Two-Strokes Star At 9th Annual Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships

New stockers and resurrected classics shine at annual premix party

Right profile of Blayne Thompson’s Kawasaki KX250 at the 9th Annual Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships.
Blayne Thompson’s Kawasaki KX250 featured newer model plastic that helped hide the fact that it’s more than 10 years old. Precision Concepts put in many hours to get it ready, though time wasn’t on its side.Mark Kariya

Despite a record number of entries (553, officially)—a good number of which included National-caliber pros—it could be argued that the bikes shared equal billing as stars of the show at the 2019 Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships, hosted by Fasthouse, at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California. While there aren't as many new-model motocross bikes that require oil mixed with gas as there used to be 20 years ago, that didn't stop many from hauling out older iron, some of which had more than a few tweaks to bring them into the modern era.

Two-stroke oil and a Ratio Rite on counter.
With the prevalence of four-stroke MXers nowadays, it’s almost a rare sight to find a bottle of two-stroke oil and a Ratio Rite except in the pits of minis. Not so at the Two-Stroke World MX Championships.Mark Kariya

A quick stroll through the pits confirmed this diversity. Being sponsored by Kawasaki, for instance, found the Chaparral Motorsports/Precision Concepts squad forced to rely on older equipment thrown together on short notice since the race wasn't on its original calendar. That was the case for the KX250s the crew assembled for defending Open Pro champ Zach Bell and teammate Blayne Thompson, though they weren't identical builds.

Thompson’s KX250 was believed to be a 2004 until a number of parts ordered for it didn’t fit. Turns out it was a 2007. A newer KX450 fork in Xtrig triple clamps help update the suspension as does a newer shock, though Precision Concepts boss Bob Bell discovered that the valving requirements for a two-stroke were completely different and had to guess when putting together a shim stack. Fortunately, it worked well, though a bad start in the first moto left Thompson with a 16-6 for sixth overall.

Ex-Pro Circuit team bike with factory Kawasaki-massaged motor at the 9th Annual Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships.
Precision Concepts mechanic Phil Valdez fought vicious arm-pump while racing this ex-Pro Circuit team bike with factory Kawasaki-massaged motor to sixth in 30-year-old Intermediate.Mark Kariya

Bell’s bike featured an oversize piston making it a KX270. However, late in the first moto while running third and gaining ground, the carburetor popped out of the intake manifold—something that mechanic Phil Valdez attributed to the old rubber getting too loose due to heat and violent jarring in combination with the newer airbox boot not matching the original item’s dimensions exactly. That led to sufficient “tugging,” which worked the carb loose with two laps to go. Fearing a repeat of the incident—and with no chance to do well in addition to this being more of a last-minute addition to their schedule—Bell opted to refrain from lining up for the second moto.

Speaking of Valdez, he not only wrenched, but also had the chance to take his pride and joy for a ride: a former Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki KX125 team bike with its factory case-reed engine and suspension thought to have originally been on one of James Stewart’s KX125s (what would now be termed A-kit). Easily one of the most pedigreed bikes of the day, its details were stunning and included drilled washers, carbon-fiber guards and an aluminized “blanket” on the underside of the tank to help keep its load of VP and Maxima premix cool. Massive arm-pump held Valdez to a still-respectable 15-5 moto finishes, which gave him sixth overall in 30-year-old Intermediate.

Tallon LaFountaine’s Honda CR250R at the 9th Annual Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships.
Tallon LaFountaine’s Honda CR250R is as clean as any factory bike from a dozen years ago, the Bill’s Pipes cone-style expansion chamber the visually trickest part on first glance.Mark Kariya

One of the few to opt for a 500 in Open Pro, four-time AMA Arenacross champ Tyler Bowers brought out his 1991 Kawasaki KX500 that he's had for a while but hasn't ridden much. Among its eye-catching bits was a handmade aluminum tank from DocWob Imports in Great Britain, Xtrig triple clamps gripping Showa legs, Haan hubs, KX Guru pullrods, Pro Circuit pipe, Braking wave rotors, drilled washers, and more.

“I’ve had it parked in the garage forever and I had a little bit of time and a little bit of want to bring it outdoors and have some fun on the moto track, and I did,” Bowers shared. “Then somebody was like, ‘Hey, there’s that two-stroke National next weekend and you have the weekend off—you should go race that!’ I was like, ‘Oh, well I guess I’m racing now.’ I should really stay at home and be on the couch relaxing [during our only off weekend from Supercross], but a racer’s got to race.”

