GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #39: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #39: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, October 16, 2014 | 4:00 PM
Thursday, October 16, 2014 | 4:00 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill.

This week comes to you from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for the second annual American International Motorcycle (AIM) Expo. We’re in the midst of closing out day one of the show and I’ve already seen quite a few of our top GNCC racers milling around! I spent some time hanging out with Youth bike rider Jesse Ansley, Side-by-Side racer Tim Farr and the JB Racing crew, morning bike BAD ASS Vance Earl, AmPro Yamaha’s Randy Hawkins and Corey Macdonald, as well as a huge panel of GNCC sponsors. It’s always a good time to catch up with industry folks and of course have a little fun along the way!

As most of the motorcycle and ATV industry is down here in Orlando, several others are vamping up for the Monster Energy Cup in Vegas this weekend. But one of the hottest topics still remains the great action that GNCC has yet to encounter at the Ironman finale next weekend. We’ve got plenty of hype surrounding the XC1 ATV Championship battle with a “guest” entry down below. In fact, it’s such a great piece I’m going to substitute that for my entry this week. Enjoy!

Powerline Park Goes Viral (Jared Bolton)

So if you haven't seen the clip from the Powerline Mudhole of the bike rider crashing, and the spectator jumping over it then casually continuing to talk on his cell phone, then you've possibly been hiding under a rock. This week that clip has gained worldwide attention. 

It's been seen on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, MTV's website, and about a zillion other websites. That's pretty cool that Powerline Park has officially gone viral and even made its way onto TV for everyone to see. 

For those who don't know, the "cell phone guy" is the father of Powerline Park WXC class winner, Brooke Cosner who rides for the folks at KR4.

What I find even funnier is, after talking to some folks around the office and other GNCC regulars, they seem to all have the same reaction. We all seem to say that, it's pretty funny and wild but we see things like that all the time. We, the GNCC Racing Nation, are almost immune to these types of things. We see so many awesome things week in and week out that it just becomes normal to us.

I've said for a while now that I wish I could have a camera running at all times and keep a GoPro on my when I'm out in the woods because I've seen so many wild and crazy things out there that we could have years worth of highlights to share.

Now, I'm not trying to say that the clip isn't awesome and doesn't deserve the attention it's getting. It's pretty funny, and Mr. Cosner's ninja-like skills and nonchalant "this phone call is important" attitude is pretty awesome all in itself.

GNCC goes viral...check out the video HERE
GNCC goes viral...check out the video HERE Photo: via GNCC Facebook

XC1 ATV Championship Showdown (Jason Weigandt)

Hi folks, Jason Weigandt here. I'm the guy who wrote this column many, many years ago, and I'm back for this edition because I seriously can't believe the XC1 ATV Championship has turned out to be this close! If any of you were with us the last time we had a real title fight, then of course you know, THIS MEANS WAR.

When you only have three GNCC ATV champions over a 20-year period, you know the changing of the guard does not come easy. The Barry Hawk transition to Bill Ballance happened quickly only because Barry parked the ATV to focus on bikes, but to this day Bill Ballance laments not getting another season to try to take it to Barry straight up. Surely that year would have been a slugfest. When Chris Borich came along to challenge Bill's reign, we saw drama, controversy and conspiracy theories. Borich and Ballance, the battle of the Killer B’s. This had it all.

It took Borich basically five years to wrestle the title from Ballance. Chris was a young gun on the rise, but when he won the first two races of the season in 2005, it looked like his time had come. Ballance started the year injured but battled back to get the points lead, only to break his leg in a devastating crash, get this, during a photo shoot for Yamaha! The title was all Borich, as Ballance couldn't even race round 10 in North Carolina. But Bill showed up for Unadilla, busted leg and all, saying he'd just "seat ride" all day and try to hang in there. As luck would have it, Borich DNF’d with mechanical issues and Ballance salvaged a second. He'd survive to win the title. Borich again won the opener in 2006, and he and Ballance dueled all season. Unadilla proved to be Borich's undoing again, as he blew an engine while leading. "I’ve been working really hard, but this championship got away from me this year," he said. "I’m not going to let this put me down, I am going to come back out and show these boys what’s up.”

