Take a look at Glen Helen through BrownDogWilson’s lens.
Take a look at Glen Helen through BrownDogWilson’s lens.
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Northern California-native Jessy Nelson rides his factory KTM 150SX two-stroke
By Donn Maeda
Sean Collier and his mighty Kawasaki KX500.
A full field of racers mounted aboard premix-bruning machines showed up to do battle in the 2015 FMF Two-Stroke National Challenge, held in conjunction with round two of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Nationals at Glen Helen Raceway Park, but no one was a match for Fasthouse’s Sean Collier and his might Kawasaki KX500. Collier’s KX500 has developed a near-cult following in SoCal, as he has raced the mighty big bore on several occasions with great success. We caught up with Collier and Fasthouse boss Kenny Alexander before the festivities at Glen Helen began. Oh yeah, and the part-time racer made the field look silly as he chugged away with the win in the 20-minute contest aboard “The Beast.”
By Casey Davis
Speedway racing is one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing and it’s an absolute blast to watch. 500cc motorcycles with no brakes screaming around sharp corners as the racers are wide open dicing for the lead in short five lap sprint races. What a thrill! Last night marked the opening round of the 2015 Speedway Motorcycle Racing Season, but most importantly the inaugural Connor Penhall Memorial Cup. The motocross and off-road racing community lost Connor to a tragic drunk driving accident, as Connor was struck down while working construction on a freeway late at night. This special event in memory of Connor aims to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and the increasingly compromised safety of road construction workers.
Even the young groms got in on the speedway action.
Connor and his older brother Ryan were well known amateur motocross racers as they both climbed through the ranks. Once they grew a little older, though, they made the transition into off-road racing where they began their newest and most exciting endeavor. The Penhall brothers quickly adapted to the new form of racing, and it wasn’t long before they both shared some incredible races and finishes, as they found plenty of success down in Baja.
Billy Janniro emerged the victor and was crowned the champion of the Connor Penhall Memorial Cup. Bruce Penhall, father of Connor, (pictured above in white) is a former two time Speedway champion himself.
Current and three-time Speedway World Champion Greg Hancock served as Grand Marshal to the event with Bruce Penhall, two-time Speedway World Champion and Pairs Racing Champion leading the great cause. Tons of great racing action was had at the opening round of the 2015 Speedway Racing Season with Billy Janniro going home with the prize money, a set of Hilti power tools, a gold-leaf, number one helmet hand painted by none other than Troy Lee himself, but most importantly the Connor Penhall Memorial Cup.
Check out page two for an interview with Ryan Penhall.
When it comes to rookies on the pro scene, we all expect them to have the same backstory: top prospect in the amateur ranks, inked a lucrative deal long before the final motos at Loretta Lynn’s, and is expected to perform from the moment the join the elite ranks. Toss in stories of how the parents sacrificed all they had to make sure the young rider’s program was on par with the competition, a residency at one of the top “training facilities”, and so on.
Chris Alldredge isn’t one of those rookies. Sure, the Oregon teen was already signed to Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit squad before the conclusion of his amateur career, but things weren’t exactly ideal up to that point. And that makes his results through the start of the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship even more impressive. We’ll let Alldredge take it from here…
“In a year and a half, I’d gone from hanging up the boots and quitting racing to signing with the Team Green amateur program, then Mitch Payton for a two-year contract for this year and next, then to my fourth race outdoors ever and busting out a 5-3. It was kind of surreal. I went into practice at Hangtown knowing I was fast enough to hopefully run with those guys and qualified fifth, so I was a little disappointed with that. In the first moto I tried to be patient and it ended up working out good, because things went my way and some people went down. The goal is to stay in the top-five for every moto and podium overall at every race. To get a podium is awesome, especially for a small town kid from Oregon where there aren’t any tracks.”
“Everyone said that Hangtown is one of the roughest tracks of the year, if not the roughest, and not to discredit anything but I’ve raced that track when it has been gnarlier during the amateur national days when there are 60 motos in a day and 20 times the amount of people. The track was gnarly nonetheless and it made me tired, so I’m not taking that from anyone. National racing is not the same when compared to those amateur days, because they prep the tracks the right way.
