GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #4: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #4: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, January 29, 2015 | 3:45 PM
Thursday, January 29, 2015 | 3:45 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill.

And the countdown ensues….five weeks until the opening round. Ahhh! 

Let’s jump right into the action of this week. I caught up with Johnny Campbell Racing/Honda’s Chris Bach this morning to learn what the Indiana native has been up to this winter. If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen my nice little shout-out to the #twitterless CB, commending him on his recent upgrade in text-message-grammar. Let me add, if you’re friends with Bach and you’ve ever had a text message conversation with him you already know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never experienced it, well, just know that he’s graduated to real words and sentences. I’m only kidding. It wasn’t THAT bad, but it was definitely a unique style of conversation!

Chris Bach will ride the #9 JCR/Honda in 2015
Chris Bach will ride the #9 JCR/Honda in 2015 Photo: Courtesy of JCR Honda

Anyway, Chris recently spent some time out west, stationed at the Johnny Campbell Racing HQ near Murrieta, California. It’s pretty cool to hear about the GNCC guys experience of the west coast because basically all them train and ride here on the east coast, because, well that’s the type of terrain they race. But for the race shop to be located that far away, it does make the logistics a little more difficult. Bach said it was nice, though. They set up “a nice little private test loop” around the shop to dial in a bunch of things on the bike, which is a Honda CRF450R. He said they did some riding at Beaumont, trail riding and “grass track ripping” in the hills, and hit some local tracks in Southern California while he was out there. And then he also did some west coast racing, with the Adelanto GP, AMA West Hare Scramble and AMA West Check Enduro, all of which he said were awesome experiences and definitely different from the east coast GNCC-style racing he’s used to.

What did Chris think of all this, I asked. He said, “It was equally as awesome as it was terrible. Ah, I shouldn’t say that. Actually, yes I should. It’s honest. It was great to get out of the "cycle" here on the east coast and kind of check out completely for a bit. I got to race my west coast peers, ride some wild terrain, and get a lot accomplished with the team in a short time.” However, Chris said, “We’re spoiled here on the east coast in that we have amazing dirt to ride on. All the stuff that makes a GNCC a GNCC, like quality dirt, ruts and all that good stuff.” He added, “The experience out west was great and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I’m glad to be back home and ready for some Florida sand and trees!”

The grass is always greener on the other side, unless you’re riding in the desert. In that case, the sun is a little warmer. But in any case, cross training with different terrain, speeds, and climates has always proven to be a good thing for off-road racers since there’s so many variables when it comes to racing. 

From time to time we like to add in guest contributors here in Quick Fill, and this week I’m going to toss is over to a familiar name as Jason “Hoop Daddy” Hooper gives you the lowdown on what’s taking place in his area in North Carolina.

Bach is all smiles and right at home with the Johnny Campbell Racing Team
Bach is all smiles and right at home with the Johnny Campbell Racing Team Photo: Courtesy of JCR Honda

Testing in North Carolina (Jason Hooper)

It's that time of the year where everyone—especially the top pros—is scrambling to get their bikes and bodies ready for the upcoming year. I was out at a local practice track yesterday testing the new scoring system for the sprint enduros I'm running this year and I ran into former Japanese XC Champion Takeshi Koikeda putting in some laps. Takeshi is really pumped for 2015 and said he is very grateful to have the support of American Honda behind his program and has high hopes of putting the red machine on the podium this year. He was actually riding a 2014 bike yesterday but said he expects his 2015 CRF450R to show up any day now.

It wasn’t publicized too much, but Koikeda actually suffered a broken collarbone at the end of 2014 (at Bolton's GP race!) but is all healed up and looking forward to the upcoming season. Takeshi put in some really stand-out rides in 2014 but had a couple setbacks in the form of bad luck that resulted in the #12 overall position, which is pretty darn good considering the deep field of talent inside the top 20! Many people also forget that Takeshi is one of the older guys on the circuit. He may not look that old but he’s been racing Supercross and Motocross back since the late 90s here in the USA (finishing as high as 16th overall in 250 outdoors in 1998) before starting a successful off-road career in Japan, so he's been at this for quite some time. 

