2020 WISECO WORLD TWO-STROKE CHAMPIONSHIP: MIKE ALESSI IS $30,000 RICHER
Photos by Debbi Tamietti, Dan Alamangos & Jon Ortner
No one expects the Spanish Inquistion or, for that matter, a two-stroke race that rivals the biggest motocross races in the land, but that is exactly what happened at Glen Helen when the 2020 Wiseco World Two-Stroke Championship, hosted by Fasthouse, came to town. What made the World Two-Stroke Championship such a memorable event? Let us count the ways.
Mike Alessi (800), Josh Mosiman (71) and Deegan Vonlossberg (427) lead the charge to Talladega with healthy gaps on the other riders in the field. There were 43 riders in the Open Pro class. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
(1) The turnout. It became obvious during the Thursday and Friday practice days, that something big was gonna happen. And by race day it dawned on everyone that there were 750 hardcore two-stroke racers jammed into the pits.
Glen Helen unveiled the track a little bit at a time over a three-day period. On Thursday, they revealed a few new wrinkles to the classic Glen Helen layout—and the addition of two long sand sections and some fast sweeping turns. On Friday they had a two-stroke-only practice day, that was highlighted by a new left-hand turn at the bottom of Mt. Saint Helen, rolling whoops in the front sand section, a shortened run to the tunnel jump before the finish line and, in a big surprise, the track crossed over to the REM track to climb an additional hill and hit one of the nicest tabletops you’ll ever see (it looks like a 30-foot tabletop as you approach it, but the landing ramp is a massive drop-off that falls off 40 feet). You can sail as far as you like because you will still be landing on the down ramp. (Although Josh Grant did test the limits of the drop several times).
Dare Demartile (200) shocked the crowd and Mike Alessi when he came out of the pack to pass all of the major players to pass Mike Alessi with two laps to go for the first moto win. Unfortunately, a fifth in moto two cost him the victory. Photo: Dan Alamangos
When race day rolled around on Saturday morning, the riders were greeted by not just a double split-lane up Shoei Hill, by a four-way split hairpin that gave the riders the option to go inside, to the inner middle, to the outer middle or all the way around the outside. The added bermed corners made those 40-man starts a little less hectic, but only a little.
Robbie Wageman and Justin Hoeft came back from the AMA Nationals to race the World Two-Stroke Championship and Robbie’s older brother R.J. Wagemen (621) was seventh in the Open Pro class. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
Mike Alessi got the holeshot in the second Open Pro moto, but MXA’s Josh Mosiman took it away from him in the next corner. Josh got to style out front by leading the first lap before Mike got him back. Mosiman was knocked down in the first moto start and had to come from last place, which explains his ninth overall. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
(2) The track. Riders came in from their first practice laps on race day morning and said, “My internal clock told me that the finish should be around the next corner, but it wasn’t. The track just just kept going from hill to hill and sand section to sand section.” Another rider said, “About midway through my first lap, when I thought I’d been everywhere the track could go, we jumped over onto the REM track and climbed another big hill. At the top, I looked down across the valley and realized that I was only halfway around my first lap and I was already tired.”
(3) Lap times like the good old days. The Pro riders raced at a hectic pace and could get their lap times down to around 2:45 (the fastest lap put in was by Mike Alessi as 2:34 in the first moto). Lap times got about 4 second longer in moto two. Laps times over 3 minutes were the norm in the amateur and Vet classes.
Dennis Stapleton flies high over Glen Helen’s Canyon section. It wasn’t used on this year’s track design because the lap times were already over 3 minutes—adding the Canyon would have pushed it to 3:35. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
(4) The money. Mike Alessi made $30,000 at the 2020 World Two-Stroke Championship. Mike won the Open Pro class which paid $2700 to the winner. He came back five motos later to win the Pasha 125 Over-30 Pro class and pocketed another $1000 dollars. And, Mike was smart enough to included the World Two-Stroke Championship, which he won for the first time back in 2016, into his bonus packages. Most of his sponsors agreed to pay him handsome bonuses if he won—and the kicker was that ESR Racing offered to pay a $20,000 bonus to any Pro rider who won the World Two-Stroke Championship on an ESR Racing YZ325 kitted bike (they also promised to pay $10,000 for a second place finish and $7000 for a third—the only caveat was that you had to be on a YZ325). Mike not only got the $20,000 bonus, but he even earned a piece of the $2000 in holeshot bonuses.
