GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #28 .... This Week in GNCC

Thursday, July 10, 2008 | 12:00 AM


Welcome to Quick Fill. Happy Summer!


We were actually quite surprised the way things turned out for the July 4th weekend GNCC. We had a nice crowd, a good amount of racers, and the weather was nearly perfect. What could have been a horribly dusty mess turned out just right based on some spots of rain throughout the weekend, and the heat wasn’t that bad, either.


But, even as nicely as it turned out, we won’t be holding a GNCC on Independence Day Weekend next year. We’re going to shatter all existing records here, so brace yourself and make sure you’re sitting down. Here we are in July, and we’re already set to introduce the official dates for the 2009 Can-Am GNCC Series. Ready?

2009 GNCC Dates


Feb. 28- Mar. 3

Mar. 7-8

Mar. 21-22

Apr. 4-5

Apr. 18-19

May. 2-3

May. 16-17

Jun. 6-7

Jun. 27-28

Summer Break

Sep. 12-13

Sep. 26-27

Oct. 10-11

Oct. 24-25


That’s it, folks. The real deal. So start planning accordingly.

Hey, have you visited our MySpace site? Here’s a cool quote we got from there:


"dude you guys totaly rock, i go to steele creek, and yadkinville, and me and my family want to go to union, ya'll have the best riders, James Stewart would not be able to keep up with david knight or barry hawk, ya'll rock"

from "Ryan" on Myspace

Thanks, Ryan.

Also, if you live anywhere near our next four GNCCs, at Snowshoe, Unadilla, Power Line Park or the Ironman, you may want to check out our Get Press releases. They’re a handy way to prepare a story for your local newspaper or TV station, so they’ll know you’re racing in America’s Largest Off-Road Racing Series. Your friends, family and sponsors will love you for it.


On to the racing in Pennsylvania. When you get to a rocky facility like Mountain Ridge, it’s difficult to get the mix right. I asked GNCC Trail Boss Jeff Russell about that.


“We backed it off from last year,” said Jeff. “It was really hard last year and a lot of people tore up all of their stuff. So for the morning race on quads, we didn’t even go through Rockin’ Randy, and I know some people said it was a freeway. I was watching and charting laps all weekend trying to get the right mix.”Â

Chris Borich tries on the rocky part of the Mountain Ridge mix.
Krista Shaw photo


It is tough to get it right. Too many rocks and riders are flattening tires and wheels and skid plates and spending way too much money in repairs. But too few and”¦hey, we’re still off-road racing, right? Pro ATV rider Johnny Gallagher told me it was as fast as any GNCC track he’d ever raced on. So we’ll have to remix it next year.


One rider who loved the track was David Knight, although the afternoon bike riders had a rockier track than anyone else. A few weeks ago Knighter told me he was really looking forward to the next three GNCC tracks: Somerset, Snowshoe and Unadilla, because they’re the toughest ones on the tour, and hence, his faves. He certainly showed who is boss this time, as recent challenger Josh Strang was up front early and Knight made easy work of him and then started pulling away.


“I got into the front early, so that was good for me,” said Strang on the podium. “Knight got up to us straight away, and that was it, it was over with, I didn’t want to try to get in his way, he’s a pretty big bloke.


“I had a decent start and wasn’t in any rush to get to the front,” said Knight. “Josh was there and I was happy to follow him through the rocks, but I don’t know if he let me by or what, maybe he wanted me to lead through all of that new stuff. Yeah, I just got a good lead up and just tried to keep it from there.”Â


And that was it. The battle between Strang and Nate Kanney for second was an awesome one, as both riders agreed that was the most aggressive riding they had done in a long time.


