GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #11: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #11: This Week in GNCC

Friday, March 18, 2016 | 12:00 PM
Friday, March 18, 2016 | 12:00 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill.

Whew, it’s hard to believe that the opening rounds have already come and gone. At times, it seems like the off-season drags on and then once it gets down to crunch time, then into race time, all of that time flies by. Regardless, I believe everyone really enjoyed the tracks for this year’s first two rounds. They were a good bit different than what we’ve experienced in the past and there were very few people who didn’t have a blast.

I had several people come up to be and say that it was one of the slowest and more technical GNCC races they’ve ever ridden in Florida. Guess what? You’re right! We tried to steer the track away from too much wide open racing, slow things down a little bit and make it a little bit different. Most people really enjoyed it and the facts are there as this year’s average miles per hour in Florida was 22.40MPH compared to last year’s 25.11MPH. By the way, these numbers are based off the afternoon bike races.

Now with a few weeks off before round three at Steele Creek, it gives everyone a chance to take a step back, re-evaluate some things and get ready to make the push past the hump of those opening rounds. Some riders have a bit of ground to make up due to some bad luck, while others need to play it smart the rest of the season. Regardless, if the opening rounds are any indication of what the 2016 season is going to be like, then we’re all in for a real treat! 

Good Speed, Ty Kesten.Photo: Mike Vizer
Good Speed, Ty Kesten.Photo: Mike Vizer

Ty Kesten (Carrie Russell)

This past Sunday the GNCC Racing family suffered a devastating blow with the loss of 17-year old Ty Kesten in a racing incident at the Cannonball GNCC.  Ty was leading the 125 B/C class on the last lap of the 4-lap race when he crashed in the woods 5 miles from the finish line. 

The funeral for Ty Kesten will be held tomorrow morning, Saturday March 19, at 9:30 am at the Zion Lutheran Church in Brentwood, PA. 

Last night there was a viewing for Ty.  Two more will be held today.  The line wrapped all the way around the block.  We waited for over an hour in silence with the rest of the group.  Once inside, hundreds of well-mannered kids packed the rooms, paying respect to their fallen friend.  Tears came quickly, and easily.  Photo after photo of Ty and his family racing flashed on the screen.  By the end of the evening I felt like I knew everything about him. This kid was cool, and he was loved.

The passing of Ty Kesten is not the first such loss for the GNCC family, and we mourn the passing of each of those riders and friends who have gone before us. However, the outpouring of grief shown last night in Pittsburgh seemed not unlike the collective heart breaking loss felt by the GNCC community with the tragic death of Bob “Ironman” Sloan in 1994.

But unlike Bob, who had the gift of a full life doing what he loved to do, the loss of a beloved friend like Ty, so young and yet so full of life, in some ways seems to amplify the feeling of loss that is felt by his family and friends.   Sadly, unlike Bob Sloan, who had the chance to ride to the finish line in the race that was his life, Ty’s race ended tragically close to the start of the race that was to be his young life.

And as I looked into the faces of these grieving parents – all of the parents - I thought to myself how difficult it must be to know that tragedies like this can and will happen in any form of motorsports racing. And then I heard it.  It was a low murmur – but I heard it….  bench racing.  Godspeed, Ty Kesten. What a beautiful boy.

Good Speed, Ty Kesten.Photo: Mike Vizer
Good Speed, Ty Kesten.Photo: Mike Vizer
Thanks to VitalMX's Steve
Thanks to VitalMX's Steve "GuyB" Giberson for the awesome photo gallery from Florida. That's him on the other side of the track snapping a photo of Craig Delong.Photo: Ken Hill

Weekly Updates (Chelsea Taylor)

This dose of weekly updates comes straight from the Racer Productions office in Morgantown, WV. Honestly, we have been gone so long that it felt weird coming to the office on Tuesday! All I can say is that is sure does feel good to be back in race season. Even though we were down south for two weeks the trip just flew by. After the Florida round was over we packed up and headed to Daytona International Speedway for RCSX and ATVSX. Last Wednesday we were able to sneak in a few hours at the beach before heading north.

With 2015 being the biggest year ever for GNCC it was expected that we will see more media exposure for the years coming. With that being said it was great to see so many media outlets in Florida especially including VitalMX. Steve Giberson, also known as Guy B, grabbed some pretty awesome shots that can be seen HERE.