Rockstar/Husqvarna's Josh Strang was also out testing yesterday. Josh was putting in laps on his FC450 GNCC bike as well as his 350 machine that he'll use to contest the entire National Enduro Series for 2015. Strang has only ever raced one National Enduro—last year's Little Brown Jug—where he finished second-overall so this will be a new experience for him racing two full series. This is the second time I've seen Strang on his new Husqvarna and he looks right at home on the bike. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising considering this is his fifth different brand in five years, so switching bikes is nothing new to him!

If you're looking for an excuse to head South prior to the GNCC kickoff, check out the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series opener that I'm putting on in Gaston, SC on February 21-22. The format consists of short (3-4 mile) special tests that you'll race multiple times in a day. There's a reset between each test that makes it the perfect format for making bike changes throughout the day. In fact, the FMF/KTM Factory Team will be on hand doing exactly that so why not join them? For more info on the event check out

Jesse Groemm had a good day of racing at the Burnt Gin Hare Scramble this past weekend
Jesse Groemm had a good day of racing at the Burnt Gin Hare Scramble this past weekend Photo: Courtesy of Instagram

Racing Is Happening! (Jared Bolton)
Last week I mentioned some of the upcoming off-season racing. Well, last weekend saw the annual Burnt Gin Hare Scramble in Wedgefield, South Carolina. This race always draws one of the largest crowds for off-season racing and this year was no different with right around 300 riders, which is pretty good for a bike only non-national event!

The Burnt Gin is also traditionally a little tighter and more technical race. This is done by design as the same club who does the Sumter National Enduro, and many times the hare scramble loop serves as a section for the enduro, so it’s perfect practice for riders who will be having a crack at the enduro.

Historically, Charlie Mullins has absolutely ruled the Burnt Gin. If memory serves me correctly, I believe Charlie has claimed the overall win at the Burnt Gin every year since 2010. However, Charlie is still nursing his wrist a bit and decided not to race this year, leaving the door open to a new winner.

Russell Bobbitt is another rider who always excels at the Burnt Gin and typically leads portions of the race. This year, Bobbitt would come away with the win while Steward Baylor came from as far back as 6th place to take 2nd. Jessie Groemm also put in a great ride aboard his new Beta to come away with 3rd while the AmPro Yamaha duo of Grant Baylor and Jordan Ashburn rounded out the top 5, respectively.

Adam McGill will NOT be switching to Yamaha for 2015
Adam McGill will NOT be switching to Yamaha for 2015 Photo: Ken Hill

Adam McGill Will Not Turn Blue (Rodney Tomblin)
Contrary to a number of the GNCC XC1 Pros Adam McGill announced to me that he most definitely would not be riding a Yamaha in 2015. Amid no rumors of the subject I got a late evening text from McGill Mafia DOM. He said that he realizes there is a lot of talk about other people, and the possibility or even an announcement, of the switch to the Yamaha but that he is most definitely is not. This was settling, considering I haven’t even considered it, and it will help keep that thought out of our mind. It was a good laugh and a good sign from the McGill camp that things are right on track.

I contacted him from his secret not so secret lair in south Florida where he had this to say of current situations:  

We’ve been training hard, chasin’ women and cashing checks!!  (Laughs)  No all has been well. Hayley and I bought a home 2 weeks ago. And other than that I just have been training solo in Brooksville at Steve Johnson’s place. I have been going to the Costal Ranch some and I am getting ready to pack up and head down to Myakka City and hang out with the ”family” till the racing starts.”

Adam says that his program will be pretty much be the same this year, but is expecting to be announcing a new title sponsor for 2015. There are some details to still work out, but things seem to be on track and the McGill Mafia is expected to be a huge threat once again this year. If you paid any attention last year you know he was only a couple of bad races out of contention for the championship, so don’t be surprised if his name is being used a lot when the 2015 title chase hits the homestretch.

