The quest for a professional contract during this day and age can at times be a tough task to face. The amount of talent the amateur ranks are churning out, year after year, can’t seem to compliment the number of spots that are given by a select few factory teams. And with the aforementioned scenario in place for many of the countries’ top prospects, sometimes the route chosen to chase a dream is a little unorthodox. This story is all too familiar to Chris Fortier, who we had a chance to catch up with, and see just what his plans were, as the year of 2017 rolls on.
What originally brought your interest into the sport of motocross? Why this and not other sports?
When my dad was younger, he had a CR80 1983. He never raced or rode a dirt bike track, but he used his bike to go riding in the woods, ride sand pits, and ride to his friends’ houses. I got my first bike when I was 5. Over the years, my dad had gotten more familiar with the sport of motocross so when I was young he wanted me to get into it and he got me a Kawasaki Kdx 50. When I was that age I watched Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael a lot, and I really enjoyed Motocross. I got attached to it quickly. When I was younger, I didn't really do any other sports besides skiing. When I went to school I played football, kickball, and soccer during recess because that's all we could do. I wasn't very much into those sports and I was much more interested in Motocross. To me, it was a unique sport, and not many people knew what it was. I really enjoyed skiing in the winters but I liked Motocross better and met a lot of good people going to the track.
Any memories from your first race?
I was very young, so it's hard to say I remember the race. My dad has told me about it, he said I got last and got lapped haha. We have it on video somewhere; I have watched some of it before. My first race was only after a couple times riding my dirt bike for the first time. The name of the track was East Broughton.
What made you choose the number 66?
In my first year of racing the local championship back home on a 50cc, I had number 2 because I really liked the look of Jeremy McGrath’s number. At the end of the season, the owner of the series told everyone that by next season, numbers from 1 to 25 would be reserved for A class riders. So I had to pick a new number and had no idea which one to pick. My dad came up with an idea. He said let’s go look on the series website and whatever overall points I had for this past season would become my new number. It came out to be 666, which only meant a 3-digit number to us, but apparently was not everyone’s opinion… Once we moved to Florida in 2009 and I started racing in that area, we came out to realize quite quickly that the 666 was not too popular in the bible belt area…Therefore, after having some people being very rude and disrespectful to me about this matter, I decided I didn’t need this negative attention and decided to drop a 6 which explains why my number is now 66! But now I will be running 266 this summer since it's my first time racing the Canadian pro series and I have to run a three-digit number.
You had some strong showings at the ranch last year; tell us about how Loretta’s was for you in 2016.
Loretta's was awesome for me last year! I didn't get the overalls I wanted that week, but it was my first week of racing at an amateur national and being able to say I was happy with my riding every time I hit the track during the week. I had some good top 5 moto's at the beginning of the week but I was expecting to be on the podium. I had some bad starts at the beginning of the week, which is unusual for me, but it happened and I had to try and get as far up in the pack as I could! My first moto of the week that I was able to finally get a good start was the third moto of 450B Limited. I came out 2nd on the start and I knew I could win this moto. In the first moto I ran the fastest laps of the race I just knew I needed a good start. I was in 2nd and as I came through story land on the first lap my bike died. I was sitting there trying to start it and it wouldn't start. I couldn't believe this happened right then it was a really tough pill to swallow. I pushed my bike back to my trailer and was just really pissed off! I'm usually the type to try and stay positive and move on to the next race but this time it was very difficult. Later that evening we found out that the mechanical failure on my bike was because my dad. He had left a blue shop towel in the bottom of my air box and when I raced it got sucked through the intake. It felt like the worst day of my life to be honest. The next day was my 3rd moto of 250 B Limited. I got the holeshot and then got passed by Mitchell Falk on the first lap. I was running second for a while till Dylan Walsh passed me because he had a better line then me in that corner. After passing me, I stayed within a second behind him till the checkered flag. I wanted to try and pass him back but it was my first time being in a podium position at the ranch and I didn't want to make a mistake and make us both go down or something like that. I rode consistently in third and finished off the week with my first podium at Loretta's. I was really happy to get on the podium especially because this class was a lot more stacked then the 450 class. It made up for the day before. One day felt like the worst day of my life, then the next day was my best result in my Motocross career. It was an up and down week for results, but I felt very prepared coming in and I felt like I did my job racing I just had some bad luck with getting jumped on and a mechanical failure.
How has the jump been from the intermediate ranks, to the pro class? Big difference so far?
To be honest I haven't seen a big difference so far because I haven't really done any races! I know I will see a big difference this summer, since I'm racing the pro nationals in Canada and that is a lot different. Long races, different competition, and different tracks.
