ATV Motocross

Site Lap: Competition Level is Rising

Site Lap: Competition Level is Rising

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 | 4:15 PM
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 | 4:15 PM

The Tennessee ATV Spring National at Muddy Creek Raceway played host to round 2 of the ProX ATV Motocross National Championship, presented by CST Tires, this past weekend and proved to be everything and more than was expected. Admittedly I was surprised at the level of competition that showed up to race this weekend and I was expecting it. Every start of every race seemed to begin a new and exciting moment in the weekend and it all continued till the final checkers of the weekend.

I say I am surprised even though I am one of those heralding the coming of the greatest racing in our sports history. The reason I may have been so surprised is because there was just so much going on. In the past when we see the levels of competition and excitement raise it is generally in one or two classes. This time, however, it was nearly every class brought even more competition to the table. It is hard to single out any to talk about, but I think the youth division will once again bring us some of the most exciting times around the fences.

Our youth riders sure put on a good show for all of the fans to watch!
Our youth riders sure put on a good show for all of the fans to watch! Photo: Ken Hill

First thing to come to mind and stick out for me was actually the last thing to happen. You talk about leave them wanting more, these children just exactly that. It was possibly one of the most epic battles of the weekend. The Super Mini 12-15, which featured Trevor Thatcher, Brandon O’Neil and Bryce Ford. Each one of these riders brought something special with them in 2016 showing heart, passion, determination and a will to never give up.

The first moto of this class saw the three going at early on in the race. It was Trevor, Brandon and Bryce nose to tail around the whole track the first couple of laps. Then Bryce seemed to lay back a little all the while one of the most fierce battles I have seen in recent racing began to intensify. Trevor and Brandon went at it till the final turns on the last lap when they tangled and Bryce was able to slip by and take the win.

The second moto I was finishing up a podium interview when I realized what class was on the track and remembered moto one. So I picked up the action heading into the second lap. Once again all three riders were nose to tail when again Bryce seemed to lie back a little. I thought it was because he thought something like in moto one might happen again only to find out later during the podium interview he said, “No I wasn’t watching. I just wasn’t fast enough to get around them. I’m going home and train even harder than I have been.” Regardless Bryce rode a flawless and well-executed race and like I have heard a number of people say over the years you create your own luck. So if he got lucky he put himself in that position. Way to go Bryce.

The racing was nothing short of amazing!
The racing was nothing short of amazing! Photo: Ken Hill

Now as far as the war waging up front between Trevor and Brandon, it was a spectacle that was truly hard to take your eyes off for even a moment. There were places on the track that you could see each was a little faster than the other but each fought with a ferocity that would inspire a nation. Neither giving in or giving ground. It wasn’t until the closing moments of the final lap when things went off track for both. Brandon was working every line and was trying to set up for the pass but each time Trevor would shut him down. Then on a jump Trevor checked up a little and Brandon was already committed. Brandon told me, “We had hit that double the lap before but he slowed down this time and I had nowhere to go. I tried to miss him but clipped him which crashed us both.? Brandon was able to finish the race but Trevor was a little banged up, as was his quad.

The beauty of a battle like this is what we saw and why we go to watch and even race. It’s all about the competition. It is fun to be a winner but it is more fun to be a winner when you have to fight for it. The heart and passion that it takes to be a real winner is honestly shared by few and when they meet things get interesting.

The ugliness of a battle like this is what happened. The riders tangled and one came out on the shorter end of the stick. That can cause animosities amongst competitors, which may spill over into teams and fans. Everyone wants to see him or herself or their favored do well. And that is totally understandable but everyone must also remember to look at the big picture and remember why we came in the first place. It was to be a part of something like this and feel the excitement that battle brought. It may not have been the outcome anyone wanted but it was the outcome. Each competitor learned from the experience hopefully and will be able to use it to advance further in the future.

What a great weekend we had at Muddy Creek Raceway in Tennessee.
What a great weekend we had at Muddy Creek Raceway in Tennessee. Photo: Ken Hill

I believe each racer came away from the incident with a few battle wounds and Trevor’s quad was fairly twisted up from what I understand but I for one cannot wait to see what the spirit of competition brings back in this class the rest of the season. It will be long and grueling championship likely between at least these three in this class and may be one of the classes you want to keep an eye on. These children in the Super Mini class are all finding themselves and their limitations and don’t be surprised if a few more players step up into the battle and create an even more exciting championship to watch.

To all competitors in all classes I extend a huge thank you for what you did this past weekend. The racing was some of the best I have seen from the drop of the first gate to the flying of the final checker it was amazing.

