GNCC Racing

America's Largest Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Racing Series Returns to Athens County June 6 and 7

Thursday, June 4, 2015 | 6:40 PM


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America's Largest Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Racing Series 
Returns to Athens County June 6 and 7
Local Racers Line Up to Compete Against Nation’s Best Racers 

Morgantown, W.Va. (June 4, 2015)America’s largest off-road motorcycle and ATV racing series returns to Athens County this weekend, June 6 and 7, for the 26th annual John Penton GNCC, to be held at Sunday Creek Raceway in Millfield, Ohio. The event serves as round eight of the 2015 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship.

The John Penton GNCC, established in 1990, is the longest-running race on the schedule.  The venue is a favorite stop for fans and racers alike, due in part to the challenging terrain, dense woods sections and motocross track. The rest of the 11-mile racecourse consists of fun, flowing trails, fast-paced grass sections, rocks, steep uphills and other obstacles that will make this stop a must-see on the tour.

The event is named after legendary Ohio native and off-road racing pioneer, John Penton.  Penton was the original importer of KTM motorcycles from Austria into the United States in the early 1960’s.  Penton saw the need for lightweight, small-bore, off-road specific motorcycles, and created so many improvements to the KTM machines that they were re-branded ‘Penton’.  A biography documenting the life and accomplishments of Penton was published in 2000 and a feature length documentary film narrated by Lyle Lovett was released in 2014.  John Penton will be on hand at the event this weekend to sign autographs and talk racing.  The movie, “The John Penton Story”, will be screened at the event Saturday evening.

Over 1,400 racers are expected to compete at The John Penton GNCC and the event will draw several thousand spectators from the surrounding community, as well as all over the U.S., ultimately bringing an estimated $3 million in revenue to Athens County and surrounding areas. Riders will compete on highly tuned dirt bikes and four-wheeled ATVs, and racers will include top international talent, such as U.S. National Champions and World Champions from Europe, Japan, and Australia. 

The event also offers great opportunity for local racers to showcase their talents in front of their hometown crowd.  Nineteen year-old hometown hero Levi Coen from Millfield is currently ranked 15th in the XC2 Pro Am class, one of the premier ATV classes in the series. Coen comes into this round fresh off his holeshot start at last week’s race in West Virginia.  Coen will compete Saturday aboard his Honda machine during the premier Pro Race starting at 1 p.m.

Levi Coen is hoping to grab another holeshot in front of his hometown friends and family at this weekend's Wiseco John Penton GNCCPhoto: Ken Hill
Levi Coen is hoping to grab another holeshot in front of his hometown friends and family at this weekend's Wiseco John Penton GNCCPhoto: Ken Hill

Racing Sunday in the premier Pro Race will be current overall points leader and 2014 GNCC National Champion, Kailub Russell.  The Factory FMF/KTM racer Russell is well familiar with the lay of the land at The John Penton, having been born and raised in southern Ohio.  In fact, Russell considers The John Penton his hometown track, as his family owns the property.  Russell has represented the United States abroad the last two years in international off-road events, earning a 3rd overall gold medal in Argentina last year - the highest ranking by an American off-road racer that year.

Kailub Russell looks to earn his seventh win of the season this weekend Photo: Ken Hill
Kailub Russell looks to earn his seventh win of the season this weekend Photo: Ken Hill

Also expected to compete this weekend on motorcycles will be Chris Bartone (Open B) and his father Chris G. Bartone (Masters C), Travis Brand (Trail Rider), Cory Buttrick (XC2 Pro Lites), Jeremy Dexter (Vet B), Kevin Ganoe (Open C),  Bill Kaeppner (Senior B), Kody Kinnison (Open A), Triston Landrum (4-Stroke A), Michael Lanning (Senior C), Ryon McManus (250 B), Jason Meade (Vet C), Blaceton Moore (65cc 10-11), Kiefer Standley (Open C), and Steven Young (Vet C).

Local racers expected to compete Saturday on ATVs will be:  Dillan Chadwell (90 Limited 8-12), Walker Fowler (XC1 Pro), Keith Jacob (Novice 16-18), Tyler Miller (Novice 19+), and Cacey Moore (Novice 16-18).

Four-wheeled ATVs will compete throughout the day on Saturday, June 6, and dirt bikes will race on Sunday, June 7. On both Saturday and Sunday, youth riders race at 8 a.m., amateur riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and pros race at 1 p.m.. Saturday afternoon will also host Side-By-Side racing at 4:30 p.m., featuring local race team 3% Red with driver Vickie Fowler from nearby Rogers, Ohio.

Local riders are invited to race the event, as GNCC Racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur racer entry fee is $40 and riders can sign up at the event.

Spectator passes run $20 for adults and $10 for kids (6-11) for the full weekend (Saturday through Sunday), with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge.

The 1 p.m. pro races will be televised live on both days, as well as the 4:30 p.m. Side-by-Side race on Saturday. A highlight show featuring the event will air on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, September 12 at 4:00 p.m.

The John Penton GNCC takes place at Sunday Creek Raceway – a popular motocross and off-road race facility that has hosted the event since 1990.  A mere ten miles from downtown Athens, Sunday Creek Raceway has earned the reputation as a premier off-road racing destination on the tour.

From Athens take Rt. 33 W. 1 mile to 13N (Chauncey Exit) 3 miles into Chauncey. Turn right—staying on Route 13 N. for 10 miles to Jacksonville. Turn right on Sixth St. for 2 miles, then turn left. Food concessions and motorcycle parts and accessory vendors will be on display in the Sponsor Village.

The GNCC Series will return to Ohio in the fall for round 12 of the series with the running of the 15th annual Powerline Park GNCC in St. Clairsville, Ohio, October 17 and 18, 2015 at Powerline Park.  For more information on the series, visit the official website or call (304) 284-0084.

About GNCC Racing

The AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1975, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions, a motorsports production company based out of Morgantown, West Virginia, and is sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) as a National Championship. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 2,000 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including steep hills, woods, meadows, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. The series draws talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised weekly on NBCSN and For more information, please visit