In 1996, motocross in Canada and especially in Walton was a lot different. 1996 to some doesn’t seem that far behind us, but it is 20 years ago. And 20 years ago on a overcast day a young kid with his dad found an unusual parking spot on the front lawn of the Lee family farm house. Literally on the front lawn. That kid was Nick Wey, who went on to win all his motos at Walton that day. He was skinny, wore the coolest Fox gear and dipped his toe in Pro motocross forever that day.The very next weekend, aboard Pro Circuits team Nick went started his and famous career riding for Pro Circuit Kawasaki, Suzuki, Moto XXX and his own Mafia team to name just a few.
His story has become one that has been repeated many times over the years at Walton. A big race, that has allowed many top racers ease into the deep end of Pro motocross. Making it even more appealing for so many is that for 25 years has fallen after the US National Championships at Loretta Lynn’s dude ranch by design. A design not only for Americans, but Canadians as well.
Walton was inspired by the Loretta Lynn experience the Lee family had at the famous ranch. It was 1991, and after returning they knew as did others that riders had to be encouraged to go to Tennessee to compete with the best and the best encouraged to come to Walton. For well traveled riders like Canada’s Cole Thompson and Scottish Canadian Dean Wilson the Walton Pro class was a place they got to rise through the ranks, and race as a Pro, while travelling the tough US circuits as well.
Many Americans since Nick Wey have shown up at Walton testing Pro motocross in their early formative years of racing. Wey’s fellow Michigan Mafia riders Josh Woods, Randy Valade, Jimmy Wilson arrived in Walton to compete as Amateur and Pros. Recently Joey Crown carried on the tradition winning as a Intermediate and turning Pro and winning on Sunday. Others have ventured north as well. Riders like Josh Cartwright, Phil Nicolletti, Bobby Kiniry, Paul Carpenter, Darren Sanyeri , Shawn Rife, Justin Keeney, Dakota Alix, Blake Savage, Darryn Durham to name a few have battled to win a Walton title. Throughout the years American stars like Brett Metcalfe, John Dowd, Matt Goerke, David Pingree, Damon Huffman and Mike Alessi have all turned soil in Walton. It has become as much an American tradition as an Canadian one.
The Walton Grand National Championships will be another year of Canadian talent, young and old, matching up against many of the USA’s very best.
What young Americans will make their trek north this year in search of a piece of the $30,000.00 cash purse and national television fame? Will Canada’s best defend home turf? There is no question that surprises will happen. The list is beginning to grow and excitement just about to begin.