GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Team Big Nutz Racing

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | 6:45 PM

Big Nutz Racing. Sound good? Team BNR is a group of privateer ATV racers that understands what GNCC Racing is all about. They race and ride hard in their classes, but they do it as a team, because this series is about friendship and camaraderie as much as it is results. BNR Team Manager Ryan Smith put together these interviews with his team riders (and by the way, Ryan is not a bad racer himself, racing the Junior B class and also a Rhino in the UTV races).

Interviews by Ryan Smith

Robert Smith #212 (2008 U2 Class Runner Up)

How did your 2008 season go?
Well, I thought it was going to go great until some guy named Sam (Williams) came in!  But, overall, the season went pretty good. I had a couple of mechanical issues that hurt me, but overall I feel that I improved a great bit from last year, and I believe that the U2 top riders have all gotten faster. I really started in the hole with bad luck in the beginning of the year, but winning the last three races really feels great. I only lost by one point this year, last year I only got second by one point, so I'm getting closer.

It may not be known that but you normally don't ride or race between GNCCs, and still you have gotten second place in the championship the last two years. Are you planning on hitting it a little harder to win that championship this year?
Thanks for reminding me! I hope to have a better season, next year. I have another quad to practice on, now so maybe I will ride a little more. It would be nice with a little more support, but I can only do so much with grad school, work, working on my machine and the teams' ATVs, and hosting after school activities.

You got your first ever podium at Ironman GNCC and shared the podium with two Factory Can-Am guys. How did that feel?
It feels great. My brother said I had to do it, and I really felt at the end of the year I could and did. The race was great, but I didn't think I would hold on to it in the last lap, as my quad would only run on one cylinder. It has always been a goal to me to get on the podium and being so early in my racing career, I believe that I have many more to come.

What are your plans for 2009?
Unless anything major changes, I plan on running last year's bike with a new bigger motor from After Midnight Racing. I believe that the quad is set up really good and I will not have to make as many changes this year. I plan on riding more this winter; I've already ridden more than last year. I plan on winning more races, getting on the podium, and getting a championship.

Cory Blinkiewicz  #223 20+ C champion

You won the 20+ C Championship this year how does it feel to be National Champ?

It feels really good to accomplish something like this, even if it was just a C class Championship in some people's eyes.

You came out super strong after the break. Did you really think you had a shot at winning this championship?
Not with the way everyone else was riding in my class. We talked about it, and you pretty much told me it was over, and I could just go out to try to win races one by one. I didn't really look at the points to see what needed to happen, because I needed a miracle. With a lot of luck, hard work and great teamwork everything fell into place I guess.

What are your plans for next year?
I will be riding Junior B next year starting in Georgia.

What will you take away from the 2008 season to look back on in the years to come?
This was my first year racing GNCCs, so mostly just a lot of experience. I didn't realize how long this season was. I have become a lot more patient and I make better decisions in the woods as opposed to the beginning of the year.

Eric Burch (College B)
How did the 2008 season go for you?
My '08 season was pretty rough. I was not where I wanted to be at all, or where I know I could have been. Between mechanical problems, and some bad luck, it made for a pretty embarrassing season. I have continued to train everyday in hopes of having a successful '09 season.

I know you had some tough times at the GNCC races but were always towards the top at locals, what do you think the difference is?

The College B class consists of some pretty intense competition, there's not much else I can say. I didn't ride as smart as I should have, and I wasn't in the shape I needed to be in, point blank. I think the difference between a one-hour and two-hour race also had a lot to do with it. It was easier for me to keep a smart pace during a one-hour race. The results show that. I just have to keep pushing myself to the limits and hope for the best.

What are you plans for 2009?

I have a lot of catching up to do to be where I need to be. My goal is to just consistently pop off some top 5 finishes.

Kevin Yoho (Pro-Am)

How did your 2008 season go?
The 2008 season didn't go as I hoped it would. I was on a new quad that was not yet proven in the Pro or Pro-Am classes. During the summer break I received help from Tim Farr and his mechanic Sam Shahan. After that I got things together and got on the podium.

I know you and Brandon Sommers use to race against each other a lot and you even beat him a few times in the A class. Do you think if you get a couple breaks you can get back up there again?
Brandon and I go back to the A class where we went back and forth battling all year until he wrapped it up at Unadilla. We race each other at the local CRA series and I know I can run with him and would like to be able to again.