Word just came in our office that Andrew Delong will be having surgery again on his wrist. You may recall that Delong was running in the top spot in Florida but ended up slipping back due to his wrist pain. After the race was over he found out that he has a torn ligament. The surgery and recovery is expected to put him out for three to four months. We wish for a speedy recovery for Andrew! 

We’re officially back in the swing of things and even though the break between the Cannonball GNCC and the Steele Creek GNCC is longer than the typical two weeks it will be here before we know it! As the race info comes in we will include it on social media and Quick Fill, but as of now we want to start reminding you that Steele Creek is a campground facility. There are full hook-ups available and those are first-come, first-served. If you can be placed in a hook-up spot please remember that it will cost $40 per night. If you aren’t placed in a hook-up spot it will only be $20 per night. These fees are in addition to the regular gate fee that you pay at all the events.

The 4x4 Pro class racing action is already heating up! Will we see a new champion or will Bryan Buckhannon claim his third consecutive title?Photo: Ken Hill
The 4x4 Pro class racing action is already heating up! Will we see a new champion or will Bryan Buckhannon claim his third consecutive title?Photo: Ken Hill

The New Pro Show (Rodney Tomblin)

All along I have talked about the “New Era” of ATV racing in the GNCC Racin’ Nation, but as things have continued to build through the sport side of things one sector has gone overlooked in sense. The 4x4 Pro class may have not gotten the most press coverage but it too has seen some pretty big things taking place.

Obviously the status of being deemed a “Pro” class was in itself a huge deal when it came about just a few short years ago. It attracted a lot of attention and it offered some of the most competitive battles we have seen. The battles were largely among three or for four of the top 4x4 guys and you could nearly call who was going to be in each nail biting battle. However, this year things have changed. A better way to put it may be that this year the highly competitive and entertaining class raised the bar to a whole new level.

A new crop of competition has taken to the track in 2016 as we have seen 13 4x4 Pro racers lined up at one time and the challenges have been made by some of the new class threats; Cody Miller and Kevin Cunningham. Kevin Trantham finished second in Florida and was able to win Georgia but the writing is on the wall. It’s going to be a long, hard season for anyone to win the championship including the classes only champion so far Bryan Buckhannon. Buckhannon finished sixth and fourth to sit in fourth of the point standings but has a little hole to dig out of if you wants to retain his title. Michael Swift who won Florida had some troubles in Georgia and finished 11th, which took him back in points to fifth and a total 19 points out of the lead. He is only three points behind Buckhannon which means he too is in a bit of a hole, but with it being early in the season many things can happen to even the field quickly.

The new wave of riders has certainly mixed things up and it will make a good thing even better. The 4x4 Pro class has been a great addition to the 10:00 am race and it is proving to get a strong and dedicated following. The riders now have their own Pro Row and sign autographs during the youth ATV races as well.

Even though it is a long season and the first two rounds don’t tell the whole tale, it has told enough to make it interesting. The class was already interesting and exciting and it kept you on the edge of your seat most of the time but now it is going to be hard to ignore. They are already the loudest thing on the trail and that noise you hear coming hard in the morning may just be heralding the next wave of GNCC stars that are ready to take it to all new levels.

As we have a few weeks to rest before the excitement of Steele Creek GNCC is upon us there is a lot of work going on in each camp to be prepared for what lies ahead. It’s now secret these boys are training and Zac Zakowski may be the biggest proof of that. This year may end up being his best yet has he is more prepared and focused than ever. The current results may not reflect that but don’t let anyone’s results from those first two rounds fool you because this war has only begun and the rise and fall of a few is imminent. 4x4 Pro pioneer Robert Smith, Jordan Phillips and Tanner Bowels will be ones to watch as well as the season progresses.

There are many unanswered questions after the first two rounds and results may not reflect what is about to happen. However, if you have followed this class any you know that it has been slowly picking up momentum and may soon reach full speed. When it does anything can happen and these boys hold nothing back. The heart and passion that course through their veins drive the sport to new levels. It drives the sport to levels that not many folks could foresee happening.  The biggest question for some though may now be is will Bryan Buckhannon be able to do it one more time from the rough start to the season? I am sure if anyone believes he can do it, it is him. He has been down before and maybe even counted out but that’s one thing you should never do because just as you do, he surprises you.

