ATV Motocross

Site Lap: Independence Day

Site Lap: Independence Day

Thursday, July 2, 2015 | 12:00 PM
Thursday, July 2, 2015 | 12:00 PM

Happy Independence Day as we roll into this 4th of July weekend. No racing for me this weekend on the ATVMX or GNCC sides of things so the kids and I are taking a little time to relax for the first time in what seems like forever. We are still heading back from this weekends affair at Millville believe it or not after a stop at Mall of America and then at Three Bears Resort somewhere in Wisconsin where we passed on our way home. I had work to do and the kids still want to play as do I. That's why I can't promise a lot this week. I feel that Ken Hill has it all wrapped up in his contribution. I echo his feelings about this weekend and am looking forward to going back.

We hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July.
We hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July. Photo: Ken Hill

Hats off to everyone involved this weekend and a great job all around. The Root River crew rolled out the red carpet for the ATV Racin' Nation and what a welcome. The week prior with all the extra help in getting folks places to ride and prepare to the hospitality shown through the weekend. The live band with Cody Hicks and the amazing fireworks display that went on for thirty solid minutes and seemed like would end several times but was only building for a huge finish. It was spectacular to say the least and a special thanks to Rich Gillette for all his hard work and dedication. 

I know that Randy Poulter was a little challenged on Sunday after some rains but between he and John Martin they were able to pull things off. I would like to tip my hat to Randy and John and the crew for the extra efforts that were necessary after Saturday mornings rains. It wasn't ideal but the track eventually came around on Sunday and a glimpse of the championship started shining through. 

I spoke with Chad Wienen this weekend and he seemed more excited than I. He actually smiled some. He said that he felt great and that he hasn't worked this hard in a long time. He said with the next tracks coming up he felt like they would lend themselves to his style and he was excited about the possibility of title number 4. I feel that the last two rounds he was able to get the breathing room he needed to relax. He also said there would be no wrapping this one up so it was good for the sport and for him as it keeps him pushing. 

Joel Hetrick is hoping to earn some more wins, and get that number 1 plate this year.
Joel Hetrick is hoping to earn some more wins, and get that number 1 plate this year. Photo: Ken Hill

Joel Hetrick is looking strong and is still hopeful he can pull things off and win the title. Even after the problems in Minnesota. Joel actually crashed hard in qualifying and had to ride and push through lots of pain. It yielded second but more lost points. The final motos of 2015 are going to be exciting and Unadilla is kind of Joel's track in a sense and if things are going to turn around this will be the time.

Thomas Brown finished 4th and will tell you how disappointed he is for that. He had hoped and expected more but kept his head up and charged. Watch for Thomas to shine in the coming rounds which should make for an interesting mix for the title between Joel and Chad. Thomas will also be trying to win and will have more troubles coming in the form of Jeffrey Rastrelli. 

Jeffrey Rastrelli has been on the tip of a number of tongues this year, as he seems to be coming into his own. Rastrelli has shown glimpses this season but witnessing this past Saturdays race we may have seen the switch flip, so to speak as Jeffery showed even more than ever before. After admittedly falling flat in moto one due to lack of training post his shoulder separation, Jeffery dug deeper in moto two and seemed to never really lose pace. It was a moment when you make or break yourself. You live on excuses or you find more where there is nothing and Jeffrey found more. It was obvious and now the tides are turning in his favor and we now have a new real player in the game.

Nick Gennusa still holds the Pro Am points lead heading into Unadilla next weekend
Nick Gennusa still holds the Pro Am points lead heading into Unadilla next weekend Photo: Ken Hill

Good news from the John Natalie camp. After posting and having a little fun on Facebook between Ken Hill and I at John's expense.  A little later he replied and said he would be at Unadilla. I will drown any rumors of a miracle recovery though as John said he will not be racing, as he will have to have another surgery on his lung if I understood correctly. That's too bad about surgery but great news he will be coming. The Ironman is certainly missed now from the lineup but thankfully still around for a huge comeback that I can't wait to watch. 

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

In the Loop with Gloop 

Make sure to check out the ATV part of The Racer X Show, its really cool to see a primarily 2-wheeled show giving the ATVMX and ATV GNCC guys some exposure.


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Catching up with Ken Hill

When I looked at the GPS as I sat in my driveway and it showed me a 16-hour ride, but I really did not think much about it. It has taken me that long to get to other events so mentally I was ready for a long stretch behind the wheel. I kind of like seeing new ground as I drive and I have wanted to shoot Spring Creek for quite a while, so as the gravel crunched under my tires the trip was on! I had flown to Spring Creek many years ago for an event, so I was eager to see what I had missed. I was not disappointed. Once I crossed the Mississippi river I turned north along the waterway and what a nice drive! This marked the 3rd or 4th time I had crossed that river this season all from different points across the country and it amazes me each time at the raw power of nature.

Chad Wienen captured the win in Millville!
Chad Wienen captured the win in Millville! Photo: Ken Hill

I arrived at Spring Creek just in time to catch the trike race and boy that sure seemed like fun! It was great seeing the series riders have fun and let loose all without the pressure to preform. The smiles were contagious and the outburst of applause followed by the sheer excitement of people having fun just set the tone for an enjoyable evening trackside. I kept hearing folks tell me the track was brutal and would be worse as the weekend wore on, so I made sure to walk out a bit and see for myself what it looked like. The loose soil showed the signs of being rough from practice so I knew going into Saturday that it was going to offer me the chance to capture what everyone told me was a great track and highly regarded as one to race.

