ATV Motocross

Site Lap: Final Days of 2016

Site Lap: Final Days of 2016

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 | 4:55 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 | 4:55 PM

The final days of 2016 are here and Christmas is only 11 days away. As we have mentioned before there has been a lot going on this off-season, and with the pre season approaching folks are certainly looking forward. The AMA Pro ATV portion of the 2017 ProX ATV Motocross National Championship presented by CST Tires, an AMA national championship for the Fly Racing ATVSX at Daytona International Speedway will be here before you know it, and the many changes that have occurred will bring a different look and feel to life around the racetrack. 

Josh Upperman will be part of the Root River Racing Team for the 2017 ATVMX season.
Josh Upperman will be part of the Root River Racing Team for the 2017 ATVMX season. Photo: Provided by Root River Racing

Looking towardsa the future brings a number of questions especially when you look back at the last few years and the many changes that have occurred in the recent months. There has been a lot of talk of changes from the Root River Racing folks and with the way things were going it makes one wonder just exactly what is going on with the RRR team. 

This past week I received the information that many have been waiting to find out and we will share it exactly how team owner Rich Gillette wanted. We are a very tight community and many may know or have heard bits and pieces of the story. To put any questions or rumors to rest the following is straight from the RRR team and should explain it all. 

Dylan Tremellen will be making the move to the Pro ranks in 2017 aboard his Root River Racing machine. 
Dylan Tremellen will be making the move to the Pro ranks in 2017 aboard his Root River Racing machine.  Photo: Provided by Root River Racing

Well into the 2016 Off-season and the Root River Race Team and its owner, Rich Gillette, are finally finding time to reflect on this past season as well as to give us a look into the future of the team and what is in store for 2017. New shop, new look and new attitude to name a few things that are changing with the team. Rich said, “It took some serious soul-searching to make some of the hard decisions that needed to be made, but the end result I hope, is a more enjoyable and successful 2017 season.”

The team did very well once again this year. What impressed Rich the most about the team’s performance is the off-season training. They took their training very seriously. All the riders made dramatic changes with their nutrition, gym workouts and skill training. They came into the season smarter, stronger and healthier than ever. 

Noah Mickelson was definitely the super star this year capturing the 450 B and Open B class championships. Right behind Noah was Logan Tremellen pulling in 2nd place finishes in both Production C and 450 C by less than 5 points in each class. His brother, Dylan Tremellen, did very well also. He posted a 4th in Pro Am and 3rd in Pro Sport. In the 15 classes and having some of their riders competing in the same classes, Root River Racing finished with 2 class championships, 11 class top five’s and 19 class top ten’s.  The team saw a lot of the podium this year with 23 overall wins and 76 podium finishes.

Root River Racing continued its support of the Racing 4 Cancer foundation this year with Tom Vossman contributing for every rider’s podium finish and Rich’s generosity. This year Rich and Tom will be writing checks to Racing 4 Cancer totaling $50,000. Tom and Rich are happy to do this on behalf of our rides and the support of curing cancer.
2016 was the toughest season for Rich. Before the season even started, Rich’s doctors let him know that he really needed to strive for a less stressful and healthier life style. Running a race team with 12 Full sponsored riders, 11 partial sponsored riders, 4 full time employees and having 5 race rigs out on the road Rich’s says, “This hobby has grown into a full-time job and a very stressful one at that.” At the third race, Rich caught 2 of his riders breaking one of the most significant rules in the agreement to be a full sponsored rider for Root River Racing. That was the turning point for Rich to make major changes with the team. Rich told me that after that race he went home and had to find the reasoning why he doesn’t just shut it all down. Even though he was hurt by 2 of his riders, the out pouring of appreciation for not just giving them a slap on the hands and actually suspending them for 3 rounds. The appreciation and the rest of the riders he sponsors were what helped him push through and continue on.

Even though the team did very well in the 2016 season, Rich as the owner needed to make some changes. Downsizing and simplifying the operation was his decision. Tom Vossman had made it known to Rich in the latter part of the season that he was interested in starting his own team and wondered if it would be ok if Sam Rowe went with Tommy and JoHannah. Rich agreed to let Sam leave, but would still significantly sponsor Sam’s Pro program. At Loretta Lynn’s in August, the decisions had been made and it was up to Rich to let Brandon O’Neill, Tyler Mack, Owen Subjek, Noah Mickelson and Haedyn Mickelson go from the team. Needless to say, this was a very tough time for Rich since he considers everyone on his team as family. 

The downsizing of the Root River Racing team to just four riders has caused a downsizing of the staff at the shop. Rod Mickelson and Tony Subjek were let go as well. Both men were large contributors to the team’s success. After 10 years of loyalty and service to Rich and the team, Rod was the hardest person that Rich had ever let go from a job. Rod was the one that helped Rich get his son Alex into racing and keep him on the straight narrow, so you might understand how difficult it was for Rich to let him go. 

Looking forward to the 2017 season Root River Racing will have Pro #20 Josh Upperman, Pro #940 Dylan Tremellen, Amateur #126 Logan Tremellen and Amateur #88 Alex Gillette running as full sponsored riders. Dropping down to only four riders riding under the Root River Racing awnings, Rich say it has given him the ability to help a few more up and coming riders with “Significant Sponsorship” as he calls it which is just below what he considers “Full Sponsorship”. Those riders would be Pros Thomas Brown, Jeffrey Rastrelli, Sam Rowe, Nick Gennusa, Ronnie Higgerson, Sean Taylor and amateur rider Tyler Mack.  The teams lowest level of sponsorship is “Partial Sponsorship” which goes to the riders that have the skill, drive and desire to race nationals, but whether it is work, family events, school or just simply races that are too far for them to travel Rich offers gift card to riders for each race that they do make it to. Rich has increased this level of sponsorship from 11 riders in 2016 to 20 riders in 2017. 