You’ve recently declared that you’re going to Canada this summer for the outdoor nationals; why Canada and what are your expectations?
I went to go race the intermediate class at Walton last summer after Loretta's and I did really well. I won all of my motos in the intermediate classes besides one where one of my clutch plates broke. Coming into my third motos on the last day of racing my bike locked up on the sight lap of my first moto that day. We weren't able to get my bike going for my other moto, but it was okay I had a good week turning some heads and racing some good laps. I also raced a youth class. I was able to beat and pass some guys that were finishing in the top 3 and top 5 in the Canadian pro nationals. So with having a good week racing there we saw it as maybe an opportunity to come back to Canada for the following summer and race the pro series. It's so stacked in the United States and it's very difficult to get on a good team. It’s also very expensive. So this year I decided to come race in Canada, I think it will be good to chase a series and race every weekend. A lot of guys from the states are going to race in Canada so I believe there will be quite a bit more competition then last year. Honestly it's hard to say where I will be till I start racing but I would like to be in that top 5. That's where I see myself and that's where I need to be.
How about in 2018? Arenacross and/or Supercross plans?
No plans put in place yet, but it could be possible that I do some Arenacross. It's not part of the plan but you never know. I will not race Supercross but I'm sure I will practice on some Supercross tracks during the winter.
Do you consider yourself more of an outdoors guy? Or do you prefer the technicality of Supercross tracks?
I wouldn't say I like Supercross over Motocross but I definitely know I'm a better rider when it comes to technical stuff and not so much high-speed tracks. I think riding a rough Motocross track is what I like to ride the best but I really enjoy riding Supercross the times that I have. I feel like I'm definitely ballsy enough to send big rhythms and that I'm really good at timing jumps so I think I could perform well in Supercross.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
If I'm seeing myself where I want to be in five years, I'm seeing myself winning a championship in Canada and doing some pro stuff in the U.S.
Where do you do the majority of your practicing throughout the year?
I live in Florida so I train there the majority of the year. I train with Brad Jerominski Club57MX. During the winter he runs his training program in Florida and during the summer in Illinois. I spend the winters with him in Florida and during the summer I spend some time in Illinois training at his facility.
Your bike skills are apparent, what’s your favorite style of whip to throw? Left? Right? Oppo?
My favorite style to whip is definitely oppo. I feel like i can only throw good regular whips over certain jumps when I feel comfortable, but oppo’s I can throw them good on any big jump.
Did you look up to any professionals while growing up?
I definitely looked up to Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart. As much as they battled I liked both. I really enjoyed watching them because they brought so much intensity onto the track. There is plenty of other guys that I looked up to like Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed, Windham, Vuilleman, etc. But my all time favorites were Stewart and Carmichael.
What do you enjoy doing outside of motocross?
I enjoy skateboarding sometimes with my little brother and some friends when I'm in Florida. I really enjoy going to attractions parks but I rarely get to do that stuff. I also love skiing but never get to do it because I'm in Florida. Most importantly I love spending some time with my Family, my girlfriend Danielle, and the select few close friends that I have. When I'm with the people I love there is always something to do that is enjoyable.
Any sponsor’s you’d like to thank?
Yes I sure do! I would like to thank My Dad and my Mom for giving me this opportunity in life to chase a dream and to always have supported me in the best way they can. Thank you to my little brother Randy for always looking out for me and being supportive. Thank you to my trainer Brad Jerominski for spending countless hours with me trying to better me in this sport and helping me in any way he can. My girlfriend Danielle I would like to thank her for always being by my side 100% and for always supporting me as much as she can. Also her family for treating my like part of their family and helping me as much as they can when I'm around them. I would like to thank Jeff at TTI logistics for supporting me and treating me like family.
Wayne, Lisa, & Jakob at WW Ranch Motocross park for also supporting me over the years and treating me as family as well. Thanks to Fred at Dotcom Computers for all of the much appreciated help over the years, Pascal at JPS sport for the help this summer with my racing, Matt at Active Ride Suspension, Mike at FLY Racing, Dave from Scott Goggles, Shane at Fuel Clothing, Keith at KSR Wheels, Mike and Sean from Decal Works, James at JMS Performance, Bobby (CheckmateMX), UNI Air filters, FMF, Works Connection, Ride Engineering, Dunlop, Ryno Power, Yamaha Blu Cru, and Gaerne. A special thanks to my very few close friends that have always had my back and wanted me to succeed, you know who you are. Thank you!!
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