With Hangtown taking place down in California, there was another series kicking off this weekend that featured plenty of American talent - the Rockstar Energy Canadian Motocross Nationals. The track itself is universally panned by the riders, the aptly named "Wastelands," but the location couldn't be better - on Vancouver Island off the west coast of British Columbia, for most racers it means a scenic, 2 hour ferry ride from Vancouver to get to the city of Nanaimo where the track lies.
The biggest news for 2014, of course, was the arrival of Mike Alessi and his Motoconcepts team to contest the series, along with teammate, Vince Friese. Also throw in the last minute signing of Josh Hill to take the place of defending champion, Brett Metcalfe, on the Monster Energy Thor Kawasaki team and there was plenty of storylines leading into the opening round.
These Pulp reports will focus mainly on the many American riders contesting in the Canadian series so keep checking back all summer long...
Yes, the track is seriously called The Wastelands
Former MotoXXX and N-Fab/Ti-Lube team owner, Alan Brown, came up to Nanaimo to help out his buddies at the MX101 Yamaha team. Not sure how into the racing he was when he asked me on Friday if I wanted to skip the second motos on Saturday.
The setting for the Nanaimo track is nice, it's mainly the dirt that the riders don't like. Who are we kidding, there is no dirt - it's all rock
This team has been dominant in Canada the past couple years, sweeping the titles in both classes in 2012 and 2013. Chances of a three-peat got a little tougher when they lost Brett Metcalfe a month before the opener.
The Gopher Dunes Honda team stepped up big for 2014, picking up TLD Honda's old semi and signing three-time Canadian Champion, Colton Facciotti.
A rare, non-holeshot for Mike Alessi. Bobby Kiniry uses his full Meat Head powers to muscle his way by to grab it by inches.
Defending MX2 Champ, Austin Politelli, is still getting up to speed after breaking his femur during SX season. The California native managed third overall on the day.
Wildlife officers showed up at the track to investigate sightings of a Bear but it turned out it was just Dave Dye, let loose in Canada.
Obligatory Rockstar girl shot
Bobby Kiniry always goes fast in Canada but crashes and tip overs held him to fifth overall at Nanaimo. Like most riders, he was just happy to get out of there.
This serious fellow brought you the Atlas Brace
The battle we're hoping to see all summer. Colton Facciotti and Mike Alessi tied for the overall on the day, splitting 1-3 and 3-1 scores. Now if Facciotti can just get through Kamloops, the round that's ended his season the past two years in a row.
Another rider who's been coming to Canada for a while is Dylan Schmoke. He finished 10th overall in MX2.
With Rockstar as the title sponsor this year, they've stepped up the presentation away from the racing, with bands and a freestyle show. Jeff Fehr flips for the crowd.
After finishing second in MX2 last year, Josh Clark was looking to contend for the title in 2014. The New Englander had a terrible day though as motor troubles left him with only a DNF and a 15th to show for his day.
Josh Hill's Nanaimo had to be considered a success. After not racing outdoors in years, the Oregon native rode to respectable 4-2 moto finishes for third overall.
After a few rides last year as a fill-in on the KTM Canada team, Minnesota's Jesse Wentland is back to contest the whole series as a member of the MX101 Yamaha team. Wentland finished 4th overall with 2-5 moto scores.
Kyle Beaton was in the house! KD Beets was helping out his buddy, Ryan "Newf" Lockhart in his quest for New Beginning 14.
With all the talk of Politelli, Wentland, Friese, etc., a pair of Canadians - Shawn Maffenbeier(22) and Kaven Benoit(24) promptly ran away with the first moto.
Benoit went 1-1 on the day and it looks like any challengers for the MX2 title are going to have to go through the KTM rider.
Kyle Chisholm was back racing the Canadian Nationals for the first time since his 2006 MX2 title. The Florida native went 6-5 for 6th overall.
After racing the entire series last year out of his pickup truck, Kyle Swanson is back with some more support for another run at it. He went 7-DNF in MX2
The most anticipated rider to race the series in a while, Mike Alessi collided with Colton Facciotti on the opening lap of moto one and had to come back to third. In moto two, he got out front early and slowly built a lead enroute to the win and the overall, while Facciotti found himself on the ground in the same spot and having to work back to third.
Alessi gets some X-Brand exposure on Canadian TV
Idaho's Morgan Burger has been a fixture on the Canadian circuit for a few years now. He finished 9th in MX1.
Mike Genova is looking to corner the hot tub market in Canada.
Bands with big beards are just some of the entertainment you get at a Canadian Nat.
Ryan Lockhart's groundhog day New Beginning kicked off the 2014 edition with a 14th place in MX1.
Shawn Maffenbeier is like the Justin Brayton of Canada, not blazing fast at the beginning of his career, he just gets faster and faster each year. The Saskatchewan native would have had 2-2 on the day in MX2 if not for a stall in the last corner of moto 1. Still 3-2 for second isn't too shabby.
You're allowed to race 250 2-strokes in MX2 in Canada but as Topher Ingalls found out, they're not always the best option. The NorCal native grabbed the holeshot in moto 2 but admitted that it was hard to ride the 2 smoker on the slippery Nanaimo surface.
At this point Teddy Maier has almost got to be eligible for Canadian citizenship. The Iowa native has been racing in Canada since 2005 and was the only rider to keep Colton Facciotti in sight in moto one. A crash in moto two left him with 4th overall on the day.
Vince Friese was fast at times but motor troubles in moto two left him with 5-DNF scores to show for his first Canadian National.