RAD Pro-AM Huge Hit

Pro-Am FMX Demo Does Well
The Riders Above Dirt Pro-Am Freestyle Motocross Contest held at Pala Raceway this past weekend went from being a discarded event of a broken organization to what will become the sport of amateur FMX best event I have seen so far.  It’s always the people who make the event, but when your people are  among the top names in the sport then bigger sponsors make the event even better!  The RAD crew was able to put on a fantastic event that everyone seemed to enjoy.

The contest and all its proceeds were to benefit the Chris Ackerman Foundation and was set up to run with Jeremy Stenberg pulling in all the strings he could in the industry to help out.  Monster Energy was on hand with a VIP set up and cold new drinks, HPIRacing.com was there doing demo’s for the crowd with it’s bad to the bone RC’s, Famous Stars and Straps was on-hand and set up right next to Etnies  who also had a good presence at the show.  Can’t forget Pala Raceway for loaning out the space and equipment while making those huge (did I say huge-that is an understatement) landers for the kids to stay safe on.  Truly a great vibe all day-even with the rain.

Rain?!  Rain is FMX mortal enemy (so are low ceilings) but the track crew protected the course and ramps, while HPI Racing launched 40-50 foot gaps with gas powered RC’s and after a roughly two hour delay, things got underway.  The amateurs were broken up into groups of 3-4 riders and put into a jam session style format that was limited to six jumps/tricks with the top six out of all 18 Amateur qualifiers (15 in the Pro-Am) then those six would do eight jumps in the same format for the win.

(EDITORS NOTE; Thirty-two participants somehow convinced wives, girlfriends, parents and friends to spend a bunch of money traveling to a FMX contest one week before Christmas in one of the bleakest economy’s ever.  That is saying something about the sport.  That it is not dead, maybe just taking a breather like many other sports.  More showed up but left because of the rain and many more were turned away because there was not enough room. A three day event next year?  I am told it is very possible…)

The Am’s went out first with one rider from each group getting pulled into the final.  After so many years of watching mainly pro riders, I gotta say the Amateur contest was equal parts exciting, entertaining, funny, scary and WTF.  Some of the run ups to the ramps and approaches were, errrr-new to me.  They seemed to work okay, but I noticed the most successful riders used a more conventional run in.  I also noticed a ton of new variations on old tricks, new combo’s (some that looked sick, some looked like two different socks) and even a couple of tricks that many of us had never seen before.  That was cool to see all the new stuff but tough since I got roped into announcing and spent more time with my mouth wide open on the floor or my eyes shut tight than I did actually doing my job!  None the less, this was primarily a scouting op for Freestylemx.com so I was in a prime spot to catch the action.  The six riders sent to the final went all out with Derek Beckering impressing everyone and improving on his performance in the qualifying round going from sixth to finish third.  His whips were really fun to watch and he seemed more comfortable later in the day.  Second spot went to Canadian Billy Kohut who rode his clean and colorful bike smoothly and with no drama in both rounds.  The judges rewarded him for his solid bike skills and tricks which were done perfectly.  Had he had just a little more exciting style on the bike I think he could have stolen first place on the day.  Edging him out was third place qualifier Luke Dolin who used all four corners of the bike well, landed clean on all of his hits (which were tough with such a tall landing) and exhibited the style I spoke about.  His snap to extension times out nearly perfectly with trick extension time and snap back to times, which seems to emphasize the movement of the trick while not slowing it down too much and keeping it fluid.

At the end of the Amateur class I must say I was wholly impressed that no one freaked out and wadded themselves.  Conditions were a little tough physically which can make guys crumple mentally on a foreign setup and that’s when people get hurt.  All the guys held it together and that alone shows a lot! I came away with a couple names that are on my radar over the next two years.

The Pro-Am class was next and after the judges whittled it down to six finalists, the show was on!  I had seen all the riders in action at shows past except for one and that was Justin Ayres, who I was told was called “Airtime”.  Justin came up second after qualifying behind One Industries rider Bryce Hudson and in front of Brian McCarty on his Arrowhead Extreme Outfitters Kawi then blasted his Finals run to take the win in a super close battle with Bryce Hudson.  Both riders had a lot of the same tricks and each rider was doing them awesome with Bryce pulling out a Cliff Hanger to No Handed Lander or Base Jumper which I thought would put him over the top but I think Justin was able to hold the Back Flip variations just a tad longer, or maybe just a little less rushed than Bryce.  Not sure what the judge’s thought- they just said it was really close and Justin took the win.  Third went to Jeff Griffin who took his Wyvern Motorsports backed machine to a solid third spot.  All three did a fantastic job and Justin- Contact me- missed you at the end and had to drive home.

All the winners got some nice bike stands from Matrix and flow deals from Famous and Etnies (could be wrong and am forgetting one-will update!!)
The event also featured a live demo from Destin Cantrell, Gabriel Villegas, Monster Energy riders Blake Williams and Jarryd MacNeil with Metal Mulisha riders Todd Potter, Ronnie Faisst, and Derek Garland.  It lasted nearly 20 minutes and had just about everything at the entire Pala facility stopped in its tracks (literally) with DJ Top Shelf playing music all day and Miranda Haslam singing our National Anthem.

A very good time and I really look forward to next year.  Helmets off to Twitch and his entire crew, all the riders and their support teams, the sponsors for showing your support and to the fans who cheered all of them on!  See qualifying and final results below.


  1. Davi Jonston
  2. Billy Kohut
  3. Luke Dolin
  4. Chase Burbridge
  5. Daylan Townshack

Wild Card: Derek Beckering


  1. Luke Dolin
  2. Billy Kohut
  3. Derek Beckering


  1. Bryce Hudson
  2. Justin Ayres
  3. Brian McCarty
  4. Jeff Griffin
  5. Garrett Ahlf

Wildcard: Hal Strauss


  1. Justin Ayres
  2. Bryce Hudson
  3. Jeff Griffin

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