Twenty Five years of the ‘Walton Experience” and counting
2017 Parts Canada TransCan Grand National Championships
The land of the Walton motocross track was originally part of the acreage farmed by the Lee family. An early interest in motorcycles evolved into an interest in off-road riding. This led to the track becoming a local center of activity for many casual riders and aspiring competitors. A club was formed called the Maitland Dirt Riders which organized its first event in August 1974. This was for Juniors and Schoolboys only (today beginners, juniors, 80 beginners & 80 Experts). Over 300 riders showed up and was so successful that another event was held in October. The sight of riders sliding down frozen clay slopes dictated earlier race dates in following years.
The Maitland Dirt Riders hosted a two day event every year with Juniors and schoolboys one day and seniors and experts the next. From 1976-1979 Molson Breweries sponsored a provincial championship series for experts and Walton was the favorite site of both fans and racers. Racers competing in the Molson series came from Sweden, Japan, England, Czechoslovakia, Finland, and of course across Canada and the USA. Qualifying heats for expert classes , 3,000-4,000 spectators were not unusual.
In 1981 the Ontario round of the Canadian National Series at Walton saw Ross Pederson begin his dominance which extended until his retirement after his sweep at the 1993 TransCan.
The track sat dormant until a new Lee generation were getting involved in the sport, so a two day event was organized in 1991.
While reflecting about the success of the 1991 event, we noted that there was a lack of a really major, prestigious event (such as Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals in the USA). Thus a concept was born. Walton would hold an annual event drawing on all the best things in the sport, an annual coming together for bragging rights, a celebration of Canadian motocross!
A five year plan, building from a great natural track ridden on once a year, strong community support, accessibility and support facilities. The emphasis was to be real outdoor style motocross, highly competitive with lots of extracurricular attractions and opportunity to socialize. The format was to be a four day schedule with open practice and four long motos per class.
1992 – It’s expensive, risky and a lot of work! Would sponsors participate? Would riders come? Could we get everything done? What did we forget? Craig Pratly and Ryan Hunt head up a contingent from England to show how to ride outdoor motocross. Is it over already? EVERYBODY LOVED IT!! Are we broke? Do we ever want to be this tired again?
1993 – Ross Pederson makes a farewell tour and spanks everyone one more time while he does it. This was also the first time racers did four motos instead of the three by today’s standards. Amateurs Ryan Gauld, and Josh Woods gave us a show in the 85 class.
1994 – (The year of the beer bug) TSN gives the event a national profile with two half hour shows. A torrential downpour on Saturday provides a brief interlude for ‘belly racing’ on the finish line hill. The bridge goes up over the track. Another notable memory was John Kitch giving fans a reason to cheer as he cut the track hit the natural and the finish only, lap after lap throwing huge whips. Marco Dube won his only two Amateur titles before his astonishing pro career.
1995 – (The year of the fly) Quebec racer Carl Vaillancourt calls it quits after clinching the National pro title in titanic duel with Marty Burr while Marty sweeps all four motos. On the amateur side of things motos were cut back to three instead of four.
1996 – 800 riders, full national coverage of the pro racing on TSN which includes Nicolas Wey’s pro debut, Jeff Matiasevich, Jean Sebastien Roy having his worst race of the year and Marco Dube proving he’s for real along with a red headed speedster named Blair Morgan from Saskatchewan.
1997- Nick Wey returns winning the 125cc/250cc. Travis Pastrana won the fans and the Intermediate class. Multi-time US Arenacross champion Darcy Lange made his first and only Amateur appearance at the TransCan.
1998- JSR showed up to win both 125cc and 250cc, but Dube would be crowned champion by days end. An unknown Canadian named Justin Thompson wins the first Bronze Boot Award.American Bobby Kiniry dominates the 80 classes.
1999- Josh Woods made his Pro debut taking the 125cc/250cc wins. Kaven Gregiore wins the boot in the second you year of existence. This also marked the first time a gear auction was had to raise money for fallen racers. Gauldy gets money for his underwear. Dusty Klatt wins an Intermediate title.
2000- Sean Hamblin shocks his team Blackfoot Honda (after winning the west title with them) by showing up on a Two Wheel Kawasaki, when Honda opted not to bring him to the East/West Walton Shoot Out. Doug Dubach celebrated his birthday with a National Championship. A skinny kid name Zeb Dennis takes home the boot. This would also mark the year of the “barn Burning.”