(5) The old guys. There is no doubt that two-strokes appeal to the older generation of motocrossers more than the young, and with the ample aid of Hollywood actor Pasha Afshar (who himself finished ninth in the Over-50 125 Pro class) there were $2000 Pro purses set aside for the 125 Pros, Over-30 125 Pros and Over-50 125 Pros. First place in any of these three age divisions paid $1000 (second got $600 and third $400).
Colton Aeck won the the money in the 125 Pro class after first moto winner Justin Hoeft had troubles in moto two to go 1-13. In the two older divisions, Mike Alessi elected to skip the 125 Pro class and race the Over-30 125 Pro class. Mike, who is 33 years old, realized that on a 105-degree day running four long motos close together would be tough, so he opted for the later starting Over-30 125 Pro class, which had five motos between the Open Pro and the Over-30 125 Pro event. And, obviously, he knew that it would be easier to win the Over-30 125 Pro class and pick up an extra $1000 dollars.
(6) Say what? The biggest surprise in the Over-50 125 Pro race was that Kurt Nicoll and Doug Dubach went one-two in the first moto and looked to be set for a big showdown in moto two (repeats of their classic battles at the World Vet Championships). Pete Murray had finished third in the first moto and knew that his chances of beating Kurt and Doug were slim and none. But, when he got to the starting line there was no sign of Kurt or Doug. It turns out that Kurt had blown up his 125 at the last lap of the Over-30 125 Pro race (where he finished second behind Mike Alessi) and, even though people offered him their KTM 125s, he said he didn’t want to ride a unfamiliar bike on the rough and tough Glen Helen track. As for Doug, he simply got tired of waiting for his second Over-50 125 Pro moto to roll around in the 16-race schedule and went home.
Pete Murray is no slouch on a bike. He is a three-time World Vet Champion, with title in the Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 classes, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he won the Over-50 125 Pro race, but he was surprised. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
Murray, who is the current Over-60 World Vet Champion, along with being the 2012 Over-50 World Vet Champion and 2000 Over-40 World Vet Champion, was a popular winner. Murray had a battle with Jon Ortner in the opening laps of moto two, but pulled away to an easy win. Kevin Barda had to beat Ortner in the second moto to get the $600 second place check and he did by one position. Ortner got $400 for third.
(7) Good Samaritans. Sean Collier stopped when he saw Carson Carr had crashed in the 125 Pro race and was laying motionless on the other side of the finish line. Collier rode back to the top of the finish line tabletop and laid his bike down to stop oncoming racers from going to the side of the track where Carson was laying.
John Perry (104) drove in from Durango, Colorado, on Friday to race Saturday’s World Two-Stroke Championship on a bike that was only put together on Thursday. He stopped in his second moto to help a fallen rider. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
John Perry was behind Mike Monaghan when Mike endoed. John spun a U-Turn and came back to protect the former 1980’s Pro Circuit Husqvarna rider from other riders. Sean Collier and John Perry both sacrificed their day to help a fellow rider and they weren’t the only ones, but both these incidents happened in front of the grandstand section of track in full view of everyone.
This corner at the bottom of Mt. Saint Helen had a really fast outside line, but don’t tell that to 125 Pros Robbie Schott (523), Bradley Denton (L7), Travis Hoffman (722), Justin Hoeft (27) or Sean Borkenhagen (5). They’d rather fight than switch. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
No, it didn’t rain. A rider ran off the track and hit a water line and broke it. It flooded a short section of track. The 105-degree temperatures and the fast work of the track crew got it drained quickly. N2Dirt’s Brian Bolding (33) does his part to splash the water off the track. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
Much less dramatic were riders who lent unlucky riders (who had suffered breakdowns), the parts, fuel or even their spare bikes so that they could keep on racing. Two-strokes epitomize the good old days, but it might not just be the bikes that were different back them—most likely it is the people who race two-strokes, then and now, that are the common denominators of what makes two-strokes great.
Mike Alessi won two classes and collected almost $4000 in purse money—then made a boatload more in bonus money from different sponsors. No need to wonder why he didn’t go to the Thunder Valley National. Photo: Debbie Tamietti
WORLD TWO-STROKE OPEN PRO CLASS RESULTS
1. Mike Alessi (Yam)…2-1
2. Dare Demartile (Hon)…1-5
3. Carson Brown (Hus)…5-2
4. Justin Hoeft (Yam)…4-3
5. Josh Grant (Hon)…3-4
6. Robbie Wageman (Suz)…7-6
7. R.J. Wageman (Suz)…9-7
8. Carlen Gardner (Bet)…8-11
9. Josh Mosiman (KTM)…13-8
10. Bryson Gardner (Bet)…11-10
11. Jeff Loop (TM)…10-13
12. Braden O’Neal (KTM)…17-9
13. Dennis Stapleton (KTM)…15-12
14. Justin Muscutt (Yam)…19-15
15. Shaun Hillion (Yam)…20-16
16. Griffin Dexter (Hus)…6-30
17. Brody McLaughlin (Hon)…23-14
18. Carson Carr (Yam)…16-24
19. Mitch Greene (Yam)…22-20
20. Mike Sleeter (Yam)…14-29
Other notables: 22. Arik Swan (Kaw); 23. Michael Smith (Yam); 24. Matt Cerami (Yam); 27. Sean Collier (Yam); 29. Deegan Voslossberg (Yam); 30. Jake Preston (KTM); 35. Ciaran Naran (Hon); 37. J.V. Leavitt (TM).
