ATV Motocross ATV Pro Challenge Race Report

Monday, October 12, 2015 | 10:00 AM

Thomas Brown Takes ATV Pro Challenge Motocross Win
John Natalie & Jeffrey Rastrelli Round Out Pro ATVMX Podium

Thomas Brown likes to say that Caleb Moore watches over all ATV motocross racers as they take to the track. That statement held true Saturday as Brown won the Third Annual ATV Pro Challenge in Memory of Caleb Moore at Oak Hill Raceway. John Natalie, Jr. was second, ahead of Jeffrey Rastrelli. Pro Motocross Rookie of the Year Nick Gennusa finished fourth, while Sam Rowe made his pro debut with a fifth-place finish.

Thomas Brown (center), John Natalie (left) and Jeffrey Rastrelli (right) were your top three finishers at the ATV Pro Challenge.
Thomas Brown (center), John Natalie (left) and Jeffrey Rastrelli (right) were your top three finishers at the ATV Pro Challenge. Photo:

Thomas took the lead from holeshot winner Johnny Hale in the third corner and was never seriously challenged from there. This marked Thomas’ third start and his first victory in the event.With more than $35,000 in purse money, including over $5,000 for the winner, nearly 200 racers, including 17 pros came here to compete. The Pro race was run with a two-heat qualifying format, followed by a single-moto main.

“We went 31 style as Michelle Moore would say,” said Thomas. “I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to win this race. The first year, I came out swinging and came up short. Last year, I thought I had it in the bag and I let it slip away from me. This year, I put in the work and worked out. The Maxxis Yamaha worked out great.

“The start was wild,” explained Thomas. “I had a late reaction, and I was mid pack coming into the corner. I chose an inside gate and I was running fifth or sixth on the inside. Someone got into the back of Natalie, I got right behind Johnny and we went through the first corner first and second. In the second corner I caught him on the inside and it was a drag race down the straightaway. I got the lead in the third corner and it was hammer down from there. I knew there were some fast guys here, so I ran hard for the first couple of laps. Then I just settled into a pace, ran smooth and ran my own race.”

Thomas Brown took home the win!
Thomas Brown took home the win! Photo:

“Michelle let me borrow Caleb’s fingerprint for the day and, you know what, it worked,” said Thomas. “He was watching over me today. I am really stoked to win this race in Caleb’s honor. He watches over all of us at each and every event we race.”Michelle Moore gave Thomas a keepsake to wear during the race: a necklace bearing Caleb Moore’s fingerprint.

Natalie recovered from a spin in the first turn and drove through the field to finish second.

“I thought I had the holeshot…I was already counting the money in my head,” said Natalie. “Then someone hit me from behind and sent me out into the fluff and almost flipped. I came out sixth. Racing is racing, though, and I went back to it. By the time I got into second, Thomas had a 10-second lead on my. I caught up to him a little bit, but we were having some issues, I backed off a little bit and I settled for second.

Natalie returned to competition a few weeks ago after suffering what was nearly a career- and almost life-ending injury.

John Natalie returned to competition, and finished second.
John Natalie returned to competition, and finished second. Photo:

“I complain about not getting first, when I should be thanking God that I’m out here racing,” said Natalie. “The injuries were way more serious than I even thought they were. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been pushing myself to be better. It’s not good enough to be better than someone else. I want to be better than I think I can be. I never quit and I never give up. I guess I’m just hard on myself. It’s great to be back out here racing and on the podium. These guys are not slow racers by any means. These are the best racers in the world.”

Rastrelli almost didn’t make the main event after a hard crash during his heat. He came out of a late-race battle with Gennusa to nab the final spot on the podium.

“I got a little out of control, blew a berm, got ejected off the bike and landed on my left shoulder; I think I may have separated it a little bit,” said Rastrelli of the crash during his heat. “Before the moto, I was hurt bad. I could barely move my knee and my shoulder. But when I got on that track and the adrenalin kicked in, it was a whole different story. I forgot about that stuff and did the deal. To come out and finish third to Thomas and John and with these guys racing is awesome.”

Nick Gennusa finished in the fourth spot.
Nick Gennusa finished in the fourth spot. Photo:

Rastrelli thanked Gennusa for running him cleanly on the final lap. Gennusa nearly took the spot with a hard-charging pass, but though better of it and settled for fourth.

“I was passing him at the end, I really wasn’t sure how it was going to work out and I didn’t want to crash both of us,” said Gennusa. “I missed a shift at the start and that put me back. I moved my way up, eating dirt the whole time. Two or three years ago, I was getting these guys autographs. Now I’m racing them and I’m even up at the front. I have just kept improving. I am really happy with that and I’ll take it for my rookie year.”

Rowe, who will race for Root River next year in Pro Motocross competition, was pleased with his top-five finish after battling both Rastrelli and Gennusa in the early stages of the event.

Johnny Hale took the holeshot!
Johnny Hale took the holeshot! Photo:

“It’s definitely a little nerve racking, racing with these guys,” said Rowe. “It sure wasn’t an easy task. I got a great start in both of my races and I came out with a top-five finish so I couldn’t be more stoked.”

Hale was happy to win the holeshot, but faded after a few laps: “I stayed pretty strong for about four laps then ‘not riding’ set in,” said Hale. “This is a good event. The purse is great and it brings out a lot of the national guys.”

Caleb Moore's brother, Colten, joined in on the freestyle show.
Caleb Moore's brother, Colten, joined in on the freestyle show. Photo:

Caleb Moore’s brother Colten was not on the sidelines here. Instead, he joined Derek and Jon Guetter, Nicholas Hickey and put on a great freestyle show. Moore is joining the Nitro Circus and is currently writing a book about his experience in racing, his family and the death of his brother.

“Getting to come out here was a lot of fun,” said Moore. “Thomas Brown is one of my best friends, so it was pretty cool to see him win. I did five different flips: A heel clicker flip, Cordova flip, super flip, and a clicker to super flip.”

The third annual Caleb Moore Pro Challenge proved to be another successful event, but it is a shame that every gate isn’t full with so much effort and money on the line for this special event.

Caleb Moore's family were presented special trophies.
Caleb Moore's family were presented special trophies. Photo: