PALA, Calif. – Looking at the West qualifier results for the Supercross Futures event during Anaheim 2 in January, you see familiar names in the amateur rankings at the top, such as Chance Hymas and his dominating performance at the 2021 Cal Classic, Ryder Difrancesco, Brock Bennett and others.
One name that was uncharacteristically at the bottom of the unofficial advancing list was Talon Hawkins. He had to play survival mode to make it into Anaheim’s event after a severe cut to his right hand and fingers. The rising star stayed safe and sane by picking a far right gate, inside, during gate selection of both motos to stay away from the packed field darting to the holeshot line. During both motos, the devastating pain was visible but the sheer willpower was inspirational.
“It was extremely painful,” Hawkins grimaced. “I just needed to push through it. I wrapped it up as best as I could, put some gauze on it and then wrapped it up with some electrical tape. Put my glove on and did pretty good and held up there.”
The reason was a crash early in Moto 1 earlier this month at Ponca City MX in Oklahoma. During The Motoplayground Race, one rider crashed in front of Hawkins and collected the Husqvarna competitor. Since he didn’t cross the line, he was credited with a DNS in Moto 1, as well as Moto 2 having to go to a hospital.
“So back at Ponca (Oklahoma; Ambucs Motocross Track),” Hawkins explained, “I had a fifth place start so not great to begin with. Coming into the second corner, one rider in front of me got a little swamped and went off the side of track. He knifed the front end and launched back across the track, and I had nowhere to go. I plowed into him and my hand got caught in his chain. It all happened split second, just straight into the chain, and it ended up ripping apart my finger. It’s been a process to recover from that.
“I have a video of it. You can see me getting up and immediately looking at my hand, and I could see straight to the bone.”
After a couple weeks of rest and some recovery, he came out to Pala looking to qualify. In the first moto, he finished 23rd, one spot shy of advancing. After a quick meeting with his team, he came out of the gate much more aggressively to finish 17th in Moto 2. That made his overall 21st, giving him a spot to race at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in January. He and Bennett were the only two Husqvarna riders to advance from the West Supercross Futures division.
“I got 23rd in the first moto, and needed to get 22nd overall to qualify for the (Supercross) Futures. So the team manager told me to pick it up a little. I just wanted to qualify. My hand was hurting quite a bit out there, but I needed to get it done. I didn’t rip it apart, so I’m ready to go out there in Anaheim and put it to them.”
Having the disadvantage didn’t seem to skew the competitive nature within. He knows he can still run up front and have a shot at the win, and hopes to have that chance soon. When asked if he felt it was a disadvantage not racing against the front-runners at Cal Classic, his veteran nature came out when understanding the bigger picture.
“We actually just raced back at Ponca,” said the 18-year old. “I race against those guys all the time before I grenaded my hand. I wouldn’t say it’s a blindfold, but it’s more don’t focus on them but focus on myself right now. Staying smooth is the biggest thing right now.”
For Hawkins, he’s not planning on slowing down just yet. He’s making a trip across the country for another race in a few weeks, then following that up for a big Arizona event before taking a Christmas break and preparing for the Supercross race in Southern California.
“I’ve got Mini O’s in a few weeks,” said the California native “So just trying to get healed up as best as I can for that. I should be good. Had this race been a couple weeks later, I’d be racing but it’s a bit premature. I just got my stitches out, so I just needed to play it cool.”
So when the doctors advise to not race but a Supercross Futures qualifier is on the line, one may think Hawkins would take the safe route and wait for another qualifier. Instead, he’s out on the track edging his way into January’s event, just like any successful motocross rider would do.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what it is.”