I asked Adam also about his training partner Brayden Henthorn and he said he would be in town next week to begin his training. This past winter Brayden has focused a lot of attention on working and making some money. He has mentioned preparing for a life after racing and it looks like he may be looking for the happy medium right now to make it all work. Aside from being one of the fastest men in off-road ATV racing, Brayden works at Mid-Ohio Valley Alloy.

Stew Baylor and Trevor Bollinger have come together to form a KTM supported team
Stew Baylor and Trevor Bollinger have come together to form a KTM supported team Photo: Ken Hill

The B’s in 2015 (Jared Bolton)
So by now most everyone knows that Steward Baylor and Trevor Bollinger have come together to form their own KTM supported team for 2015. Well the Burnt Gin was the first real big outing for the team, which went pretty well with Steward coming away with a 2nd place finish. Bollinger ran into some issues and dropped out of the race after 2 laps, but judging by the Instagram videos the two have been sharing, Bollinger’s speed is definitely up to par.

With Stew tackling the XC1 class, and Bollinger hoping to bid for an XC2 title, 2015 looks to be pretty promising for the duo. They’re also doing a pretty awesome job of keeping everyone updated via social media and I get pretty jealous every time they post a video clip of them riding. Not just because I have a huge urge to go riding and don’t have a bike to do so on, but also just because, well, I wish I could go that fast!

Another thing to think about with Steward for this season is it’s another one of those cases where things come full-circle. One thing that has never changed throughout his career is the fact that Steward has always ridden KTM motorcycles, going back to his days on a 50. As with all factory race teams, multiple companies ranging from graphics to gear, parts and more support the FMF/KTM team. When a rider leaves a factory team and returns to a self-supported effort, it’s always cool to see them return to companies who supported that rider previously. Steward has done the same thing for 2015.

Of course, you also can’t forget about the other Baylor, Grant, who of course landed with the N-FAB AmPro Yamaha team for 2015. Grant seems to be adjusting pretty well to the Yamaha, and while I’m sure Grant wanted something a little better than 4th at the Burnt Gin, that’s still a pretty great finish. We’ll see Grant in XC1 as well this year which will make for the Baylor vs Baylor showdown that people have talked about for a few years now, and that’s going to be pretty awesome!

I mentioned a while back that making the transition from a KTM to any Japanese brand after riding a KTM for your entire life is a pretty difficult task for any rider. However, out of the Japanese brands, it feels to me like the Yamaha is most comparable to a KTM and Grant Baylor seems to be making the transition pretty well. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how he fares about the YZ450 this weekend at the Sumter National Enduro. 

GNCC will be visiting the state of New York twice this season!
GNCC will be visiting the state of New York twice this season! Photo: Ken Hill

WNYOA Celebrates (Rodney Tomblin)
This past weekend I had the honor for a second straight year to host the WNYOA Awards Banquet in Auburn, New York. There was a great turnout by the riders and their families to celebrate the accomplishments of this past season. The awards were off the hook and it was without a doubt a great time. I want to thank everyone for the hospitality and generosity given to my family and me this past weekend.

One of the highlights from the banquet came when WNYOA President Jeff Hart announced to the crowd that The AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis would not only be making two stops in their great state but both would also be co-sanctioned with the national. Everyone seemed to be excited about this. Jeff mentioned that it was an honor to be able to be a part of the GNCC for two rounds for the organization and what it meant to know that GNCC is interested in their participation.

The event that Jeff was referring to is the rescheduled Loretta Lynn’s GNCC to the Tomahawk in Odessa, New York. While the track will be new to GNCC Racing, it’s no stranger to off-road racing as our friends at the Western New York Off-Road Association have hosted races at the property for a number of years and it has even received honors as their “Best Hare Scramble of the Year” in 2012 and again for 2014.

