GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Cameron Abee

Tuesday Toolbox: Cameron Abee

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | 10:25 AM
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | 10:25 AM

#888 Cameron Abee has been in the GNCC ranks for quite a while. Even while racing youth ATVs, he became part of the GNCC fabric when he and his family started hosting Friday night youth activities at the Team Faith tent on Vendor Row. Always a contender in the youth ranks, Cameron moved to the 10am race last year. For 2016, he is racing the ultra-competitive Schoolboy Sr Division. He pulled a holeshot and took 3rd place in that class this past weekend aboard a Raptor 250! caught up with Cameron to find out how he makes an air-cooled trail machine go so fast! Hi Cameron! How is everything today?
Cameron Abee: Hey! Going good. Running around getting ready for prom.   

Prom! Is that this weekend?
Actually, it’s this Thursday. We do it a little different. I’m home-schooled and every Wednesday I go to a co-op at Philippi Baptist Church here in Union, SC. There’s probably only like 35 kids from really little to 12th grade, but our co-op combines with a bunch other ones in the area and we get to have prom. And Thursday works for me because then I can go to the SORCS in Georgia this weekend!

Maybe more schools should consider that!
I’ve heard stories of other racers having to miss their prom. Chelsea [Taylor] said she had to miss hers. Walker [Fowler] I think missed his. I’m only in 9th grade, so there are more opportunities, but I’m glad it isn’t interfering with racing!  

I understand you did the school visit with Chelsea this past weekend? (Chelsea is the Racer Productions Media Manager. She also does the youth podiums at GNCC races.)
Yeah, that was a lot of fun! I was really honored to be part of the Big Buck Fanfare coming into the weekend. I was a “Hometown Hero” and got to hang posters around town. Then Chelsea and I had been talking about getting involved with the school visit program. It was really cool to be part of and was different from what I thought!

Cameron was selected as a GNCC Hometown Hero for his hometown race at Big Buck!
Cameron was selected as a GNCC Hometown Hero for his hometown race at Big Buck! Photo: Ken Hill

How’s it different?
Well I knew it was an anti-bully program. But I thought the racers would probably just stand there and be positive role models or something. But there were questions and we got to tell racing stories! Matt Watson (GNCC Announcer) hosted us and then Stew and Grant Baylor and I got to tie racing in with pursuing your dreams and helping each other out. At the end, there was a race to put on gear and the kids had a lot of fun! It was really cool to be part of!

That program has become a success over the past few years and I’m glad you got to be a part of it!
Me too! It was fun hanging out with Steward and Grant. They are bike racers and I’m on 4 wheels and usually have to leave the track Saturday afternoon. But I met Steward a couple years ago. We were doing youth games at the Team Faith truck on Friday night and he stopped by to dominate the marshmallow eating contest! [laughs] He’s a lot of fun!

That sounds like Stew! But now let’s talk about your racing. You came out of the ATV youth ranks a couple years ago. What class did you run last year?
I raced the Schoolboy JR 13-15 class and came away with 3 wins, the first of which was at Big Buck! I was always a top contender, but had too many mechanicals to nail down a championship. It was still fun and I made a lot friends.

So you’ve taken that race experience and are now contesting the Schoolboy SR class on board an Apex?
Well sort of! I started the year on my Apex. It has the power to run with those top guys. And everyone in that class is fast! John Glauda. Ronnie Rusch is in there now. Dylan Feehan, there are a bunch of guys on hybrids and they know how ride! I did Florida and Georgia on mine but I kept breaking the chain. I broke three of them before the season started and then both those races. It was really discouraging to feel like I had the speed but couldn’t keep the bike together. AmPro Yamaha mechanic Corey MacDonald doesn’t live too far away and his dad has been over to the house to try to help us out. We’ve checked and rechecked motor alignment but can’t figure it out.

