Flashback to midway through the 2003 ATV MX National season, just as the sport as a whole seemed to be on the rise, the once mighty Nac’s Racing team was on it’s way out. The “Powerhouse” squad was coming off of a brief stint as a Factory Team, and its’ riders were enjoying unprecedented support for both Pro, and Amateur racers. Rather than reaping the rewards of bringing the factories back to the sport, Team Nac’s was ironically on its’ last leg, facing a slew of legal problems stemming from Cannondale’s bankruptcy, effectively making ’03 their last season. The team’s Pro riders would certainly land on their feet, but the amateurs could sense the impending doom. Among the soon to be “ride-less” roster were Zac Willett, Kyle Taylor, and Jorge Cuartas. As the season progressed, the outlook looked grim, and the trio prepared for the worst. Going from the prestige of Team Nac’s back to the struggles of privateer life wasn’t appealing. “Dude, lets start our own thing, but make it Punk Rock, and anti-corporate” suggested Willett while sitting in a Pennsylvania Applebees with Cuartas, Taylor, and Mark Kendall. At first, the idea seemed ridiculous, but as the season’s end drew closer, talk of the new “Anti-team” grew in frequency and seriousness.
Just a couple of months later the “Anti-team aka Media Allstars” had become a reality, sort of. Armed with the remnants of Nac’s sponsors (and amateur roster for that matter), and a handful of personal supporters, the Media Allstars decided to make a run at the “team thing”. Sponsors didn’t really know what to make of the plan, after all, unlike any other team on the circuit, the Media Allstars were a team for team’s sake. There was no actual Media Allstar business, product, or shop to speak of. In essence, all the team was built to promote were it’d riders, and sponsors. And promote they did, a barrage of full page team ads flooded the series event programs, while the team themselves sought out as much press as possible through the enthusiast websites, TV shows, and magazines. In the inaugural season, Kendall, Cuartas, and Willett were joined by Josh Upperman, Hollie Shartzer, Jamie and Lee Rentz, John and Leslie Ragon, and a Godsend by the name of Jeremiah Jones (JJ). JJ’s title sponsor had backed out on him at the eleventh hour, and as a result he agreed to run the Media Allstars graphics, which brought the start-up team some much needed credibility.
At the end of ‘04 Jeremiah went to Factory Suzuki, taking with him Jamie Rentz (his future bride), and John Ragon. Coming into ’05 the team pulled off a miracle by landing FMF as a title sponsor, the deal included use of FMF’s team 18 wheeler. Mind you, in ’05 there were two “big rigs” at the races, Factory Suzuki, and the business-less, Pro-less Media Allstars Amateur Team. The ad campaign intensified, and the roster grew in size and prestige. Joining the team were Angela Moore, Casey & Patton Thompson, Hunter Johnson, and Rob Baumsteiger. That season Upperman and Kendall dominated the Pro Am classes, with Upperman eventually landing the team it’s first Championship (Pro Am Unlimited). The peak of dominance came in ’05 at High Point, where the entire team went undefeated on the weekend, winning every single moto they entered. Presence, results, advertising, and Championships all combined to make the second year an overwhelming success. Sponsors were now actively pursuing the team, instead of visa-versa, and literally hundreds of resumes poured in from riders wanting a spot on the roster.
Not surprisingly, in ’07 the team switched to Suzukis with help from yet another powerhouse; Jeff Cernic, and contested the WPSA series full time. In another industry shocker, the team was picked up by Tucker Rocky Distributing to represent various proprietary brands. As had become the norm, roster changes ensued, this time with Angela Butler and Jay Corey leaving the team in order to start up one of their own. Aaron Meyer, Cody Grant, Casey Martin, Austin Wilson, Chad Sumner, and Bobby Ross all joined the Cernic’s Suzuki backed Pro Am team, while Chase Cunningham, Danny Cooper, Jordan Digby and DJ Spurling joined the amateur team. Armed with confidence, and the best equipment money could buy the ’07 Media Allstars were poised for the best season. Unfortunately during a pre season International warm up race, the team’s #1 prospect Nathan Commer was injured. “Commer’s injury pretty much took the wind out of our sails, seeing our best rider in that bad of shape wreaked havoc on morale, and it was downhill from there” lamented Cuartas. “That kid’s winning attitude was infectious, he not only made you believe he could win, he made you believe you might have a shot.” Devastated by the loss of the team’s spiritual leader, the team struggled through the first half of the season. Switching brands was another factor, adapting to the new LTR seemed to take longer than expected. On the bright side, Caleb Moore who dabbled a bit in freestyle, decided to start backflipping his ATV on a regular basis, which put him in every magazine, video, and website in 2007, leading to a barrage of coverage for the team. Danny Cooper and Jordan Digby also added a pair of #1 plates to the team’s trophy case salvaging the results, and carrying the weight of the team. As the season came to an end, the expected roster downsizing took place. Caleb’s new-found celebrity lead to a lucrative Polaris “Freestyle Only” contract, while Casey Martin, Bobby Ross, and Chad Sumner all left as well.