“Nate and I, that was the most aggressive stuff I’ve done since I’ve been here in the States,” said Strang. “It was pretty full on, we were hitting everything we could to go as fast as we could, probably wasn’t smart because we were taking a lot of chances.”Â


“Strang was going so fast in the fast stuff that I knew I needed to stay in front of him and dust him out on the last lap,” said Kanney. “But I couldn’t, I had to stop for gas and he didn’t, so he got in front of me. In the end I was able to kind of hold his pace there on the last lap, but I certainly wasn’t able to catch him in the open, then I reeled him in in the woods, and it was really difficult with all the lappers. I’d reel him in and he would pull back away from me. We were really pushing. It was the most fun I’ve had all year, battling Josh like that.”Â


Nate is finally back on the podium. Now he's headed for a race in .... Wales.
Scearce photo


Thad DuVall did the same thing in the XC2 class that Knight did in XC1, reminding everyone why he is the points leader in the class. “I just wanted everyone to know I want this championship as bad as anyone, or maybe even more than anyone,” said Thad. Apparently, he also had some bets going on with some buddies, so he had extra motivation. Not sure what those bets were, but Thad said “I didn’t back off because we had some people getting heads shaved.”Â


Thad’s been quite the dominator this year with six wins in nine races. Similar is the success of Cory Buttrick, who won Top Amateur for the seventh-straight race. And this one was tough, as Cory B punched a tree on lap one and had to work his way back up. He was fifth in his class at the end of lap one, but really put the hammer down after that. We probably haven’t talked about Thad or Cory enough this year. Honestly, I think it’s because as impressive as their riding is, we expect it. Bad Thad and Cory B have been tearing up the GNCCs for a long, long time now, dominating the Youth ranks, and winning right off the bat in their big bike classes. You feel like their day is coming in the XC1 class, so sometimes we take their success here for granted. So let’s stop doing that and just say that both of these kids are amazing riders, they both want it bad, and they’re going to face off in the same GNCC class for the first time ever at the next round at Snowshoe. It’s a little Carmichael/Stewart coming through the ranks there, and it should be good.


There are plenty of other riders worth noting in that XC2 class. Dustin Gibson is Mr. Consistency, defending XC2 Champion Justin Williamson is, in his own words “getting pretty close to the guy we had in 2007” and Kailub Russell is plenty fast. These three had a heck of a battle for the podium spots in Somerset. It came down to a battle of pit strategies, and it looked like KR might win it when he ran second, but then he crashed in the rocks and let Dustin and Justin through. Good racing between those three, and when the Kawasaki guys (Watkins and Matusek) get healed up over the break, we’ll have a DEEP XC2 field in the fall.

Cory B is moving on up (to XC2).
Krista Shaw photo


GNCC Announcer Rodney Tomblin told me the racing was great this weekend in a variety of classes. “It was good to see Nathan Kanney ride like he knows he can ride, and he and Strang had a great battle. Cory Buttrick, let me tell you, that kid was on it, he didn’t even have a prayer at getting up there, and next thing I know he’s top amateur. The XC2 battle was pretty intense. And you know what was impressive? Barry Hawk was right in there.”Â


Yes, Barry was, working his way up to fourth at one point and starting to pace off of Kanney and Strang. I talked to Barry yesterday: “I was able to get around Whibley, and they had on the pit board that third was just ahead,” said Hawk. “I was pushing and felt good. But then on the fourth lap, I just lost the front end in a corner and crashed, and it was a blind corner, so a few seconds later Whibley comes by and hit my bike. Once I got up from that, I was tired. I had lost my drive and I decided to just cruise on in rather than kill myself. But Jason (Raines) ended up being the only rider to pass me. To me, I just see it like I could have battled those guys for a podium, and I didn’t. But I guess it’s good considering just three months ago I was laying on my back in a hospital trying to breathe through a machine.”Â


When Barry went down hard in South Carolina, a lot of people were saying he might be done. But it looks like that’s far from the case. “I had a lot of guys at my house last week riding, so I knew my speed was good,” said Barry. “I just didn’t know how tired I would get. I did get tired, after the race I was tired, but Sunday night, I felt good.”Â


Barry usually takes the summers off, but he’ll stay on it this year to make sure he’s 100 percent fit and ready for Snowshoe. And how did his trusty YZ250 two-stroke perform in a world that is quickly being dominated by thumpers? Barry said it was just like usual, there were sections where the two-stroke was better, and sections where the four-stroke was better. “I know, I’m the old guy on the dinosaur bike,” joked Hawk.


Silly season rumors are going big on the bike side right now, and the BMW team is at the head of the topic list. Yes, the Bimmers didn’t make it to the race track for’08, but that project is far from finished. Rumor has it that the Bavarian group is waving big money at David Knight and Juha Salminen! My bet is they want those guys for the World Enduro Championships and not the GNCCs, but it shows how ambitious BMW is. Also, media types are getting their first rides on the bike, and last week Cycle News reported that the bike looks strange but actually works. Will we see someone racing one at the GNCCs in the fall? What about next year? BMW/Husqvarna Team Manager Scott Summers knows he has a good thing going with his Husky guys this season, so he may just run two teams.

