By Tod Sciacqua
Photos by Kinney Jones

Ever since the very first Endurocross held in Las Vegas back in 2004, I have been involved with the event in one way or another. How can I forget the time in 2004 that I helped out with the track as the original Endurocross guinea pig? I still remember EX originators Tim Clark and Eric Peronnard asking me to get my gear on and ride over these huge tractor tires that were lying on their side. I also remember taking a tape measure to the tractor tires and measuring their inside diameter, which was just big enough for a 21-inch front wheel to fit inside the tire with a couple of inches to spare.
That was also the year that I was asked to do the opening lap demo ride in front of a full audience – that turned out to be not only pretty scary for me, but also for everyone watching! Here’s how that little stunt went down: the announcer started to introduce the track, and as the lights popped on I came from back stage on my bike, all pumped up and excited. I rode straight over to the tire stack to park and talk about the track obstacles with the announcer, but that didn’t really happen. Right as I was reaching the top of the tires, the motor stalled out and the horror set in when I realized that I was rolling backwards toward an eight-foot drop onto the dirt arena floor…with everyone in the stands laughing at me! Luckily, I was riding a WR450 with an electric start, so I pushed the magic button and was off again, only to make a left turn into the rock pile and sail directly over the handlebar onto my back. I’ll never forget the crowd – in perfect unison – screeching the same painful sound that I was making: “Ohhhhhhh!” Like I said, I’ve been a part of Endurocross from the beginning.
             With all that early embarrassment behind me, I set out to race Endurocross in the vet class in 2006, where it came down to the last lap for the win. With one turn to the finish in the final Vet class main event, I took the win and was officially hooked. The following year, I did the entire series and took the Vet championship and #1 plate. But my experience with the series wasn’t all racing: along with being a rider and part-time guinea pig, I also work for my friends at Endurocross as their official sign guy, hanging banners and making big, fake checks only days before the event. Knowing that I was going to be going to Endurocross anyways, I decided that I might as well make a good racing effort, too. This led to an idea.

       For a bike, I have a 2007 YZ 250 that needed some freshening up for the upcoming 2008 Endurocross season, which I was planning on working at and competing in. With some help from Adam Booth and Dirt Bike magazine, I came up with the idea of building the ultimate Endurocross bike out of my old, used bike. It took a lot of work, but it was worth it. First, we started with the 2007 YZ and made a parts list. You know, all those Endurocross standard spares that were bent and broken: things like a clutch, levers, shifter, brake pedal, side cases, fork guards, skid plate, flywheel weight, bark busters, front and rear wheel rotors, a shiny new FMF gnarly pipe (which lasted about three minutes on my third lap and into the rock turn. Crunch!) The list goes on. With Factory Effex designing some amazing looking Endurocross graphics, the bike was going to look like new. Race Tech did an incredible job on the suspension and Dunlop hooked me up with a new set of shoes (745s) front and rear. With extra help from the guys at Panolin oil and Yamaha (along with a few long nights in the garage putting it all together), I was on the best bike I could ask for.
With the beginning round in Vegas coming up in three weeks, me and my Endurocross buddy’s Damon, Ryan and Kyle were crunching down some practice laps at Kyle’s Endurocross practice track. This course was built to maim the average rider, which it almost did to me on two different occasions: First, going over the bars into a huge pile of broken cement chunks with the bike following me was extremely painful and damaging to my body, since my wrist and elbow took the brunt of that impact. But thanks to Dr. Jacobs and his therapy, I was back at it with the boys the next week. For some more extreme crashing this time, it was over the bars while trying to ride over your average size sedan lying on its side, which proved to be another blow to my confidence (and my knee). I’ve got to thank Tim Redmond for all his help in building the killer of all Endurocross practice tracks! So, with all that preparation and help from everybody, I was really sore but ready for round one in Las Vegas.
When I got to the race, my first heat race started of with a fall over in the rocks, which led to a huge crash and a smashed pipe (as I mentioned earlier. Crunch!) As I rolled back to the pit area, I was thinking about how badly I needed a new pipe, since the brand new FMF Gnarly just took the brunt of my right side crash into the rock pile. I got back to the truck and put the bike on the stand, and while I was sitting there on the step of my RV, World Champion Danny LaPorte and FMF founder Donnie Emler pulled up on their scooters! All I could think was “Wait a second, am I in the Matrix here? Holy cow, how did that just happen?” Before I could figure out what was up, Donnie looks at the pipe and says, “Wow, you need a new pipe…that one is ruined! I’ll be right back”. As I sat there in shock with Danny Laporte, I thought about how when I was a little 13-year-old riding Indian dunes with my white YZ 80, Danny was my hero. Wow, maybe things are going to turn around for me after all!
Like I said, I am the Endurocross sign guy and I have to make sure that all the banners are put up in the right spots (apparently, I have a magic ability to do this!). I spent some time getting the banners done, and with all the signage responsibilities behind me and a new FMF pipe on the bike (thanks to Donnie!), I was ready to race the main event, even with the extra fluid in my knee and wrist. The gate dropped for my first vet Main of the series I came out of the first turn in about 5th place. This wasn’t the holeshot that I had wanted, but at least I made it out of the first turn; a lot can happen in Endurocross, and one of the most important things is completing the first turn in one piece. You can go from first to last or last to first in one lap! With a few crashes in the rock piles and a weird, unexpected attempted takeout maneuver from some over-aggressive vet racer on a green bike, I survived the race for 3rd Place, which wasn’t too bad considering I was racing against guys like Ty Davis, who won the vet main! I was happy with that and decided to be satisfied with third coming out of the first round.
Except for the pipe crunch, the YZ250 was flawless and worked completely different than when it was so trashed. Oklahoma is the next round of the series for me, and I am already looking forward to it. I hope I can be a little more prepared and ready to give Ty some more competition! Big thanks to Big Donnie, Danny and little Donnie at FMF for the pipes, and also Yamaha for helping me with the best possible bike for the job, and everyone else who gave me parts or support. Endurocross is one of the wildest racing series out there, and I am happy to still be involved after all these years. If the next three years are as exciting as the first three, I can’t wait to see what happens!

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