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INTERNATIONAL GOON DAY

July 2, 2009
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  International Goon Day was celebrated today with America’s Dustin Nelson and France’s Jeremie Warnia hosting the festivities. The day was highlighted by the World Goon Off competition. A panel of judges deliberated for hours and could not decide who had the best goon-riding style, so Nelson and Warnia will share the championship title for the next year.
      Actually, the two WORCS and QuadCross rivals were brought together for a Dirt Wheels photo shoot and ride day at Cahuilla Creek Raceway. Despite the wars that they routinely wage on the race track, they had good fun together gooning around for the camera. It makes perfect sense that they would get along. They kind of need each other. The races they have in the QuadCross series have been so close and so intense, it has elevated the sport, captured attention and generated press. They’re both smart as well as fast. “Frenchie” Warnia speaks fair English and is getting better with people all the time. He knows he has to be open and friendly or else he would be cast in the role of the foreign invader. As it is, he’s developed his own following.
      He first came over last year on a Suzuki for Douglas Wheels. They hooked with him up with Johnny at MotoWorks and now he’s racing a MotoWorks Can-Am in the U.S. until his visa expires in November. After that, who knows? He would like to come back to race the Nationals.
      As for Dustin, he’s happy in his role as part-time Yamaha test rider, part-time west-coast racer, part-time DRD rider and full-time family man. He had just finished up a two-week job with Yamaha where he starred in all the company’s 2010 promotional photos. If you look at a Yamaha ad for ATVs or dirt bikes, chances are it’s Dustin.
      The reason I had both riders together was actually coincidence. I’ve been planning two separate stories in two separate issues of Dirt Wheels, one about Dustin and his GYTR Yamaha, and another featuring Jeremie and the MotoWorks team. It just so happens that both parties were available to ride on the same day. Johnny at MotoWorks is also part owner at Cahuilla and he let us have a private track rental.
      So I got to ride both factory machines in one day. It was never meant to be a comparison; Jeremie’s ATV was his MX version while Dustin’s was set up for cross-country. But it was still interesting. The MotoWorks machine definitely had more work invested. Frankly, it has a longer way to go from stone stock DS450 to pro-level race quad. The Yamaha YFZ450R is more race-oriented in stock form. Both machines were fast and fun. I also had Justin Jones along to ride the machines. He’s a much faster test rider than I am and was able to ride the two machines near their max. Check out the November and December issues of Dirt Wheels for the full story. –Ron

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