The XC1 ATV Championship has not had a battle like this season's since 2005.
The XC1 ATV Championship has not had a battle like this season's since 2005. Photo: Ken Hill

Then came 2007. Oh, 2007. Ballance actually got the jump early in the season, but Borich fought back to get the points lead and finally solved his Unadilla jinx with a clutch win. “You have to get worried when it’s this close, getting down to championship crunch time,” said Ballance. “I’ve been in some real pressure points before where I had to make things happen.” Then disaster struck again for Borich at the next round when he blew a shock. Ballance had the points lead back and things were getting desperate with two rounds to go. At St. Clairsville, Borich pulled a questionable move on the final lap, slicing off part of the track to make the pass on Ballance and take the win--but he'd later be penalized back to third due to the cut, which was caught on video. Tempers flared, drama raged, it got crazy. I remember hearing the craziest stuff heading into Ironman that year, accusations of "stuff that was going to happen in the woods" but everyone played nice and Ballance won the title again.  

Racing was barely recognizable in 2008 because factory support and new machines hit the ranks, Borich switching to Suzuki and Adam McGill jumping on a new KTM and suddenly becoming the man to beat! Then bad luck struck McGill and Borich's new rides, and Ballance escaped with yet another title. Things were about to turn for the worse for Bill, though, as he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his ribs just a few weeks before the 2009 season. After surgery, he had a clean bill of health but clearly wasn't ready for the season, and he DNF'd the first two races. Borich rolled, and Ballance, now the one dealing with teething problems on a all-new Yamaha, never got back in the hunt. There were passes, crashes, battles, penalties, conspiracies, surgeries and even cancer--it took five seasons of slugging for Chris Borich to finally land the knockout blow.

I'm surprised Walker Fowler has rallied so quickly after Borich appeared to be rolling again early this season. But in my experience, these titles don't change hands just that easily. Expect this Ironman race to be all-time epic.

Fowler is riding this one out to the end of the season.
Fowler is riding this one out to the end of the season. Photo: Ken Hill

European Invasion (Jared Bolton)

If you tuned into this week's Racer X Show, then you've heard the news that World Enduro superstar, Alex Salvini, will be racing Ironman aboard a JCR Honda. Also joining him will be another European rider, Kari Johnnsen. 

Salvini claimed last year's E2 class championship (basically a 450 class) in the Enduro World Championship and also put himself up front at the ISDE. A few weeks ago when I mentioned Daniel Milner, Salvini will fall into a similar category. He's absolutely blazing fast, however, the long three-hour GNCC afternoon race is a bit different than the sprints he's used to running at World Enduros and the ISDE.

I would definitely expect to see him running up front early. Of course, you never know, he might even stay there for the whole race. While it's a bit different format than what he's used to, the thing about GNCC Racing is that you never really know what could happen. 

Regardless, it's awesome to see Salvini coming to race, along with Johnnsen. Both of these guys are really big deals back in their respective series', so let's all make them feel welcome at their first GNCC. It's pretty cool that Johnny Campbell has been able to make this happen for these guys and hopefully we'll see some similar scenarios play out in the future.

Chris Bach will have some company under the JCR tent at Ironman.
Chris Bach will have some company under the JCR tent at Ironman. Photo: Ken Hill

The 4x4 Pro Players (Rodney Tomblin) 

#202 Robert Smith - In 2013 Smith was awarded 4x4 Rider of the Year. Coming into the season his strength and consistency in 2013 lead many to believe he could be the one to beat. Robert earned the #202 in overall rankings but actually finished 2nd in the U2 Class behind Michael Swift. Swift however only earned #209 and as ironic as it may seem that's how the overall differs from the class championships. So all indications toward counting all races Robert could certainly be a player here. Smith's season consisted of two class wins and host of top fives yielding 3rd in the championship. 

