ATV Motocross

Site Lap: Heading to Muddy Creek

Site Lap: Heading to Muddy Creek

Friday, April 24, 2015 | 4:15 PM
Friday, April 24, 2015 | 4:15 PM

The all-new Texas ATV National at Underground MX Park was without a doubt a full scale welcome back to the ATV Nation by both the TQRA and LSQR. These two Texas based organizations made a great experience even better. Other than a little rain in the overnight hours on Friday and a whole lot of rain overnight Saturday things were ultimately perfect. A tip of the hat to the "A Team" of Tim Ritchey, Bob Pistol and, of course, Randy Poulter for the well prepared and maintained course. Even with the rain that fell, the race could have not been more perfect.

The perfect reception and track conditions also leant itself to producing great racing. It seemed that nearly every class that lined up held some special circumstances that made it a must see race. I have been to races where it is like that quite often, but this weekend produced racing that seemed to be kind of next level across the board. Even though the Pros were the stars of the show, the great Amateur racing may have stolen the show.

Josh Upperman finished 7th overall, he's still looking to put that Root River Racing ATV up on the podium
Josh Upperman finished 7th overall, he's still looking to put that Root River Racing ATV up on the podium Photo: Ken Hill

One thing aside from the great racing I noticed was the support for "Racing for a Cure" was unprecedented. It appears that a couple of teams have stepped up. Root River Racing being one of those, donated as much as $250.00 per rider who won their class over the weekend. It is surely a great cause and hopefully these contributions can help make the difference. 

Someone who is really making a difference in the "Racing For a Cure" campaign is Reverend Kevin Pocrinich who began his campaign of awareness over the past couple of seasons. The 50-year-old Senior 40 + rider has dedicated the entire season to this and the memories of some of his really close friends who recently lost the battle with the awful disease. It is an emotional cause for Kevin and quite honestly I feel that everyone can relate in some fashion to his passion. In the coming weeks we will provide more information and how maybe you too can help out a great cause "Racing for a Cure".

As far the racing and the 2015 championships are concerned, it may still be too early to start claiming titles and if you witnessed the competition then you know that it is way too early for this. I have said things similar to this in the past but this year warrants the comment again. This may very well be the best season of racing we have ever seen. Every class from the 50cc to the AMA ATV Pro riders has given us a spectacle to watch and its only round2. The way the field is racing we have hit mid season and championships are shaping up. But it is only round 2 and we can already tell calling a clear-cut winner in any class may be a hard thing to do. 

Joel Hetrick took the Fastest Qualifier Award in Texas
Joel Hetrick took the Fastest Qualifier Award in Texas Photo: Ken Hill

It may have been mentioned before but it is worth mentioning again so here it goes; the Youth All-Star class is one of the best things to happen to the youth division in some time. It is a true showcase of the premier talents of the sport as the make the transition from little machines to the bigger ones. It has served up some of the best racing we have seen and this is only the tip of the iceberg for this class. The future is very bright for this class. Keep an eye out for this season and you will not be disappointed. 

The coming round 3 is a yet a week away and already the racing is being missed. I began my career in racing over twenty years ago and I can say that I don't know that I have longed for a series to resume as much as this years. There was surely a lot of hype coming in to the New Year and the hype seems rather small compared to the results we are seeing. This championship is bigger than imagined and the way things are looking it is full steam ahead for more. 

It's true everything IS bigger in Texas. The riders definitely were able to get some big air at Underground MX Park
It's true everything IS bigger in Texas. The riders definitely were able to get some big air at Underground MX Park Photo: Ken Hill

As we head to Muddy Creek Raceway for round three there are many with butterflies in anticipation of this race. Muddy Creek holds a special place in the hearts of many ATVMX racers. It has been one of the premier stops for many years, and now that it hosts AMA Pro Motocross Racing on the two-wheel side, it seems a bit more special. This is a place the ATV Racin' Nation called home for many years and now to share it seems only right as ATV racing makes huge strides forward. 

In The Loop With Gloop

With a weekend that looked like it was going to be full of stormy weather, it actually turned out to be great weekend with beautiful track conditions and some pretty awesome weather. 

Underground MX Park is such an amazing track for big airtime. I picked two amateur riders to give some exposure to, with Noah Mickelson taking 4 moto wins in Schoolboy Sr. and Youth All Star and Parker Wewerka taking 5 moto wins and one 2nd place. It was a no brainer to show these guys some love in this week’s Site Lap. They have an extraordinary weekend and definitely deserve it! Keep an eye of for these guys coming up the amateur ranks.

