GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Bob Dunlap

Tuesday Toolbox: Bob Dunlap

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | 1:10 PM
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | 1:10 PM

Bob Dunlap had another stellar season in 2014. While he came up a little short on his class title defense in the Open-A class, Bob still came away 2nd place in the final Open-A points. With his eyes set on different plans for 2015 and beyond, we caught up with Bob to find out more. How's everything going today?
Bob Dunlap: Everything's going good! We couldn't work today because of the weather so I had the day off to take care of some errands and such. I just got home from my buddy Braden Henthorn's birthday dinner and now here I am.

So how have you been spending your winter break so far?
Working! To be honest, I haven't ridden since Ironman. So I've just been working most of the time and on the weekends I've just been having fun hunting or fishing or with my lady.

Bob Dunlap won the Open A championship in 2013, but came up just a little short on defending that title in 2014
Bob Dunlap won the Open A championship in 2013, but came up just a little short on defending that title in 2014 Photo: Adam Metz

What are your plans for the rest of the winter?
Right now, just keep working and saving my money. Ride on the weekends with all the usual suspects around home. Names like Doug Blackwell, Thad Duvall, Brady Myers, Braden Henthorn, and Sam Evans are just a few of the more known guys from the nationals that live here. We have no shortage of woods racing talent, that's for sure.

So tell us how your 2014 season went.
Wow, what an up and down year, honestly. After winning the championship last year in Open-A, I suppose I came in as the guy to beat, but I sure didn't ride like that. My fitness wasn't there, and neither was my riding, or my enthusiasm for that matter. But as the year went on, even though we got better and better, I was never exactly where I needed to be. Mostly because I was basically a Sunday rider (laughs) I did about 70 hours of racing this season between the nationals and the locals, and I have 94 hours on my bike right now, so that's nowhere near the riding I needed to have done to be competitive.

Even getting edged out for the class championship, it was still a good season though!
I wish I would’ve had the same consistency that led me to the title last year, but I just had too many bad races. I rode badly in Florida and Georgia, and then I was really sick with a cold at a gnarly Snowshoe. I missed a golden opportunity for the driver’s seat at Powerline when both of my competitors broke, but my fuel pump died, so that really put a damper on my chances. But it was still a good season, even though I lost in the end. Most of the problem this year was with my confidence and enthusiasm. Deep down I knew all year that I wasn't where I needed to be physically and it showed up in my endurance, obviously, and it translated to poor enthusiasm about the races. I didn't really want to race as bad as I did the year before because I wasn't in the physical condition required to be successful. The sad part is I won it last year so I knew what I had to do, and I knew what it took. It was sort of a double edged sword in a way. They say it's harder to defend a championship than it is to win, and that couldn't be truer!

Seems like Dunlap is looking to retire from full time racing in 2015 
Seems like Dunlap is looking to retire from full time racing in 2015  Photo: Loretta Joy

What was the biggest highlight of the season for you?
The biggest highlight of the year for me since I got beat at the nationals was winning the Pro Am class championship and finishing 3rd overall at the WEXCR series. It's a great series with a lot of stiff competition from the GNCCs so it's something to be proud of. Another highlight for me personally is finishing second at the nationals on what little riding and training I did. Yes, I worked out, but not near as hard as I should have, and nothing beats seat time! At the end of the day, I have to hold my head up high and look at how far I've come. My first GNCC was Powerline Park 2007 and I finished 14th in 4 Stroke C Lites and 119th Overall. I think about that a lot and it's hard to believe we've came that far, to winning the Open-A National Championship and finishing second the next year by just a few points. It's something that I like to hang my hat on!

So do you have any plans for 2015 yet?
I have no plans for racing in 2015. Honestly I am going to say that retirement is my plan! I may end up racing the WEXCR series, but I doubt I will be seen at the nationals, except for the close ones to home. I want to save my money and buy a house, among other things. I love racing and I'm sure I'll wish I decided to do it again, but unless someone offers me a lot of help for next year, I'd say I'll just try to terrorize the locals!

Dunlap doesn't have all this 2015 plans set, but hopes to buy a house in Morgantown
Dunlap doesn't have all this 2015 plans set, but hopes to buy a house in Morgantown Photo: Ken Hill

Wow! Hate to hear that but I understand. So even with that, what do you hope to do in 2015?
Since I'm not racing full time in 2015, I hope to buy a house in Morgantown where my fiancé goes to school. She’ll be up there for a while, so we are looking to settle down somewhere while she's doing her schooling. As far as the WEXCR series goes, if I do decide to do the whole series, I'll try to win my class and finish in the top 5 overall. Also I'd like to win a morning overall at the nationals. I've yet to do that so it's on my retirement to-do's!

What's it going to take to make that happen?
To succeed in my racing goals, it will take at least some riding and training, which I'm not going to quit doing. I enjoy riding more than ever and I like being in decent shape, so hopefully I can sprint for two hours. If I was to be talked into racing the nationals, it'll take lots more help, riding, and training. Trust me, I've learned my lesson on going at it half-heartedly. You might as well not even waste the time!

What about beyond 2015?
As of right now, just taking it one year at a time, so who knows what I'll be into then. Hopefully more hunting and fishing and spending time with family and friends!

And I heard that you also recently got engaged!
You heard right! My fine little lady Miss Chelsea Sammons has agreed to be my wife! We’ve been together for a long time, so I figured I better lock her down before someone else tries to (laughs) I told her the ring was the most money I had ever spent on something I couldn't race.

Congrats to Bob Dunlap on all of his GNCC success
Congrats to Bob Dunlap on all of his GNCC success Photo: Ken Hill

Alright, before we wrap this up, who would you like to thank?
This will probably be a long list, because so many people have helped me along the way, and this could very well be the last time I get this opportunity so I'll make the best of it.

First and foremost I have to thank my Mom and Dad. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have come even remotely close to making it as far as I have. I owe them more than I could ever repay, because they have put just as much blood, sweat, and tears into this as anyone. Thanks to my Mamaw Joyce for all of the help and support over the years. She comes to every race that she can and she doesn't miss many! Thank you to my Mamaw Carol as well for the financial support she has offered! Thank you to my beautiful fiancé Miss Chelsea Lynn who has put in just as much work in the gym as I have cracking the whip to get my butt in gear, and always doing her best to keep me going. Thank you to Doug Blackwell for the help he has given me, not only with my bike but also being a great mentor to me, and now a great friend. Thank you to Steve Piggott for teaching me so many different things before and during my career that have helped me to so much success. Thank you all of my friends that have gave me help and encouragement from the very beginning, you know who you are. Thank you to Tom Fleming and his entire family at TF Racing for the help and support and friendship the past few years. Also thank you to my sponsors, DSD Kawasaki, Fly Racing, Stuk Mx Graphix, Ride Engineering, Seat Concepts, Rekluse, and Acerbis. Thank you to Billy Houpe for being a close friend to me and giving me a place to ride in Florida for the past 4 years. Also thank you to my competitors over the years for keeping me on my toes each and every year. Brady Myers, you and I have had more close races together than we have with anyone else, thanks for always keeping it clean and holding it on the pipe! Thank you to Steve Thaxton for patching me back together multiple times and being such a great friend and competitor. I'm sure I've forgotten someone, so if you feel left out, thank you. Finally, thanks to the GNCC and WEXCR series for holding such great events. Thank you for the opportunity to be in a Tuesday Toolbox, again. If this is the last time I ever have this opportunity, thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart. It's been one hell of a ride!