JOSH TALKED FELLOW MXA TEST RIDER AND ACE MECHANIC JOSH FOUT INTO BEING HIS WRENCH. THIS IS THEIR STORY OF GOING TO WHAT SOON BECAME KNOWN AS “JOSHOUGAL.”
During the 2022 AMA National Championship season MXA’s Josh Mosiman decided that he wanted to race a couple of AMA 450 Nationals. Maybe he was just trying to relive his youth when he was a National and Supercross regular on the circuit, or perhaps he just wanted to spend some time with his brother Michael, a factory Troy Lee GasGas rider. Either way, Josh pitched his plan to Jody and Daryl as a chance to test production motorcycles in the toughest arena imaginable. They bought it. Okay, they didn’t exactly buy it lock, stock and barrel, because they insisted that Josh keep up with his regular MXA assignments before they agreed to give him the budget for hobnobbing with Dungey, Tomac and Cairoli.
Josh talked fellow MXA test rider and ace mechanic Josh Fout into being his wrench. This is their story of going to what soon became known as “Joshougal.”
ON THE ROAD FOR 18 HOURS (ONE WAY)
Josh M: Driving to an AMA National is always harder than flying, but I figured since we were driving up earlier than usual, I’d have enough time to rest and recover for my long 450 motos on Saturday. Plus, driving up early meant that Josh Fout (Josh F) could race amateur day on his first trip to Washougal. Since this “Joshougal” trip wasn’t only about my racing but his also, I figured he could help me tell this story from his perspective, too.
Josh F: Who knew you could be so tired after sitting for 18 hours straight? How do the privateers who drive to each National do it? I, along with co-pilots Josh, Ashley and Trevor, plus the dogs Benny and Bailey, made the trek in a Sprinter Van from SoCal to Washougal, Washington. I was tired before I got there. Over a total of 36 hours in the van (there and back), the camaraderie that developed between the six of us was priceless. Josh did the majority of the driving, and, towards the end, you could tell he was getting a bit of cabin fever. We all got to know each other a lot better, and maybe even a little too much. Did I mention there are Subway sandwich shops at 99 percent of the exits on the 5 freeway?
ADDING UP THE DOLLARS PER LAP
Josh M: We traversed 1040 miles from Southern California to our AirBNB in Vancouver, Washington. With the van loaded to the brim with bikes, parts, people and dogs, the Sprinter got 16 miles to the gallon. With the lovely diesel prices of California, Oregon and Washington, it cost about $416 to drive to Washougal—$832 when you include driving home. Renting an AirBNB for five nights dinged the credit card another grand ($1097). Signing up for the 450 class cost $262, and that’s not counting the mechanic’s passes. It was $60 for Josh Fout to work on my bike and $60 for my wife to get a crew pass to be allowed in the pits all weekend. This brought our trip budget to $2311. I’m not counting how much it cost to eat and drink or prepare the bikes for the race. After logging 1 hour and 40 minutes of riding (which came out to 42 laps) at the National, the cost was just over $55 per lap for me. Luckily, Josh Fout raced as well, which meant that all those expenses weren’t just for my riding.
AFTER RACING A HONDA CRF450WE AT PALA AND A KAWASAKI KX450SR AT HANGTOWN, IT WAS TIME TO SWITCH THINGS UP AGAIN. I CHOSE THE 2023 HUSQVARNA FC450 BECAUSE I WANTED TO CONTINUE LEARNING THE INS AND OUTS OF THE NEW-GENERATION KTM/HUSKY BIKES.
Josh F: Thankfully, my classes weren’t as pricey as they were on Pro day, because I don’t have any sponsors paying for my entry fees. I raced three classes, and they were $50 each when I pre-registered online. That gave me three 10-minute practice sessions on Wednesday afternoon and six motos. The first motos were on Thursday, and the second motos were on Friday, which was good, because there were over a thousand entries for the amateur day and multiple divisions in some of the classes, making for two long days of racing.
