ATV Motocross

Site Lap: The Season Has Begun

Site Lap: The Season Has Begun

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | 3:15 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | 3:15 PM

A week ago the ATV Racin’ Nation sat on pins and needles in anticipation of what the coming days held for the kickoff to the 2016 AMA Pro ATV Motocross Championship season. Today we sit in wonder and amazement at the spectacle witnessed that began this New Year’s campaign. A number of questions answered while many more were created. The biggest question answered was whether or not Chad Wienen would get his redemption and claim the title he had so desperately wanted to possess as the ATVSX champion at Daytona. And in case you haven’t heard, he did and did it quite convincingly.

The challenges were great and many but Chad seemed to be more focused on wining the race this year than any I have seen him focused to win. He admits that last year left a bad taste in his mouth but anyone that witnessed this year’s race knows that things are much better now. And as wonderful as it is to revel in the win, Chad is headed back to work today to prepare for the rest of the 2016 championship season.

The 2nd Annual FLY Racing ATV Supercross at Daytona International Speedway is now behind us!
The 2nd Annual FLY Racing ATV Supercross at Daytona International Speedway is now behind us! Photo: Ken Hill

As far as the rest of the field goes it is obvious that the talent pool is deep again this year and the glimpse we saw of everyone’s speeds give us more to be excited about than we even had last year or the year before. It seems we are in an explosion of talent and honestly it doesn’t stop at pro or ever pro-am for that matter. It goes all the way through the ranks to the Women, Amateur and Youth divisions. This season may possibly be the best to date and you can quote me on that.

Jeffery Rastrelli picked up where he left off last year when he won the off-season Edge of Summer ATV Motocross at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Michigan. The performance he was able to put on was nothing short of spectacular and anyone who watched the race knows he is now one of the true players and could be around to play for a while.

Thomas Brown rode about as solid of a ride as any rider could in the big race. After all the program changes over the last few years he seems he may have found an even better working combination to work from. Whatever Brown’s inspiration is it is obvious he has some points to prove to himself and some points to prove to others. Thomas knows it’s time to pull it all together and do what he set out to do when he began and that was to win races. I expect that we will see more calculated and determined maneuvers from this rider that may position him to be on and in the center of the box a little more often.

There was quite a turn out of fans and riders at the ATV Supercross once again. 
There was quite a turn out of fans and riders at the ATV Supercross once again.  Photo: Ken Hill

The defending ATVSX champ John Natalie showed up for the fight as well. Natalie looked as poised to win this race as any he has. Great starts got him out front in both the qualifiers and the main. A collision with Joel Hetrick though had sent him of the track in the heat race and on his head but he rebounded to still qualify and pulled the holeshot in the main. He was able to hang on for a solid finish but off the podium, which was an obvious sour note for the former, champ. It honestly may be a fuel for his fire that may be hard for the field to fight. John Natalie seemed a little angry after the race and that is good news for race fans because the Ironman is preparing for a fight and the gloves are coming off.

A number of eyes were focused on Joel Hetrick once again. Many folks may have pegged Joel as the hands down winner and had it not been for the one big mistake he may have been in position to do just that. He had the speed that was obvious. He and Natalie battled hard in the heat race before an inside line of Hetrick’s washed and carried him to Natalie’s line and they collided which sent Natalie off the track on his head. The big issue for Hetrick came in the main though when he made a mistake and crashed hard early in the race. It was apparent it was a hard one when Hetrick immediately sat up and removed his helmet and sat on the tough block. The reports I heard later were a badly bruised leg and hopefully it isn’t anything worse than that.

Another exciting moment in the weekend came from the Women class late in the day. Even though this race does not count for the championship the stage may have been set for an amazing season ahead for these competitors. Megan (Manshack) Shepherd proved once again to be a strong force but a surprise out of class newcomer Aubre King made for an exciting battle to watch all the way to the checkers. Megan was fired up to say the least after the race as she may have been caught a little off guard but this is all good news for race fans as the best of the battle may be yet to come if King challenges the 2016 ATV Motocross National Championship. And on a side note, Megan and Aubre may not be the only ones to watch for in this class so make sure you make it trackside to watch this class this season. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

The Pro riders battled it out on the track in Daytona, Florida.
The Pro riders battled it out on the track in Daytona, Florida. Photo: Ken Hill

The amateur ranks will see some great things this season as a number of former youth talent riders are moving up. Some that really seemed to stand out were Cody Ford and Grayson Eller. Both of these riders seemed to be destined at one point in their youth career to be ones to beat at every gate but each had some minor set backs with injury and just growing so fast that they never really materialized to be the speedsters they were expected to be. Any issues that may have plagued them before seem to obviously be gone as each have taken to the bigger bikes like with amazing ease.