To all potential competitors in all classes I encourage you to do everything you can to get to the track and be a part of the next and new era of ATV racing. The industry has never been in the position it is with riders, abilities and positive mindsets to move forward. There have been many sacrifices over the years to get this point in our sport but they were sacrifices that must be made to get to the next levels. Come be a part of it all if there is any way possible. It may make a better person of you.

That’s it for me for now. Let’s check into Gloop’s Loop and with Ken “I’ll sit here in my truck till the rain passes” Hill. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.

In the Loop with Gloop:

What a great weekend we had at Muddy Creek Raceway in Tennessee.
What a great weekend we had at Muddy Creek Raceway in Tennessee. Photo: Ken Hill

A big congratulations to Koster Racing team rider, Brett Musick on taking the win in the Pro-Am class at the Muddy Creek National.

What a great weekend we had at Muddy Creek Raceway in Tennessee.
What a great weekend we had at Muddy Creek Raceway in Tennessee. Photo: Ken Hill

Root River Racing rider Haedyn Mickelson sending it at Muddy Creek.

Keeping up with Ken Hill:

I was sitting here just after first light watching a small rabbit in my yard as it fed from spot to spot as I was preparing to knock out this weeks Site Lap when a crow flew low over the yard sending the rabbit high tailing it for the safety of the woodpile. It was darting left and right, I assume the rabbit was thinking the crow was a hawk, and it couldn’t decide the best gap in the wood to dive into for safety. It stopped about a foot from the edge of cover and then zipped out of sight finally making its decision. I began to chuckle because my train of thought was on the race and I thought that rabbit should have been like Joel Hetrick and just keep pushing because in both cases, indecision could have been the end of things. Sure Hetrick wouldn’t be prayed upon by a sharp clawed hawk but the field of pro racers chasing him at Muddy Creek would have loved to have been the one to cause him to make that one mistake and steal his thunder. 

Whose going to get those holeshots when the series moves to Crawfordsville, Indiana on May 7 and 8?
Whose going to get those holeshots when the series moves to Crawfordsville, Indiana on May 7 and 8? Photo: Ken Hill

Well, he did make plenty of mistakes but by never giving up or letting off the throttle, he carried both the thunder and lightening all the way to his first win of the 2016 season. Spinning out while leading not once but twice and then using Thomas Brown for traction which by the grace of God Brown was not injured, just proves why one should never ever give up or quit. Many riders would have lost mental focus and continued to make mistakes after such things but Joel just kept hitting his marks and pouring on the speed showing once again he has matured into a rider that can easily become a champion. The fortitude he has shown thus far has to be a real worry to the likes of had Wienen who has proven year after year that a cool head and intense focus is needed when the heat gets turned way up. I do believe these traits could be said about Thomas Brown as well as he brushed off his wreck and the tire inspection he gave Hetrick’s Honda. These guys prove weekend after weekend they are just not ATV racers but true role models for far more than there riding skills. 

Now I was pretty bummed Saturday with regards to weather and the track. This is typically one of my favorite tracks to shoot all season but not when it is one lined and messy thanks to the watering the area got Friday night. I really thought more work would have gone on throughout the day to give us a track that these guys could battle on but it never really shaped up into that type of track. What I did notice was that Hetrick looked like he was riding on air as his set up was near perfection from what I could see, much like Wienen at Daytona and Underground, smooth as silk. The track was a bit better by Sunday and I was impressed yet again by the Pro Sport and Youth All Stars classes as they shredded that track and put on a high-speed show that was unmatched all weekend.

Chad Wienen chases down the competition in Tennessee.
Chad Wienen chases down the competition in Tennessee. Photo: Ken Hill

Now I asked in last weeks Site Lap for you guys and gals to tag me in your race updates and reports and I want to thank those of you who did that very thing! Koster Racing had a great weekend at Muddy Creek as their riders scored some big victories with Brett Musick taking the Pro Am win. Finishing fourth in the WMX class, Michelle Suciu Jenkins went on to claim the 30+ Womens class win. This is still a very young team and stoked with some great racers so we will enjoy watching them grow on and off the track.

Brian Nolt was flying at Muddy Creek and claimed the 450 A win. I watched Nolt before the season in Florida do some training and knew he was going to be off to a good season so I hope he can continue to carry the momentum as the season moves forward. Tommy Vossman summed up his weekend by stating:

“Ahh good ole Muddy Creek was a up and down weekend from the start. Friday practice rained out which was a bummer but the weather turned around for the weekend and the track was great! I placed second and fifth in the heats and was feeling decent going into Sunday. First moto I got almost a dead last start due to a mistake by me and pushed up to 11th. Moto 2 I jumped on the start but saved it best I could pull a fourth in that moto. Again, starts were killing me but I will get it soon. Ended the weekend with a third and 12th overall. Not happy but we will learn from this! Thanks to everyone who supports me!” 

