Chris Canning is a 450 Class privateer out of New England who embodies the “moto life” label. Oh, and he also happens to be the reigning Racer X Maine Event, presented by Uni Filters, 450 A Class Champion. Last week we chatted with Ramyller Alves, who looks to defend his number-one plate in the 250 A Class, so we would be remiss to not check in with our 450 Champion as well.
Canning lives the life that most of us dream of. He races motocross on the weekends and trains riders during the week. That’s it. Seven days a week: moto, moto, moto. When we contacted Chris, he was—you guessed it—driving from one track to another, but don’t worry he enlisted the help of his girlfriend to text his answers for him. Plus-five bonus points for being safe!
(Note: This interview was conducted via iMessage and has been lightly edited for clarity.)
Racer X: Chris, what are you doing right this second?
Chris Canning: I’m driving home from Canyon Richards’ house in [New] Jersey to teach some kids in Connecticut.
I think I saw a video of you today hitting some massive quad there.
Yeah, his place is unreal. 402 is building an SX track now. Gonna be spending a lot of time there for sure.
That’s legitimately a dream life—tell me a little bit about it.
Well, I’ve done the whole construction/landscaping and all that, but was pretty much miserable the whole time. And I always enjoyed training when I was at a facility down south, so I just figured out how to do it myself and I couldn’t be happier. I train kids from beginners right up to kids that win at amateur nationals (such as Canyon Richards), and then I get to see all of them at the races while I’m racing. So it’s a win-win. It’s definitely a dream job.
You’re heading to Connecticut now—any plans after that? Maybe to Maine for an event?
Yeah, the Maine Event! [Laughs] Yeah, I race the local series up here every weekend. And then, of course, I’ll be at the Maine Event at MX207. It’s the sickest race of the year by far. They always have the track dialed and some heavy hitters show up. It’s always just a fun time. Plus I have to defend last year’s number-one [plate].
There you go! What makes it the sickest race of the year?
Well, to start, the weather this time of year is perfect riding weather up here. Danny [Stuart, MX207] and them always have that place completely dialed in. They bring dirt in and prep the track like nobody else. And with it being a big event, a lot of different people show up that aren’t always up here, so that’s always fun. But besides the racing, they have the best whip contest, and really good apple crisp!
Apple crisp? I’m intrigued. What is that?
Apparently it’s a New England thing, but you’ll have to be there to find out. Or check my Instagram on Sunday afternoon after the motos, because I’ll have a big pile of it in front of me. I can’t believe you’ve been alive this long and never had apple crisp. You’ve been missing out!
Is it free? Because you may want to keep Weigandt away from this stuff.
If this stuff was free, people would be coming from Cali for it. I’m sure Weigandt knows all about it from last year. You don’t go to MX207 without getting apple crisp.
Back to dirt bikes—because now I’m getting hungry—how do you look to defend your number-one plate? What’s the plan?
The plan is to rip some holeshots and hold that thing on the right side of the handlebars all the way open. I found out that the further you twist it, the faster the bike goes. So I just twist it all the way. [Laughs] But on a serious note, though, I’ve been training all year pretty hard for the nationals and local championships, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I always love racing at 207 and I’m lucky I get to race there this weekend for a local NESC race. So I’m definitely ready to do battle next weekend.
How about the whip contest? You sending it?
Not a chance. I’ll stick to the dirt; they can have the ramps. [With] my luck, I would end up on my head. But I’ll be there to watch.
Safety first, I like it. Let’s talk about the nationals: What are your thoughts on how the 2018 season went for you?
The season was definitely one for the books. I still think I could have been better, but I can’t complain. Southwick was awesome until four laps to go, when I had heat stroke but somehow still managed to finish. I did a few Canadian rounds, which was a cool experience, and then Unadilla started off probably the sickest track I’ve ridden and turned into the gnarliest race of the year. I trained super hard but quickly ran out of money, so it was still a struggle to even get to the few that I did. Plus the 450 I have is bone stock and has 90 hours on it, so I was at a little disadvantage. The one thing that helped me out huge was Powerband suspension. They had my cone valve setup dialed.
You won the RC Hard Charger Award at Southwick too, right? That had to feel special, considering the adversity you had to overcome just to race moto two.
Yeah, I haven’t been pumped on a trophy in a long time. I started pretty much dead last and found a pace that I was able to hold the whole the moto. Before I knew it, I was in 15th place. People were dropping like flies and I just stayed consistent. I absolutely love Southwick, so even being beat up like that, I could find a flow.
How’s 2019 looking? Any plans yet?
As of right now, I’m going to be racing NESC and the local nationals. I’d like to open up my own training facility in the near future, so I’m starting to work towards those goals. It would be awesome to do the whole series, but in reality it’s just not affordable, and with that much driving and stress, I can’t train the way I want or need to. I spend my winters in Florida, so maybe I’ll show up for Daytona.
Until then, you’ll be riding, training kids, and eating apple crisp?
Of course! Plus I’ll still be racing NESC every weekend until the snow flies. Then I’ll migrate south. I do camps down south all winter, so I look forward to that.
Cool, man, thanks for taking the time to chat—as well as to your girlfriend for helping you text so you can drive safely. Anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to before we end this?
Thank you for having me, and thanks to all my sponsors for helping me out this season: Powerband, FXR, 6D, Manchester Honda KTM, Melo Design Co., 100%, Novik Gloves, Yoshimura, Traction MX, JARD, The Wick 338, VZF Racing, Sidi Boots, Rekluse, Joe Martin, All Sports Dynamics, Nitro Lubricants.
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