Morehead, KY- Every year it seems like the race season comes and goes in the blink of an eye. They say time flies when you’re having fun; with only 10 rounds of amateur racing, the 2016 season has felt like a blur. Ferris Bueller said it best, “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while you just might miss it”. The 2016 season for us saw its ups and downs. We were a smaller team than we’ve been in the past with only 6 members running the full schedule, but sometimes smaller is better. Our core group of riders this year brought their A-game each and every round. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t experience our share of bad luck, frustration and heartache…but we’re racers; we know that’s part of the deal, we sign up and are used to it. The 2016 season saw us say goodbye to long time team member Calen McGinty as he branched out on his own to form the Savage Motorsports team. We saw Dane Heilman (arguably the winningest amateur rider of all time) have to step down after round 3 because of work conflicts. Losing 2 riders that have made a major contribution to your team can take a toll but the 2016 version of the Media Allstars put their heads down and did what we’ve always done…we won races!
Coming into this season we didn’t know what to expect from Zach Kaczmarzyk #41. We knew he was fast, we knew he won the 16-24 championship in 2015, but we thought he was crazy for wanting to run Pro-Am. We try not to encourage our riders to skip steps, usually if you race C then the next year you race B, if you race B then the next year you race A, etc. Zach was bound and determined to show the world he had the speed and the talent to run with the fastest guys in the country. We frequently saw the #41 Illinois Powersports powered Honda running up front in the Pro Sport class earning a 5th overall for the year. Zach also ran the Pro-am class and was able to finish just inside the top 10, despite horrible luck all season. We’re beyond proud to have been a part of Zach’s first season as a Pro-Am rider; he far exceeded our expectations for him when the season started.
The second half of the #BZRacing dynamic duo was equally as impressive, especially as the season went on. #243 Brandon Cesaroni or “Cessa”, as we came to know him, showed some serious potential at the end of the 2015 season so we knew that somewhere there was the potential to run up front each and every weekend. 2016 saw Brandon win several motos and came within a turn of winning his first overall at Loretta Lynn’s. Cesaroni also put his Illinois Powersports motor to work this season and used those good starts to find himself on the podium 8 times. Those 8 podiums were good enough to give him 3rd overall in the super competitive Production B class. Brandon also earned 4th in 450B, giving him 2 top 5’s for the year! The last 2 rounds of the year we saw how talented Cesaroni really is and we can’t wait to see how he takes the A class by storm next year.
We used to give our team awards out at Loretta Lynn’s each year. That was back when we had an active roster in double digits. We don’t give out awards anymore but if we did, the “Most Improved” rider award would hands down go to Josh Holley. Josh spent the last 3 seasons racing in the youth all-star class, which is essentially Pro-Am for kids. Racing against the fastest youth riders in the world made him fast, but he just didn’t have the machine that his competitors did. All that changed this season when he made the switch to the 450cc machine. It’s funny how talent rises to the top when the playing field gets leveled out. Josh won several motos and 3 overalls this year. He ended the season in 2nd place in the Open C class and 6th in Production C (with only racing a few rounds). Just like Brandon, we saw the #7 TC Racing Engines Honda running up front more often toward the end of the season. We could make and argument that Josh was the fastest kid on the track in C class at the last 2 rounds of racing. Moving up to the B class is a big jump but we know that Josh is ready to take on that challenge; this young man wants to be great and he’ll put in the work to get there.
Team Media Allstars has a history of sponsoring fast females. From Angela Moore to Kelsey Dyer to Brittany Snider we appreciate fast women…not that kind of fast women we know that you thought there. Seriously though, our sport benefits just as others do from diversity so we were happy to add another fast female to our list. Emily Saieva #411 was a MAS rookie this year. Given her geographical location (Virginia Beach) she was only able to attend 5 races for us this season. That being said, she made the most of those rounds. Saieva raced her 90 auto machine to a 2nd overall in 90 Automatic Sr. Emily’s season was highlighted with her first national win when she went 1-1 at Red Bud…there is just something about seeing those smiles on the podium that make it all worth it. Saieva will be moving up to run with the ladies of the WMX class next year. It’s a big step but she’s got a big heart and a ton of skill.
Some things get better with age. Racers usually are not in that category. Sometimes they say a change can do you good. Team Media Allstars Race Team Manager and long time team member Chase Cunningham was fed up with his results from the past couple of seasons so he decided to make a switch. The Morehead, Ky rider had been racing Suzuki LTR450’s since 2007. He won 2 championships on his Suzuki’s, but a change was needed after the 2015 season. Cunningham finally caved in to the peer pressure and built a Honda for himself. That decision proved to be the spark he needed to gain his old form back. The #419 was winning motos again and took the overall at High Point Raceway in the 25+ class. Trying to win a championship racing 8 out of 10 rounds proved to be just a little too tall of a task though. Chase needed to gain 4 points on his competition going into Loretta’s. He raced as hard as he could but just couldn’t make it happen. Sometimes fate just steps in and says…NO…and we have to live with it. Cunningham came up 11 points shy of what would have been a 3rd Junior 25+ class national title but 2nd place for the year on a brand new machine is nothing to sneeze at either. It looks as though by switching machines Chase has found what appears to be the fountain of youth and we expect to see him pick up even more of his old speed in 2017.
We all have seasons we’d love to forget. Seasons when it seems like a black cloud is following you everywhere you go. We all remember the book of Job from the Bible; well if Job had been an ATV Motocross racer in 2016 he would’ve looked a lot like Michael Perkins. Perkins was all set to challenge for the 16-24 championship after a win in the class at Loretta’s in ’15. He had a great machine. He trained hard and his speed had never been better; but then that black cloud arose. At just about every round the #94 either found himself upside down taking a dirt sample, having a mechanical failure or just making a mental mistake that took him out of the race. His finishes this season are no reflection of how much work and effort he puts into his program. Some years go that way, we’ve all had seasons like Michael’s 2016 season when nothing goes right. We believe that we’ve not seen the best of Michael Perkins just yet and 2017 will be a clean slate for the Tennyson, Indiana rider as he once again takes on the College Boy and Production A classes.
Every year we have a couple of riders that compete on a part time basis. Most of these riders are ex-team members that were full time, but had to step back for various reasons. This season we had 3 riders that showed up at just a few rounds. James Perry of JPMX is also a team sponsor but has been riding ATVs longer than most of the racers at the nationals have been alive, maybe longer than most of the parents of those racers have been alive…grandparents even (maybe not that long). James has a new found love for racing between the trees but still manages to come out and bang bars each year at a few of his favorite tracks. We’re glad to have him both as a rider and a supporter of our team. Mike Snider, similar to James, is a 40+ rider that hits just a few races a year. Mike is the father of Brittany Snider, who was forced into semi-retirement this season. Last but not least, Alec Miller #97 raced 2 races for us this season. Alec is blazing fast and proved it at Red Bud this season as he went 2-3 for 3rd overall in the 450B class. The 19 year old racer has to concentrate on his education at this point in his life but when it is “Miller time” he’s on point! We’re sure we’ll get Alec to the races at least 2-3 times in ’17. We’re even more confident he’ll be on the podium or playing the spoiler in the points races.
2016 was the first season in a long time that saw our team not take home at least 1 championship. We managed some impressive podium, moto win and year end results but we just couldn’t take home a number 1 plate. The sky isn’t falling though. Each season comes to an end; the next one is on the horizon. We’ll look to reload, rebound and regroup as we try to show once again why we are the only team in the industry to win multiple ATVMX National Race Team of the Year awards. Hope everyone enjoys the off-season. We’ll see you on the gate next spring!
Photo Credit: Barboski Photography