On April 13th and 14th the small town of Springhill, Nova Scotia, was host to the annual Josh Damery Memorial Arenacross the first motocross event of the season. Most people have probably never heard of Springhill, however this town was one of the most welcoming and supporting communities of motocross I have ever seen. It is also home to two of the top Pro riders to come out of Atlantic Canada, Ryan and Brad Lockhart, both of whom made the trip home to compete.
Friday morning practice kicked off early and all of the riders started to get a feel for the track. Pro practice started in the afternoon with the hometown heroes were looking very fast after running the AX series out west. Quebec rider Karl Normand returned to the Atlantic provinces after winning the Saturday show last year to defend his title and was looking consistently fast through the very demanding whoop section.
Friday night’s show kicked off with the Pro class qualifiers, all of the riders were fast but the top two gate picks went to Atlantic rivals Ryan Lockhart and Mitch Cooke which set up what was sure to be an awesome night of racing. The most controversial race of the evening was the MX2 intermediate class when Shane Gallant and leader Jason Gray came together in the last turn on the last lap which ended up with both riders being disqualified due to what was ruled unnecessary intentional contact by one and the other receiving assistance with his bike when it was stuck in the outside of the berm. Jason Gray will be one to watch this season!
One of the most anticipated classes of the day were the 85cc 12-16 Class with two very competitive riders #91 Jordan Melanson and #50 Brett Young. Brett Young is one of the top young riders, with the most wins in the Atlantic region and has finished in the top 3 at the Walton Trans Can. Brett made his debut in the 85cc 12-16 class this weekend on his new CRF150 and he is looking very comfortable. Brett pulled the hole shot and after an aggressive move through the whoops Jordan took the lead with Brett on his back wheel for the entire moto. Brett rode smart and pressured Jordan until they started to come into lap traffic, Brett seized an opportunity on the last lap to put down a very clean and professional looking block pass on the #91 and took the checkers making his mark early in the 12-16 85cc class.
In the Pro finals Karl Normand got the hole shot and rode a clean smooth race checking out on the field while everyone battled for the podium positions. Atlantic rider Davey Fraser took home the #2 spot followed closely by the home town hero Ryan Lockhart.
Saturday’s show kicked off with the opening ceremonies and the presentation of the Josh Damery Memorial award to the rider showing dedication and sportsmanship in the past year. The award went to #472 Devin Macpherson who on Thursday showed up with his YZ250F partially dismantled and stuffed into his Toyota Corolla’s back seat in order to make it to the races.
Ryan Lockhart also set the mood for the evening announcing he wanted to take home the win tonight in his hometown as he was going to retire from racing Pro motocross. The entire night was full of great racing with #771 Brandon Carter taking the win the MX1 Intermediate Class after an exciting race having more block passes and close calls then I could count, his Estabrooks Orthopedic Bracing sponsored #1 plate was well deserved. Brett Young and Jordan Melanson battled once again but after getting cross rutted and going down Brett was able to ride home for the win sweeping both nights of the 85cc 12-16 class. The 50cc class was a big crowd pleaser as always with the #77 Damon Burbine leading wire to wire on both nights to take home the #1 plates.
The race everyone was waiting for was the Pro Main with all eyes falling on Ryan Lockhart, knowing this was his last Pro Moto and that he could take home his last Pro moto win in his hometown in front of all his friends and family. When the gate dropped Ryan got the hole shot and rode the most perfect first 5 laps of the race I had seen all day allowing him to stretch out a lead and catch his breath. The battle for 2nd heated up allowing Ryan to pull out a little more. Karl Normand and Davey Fraser battled lap after lap before Karl finally shook Davey off and set his sights on the #59 of Lockhart. When Ryan received the last lap flag Karl was only about a second behind. Ryan pushed hard and took home the win. The crowd immediately jumped to their feet giving Ryan a standing ovation.
I want to put out a huge thanks to Richard Strang, Ryan Lockhart and everyone else that made the Josh Damery Memorial Arenacross possible with out all of you this event would never happen. We can only hope to return to the Springhill arena next season!
Special thanks to Wide Open Racing sponsors: Estabrooks Bracing Solutions, CTi2, Ossur, Kermaxx Performance Accessories, Printwerx.ca, Pro Wheels Racing Components, IMX Magazine, MD Distributions, Forma MX Boots, Deft Family MX Gloves, PODIUM 1 Suspension, Pro Cycle, FOX Mx Gear, Motovan.com, Motoconcepts riding accessories and goggles, PRMX.CA, Golden Tyre Canada, Annapolis Pizza, Dajan Excavating, CVO, and Moto Hose USA.