ATV Motocross

Site Lap: Four More To Go...

Site Lap: Four More To Go...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | 6:00 PM
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | 6:00 PM

The start of each contribution each week can sometimes be tough to know where to begin. There was so much that happened this past weekend at the ATV Showdown at Sunset Ridge as the 2017 Wiseco ATV Motocross National Championship presented by CST Tires rolled through the midway point and heads straight to the final leg of the season. The championships are starting to take form and the racing is stronger than it has ever been each class in every division. 

The thing on the tips of most folk’s tongues this week may be the incredible battles in the AMA Pro ATV racing on Saturday. As far as the championship goes, nothing changed. Chad Wienen still has a 7-point lead over Joel Hetrick but the race was monumental for everyone and the fans witnessed likely another “greatest battle of all time” type races. It was good for the competitors, it was good for the fans and it was good for the sport. I hope fans soon realize that we are living a “good ole days” life that we will reflect on for many years to come. There is so much racing left and so many things that can happen it is almost overwhelming to think about. 

The Production A class is definitely stacked with talent this year. 
The Production A class is definitely stacked with talent this year.  Ken Hill

Though there was no big change in the points it was without a doubt a big race for all. The fans gained the most as I mentioned but the riders did as well. Hearing the crowd’s reaction to the pass made by Chad on Joel was electric. Chad told me “I really had to work this weekend due to my poor starts. I was able to make some quick passes first few laps. I had some epic battles with Jeffrey and Joel. Then in moto two I was all in to go get the overall. We had an awesome Yamaha all day and some good line choices made it key. It was crazy how much the track would change throughout the moto. It was so bad that you had to know when to drop out of the main line that had gone away and find another.   I was digging and digging all moto and was able to make the pass and keep it on the track all the way to the end for the overall win in front of a packed home race crowd. I am blessed to have the area come out and support what we all love to do. It was great weekend and we got some good momentum heading to Millville MN here in less than 2 weeks. Thanks to my support group for all they do!”

Jeffrey Rastrelli proved himself for the fourth consecutive race, as not only a podium contender by is now showing signs of being a race win contender. A quick move to the front of the pack on lap one in moto one, Rastrelli controlled the race for nearly three quarters of the race. Impressively rising to the occasion of pressure applied by both Joel Hetrick and Chad Wienen.

Joel Hetrick had a great weekend even though he gained no points. It was a weekend he came in knowing that Chad had the advantage. However like a true challenger he did not let that stop him. He worked even harder and put it all on the line. So ultimately he may have won a little by not evening out in the end. The championship is close and the next rounds will shape how this one ends.

Jeffrey is finding a flow and zone that could soon produce more of what we saw this past weekend. 

Our ATVMX Youth racers are exciting to watch as well! 
Our ATVMX Youth racers are exciting to watch as well!  Ken Hill

I messaged Jeffery to ask how he felt about this weekend after it has had time to sink in. He messaged me back saying, “It was an awesome one! It felt really good to lead 3/4 of the first Moto and going from 6th to first in about a half lap. It's been 4 podiums in a row and I'm beyond happy how I'm performing. My stamina was off this weekend but I will get this figured out.” The difference in his attitude this year as opposed to ever is the fact that he not only knows he can win, he really wants it bad now. He believes in himself and the program he has behind him and always has. The difference is the better resources in the past year and the ability to focus on his job at hand.

I feel one rider that may be being overlooked this weekend though is Nick Gennusa. Gennusa struggled some in the first moto and could only salvage a seventh. The second moto though was a heated battle with Rastrelli for the third place position which he was finally able to achieve. This is not the first top three moto finish for Gennusa and he told me on Sunday that he feels an overall podium coming and soon if he can get his starts dialed in consistently. The “Jersey Boy” scored second place in Alabama after a seventh in moto one missing the podium barely. He also sits only eight points behind Thomas Brown in fourth and only another seven points from Rastrelli who is third in points. 

As far as amateur racing goes I have to say seeing the Mickelson brothers from the Maxxis/Liquid Wrench/Elka/Honda team Phoenix Racing in the fist moto of the Pro Sport class was as big of a treat as any I have watched in a while. I must say that if Haedyn can figure out his starts, he and little brother Noah will be a show of their own to watch during the weekends. These two boys are what one may say “real good boys” that work hard to achieve their dreams. Watching the two battle head to head was also a treat we rarely get to see. If you were lucky enough then you know want to see more races just like that. 

The future is bright under at the Honda transporter this season and all the talent on this team may be likely the best example of a team in our sport. Though Phoenix Racing is not a large team they are well tuned and as professional as any team I have ever seen ran in our sport. Joel Hetrick is the lead rider on the team and if rumors are true he may be getting a new teammate next season that may surprise you. Time will tell and there are a number of things happening right now that cannot be discussed but I do want you to know that big things could be on the way for this small team.

The battles continue as the series winds down to the last four rounds...
The battles continue as the series winds down to the last four rounds... Ken Hill

This year’s Track Walk and Breast Cancer Awareness event was another great time for most everyone this year. It was a chance to show support and help spread the word as well raise money for a great cause. Each year the Pistole’s from Sunset Ridge along with many volunteers raise thousands of dollars toward the Susan G. Koman Foundation. 