OUR RACE BIKES
Josh M: “After racing a Honda CRF450WE at Pala and a Kawasaki KX450SR at Hangtown, it was time to switch things up again. I chose the 2023 Husqvarna FC450 because I wanted to continue learning the ins and outs of the new-generation KTM/Husky bikes. Plus, Washougal is known for having hard-packed and slick conditions with technical obstacles and tight turns. Since the Husqvarna has a 1-inch-lower seat height due to its shorter suspension, it excels on tracks with extra turns. Out of all the tracks on the AMA National circuit, Washougal is best suited for a bike with a lowered chassis.
“The stock FC450 is good, so I didn’t need too much extra power. FMF helped me out with a slip-on muffler, and I used it with a stock head pipe since FMF didn’t have head pipes in stock. The most important upgrade was stiffer suspension. I ran WP Pro Component suspension with Cone Valve forks and a Trax shock that was shortened to work on the Husky. Dunlop is trackside at every AMA Supercross and National. They installed a fresh MX33 rear tire and MX3S front. I even got some special tire mods from Justin Barcia’s mechanic Olly Stone. He and many factory mechanics cut out the center knob of the Dunlop to get extra flex on hard-packed tracks.
“On the seat, I used a fancy blue Guts Racing RJ wing seat cover with a bump in it. Guts sells these individually and as a complete seat where they install the cover on a separate seat base and foam, so that saved me a lot of time and hassle on install. Phoenix took care of the handlebars, and Throttle Syndicate dressed the bike nicely with yellow and gray colors to match the stock 2023 Husky look. I also used a Works Connection Pro Launch starting device. Besides the FMF muffler, the engine was bone stock, but ETS sponsored me with some MX18 fuel, and NitroMousse supported our racing efforts as well.”
Josh F: “I brought MXA’s 2023 KTM 450SXF on this adventure for two reasons. One, because it needed to be broken in, as we were still learning a lot about this new bike. Two, it’s very similar to the Husky, so if the other Josh needed parts, we could swap most of them over. I raced the bike in its bone stock form. I only added a Works Connection Pro Launch holeshot device and a fresh Dunlop MX33 rear tire and MX3S front tire.
“Initial impressions of the all-new KTM model at Glen Helen weren’t amazing, as it took a while to break in. At Washougal, I found that this bike was quite pleasant. The taller suspension platform was great in the corners with deep ruts. The rear-wheel traction was much improved, even on the hard-pack corner exits coming out of those ruts. Where I generally struggled most on this bike in the past was on corner entrance with big bumps, but I had no issues on this track. “
FOUT RACES AMATEUR DAY
Josh M: “Because we didn’t get to park in the amateur pits, we didn’t give Josh Fout the full Washougal experience. If you’ve never been to Washougal, the best way to describe the amateur pits is that it’s like a campground nestled in the wooded mountains. There’s hardly any flat ground, and almost everywhere is shaded by trees. Ryan Huffman, the owner/manager of Washougal, told us to park in the Pro pits all week because the amateur pits were so packed. With that, we were early enough to snag a nice spot that was shaded and centrally located but still out of the way enough so that we wouldn’t be moved later in the week by any factory rigs wanting our spot.
“Hanging out at the track Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to support Josh and our other friends racing amateur day brought back good memories. The days were fairly laid back. I even got to take my wife up for a helicopter tour of the Washougal track to get some sky-view pictures of the facility. It was nice that the pits were open to the public, so everyone who was there for amateur day could get up close to the factory rigs and see the bikes and mechanics working on the day before the race.
Josh F: “I race almost every weekend in SoCal, so for me the nerves that usually come the night before, on the drive to the track or on the line, don’t really exist. That was until we took the roundabout onto Washougal’s road. Then the anxiety started to set in!
