The Canadian Pro Motocross Series gets underway this weekend in Kamloops, British Columbia. We at Moto Now unfortunately won’t be able to report much on the series this year (it’s hard to without reliable live TV coverage!), but with Moto Now being founded and operated by Canadians, we like to support the Great White North series nonetheless.
As a result, we wanted to do a feature on Canadian moto, with none other than Kourtney Lloyd (a well-known figure in the Canadian motocross industry). Kourtney is a beacon of hope for the Canadian moto industry: She puts in lots of hours managing the Cycle North Powersports Dealership in Prince George, she builds an Arenacross team for them, and she also is the team manager for the Canadian MXdN team (check out our interview with her about the Canadian MXdN team from back in March, and if you’d like to support the team, please check out the awesome raffle that they’re doing!).
We had the privilege to chat with Kourtney about her thoughts on the Canadian motocross scene:
Moto Now: Okay, so you’ve experienced a lot within the industry. You manage a dealership. You’ve put together your own team for that dealership, and you are the Des Nation manager. I’m going to get straight to point: what is the biggest issue in Canadian motocross?
(Laughs) That’s way beyond my pay grade! I don’t know what the biggest issue in Canadian moto is. I don’t honestly know if there is that big of an issue in canadian moto. I think there are a few people that create issues that seem so much bigger than they are in the grand scheme of things, but I really don’t think there is a problem with canadian moto; I really don’t. I know people will probably disagree with me, but Canadian moto to me is families racing, supporting their kids, supporting their dealership, and supporting the people helping their kids get to the track. Whether riders have the opportunity to take that to a higher level or not, I don’t think that always needs to follow the industry. I think a lot of times we expect other people to pay for the sport that our kids want to do, but I don’t think that that has to fall on the industry all the time. And I think that it just comes down to a lot of hard work. These riders work their buts off for very minimal pay because they’re passionate about it. Which is okay to an extent, but if we want to keep these riders long term and keep them as professional athletes, we have to start treating them as so. Just like any athlete in anyother sport. But the problem with that too though is that if the riders come up with a rider union, there’s always going to be a rider that comes in and rides for free. That dynamic needs to be changed, but I don’t think the industry as a whole has a major problem.
Okay fair enough. What about having two organizing bodies? Is that a problem? The CMA and the CMRC competing against one another, with Jetwerx getting involved now too. What do you think needs to be done?
I wish I had an easy answer for that. I know that I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and I know that other people have to. I don’t really know what the outcome is going to be with these two national series being announced for 2018. I think that’s going to be up to the manufacturers and the riders and the fans, and what the two promoters are going to bring to the table. If one package is better than the other package, that is what people are going to do. It’s just like dealerships; if my dealership isn’t producing what another dealership is, my customers are going to go to another dealership. That’s the only way that I can think of looking at it. It’s going to come out eventually what the CMRC plan is and what the JetWerx plan is, and I think people are just going to have to decide from there. I don’t think there’s a black or white or really easy answer for it – it would be nice if there was – but at the end of the day it’s business. There’s not always only one dealer in town, and there’s not always going to be only one race series. That’s just life. People are going to make decisions, and you can’t be mad at other people for making their decisions.
Let’s talk about the future of Canadian motocross then. With the whole FIM North America thing, do you see a MXGP race coming here? Do you see closer work with the AMA? What is the ideal future of Canadian motocross?
I think that trying to get a GP here would be amazing. I think that the CMA now having more of a presence with everything [it’s doable]. I mean, the CMA has been pretty under the radar for a couple years; they haven’t had a lot of events, they haven’t had a lot of memberships. So now with the CMA getting elevated to a higher standard and to have a little bit of money in the bank, they can start to pull in and ask for those bigger races. When they’re talking to Youthstream or MXGP and are like, “okay, we want to try and get this race in Canada”, and the response is “well, how many people did you have at your last event?”. I mean, there’s one hundred people at Agassiz! So that’s really tough to get onboard with that. Now with the CMA working towards Walton and other events in Canada, I think we will have some leverage to get those other bigger races here in Canada. I don’t know if that’s there plan; I’m not speaking for them, but it’s going to be a lot easier to try and get those big races here with a little bit of notoriety for the CMA.
There has been a lot of American riders coming here to race in Canada. In my opinion that’s great, but there’s always a lot of talk about how it takes away spots from Canadian riders. What are the pros and cons of giving spots in Canada to American riders?
