Ontario native, Preston Masciangelo, has been making a name for himself on the American amateur motocross scene throughout the last couple years. The eleven year old impressed at Loretta Lynn’s in 2015 by finishing in sixth position overall in the 51cc (7-8) Limited class, and he’s only continued to grow from there. Masciangelo had a stellar 2016 season in which he scored a top ten overall at Loretta’s in his first year on the 65, two second place overalls at the Walton Trans-Can, and he also grabbed a title at the Baja Brawl. His tremendous results throughout the season attracted the attention of Suzuki and they chose him to be an integral part of the newly founded RM Army. Masciangelo made his debut for the Suzuki Regional Elite team towards the end of last year at Mini-O’s and his results have continued to improve throughout the spring nationals, most notably scoring his first ever top five overall at the JS7 Freestone Spring Championship. He’s already made some significant steps on the Road to Loretta’s for the 2017 season, earning his spot in regional qualifiers with his sights set on his first ever top five down at the Ranch. We caught up with Preston to chat about how things have been doing with the new team, training at one of the gnarliest tracks in Canada, and going to Daytona for the very first time.
You made a pretty big step in your amateur career at the end of last year signing with the Suzuki Regional Elite Team. How has everything been going with that so far?
Yeah, it’s been going really good. I really like the team, I really like the people on it, and the bikes are great!
You were on Kawasakis throughout your time on 65s and you really seemed to find your groove with those at the end of last year. Was it difficult transitioning to the Suzuki and making your 85cc debut simultaneously or do you think that kind of helped you?
Well, it wasn’t that difficult because the Kawasaki and the RM are pretty similar -- like the bikes have never changed and they’re both really small. So, I was pretty comfortable on it straight away.
Before we get into 2017, I wanna talk a little bit about the end of last year — you qualified for Loretta’s three years in a row now and ended up getting your second top ten there last year. How’d that go?
Uh, it felt good. I was runnin’ some good motos -- I had a third in one of them and I fell and dropped back to seventh, but I thought I wasn’t gonna get into the top ten, but I still broke it so that was pretty good.
It was a bit of a crazy week there with all of the rain and the track got super rough at the end of the week, how was it battling through those conditions?
Yeah. I’ve never ridden on something so hard and rough as Loretta’s and it was really muddy. I was struggling to get through it and on the last lap of one of the motos, I couldn’t get up this jump and my bike blew up at the top, so I had to roll it down. The sand section was probably my best part ‘cause we ride a lot of sand tracks here in Canada. I’ve got a track just down the road and it’s all sand.
After that you went onto the Baja Brawl and you were pretty dominant there, coming away with a title and two overall podiums. How’d everything go for you there?
Yeah, Baja’s one of my favorite tracks as well because of the sand. It felt really good to get a championship there and I almost got another one, so I was pretty happy about that.
It definitely seems like you’ve got the sand figured out, do you get to do a lot of riding at Gopher Dunes back home?
Well, yeah. It’s definitely good training for Baja and Loretta’s. That’s probably where I train most before those races -- and when it gets rough, it really gets rough like Loretta’s. There’s braking bumps the size of rollers, y’know, it gets pretty gnarly.
You also made the trip down to Ponca City for the first inaugural Motoplayground Race. What’d you think about the event there?
Yeah, I think Ponca’s a really cool track. I had some pretty good motos and a couple of kind of good motos, but the track’s really cool. I didn’t get a chance to see the pit bike race, but I heard that it was pretty cool.
You ended up doing a little spring nationals prep down at Georgia Practice Facility and got to hang out and do some riding with Colton Facciotti. That must’ve been cool to put in some time with one of the top Canadian riders.
Yeah, it was really cool to see him down there and ride with him. We were down there for two days before spring nationals. It was really cold before we went down for the spring nationals, so I had to go down there a little bit early and get used to the heat. Even on my first day there, I’d come off after ten minutes and be dying; it was hot!
You got your first opportunity to go down to Daytona and race the RCSX. What was it like going to the Speedway, watching the SX, and getting to race on the same track as the pros?
Yeah, it was really cool! My favorite part of Daytona was probably watching the pros ride that track and then me riding it right after them.
You had some bad luck at Daytona, but you put that behind you and moved on to perform really well at Oak Hill and Freestone where you got a couple of top five overalls. You’ve gotta be pretty pumped on that for your first season on the 85.
Yeah, Daytona didn’t really go as well as I’d planned, but I was able to go to Oak Hill and get used to the new SX track and everything, and I placed well so I was pretty happy about that. This was probably my best year yet at Freestone -- I got two top five overalls and I think my best was a sixth down there.
Was it tough battling through the different conditions down there in Texas?
Yeah, I really like the dry and I’m not a big fan of the mud, so when the rain came it was kind of a little bit crazy for me to adjust to that.
We’ve moved onto Loretta’s qualifiers now and you’ve done well to qualify at both Malvern and High Point. How’d the racing go for at Malvern? You had a bit of adversity to overcome there.
Yeah. Malvern’s a pretty cool track as well and I spun off the start, so I came off the gate all squiggly -- I was last into the first turn in the (9-12) class and had to fight through the pack to get up there. I managed to pull off a sixth and get sixth overall, so I still qualified. I was happy about that ‘cause I almost thought I wasn’t gonna qualify.
They’ve recently made some changes to the High Point track in preparation for the national this year. What’d you think of that and how was it racing at an outdoor track with so much history in American motocross?
Yeah, I really liked High Point ‘cause it’s like a lot of the other cool tracks that I’ve raced at like Budds Creek and Red Bud. It’s got a lot of elevation and it’s really cool.
Besides racing, you’re also pretty talented on a bicycle and a scooter. Talk a little bit about that.
Yeah, scootering is a lot of fun. I’ve been practicing a lot of tricks for a long time and it’s taken me a long time to do some tricks. Mountain biking is a lot of fun! We go to this race every year and it’s on this trail; it’s a big trail that goes up a mountain and back down. It’s really, really fun!
You like the uphill stuff or the downhill stuff better?
I like the downhill stuff better! Goin’ uphill is tough. It’s definitely a big part of my program, because my Dad is a professional mountain biker. So, we do a lot of the mountain biking stuff while we’re not motocrossing.
I know it’s probably not part of your program, but as a Canadian I’ve got to ask — are you a fan of All Dressed chips?
Haha, yeah! I like ‘em.
What’re your goals/expectations for yourself heading into the rest of the year?
I’d really like to pull off a top five at Loretta’s and a top ten in the (9-12). Hopefully by next year I’ll be able to win the 85 class -- that’s probably my biggest goal.
Who would you like to thank for helping you out?
Factory Suzuki Racing, MXtire.com, Cernic’s Racing, Atlas Brace, 100% Goggles, Thor, Pod Knee Brace, 6D Helmets, Hinson, Sports Live Decals, Nihilo, Marin Bikes Canada, Tama Farm Grown Solutions, The Moving Box, Forma Boots, Ecstar Oils, Pro X, Mika Metals, Pro Circuit, PR2 Suspension, N-Style, Dunlop Tires, Matrix Concepts, DT1 Filters, Defiance Lifestyle Clothing
/ Words /Images / Lake Kilpatrick
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