ATV Motocross

Site Lap: A Decade at Dilla

Site Lap: A Decade at Dilla

Friday, July 17, 2015 | 1:20 PM
Friday, July 17, 2015 | 1:20 PM

The NYCM Insurance Northeastern ATV National was without a doubt one of the best weekends so far this season. It was a little wet coming into Friday but with time and effort by the track crew plus a little bit of riding, the whole thing came around to be exceptional. As we celebrated 10 years of ATV Motocross racing at Unadilla, it was a far cry different than it was way back then. Since its first running there have been a number of changes in our sport and a handful of changes to Unadilla too.

Unadilla celebrated it's 10th season on the ATV Motocross tour
Unadilla celebrated it's 10th season on the ATV Motocross tour Photo: Ken Hill

I personally want to thank the Robinson family. Gregg and his sister Jill have kept a tradition alive at the track that started in 1969. It hosted World GP races till the early 80s and was the sight of four world championship decisions. And now to say that ATV Motocross is part of that legend is actually quite an honor. It is truly a great tribute to their late mother Peg who passed away unexpectedly this past winter and their father who is still sometimes seen cruising the pits on his Can-Am.

The attitude of the Robinson’s as well as the track crew was amazing. What seemed so foreign to them a decade ago, is now a challenge they embrace with open arms. I am amazed at how much of a fan Greg Robinson has become of the racing. The race spotter Rob is also a big fan. Some of the conversations I have had with those folks over the years are priceless. At first they didn’t understand and now not only do they understand it a lot more, they are true fans.

The third floor of the Unadilla announcer tower adorns only one picture and it is a picture of AMA Pro ATV Champion Chad Wienen. A photo that Greg Robinson pointed out and said “You see the only picture hanging on these walls is a quad. That should tell you how I feel about these guys.”

The ATC exhibition race was a popular addition this year.
The ATC exhibition race was a popular addition this year. Photo: Ken Hill

The weekend at Unadilla also brought back some great memories with the ATC exhibition race. That’s right, three wheelers put on a race of nostalgic proportion. Though they were not the fastest and most competitive racers on the track they were pretty exciting to watch. One guy even launched his trike clear over “Sky Shot” on several occasions throughout the weekend. John Natalie and Joe Byrd were visiting in the tower on Saturday and both reminisced about days when they rode and raced them. Joe raced them, John rode them, but either way they were both excited. Joe maybe a little more than John, but nonetheless they had some good laughs.

That’s right, John Natalie was at Unadilla. No, he did not race. According to John he was heading back to surgery this week to re-inflate a small portion of his lung that had collapsed and had never been back to normal. He said they were going to fix that problem and he would be able to begin training again and that he had full intensions of being back stronger than ever in 2016. John shared some stories with us on the microphone about how he been released to start training and riding again but that he found himself extremely short of breathe and even passed out on a couple of occasions before they had figured out his problem. Watching John’s face and hearing the excitement in his voice during the race day was a true blessing. Though John spoke of plans for next year I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him at Dirt Days at Loretta Lynn’s. Through gritted teeth John told me that he would like to try and ride saying “I wouldn’t be competitive and I would probably have to pull off but it would feel good to start the race.”

John Natalie has had a long road to recovery, but expect a full return in 2016.
John Natalie has had a long road to recovery, but expect a full return in 2016. Photo: Ken Hill

John turned 40 the week leading into the race. It’s an amazing thing to be racing at the top level of our sport at that age. Seeing what Doug Gust was able to do well into his 40s and what Joe Byrd is capable of at 42 is an inspiration to John and even a few of the other seasoned pro riders in the class. It is impressive to be able to compete at this level. I can remember when if a rider was 25 he was way over the hill and now today most riders aren’t even beginning to mature till about that age.

Next week the Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship heads to the world famous Red Bud, which is another track that has seen nearly a decade on the tour. Track owner Tim Ritchie has also become quite the ATV race fan. Everyone knows he’s able to make a good ATV track too. While at Red Bud don’t forget to listen closely for more details about the upcoming Edge of Summer ATV Motocross at Soaring Eagle Casino on Friday August 28th.

