At the High Voltage GNCC, Tanner Collins was able to wrap up the 200 B class Championship. Though the sixteen-year-old from Crooksville, Ohio, has been involved in GNCC racing since he was on little bikes, this is his first-ever GNCC championship! Next year Collins plans to move up to the 200 A class, with the eventual goal of someday becoming a pro rider.
GNCCRacing.com: How did you get started riding and racing?
Tanner Collins: My dad always raced, and he put me on a dirt bike as soon as he could. I’ve been around the sport ever since I was born!
Why are you passionate about it?
I love riding for a couple reasons – it clears my mind, it’s something I’m good at, and it gives me a lot of goals to shoot for. The biggest one is eventually going pro.
How long have you been racing the GNCC series, and what drew you to it in the first place?
My first experience with GNCC was in 2011, racing a 50cc at The John Penton. The next season was my first full year of racing on the 65cc. My dad used to race quads, so I was always at the track, watching him from my tricycle and wanting to race too. He got me started racing, and I as I grew to love the sport and started to do well, he quit racing to focus on me. I can’t thank him enough.
Wait, so if he raced quads, why did you end up on a bike?
Well, he actually raced bikes before he raced quads. He started me out on a bike, and that’s just what stuck. He also always said bikes were cheaper (laughs)
Now what does winning your first GNCC championship mean to you?
It makes all the hard work and sacrifices everyone has made worth it. I’ve worked hard on winning a championship for a long time now, and it finally paid off. I hope that this championship is just the beginning of what I’m capable of.
Tell me a bit about how your season went this year?
I struggled some in the supermini class last season, so for the last two races I just went ahead and bumped up to 200 B to get a feel for what this season would bring. In the off-season, I rode mountain bikes and worked out a lot to prepare for Florida. That helped me go into the season with confidence, knowing I had what it takes physically to win races, even in the three-hour race. It’s been a great season for me and I’ve had fun each and every race.
That’s awesome! I know you said you had fun every race, but which one was your favorite?
I’d have to say Tomahawk because I pulled the holeshot, got out front early, and once the rain came I just hammered down and pushed, trying to minimize mistakes and run consistent lap times. I came out with the win and a large gap between myself and second place.
I did also notice that Snowshoe was the only race so far this season where you didn’t win 200 B. Did you struggle a bit there?
Yeah. I managed to get stuck at least twice every lap. It was a real fight just to hang onto second place. I struggled a lot in the rocks – everyone says Howard’s Hole is the worst spot on the track, but I actually thought it was one of the easiest obstacles on that side of the mountain. I think there were many other sections that made Howard’s Hole look easy!
What are your goals for next year and beyond?
I plan on riding 200 A next year, with the goal of earning a championship in that class as well. I also want to get into the top 40 overall from that row. To get there, I feel like I need to work on dropping my lap times while still being consistent. Mainly I just need to figure out the pace to be competitive there. I also have hopes that winning a national title will open doors to more sponsorships in the future. That would go a long way towards helping me achieving that dream of being on the front row!
Last question – what do you do for fun in your spare time when you aren’t riding?
I like to go golfing with my buddies. I am actually on my high school’s varsity golf team. We qualified for state last year, which was pretty cool. I also like hunting, fishing and going mountain biking. Really just spending as much time outdoors as I can.
And who would you like to thank?
First I want to thank my family – my dad and my stepmom, all of my grandparents, and Keegan and Maelee. Next I want to thank my sponsors: Brian Darst and Kenda tire, Levi Kilbarger with Bonzi Suspension, Dirt Prodigies, Acerbis, Scott Motorsports, Athens Sports Cycles, and Fly Racing.