The nighttime activities with Funky Munky Wrestling may have gotten rained out but the fireworks were a true testimony of the weekend. Though things may have presented its challenges, everything went off with a bang. Bob and the whole staff should be commended on bringing the track around to race ready for three straight days. Rains fell but spirits were high and the crew at Sunset did as fine of a job I have ever seen done. Thanks Sunset Ridge MX for another memorable and great experience. It’s almost like going home.

That’s it for me for now. Let’s check in with Gloop’s Loop and with Ken “Seed eater” Hill. Till next time, God Bless Your Heart and All Your Vital Organs.  

In The Loop with Gloop:  

Keeping up with Ken Hill: 

I would have lost money on this round because the little gambling man in my head put his money on Joel Hetrick to take the win at Sunset Ridge. Now it wasn’t an easy decision, this being Wienen’s hometown track and being a track he usually does so well on, but Hetrick kept winning in my thoughts as I made my way to Illinois. When Hetrick rolled off the gate in moto one and took solid control of things, I knew it was money in the bank as he tamed that track and made it his own personal race without a ton of challenge. Jeffrey Rastrelli was in the mix and up front just like I had thought he would be but he needs just a touch more endurance to seal the deal but man his speed is on point! He has always been fast but he is reaching the level it takes to win races and I am so stoked to see it! Watching the top three battles had everyone glued to the action on the track and it was another awesome display of just what can be done on an ATV.

By the time moto two was on the gate, the temps had climbed a bit however it was the humidity that was wreaking havoc on me as I slowly melted in my boots. I was so happy I wasn’t going to be doing anything beyond taking some images because it was flat sticky! As the gate dropped, I concentrated on the first turn and as a white blur emerged leading the field of pro’s all hell bent on getting out front. I knew it wasn’t Hetrick and as the shutter would close and open I quickly saw that it was the #20 of Josh Upperman taking the holeshot! Uppy hasn't has a great season so seeing him out front was pretty cool and I know he was having fun as they all hit the track for one more moto. Now I try my best to follow the action as I shoot and move and it wasn’t long before the field sorted itself out and the race formed up around the top three.  

Chad Wienen took the overall win with Joel Hetrick and Jeffrey Rastrelli rounding out the podium. 
Chad Wienen took the overall win with Joel Hetrick and Jeffrey Rastrelli rounding out the podium.  Ken Hill

Soon it would once again be Hetrick, Wienen and Rastrelli once again out front but this time, the racing was much closer and more intense as the battle grew in intensity. Wienen was hell bent on getting the lead and his chance came and he came out of a section I couldn’t see with the lead! A few laps of hustle and bustle and it looked like things were going to stay pretty much as they were and that little man in my head was throwing a fit! Not that I did not want Chad to win, I just like to pick a winner but in all honesty, between Chad and Joel there is a razor thin line to walk when betting on the who wins what this season. The race would wind down with Chad pulling off the win as Joel and Jeffrey joined him on the podium to celebrate a real great race for the riders and the fans. I kept expecting Joel to push up on Wienen late in the race but not on this day. The podium was full of smiles and to say Chad was stoked with the win is an understatement as he rode the wave of victory in front of his hometown crowd and family that was in attendance. As we look forward to Spring Creek, the gambling man has his pick on Wienen as this is a track that gets rough and that plays well into his style of riding and plays to his size advantage over Joel but last year Joel showed he can run that track hard so who knows! That keeps it exciting and Rastrelli might be the rider to really watch as I have a feeling he will be doing all he can to keep his podium finishes alive and well.  

After the race I really wanted to ask a few riders about the changes to the Sunset Ridge track and how they felt those changes worked or didn’t. The riders I spoke with earlier in the day seemed to be very positive after a few practice sessions and a moto under their belt. Sunset is a track I love to hate simply because the track gets big berms during the day that hide the racers but that just adds a touch of challenge for me and I did like some of the new angles I was able to get. Now if we could get the sun to either stay out or go away I would be a happy camper! Mentally, a day of constant tweaking the camera or knowing you have to shoot a certain way due to the light that will cause you to have to do some edit work after a day of tromping around wears me out! All in all it seemed like a great weekend of racing!

Ken Hill

Knowing the track was wet at the start of the day, I did take advantage of waiting to shoot to chat with Jeremiah Jones who was perched under the Hinson tent enjoying a nice breeze and some shade. I wanted to pick his brain on one rider who he has been working with, Troy Hill. Troy has been in somewhat of a rut and had to face things head on after a not so great season taking shape. With some advice from JJ, Hill found what he was looking for and put things back in order at Sunset Ridge. There are a few riders I really enjoy taking images of and Hill’s style and speed make him a big target for my lens. I also learned that 11 years ago, Jeremiah won his last race here at Sunset Ridge, which was pretty cool to find out and get to look out over that track and enjoy the moment with a legend.  

Bryce Ford also made his way back into the mix even as he continues to heal from a crash that sent the young Texas rider down the long road to recovery. Bryce took the Schoolboy Sr win which is an incredible accomplishment knowing how broken he was and is still undergoing healing from multiple broken bones! With two weeks to heal more and get snapped back in, we should be hearing his name more and more as we head through the rest of the 2017 season.

That is about it for me this week. I was missing in action last week due to being with the ISDE team to get some images for media use as the team prepares to compete against the world again this season. It was a last minute piece of work that had me driving all night, shooting all day then rolling out right into another shoot for a tire company before finally making a mad dash to the Midwest for Sunset Ridge so I apologize but sometimes there is not enough hours in the day! Please be safe in your travels, training and racing and may God bless you all!