It is said that this track is located in a beautiful setting of the Seneca Highlands with a breathtaking view that will be a great addition to GNCC Racing. It is also said that weather wise that time of year it could still be a little cold and I have been told that it wouldn’t be a surprise to find some snow still in the deep thick wooded areas of the property. I take this a warning to bring some warm clothes and extra blankets. Bring it on!

One Man Push (Rodney Tomblin)
You may remember the band Ten Man Push from a few years ago. They were the band introduced to the off-road racing world by brother-in-laws Rodney Smith and Steve Hatch. You may remember the theme song to RacerTV for a few years and a song I often play during warm up, it’s called “Playin’ In the Dirt.” That was the title track of a really great album. The band Ten Man Push with lead man Lonnie Park played many GNCC venues and even became known as the official band of motocross.

Lonnie has actually gone on to be quite acclaimed in the music industry actually being nominated in 2013 with a surprise Grammy Nomination as composer and musician on Arun Shenoy’s “Rumbadoodle.” Then in 2014 Lonnie Park was invited to perform at a Grammy kick-off party in LA to a venue full of industry pro’s and music industry royalty!

Lonnie said he has a new album “Almost Showtime” country in nature has been under construction for well over a year.  A labor of love, the album is finally hitting the shelves and airways on April 1, 2015 preceded by the release of the infectious title song “Chasing Big Bucks” as the first single. This fun and catchy song has long been considered one of the top choices as a “kick-off” single for the project.

Lonnie also told me, “After years of touring with Ten Man Push and partying with the awesome GNCC and Motocross families around the US, the material on this album was written with them in mind. They are the most real and honest people I have ever met and really represent the core of America. It is a rocking country album for the rocking country folks.”  

GNCC will have a few prerelease copies and we may be the first to hear the next big hits! I can’t wait to check it out!

John Ayers is the mastermind behind MotoTees and Gear Custom Products (which print the plaques and banners you see at the races) but he also won the 1980 Blackwater 100!
John Ayers is the mastermind behind MotoTees and Gear Custom Products (which print the plaques and banners you see at the races) but he also won the 1980 Blackwater 100! Photo: GNCC Archives

#ThrowbackThursday (Jared Bolton)

It's a little hard to tell who this muddy rider is, but I know you 250R fanatics will love it!
It's a little hard to tell who this muddy rider is, but I know you 250R fanatics will love it! Photo: GNCC Archives
For your Blackwater photo of the week, here's Terry Cunningham making his way through the first part of the Route 92 River Crossing in 1987
For your Blackwater photo of the week, here's Terry Cunningham making his way through the first part of the Route 92 River Crossing in 1987 Photo: GNCC Archives
Some folks newer to the GNCC Racing world may not know it, but Thad Duvall's dad, Chad, was a top ATV racer back in his day with 8 overall wins to his name
Some folks newer to the GNCC Racing world may not know it, but Thad Duvall's dad, Chad, was a top ATV racer back in his day with 8 overall wins to his name Photo: GNCC Archives


Find out more about the John Penton Movie being celebrated at Cleveland Progressive International Motorcycle Show.

Find out more on the defending Pro Am champion with this week's Tuesday Toolbox with Cole Richardson

Photo: GNCC Archives

What's New on

This week, The Racer X Show features highlights from a big night of racing in Oakland, California with the fourth round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. Also featured, exciting highlights from round three of AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael's Road to Supercross in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We also explain a recent change in the Women's class structure at the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Championship presented by AMSOIL.

Host Greg White caught up with Team Honda's Trey Canard to hear all about his first 450SX win since 2011, as well as a little more about the recent on-track controversy. Greg also chats with Babbitt's Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jacob Hayes, who grabbed the AMSOIL Arenacross win on Friday night in Colorado Springs. Catch The Racer X Show online now, only on

News from GNCC, Riders and Sponsors

Check out the Special offer that KR4 is offering until February 28.

ITP Introduces New UltraCross R Spec Tire for UTVs.