ATV Motocross

Site Lap: Labor Day Weekend

Site Lap: Labor Day Weekend

Friday, September 4, 2015 | 1:50 PM
Friday, September 4, 2015 | 1:50 PM

Labor Day weekend is here and so is the unofficial end to summer. This past weekend was considered to many as the “Edge of Summer.” Actually it was the Edge of Summer Motocross at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant Michigan for many of us in the ATV Racin’ Nation. It was the second annual running of the event and the first time ATVs were a part of the program.

To say it was a success may be a bit of an understatement. It was exactly what many had hoped; it was another step forward in an already monumental season.

Another congrats to Nick Gennusa, who will wear the #1 next year in the Pro Am class.
Another congrats to Nick Gennusa, who will wear the #1 next year in the Pro Am class. Photo: Ken Hill

The numbers were not the greatest for the first time as far as ATV participants go but those that came out, came out with a vengeance. There were a number of reasons for this, but regardless of why I do have a feeling that next year’s event may be quite a bit better in the numbers department. One thing is for certain though; a low number rider turnout did not hamper the show. Those that did make it came to race and put on a show. It was by all accounts a success. The promoters loved the show and Soaring Eagle was very pleased with what they saw.

If you happened to read Racer X’s interview with Broc Tickle, you may be surprised just how impressed the two-wheeled pros were with the four-wheeled pros. In one part of the interview he talks about press day and the biggest jump on the track. Tickle said that none of the bike guys wanted to hit it and then they had to when the ATV Pros were all hitting in on the second lap. He also noted how well the guys could ride. 

Joel Hetrick had a great season, and finished it off with a third overall at the Edge of Summer in Michigan.
Joel Hetrick had a great season, and finished it off with a third overall at the Edge of Summer in Michigan. Photo: Ken Hill

A big congratulation goes out to Jeffery Rastrelli for his first ever ATV pro overall win. Jeffery rode a great race, and even though he did not win either moto his battles were a huge part of the show. Especially in moto two when he raced bumper to bumper with John Natalie into the final turns before making the pass. It was breathtaking and the crowd on hand loved every moment of the battle, and Jeffery almost looked stunned at the end to have actually won. 

John Natalie also made his return to racing at the Edge of Summer Motocross after that horrible crash at Muddy Creek in round three. John had a long road to recovery and even mentioned at Unadilla ATVMX that he wanted to return this season, but had to have another surgery on his lung to fix lingering problems from the accident. No one was expecting to see the social media posts from John when he stated he would be back for the Edge of Summer only days before the event. He had literally just been released when he made the statement and no one expected him to be much of a threat, and yet he nearly won. Before the race John stated his endurance was low but he was going to try to push through. After moto one he, along with many, was surprised but no one was truly shocked because they don’t call him Ironman for nothing. John Natalie proved it to me; he is an ATV Super Hero.

The all-stars of the next ATVMX generation battling in out through turn one.
The all-stars of the next ATVMX generation battling in out through turn one. Photo: Ken Hill

Joel Hetrick was on fire once again this weekend and ultimately was the man to beat at the Edge of Summer. Joel threw down blistering fast laps and was in control of the whole race when a motor let loose in moto one. A motor swap between motos and Joel was on his way. One interesting thing I found out about the motor swap is that Joel came kind of skeleton prepared and didn’t have the extra motor, so I hear Mark Baldwin of Baldwin Motorsports loaned him motor for moto two and away he went. So ultimately Mark had two motors on the podium after moto two. Another interesting note to Joel’s story is that he had enough of a lead to maintain a top 10 finish and the second moto win netted him third overall.

Thomas Brown may have had the biggest heartbreak of all. Thomas rode a solid race over the weekend. He was running second behind Hetrick in moto one and was afforded the win after Joel’s issue. Moto two saw Brown off to a bad start, but he was able to work through the pack. Then as soon as Brown worked himself into to the overall win a broken shock took him out of the moto. This was a true heartbreaker for the Texan, but it created the amazing battle to the finish for the win between Natalie and Rastrelli. Though he may not be happy with the results he can be happy that his appearance resulted is some big things for the ATV Racin’ Nation. 

You may think that it is finally over, and it is technically… Except for the awards banquet that is happening on November 21.  Don’t forget to make your reservations now and use the code ATVMX for your discount. Also, don’t miss this one if you are bringing the family, as it is one of the largest and nicest indoor waterpark facilities in the world. It should bring out the kid in all of us! 

