ATV Motocross

Site Lap: Championships Are Being Made

Site Lap: Championships Are Being Made

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 | 11:25 AM
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 | 11:25 AM

The 2016 ProX ATV Motocross National Championship presented by CST Tires, an AMA national championship, has been everything and even more than we ever expected. Coming into each season there is a lot of anticipation and speculation as to what will take place but no one really ever knows. There are signs that pop up and with social media there is a lot more information that we must decipher to give some indications, but the truths start to shine right about now in the season. The rough and vigorous schedule takes its toll on the masses and while some find struggles others sort it out and the picture finally starts to become a little clearer as to how it is all playing out.

Come out and watch the future stars of ATVMX all weekend long! 
Come out and watch the future stars of ATVMX all weekend long!  Photo: Ken Hill

The next statement I make may be going out on a limb, but I feel there will be many that agree with what I have said and echo here today. This is likely the most competitive and exciting season the championship has seen in a long time, if not ever. As a whole, the championship battles are tighter in points, the battles on the track are much more intense and the sheer professionalism of the sport from the pros through amateur and youth is unparalleled to any season ever before. The pits look more professional, the riders conduct themselves in a more serious manner and training in all divisions has brought the competitiveness to all new levels. And even though our sport may be struggling from a growth standpoint, it will be seasons like these that help spark the growth which will not only revitalize the sport but also take it to even bigger stages in the future.

As far as this weekends upcoming Northeast ATVMX National at Unadilla goes, there is a lot riding for a lot of individuals in a number of classes. Some are excited to return to the “Home of Horsepower” claiming this track as their favorite. One of those may be Joel Hetrick as he hopes to finally chip some points away at Chad Wienen’s lead for the AMA Pro ATV Motocross title. Joel loves Unadilla and actually captured his first pro win there. Chad has never really done bad here and actually has done quite well at times so this one in the air. Other factors to include will be the recent improvements of David Haagsma along with Jeffery Rastrelli and what may be the rebirth of Josh Upperman. Uppy has shown some steady improvements this season and even though he isn’t where he wants to be, he appears to be on track. If Thomas Brown and John Natalie are healthy and able to make it this week, this too could be more factors that may end up surprising us all.

Chad Wienen and Joel Hetrick have put on quite a show at almost every round. It's hard to tell who will take this win this weekend in Unadilla!
Chad Wienen and Joel Hetrick have put on quite a show at almost every round. It's hard to tell who will take this win this weekend in Unadilla! Photo: Ken Hill

The amateur and youth side of the racing is pitted to be another exciting weekend as well. The Youth All-Stars have been exciting to watch along with many other youth classes. This also includes the Girls classes, which have really gotten exciting this year. Kiersten Keane as of late has really been impressive as of late and is proving to possibly be one to the next top WMX stars. She has seen some injuries in the past seasons and that may be why we have never recognized her potential, but this season she has remained healthy and obviously has been putting in the extra work to move to the front of the pack. She isn’t the only one and that’s the greatness of not only this class, but also seemingly all the championships this year.

Including this weekends event, the amateur schedule is down to just three more rounds to sort it all out. There have been a few championships claimed already but many more are still left to decide. Loretta Lynn’s may see the most championship deciding battles it has ever seen in ATVMX history. The feeling will be once again that Loretta’s is the pinnacle of it all and a win here means big things for most folks, but imagine actually winning the title here for the national championship and all of a sudden it becomes likely the biggest stop on the tour. It in many cases helps decide any unanswered questions but can also leave us with many more to think about heading into next season.

88 Live to Ride medical staff, John Orr and AMA Pro ATV Racer, Jeffrey Rastrelli pose with their winnings from the Bra Pong at Sunset Ridge. 
88 Live to Ride medical staff, John Orr and AMA Pro ATV Racer, Jeffrey Rastrelli pose with their winnings from the Bra Pong at Sunset Ridge.  Photo: Courtesy of Rodney Tomblin

As the end of the national race season approaches, it’s not only time to think about titles, but also a few other things that have become quite the tradition at the year end ATV Dirt Days celebration. There is the annual Youth Contingency Program (YCP) and 88 Live to Ride spaghetti dinner and auction that have been taking place the better part of ten years. I received some information from Debi Bartosek on 88 Live to Ride which I will pass along as well as some information on the YCP.