I don’t see it as a problem. People are going to say that I don’t because I hire American riders myself. I think a lot of times people do get offended when American riders get these top rides, but [let’s look at it] from a different perspective: to spend $100,000 a year to go dirtbike racing when it’s not really going to sell you more bikes, only then to get 10th or 12th place and not be on the podium… that’s tough! When you’re giving out that kind of money for a race program, you want to win, you want to be on the box, you want to get that for your sponsors that are paying money to have you achieve. Unfortunately, a lot of guys who don’t make it on the box don’t get that notoriety from the media either, so you’re trying to find the best riders you possibly can for your sponsors. And we don’t have a lot of riders in Canada to choose from. There’s not a lot that can take 6 or 9 months off to go down to California to train to be ready for the Canadian national series. So when you’re looking at riders, there’s just more to choose from in the States. I guarantee you there are more riders just in California alone then we have in all of Canada. There are only so many riders to choose from, and there’s only so many spots on a team. So it’s not that we’re forced to [hire Americans], but I need to do what’s best for my shop, and I also need to do what’s best for my sponsors. When you’re looking at the Canadian riders available, there’s really not that many. They’re all under contract, and a lot of them are under contract 12 months in a year. So for me, I only do Arenacross. I don’t do outdoor nationals anymore (2012 was the last time I did it), so to get a guy to work for you only 2 or 3 months [to do just Arenacross] is tough as well. I couldn’t just pick up Jesse Pettis say for a few months to do the Arenacross series because he’s under contract with MX101 for a whole year. So, it’s a little bit that we’re almost forced to [hire Americans].
You hired Ross Johnson (who’s American) for Arenacross. Making that decision, it just made more sense ultimately for you and your sponsors to hire someone that you thought could win?
Yeah, 100 percent. And also with Ross, he is just someone that could come up to Prince George on a whim to do a 4-day school, and who could come up and work with the amateur kids in my program. He can build a track for this one-off arenacross I do every year. Because Ross was flexible and he wasn’t doing the outdoor nationals, he could come up and do these ideas that I had! For instance, I could never get Colton Facciotti to come up here for a weekend to do these schools because he’s out training for outdoor nationals already. I wanted to win the Arenacross series, no doubt about it, he won 5 Canadian championship for me, but it’s also for my amateurs and based on how the riders I hire work with my amateurs. The amateurs are my heart and soul, and Ross just fit with them. That’s why he rode for us for 7 seasons, and he’s a part of our family now too. American or not, I don’t care, he’s a part of our family.
What do you think about the opposite? It’s kinda a Catch-22 because as a fan, I want to see more Canadian’s racing supercross. I want to see more Canadians racing the motocross series in the U.S to get a sense of how they mix with the best riders in the world. However, at the same time, we need these top Canadians up here racing to support our own industry. What do you think about that?
I agree. As a fan, I would love to see more Canadian riders. At Toronto Supercross, I would have loved to see Colton [Facciotti] there for example. I don’t know why they didn’t, but it’s none of my business. I’m still a Canadian moto fan first and foremost, that’s why I do this, but I don’t think there’s any Canadians that are racing in the U.S. that don’t do the Canadian series. The ones up here doing the Canadian series, that’s what we have; expect for Dean [Wilson]. That’s what I know of, unless I’m totally wrong. I don’t think there’s anyone missing out in Canada due to lack of support. I think they just get tired of not making any money, and once they get a job where they can make money, they’re like, “ahh, I’m not racing anymore, it’s too dangerous for nothing”. But yeah, I would love to see more Canadian’s involved, 100 percent. I don’t know how we are ever going to get up to that point where we have 40 pro Canadians on a gate, but it would be awesome.
Would you support Canadian’s moving to race in the U.S? Or are you scared that it would take away from Canadian moto?
No, I think they should race in the U.S, I would support that 100 percent. A lot of the U.S. guys [have an advantage], especially in California and Florida where they all get to train 12 months out of the year. They don’t have an 8 month winter, they don’t have to deal with snow. If Canadian’s can go down and train with those guys, and they can get just as fast as those guys by going to train down there, I don’t see anything wrong with that at all. And I think that you should go down and do some U.S. races as well because it’s a way bigger stage. The pressure is way bigger. Don’t go down expecting to win, but aim for a top 20 or something like that. And then when you do come back up to Canada, you have a different perspective on it; more confidence. It’s like, “I’m not gonna hang behind this guy, I know I’m faster than him”. I think that they should go down there and race, and I don’t understand why a lot of them don’t. Again, I’m not in their position though.
Cover photo from Team Canada Motocross of Nations (Facebook)