Race Recap - AZOT International - Canyon
AZOT International Race on February 26 - 27, 2022:
Looks like the majority of people who raced in the 2022 AZOT International had a great experience and left on Sunday feeling like they definitely got their money’s worth. As with any event, there were some glitches and last minute surprises, but the energetic team of volunteers and Canyon track people worked together to keep the event moving smoothly and with some intense racing excitement.
There were 131 total racers, 115 Old Timers, eight 30+ Vet and eight Support Under 30, in the different classes. Most classes finished three races on Saturday and two on Sunday. The 55 AZOT members were joined by: one British Columbia guy who made that long trip, eight racers came from Idaho, one from Nevada, eleven from Oregon, eight from Sierra, 21 from SoCal, and 11 from Washington. Our racers had some stiff competition from the other OT Clubs, but they did AZOT proud – ten 1st Place AZOT finishers out of the 17 Old Timer classes. Best of all, no injuries for any of the racers beyond just a couple of basic dirt sampling.
A few of the big RV’s rolled in on Thursday for early practice with the majority of the rigs arriving on Friday. Not everyone RV’d … we saw everything ranging from bike trailers of all sizes to the basic set-up of bikes in the back of trucks and on open trailers. It was family racing - husbands, wives, kids, parents, siblings and friends tagging along to cheer, critique and rush to the Results Board as soon as bikes exited the track. In some cases more than one person per site geared up. The event was complete with some adorable dogs in tow.
So which age group had the biggest turnout? Surprise – almost half of the racers (52 to be exact) were in their 60’s! The 50+ had 33 racers, the 40+ had 13, eight were between 70 and 74, six between 75 and 79, and three IN their 80’s … yes, 87, 86 and 81. Seems like the 40+ people have careers, kids and commitments that keep them from having the time (and $$$) to enjoy the extensive motocross racing … their time will come.
One of the most challenging, frustrating and thankless jobs at an International, especially ours, the very first International of the year, falls on the Club Rep’s. They have the mandatory task of observing and assessing racers in each class, then deciding the racers who need to move up or down a class. Considering that multiple classes of racers from 8 or 10 different geographically located clubs are thrown together, obviously there is no ideal process to manage class moves. Thanks go to Gary Kritcher, our AZ guy who takes the barbs and slings for our club (along with the other seven Club reps in that unwanted job) for once again taking on the challenging and unappreciated roles. For the few racers moving down, it’s a huge sigh of relief after lagging behind in their first moto! But for those being moved to a higher class, especially after the thrill of leading way out in front (whether solo or battling with a matched competitor), it’s like a bucket of ice water over the head. It requires some deep breaths and a big dose of calm thinking to understand the situation, the Rep’s decision, and then re-charge for a different race next moto.
Our Arizona weather was on its best behavior this year, no rain to create mud-pits, no high velocity winds turning the track into a rival for SoCal’s Santa Ana destruction … just cool, invigorating mornings, sunny skies with a few clouds teasing with a bit of shade to occasionally fend off the piercing sun’s rays.
When the surprise snags and challenges popped up along the way, the determined team of volunteers scrambled to keep the action flowing. We have to acknowledge and give some sincere thanks!
First, a huge thank you to the AZOT Board members who spent many long hours over the past months to plan, organize, get commitments and leap from ideas to action for the race. The Board knows they’re in for months of endless work and they do it with the single focus of a flawless, safe and fun three-day event. Big thanks go to our Board, Mike and Kat Faso, Larry Thurman, John Dolan and Carl Smith!!
On the Big Day, several members filled critical, specific roles that meant working from morning to end-of-day:
Announcers - Pam Edgerton and Carey Kirk did a phenomenal job of announcing the racers and action. Their unique, individual styles gave colorful comments, and play-by-play excitement of calling out the closest battles, and informative commentary about the racers. Our out-of-state guests praised the announcing, saying it was some of the
best they’ve heard at Internationals. They loved the way the announcers didn’t just focus on the front-runners; they gave a moment of glory to as many people as possible. Way to go Pam and Carey!! Now, about next year???
Starting Gate - Although a couple of guys had injuries and couldn’t race, they stepped up to take on a key, critical role to help the Club. On Saturday, David Brown and his son Zack partnered with Canyon’s Starting Gate David to get the practice rounds out timely and safely, then orchestrate three rounds of nine Races without a glitch. On Sunday, Mike Foggia was one of the first to arrive, even before Nigel, the track’s Starter. Mike’s partnership meant bikes were into the gate and out onto the track with precision and efficiency… no errors in the two-gate starts. Working the Starting Gate is a no-break, no-rest role that, if managed correctly, produces timely, smooth racing without frustrating delays. A huge kudos to Dave and Mike for a difficult job very well done! Hopefully you’ll soon be back on bikes and in the fray with your friends.
Our unsung heroes put in many hours behind the scenes, (and some $$ too) way before race day - planning, contracting for services and vendors, organizing, getting raffle donations, early registration, finances, confirming class and club, recruiting, art work, printing, signage, cookie/brownie duty, getting beverages, welcome-packet assembling, checking and double-checking, on and on. The Kennedy’s again generously rented the tents, tables & chairs and set-up; this year Tim also sponsored the custom designed pins for all participants so everyone went home with a memento. Some members also donated some high-value raffle items – thanks!!
Beginning on Friday, the volunteers arrived with energy and focus to jump into making things happen … registration, answering questions, directing people, selling raffle tickets, money and credit card charges, corrections on entry data, more Trackside input, the printing, posting, correcting, reprinting, reposting, chasing people down, finding the time and energy to take some candid photos to capture the pulse of the day and finally pumping out the trophies to the triumphant. We appreciate the gap-fixers who jumped in when the food truck was a no-show … translation: “no dinner”! We made the most of what could be done … provided cookies and beverages at the raffle, then early Sunday morning donuts, cookies and beverages, with sandwiches and chips for a simple lunch on Sunday.
In addition to those already called out, the team of “make it happen” people who generously gave of their time and talent include our Bonnie Smith, Katie Peterson, Linda Neil, Steve Richardson, Mary Fleming, Kelly Johnson and Maggie Kritcher. Without a doubt, we’ve missed thanking someone, not intentionally, but more of a swiveling head trying to capture everything.
Last and definitely not least, while they’re “paid” per a contract arrangement, they make or break our event … the Canyon team deserves a huge “thank you and job well done”. What for? The excellent track prep and maintenance all three days (yep, those out of towners had nothing but compliments for the track), … for the friendly, efficient face and hands at the Entrance, … for the flaggers who are the crucial safety partners … for the scoring team who generates amazingly accurate and detailed lap sheets to ensure correct Results, … for the patient, fast-fingered Pynne and Kara who whiz through the lap sheets, do the Trackside input and quickly catch actions on the track that show up on lap sheets, but could have been easily overlooked.
There were so many close battles in every single race, it is impossible to call out specifics without slighting someone. Take a look at the individual Race Results sheets for moto finishes. Those of you who blasted through the checkered just ahead of, or within touching range of the bike just in front of you - well, you got your glory from the announcer and the people cheering you on along the spectator spots around the track. It is amazing to watch over 100 “mature” adults have way more fun than any teenager could ever have!
Almost half of the racers went home with a custom-designed trophy … to go along with a giant smile, and already aching muscles. That’s what Old Timer motocross racing is all about … feeling alive, young-at-heart, and ready for the next adventure!
More opportunities – take a look at the schedule of International races and see how many you can fit into your travel / vacation plans for 2022. There’ll definitely be some AZOT racers there for sure!!