“On arrival, I did the normal routine of getting signed up, checking out the track and getting hydrated. I came back from doing my thing, and Josh had my bike fully prepped and race ready. Great! While in staging, I did the normal program, scoping guys out just to get a feel for my competitors. Josh took my bike while numbers were being called to the line. With Glen Helen being my hometown track, I right away chose a gate five to six spots left of the box. Soon I realized that this wasn’t my hometown track and I needed to be further inside. Day one of racing went great. I got to learn the track more and came out unscathed. Day two is when I realized that the boys in the 25+ and 30+ classes thought they were out there qualifying for the National! In reality, it was just bad timing. I got caught in a first-turn crash and then caught in another wreck in the next moto with a rider who crossed over on me. He gave me a nice shiner under my eye.”
THE PRO QUALIFYING EXPERIENCE
Josh M: Qualifying is the most stressful part of the day, but I love it. My strategy is to try to be the first rider around the track when qualifying starts so I can have a clear view of the lines. With the track ripped deep and 40 fast 450 riders tearing it up, it gets rough quickly. Usually, the track gets slower as the practice goes on.
When the AMA official released us to go out for the first qualifying session, I launched out as fast as I could. It’s a huge adrenaline rush to be the first rider around the track with a packed crowd hanging over the fences. Eli Tomac is like me. He wants to be out front early, and he passed me right before the green flag flew. Justin Barcia was behind him, and he rode behind me for the first half of the lap, pushing me to my limits before making the pass. I stuck with him the best I could and logged my fastest time of the day, good enough to put me in the motos with 25th gate pick out of 78 riders.
QUALIFYING IS THE MOST STRESSFUL PART OF THE DAY, BUT I LOVE IT. MY STRATEGY IS TO TRY TO BE THE FIRST RIDER AROUND THE TRACK WHEN QUALIFYING STARTS SO I CAN HAVE A CLEAR VIEW OF THE LINES.
Josh F: After wrenching for Josh at Pala, Hangtown and now Washougal, I finally have a feel for the program and things have gotten smoother. As a mechanic, you always want your rider to do well. Josh and I have been friends since he came to MXA, but during a National you get to see another side of your friend. Josh is the nicest guy on the gate, but once the goggles are on, he is a fierce competitor. It’s fun watching him lead the pack in qualifying. The fact that he held off Justin Barcia for most of the lap was pretty cool.
RACE TIME: TWO 35-MINUTE MOTOS
Josh M: “Overall, the Washougal National went better than Pala and Hangtown for me. My starts were horrible. As you can tell by the picture of me lined up next to all the heavy hitters, I did a big wheelie out of the gate, which meant I had to chop the throttle while everyone else kept going forward—rookie move! However, even with bad jumps off the gate in both motos, I salvaged my starts and fought through the roost in the first turn and on the first lap to get into a good position by the finish line. I was 22nd across the line on lap one of both motos. In the first moto, I meant business. I ran 22nd place for seven laps, which came out to be about 15 minutes. I got tired in the middle of the moto and did my best to hold onto a 25th-place finish. One position better than moto one at Hangtown and three spots better than moto one at Pala.
“When moto two came around, I had more energy than I did at the first two rounds, thanks to my wife, Ashley, who had meals prepped for the whole week to make sure my stomach was full and eliminate some of my excuses from the first two races. Overall, the Washougal track was gnarly, but it didn’t get as rough as Pala or Hangtown, and the temperature was a perfect 85 degrees—a huge blessing for a guy like me who doesn’t train full-time for this stuff.
“My second-moto start and first lap were similar, but this time I didn’t have as much grit to hold onto the 22nd position. I dropped back quicker and ultimately finished 29th. I went 28-30 at Pala, 26-35 at Hangtown and 25-29 at Washougal. At the end of the day, I wasn’t jumping with joy like I would’ve been if I had scored points by finishing in the top 20, but I couldn’t be upset with my performance, either. After all, I did better than the first two races this season, and I was hearing cheers from MXA fans in multiple sections of the track. After crossing the finish line in moto one, I tossed my EKS Brand goggles to a group of guys who I could see cheering me on almost every lap. In the second moto, I gave my gloves to another young fan cheering on the fence line.”