Saturday morning was stellar as far as the weather was concerned and I quickly saw what everyone had been telling me, the chop was epic and the action was full on beast mode! I could tell from the start that if you did not have a good set up, were not in peak condition physically and did not like a rough track that you were in for a very long weekend of getting beat on.  Try racing those types of tracks back in the day with stock suspension! I became intent on watching through my lens just how far we have come with regards to suspension as lap after lap was pounded out. It was clear that the industry has responded over the years, as even the lower ranked classes had no real trouble making speed on a tough track. Rider experience played into how well one did on this type of track and the youth riders may have impressed me the most!

Sean Taylor had a good run in Millville, finishing 10th overall
Sean Taylor had a good run in Millville, finishing 10th overall Photo: Ken Hill

The Pro class came out for their first practice and after a few laps the speeds picked up. I saw several riders struggle with one issue or another but it was clear this track was no super highway where speed ruled the day. It was in fact, a track that was going to take the complete package to tame. When Joel Hetrick wiped out in front of me it was an eye opener. Sure Pro riders wreck, but at the speeds they run at, a simple get off can be a season ender. Thankfully hetrick was not injured beyond feeling like one would if they were dropped from a ladder on their back! That kid is tough, and showed yet another sign he is coming into his own after he shook off the crash and was back in practice two going full throttle once again.

It wasn't until the gate dropped for the first pro moto that we all got to see just how good our pro class is. From gate drop to checkered flag, the front-runners decimated this track and put on an epic battle. I knew I was not going to be able to show how tough this track was with still photography but the guys from RacerTV would be able to so be sure to check out and share their video releases as the world needs to see our top talent at their best and so far, this track in my opinion showcased in a way no other has this season. The ruts and braking bumps and severe chop just made them push harder and they did in a big way. Hats off to every rider who tackled that track, as it indeed was one you will talk about for a long time!

Great racing took place at the last round, we can't wait for Unadilla!
Great racing took place at the last round, we can't wait for Unadilla! Photo: Ken Hill

Now Chad Weinen told me a few rounds back that he couldn't wait to get to the loose tracks and the man did what he set out to do. His large stature allowed him to manhandle his quad and take the fight to the track and he made it look easy. Joel Hetrick on the other hand, was fighting not only the track but also the soreness that enveloped him after his get off in practice but if you did not know it, you would have never known he was riding hurt. I watched him just bury the throttle and launch with everything he had as he gave chase to Wienen. He wants to win badly, he has the talent and speed and is gaining experience with every lap and it is showing. His smaller size may have hindered him but not that much. His set up is on point and those who have that drive to win at all costs only rival his determination.

The big surprise was seeing Jeffrey Rastrelli bust out and roll hard on this track after his injury just a few rounds back. It seems like last week I peered into the ambulance at Ironman to let him know he was going to be ok and he had our support. The tears and look in his eyes was not from pain, it was from sheer frustration as I know he thought that stupid wreck was a season ender. This is what kills me when I see people bash quads, they have no clue how dedicated you have to be, how deeply invested you have to be and how tough you need to be to make it. It is an uphill battle from day one and you are in it all the way or you aren't. There is no guarantee you will ever make it to the top and there is nothing there for you if you reach it but that doesn't stop the select riders who make it and Rastrelli has indeed arrived. His incredible effort at Spring Creek for me was inspirational. He was overcoming an injury and preforming at his best and was rewarded a trip to the podium with a solid third on the day. Very impressive and a huge congrats from me as well as those who follow the series!

The tone from the podium was high energy. Rastrelli was stoked, Hetrick was a bit humble but hungry for Unadilla and Weinen was a bit relieved if you ask me. He knows Hetrick is coming hard every moto and the point’s cushion he has may be enough if things stay as they are. The multi time champ may have to find more of what makes him a champion next season because hetrick is going to be a tough one to hold on to! It all adds up to more incredible racing from the worlds best and I hope the good Lord allows me another season to watch it unfold!

Jeffrey Rastrelli had a great weekend in Millville!
Jeffrey Rastrelli had a great weekend in Millville! Photo: Ken Hill

Ok, I know I’ve written a book but I had much to say about a pretty cool weekend. The activities that surround this race were awesome, with trike racing, the 90cc races and a multitude of after racing events that make it more than just another round. My regret is that I wasn't running on all cylinders and stayed away from everyone due to being ill. Hey it happens, but you can bet next year I will have a better handle on this weekend in the schedule and plan to participate in the after racing fun!

Unadilla is on deck, a big track where high speeds and big horsepower get you on the box. No predictions, I think this round will be an all out war between Weinen and Hetrick that will be decided by sheer grit. I also see that John Natalie will be at the track, not to race but to hang out! I am sure you all agree that Natalie not being in the mix has really helped Weinen and Hetrick as the Ironman surely would have been mixing it up with them causing all kinds of havoc! 

I pray everyone has a great 4th of July weekend and as always, God bless and be safe!