I know you train harder than anyone out there. What does your training week consist of?
A training week for me is lifting weights four days a week, and either riding mountain bike thirty miles a day or running six to eight. This year I was fortunate enough to have Polaris behind me, and I was able to ride two or three times a week, which I've never been able to do in the past.

What are your 2009 plans?
For 2009 I feel I've got the quad where I want it and I'm going to try and take it one race at a time and get on the podium consistently. Hopefully top three in XC2.

Pat Burch #75 (College A)

How would you sum up your 2008 season?
Ups and downs the whole year. Started strong at Georgia with a 4th in the class then struggled some until late in the season when I got another 4th in College A at New York. I started to feel real good at the end of the year.

What was your most memorable moment of 2008 on or off the track?
Just getting with all the guys at every race was a lot of fun and it is awesome to be a part of such a great team. I can't wait to do it again next year.

What have you been up to in the off-season so far?
I've been going to the gym hard since a week after the Ironman. Since I am attending college that's about all I have been doing. Since Winter break started I am getting some riding in and hope to keep going to the gym and maybe run some locals in the early part of next year to prepare for next season. I am working with Christian at MXN for next year. He has me on a program and it seems to be working great.

What are your plans for next year any?

I will still be in College A on a Yamaha everything is pretty much exactly the same for next year. Just looking for a strong year.

What is the deal with you missing the banquet? You got nominated for Best Bod and you weren't there!
I was busy getting a nice wax job so I could look good for next year and leave me shirt off. No seriously, if I knew I was going to be nominated, I would have showed up for sure.

Nick Plisko #219 (3rd place in 16-19 C)

How did your 2008 season go?

It started off real well with a 7th overall and a 1st in 16-19 C class at my first national ever in Georgia. Then I had a few more wins and felt great when I switched over to my Yamaha and had the points lead going into the last two races of the year. Unfortunately, I got two flat tires in the last two races and lost the championship. I will have Tire Balls next year for sure. That was hard to swallow.

Did you think this was going to be an easy championship to win after you won your first national?
Yes, not to sound cocky, but once I won my first race ever I thought it was going to be much easier. Kolton Burd, Justin Kirchoff and Michael Marley really came on strong though and it just wasn't meant to be.

What was your most memorable moment on or off the track in 2008?
At the Yadkinville race on Friday, we all decided to go ride go carts. We put go carts in the GPS and headed out. About 45 minutes later we arrived at the go cart track to find out it was out of business and had weeds growing through it. I was mad at the time, but it makes a funny story. There is never a dull moment when riding in the Big Nutz Rig going to the races.

What are your plans for 2009?

College B on my Yamaha. Pretty much all the same sponsors and I will be riding in the Big Nutz Rig again. Can't wait to get it started.

AJ Koontz (XC2 Pro Am)

Sum up your 2008 season?

This season has been a rough one. I started out good with a win in Georgia, but it went down from there.  I had two okay finishes in South and North Carolina, but then I broke my hand and was out for a few races.  After I came back it took a few races to get back in the groove.  I also had some bad luck with brake downs and crashes that kept me back in the points.  It just seemed like every time I got going, something went wrong.

What is the deal with your terrible starts? Do you just want to give everyone a head start?

I do have a lot of trouble with my starts.  I have practiced them and talked to a lot of people about how to get better starts, but I just can't seem to get better. I hope that I can figure them out this year.

What are your 2009 plans?

I will race 2009 in the Pro Am (XC2) class for the full season.  I have been working with Mark Spataro since Thanksgiving to get myself ready, and I just bought a new Honda to race the season with.  I am going to give it everything I have this season because I feel that I need to prove that I belong in that class. I know I am fast enough, but I want to prove it.  I also would like to thank my dad, for supporting me, getting me to the races and working on my bike, my girl friend, Elite Performance Racing, Moto Pro Training and of course, Big Nuts Racing. With out them I could not do it.

(Team Big Nutz Racing would like to Northridge Yamaha, Chester Vet Clinic, Answer Racing, Spider Grips, GT Thunder, and Prographx. They also welcome Nathan Hornacek to the team next year in the 20+ C class.)