#203 Kevin Trantham - a native of North Carolina, Kevin Trantham has earned his place in history of this sport. Strong, consistent and fast he is capable of a win on nearly any given day. His skills have brought him to the front on more than one occasion. Trantham is not only a threat for class wins but also overall wins. Currently 2nd in points Kevin has an outside chance of winning the inaugural title. He sits 23 points behind #205 Bryan Buckhannon for the title and if Bryan would DNF and Kevin would win the race then he would win the championship. Another scenario would be that if Kevin won and Bryan finished 15th or worse in class then he would win but the likelihood is slim since there has a max of 7 entries in the class so far and even last in the class would yield enough points.... unless there would be a big influx of riders at the Ironman moving up from the 4x4 A/B class. (Highly unlikely though) 

#205 Bryan Buckhannon - One of the toughest competitors on the trails is Bryan Buckhannon? Bryan has won several championships over his racing career and had reached a point that he was all but done racing his ATV. When the 4x4 pro class came so did Bryan. Even though the season started slow he picked up momentum and eventually gained control of the points. He didn't capture his first win till round 6 but has posted a total of 4 and a somewhat comfortable lead heading into the last round. 

#209 Michael Swift - Quite possibly one the biggest threats for the Inaugural class title, Michael Swift came into the season with a whole new program which may have been a slight obstacle for the 4x4 star. Swift was an instrumental part of the whole Can Am ATV racing efforts in its infancy. A switch to a factory backed Polaris effort yielded a building year for this contender but still was able to challenge on more than one occasion and even captured a win late in the season. Swift's main concerns heading into the final round will be maintaining the slim point lead over fellow new Factory Polaris supported rider #399 Rick Cecco. 

#399 Rick Cecco - A former GNCC pro racer, Rick Cecco has extended his off road racing career as well as given it a new life on a couple of occasions. Rick was part of the early factory Can Am efforts and eventually retired after the birth of his son and tightening factory budgets. Rick formed a relationship with factory Polaris and revived his program on every level. Cecco even went as far as acquiring outside the industry or non-endemic sponsorship from the Cold Cock Whiskey. Cecco being a little older and experienced from his pro days knows how to acquire and treat his sponsors and give them recognition even when he isn't in his winning ways. Capturing 5th in points he has the outside chance of earning 4th if all things go in his favor and it's possible Rick could be a threat for the title in 2015. 

#602 Jordan Phillips - Perhaps the youngest rider in the class Jordan Phillips proved early in the season to be a possible championship contender. Phillips won two of the first four rounds of the season but a near mid season DNF set him back even missing a round at the midway point. Phillips may not have played into the championship factor this season but anyone that pays any attention at all knows Jordan may be an obstacle faced to win the championship in the years to come.

The 2014 4x4 Pro class has been stacked with tough competition. 
The 2014 4x4 Pro class has been stacked with tough competition.  Photo: Ken Hill

The Inaugural 4x4 Pro Championship Challenge (Rodney Tomblin)

It's obvious this is undoubtedly one of the most historical years for GNCC ATV racing. Chris Borich set the All Time Wins record and then added a few more. It is the first time in over 20 years the XC1 championship has been this close and it is the first year the 4x4 class ran as a pro class.

One may think from the outside looking in that it didn't make a big deal other than giving a few guys a well-deserved pro class ranking I their division. However it was really a lot more than that. It did do that but it also brought together a group of talent that had up until this point had not had a chance to race head to head in the same class on equal machines. It had been dictated in the past by sponsorship mainly.  

Until recently Can-Am had fielded a large number of racers in several different classes. They would choose top riders and put them in specific classes for the class titles. To help make it more competitive an overall 4x4 title was created but it still never put all the players together on the same line until now. Unfortunately this class may have gotten a little overshadowed as the season progressed by all historical factors weighing from the premier XC1 ATV championship.

Bryan Buckhannon has kept his consistency and finds himself only needing to finished 14th or better at Ironman to win the 2014 4x4 Pro Championship.
Bryan Buckhannon has kept his consistency and finds himself only needing to finished 14th or better at Ironman to win the 2014 4x4 Pro Championship. Photo: Ken Hill

In the new 4x4 Pro class there have been several key players throughout the season. There was a lot of anticipation with the newly formed class as some programs actually became revived by with its birth.  

Riders like Bryan Buckhannon who had won seemingly uncontested in the 4x4 open class for years was literally done with racing ATVs and was set to focus on the new UTV racing.  He was also becoming quite adapted to. Although his mind changed instantly when the class finally reached pro status.  

Unfortunately Bryan Buckhannon’s decision may have made many of the riders that are eligible to ride the pro class elect to duke it out in the 4x4 A/B class. This resulted in not a huge number of riders on the line for the pro division.  The flip side of that would be the overwhelming fact that we finally get to see the guys that we have wanted to see battling it out head to head for a long time together at last. 

