Site Lap: ATV Racin' Nation Less Than One Week Away

Site Lap: ATV Racin' Nation Less Than One Week Away

TimeFriday, March 14, 2014 | 6:45 PM
TimeFriday, March 14, 2014 | 6:45 PM

In less than one week the ATV Racin' Nation will ban together as we make our way to Aonia Pass Motocross just south of Washington, Georgia for the opening round of the Mtn. Dew AMA ATV Motocross National Champion series. This weekend the Maxxis General GNCC is in town and so far the weather is absolutely perfect. The big hope is that we don't have a repeat of last year's opener with all the mud and rain which kind of set a standard for the rest of the season. Regardless we will be ready for whatever comes our way and call it perfect just for having another great season underway.

I would like to apologize for all of us here at Site Lap for not getting you the information last week but in all honesty with the kickoff last weekend to the GNCC series it did make things a little rough to get all the ends put together. The good news is that we all survived and we are looking forward to the best season possible on all fronts.

If you haven't been checking in with and reading over rules and schedules and such you really should refresh yourself so if you may have forgotten or just haven't thought about it in a while you will be refreshed. This will also be the place to keep up with scoring and timing and things of that nature also. As well you may be able to find any bulletins that may have been sent out recently that may or may not affect you in your classes and divisions.

As far what is going on, the word is everyone is getting ready. I decided I would break down the top ten pro class riders and see what the top guys have been up to in recent weeks heading into the new season:

Wienen will return ready to defend his championship in 2014.Photo: Hill
Wienen will return ready to defend his championship in 2014.Photo: Hill

#1 Chad Wienen will return on his stronger than ever Wienen Motorsports/Yamaha Team poised and ready to defend his championship as well as look for title number three in the process. A lot of time has been spent in Florida since the first of the year for Chad training GNCC Champion Chris Borich. Borich showed he is as strong in his season opener and everyone expects to see Chad at peak level as well.

#2 Thomas Brown returns to the Wienen Motorsports/Yamaha Team as the #2 on the team as well in the championship. Brown reportedly spent the entire winter training at his home in Texas. Reports of Brown at some local TQRA events have Brown as fast as ever and looking to challenge his boss for the title in 2014.

#3 Josh Creamer finished third for the championship run in 2013. The BSC/Can-Am rider is a former AMA Pro ATV Champion and with his first full year back since 2010 when he won the championship and then stepped back after his team Suzuki factory ride came to an end due to Suzuki backing off on support. Cream went home to New England where captured two NEATV titles while rebuilding his efforts to come back to the nationals and contend for the championship. Recently Creamer has been in Alabama with teammate Ronnie Higgerson training at former champion Keith Little's home.

#4 Joel Hetrick returns in the 2014 season back on a factory Can-Am ride. Hetrick has most recently been training in Louisiana at reported specifically purpose built training track for him a few select few folks to get ready for the new season. Hetrick is also reported to be well backed and prepped for the new season. Joel has said he is ready to win a championship and if anyone knows Joel and his history you know this pro title is taking a little longer to win than he expected. Not saying Joel is at all arrogant but more so confident that he will be champion some day and he is looking for this to be the year.

#5 John Natalie is actually in the Georgia area and has been spotted milling around the pits here at the Maxxis General GNCC. Natalie told me "My 2014 program is going extremely well and way better than the last couple years! I have the most amazing sponsors and friends behind me this year and it's pulling my program together great. My wife has taken on a huge part of our team with putting it together and taking care of all sponsorship. It's really working out great. We have put together a team called Natalie Experience, which consists of 7 riders. We all are at prime condition and look forward to 2014! Can't thank all my sponsors enough! My Bike is running great!! See you all at round 1!!"

#6 Josh Upperman is quite possibly one of the hardest working racers that hold an AMA Pro ATV license. Josh works year round mowing grass, cutting firewood, shoveling snow and doing whatever it takes to get to the races. It's almost as if he works to race and unfortunately has not been able to capitalize like many others have in their efforts. One thing is certain Josh does have a great support network and has spent recent weeks near Tampa, Florida training at former ATVMX and TT legend Tim Farr's. Josh will be back at it again this year and according to Farr may have a little point to prove after things not going according to plan last season. The Baldwin Motorsports rider will be back on a Honda and ready when the gate drops in a mere 7 days.

