Washougal Dreams Come True

Kit Palmer | July 24, 2009

Round eight of the AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship gets under way tomorrow at Washougal MX Park in Washougal, Washington, and for two riders, the race will be about dreams coming true.Twenty-three-year-old Ryan Beat and 20-year-old Scott Champion both got phone calls during the week that all young motocrossers dream about getting some day – calls asking them if they want to be a factory racer for a day. As you can imagine, both said yes as soon as they realized the questions weren’t a joke.For Scott Champion, he got a call from Yamaha, asking if he’d like to fill in for factory racer Josh Hill, who has been struggling all season with a bad back. His doctor advised him not to ride this weekend, leaving the blue team without a rider for Washougal. Hill joins teammate Grant Langston and Broc Hepler on the disabled list.Champion, a rookie on this year’s 250cc National circuit, already does testing for Yamaha and was a logical choice for Yamaha and team manager Jim Perry. Champion was already at Washougal doing a press function, so thing fell into place for the young rider from Menifee, California.”It’s a dream come true,” Champion said today. “That’s the best way that I can explain it.”He got the chance to ride the bike for the first time today during a short 20-minute practice session and was quite happy riding Hill’s race bike.”Today was the first time I rode the bike and the thing is incredible,” Champion said. “I was smiling from ear to ear when I went out there, so it’s good.”What impressed him most about the factory Yamaha YZ450F? “Just the power of it, and how good it handles,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest thing. The stock bike is pretty fast, but with these guys (Team Yamaha) behind it, it’s that much better. It’s smoother for sure and wickedly fast.”Champion is rather small in stature compared to Hill, so he is still sorting out the suspension.”We’re working on some different set ups, trying to make it softer for me, since I’m kind of little guy,” Champion said. “We’re going to dial it in tomorrow morning for sure. I got a feel for it today, and I’m excited about tomorrow.”As for Beat, he’s filling in at Kawasaki for the injured Tim Ferry, who chose not to ride the Washougal race, his heel still not up to racing. And with local hero Ryan Villopoto out with a knee injury, Kawasaki was also left without a rider for the Washougal race, until contacting one of its own, young Ryan Beat from El Cajon, California. Like Champion, he too is a midweek test rider for his team.Beat, however, didn’t get a phone call but was asked face-to-face by Kawasaki team manager Mike Fisher if he wanted to ride Ferry’s race bike.”It was Tuesday afternoon, and I was in the shop, and Fish (Mike Fisher) walked over to me and said, ‘hey Ryan, where are you riding this weekend?’ I said, ‘I’ll probably ride Barona (Oaks, a local track near San Diego) or something,’ and he said, ‘why not Washougal?’ I said, ‘what do you mean?’ That’s kind of how it turned out.”He too is obviously quite happy to get the opportunity to race a “works” bike.”It’s a dream come true,” he said. “It’s every kid’s dream to ride on a factory team and get to do the whole nine yards – come to the races, sign autographs and have fun.”I do testing for factory Kawasaki, but I haven’t ridden this package before. I ride similar things during the week testing for them, but I’ve never ridden an actual race bike.”He too rode Ferry’s bike for the first time today. “The bike is awesome, great, there’s nothing to complain about,” he said. “There is so much power and it handles so good.”But that’s not what impressed him first about Ferry’s ride: “First thing, probably the way it looks. It looks so cool.”Beat says he’s not sure if he’ll get to race the bike again after Washougal.”We’re going to play it by ear and have fun this weekend. That’s the main thing. Ricky (Dietrich) has the Endurocross (tomorrow), Timmy is still hurt. If it works out, we’ll do it some more. If those guys come back, they come back. I’m going to enjoy it while we’re here and do the best we can.”

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.