2001- Peter Raymer becomes the first rider to swept 9 motos straight. Rain of biblical proportions fall forcing officials to cancel 2nd motos. Darcy Lange in the 250cc and Simon Homans in the 125cc get soggy wins. The story was of Chuck Mesley dragging his seized mud pack Honda and eventually flipping it across the line to finish.
2002- Blair Morgan finally won a Walton overall, out dueling JSR. Trevor Hall dominated Junior to win the Bronze Boot. Gavin Gracyk won the Pro 125cc.
2003- The Extreme Sport Series rolls in. JSR rolls the competition with two wire to wire moto wins. Bronze Boot winner Tyler Medaglia shocked everyone by winning his Pro qualifier (after nearly sweeping his intermediate classes), beating series leader and eventual Champ Randy Valade. The Honda Pavilion unveiled-Big, Bad and Red! Gauldy is hired for the first time to run the amateur podium.
2004- Justin Keeney arrived and put a clinic on in smooth riding winning the 125 Pro class. Donnie McGourty clinched the 125 East National championship. JSR had wrapped up the championship the weekend prior but came to Walton to hold his title as King of Walton. Mitch Cooke had his breakout ride and earned his first career 250cc Pro podium finish. For the first time in Canadian Motocross history a full line of women lined up for the women’s championship.
2005 Gavin Grayck wins his first ‘King of Walton’ sword. Heidi Cooke wins her last of 5 consecutive titles…a TransCan record.
2006 Nathan Slater wins Atlantic Canada’s first bronze boot. Dean Wilson wins his last Amateur National Championships at Walton.
2007 Jolene Van Vugt finally wins Walton since being so close so many times. Snow cross legend Tucker Hibbert wins the last East/West MX2 shootout. The Intermediate class with Jeremy Medaglia, Kyle Stephens, Ryan Blizzard, Kyle McGlynn and more was the most stacked ever.
2008 Dylan Kaelin and Ryan Millar wage war in intermediate. Dean Wilson wins his first moto as a Pro. Jeremy Medaglia wins Walton MX2 overall.
2009 Josh Woods, Marco Dube wage war in +25. Dube, ends up going down, while unhurt it does signal the last race of his long career at Walton. Quebec rider Alex Laliberte wins the Alpinestar Bronze boot.
2010 A young Richard Grey holeshoted the MX2 Pro class. Bobby Kinary wins his first Pro Canadian National. Parts Canada comes on board as the Title Sponsors of the TransCan, A pre tailgate party is born to cope with over 450 vehicles lined up on the road in 2009 before opening day. Doug Dehaan wins his Vet Master TransCan Championship.
2011 – A perfect week is ended late saturday as a huge weather system blows in. Sunday is pounded by what we would later learn to be a deadly tornado that ruined the town of Goderich. Yamaha introduces the very popular Yamaha Factory Ride Award. The amateur week is highlighted by Swiss Champion Julien Bill in the +25 class.
2012 – A big facility change greets the very best riders in the country for the 2012 Walton TransCan. The week is highlighted by great racing in the schoolboy classes and emotional wins for east coast rider Ryan Lockhart. A first ever “Fan Party” has more than 1000 fans go through a giant autograph line up featuring all the Pro racers. It was also a homecoming for London native, Nitro Girl Jolene Van Vugt.
2013- The 2013 Parts Canada TransCan continued with records crowds and great racing to make the week one of the best ever. Everyone who attended will not forget the great racing from riders like Dylan Wright, Westen Wrozyna, Joey Crown and local boy Nathan Bles. On Sunday fans got to witness one of the best riders in the world and the 2013 MX1 Champion Brett Metcalfe have his win streak ended by another local boy Cole Thompson. Cole is a former Walton TransCan Champion so for fans to see him hoist up the Walton Sword as the “King of Walton” was very special.
2014 – Walton made a some track changes, one was rebuilding the soil. Tons of sand were trucked into replenish the dirt. Unfortunately for majority of the week rain peppered Walton making the loose soil a nightmare. Ontario rider Mackenzie Machan dominated the Junior divisions taking home the coveted Alpinestar Bronze Boot Award. Sunday Pro race was Walton first sighting of US star Mike Alessi. Alessi went on to win his first ever King Of Walton sword, but come up short to Colton Facciotti in overall Championship.
2015 – Nick Denniston carried on the tradition of dominate Junior by consistently racing in the top three to take home the Bronze Boot award. However, in Intermediate racing it was Michigan Joey Crown who stole the show. After winning Intermediate MX2 and MX3, Crown lined up Sunday and beat defending champion Kaven Benoit in the MX2 class in a moto. New York’s Bobby Kinary rode his final outdoor professional moto. Putting an amazing career to bed.