This year, Valentine’s Day is about spending time with your love, Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Luckily, our love does not require the standard chocolate and flowers. This February 14th is extra sweet because it’s the beginning of the 250 Supercross East Regional Championship as it kicks off in Arlington, Texas at the AT&T Stadium. That means Midwesterners have more to cheer for than just their favorite rider, they will be rooting for his or her local heroes too. With only one day away for the gate drop, we look at the local riders (local for Glory Hog) on the entry list for Arlington (aka Dallas) Supercross.
#252 Bubba Pauli – Edwardsville, IL
Bubba (Theodore) Pauli will be showing up in Dallas redder than normal and with a new team. Pauli joined the K1 Speed/ BWR Engines/SSi Decals late 2014 riding alongside Kyle White, Austin Coon, and Zach Gurley. The team rides Hondas and Pauli will be lining up in the 450 class for the east rounds. The Edwardsville, Illinois native qualified for three 450 Monster Energy Supercross night shows and one 250 night show in 2014 and has been training vigorously down south lately to improve on those results. However, this year he really has to prove that he can step up to the challenge of making main events. He has been fast in the past. Combine that with consistency, he has a chance this year to show he belongs.
#291 Kyle White – Freeport, IL
Kyle White, from Freeport, Illinois is not only Bubba Pauli’s teammate, but White is also Pauli’s boss, so to speak. White is the K1 Speed / BWR Engines/SSI Decals team owner. White has been racing the 250SX West rounds; except for San Diego where he raced the 450, but did not qualify for the night program. After not qualifying for the night show at Anaheim 1 and missing the cut off by one spot at Anaheim 2, he has steadily improved each round and qualified in Oakland and Anaheim 3. Look for White on red in the 450 class looking stronger. He has been training with Pauli and both are very competitive with each other. It will be interesting to see where he stacks up in the east region.
# 509 Alexander Nagy – Richmond, IL
Midwest Action Cycle’s Alexander Nagy has been ripping it on the 450 and will continue on the big thumper in the east coast rounds. At the first three rounds, he failed to qualify for the night shows but in Oakland, he missed it by one position. Then in Anaheim 3 and San Diego, he qualified 35th both nights. Down to earth and unfazed by the pressures of racing on the biggest stage of supercross, he is clearly a major talent; it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his upward progress.
#862 Ozzy Barbaree – White Hall, AR
Ozzy Barbaree says he is “super pumped” to be racing Dallas and a few other select rounds this year. Atlanta 1, Atlanta 2, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Houston and New York (aka New Jersey) are on his agenda after Dallas. Barbaree admits making it to all the rounds is still up in the air as he is still searching for support, but he is extremely thankful just to be racing dirt bikes.
#1 Justin Bogel – Cushing, OK
He has the number one plate for a reason; he earned it. Geico Honda’s Justin Bogel will be back to defend his title in the 250 East Coast Regional Championship. The number 1 plate might as well be a target on his back. He is on a high after last year, but the honeymoon period is over and it won’t be so easy to repeat.
#45 Vince Friese - Cape Girardeau, MO
Besides Bogel, perhaps the biggest local hopeful to contend for a 250SX East Regional Championship this year is Vince Friese. In 2014, he finished the east series in third with his best finish being a third at East Rutherford, New Jersey. Last year at Dallas he missed the podium by one spot. Though he lives out in Temecula, California now, he still has family here in Missouri and continues to put down Cape Girardeau as his hometown on the entry list, so we can still claim him as part of the Mid-West throw-down. Friese has been flying the flag for Motoconcepts Racing while his teammate, Mike Alessi is out due to injury and has been performing well in one of the most stacked 450 classes in years. He may not be everyone’s obvious choice as the next Supercross East Coast Champion, but he has the tools to do it. Stealthy, Friese has improved every year and if he can put up consistent results, he may just sneak in there and steal away with a couple wins.
#79 Jace Owen – Mattoon, IL
Jace Owen had an “awesome experience” overseas racing in the ADAC German Supercross for a Suzuki team on the 450 and earned some good results. However, when he got back to U.S. dirt, he battled a sickness that kept him off the bike for a good while. Owen’s has been spending time in southern Georgia at Climax Motorsports Park working hard on his training. Now he will see if the experience will pay off in Arlington this Saturday. He raced three Monster Energy Supercross rounds last year with his best finish being 18th at Atlanta and Indianapolis. Mattoon, Illinois and the rest of the Mid-West will be eager to see their local boy gets into the mix of things.