#7 Nick Denoble actually raced the 2013 season without actually having any plans to do so until only two weeks before the opening round. Denoble was called in late by Mike Walsh and the Walsh Race Craft Team when plans changed late in the game and they needed someone. Nick was originally going to sit the season out but couldn't say no to the offer after being of the bike for nearly 8 months due to injury in the 2012 season. According to Nick he will be riding this season but mainly at his local and regional tracks as he tries to grow his business. Nick says that he hopes to make a few rounds at some point but is focused on being a husband and father and family man in 2014.

#8 Jeffrey Rastrelli will be back on a Can Am racing for the JB/Cheerwine/Can Am team. Rastrelli has spent the winter training at home in West Palm. I spoke with Jeff last week at the Mud Mucker GNCC in Bunnell, Florida where he said he was stoked for the new season and another season on the Can Ams. Jeffrey has been training with Duck Lloyd who will be racing Pro Am on the JB/Cheerwine team.

#9 Joe Byrd is a two time AMA Pro ATV Champion as well as one of the most recognized names in our sport today. This season Joe will be turning 40 and is expected to be as much of a threat as ever. Joe has spent plenty of time working all over the world with his Joe Byrd Quad Riding Schools and is reported most recently to be in Florida working with a new prodigy Cam Covil who will be contesting the Pro Am class this season.

#10 Tyler Hamrick will return in 2014 after scoring Top Rookie in 2013. Hamrick has spent a lot of time in Ohio at home this off-season. Most recent reports had him Motorama in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania over the winter and training mainly at home and working to get the money to make the season. The last week though Hamrick has been in Louisiana where he hopes to get up to speed with only a little time to do it in. He has been hitting the gym pretty hard and now he hopes to get as bike fit as possible and hopes the new format will work in his favor.

Let's check in with Ken "Cruising in my 5.0" Hill:

Hello from down south! We all finally made it to Florida and then on to Georgia for the first two rounds of GNCC racing, but I am wondering where the warm weather is! To be fair, there was enough sun to scorch me so I am styling around town looking like a northerner who has never heard of sunblock!

Natalie was caught doing some motos at PAX before the 2014 start. 
Natalie was caught doing some motos at PAX before the 2014 start.  Photo: Hill

I slipped into PAX and caught John Natalie doing some motos, and got to chat with him about the upcoming season. John seems to be strong, stronger than I have seen him at the start of the season in several years. Their team is better prepped and ahead of schedule so look for the Ironman to come off the gate swinging heavy!

While cruising through the pits at the Mud Mucker GNCC, I happened upon the Champ Chad Wienen who was checking out all the tree bashers. Chad said he was ready to repel all when the gate drops at Aonia Pass MX! This is looking to be a season full of serious battles that should give us some of the best action in some time.

No sooner than I left Chad, I all but ran over Josh Upperman. Ok, someone get these guys some XC rides and let them have at it since they all wanted to be at the race! Upperman looked trim, like dropped 30 pounds kind of trim. And fit! Josh said he was able to get more free time to travel down south in the off-season and remained in shape. Personally, I think it is from shoveling all the Ohio snow but we will buy his story! Josh is a rider who should really benefit from the new moto times and he said he is really looking forward to putting up a good fight this season.

Aonia Pass MX track seems a little bare at the moment.
Aonia Pass MX track seems a little bare at the moment. Photo: Hill

I slipped over to the Aonia Pass MX track seeing the GNCC track runs right beside it. It is looking a little bare at the moment sans all the banners, riders and rigs that will soon assault the track. The track itself looks like it's ready for everyone so bring your A game!

If you would like to check out a great read and get information on what one of America's ATV racing legends Tim Farr is up to, check out this article in the latest edition of Tim is currently racing the GNCC series in the UTV division and is expected to be a true threat this season.

That's it for now. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.