With the calendar reading February and the snow banks getting higher, fans and racers alike are getting a bit antsy. The last race on Canadian soil was way back in September and seems like a distant memory now in this wind-chilled fog we call winter.
For racers who finished well in that final race of 2014, I’m sure this off season seems like it has been an eternity. Those who didn’t have such a great race that day may be hoping for a few more months off before they have to hit the track again. Regardless of how they finished, many in the Canadian flat track world have been busy this winter, and I don’t just mean scraping windshields and wiping noses.
Flat Track Canada president Aaron Hesmer never really seems to have an off season. From his award-winning booth at the Supershow in January to constant phone calls, emails and texts, Hesmer always seems to have a few irons in the fire. Things are paying off for Hesmer however as he is landing series sponsors and new tracks as his series continues to grow entering its third year. Watch for exciting news in the next couple of weeks as a surprising new venue for flat track is announced.
Most riders have likely spent the past few months talking to sponsors. Firming up your deal with existing sponsors and looking for potential new ones is always on every racer’s Christmas list. Everyone involved in this sport knows that every little thing helps, whether it is a pair of gloves or a cheque for a few hundred dollars. Riders have also likely used this off time to freshen some motors, perhaps get a new bike, or maybe even secure a ride on somebody else’s machine.
Ice riding is splashed all over my Facebook page each week and there are a bunch of flat trackers taking part in Canada’s ‘other’ national sport. While all of them will say it is great training for the summer, most of them would have to admit it is just a lot of damn fun! Despite the frigid temperatures and perhaps some bloody knuckles from mounting tires, I have yet to talk to a rider that hasn’t had a blast on the ice.
With March just around the corner, it means that it is almost time for the season-opening AMA doubleheader at Daytona. Canadian speedsters Doug Lawrence and Mike Labelle will both be making the trek to the world centre of speed with the hopes of making it into the main event on both nights. Part-time Canadian Cody Johncox (New York) will be making the trip to Daytona as well, with his bike sporting his new national number that he earned last season.
One of the more ambitious projects taking place this winter is happening at the Buchan household. Former Expert rider Scott has purchased a Ninja 650 and, along with son Brodie, has spent the last couple of months squeezing the motor into a Knight frame. After starting last season strong, Brodie suffered an unfortunate injury that most likely cost him a couple of championships. He rebounded to finish strong however, and in November was presented with the Most Promising Rider award from Flat Track Canada. The two have encountered many challenges with the 650 along the way, but as of this writing it sounds like the project is right on schedule.
“We’ve done some fabricating along the way, that’s for sure”, says Scott. “We had to build motor mounts, build an exhaust, redesign the gas tank to fit the fuel pump, figure out the wiring and the fuel injection. Now we are in the process of trying to get the air filters to fit. Once it is done we will ride it at Wheatley to see how well it works and then see if we actually race it.”
The first race of the year will give everyone a good view of who worked hard in the off season. New bikes, new sponsors, and new riders will all make their debut in a few months’ time. The long weekend in May can’t get here soon enough!