ATV Motocross

Site Lap: The Calm Before The Storm

Site Lap: The Calm Before The Storm

Friday, October 31, 2014 | 3:15 PM
Friday, October 31, 2014 | 3:15 PM

It’s finally happening! It’s as if the past couple of months have been the calm before the storm and now, the slight rumbles of thunder are getting closer. Last Friday there was not a lot going on, as Ken Hill points out a little later, but Saturday brought us a wealth of information. The historic 20th running of the Ironman GNCC brought out record crowds, racers and moments. The weekend also included the AMA Pro ATVMX Champ Chad Wienen taking to the GNCC trails and wow what a ride! (Again Kenny captures it best in a moment.)

Over the past couple of weeks I have received small bits of information. In some cases they are rumors, in others they are facts that may or may not have been printable yet and finally the time arrives that we have enough information to talk a little more about it.

Chad Wienen had a great start at his first GNCC race 
Chad Wienen had a great start at his first GNCC race  Photo: Ken Hill

Since it seems to me that this may be some of the most surprising news yet news that makes a little sense. I get a message that reads, “Have you heard Josh (Upperman) has a new ride with some team from out in the mid-west?  He’s getting paid to train and everything!” My eyes popped out my head as my mouth nearly dropped to the floor. “No! I hadn’t heard!” In a nutshell Josh Upperman made a move that many folks never saw coming. Even though the move is unexpected it is a good move for Josh at this time, and it may be a good thing for another rider or two as well.

I spoke with Mark Baldwin at Baldwin Motorsports who has been with Josh through most of his career and he said he was happy for Josh and hoped the best for him. He said it was a good move for Josh at this time and though he hated to see him go from his team, he also knew that sometimes change is good and mixing it up can bring a new fire and edge that may be missing. The great thing is that Josh has gained a lot of experience with Mark and he knows that he can always count on him whether he’s riding under his truck or someone else’s. Like the rest of us we are just glad he can ride another year and challenge for the AMA Pro ATVMX title.

Josh Uppmerman #20 has made some changes for the 2015 ATVMX season
Josh Uppmerman #20 has made some changes for the 2015 ATVMX season Photo: Ken Hill

Oh, you want to know what team... Well, it is the Root River Racing team headed by team owner and manager Rich Gillette. I briefly spoke with Rich and he told me would let us know more in the future, but Josh is an addition to the pro line up and he can honestly be a great mentor for the entire team. This is obviously a good move for both parties.

Where does that leave the Baldwin Motorsports Team? Mark says things are working and I know that Mark will have some really big news to announce soon. One thing is certain, Mark has been around ATVMX for a long time, and he is here to stay, plus he will continue to make a mark in our sport just as he has with Josh Upperman. The big question is who is going to inherit the focused support of Mark Baldwin? Will it be one or two or more? The cool thing is that Mark can actually start something new here and surprise us all with a whole new concept of the Baldwin Motorsports Racing team!

Another not really big surprise for me was to see the young Brett Musick in Indiana for the Ironman GNCC. He wasn’t there to race but like many just had to come and check it out. The thing for Brett is that he had a couple of things to look into while he was there, and one of them was the color blue!

If you are thinking Brett was having a top “not so” secret meeting then you are correct. Musick was spotted having a pretty serious conversation by many folks, who were left scratching their heads. I nabbed Brett after the meeting and he just chuckled and all he would say was he had some things to talk about and he had to pick something up to try… Then he smiled and chuckled again. He said nothing was decided yet on either party but they are talking very serious and they both seem to be on the same page.

The Ironman GNCC saw a record number of entries and fan attendance!
The Ironman GNCC saw a record number of entries and fan attendance! Photo: Ken Hill

Brett also told me he found out why he was having some of the issues he was dealing with later in the season with his back. He said his back is pretty twisted and with a little adjustment and hard work plus exercise that he should be back up to 100% in 2015. I kind of wondered about that because Brett is fast and had the good year for his 2nd year in the AMA Pro ranks but if he moves to Wienen Motorsports there will be a lot of change that Musick seems ready to challenge.

Now let’s check in with Ken “I don’t ever want a real job again” Hill: 

Thanks Rodney! 

Wow, what an incredible weekend we had at the final round of the GNCC series. A new record of nearly 2300 race entries and so many spectators you couldn't go anywhere fast! Even with the record entries and turnout, people were mainly talking about four riders… XC1 Pro’s Walker Fowler and Chris Borich and the XC2 class championship contenders Cole Richardson and Marshal Goings. All eyes were locked on the two ATV premiere classes and Chad Wienen.

