Smith has strong year in Motocross

November 15, 2019, 9:53 am
Kara Kinna

Riley Smith

It’s been a good year for Moosomin Grade 12 student Riley Smith, who ended the 2019 motocross season with a championship in one class and a third-place finish in another class.

This year Manitoba Motocross held 10 races during the season. The races were held around the province, from Virden to southeast of Winnipeg. There are 25 different classes with ages ranging from four-years-old to 50-plus, with upwards of 20-plus riders per class.

On Oct. 26 the awards banquet was held in Winnipeg. This year Smith competed in two classes—Manitoba School Boy (age range 12-18 years) and the 250B Class.

Smith finished on top, taking home the championship in the School Boy class. In the 250B class, which is one of the toughest classes on the circuit, he battled hard all season to finish with an impressive third place.
Smith has been competing in motocross for about five years.

“My dad had a friend that was racing and he was telling him ‘you should do this, it’s really fun.’ We’ve always rode dirt bikes around the farm, so we decided to try it,” he says. “We went to Carlyle for the first time and went on the track and decided we liked it, then we tried some races and just kept on moving on with the circuit and doing more and more races. It was really fun.”

Smith started out racing in a circuit in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan, but then switched to the Manitoba Motocross circuit because it was larger and more competitive.

“We wanted something more competitive so we went to Manitoba because it’s a bigger circuit, they go more places and do more races, and there is lots more competition,” he says.

“As soon as the snow melts I start riding my dirt bike, I try to get some practice in, I try to go twice a week for practice. The summer is when the circuit starts and it’s almost every weekend. It takes up a lot of time. Friday I will be prepping everything and getting everything ready, because it’s a whole weekend thing, we leave on Friday and get there, and Saturday is practice day. We have a whole day to practice on the track, and then Sunday is race day. I get everything loaded on Friday—bikes and camper—and then on Monday I usually clean everything up, wash the bikes and stuff like that.”

Smith says there are a number of tracks to practice on in the area, including one near Wawota, another near Virden, and another near Brandon. But now he says he’s building his own track so that he can practice at home.

“I’m building a track at my house currently. I just started at the end of this summer, it should be ready for next summer, so I will be able to practice at my house now,” he says.

Smith says he loves the excitement of motocross.

“There is a lot of adrenaline in it,” he says. “You are on a start gate and you have 20 guys lined up beside you and all their engines are revving, and you are so nervous because everyone is trying to pile into this first corner, and your heart is beating at the start, and then the gate drops. You’re in your own world when you’re riding. And it’s just so fun too. Whenever you hit a jump, I like the feeling of being in the air, it’s like you’re flying your dirt bike. Just the adrenaline—you’re in your own place when you’re on the track.”

Like any fast-paced sport, there are risks as well, and Smith has had his share of injuries.

“Two years ago was a rough year. I had a broken wrist at the start of the year from crashing and then at the end of the year in September I broke my leg really bad.

“I’ve improved a lot. Last year was my first year off my injuries. I was still getting better but I wasn’t as confident. I was always scared to hit a jump because that’s how I broke my leg. I tried a jump and I came up short and compressed it so hard it broke my bone. So I didn’t really have the confidence that year, but this year I finally got back into my groove, my confidence was up. I was doing good, I was trying new jumps, all kinds of stuff, and it felt really good all year.”

Smith says he’s proud of what he accomplished this year.

“The school boy class, it was pretty exciting to win a championship. It was my first championship, so that was really exciting,” he says. “But I was almost more proud of my B class third overall because in that class there is a lot of competition and a lot of good guys. I think the top five probably could have won it all, anyone could have won it, it was a really close year, and I managed to get third and I was pretty proud of that.

“Another reason I was proud of it is because I had a 150 two-stroke and they had 250 four-strokes, so they had a little bit bigger bike that had a little more power. I was proud of that because I was on a smaller bike and was able to do well.”

Smith says he’s planning to continue competing in motocross and wants to be at the pro level some day soon.

“I’ll just stay in the same circuit and probably go up to a more challenging class,” he says. “Next year I will do the B class. There are two B classes, a 250B which is the size of your bike, and then there is an Open B. I think I will do that next year. And then two years from now I’ll probably get kicked up to the A Class, which is the pro class in Manitoba. I’m hoping I can get to A Class and do well.

“I want to keep going for a few years. I want to try and do A Class and see if I can get an A Class win.”