotes from Chuck (all unprintable). It struck me as funny that Keast was top ten, Chuckles was right outside of it, Fitz-Gerald had a great first MX2 moto and none of them are getting much glory or money out of the deal. They are there because they love it.

Lock-Tart, Lock"No"Hart, whatever you want to call him, he doesn't care. Sticks and stones will break his bones but names can't touch "Burt." He might've found a home on the brand that made him famous.

Ryan Lockhart is another guy that rode really well. He came from the back in both motos for a 5th OA. He could’ve taken the easy way out and just used the poor starts as excuses but he charged through the pack. His speed was pretty good, but he was saying that he’s still not used to the “balls out” mentality of the MX2 riders. He needs to shut his brain off for a few laps, but being older and wiser, he has trouble with that. I think the Newf has revived his career and can do better on a 450.

Aron Harvey of the Blackfoot Yamaha crew was also quietly good. Before the season started, I would’ve had trouble picking Aaron apart from my local Jack in the Box guy but I watched him and it was a smart choice for the Yamaha guys to sign the Nevada speedster. He’s a good rider. In practice Harvey and Hibbert were glued to each other and Hibbert later won the race so that should give you an indication of his speed. Right now he’s second in the points but 38(!) down on Nye.

Aron Harvey "Wallbanger" is really good. That green Fox gear on a Yamaha? Not so good.

Man, I really got screwed by the Canadian food industry this weekend. It started off on Saturday at East Side Mario’s with “Team Ontario” and the dude in the kitchen forgetting to put black olives on my pepperoni pizza. When I inquired about them, the waitress just brought some cold ones out and said here you go.  My Starbucks low-fat, caramel mocha was all screwed up as well, and they made me put my own lid on again! On Sunday, my buddies and I went into town for some lunch at A&W and they were out of onion rings! Man, I love Canadian A&W onion rings and it was a huge bummer, right on the same level as when I realized that Mats Sundin isn’t going to play for the Leafs again. So no big deal, I still had my yummy Mozza burger ... nope! They screwed that up as well.

Jimmy Nelson didn’t ride as he became sick with the flu/food poisoning on Saturday and couldn’t line up for the motos. Too bad for Nelson as he was coming off his best ride last weekend in Manitoba.

Teddy Maier’s season is going from great to crappy here pretty quick. After winning the opening round he’s dropped back down in the points to 8th after not racing in Regina because of an ankle injury. Too bad for the Leading Edge Kawasaki team, they’ve had some bad luck lately with Teddy and Nick Evennou.

Jay Burke has been riding great this year without a lot of press. He's in the "guys with regular jobs" category with Kyle Keast. Maybe his team can park with the rest of the guys now?

Label It Racing’s Jay Burke was also good. Burke, Keast and Mesley are all Honda guys that are all doing it on their own basically. The Hamilton Hooligan is 8th in the points and that’s pretty good for him; he’s working hard now after realizing that not working hard during the week causes bad finishes. I like the Label-It guy also, he’s cool.

Why is it that Canadians love crappy Tim Hortons so much? Do they put crack in the coffee? There must’ve been 40 cars in the drive-thru on Saturday morning! Just go inside people! Or better yet, go drink some real coffee from Starbucks or even that poop water that Danny drank is probably better. This is one thing that the Keast’s and I could brawl over.

Manitoba’s Ryan Millar had a bad weekend. I heard from his dad that he went down hard and rang his bell. But you know what? He really stood out for me because of his style; he’s got great style on a bike. Very fluid and throws the bike around. He looks like he’s grown about 4 feet in the last year as well. Just something I observed.

One thing I don’t like is the CMRC rule that lets the intermediates ride pro class. I understand that if they didn’t allow it there wouldn’t be a full gate, but when a guy like Millar can ride a bunch of pro races last year and then all the pro nationals this year, isn’t the point of being an intermediate kinda moot? The rule should be made that you can only race “X” number of pro races before you have to make the jump to pro.

Some other timbits....

--Not sure what’s up with Mitch Cooke; he’s not riding as well as everyone thought he would. With Mitch though, he could show up and go 1-1 next week and no one would be surprised.

--Still on the OTSFF front, the whole team uses Rekluse auto clutches on their RM-Z 450s. I thought they were fully automatic and wondered why the guys still use a clutch lever but I guess they are kinda-auto but yet you can still use the lever. I rode a bike with an auto-clutch once and thought that it could never work for a really fast guy but I guess I was wrong.

--As I mentioned, Kerim Fitz-Gerald rode well in the first moto getting a fourth. He had a horrendous crash in the second moto that knocked him out but I think he’s got a future in the great white north.

--The Medaglia brothers were good this weekend. Younger brother Jeremy had really poopy starts and had to work his way through the pack. Tyler (It’s weird, everybody talks about Colton and Dusty and even Blair but this kid is leading the points four rounds in) had his worst race of the season and still got second overall! He’s not really flashy or anything like that but obviously has speed. I think if Tyler still has the points lead going into Sand Del Lee, he might win the whole damn thing.

--Tyler can recite lines from Trailer Park Boys like no other I’ve ever seen. It’s uncanny.

--Jeff Northrop, after a couple of tough weekends, almost put it up on the box this weekend. I thought something was wrong with him or his bike in the first moto because he dropped back pretty far quickly but second moto he stayed strong all the way. “Norcal” went 4-4 on the day.

--There's been talk of the Canadian MXDN team and I have stayed out of it because in the end, it doesn't really matter who we send, they'll try their best and hopefully place in the top ten. With Andre at OTSFF being a big supporter of the team, I think that you'll see T-Dags on the team riding a 250F with Colt and Dusty rounding it out. Good team for sure.

--Kiwi Mason Phillips had his best race of the season, finishing third overall. I thought that the move to the MX2 class in ’08 wasn’t going to be a good one but if he keeps riding like he did in Regina, he’ll be fine.

That’s it boys and girls! Thanks for reading this week and see you next week from Colorado. Make sure you email me at matthes@racerxcanada.com to tell me what’s on your mind.

Jeff Northrop looks smooth on a KTM. I thought before the season started that he wasn't going to be as good as he has been. Shows you what I know!

 

It's my column and I'll run as many photos as KD Beets as I want. Beets will figure it all out soon, trust me.

 

Here's James Stewart ... oh wait, never mind. You have to have pretty big balls to run 259 on a Kawasaki and not even jump the finish line.

 

T-Dags loves chicken fingers (the good kind), going to Kittie-Land, VLT's and Steve French's big package. He is also pretty fast.

 

First James Stewart, now Dusty Klatt! He's looking at me while riding at a pretty good speed, next to only grabbing one tear off at a time, this is impressive. 

 

Here is Broc Shury, son of Saskatchewan legend Brent "Shur-Shot" Shury. He tried to qualify for the MX2 class on a Suzuki 125. I don't have to tell you how that went do I?

 

Here is Manitoba's next great hope, Ryan Millar. As a born and raised 'Toban, I think the pro class has been pretty weak since the days of Don Formo, Earl Reimer and Curtis Wyatt. Now get out of the Intermediate class, Ryan!

 

In Fred's paw right here is the mystical VHS tape that shows me catching Blair Morgan from behind in Saskatoon Mini-Stade in 1989 and going onto the win. After Fred is done with it, I'll figure out a way to get it onto Youtube for you guys. Thanks to Darcy Lawrence for letting me see this gem!