Justin Brayton, Vince Friese named as MotoConcepts 450 World Supercross riders

Brayton Friese World Supercross
Andrew Bershaw / Getty Images
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Justin Brayton and Vince Friese will race in the FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX) for MotoConcepts Racing Honda in the SX1 Division with Mitchell Oldenburg and Cole Seely racing in the SX2 Division. SX1 is the name for this series’ 450 class and 250s will be designated as SX1.

In May, MotoConcepts was among the first four organizations announced as securing licenses from SX Global as one of 10 owners with franchises for the inaugural season.

“I’m excited for the new opportunity the World Supercross series provides,” said Mike Genova, owner of MotoConcepts in a press release. “We’re going in strong with our rider lineup and know that each one of them is a title contender in their class.”

After 14 seasons racing in the Monster Energy Supercross Series, Brayton announced his retirement earlier this year while relishing his role as a senior statesman in that series. But the opportunity to contend for an international championship was enough to encourage him to push off that retirement and join his MotoConcepts team as they vie for the inaugural WSX SX1 championship.

Brayton became the oldest rider to win a Supercross race in March, 2018 at the age of 34.

He finished ninth in the Monster Energy 450 points’ standings in 2022.

“I’m very excited to be joining MCR for WSX. I think this is a great opportunity for teams and riders to race Supercross around the world at a high level,” said Brayton. “I’ve been traveling the globe in the fall months racing SX-only for years now, so it’s something I’m familiar with and am looking forward to.”

Friese, a veteran of nine 450 SX seasons, will also follow MotoConcepts onto the international stage.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to compete in this new series,” Friese said. “Everything about the WSX seems to point toward it being the future of racing at the highest level, and to be there for the first season on what I believe is the best team in the series is a dream come true.

“I plan to take full advantage of this opportunity to show that I can compete with the best on the world stage.”

In 2022, Friese split his time between the 250 West series where he finished sixth in the points, and the larger class. On weekends when 250 West did not run, Friese competed in the 450 division and finished 20th in those standings.

Oldenburg also split his time between the two series in 2022, finishing fourth in 250 East and 22nd in 450s. He scored one podium finish in the 250 East division at St. Louis in a Triple Crown format race.

Seely returns from retirement to join the team. His last Supercross race came in the 450 class with a sixth at Las Vegas in 2019.

“I’m stoked to come back to racing with a switch-up in the normal routine and travel the world,” Seely said. “I never lost my competitive side, and it was good to get back to the basics the last few years and find the fun in riding again. I still love to go fast on my dirt bike.”

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”