One last thing before I send things over to Ken, I want to let folks know that I will not be at Red Bud as I am heading out today to Loretta Lynn’s to help set up and prepare for the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s. Portions of the event will be broadcast live on Be sure and check it out daily to keep up to date. Also RacerTV will broadcast Dirt Days Pro racing action with some amateur racing highlighted. The schedule for that will be Saturday August 8 at 2:30 pm CDT.

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

Keeping Up With Ken Hill

It is Friday already?! Well, with current events being what they are and my family being a military family, the tragic events that occurred yesterday may have my thoughts far from racing and just about every other subject. However, the show must go on and I think everyone will agree that a prayer for our fallen Marines is the very least we could all do and to pray for their families who now bare the burden of their loss. Unadilla was just about what everyone expected; a good track with tons of challenge and of course, the Pro class did not disappoint! Joel Hetrick had a huge lead in moto 1 that, at times, had him riding on the very edge of control. While Hetrick may be telling everyone he is not thinking of the championship, he does have to win every race and Chad Wienen has to have some bad luck for it to happen.  Wienen looked pretty satisfied running in second and edging closer to yet another championship. RedBud will be one round we may see Chad roll out and force Hetrick to push things if he wants the center spot on the podium. A rough and choppy track may prove to be a problem for any rider who falls behind, as it will be very tough to make up ground, so the start is going to be critical.

Joel Hetrick put together a solid ride at Unadilla going 1-1 for the overall win!
Joel Hetrick put together a solid ride at Unadilla going 1-1 for the overall win! Photo: Ken Hill

Thomas Brown overcame a big issue when he broke part of his frame during the second qualifier and it seemed the team handled things in stride as he ripped his way quietly to another podium finish going 3-3 on the weekend. Overcoming problems is all in a weekends work for racers, but seeing his season remain strong and consistent is a great thing to keep an eye on!

The overall vibe at Unadilla was pretty cool. This was probably the first year I went into this round without dealing with allergy issues and not being short on time. Ok, so the 2 extra hours spent in traffic had me bummed but the world wasn't ending! Relaxed and laid back was the tone and it carried through the entire weekend as I chatted with racers and fans, even though my French is lacking. Unadilla is such a melting pot round that makes it very unique. The days sure were long as moto after moto fired off the gate and the track crew continued prepping throughout the day. Sure, things got rough but it is motocross after all! With LCQ's, I believe it was somewhere around 37 to 40 gates, so kudos to everyone involved in making things happen!

Chad Wienen still controls the championship points lead and hopes for another championship.
Chad Wienen still controls the championship points lead and hopes for another championship. Photo: Ken Hill

Now, I scrolled through social media after the race and it was filled with a myriad of emotion concerning ones results. The positive attitudes drowned out any negativity I could find and that is what makes our racers keep pushing. Not every moto, round, or season is going to be what we want or expect, but setting goals and acknowledging success and failures is all part of it. The big thing I did notice last week was the incredible push by everyone regarding the RacerTV programs, MavTV shows and video content in general. Your help by merely "liking and sharing" keeps the world up to date and garners support every single time a new person is reached. I help manage several social media pages and it never fails, after a post the questions of "where can I watch this" or when do they race" start flooding in. Please do not think everyone knows about every race or airing, they don't! The way several social media outlets are set up, especially Facebook, requires content to be getting action through shares, likes and comments. If it isn't getting those things, the content falls off fast and it is all but worthless. Your input is needed so please, do this small part and help us help you!

That is about all from me this week. Being that the GNCC series is in its summer break, I actually get this weekend off before making the trek to RedBud then immediately to Loretta Lynn's to cover the Amateur Nationals, followed by the final round of our series. God bless you all and we will see everyone soon!

In the Loop With Gloop

Vechery Racing pro rider Tim Detling preparing for a TT race at Pine Lake.

Photo: Ken Hill
Photo: Ken Hill
Photo: Ken Hill