GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #19 .... This Week in GNCC

Thursday, May 8, 2008 | 12:00 AM

Welcome to Quick Fill. Get ready for everyone’s hometown race.

Are storm clouds on the horizon this weekend?
Hooper photo

Okay, not quite everyone, but sometimes it seems like half the darned field at the GNCCs is from Ohio. So to celebrate, we’re going to have great, beautiful, sunny weather, so all of the friends and family can enjoy! That’s right! Beautiful weather this weekend! Don’t even check the weather report, just take it from us! Sunny and 72 all weekend!

Just, um, take some extra gloves and goggles and maybe an umbrella for the pit crew. Just in case.

So let’s just say, hypothetically, that it does rain this weekend. You will want to be prepared. We’ve had mud here in Millfield plenty of times before, and it’s that classic sticky on the plastic and slippery on the wheels clay that really challenges a rider. The locals know how to ride the stuff, managing the deep ruts and such. Do you remember the name Chuck Woodford? The wood chuck is retired now but he was an out-an-out master when the conditions turned nasty in Ohio, and I remember back a legendary day at Millfield in 2003, when Woodford and his Ohio neighbor Fred Andrews went 1-2 at the race. And on ATV day? Well, that was the day Johnny Gallagher was supposed to win!

Yes, ole’ Johnny G was flying that day and led early on. His crew was so pumped that they forgot to pit him on the first lap. When he went in for goggles, all they could do was cheer him on. The poor guy needed goggles and didn’t get them, and after a full lap without, he had, um, lost sight of the lead.

Johnny told me after Loretta’s last week that he was really fired up for The John Penton, and this was before he knew it was going to rain. I talked to him again today and he said, “I’m so pumped now it’s not even funny.” Apparently he and Taylor Kiser have been pounding out the laps lately. They both broke on the last lap at Loretta’s and are looking for revenge. It’s raining by them right now and they’re going riding anyway. Johnny, if you don’t make it happen this weekend, we’re done interviewing you before the mud races as the resident “mud track specialist.” And I don’t know if you’ll be long for the “race track specialist” name, either. Bring it!!!

Isn’t it crazy how deep the field is in the ATV ranks right now? Ballance, Borich and McGill all believe they’re “the man” right now, and then count back to Cook, Sommers, Kiser, Yokley, Smiley, and all these boys have made the podium. That’s a deep field. In the mud, it will be even crazier. Didn’t Yokley win here in the mud before? Didn’t McGill make his first breakthrough ride here when he finished on the podium overall from the Pro-Am class a few years back? This will be epic!

Also, the Womens ATV class has taken all the morning overalls this year. Could the mud finally let the 4x4s break through?

Here’s a letter from a 4x4 fan:

Thanks for the article on Bryan Buckannon!  He is such a nice guy.  My husband rides with him on his "track" here in Beckley.

Marlene Campbell  :)

Buckhannon at Loretta's
Campbell photo

On bikes, well, I doubt mud is going to slow down David Knight, who no doubt has plenty of experience in the stuff. Big tall guys with giant boots are supposed to have problems in ruts, but somehow he’ll pull through. The question is, if it does rain, who will benefit and who won’t? Aussies Glenn Kearney and Shane Watts aren’t mud fans, but the surging Josh Strang is a bit bigger than those boys, so maybe he’ll handle it. Or maybe he’ll just become another of the Oz boys that pray for no rain. And Josh is on a four-stroke. Will all of that sticky mud hurt those big bikes? This could be the test we’ve been waiting for with the Lites riders. Besides Snowshoe last year, we never had a really muddy bike race, so this will be interesting. Right now, Thad DuVall is in control of that gang with four wins in five races. Thad rules in the mud, too. So like Knighter, the weather might not matter.


Chuck Woodford on way to winning a muddy John Penton GNCC in 2003.
Weigandt photo

This week the GMMI crew finished up the DVDs for the Big Buck race, so you’ll see them for sale at the track this weekend. I did all of the announcing, and it’s really cool to see how those races unfold. What a heart breaker for Josh Weisenfels in bike XC2. The guy had it, clearly, in the bag before he picked a bad line and got stuck on the last lap. It was all right there for the cameras to see, and at one point Josh even looked at the cameraman perhaps hoping for help. Unfortunately, cameramen are not going to stop shooting during dramatic moments like that! I really hope Josh gets one of these wins soon, because he was really kicking himself after letting that one get away.

In addition, Jeremy and Mike over at GMMI threw in some UTV racing coverage on the Big Buck DVD. It will be shipping tomorrow for pre-orders and will be available at the MotoTees truck this weekend.  

Also, after watching the Big Buck DVD, a shout out to ATV Youth race Jay Shadron. Jay is still young enough to race the (8-11) modified class and yet he grabbed second overall there! We’ve got a lot of good stories developing in the Youth ATV ranks, so look for more coverage here.

And speaking of amateur ATV stories, I totally flaked out and forgot to post the two amateur ATV stories sent to me by cub reporter Ryan Smith. Thanks a ton, Ryan, and sorry for the delay. Click here for the Steele Creek report and here for the Big Buck report.

Bill Ballance winning that same race in '03.
Weigandt photo


Correction from last week: We wrote that “Even Shane Watts is ready” for a photo caption, but Shane wanted to make it clear this week that he WAS ready but no longer is ready. He’s booked up on Dirt Wise riding schools now, so no more Shane at the GNCCs until Yadkinville, possibly.


Correction: Shane Watts was ready.
David Scearce photo

There’s a new website out there for 2006 AMA National Enduro Champion (and sometimes GNCC racer) Russell Bobbitt. Check out


This is a big weekend for KTM, as the Orangemen (and women) usually march out a big effort at The John Penton GNCC, since the race celebrates the man who first brought the KTM motorcycle to the U.S. John Penton himself will be at the race, as well as three other generations of Pentons, including three generations named John! So come stop by the KTM rig and meet the family this weekend, and also check out the array of vintage Penton and KTM bikes collected by the Penton Owners Group.


And as always, KTM will pave the way for the next generation by celebrating Youth Day on Sunday. They’ll hand out shirts to every Youth bike racer (regardless of what brand you ride) and also hand out finisher medals to all of the Youth riders who take the checkered flag. David Knight, Nathan Kanney and Justin Williamson will be down at the finish to greet the racers, so get ready for a high-five or three. This is a cool program and we thank Jack Penton and everyone at KTM for doing it.


With the KTM Youth Day, we usually receive a letter or two from ATV Youth parents asking why we don’t have the same program for the Youth ATV riders. Well, it’s not really a fair question. KTM doesn’t have an obligation to do this. A few years ago they contacted us and asked if they could do it, and of course we said sure. KTM doesn’t currently make a Youth ATV, so there is really no reason for them to hand out things on the ATV side. We think it’s better to have KTM honor the Youth Bike riders than no one at all.


And if KTM does come out with a Youth ATV, you can bet they will support it. Remember, they went from non-existent in the ATV world to leading the GNCC point standings in just a few months!


So that’s about all we have for this week, Jeff Russell and crew are out working hard right now building the Penton track. Jeff called in earlier and said conditions were perfect. They will stay perfect all weekend. We promise. Just, uh, bring some rain gear and mud boots. Just in case.


You realy can bring the civilization to the GNCCs!
Hooper photo