The ATVMX Champ found himself up front at the early start of the two hour XC1 Pro race at the Ironman GNCC finale
The ATVMX Champ found himself up front at the early start of the two hour XC1 Pro race at the Ironman GNCC finale Photo: Ken Hill

Chad Wienen? Yes sir! Here a season long battle was about to be decided and in almost every conversation I had our ATVMX series champions name was brought up! I must say, even I had reservations about how well Chad would do against the world’s best tree bashers. Sure, the dude is mighty fast on a MX track but this is gnarly nasty rock and rut infested trails that would test veteran woods riders over its 11-mile track for two hours!

I never heard much about Wienen and his woods riding ability except for his early season cross training with Chris Borich and Johnny Gallagher, but that was Florida with sand and whoops not like Indiana’s mudholes and hills plus there was quite a long break between then and now. Now, I couldn’t doubt Chad’s ability in the least, but running the XC1 class is no joke as they put on a bar to bar battle for two hours that rivals what we see at every round on a MX track. Stepping into the Maxxis rig I found Chad chatting with the crew and got my chance to ask the basic questions. Are you ready, what do you think of the event so far, have you ever even ridden the woods? Chad in his usual quiet and reserved manner stated he thought he was ready and that he had been training so he was excited to get out there and race.

Chad Wienen has announced his Wienen Motorsports teammates for the 2015 ATVMX season
Chad Wienen has announced his Wienen Motorsports teammates for the 2015 ATVMX season Photo: Ken Hill

That was the last time I got to see Chad until the race was about to start. This event is so big that free time is non existent and I sort of like to go through the weekend as a fan instead of an insider that gets every tidbit of news or gossip. Even so, Wienen's presence was known as his name was brought up by fans from one end of the property to the next.  The green flag waved and there was Chad nipping at Adam McGill's grab bar as he narrowly missed getting the holeshot! That is how the XC1 pro class went out of sight, McGill hounded by Wienen who was charging ahead of the world’s fastest woods pro riders! Wienen would even lead some and the RacerTV crew captured that footage so even more positive press! 

Immediately I could hear the fans behind me asking who was second, was it Fowler on the Yamaha? Before the Pro’s had hit the woods people were already clamoring about how fast Chad was off the start and that would be countered with "yeah, but it is a two hour race.” Not one bit of negativity, just facts and assumptions as unanswered questions hung on everyone's thoughts. No I don't mean just at the start, Wienen's name was everywhere I went!  At Ironman Hill, the Pro's screamed up the incredibly steep incline literally seconds apart and as soon as the lead group passed, calls rang out as to who was in second! I had to check my camera and sure enough it was Chad hard on the gas! 

Wienen grew up riding in the woods, but had never raced in the woods until this year at the GNCC finale
Wienen grew up riding in the woods, but had never raced in the woods until this year at the GNCC finale Photo: Ken Hill

Wienen had told us he had been practicing for an hour and half or so before the event so we figured he would peter out at some point. As the race wore on, the riders get covered in mud and it is hard to tell who is who. I would get to different locations as fast as I could and if I am lucky I could get to see them for mere seconds each lap but then quickly lose track of anyone outside the top three or four so I really had no idea where Chad was in the running order. When the dust settled and the race was over, a huge crowd gathered at the podium. The finish between Borich and Fowler was one of the best and most exciting anyone had ever seen and as they prepared to take the podium, Wienen's name began to flow through the crowd as he scored his final lap finishing 8th in the XC1 pro class and a remarkable 10th overall.  Everyone nodded in acknowledgement of his efforts and all agreed that he put in a great race being that this was his first and in the premier class. All in all a great race for the Yamaha crew and for the Wienen Motorsport team. They did exactly what their sponsors like, make fans, get attention and promote themselves and sponsors in a professional manner. People were already asking if he would race more GNCC events so that positive impact was doing its job!

I can't wait to read what Chad thought about the event and how he thought he stacked up against the other pro riders. It was great seeing him race and I was very proud to be able to shout his name out when everyone asked who was that on the Yamaha out front!

Thanks Ken! I could not have painted that picture any better. And as far as Chad Wienen is concerned and his first GNCC ride, my hat is off. Chad displayed the heart and grit of a true champion. Chad told me before the race he felt he was capable of doing decent. He said that he had never raced in the woods but grew up riding in them so it wasn’t completely foreign.

Be sure to check out the archived races on!
Be sure to check out the archived races on! Photo: Ken Hill

I spoke with some folks that were going to see Chad after the race. They said they were hoping to get in a few shots and rib him a little and tell him how poorly he ran but when they got there Chad was pretty wiped out moving mighty slow. The last half hour or forty-five minutes was a hard push for the ATVMX Champ but he pushed strong and just out of pure respect they just said congratulations. Way to go Chad! We hope to see you there more in the future.

Be sure to head over to and check out the archived episodes of the 2014 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship. All rounds are now live over on

Also, don't forget about the banquet coming up on November 8th! Click HERE for more information about the 2014 ATV Banquet. 

That’ll do it for now. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.