“I never really got too used to the Supercross schedule. I’ll be the first to say that I sucked in Supercross, so it’s not like I had the schedule down or did that great. I studied motocross racing while I was a kid and understood this format, so I make sure I get the most I can from each time on the track and with the breaks in between. You don’t have that much time but you need to eat, get some rest, and cool your body down. I just talked to everyone and tried to learn about that situation the best way that I can. Like everyone says, you can practice all that you want but nothing is like racing.”
“I wasn’t disappointed with Supercross, but the way that I finished the races. In practice I felt great and everything would go smooth, but it would be my fault when I would go to race. I had mental problems and said in early interviews I was scared. I wasn’t the most confident and was afraid of wrecking, And that’s probably why I wrecked the majority of the time. I’m a racer, so when racing came around I wouldn’t be scared and would just go for it, but I never got the tracks dialed in practice because I was scared. I’d go out and ride a little bit over my head. Everyone on social media was right, I was riding over my head and really trying to do the best that I could. I want to win for the team because they have a really good record and I want to keep that going for them. I was just trying to do the best for them. It was unfortunate that I didn’t really perform at the level wishes I would have, especially fans of the team, but I guarantee that I will be working on it as soon as this motocross season wraps up. I’ll critique the skill part of it, because I know I have the endurance side. I will definitely come back stronger and redeem myself.”
“It’s one of those things where people are all raised differently. I was raised in a way that, ‘This was a job and if you are not performing and people are putting a lot of money out there, you deserve to get yelled at.’ My stepdad owns a fabrication business in Oregon and if someone doesn’t do their job, they get yelled at in the office. It’s like that in every job you do and doesn’t matter if it’s McDonald’s, WalMart, or the military and fire departments. This is our job. Teams spend an astronomical amount of money to get the program going, pay us our salary and bonus, so we are expected to do our jobs, which is to win. If you don’t win, you’re not doing your job and deserve to get talked to. Mitch Payton is not a hardass, but he expects performances. That doesn’t necessarily mean winning, but if you’ve given it all that you’ve got and are going to the best of your abilities, some days there will be someone better. And he understands that, but still wants to see the best out of you. If you’re not giving it, you’re going to get a talking to because he is running a business.
“A lot of the greats went professional early, but that’s because they were raised right. Ryan Villopoto, Ricky Carmichael, and James Stewart were all raised to become adults at a young age. I think there’s a maturing process that everyone has to go through and we all go through it at different times. Mine didn’t come until I was 18, which was last year and I was by myself. It’s definitely helped a lot this year and while I didn’t do good in Supercross, it will help a lot for outdoors.”
“I was done. I tore my ACL in 2013 and went home, had a lot of troubles, moved in with real dad that I’d never lived with before, and was over it. At the time I didn’t know I had a torn ACL but had an MRI a couple of weeks after and then was in surgery three days later because we knew it had to be replaced. Once that got fixed up, I worked on my bikes because my parents weren’t helping me anymore, ‘You’re 18 years old and did this to your own career. You have to fix it.’ I didn’t think it was worth it and didn’t have the money, so I didn’t think I was going to get a ride. I just worked on my stuff to get it ready to be sold, got back into training more so I could have gone to high school and maybe tried another sport, then get an education and a job or something. I was really getting ready for all of that, but I was on the couch one day when Ryan Holliday gave me a call and convinced me to get back on the bike. At the time I wasn’t up for it, was nervous and scared of getting injuries, and that injury was a big one. It was the type of injury that could have never been fixed or happen again, which is a scary thing when you’re 17 and have the chance of always having a problem. It’s a lot of money that I didn’t have, but Ryan Holliday convinced me to get back on the bike. My last year at Loretta’s, I flat-out sucked and didn’t perform but luckily had already signed a deal with Mitch. That race didn’t matter too much so in those last three outdoors I redeemed myself. It’s been a long process to get here, because I was at the top, went to the bottom, was at the very bottom and was done, and now I’m trying to climb my way back to the top.
“Your parents aren’t ever just going to totally let you go on your own, because if you need help they’ll give you help. But you have to learn things on your own and make the mistakes. If you go through life being told what’s perfect to do and then are finally left by yourself, you’re not going to know what to do because no one is telling you. It was nice of my parents, not harsh or anything, because we still get along. My mom is probably back at my house now making dinner. It all ended up working well and I’m glad for where it’s taken me.”
How will the weather affect the proceedings in Thunder Valley?