Mickelson took home 4 moto wins in Texas, that's impressive!
Mickelson took home 4 moto wins in Texas, that's impressive! Photo: Courtesy of Noah Mickelson Instagram
Parker definitely was airing it out in Texas
Parker definitely was airing it out in Texas Photo: Courtesy of Parker WeWerka Instagram

Catching up with Ken Hill

When I arrived at Underground MX I took notice of the soil, those huge jumps and the length of the track and just shook my head. I was more concerned with how our pro class would fare being as competitive as it is on such a mega track. I could see early on the track would get really rough and knew our guys would never let off the throttle so I said little prayer each morning for everyone’s safety and for everyone to have a safe race no matter how badly I wanted to see them banging bars. I spoke with flaggers and other crew that told me they left it rough to slow down the riders and I chuckled thinking you aren’t slowing our guys down!

When the gates dropped for both moto’s, the fastest ATV motocross riders in the world did everything they had to do and did it in a most professional way. The racing was insane at the start as those upfront battled for the holeshot, which was marked at the lip of the first triple on the track. That front group set sail nose to tail and side by side and out of sight hard on the throttle. It was indeed an amazing thing to see! At one point in moto two, I took a vantage point to try and capture the mechanics area. As the leaders came past they were flying and I lost track of who was who for a few seconds as I concentrated on taking pictures. I heard a rider open up out of a corner, and I turned to see John Natalie attack the biggest triple on the track, it was 110-foot jump, with more speed and power than anyone else out there. Natalie went higher and further every lap as he fought his way through a grueling moto. 

Chad Wienen took the win in Texas ahead of John Natalie and Joel Hetrick
Chad Wienen took the win in Texas ahead of John Natalie and Joel Hetrick Photo: Ken Hill

There did not seem to be the usual high flying fun or antics at this round, I don’t think anyone wanted to take any chances so we got straight up hard core racing and it was great for those in attendance! The big jumps were not the only thing taxing the racers as the long stretches and deep turns had kickers and ruts everywhere that demanded 100% attention as lap after lap was scored. I would say this facility was a success overall however it was so big and there was so much going on that I never got a chance to get some one on one time with any of the pro’s! When the racing was over I scurried to the UTV race and then the following ATV freestyle event and then hurried my way to the hotel to get as much work done as I could before the storm hit. We dodged a bullet for sure as the weather station showed 90 mph winds headed directly for the region but we were spared that brutality thankfully! Power in town was out and as my battery ran out of my laptop the final email showed sent and things remained very quiet with everyone indoors and hunkered down as the darkness was broken only by the occasional strike of lightning.

Wienen’s win keeps him just ahead of the pack as far as points go and we look ahead to Muddy Creek for round three. John Natalie appears to be in the best shape and best position on the track that we have seen him in years so the next round will be another war and maybe even more so than what we have already seen. Joel Hetrick rolled off the track at the end of moto two and was just brutalized. That moto took it out of him as he stood on the podium to tell us all about his day. His immediate disappearance was completely understandable as he needed a few minutes to get fluids in him but I expect to see plenty of him on the box this season! Wienen was a cool cat on the box, and I can not help to think he is right where he wants to be albeit a bit less of a cushion in points then he would like. This tight racing is what we want so you couldn’t script the opening rounds any better.

Maci Davenport went 9-4 at round two, she's looking to fight up front when the series comes to Muddy Creek
Maci Davenport went 9-4 at round two, she's looking to fight up front when the series comes to Muddy Creek Photo: Ken Hill

Two riders that did well here at Underground were, Ronnie Higgerson and Nick Gennusa. Higgerson’s training is showing and he is settling into the head of the pack that seems to be just shy of the lead pack. He will be one to continue to watch as the season progresses. Nick Gennusa has been training with Natalie and I think his endurance has improved, he seemed strong both moto’s so it will be exciting to watch his growth this season as well. 

I have not mentioned Thomas Brown or Jeffrey Rastrelli and they both had solid races but I think are finding themselves in the position of not getting a good start. Brown of course can win races and Rastrelli is right there now so each round will be a challenge to get out front and fight for the podium instead of a top 5 finish. Josh Upperman was there but seemed to have a few issues that have to be frustrating him to no end. Leaving Underground with 7th shows the talent in the class has improved even though we know Upperman has all the tools needed to podium.

Now back to Rodney for a little sign off until next week!

Next on deck is Muddy Creek and is one of my favorite tracks to shoot. This is a beautiful track nestled in some of the most scenic country we have. The fast pace should have our pro class laying waste to the Tennessee dirt and again, I find myself not really knowing who to put at the top of my list for the win but we will get into that in next weeks Site Lap!

Be safe out there and I will see everyone soon!