Fran Zapolski jumped on the chance to get her riders some Site Lap love and posted about their weekend within seconds of the finish!

Thomas Brown (#84) and David Haagsma (#422) battle it out at Muddy Creek Raceway.
Thomas Brown (#84) and David Haagsma (#422) battle it out at Muddy Creek Raceway. Photo: Ken Hill

“Moto 2 in the 90 shifter came out strong got the hole shot. I had the lead till the triple after the finish line where he checked up and almost got landed on and finished fourth. Moto 2 Supermini came out of the first turn in third and was passed but remained in fourth till the 404 and 504 got in a wreck, which I hope they are OK. However, Jake Zapolski finished second. Overall in the 90 shift I earned a fourth place and Supermini a second place” 

Now usually I am all over #404 Trevor Thatcher with the camera. He is a great rider, super fun to take pictures of and an all-around great person on and off the track. This weekend I tried to mix up the classes I was covering and did not get a single image of him as far as I know however I did lean against the fence and just watch a few motos he was in. Heather Thatcher, race mom, team manager, salesman, ambassador and that just scratches the surface of her duties hammered out a team race report that really spotlights just how dedicated their team is. I won’t share the entire report but this is what I would love to see more of even if it’s just a rider or two on your team!

“The second round of the Pro X/CST ATV MX National Championship Series was held at Muddy Creek MX, and boy did it live up to its name! With rain most of the day Friday, there was little to no practice going on. I have to say that for this only being the second round (First for some), these kids are really on point this year. 

Let me start with little Mason Jackson…this boy is one amazing rider. He raced four classes at Muddy Creek and won three overalls…all with a severely sprained ankle from playing lacrosse at home. In 70 Open and 70 Shifter, Mason ran away with all four holeshots and all four moto wins! In 90 Shifter Jr, he finished second in moto 1, but in moto 2, he was able to get the holeshot and stay out front the entire race, although Parker Roahrig made him work hard to hang on to the lead. In 90 Shifter Jr, Mason’s quad broke, giving him an eigth place finish, but was able to redeem himself in moto 2 with a second place finish, giving him a fourth place overall. Super job Mason! 

Who will come out on top at the next round?
Who will come out on top at the next round? Photo: Ken Hill

Braden Shiamone yanked both holeshots in the 125 classes, and led all four laps in both motos, giving him another big W in that class! In 90 Shifter Sr, he finished the first moto in seventh, and with no front brakes in moto two, was still able to ride hard and finish in seventh…giving him a seventh place finish overall. Great work Braden! 

Trevor Thatcher had a pretty decent weekend. He battled hard for his positions in all of his classes. Due to the last minute race order change, Trevor’s motos were all at the end of the day, within 12 races! In 90 Open Sr, Trevor ran away with a win in moto 1. In moto 2, he came out of the gate in second and knew that if he stayed there, he would get the overall. He rode a smart race, never pushing for the lead…he finished in second place, giving him first place overall. With there only being 3 motos between his 90 races, it was a battle in itself to cool the engine down, with no time for his body to rest. He went out in his 90 Shifter Sr class and raced harder than ever for his second place finishes in both motos, giving him second overall. In moto 1 of Supermini, Trevor led a couple of laps before getting tangled with another rider, causing them both to wreck, but he managed to get going quick enough for a second place finish. In moto 2, he led the entire race, had an epic battle going with the second place rider, when just before the checkers, they crashed again. Not being able to finish the race, Trevor was scored with an eigth place finish, giving him a fifth overall. I am more than proud of this kid. He is hoping that he can recover from his injuries and be able to get his severely broken quad repaired so he can get to Ironman next weekend. Keep your head up kid! 

We can't wait to see the battles at round three in Indiana.
We can't wait to see the battles at round three in Indiana. Photo: Ken Hill

Last but definitely not least is Cole Sepesi. The dedication and determination this kid has is amazing to me, when he’s out on the track, he leaves nothing on the table. In moto 1 of Pro Sport, he had some bad luck with his quad and had to go to the LCQ, where he won. In moto 2, he started out in fourth place but worked his way up to second, giving him a fourth place overall. In moto 1 of Pro-Am, Cole shot out in second, where he stayed the whole moto. In moto 2, he battled hard for a fourth place finish, giving him a third place overall. Even though Cole was on the podium, knowing him, he’s not satisfied with that. Keep your eyes on him…and the rest of the crew, next round at Ironman, in Crawfordsville, IN.” 

I want to thank everyone who tagged me and please continue to do so and I will do my best to get as many included in here as possible! That is all from me, I have some light work to do today then prepare for this weekends GNCC event in South Carolina so as always, God bless you all in your travels and endeavors, be safe and we will see you soon!