The Viewfinders Grand Prix in Ridgecrest, California, turned out to be a very good one for Ox Motorsports Honda’s Colton Udall. No, the former AMA District 37/Maxxis Big 6 Grand Prix Series champion didn’t go out and win the $2,000, 90-minute AMA Big 6 West Coast Grand Prix (WCGP) Series feature race. He didn’t even compete in it. But he did enter the Vet race where he finished fourth behind the amazing Gordon Ward, Purvines DA8 Racing’s Nick Burson, and Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Precision Concepts rider Robby Bell.
Now, fourth place might not seem like a big deal, but it marked a big step for Udall, who’s been on a long road to recovery after two crashes late last year. The first resulted in a fairly straightforward injury, but the second was career-altering, ironically happening at his favorite track⏤Glen Helen Raceway Park.
“I burst-fractured my L1 vertebra; I have from thoracic 11 to lumbar three fused with plates and screws,” he explained. “I pinched my spinal cavity; I basically closed it half the diameter to around 8 millimeters so I suffered spinal cord damage, had numbness in the lower half of my butt, down the back of my leg, backs of my calves, and all over my feet.
“It’s an injury that’s really difficult because I laid in bed and I didn’t know I had issues with my calves, and my legs deteriorated. I also broke the navicular in my foot. I broke that in pieces, basically, and I had an external fixator on my foot so I didn’t get to do much [while recovering]. The nerve pain and stuff was really bad. Breaking your back is really difficult [to deal with].”
Desperate to get healthy again, he started a GoFundMe account and underwent stem cell treatment for a total of 12 days at the Hino Medical Center in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, a place where he’s experienced so much racing success.
“It’s hard work, but it’s responsible for allowing me to get back on the motorcycle,” he declared.“I made it a goal to ride down in Mexico. We did a three-day ride with my family and some friends, and had a bunch of fun and got a little stronger and got the taste [of riding] back. I had a good time [racing today]. I’ve definitely gotten stronger from even last weekend [when I did my first race since the injury]. I struggled with arm-pump last weekend and this weekend I didn’t.
“I’m getting stronger on the bike. My goal is to race the 24-hour [at Glen Helen in a few weeks]. I’m going to use it for training, but it just depends on whether I’ll be on the [number] one bike or maybe the three bike.The [big] goal is to race the start of the Baja 1000 [next month] and ride probably 350 miles. I’m good at night and I know how to ride those roads and I’m confident.”
As for the Viewfinders race itself, Udall’s first responsibility was helping Ox Motorsports riders and he added, “I have a new outlook on racing. I’m just happy to be doing it. When you sit out nine and a half months and you’re someone like me [who’s] pretty active and I don’t like to sit on the couch, I’m really happy to be just riding.”
And to top it off, Ox Motorsports rider Zach Bell won the WCGP, his third triumph in his first season of Big 6, extending his point lead over runner-up Trevor Stewart, the Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda rider and Pro II champ in his first year full-time in the Pro division. Unofficially, Bell leads Stewart 154-130.
Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Precision Concepts Kawasaki-mounted Justin Seeds rounded out the top three after coming from a subpar start; it marked his first podium of the season despite being sick for more than a month.
In WCGP Pro II, point leader Mitch Anderson came through the pack to take his first win of the season aboard his CST KTM 250 XC followed fairly closely by early leader Clay Hengeveld on his Northland Motorsports KX250F and defending class champ Beau Baron aboard his CST Honda CRF250R.