#155 Drayke Sizemore – Tamaroa, IL
Don’t let Drayke Sizemore’s shy and quite personality fool you; he is always ready to battle. A couple weeks ago at the Amsoil Arenacross Series in Nashville, Tennessee, Sizemore seemed a bit timid early in the day during timed qualifiers. He qualified 27th in the Arenacross Class and 29th in the Arenacross Lites East class. In the latter, Sizemore was charging hard in the LCQ but dumped the bike in a turn and that ended his chances of advancing. However, in the Arenacross Class he made the Main by going through the LCQ. Sizemore appeared to get stronger and faster as the night wore on. This was also a huge improvement from just a couple weeks earlier at the Cincinnati Arenacross round, but we don’t have to talk about that. If Sizemore can start the day with the same intensity that he ends with, he should have no problem qualifying for the night show. And if he does, I would not want to battle with him in the LCQ. Sizemore has the speed and the aggression to compete in Monster Energy Supercross Lites East if he comes out swinging. There is no doubting the pure speed but there’s so much more to the job these days.
#254 Gregory Gehrer Wichita, KS
At this point, Wichita, Kansas native Gregory Gehrer is just happy to be riding in Dallas this weekend. Gehrer, like many Supercross hopefuls, has been spending time in the Golden State for the last three months with Robbie Reynard and at Icon Sports with Charles Dao. Why is he just happy to be riding? Gehrer had a bad crash early December that gave him a grade 3 AC separation and a few broken ribs. So, he lost precious riding time and has been back on the bike for about two weeks. So, at Dallas expect him to ride timid but with enough boldness to make the main on the CycleTrader.com/Rock River/Yamaha.
#385 Adam Gulley & #386 Aaron Gulley – Jonesburg, MO
What can we say about the Gulley’s, Aaron and Adam? They call themselves Double Vision Racing because they are identical twin brothers. The Gulley boys run their own flooring business so they can’t just ask the boss if they can have a day off work. No work, no pay, and the contractors look for another set of twins to do the work. These two are the purest form privateers come. They don’t train or live at practice facilities or compounds; they don’t have a riding coach; in fact, they hardly have time to practice at all especially while living in the cold Mid-west during the winter. Somehow, they show up to a race or a Supercross event and qualify for the night show over riders who are draining their parent’s retirement accounts dry. They rely on pure natural talent and it’s a wonder why these two have never been pick up for a ride. To a layman, it looks to be a great marketing opportunity to have identical twins who can rip. Right? Perhaps Aaron and Adam’s speed comes from growing up with an unconditional riding buddy, someone to compete with and push all the time. However, this may be the most competitive year for the Gulleys to date. Like the Lites west region, the east is stacked too with new young talent that just graduated from the Amsoil Arenacross Series “Road to Supercross” program. With the Gulley’s experience, still look for them to qualify for night shows consistently, but making mains events may be tougher than recent years.
#619 Mark Weishaar – Belleville, IL
The rider who has impressed me the most going into the east rounds is Mark Weishaar. Weishaar admits he is riding and training with a new level of intensity and it is quite noticeable. Like the Gulley’s, Weishaar is a true privateer, and a smart one too. He goes to college full-time and only rides on weekends or when time permits. So, you won’t find Weishaar down somewhere south, supporting a moto tan, or in any Vurb Moto music videos at some training compound. However, Weishaar surrounds himself with a loyal supportive crew and sponsors, sponsors that he has worked hard to win over through his innate marketing skills.
Weishaar started his own team, 2diat (Two Dudes in a Tundra) a few years ago and has attracted much support from local business and industry leaders, not too shabby for a rider who made his first Main Event just last year. Look for Weishaar to make more mains this year using that new intensity level. He might be the most fun local rider to watch this year.
#986 Colt Nichols – Muskogee, OK
Another Robbie Reynard protégé, and another rider from, Oklahoma where they breed Supercross racers as of late, Cole Nichols enters his Monster Energy AMA Supercross rookie season with a successful 2014 Amsoil Arenacross year and an awesome amateur career. He may be a superstar in the making but there will be much to learn for the Motosport.com/Crossland Racing rider. Luckily, he has team manager Guy Cooper by his side to teach him a thing or two. Look for Nichols to be in the mix and make an impression. Not short of confidence, he will have to work hard, but could at least be a contender for Rookie of the Year.
#659 Justin Freund – Desoto, MO
Justin Freund is still nursing an injury he acquired last summer racing the outdoors. Hopefully, we will see him this summer.
#508 Nick Click – Saint Clair, MO
Nick Click says he is retired, but he said that last year too. We all know this sport is heroine and almost impossible to quit. So, don’t be surprised if you see Click lined up in Dallas or some other round this year.