One other event you may remember still on the docket to be held in Texas is the annual Caleb Moore Memorial and ATV Pro Challenge. I understand the plans are going well for the event and organizers are expecting the event to be another great experience for the ATV racers. The event is scheduled for October 9-11, 2015 and the location will be Oak Hill MX in Decatur, Texas. Check out the Facebook page where all the details are waiting. Be sure to share to all your social media and check back here to “Site Lap” for links to information in the future.

The racing action was great this season!
The racing action was great this season! Photo: Ken Hill

That’s it from me. Let’s check in with Ken “I miss the racing season already” Hill. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.

Keeping up with Ken Hill

Another week with no ATV Motocross action for me, and man I did not realize how much I would miss it. I’ll tell you I don't miss some of the travel or being away from home, but this dead zone in my schedule just plain sucks! I should be enjoying the break, and I am however, this time of year leaves me very little to do to occupy my time and I get bored so easily. One activity that is currently eating away at the boredom is making a master copy of all my images for the series. I am done with 2015 and 2014. Now 2013 is loading and when I am done, there should be over 300,000 images stored away on a drive for future use.

And of course, with this being the end of summer and the entire back to school deal, social media has been loaded with much less racing action, which doesn't do much to keep me entertained. We are officially in a drought and you cannot walk across the once green grass with out kicking up a dust storm. Also, with temps in the mid 90's being outside sucks for any activity I may want to dive into… I know many of you hunt, so you know we have that to look forward to and that has occupied some time as I play with game cameras capturing all the critters that roam around. So, it is not all a negative period in time but once that last gate drops for the season I am ready for sweatshirt weather, bow hunting and that crisp fall air! I know many of you are in the exact same position mentally and can feel my pain.

Congrats to Meghan Manshack, who earned another Women's Championship this year!
Congrats to Meghan Manshack, who earned another Women's Championship this year! Photo: Ken Hill

Now for those of you who are not suffering from the end of summer blues, there has still been some racing and riding, and I thank you for posting the images to entertain the rest of us who are in our own little world dealing with our own obsessions, with the exception of Dylan Tremellen. A week or so back I saw a picture of him heading to practice and when I came back later in the day, there he was in the hospital with a broken leg. I said a prayer for his father, Troy, and then of course a prayer that Dylan has a speedy recovery. I thought man; this has just not been a good year for that crew! You would never know it by the attitude displayed by Dylan, even though the end of his summer did not pan out the way he planned. That is class my friends, rising above whatever comes at you and keeping a good spirit and attitude. I am fortunate to know not just the Tremellen's, but just about everyone of our racing families carries that great "can do" attitude!

Now on to the Soaring Eagle Casino event, which had a surprise rider showing up and almost, stealing the show! That would be none other than, John Natalie himself. I told my family that it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he did not win the whole thing and in the end, he was podium bound and in the fight. I know it had to do him well mentally, just to be able to climb out of his rig and gear up and go rip with everyone. The passion he had in his eyes and voice at Unadilla when he wanted to race but knew he was there to spectate was almost too much for the man. Love him, hate him or have no opinion, you have to respect his determination!

Who cannot wait to see the ATVMX gate drop again in 2016?
Who cannot wait to see the ATVMX gate drop again in 2016? Photo: Ken Hill

However, I was stoked to see Jeffrey Rastrelli claim the win after a hard fought season. This will be a big confidence booster to his program as he heads into the off-season and prepares for 2016. It sucked seeing Hetrick have an issue in moto 1 but that will happen and I am sure he was not to happy, but after the stellar season he has had he can rest a bit and know he will be the rider on the move in the new season. There were some grumbling online about turn out, but keep in mind this was the end of the season for many and budgets were blown, back to school was in full swing and there are jobs to get back to as vacation time was all used up. I heard a ton of positive news surrounding the event so I fully expect next year with a full season of promotion for this event to become a huge success as participants from our series as well as many others in that region will flock to it.

We can't wait to see what next season has in store for Chad Wienen (#1), Joel Hetrick (#88) and Jeffrey Rastrelli (#728).
We can't wait to see what next season has in store for Chad Wienen (#1), Joel Hetrick (#88) and Jeffrey Rastrelli (#728). Photo: Ken Hill

That is about all from me this week, I figure Rodney will have much to say about the Soaring Eagle event so I just wanted to brush a few topics on it. We are already seeing some riders make changes for 2016 and I intend on getting in touch with the newly forming alliances for upcoming Site Laps so stay tuned!