Knight or Juha on one of these?!


A few more bike notes: 2008 Youth Champ Steward Baylor had a great run in his big bike debut, running up front in 200 A all day. Steward is 13 years old! Also, a new name has risen to the top of the Women’s heap. Her name is Vanja Kollman, she is from Sweden, and she has won both GNCCs she raced in, first in Yadkinville and now in Pennsylvania. Vama actually works for the Swedish Military, believe it or not, as a teacher for unexploded ordinates and mine disposal. Yes, she trains troops on finding land mines and bombs that haven’t blown up. On weekends, she races and she wins. She hopes to maybe come over here and get 9 races in next season and go for a championship. This is a great story. Look for more info next week.


For now, Vanja is headed back to Europe. She’s not the only one. David Knight and Nathan Kanney left the States this week to head to Wales, of all places, to race a WEC race this weekend. This is Knight’s first WEC race since he left the tour undefeated in 2006. That will be interesting.


Onto the ATVs. Now the question must be asked even louder: what the heck happened to Chris Borich this year? In Florida he was the old Chris Borich. In Pennsylvania, he was the old Chris Borich. In between, he has been a different Chris Borich. I think the lesson here is just how hard it is to develop a new machine for this series. Yes, William Yokley ran the LT-R 450 a few years ago, but this is still new to Borich. It goes back to something Bill Ballance said at the beginning of the season. Bill was happy to see all these new teams and machines and support, but he also thought it would work to his advantage since he had so many years ironing out his Yamaha. Lo and behold, we’ve now seen KTM’s amazing first-year effort begin to stumble a bit, Borich has had trouble, and Can-Am’s results in their first year with a 450 have, quite frankly, been terrible. And remember the trouble William Yokley had with his Kawasaki last year?


They’re all trying. Can-Am has changed a lot of parts on their DS450s. In North Carolina, Chris Jenks showed me the new sprocket and chain guard which gives them extra ground clearance. Earlier in the year, the skid plate they were using was just a touch lower than everyone else, but when everyone else makes a five-inch deep rut and you can only clear 4.8, you get hung up (ask Chris Bithell about the ruts in Georgia, which trapped him when he was running in third).


Anyway, Jenks said the crew is going to Minnesota for the summer for more testing, and I’ve heard the 2009 DS450 will sport a lot of changes based on what was learned in this first year. In Pennsylvania, Jenks and Bithell both finished in the top ten for the first time this year, so it’s coming around. And Borich is pretty much out of this year’s championship hunt, but it would cool to see the Killer B’s battling for wins in the fall.


Here’s what Borich had to say about his win when the Versus TV people asked: “We had a decent start, top ten, got into the top three started battling Cook and Brandon Sommers. Sommers got by me in the rock section, then we hit a straight section with a lot of kickers and I just held it wide open and got back past him. I knew the bike could do it and I knew I could do it. We’re finally getting ”˜er dialed in.”Â

Did you see Tuesday Toolbox with Cheyanne Chadron? It was great to see a girl break through for an overall. I have to give credit to Jesi Stracham, who was the first female podium finisher in the Youth Ranks when she scored third overall back at Power Line Park in 2006. Jesi then started battling in the Youth Production class while waiting, waiting and waiting to finally turn 16 so she could race a full-size ATV. She finally turned 16 a few weeks ago and promptly went out and won the Women’s Novice class. Jesi took third in that class over the weekend in Pennsylvania.

Anyway, when I called Cheyanne Chadron for the interview on Tuesday, I talked to her mom Jessica, first. She has a couple of GNCC racers hanging out at the house, and she had a great quote: “My kids had their school picnic today, then we went riding, then tomorrow we’ll go canoeing, and then I’ll take them back home to Ohio. Their racing buddies are better friends than their school friends.”Â


So we brought the UTVs back this weekend and it was better than the first time. We’re still learning about this. For now on, we will only allow spectators to watch from designated areas, and also, all drivers and passengers will have to have four-point harnesses.