AFTER RACING THREE NATIONALS THIS SUMMER AND TESTING A LOT OF BIKES IN BETWEEN, I CAN SAY THAT I’VE LEARNED MORE ABOUT JUST HOW IMPORTANT SUSPENSION SETUP IS AT THE RACES.
Josh F: “Never did I think I would have the opportunity to wrench for a guy in the Fast 40. Now that I understand the schedule and flow of my rider on race day, I realize Josh doesn’t really need a motivational speech or tips on his riding during the day. Now that I’m not thinking all day about what I should put on the pit board for Josh, it gives me a chance to look around and enjoy the experience.
“It’s great being on the line with Josh. While he has Plessinger and Barcia to his left and McElrath and Tomac to his right‚ I get to see it all! In one instance, I heard Jade Dungey (Plessinger’s mechanic) radio to Carlos to have Ryan Dungey come up and start packing a gate to pretend like it was his (since he DNF’d the first moto and had last gate pick). Trickery! As hard as Dungey tried to bluff, his gate was claimed by Brandon Hartranft.
“Another moment I won’t forget happened to Josh’s right. An AMA official was giving Tomac and Savagty a hard time for the dirt behind their gates not being level. I won’t blow out the riders by explaining their choice of words, but let’s just say they would have been bleeped if they were on TV. Then, 10 minutes after the motos were over, Josh handed me his tripod and video camera, and we interviewed 15 of the top riders in the pits for the MXA YouTube channel. All in all, I can personally say my experience as a racer, mechanic and video guy was one I’ll never forget and a story I’ll tell for the rest of my life.”
VALUABLE LESSONS LEARNED
Josh M: “After racing three Nationals this summer and testing a lot of bikes in between, I can say that I’ve learned more about just how important suspension setup is at the races. Right away in the first qualifying session, I knew my suspension was too soft. I pulled into the mechanics’ area after my fast lap and turned the compression clicker in five clicks on the forks and turned the rebound clicker in two clicks. It helped but didn’t fix my issues. Adam, the WP suspension tech for the Troy Lee Designs GasGas team, was nice enough to add 20cc of oil to my forks between qualifying sessions to get more hold-up. Again, it was a positive change but not a complete fix.
“My suspension was set up perfectly for an average practice day at Glen Helen or Pala in Southern California where the tracks have a hard base and loose soil on top. With the amount of traction we had at Washougal, along with the big wall jump into the sand section, the whoops at the finish line and the deep ruts, my suspension was diving too much. It’s not anyone’s fault but mine. I set my bike up for a local race, not a National. So far this season my CRF450 for Pala was too soft, my KX450 for Hangtown (with A-kit suspension) was great, and my FC450 for Washougal was too soft again.
“In between Nationals I got to test Antonio Cairoli’s factory Red Bull KTM 450SXF. His suspension was far too stiff for a regular practice day and probably still too stiff for me at a National. But, riding his bike opened my eyes to just how fast you can go when your suspension holds up through the rough stuff. Now my goal is to land somewhere between my Husky settings and his factory KTM settings when I race the season finale at Pala.”
Josh F: “Washougal is easily one of the best tracks I’ve ridden—from the great elevation changes to the deep corner ruts, a Supercross-like whoop section and even the slippery, hard-pack sections of the track. I’m happy to say that I’ve now raced and wrenched there. We were all worn out after long hours in the van and long days at the track, but we still squeezed in one fun extracurricular activity while in the Pacific Northwest. We stopped by the famous Multnomah waterfalls, just outside of Portland, Oregon. Jumping in the Washougal River was another activity that was on our list, but we ended up leaving that box unchecked. Oh well, that just means we need to go back again next year! Maybe next time I’ll stay off the ground and the other Josh will score some points.”