Seeing the new names in the class has been a treat too. One name to keep an eye on is Matt Hanna. You may recognize that name as a former top XC2 competitor that could be a player in the game. Hanna is an individual that if he sets his mind on it he will make it happen. Hanna’s results from the first two rounds are not typical Hanna results and anyone who knows him knows he can rise to the occasion.

The key to success in the class is going to be to keep those numbers strong and the racing competitive. If all of a sudden there are six or eight riders that can take a podium or a win then the race becomes a show and draws a lot of attention. It’s only the tip of the iceberg for this class the future looks as bright for the young class. It is rather amazing to think that about a decade ago is when the major 4x4 effort began.

Now the 4x4 have a premier class in the morning and new stars have been and are being born. It is also one of the more visually exciting races to witness as these mammoth machines tear the woods and countryside at speed and decibels that more than grab your attention for a moment. The coming races will begin to show for sure whether the challenges made are real but in the mean time it gives all the race fans a lot to look forward to with the all new Pro Show.

So far the 2016 GNCC Racing season is already presenting one of the most competitive XC1 Pro class races in a number of years. What will the rest of the season bring?Photo: Ken Hill
So far the 2016 GNCC Racing season is already presenting one of the most competitive XC1 Pro class races in a number of years. What will the rest of the season bring?Photo: Ken Hill

New Thrills on Two Wheels (Jared Bolton)

If we took anything away from the opening rounds of the 2016 GNCC Racing season, it’s that we’re in store for one of the best seasons of GNCC Racing in a number of years. In just two rounds, we’ve already seen the level of competition being raised to a level that it hasn’t seen in a number of years. The opening rounds have shown us what will very well grow to be the storyline of the year; Josh Strang vs Kailub Russell.

There’s no doubt that coming into the 2016 season, both of these riders stood out in everyone’s minds as the two of the top guys to keep an eye on. However, after two rounds the results have been slightly different than what most would expect. While Russell’s 2015 was cut short due to a knee injury, he was still able to wrap up the GNCC National Championship before taking the time off to let his knee heal. At the same time, Josh Strang would claim three wins in the final four rounds, setting himself up as a championship contender in 2016.

What turned many heads at the first round was just how good Strang rode. While Russell would go down in a first turn crash, Strang would eventually work his way into the lead, then run away with it. Russell would be left working his way through the pack, then find himself in a three-way battle down to the wire for second place. The surprise of the race came when Daniel Milner would hold Kailub off for second place, leaving Russell in third.

Things would shake up once again at round two as Russell would control a good majority of the race, but once Josh Strang worked his way into the lead, he was able to control the lead the rest of the way and come away with the win over Russell in second, while another surprise would come from Steward Baylor who would finish third place in XC1 and fourth place overall behind XC2 superstar, Trevor Bollinger (more on him soon!)

So, after two rounds of racing, Strang now has a two-race win streak and the championship points lead over Kailub Russell. However, there’s still plenty of racing left to do and there’s been many times in the history of GNCC Racing where riders have started in a deep points deficit and still pulled through to claim a championship, or a rider has controlled the points lead for a good portion of the season, only to see that lead slip away as the season wore on. What will happen this season? It’s hard to say at this point!

These kids are on fire!Photo: Ken Hill
These kids are on fire!Photo: Ken Hill

The Future of GNCC (Chelsea Taylor)

As soon as the first youth class took to the Florida woods and I could say was, “Wow these kids got fast over the winter.” It is crazy how much the youth riders have grown not only on the track, but also just as a person. Some of the youth riders are almost as tall as me, and to think we are only two rounds into the new season! 

Last year Ronnie Rusch dominated the ATV Super Mini (12-15) class, but after claiming the championship he moved up to the 10 a.m. race where he’s already adjusted to the change of pace and the two-hour race. He currently holds the second place position in the points championship with a second and third place finish in Schoolboy Sr. (14-17).