After a tough start to the season, Cameron has come on strong the past two races with a second and a third!
After a tough start to the season, Cameron has come on strong the past two races with a second and a third! Photo: Ken Hill

So what did you end up doing for Steele Creek and Big Buck?
Well, I just went back to what was tried and true: The Raptor 250! It can only take so much abuse before it starts to fall apart, but I knew it could at least go a whole race. We got 2nd in North Carolina and finished 35th overall. Then this weekend at Big Buck, I pulled the holeshot and finished 3rd! I was running with the top WXC girls on the last lap so I knew I was way up in the overall standings. I had to pit and they dropped me. Then I felt the bike start flexing more than normal and could hear the chain popping. I thought, “Oh no! I just have to make it this last lap” and I was praying, “God, don’t let the chain snap!” It turned out I broke the frame, but I still finished 19th overall!

That’s amazing! You know that bike wasn’t built to be raced? That’s just a fun trail bike with an air-cooled, two valve motor!  
Yeah, but we had some good rides on it last year and I figured it would take me further than my other bike. I have a YFZ450 that I would really like to race, but GNCC rules say you have to be 16. That doesn’t happen until October, so my family and I are really trying to decide what to do. I know I just got a couple top 3 finishes on the Raptor 250, but some of my top competitors had trouble. Ronnie passed me after I pulled the holeshot, but then I saw him on the side of the trail. I think he smoked a clutch or something. I know these guys are going to get dialed and the tracks we are about to head to are a long way from home (Union, SC). I’m allowed to race the 450 in SORCS right now. We are thinking about taking a break after this next SC round, just running locals and then coming back to Ironman after I turn 16 and can ride a competitive machine.

I’m sure that would be tough.
GNCC means so much to me and my family. You know, you (Chuck Lemaster) started that youth program on Saturday nights. Back in 2012 at Loretta Lynn’s, my mom was sitting in her camper reading her Bible and she was just praying about what we as a family should be doing. We had so many friends at the track and felt like we should be reaching out to them. So we came to you and asked about doing youth outreach on Friday nights? And since then, it’s been a family thing for us. I think the first time we did something at the Mountaineer Run, including you, me and my dad…we had 7 people! But at the Cannonball Run this year, there were over 30 kids playing dodgeball! The best thing ever is I’ve had kids come up to me and ask, “Who is Jesus?” It’s amazing to see how God is working through us to reach people at GNCC.

Cameron also came away with a great holeshot in front of the hometown crowd at Big Buck!
Cameron also came away with a great holeshot in front of the hometown crowd at Big Buck! Photo: Ken Hill

I know this has to be a very tough decision for your guys!
We are praying about it right now. It’s not just the breakdowns and racing stuff, but my dad works 3rd shift and he often goes 24 to 36 hours without sleep as he gets the bikes ready, does the driving, the wrenching. I’m trying to help out, but he’s still wore out and can’t get caught up! So we are praying and my mom posted something on Facebook today about how we could use prayers as we consider what we should do. I’ve been really surprised by the response! It’s touching to see how much me and my family mean to people at GNCC. It’s a big family and that certainly will have an effect on our decision. 

Well Cameron, no matter the direction for 2016, we are thankful that you have stepped up and been a positive influence on the Racin’ Nation! I personally commend you for your efforts and the way you’ve conducted yourself in the face of disappointment.
Well thanks! It’s not just me. I have an incredible family that supports me and we are in it together. My grandparents are even a part of the program. When I get home from a race, my grandpa washes my boots. My other grandpa washes my gear. He gets it so clean I think he should open a dry cleaner! All that to say, we are blessed and don’t take it lightly!

For sure! Who else would you like to give a shout out to?
First and foremost, God and then my family. That’s #1. I have a lot of friends that step up and make everything possible. My girlfriend, Hannah. Team Faith, Spider Graphix, Ryland Johnson Racing, Vanilla Gorilla Racing, Scott, JT Racing Gear, Fasst Company, Powermadd, EVS, Sunstar, Maxxis, Fourwerx Carbon, Engine Ice, Slick Products, Tire Balls, XC Quadracers, the Talbott Family and Curt Brumfield.