First I want to mention the Youth Contingency Program that was started about decade ago by “Quad Nana” Frieda Rozzelle. As many of us know, in recent years she has had some health problems, but has always pushed forward to pull this all together. Unfortunately this year though neither she nor her husband, Gary, has been able to do anything toward pulling things together. Frieda’s health has not been the best and she can certainly use our prayers. Tim and Stephanie Furches recently contacted me. They are the parents of Chris Furches who happens to be a youth racer. Knowing the importance of and how exciting it is for the kids in the ATV Racin’ Nation have stepped up to help organize this years giveaway. They are doing a spectacular job but as always more help is needed to help make it even better and they posted the following message on Facebook asking for support. Please read and share this message and help make this the best one yet. Let’s do it for Quad Nana, as it will warm her heart to know it still continues strong and in good hands.

Here is the message from:

As most of you know the ATVMX Youth Contingency Program has always been on Saturday evening at the Loretta Lynn National. Freida & Gary Rozelle have been doing this for the kids for over 10 years. This year unfortunately Freida became very ill and they were not been able to collect items for the kids as in past years. My husband Tim Furches and myself have offered to assist them this year to keep the tradition going. It has always been an exciting event for the kids! 

We need your help! We need donations from companies, businesses, and those who can afford to donate racing products for this event. There isn't much time but I know with the support of the ATVMX community together we can make this event as good as years past. We have gotten with most of the pros and have some pretty awesome stuff for the kids! The Rozelle's estimate 180 registered youth riders for this race.

*Things we are in need of: backpacks, goggles, jerseys, gloves, lanyards, gift certificates, moto socks, hats, race gear brand wallets, race related keychains, t-shirts, and a few helmets. (We need most of this in youth sizes and some small/medium adult sizes for the larger youth)
For more info or to help please email [email protected] or direct message us.

Thank you!

The approaching Dirt Days at Loretta’s has also become a tradition for the 88 Live to Ride Spaghetti Dinner and Auction. I received this information on this year’s event from Debi and she asked me to pass it along.


Hello, Rodney:

Need to give a shout out to the Root River Racing team as they designated 88 Live to Ride to receive the $840 collected from the annual Pit Bike races held at Spring Creek. What an awesome surprise from a great group of people!

Hard to believe but we’ll be heading to Loretta Lynn’s in just four short weeks! Guess it’s time to start reminding folks of the 88 Live to Ride benefit spaghetti dinner and auction that will be held on Friday evening in the big pavilion.

Brian and Connie O’Neill have stepped up to host the dinner this year. The Root River and JB Racing team members will be helping with the cooking and serving. Serving of dinner will start at 5:30PM. We are doing something a little different this year to try and help speed things up. We will be having a Silent Auction, of an assortment of items, beginning at 5PM and ending at 7:30PM.

The BIGGEST news I have to share is that Stan “Big Daddy” Digby and Digital Dave Smith from are going to be our auctioneers for the live auction. They do such a great job for us!!

We already have some great items promised but more on that later…we’ll keep you in suspense

Thanks Debi for all you do for the sport. Many folks may not know what 88 Live to Ride does and if not then hopefully you will never really know the lengths they try to go to help behind the scenes in medical situations and the advancement of safety in our sport. They also provide a mobile medical unit free to all the riders and families throughout the weekend with licensed professionals to assist you in times of medical needs. “Care for the walking wounded,” says Debi and they have been a huge help now for well over a decade.

Speaking of the Spaghetti Dinner, remember last years?! You don't want to miss it this year at Loretta Lynn's. 
Speaking of the Spaghetti Dinner, remember last years?! You don't want to miss it this year at Loretta Lynn's.  Photo: Ken Hill

88 Live to Ride also recently participated in the Breast Cancer Awareness benefit held at Sunset Ridge with the Pink Track Walk on Friday night. Several thousand dollars were raised and the folks at 88 Live to Ride had a lot of fun once again making fun games and good memories for anyone who happened by. She also sent this message about that:

Jeffrey Rastrelli, thanks to an attentive fan, raised the most money thru 88 Live to Ride's Bra Pong game for Breast Cancer Awareness at Sunset Ridge.  Top three Pros raising the most money were Rastrelli, Joel Hetrick and Johnny Hale.  Everyone, kids and adults, had a good time trying to get the ping-pong ball in the cup. A check in the amount of $216 was given to event coordinator, Pat Cassidy. Thanks to SSi Decals for the spiffy check!