With the absence of Ronnie it has opened the door for a new champion and Georgia native Dylan Walraven has stepped right in. Even though Walraven has won both rounds this season, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have competition pushing him. Mikey Nickels has also made an appearance on the podium at both rounds. As we head into the third round it will be a true test to see if Walraven can maintain his consistency or if Nickels, Corrothers, Sroka, Ocel or Myers can stop his reign as number one.

Of course we can’t forget about Layne McCormick who starts in the second row in 125 Jr. (8-11). McCormick has placed fourth and fifth overall at the first two rounds. I spoke to his mom Alicia who races the WXC class and she said he has his Yamaha going as fast as it can, and that is definitely true. McCormick isn’t just placing so high on adjusted time he is also straight up beating the older kids on bigger machines. 

On the bike side of things, the racing hasn’t slowed down a bit. In fact, we’ve had quite a shakeup with the overall podium. Zack Davidson, Super Mini Jr. competitor, took home the overall win at the Wild Boar GNCC on adjusted time and then at the Cannonball GNCC he was second overall, both times taking home the class win. There was also a new face on the podium in Georgia where Randall Ervin took home gold for the overall win.  

On the 65cc bikes Andrew Segars has been one to watch. Segars is on a two-win streak in 65 (7-9). In addition to that he also took home the inaugural Cannonball GNCC Micro 50cc Overall win. 

With all this being said, even if you’re not a morning person you need to be up at 8 to watch the youth race at Steele Creek! The up-and-coming stars are our sport will blow you away!

Trevor Bollinger is two-for-two on XC2 class wins, but he has a number of challengers coming on strong!Photo: Ken Hill
Trevor Bollinger is two-for-two on XC2 class wins, but he has a number of challengers coming on strong!Photo: Ken Hill

Keep an Eye on XC2! (Jared Bolton)

While the main focus may be on the battles that are heating up at the front of the XC1 pack, the guys in the XC2 ranks have some equally exciting battles shaping up as well. After two rounds, there’s one name that really stands out; Trevor Bollinger. With two wins in two rounds, and a third place overall finish at the Cannonball GNCC last weekend, Bollinger has officially set himself up as the championship favorite to keep an eye on for the rest of the 2016 season.

However, he still has his work cut out for him as there’s a number of other riders who are looking to step up and push themselves forward towards an XC2 class win. Tegan Temple sits second in the XC2 class points after two rounds, Temple put together two great rides in the opening rounds with one podium and a fourth place. He and his Beta teammate Jesse Groemm are both on fire so far and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of these riders find a class win at some point in 2016.

Mr. Consistent, Craig Delong has also been riding great in the opening rounds. Craig picked up a ride with the Coastal Racing Husqvarna team this season and the extra support has been a big help. Last season Craig showed that consistency is key and he’s already doing so in 2016 and he very well could work his way into the center step of the podium this season.

Nick Davis would probably rather forget the opening two rounds after running into some difficulties so far. In fact, it sounds like Nick will actually be switching up his number as the number 13 hasn’t been treating him very well thus far in 2016. Hopefully the change will help out Nick’s luck and we’ll see him contending for race wins the rest of the season. He knows how to put things together to win, he’s done it before and can do it again.


GNCC ATV Round 2 - Cannonball Highlights

Photo Gallery: Cannonball Afternoon Bikes

Photo Gallery: Cannonball Afternoon ATVs

Strang Claims Overall Win at Inaugural Maxxis Cannonball GNCC

Fowler Builds Momentum After Capturing the Overall Win at the Maxxis Cannonball GNCC

GNCC Racing Family Mourns the Passing of Racer Ty Kesten

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Andrew DeLong to Get Surgery

What's New on

Check out for the latest #GNCCLIVE shows and highlight videos from Round 1 and Round 2 of the 2016 GNCC Series. 

RacerTV will also have links to the 2016 James Stewart Freestone Amateur Motocross event streaming live this week and weekend. 

News from GNCC, Riders and Sponsors

Be sure to check out the Latest News secion on the website for all the race reports and information coming in after our events. Read race reports throughout the industry, and get the latest news on everything going on in GNCC Racing.

Steele Creek GNCC Information: 

Camping Fees will apply along with regular GNCC admission fees:
$20 per night (Primitive)
$40 per night (Full Hook-Up) First-come, First-served

GNCC Weekend Admission Fees:
$20 Adult (12+)*
$10 Kids (6-11)
5 & under free