In the end we have seen five different race winners and an up and down ride of the point race that at times had fans on the edge of there seats waiting for results. The finale at the Ironman GNCC will not decide the championship most likely, as Buckhannon only needs to score 14th or better to claim the title. A quick calculation shows that if Bryan would DNF and 2nd place point holder Kevin Trantham win then Trantham would be champion. So in retrospect maybe this could get very interesting "IF" something goes wrong for the point leader. The odds however are against this happening as there has only been one DNF in this class all season.

Robert Smith has found himself at the top step of the podium a couple times this year. 
Robert Smith has found himself at the top step of the podium a couple times this year.  Photo: Ken Hill

Zoo City GP To Be Held November 15th (Jared Bolton)

For the past few years I've been putting on an annual GP race at Zoo City Motocross in Asheboro, NC. Well, it's back again and we've scheduled it a little earlier this year. Saturday November 15th will be the race date, which in North Carolina is usually a pretty comfortable time and just about perfect for racing. 

The format is pretty simple. You've got a roughly 2.5-3 mile course made up of fast, flowing woods trails, one or two short tight woods sections, motocross, and an optional extreme section. You get 2 thirty-minute motos, so it's an all out charge from start to finish, and everything is pretty close together. It's awesome for racers and spectators alike. 

Last year saw Charlie Mullins taking the overall Pro class win but with the ISDE going on November 3-8, chances are the guys competing there will be looking to take a break for a little while. So, who's going to take the Pro class honors? 

I'm still finalizing some of the info but it's going to be a great time. I can't give away too much just yet but it's also looking like there's the likelihood of it being a 2-day event with my race on Saturday and a similar event that will be taking place Sunday. I'll update with that info when it's finalized. For now, you can get the flier at 

Whats New on

On the newest Racer X Show there are highlights from the finale of AMA Pro Flat Track racing where the championship was determined by just 3 points, GNCC ATV racing where Walker Fowler has now caught and tied Chris Borich in the championship points standings, and Endurocross from Salt Lake City. There is also an exclusive interview with JCR Honda’s Johnny Campbell, plus a ton of moto news that you don’t want to miss! Check it out HERE

Robert Smith has found himself at the top step of the podium a couple times this year. 
Robert Smith has found himself at the top step of the podium a couple times this year.  Photo: Ken Hill

If you missed the Mountain Ridge GNCC from Somerset, PA or just would like to see yourself on TV, check out the ATV and Bike Highlights show on NBCSN from round 11 on Thursday, October 23 at 4:30 PM EST. Check your local listings HERE. 


The 2014 GNCC Banquet is coming up, get all the information you need, HERE.

Check out Kailub Russell's latest Driven to Win '14 - All Sewn Up video from HERE.

Notes from GNCC, Riders and Sponsors

Ryan Sipes welcomed his new baby boy, Jack Sipes, to the world yesterday. Congrats Ryan, we all know he'll be tearing up the track before we know it!
Ryan Sipes welcomed his new baby boy, Jack Sipes, to the world yesterday. Congrats Ryan, we all know he'll be tearing up the track before we know it! Photo: via @r_sipes instagram

As a feature sponsor of GNCC Racing, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC is excited to announce the return of the Ticket to Ride giveaway at the 2014 Awards Banquet on November 21-22. Last year’s contest was a huge success and a great experience for both Rocky Mountain ATV/MC and the contest winners – superbly described in this firsthand account written by one of last year’s winners HERE.

The Ticket to Ride giveaway will be awarded at random from a pool of eligible riders. This includes the top 10 riders in each PM class along with select upper-level AM classes. For the Friday banquet (ATV), it also includes the XC1, XC2 and XC3 UTV classes. Two winners will be chosen each night for a total of four winners. Each will be invited to bring along a guest to take part in a special riding excursion with the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC crew in Moab, Utah and the surrounding area in the spring of 2015. Winners must be present at their respective banquet in order to win.

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC is proud to be a GNCC Racing sponsor and support the riders who make it America's premier off-road racing series for dirt bikes, ATVs and UTVs. The Ticket to Ride giveaway is an exciting part of the awards banquets and will enhance the GNCC experience for all involved.