William Yokley won again in his National Guard Polaris. Check out his race report here for the best tale of what it was like. Or, check out this letter below:


Hey, I just wanted you to know how much fun my wife and I had at the Somerset GNCC yesterday. We were true underdogs in the Lites limited class with our 450 Rhino, but worked up to 6th before it was over. We loved it. I haven’t raced the GNCCs for a while but still ride weekly with the Senior A, no. 2 guy, Randy. The UTV race was a way for me to involve my wife and now she is hooked. We hope to be at the last two in the fall. The only suggestion would be to lengthen the track out to about four miles and a little more technical. I know it’s hard to do but you always seem to come through.

Thanks so much for the opportunity.

Leroy and Sue Shook


Thanks for the letter, Leroy and Sue. We’ve heard a lot of people talk about how cool it is to get their wife in on the fun. And we’ll keep working on the tracks so we can have passing and technical stuff and the right amount of length so spectators can watch, too.


Big thanks for Moose Racing and for setting up dinners at the track over the weekend. And here’s a pat on the back to the band Ten Man Push, who had rain dampen their efforts on Saturday night. They’ll be back for their home race at Unadilla in September with a really big Saturday night show planned. Be there.


Here’s where we introduce a new feature on Quick Fill. We’re calling this Check Point. The week after a race, we’ll review all the post-race awards and info. The week before the events, will add in small bits of info on what’s new, like directions, weather, rule changes, special events and such. This week we look at our special awards from PA:

ITP XC1 Holeshot Bill Ballance

Rekluse XC2 Holeshot Eric Hoyland Amateur Overall Angel Atwell

Racer X Illustrated XC1 Holeshot Jimmy Jarrett XC2 Holeshot Dustin Gibson

AXA Advisors Amateur Holeshot Michael Ayersman (4-Stroke C Lites) and Jeff Little (Super Senior C 45+)


The AXA Advisors folks decided to give out two holeshot awards this time since we won’t have any true holeshots at Snowshoe (at that race, we will start in rows of five on the blacktop there). To celebrate, we called AXA Advisor’s Annette Lyon over to the podium. Well, when Annette showed up, she was going crazy, crying and yelling. What was the problem? Well, Anette’s husband Michael was out racing, and she thought she was getting called over the PA system because he was hurt!


Turns out we just wanted these photo ops.

Jeff Little with the originator of the AXA Advisors Holeshot Award

Mike Ayersman.
Carrie Coombs photos

Also, thanks goes to Instigator Racing for sponsoring the first-ever UTV Holeshot Award. William Yokley snagged it along with the overall win the UTV race.

Have you checked out Jason Hooper’s new video on the main page? Hoops put together some great footage from Somerset, and you’ll see exactly how David Knight was able to check out on the field, and how close Strang and Kanney were down into the last corner. It’s worth a look.

Finally, we just received our new copy of Dirt Bike Magazine here in the office, and we’re just honored at one of their selections. Dirt Bike picked the top riders, promoters, races and racers in their 30-some years of covering off-road riding and racing. The editors there selected our own founder, “Big” Dave Coombs, as the #1 off-road racing promoter of all time. And even better, they selected Dave’s wife Rita (who is still president of our company) as #2! So Team GNCC runs 1-2. We couldn’t be prouder. Thanks to the guys at Dirt Bike for giving Dave and Rita so much credit.

Snowshoe will be the next race on the GNCC Schedule. Last year we kicked around the idea of using a longer course, maybe 25 miles. Our track crew feels like they can get to a better variety of trails if they go out that far, where as last year's track was basically really fast in some spots, and really, really hard in others. We're thinking about the longer lap again. If we make it happen, we'll let everyone know well in advance so you can plan ahead.

That’s it. Quick Fills after the races are always a bit long, so I hope you all hung in there. We’ll have more news next week, as we’ll be rolling along all summer until we’re back on the track in September. See you then!

Has Atwell taken control of the Women's Class Championship? See you in September!
Krista Shaw photo


Bryan Buckhannon did it! Congrats on the Open 4x4 title!
Hooper photo

Steward Baylor. Does he look 13 to you?
Krista Shaw photo

A lot of riders wished the Caselli family well in Pennsylvania. We would like to do the same here.
God Speed, Rich Caselli.
Photo courtesy KTM