Entering 2008, the Media Allstars once again made serious sponsor and roster changes, opting to downsize for the first time since the team’s inception. “It was just way too much at that point, my wife was pregnant with twins, and weeding out the complainers, and whiners was necessary for my sanity.” Said Cuartas when recalling the decision. “I needed to delegate a bit of the responsibilities, and decided to farm out, or franchise a couple of smaller teams that would absorb our existing riders, leaving me with just the core of Pro Am, A, B, & Women to deal with.” The Media Allstars split into multiple teams, including a Side By Side effort, youth effort, and support rider effort all being managed independently of the “Core” or original team. The only additions to the core team were Dale Batson, and Mario Diangelo who assumed support roles. Each team enjoyed different levels of success, and adversity depending on how heavily vested they were in the WPSA series. The GNCC Side By Side effort took off as Josh Starrett, and Dustin Shuler clinched Championships. On the MX side, the untimely demise of the WPSA left everyone scrambling; despite the scramble, the Pro Am MX duo of Aaron Meyer and Cody Grant put in a strong showing, taking wins, and nearly winning the Championship. Chase Cunningham, and Jordan Digby managed to bring home three Championships for the team, thus salvaging a roller coaster ride of a season. The youth and support teams didn’t fare as well, as neither ever recovered from the series switch.
The 2009 Media Allstars had a pretty rough go of it, as the economy, coupled with gas prices, lead to huge cutbacks in support, and major holes in the racing budgets of the industry. Regardless, the Team soldiered on with a slew of changes; Roster wise, Chase Cunningham, Cody Grant, Jake Brattain, Dale Batson, Mario Diangelo, Matt Porter, and Dave Porter handled duties on the MX side, while Josh Starrett, and Jorge Cuartas handled the UTV side. Suzuki City signed on as title sponsor, and G-4 Graphics, RPM, Oneal, Montana Paint, Moto-X-Nutrition, Dragon Race Fuels, Twelve Ounce Prophet.com, all joined long-time sponsors Hinson, Rath, Smith, DWT, Uni, Powermadd, Yoshimura, Maxima, Quad Tech, O’GIO, EVS, Precision, Division Four, Maxxis, Fox Shox, & Outerwears. Despite cutbacks, Dave and Matt Porter clinched Championships, while Cody Grant came within a broken wrist of the Pro Am Championship.
2010 saw a major change in approach as Cody Grant went Pro, and the team attempted to support his efforts and go Pro with him. In order to help him find his way through the deep end of the pool Dale Batson signed on as Cody’s mechanic. Veteran Pro Pat Brown was picked up as our second Pro rider in hopes that he might teach us how to field a Pro effort, Norris Quinn of Quinn Motorsports came on board as Pat’s mechanic. Lonestar Racing came on board as the Pro Team’s title sponsor, while Morehead Motorsports took title duties for the amateur team (which was put in the capable hands of Chase Cunningham).
Cody’s Pro efforts yielded him an 11th overall for the year, taking home AMA Pro Racing “Rookie Of The Year” honors. Pat ended up 9th after a frustrating year of mis-guided product development. Despite the lackluster results, the Pro effort was somewhat successful off the track as they helped create Lonestar Racing’s “Pro-Line” products.
The Morehead Motorsports/ Media Allstars Amateur Powerhouse Roster consisted of rider/ manager Chase Cunningham, Jordan Digby, Mario DiAngelo, Mark Batson, Ronnie Higgerson, Jake McGraw, Nacy Stone, Josh West, Kyle Schonert, Calen McGinty, Clayton Chinn, Ryan Wheeler, Devin Stenftenagel, and Lee Rentz.
Ryan Wheeler brought home three regional Championships (450-C North, 4 Stroke C North and South), Jordan Digby claimed the 70cc Super Stock National Championship, while Devin Stenftenagel brought home the Open C Natl. Championship in his first year of National ATV MX racing.
With a renewed commitment to Amateur racing, the 2011 Lonestar Racing/ Morehead Motorsports/ Media Allstars Amateur Powerhouse set a new standard for performance on and off the track. Returning to the team were Chase Cunningham, Mark Batson, Jake McGraw, Calen McGinty, & Ryan Wheeler, as well as Dale Batson (Cody Grant’s 2010 Pro Class mechanic) who returned to racing. New members to the team included Nick Lepkoske, Cody Kimberlin, Austin McGraw, Dylan Tremellen, Brandon Benlien, Bailey Howard, Matthew and Joshua Holley, & Dan Hoisington. The team also supported Zach Harris, and Sean Taylor’s Pro Am efforts in a limited support role. Something clicked, and the team dominated consistently throughout the season. The end result was the 2011 ATV MX National Series Race Team Of The Year Award, as well as a whopping twelve number one plates (eight Regional, four National) by way of 25 Overall Wins, 67 Moto Wins, 83 Overall podium Finishes (2nd-3rd), 176 Moto Podiums, 249 Top-Five Finishes (4th-5th).
Maintaining the pace that was set in 2011 was nearly impossible in 2012, but the team once again headed to battle with a stacked roster, and the best sponsors in the industry. Chase Cunningham, Mark Batson, Jake McGraw, Calen McGinty, Dale Batson, Dylan Tremellen, Brandon Benlien, Matthew and Joshua Holley, Brett Musick, Kaitlynn Bushey, Kelsey Dyer, & Dan Hoisington all flew the flag for the team. Dylan Tremellen brought home the 16-24 Class championship contested only by his teammate Dan Hoisington, while team rookie Brett Musick went on a tear through the B Classes which earned him the 450-B, & Production B Class Championships. Brett’s efforts earned him the “Most improved Rider Of The Year” award from the series, as well as accolades and media attention not usually enjoyed by a B Class racer. By year end, the team had once again racked up impressive stats with 3 National Championships, 21 Overall Wins, 43 Moto Wins, 75 Overall Podiums, 55 Moto Podiums, 35 Overall top Fives, and 80 Top Five Moto finishes.
The TQRA branch of the team, which was launched by Austin Wilson at the start of the season enjoyed similar success with Pake Shinn earning Two Championships (Schoolboy Class, & Open A), 15 Overall Wins by way of 27 Moto Wins, 6 Overall Podiums, and 14 Moto Podiums. Pake’s performance earned him the TQRA Rider Of The Year Award.