That’s it for me for now. Let’s check into Gloop’s Loop and with Ken “The Bean Stringin’ King” Hill. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.

In The Loop with Gloop:

It was awesome seeing David Haagsma all the way out in Pennsylvania racing at Sleepy Hollow over the weekend.

Speaking of the Spaghetti Dinner, remember last years?! You don't want to miss it this year at Loretta Lynn's. 
Speaking of the Spaghetti Dinner, remember last years?! You don't want to miss it this year at Loretta Lynn's.  Photo: Ken Hill

Nick Moser is out for this weekend's ATVMX National at Unadilla. Nick had a practice crash last Saturday, but looks like he will aim to start therapy during the week. 

Speaking of the Spaghetti Dinner, remember last years?! You don't want to miss it this year at Loretta Lynn's. 
Speaking of the Spaghetti Dinner, remember last years?! You don't want to miss it this year at Loretta Lynn's.  Photo: Ken Hill

Keeping up with Ken Hill:

There are a few things I look forward to each week, and one of them is reading what description Rodney throws at me in Site Lap! The other is reading social media posts about how your race went believe it or not. From race day through the next round they continue to pop up through social media, which gives your followers a glimpse into your racing life. Does it work or help or get you noticed? I would say it does and if used correctly you can count on your efforts to set the tone that best describes you so think a little before going on a rant and then hash tagging your sponsors because not all of them are going to grasp your venting or share your emotions over any issue that may come down the road. Just a small bit of forethought can go along way in keeping problems you don’t need from affecting future sponsorships. 

Now why did I open this week’s contribution with the above warning or advice? Well, because I read three posts this week that were sent to me by industry folks asking what the issue was. After reading through the posts and talking with those folks it was a non-issue in every case except one however impressions are hard to remove from your memory bank. The third issue wasn’t related to any one racer but some people complaining about a non-racing issue after posting it on a high profile social media page. Again, this did nothing to further the argument or garner support for the perceived issue at hand but does or did make things look poorly to anyone who bothered to read through the comments. As small as the racing community is and as hard as it is to get sponsor support, a small issue can get blown way out of proportion easily especially when it becomes public on social media. Again, please think before just throwing it out there! 

Kiersten Keane currently leads the Schoolgirl (13-17) class, and sits in 5th in WMX.  
Kiersten Keane currently leads the Schoolgirl (13-17) class, and sits in 5th in WMX.   Photo: Ken Hill

 I came across this post from Riley Brooks that kind of sums up how so many of our racers feel and what they will go through just to get on the gate. 

“Was an awesome track to ride! I had a broken wrist and had the cast taken off 3 weeks early and wore a zipper splint special for this race! I can't wait to do it again next year” 

The dad in me just shook my head but that turned to a big smile as I know exactly how he feels and I know so many of you have raced hurt or injured and will continue to do so. What is it in you that drives that need to compete or just be there in some cases? It is heart for sure, it is dedication to complete your personal mission and the refusal to quit. These are the qualities you want in friends and family, this is the type of attitude that fills our armed forces who continue fighting or push forward with the mission when wounded. It is a character trait that you have and not one that can be bought. So kudos to Riley and others just like him for always pushing forward and never quitting, hard to find that in today’s world!

This year's youth riders are ripping around the race tracks. 
This year's youth riders are ripping around the race tracks.  Photo: Ken Hill

Others have stated it as well as myself, one of the best races each round is the Youth All Star class and Troy Hill put the hammer down at Spring Creek. To pull both holeshots and claim both moto wins is a huge accomplishment in a class so stacked with top talent that I wanted to share his success. A few weeks back I read a comment asking where the up and coming riders were and I must say, there are a ton of them right here in this class! My wife commented that she was in awe of the speeds in just about every class at Spring Creek. Now she hasn’t been to an ATVMX race in quite a while and motocross scares the bejesus out of her but she was actually excited to watch the motos as you all were just hammering the track. Our 17-hour drive home was filled with discussions regarding what she saw and in all honestly, she wasn’t just talking about the pro class! That made me happy seeing that someone who doesn’t follow racing day in and day out was moved to comment repeatedly about the speed, the action and what an enjoyable day she had. Now we just need to figure out how to get ten thousand folks just like her through the gate each round!