WORLD TWO-STROKE 125 PRO RESULTS
1. Colton Aeck (KTM)…3-1
2. Broc Shoemaker (KTM)…2-3
3. Justin Starling (Hus)…4-4
4. Robby Schott (TM)…9-5
5. Justin Hoeft (Yam)…1-13
6. Sean Borkenhagen (Kaw)…8-7
7. Bradley Denton (Yam)…10-6
8. Ty Cullins (TM)…11-9
9. Carson Brown (Hus)…19-2
10. Ty Edmondson (Hus)…14-11
Other notables: 11. Chris Heinrich (Hon); 12. Travis Hoffman (KTM); 13. Mowglie Gutierrez (Hus); 14. Carson Carr (KTM); 15. Sean Lipanovich (KTM); 16. Sean Collier (Yam).
There were a large number of TMs at the 2020 World Two-Stroke Championship. They were the only motorcycle manufacturer to have a full team and they had the largest pit area. All of this is testament to the hard work of American TM importer Ralf Schmidt (73). Photo: Debbie Tamietti
WORLD TWO-STROKE OVER-30 125 PRO RESULTS
1. Mike Alessi (Yam)…1-1
2. Kurt Nicoll (KTM)…3-2
3. Sean Lipanovich (KTM)…2-4
4. Casey Casper (Hon)…5-3
5. Shaun Hillion (Yam)…7-5
6. Stephen Heighton (Hon)…8-6
7. Sean Borkenhagen (Kaw)…4-10
8. Jeremiah Moore (Hon)…9-7
9. Derik Denzin (Yam)…11-8
10. Steve Stultz (Yam)…12-9
Other notables: 11. Jacob Ahl (Yam); 12. Sean Collier (Yam); 13. Jonathan Camarena (Yam); 14. Jason Wise (KTM); 15. Dustin Nowak (Yam).
A thanks should go out to the efforts of Pasha Afshar. He not only gave a $6000 purse for the 125 Pro class, but he expanded it by holding three “Pasha 125 Open” warm-up races to build the list of potential racers (and paid the Over-30 and Over-50 Pros also). Photo: Debbie Tamietti
WORLD TWO-STROKE OVER-50 125 PRO RESULTS
1. Pete Murray (Yam)…3-1
2. Kevin Barda (Yam)…4-2
3. Jon Ortner (Suz)…5-3
4. Alan Jullien (Yam)…6-4
5. Chris Heinrich (Hon)…8-5
6. James Lavender (KTM)…7-6
7. Giovanni Spinali (Yam)…9-8
8. Ricky Arnold (KTM)…10-9
9. Pasha Afshar (KTM)…15-7
10. John Perry (Yam)…12-11
Other notables: 11. Mike Monaghan (KTM); 12. Mike Smith (TM); 13. Dan Alamangos (Yam); 14. Kurt Nicoll (KTM); 15. Doug Dubach (Yam); 16. David Cincotta (TM).
EVERY WORLD TWO-STROKE CHAMPION (2010-2020)
How steep can a hill get? This is Bobby Garrison on his way to winning the first World Two-Stroke Championship back in 2010 on a Husqvarna. Garrison raced both the WORCS series and AMA Nationals in 2005-2007. He lost the 2006 WORCS Championship by one point when his bike broke at the last round. His best 450 National finish was a 9th at the 2006 Glen Helen National.
WORLD TWO-STROKE CHAMPION (2010-2020)
2010…Bobby Garrison (Hus)
2011…Austin Howell (Yam)
2012…Michael Leib (Hon)
2013…Sean Collier (Yam)
2014…Sean Collier (Yam)
2015…Mike Sleeter (KTM)
2016…Mike Alessi (Suz)
2017…Ryan Surratt (Hon)
2018…Zach Bell (Hus)
2019…Robbie Wageman (Yam)
2020…Mike Alessi (Yam)