If you are a New Zealander and have not heard of Burt “The Worlds Fastest Indian” Monroe then you may need to get out from under the stairs. However it is the speed week in his memory that Southland celebrates each December and this time it was another keen Southerner who inspired what came to be called the Worlds Southern-most Supercross.
Unfortunately I was double booked with a big event up home that I was very keen to be at, so it took me until just days out from the event to finally book my tickets and head down. The main reason being, to do my part in supporting a part of our sport that desperately needs help- that of Supercross. Of course it really helps to feel loved when a number of people went to great lengths to convince me to come including financial help from local families along with bikes and a mechanic from Brent Scammell Honda, so it ended up being a pleasure to oblige.
It was to be my fifth hard ride day in a row- and of course, the hardest. With temperatures well into the sweat factor and again two classes to complete there was little room for sanity.
The track itself was quite incredible. With only two 90 degree corners to tie together the seven decent straights, each filled with difficult obstacles, the term “no rest for the wicked” definitely applied.
First practice made me feel well out of my depth while second practice and first qualifying was something of a victory where I pulled some very good lap times. The only problem was I had been talking to a friend when the announcement came over the speakers that qualifying was a fastest lap time affair, and I found out after the hard qualifying “race” I had “won” only gave me third pick of the gates. I didn’t handle that revelation very well, as I really wanted the inside gate for the start and it saw me ride flustered in the 450 qualifier to crash on a timing section. While I didn’t fall badly I collected a decent whack to the chest which combined with an already high heart rate to require some quiet time under the trees to recollect my thoughts.
They say that you shouldn’t make big decisions while stressed but I had been wanting to try some different gearing, so I asked my awesome mechanic for the day to put a bigger sprocket on my bike. Not knowing what to expect for my first race started things off badly where I finished behind the main pack. Justin McDonald led the way on his 450 while Scotty Coloumb rode the CRF250R of the injured Craig Smith very well. Mason Phillips the track builder himself was also there, along with a Cambpell King looking very much the part having done his share of practice on the track. There was no shortage of battles, starting with Mason hounding Scotty right to the finish in race one.
The next race saw my turn to get hounded by Scotty until he went off the track, at which point Mason took over the pressuring. He passed me on the last lap only to go down hard through the stutters and bruise some ribs, which was good enough reason for him to sit out the rest of the days events.
Up next it was Justin and Scotty battling out front while Campbell and I had the race of our lives. The strong crowd was getting quite vocal at our ding-dong battle which came down to split seconds as he narrowly got through for the win.
Back in the open class Justin and I had a great time swapping the lead every lap until he came out the victor, while I beat Campbell in the final 250 race just to even things out. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, us riders were happy and the organizers were deservedly stoked with a very successful first event. It is an amazing part of our country and when a coach sees many of those that he has helped coming on strong in a sport as challenging as super cross it is hard not be very proud. I especially want to thank those who most kindly put their own money up to help pay for my flights down.