The amateur riders have been putting on some great battles this season. 
The amateur riders have been putting on some great battles this season.  Photo: Ken Hill

I also ran a few questions past a relative new comer to the series, Greg Faschian who owns and runs Koster Racing. Greg himself is a great guy to see at the races simply because he is funny, polite, hard working and into every aspect of the racing life we all enjoy. Being the top dog has to bring out some serious stress but he seems to handle it fairly well and I thank him for responding! 

How is the team doing so far in 2016? I see you have wrapped up one championship so far?

The team is doing well as can be.  We’ve had some riders with medical problems early (Cody Gifford and Nick Weber) this year, which sidelined them for the season, but they will be returning next season. Yes, to the championship. Michelle Suciu Jenkins has solidified her first National Championship of her career and the first one for Koster Racing this season in the new for 2016 Woman’s 30+ class. Last round in Millville Michelle wrapped up the points in the Women’s 30+ making her the first ever champion. We’re also watching Brett Musick this round in the Pro AM class as he inches closer to locking up a championship in Pro Am and is top ten in Pro. The last few rounds will be pivotal for him as well as many of the other team riders to decide their finishing positions for the year.  Our Australian from down under, Shaun Woodhead, had a rough start to the season but has come along in Open B and is just a few points out of 5th. Look for him to move up the next few rounds. Peyton Roth suffered a broken wrist at High Point while sitting tied for 2nd in School Boy Jr. He has continued to show up to all rounds and only lost one position and is 4th overall and hoping to move up. As a team we have experienced consistency issues with a couple of our riders because of several problems, but this hasn’t held us as a team back from finding success.

As a team owner, what do you feel has been the biggest positive and negative of fielding an ATV team?

The biggest positive is seeing the riders that put in the effort find success in their season and enjoy doing it.  Also, having all the family time and meeting new people along the way has been a blast. That’s what puts a smile on my face.  The negatives are when a team rider has a bad race, knowing that they have worked hard for the win, as the team owner, I feel the disappointment and feel bad for the rider.  The team concept is very important and people need to learn that.  Also consistency is a key to the team.

I know tons of work goes into managing the team, from obtaining sponsors to long hours of wrenching, driving and making every round. There has to be a few key players involved that keep Koster Racing moving forward?

There is a lot of work going into this. My busy season is when the season is over; as you try to establish your sponsors for the next season to help offset costs and increase team performance. During the off-season we also spend much time building resumes and putting the team together for the upcoming season.  Debbie Elston is an instrumental key player in my camp. She helps with cooking, organizing, cleaning, setting up and even wrenching; including the occasional motor change. In the offseason she helps with the paper work and emails. We have some other things in the works for next year. There are a countless number of people that have helped us throughout this season. That being said a few of the main people include Seth Osborn, CD Musick and Shawn Snyder. A huge thank you goes out to all people and sponsors not listed as we cannot compete without you.

What goals are you setting for the 2017 season?

As a team we hope to construct a successful, safe and most of all a fun season next year. Most of this will be decided and worked towards the offseason. We wish for many championships from the up and coming riders and to show progress and growth from the previous year(s). To be better than before, simply put, is what Koster Racing hopes to achieve.

I have to thank Greg again for his allowing us an insight into his deal and I know we can expect Koster Racing to big things as they continue to grow and hone the skills needed to become a premier racing force throughout the industry!

Now we look on to the ATVMX National at Unadilla this weekend! We'll see you there!
Now we look on to the ATVMX National at Unadilla this weekend! We'll see you there! Photo: Ken Hill

Hey that is all from me this week as I turn my attention to several bushels of green beans sitting here waiting to be snapped and processed so I can feed my face throughout the year! This time of the year I catch a break literally as the GNCC series has its summer break and will not resume racing until September which allows me to have every other weekend off for a few weeks where I can catch up on my own life but it doesn’t last long! This weekend at Unadilla should be pretty epic and I am looking forward to shooting it! As always, God bless you all in your travels and at the races!