Prior to Rich’s decision to down size the race team, he had already started construction of a new race shop and headquarters that would accommodate the needs of a race team of this size. He assured me that he would still put the building to good use and that while the nationals are in the Midwest for Sunset Ridge and Spring Creek races, the shop doors would be open to riders needing a place to do maintenance on their quads instead of going all the way back home. All he asks is that you talk to him first. 

On a final note, as riders are starting their journey south to train and ride, the Root River riders will be splitting their time between Florida and Splendora Texas this off-season. Rich said, “I have been asked quite a few times if and when we’ll be having our race school. Unfortunately, with the team splitting their time in two locations I didn’t want to commit to doing a race school. If I can’t do it right, I don’t want to do it at all. We’ll see you all in Daytona or in Texas. Safe travels and training to all my family in the racin’ nation” 

Thanks to Rich and Root River Racing for sharing and putting it all into perspective. The details coming from this make me feel like things are going to be even better all around. It will certainly bring another great season of racing and it gives us all plenty of fuel to keep the excitement going. 

That’s it for me for now. Let's check in with Gloop's Loop and with Ken “Deer Jerky anyone” Hill. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.

In The Loop with Gloop:


Definitely cool to see Troy Hill's jersey hanging with some of the greatest motocross riders there are. 


Thatcher seems to be getting pumped up for the upcoming 2017 season. 

Keeping up with Ken Hill:

Well my first official stay-cation, vacation, or whatever you’d like to call it has come to an end. Sure I was home like usual and I am actually off work so to speak from mid November until I head south in February, but this was a mental break thing that I really sort of enjoyed. The entire scope of this time was spent deer hunting and I ended up taking a deer for the freezer so it was a successful hunt, but the big buck still evades me! I must say, I have been to Hawaii several times as well as other places around the country and staying here at home still ranks better than any other “vacation” I have had to take. I mention “had” because I was forced into going to those exotic locations and I admit I did enjoy them, but nowhere near like being right here at home. The term homebody fits me well as I just enjoy being here and working here. It is tough to up and leave, which includes me hitting the road come race season to cover the 24 national events, but if I did not enjoy the work I wouldn’t be doing it.

If you're an AMA Member, cast your vote now by clicking HERE!
If you're an AMA Member, cast your vote now by clicking HERE! Photo: Provided by Root River Racing

This upcoming season is already going to be a challenge with a big change in my schedule at the due to GNCC making a huge change and starting in South Carolina rather than Florida. I have mentioned before how we all live our lives around the schedule and how we all work tirelessly to live the life we have chosen and for many this means going back to work after the season ends and running wide open until it is time to go back to racing, hopefully earning enough to carry through the season. I saw a post from Ronnie Higgerson yesterday showing him back at it hard doing what he does for an actual living. Then a few posts down, Nick Gennusa was heading out on a cruise and yet another had John Natalie getting ready to demolish an old school. Others post about their real life and the struggle, and it is such a diverse group that fills the racing nations ranks that taking a step back and looking at how it all works is very interesting.

I get quite the look when I am talking with someone, even an industry person, who learns for the first time that our Pro ranks are filled mainly with people that have to be at work in between races as they do not earn enough to race full-time year round. At times it may all seem like a worthless effort and such a waste, but as a parent who spent countless hours doing what most of you do, and untold amounts of money invested in travel and building quads to race, I must say that they were some of the most enjoyable and memorable years of our lives. Maybe my brain has just blocked out all rationale that would allow me to tally the costs, time included, but we had fun as a family and it shaped us in ways a life without racing ever could. 

If you're an AMA Member, cast your vote now by clicking HERE!
If you're an AMA Member, cast your vote now by clicking HERE! Photo: Provided by Root River Racing

So as we head into the holiday season and everyone gets all warm and fuzzy as family time ramps up, keep in mind how short the off season really is and enjoy the time you have with those you love the most as it will be crazy season before we know it. This off-season for us is, for the second time, a real humdinger as my youngest son has been gone since September as he entered the armed forces and has been enduring Army basic training. The wife has been a typical mom and worried to death and I admit, having a kid gone creates a big hole at the homestead, but life will get back to normal soon. We get to see him for 2 weeks as they get shipped home for the holidays. The bad part for me is his graduation from MP school will hit while I am at the opening rounds so I am bummed but know our family will be there to see it and enjoy it and I will be there in spirit. So if I look a bit stressed at the first rounds of GNCC and at Daytona you know my mind will be elsewhere but the show must go on! 

Speaking of the show, I see that the Fly Racing Daytona round info is flowing now and everyone who plans to race this event had better be well on their way in securing everything needed. I know it is still two months off but they will “FLY” by! I know a few riders who are already down south or will be very soon to get in shape and rides dialed in just as winter arrives for all of us up north. I don’t have that want to be someplace warm feeling just yet but that may change this week as arctic temperatures plunge the Midwest and east coast neck deep into winter. In between you shoveling snow, stoking the fire or warming up after being outside, please do your part and help share all the info you see posted on the series social media so we can make this event even bigger! 

That is all from me this week, as I get ready to head to town to actually Christmas shop in person, at a store, in town! Misery I tell you, misery! Be safe in all you do and God bless you all!