GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #17: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #17: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, May 16, 2019 | 2:45 PM
Thursday, May 16, 2019 | 2:45 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill. 

It’s time to go GNCC Racing once again! This weekend we head to Ohio for the 30th annual John Penton GNCC. This is a pretty monumental weekend with this event turning 30 years old, which is definitely pretty cool to see and the venue is just full of history. Last week I discussed a bit about why we honor John Penton with the naming of this event, so if you missed that, make sure you check that out HERE because it’s pretty cool to be reminded of all the things John has done for the racing world. 

One bit of sad news this week, as we recently learned of the passing of Nathan Martin. Nathan was an Airborne Medic in the U. S. Army for the past ten years, a member of the AMA and most recently served as the Team FMF/KTM Factory Racing semi driver. Nathan could also be seen at the youth podium celebrations handing out hats to each KTM rider. Nathan would congratulate each and every rider on their race, and remain at the podium until the very last one. Nate will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

As for this weekend’s race, things are shaping up really well! People say year after year that it is always muddy or dusty at the Penton, but I do believe it’s possible to find pretty good conditions and this year has the potential to produce some very good conditions. It did rain earlier this week and there’s a bit of rain in the forecast for Friday, but overall the soil is looking very good here!

The track should be pretty fun as well, and since we’re pretty busy getting things ready for the weekend, I’ll go ahead and give you the low-down on the course now and we’ll keep this week’s edition of Quick Fill a little on the short side as there’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure everything is good to go for this weekend. 

When you take off from the start, you’ll be starting around the two-mile mark. You’ll cross the gravel road and head into the woods. This first section is a mix of some slightly faster trail, with one short field crossing before you drop into some slightly tighter woods to the three-mile mark. There are a few little up and downhills that will lead you through this section, and it’s also a little damp in there as this area holds water. Once you get to the four-mile mark, you’ll cross another field and head back into another section of really good and flowing trail. 

That will take you all the way to the five-mile mark where you’re going to find some faster trail for just a little bit that brings you through some fun up and downhill sections before the trail tightens up just before the six. At the six-mile mark, you’ll run a trail benched out the side of a hill that hasn’t been used in a while. It’s a lot of fun and will bring you to a slightly more technical section with some tighter trail and a few hills over the seven-mile mark. From there, you’ll pick up a few short sections of faster trail with a good hillclimb in one spot before popping out into a section of trackside pitting at the eight-mile mark. 

You’ll run that section of trackside and drop back into the woods to what we call the “rock concert”. It’s that big flat rock with a fun hillclimb on the other side of it, you’ll head up that and pop back out into the field again and head to the nine-mile mark. At the nine, you’re going to drop down a valley and into a technical creek run section. At the end of the creek, you’ll turn out of it and work your way uphill to another section of tighter trail that takes you all the way to the ten-mile mark. 

After the ten, you’ll pop out into trackside pitting again with a couple of little woods sections added in as well. This brings you to the motocross track and the eleven-mile marker. You’ll run around a little bit of the motocross track, in and out of the finish line and head off of the motocross track towards the pro pits. That takes you back into a short section of woods where you’ll cross the road at the start and into a good grass track section past the one-mile mark. 

From there, you’ve got one woods section with a quick hillclimb that will bring you back to where you started, and that’s what you can expect out of one lap here at The John Penton. Overall, this weekend’s race promises to be one of the most fun John Penton courses we’ve had in a number of years. So if you’re on the fence, get off and get to the track. That’s going to do it for this week. Stay safe this weekend and we’ll see you at the track! 

We're hoping for a great weekend of racing at The John Penton!
We're hoping for a great weekend of racing at The John Penton! Ken Hill

Catching Up With Ken (Ken Hill)

The rumors that space aliens had abducted me are not true! It sure does feel like forever since I’ve been able to get a contribution ready for Quick Fill though as the past few weeks have been pretty intense as the hustle and bustle of life flat ran me over and I could not quite get things done either in time or at all. With little time to think about I just turned the page and greeted the next day and tried to tackle what ever it brought. The hard work this winter and now spring are supposed to allow me more free time but it sure doesn’t feel like it is going to work. A game changer to my program here was the addition of a riding mower so that I did not have to push mow all week and be so wore out physically before I even left for a race and its such a great change. 

This week with the news dropping of Nate’s passing and my uncle being moved into Hospice care, time to think wasn’t really a good thing. As I pulled images ahead of the news becoming public I realized I had images of Nate from every round in 2018 but almost none this season providing me the proof I needed to see just how busy we have all been and how fast pace the weekends have become. Take a few minutes, slow down and try to enjoy those around you! 

In all seriousness what an undertaking the changes to this season has brought for so many. I stated last year that I was excited to see just how the eMTB’s would do and got my answer when Specialized took over as presenting sponsor for this season. I finally got a chance to chew the fat a bit with the Specialized crew at X Factor and they sure seemed like they had a solid grasp on where they wanted to take things and how pumped they were to be a big part of this season. 

Now I could throw in some racing into all this and do some kind of update but we all know who is doing what at the moment, as the key hitters this season have been hitting all their marks and knocking off win after win. As I have been traveling and doing what we do on the national side of things, my oldest son has been doing his best to get back into racing after taking time off to do the military thing, get married and become a father, all the typical type “normal” life stuff. He latched on to the D6 series as they offer racing on Sunday so he can make it happen without using up vacation time. 

He has raced a few GNCC’s since life hit him but has been out of the mix for quite a bit of time and the changes in speed he has been able to witness has been a hot topic of our chats especially in the upper tier of the youth ranks. We had discussed Layne McCormick prior to this past weekends race and Cody was able to see Layne do his thing and was majorly impressed. Yes I know Layne doesn’t race youth starting this season but he has been the one to watch the past few seasons so his progress has been outstanding and now we have the rise of Damien Hawkins who finally figured it all out and has turned into a winning machine! I need to try to chat with him and find out exactly when or how he figured things out but it was a change you could see both in the way he was riding and in his mental state when it came to racing. 

It is not often you get to witness such a drastic change in a rider but that is exactly what has happened and we wish him the best as he heads into the meat of the season. Now I did just check the weather for this weekends John Penton and other than being rather warm, we should be free of rain this weekend. Spring is the time between snow and summer skin melting heat that affords abundant rainfall just prior to an event so now you know! Jared will have the skinny on things so I will be reading his words to see what I need to prepare for although it probably doesn’t matter, the Penton can bring all four seasons in the same hour so be ready for anything! With that said I will wrap this up so I too can get ready to roll out for another weekend of GNCC action! As always, be safe in all you do and especially in your travels and may God continue to bless us all!

Godspeed, Nate. We'll see you down the trail.
Godspeed, Nate. We'll see you down the trail. Ken Hill