The Youth ranks were interesting to watch. Trevor Thatcher and Lance Walker gave another good show, as these two will be some each other’s biggest competition again this year. Bryce Ford looked to be on point and Devon Kindrick picked up where he left off last season and literally took about two steps forward. Anyone lining up against this kid this season is going to be in for a race. And these are just some off the top of my head thoughts at the moment. A deeper look reveals even more I don’t have time to mention this week.

All in all this were a great kickoff for pros and a great preview for amateurs. I realize that many of the class’s competitors may not have been able to make it one way or another but the small slice of the pie we saw yesterday was a good indication of the the future of this season could hold.

Chad Wienen found himself in the center of Victory Lane this year.
Chad Wienen found himself in the center of Victory Lane this year. Photo: Ken Hill

If for some reason you didn’t get to watch the race live I encourage you to head over to and watch the archive, as it will be a great way to see for yourself what I am talking about. I for one have been ready to see what this year has for us racing wise since the final checker flew last season and it’s finally here. But now we have to wait again as we are still a month away from the opening round of the ATVMX championship season for the amateurs.

That’ll do if for me for now. Let’s check in with Ken “The Sun Bronzed Photog” Hill. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.  

Keeping up with Ken Hill:

And just like that, the Fly Racing ATVSX at Daytona is history! The months of prep work and hours of training were put to work as those in attendance put on not just a show but also an incredible day of racing on a track that seemed to test every rider lap after lap. And how about that crowd! How cool was it to air it out in front of the spectator bleachers and just see a mass of people cheering you all on! These were not just the typical racing family crowd on the fence, the stands were filled with people that wanted to see ATV racing and boy did they pour in! I want to thank all of you who have helped use your social media to promote this event and to those in the industry who turned up things to make the second running of this event even bigger!

Tuesday was filled with ATV Supercross racing in Daytona International Speedway.
Tuesday was filled with ATV Supercross racing in Daytona International Speedway. Photo: Ken Hill

Now this being year two at Daytona, the flow of the day seemed to roll on fairly well and if there were any big issues I did not hear them. With the majority of racers knowing how things work this event can continue to grow into something more than just another round of racing. Those in the industry and outside potential sponsors cannot ignore what this event brings so you have a starting platform to build on for next year so be sure to capitalize on it! And “notice” is the key word as I was chatting with a long time industry person at the GNCC just a day or so before the ATVSX and he was railing on about seeing the quads rip the Daytona track last year and kept stating how impressed he was at the competition level and scale of where atv racing has been taken. There is a revolution going on and you can feel it when people talk about making things grow and to take ATV racing to a new level.

Now the layout for spectators wasn’t that bad but for the photographers it was a rough deal. Security and safety had the track crews running us away from many major areas which is the norm at an event held at such a facility however it made following the racing action pretty tough. I only knew something had happened by the loud report of the huge crowd when Joel Hetrick went down. The pro class was rolling so fast that I did not even know Hetrick was out of the race until it was over! I know everyone is stoked to hear he is ok after what looked like a hard hit. In fact, my son had sent me the video clip of it and I finally got to see it and it sure looked like an evil wreck! There was no mistaking who was in the lead and taking the win as that number one plate was easily seen soaring over the jumps. A huge congrats to Chad Wienen and his crew for putting in a stellar rides here at the opening round. The Florida fans went nuts when Jeffrey Rastrelli ripped to a podium finish and the energy Rastrelli and Thomas Brown bring to victory lane is always a crowd pleaser! 

Congratulations to Chad Wienen and the whole Wienen Motorsports team!
Congratulations to Chad Wienen and the whole Wienen Motorsports team! Photo: Ken Hill

That is all from me, as Rodney should have the racing details covered. I know most of you will be headed home so please be safe in your travels until we all meet again in Texas for round two.