Despite riding a 28-year-old machine, he enjoyed a great day, finishing a strong second in the first moto and running near the front in moto two with the overall win a strong possibility until the rear tire went flat. (Although the tube wasn’t 28 years old, he wasn’t running mousses in what’s essentially his playbike.)

Slam Life Racing (SLR)/Bonanza Plumbing/Honda entered Ricky Dietrich and Tallon LaFountaine on CR250Rs. LaFountaine's had been a literal basket case before SLR's Mark Samuels resurrected it from his sister's boyfriend. A 2006 model, it sat in the corner of his garage before Samuels "recruited" it for the race. After a top-to-bottom rebuild, it was race-ready with a stock but very clean appearance reminiscent of the factory bikes of that period. Its Bill's Pipes "cone" expansion chamber hinted at the potential the bike held, and LaFountaine went 22-9 for 16th overall.

Super Mini/Big Wheel-legal TC 85 displayed at the 9th Annual Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships.
This Super Mini/Big Wheel-legal TC 85 wasn’t for one of the kids, though it could be argued that Timmy Weigand is just a big kid at heart. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-Road team manager took it to sixth overall in the 125cc Pro class thanks in part to dialed WP suspension and a 112cc engine breathed on by the Husqvarna engine department.Mark Kariya

Dietrich’s nearly identical build got him the holeshot in the second moto, a credit to the Terry Varner-built engine, Varner claiming on social media that it made a “very linear” 50 hp on the dyno with his Varner Motorsports head and cylinder mods, Pro Circuit pipe and silencer, VForce reeds, stock carb (running a 410 main, 32.5 pilot, and clip in the third position), Varner’s proprietary race gas mix, Hinson clutch, and 13/49 gearing. A rear brake issue held Dietrich to 20th in the first moto and he finished seventh in the second race for 12th overall.

Of late, European manufacturers alone (well, except for Yamaha with its YZ250 and YZ250X) have embraced two-stroke racebikes, though most of them tend to be targeted more toward the off-road market segment, not motocross. GasGas certainly fits that description, but that didn't stop Arizona dealer Moto Center from preparing an XC 300 last year for Damon Bradshaw. This year, Moto Center offered it to Baja racer Ray Dal Soglio who took it to second in 25-year-old Intermediate. Other than removing the electric start system and having AHM tune the KYB suspension more for moto, it wasn't that far removed from its off-road origins.

Tyler Bowers' 28-year-old KX500 at the 9th Annual Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships.
One of the few to ride a full 500 in Open Pro, Tyler Bowers brought out his 28-year-old KX500 that featured a hand-formed aluminum tank, updated Showa suspension, Braking wave rotors, Pro Circuit engine parts, and KX Guru Racing pullrods that helped him to a solid second in the first Open Pro moto. Unfortunately, a flat tire forced him out of moto two while in the running for the overall.Mark Kariya

Short jokes aside, one of the best pairings of the day had to be multi-time Baja winner Timmy Weigand and his 2019 Husqvarna TC 85 modified to Super Mini status with bigger 112cc engine. Although his active racing days are in the past, he's still at races regularly as the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-Road Team Manager and placed a solid 9-6 for sixth overall in 125cc Pro.

While Weigand didn’t know what tricks Husky’s engine department performed at the shop, visual examination showed the unplaced FMF pipe, FMF Shorty silencer, and VForce reed block. WP massaged the suspension since he’s slightly heavier than the average young teenager who’d normally race this model.

Alan Bott races restored Maico 490 at the 9th Annual Wiseco Two-Stroke World MX Championships.
Alan Bott campaigned this nicely restored Maico 490, winning both Vintage Pre-’82 motos. More surprising to his competition, he got great starts and earned a 2-2 second overall in 50-year Intermediate as well!Mark Kariya

“It’s actually a funny story. The guys at the shop have been bugging me to ride an 85 Super Mini for the last three years,” he confided. “It’s always something short like I don’t get it enough! This year I told them, ‘I’m not doing anything [this weekend] and I’m not arranging anything, but if you guys want to do it, I’ll ride it.’ All the guys at the shop made it happen—‘Meatball’ put a lot of hard work into it; Billy in the engine department, he got the motor ready; all the suspension—it all came together and got the bike ready to watch me suffer!

“I rode it a little this week and last week, and it surprised me how fast it is,” Weigand stated. “The hard part is the torque coming out of the corners—on a straightaway or somewhere where you already have momentum, I think it’s just as good as a 125. It’s just coming out of the corners is where it lacks a little bit.”

This year’s Open Pro winner Robbie Wageman (1-2) rode a YZ250 (as did the top five overall, in fact) while in the 125cc Pro division, Justin Hoeft (1-1) led a Husqvarna TC 125 1-2.