GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #5: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #5: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, January 30, 2020 | 1:45 PM
Thursday, January 30, 2020 | 1:45 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill. 

Three weeks to go. It seems really crazy to say that we’re now only around three weeks away from kicking off the 2020 GNCC Racing season. We’re excited to get it rolling but at the same time there’s still so much to do! However, this is the point where it all starts to come together and before we know it we’ll be throwing the green flag at Big Buck and the 2020 season will officially be underway. I’m getting pumped just thinking about it and I’m sure a lot of you are in the exact same boat. 

Before we roll into all of our Quick Fill goodies, we do have an update on the new Gladiator GNCC in Kentucky. If you looked at the venue as soon as we posted it we actually have an update to that. There was an issue with a logging contract on the original piece of property we were headed to, so there is a change in the venue but the new location is actually a neighboring piece of property separated by one road. This location will prove to offer the exact kind of terrain we were expecting at the original venue and the support for this event from the entire Bowling Green community is awesome. We’re excited for this one and hope you are too! 

Last weekend saw some racing going on down south and that will continue into this weekend as well. The Denver team races last weekend got a little sloppy but that didn’t stop folks from riding! Josh Strang teamed up with fellow Aussie Lyndon Snodgrass to take the overall win. It actually looks like Snodgrass will be joining the Babbitt’s Kawasaki folks in 2020. We haven’t seen a PR yet putting out all the details but it’s now “Instagram Official” in posts from both Lyndon and Babbitt’s Kawasaki. Jason Thomas teamed up with Dustin Simpson to take second ahead of Trevor Barrett and Garrett Duncan in third. 

A little further south saw South Carolina’s Burnt Gin Hare Scramble, which takes place just down the road from this coming weekend’s Sumter National Enduro. Steward and Grant Baylor put on a heck of a race in their first outing on their new FactoryONE Sherco machines and finished just two seconds apart with Steward taking the win and Grant in second. Zack Hayes also put together a solid ride to end the day in third, just 54 seconds behind Steward and Grant. Chase Hayes would end up fourth while Evan Earl rounded out the top five. 

This weekend will see the opening round of the AMA National Enduro Championship and with a number of top talent committed to the enduros this season, this will definitely be a race to keep an eye on! Steward Baylor comes in as the defending National Enduro champion, but the KTM guys are headed back to the enduros this season with Ben Kelley and Josh Toth, as well as Husqvarna riders Thad Duvall and Trevor Bollinger. All of these guys challenged Stu for the National Enduro title a few seasons ago, so it’s going to be an exciting one to see unfold! 

That’s going to do it for the intro this week. Good news for Quick Fill readers, Ken is back this week! We’ll also continue our recap of the 2019 season before wrapping this week’s edition up. Until next time, enjoy your weekend and stay safe in your pre-season activities. It’s almost time to go racing once again! 

Ken Hill is back in action! He caught up with the AmPro Yamaha folks for a pre-season photoshoot. Left to right you've got Lucas Statom, who will be wrenching for the rider next to him, Mike Witkowski. Next is Layne Michael and on the right is Corey MacDonald who will be wrenching for Layne. Look for big things from these guys in 2020!
Ken Hill is back in action! He caught up with the AmPro Yamaha folks for a pre-season photoshoot. Left to right you've got Lucas Statom, who will be wrenching for the rider next to him, Mike Witkowski. Next is Layne Michael and on the right is Corey MacDonald who will be wrenching for Layne. Look for big things from these guys in 2020! Ken Hill

Catching Up With Ken (Ken Hill)

So by now, most of the racing nation knows to some degree I got sick right before the banquet, forcing me to miss it. Sick is an understatement and you’d have to walk it back to the previous weekend at the ATV Motocross banquet and a few days even further back than that according to the doctors. So this did not really sneak up on me however I found myself going downhill fast. I honestly thought I felt bad due to passing a kidney stone, but once they got me into ICU and started getting a look at my blood they knew it was far more serious to a degree. The doctors even told me I would be past the point of help if I had waited another 48 hours. Talk about an attention getter! That reality hit home hard as I for one am not ready to kick the soil off my boots and take that long nap but my fate laid in the hands of modern medicine. 

After eight units of blood and more invasive testing, they informed me I was literally bleeding out and if they couldn’t get it under control I would face emergency surgery. Talk about pile it on, I was feeling poor, weak, scared and had no good answer as to how things were going to go. My blood sugar was holding above 700 so they started sticking me with non-stop testing and giving me insulin shots while still sticking this tube or camera inside my body to see if they could find the source of the bleeding. In the end, they were able to stop it and the rest of my time in the hospital was spent being a typical patient, then 6 more weeks of receiving daily infusions of antibiotics that we all hoped would handle the MRSA infection that was running alongside all the other issues. I was just a mess and that’s exactly what I felt like. 

Now obviously I am doing better or else I wouldn’t be typing this but I still have a long road ahead of me. Adding a liver disease to the list of health issues just wasn’t needed but here it is. Not much on my end will change as my diet is about as complete as you can get as far as the best nutrition one can consume, so I am out in left field awaiting more testing and at some point a surgery if they feel the internal bleeding isn’t playing nice. My red blood cells are not carrying the proper amount of oxygen I need so I wake up feeling tired and go through the day right on into bed feeling exactly the same way; worn plum out. I am making huge progress on the diabetes so I got that going for me as it took a few weeks at home eating my food to drop my numbers to normal or near normal which to this point was my number one nemesis heading into 2020, boy how life can change. 

Mike Witkowski is already looking comfortable on his new Yamaha!
Mike Witkowski is already looking comfortable on his new Yamaha! Ken Hill

Ok, so the above is the what and why and I could leave it at that but there is more to the story. If you’ve ever had a serious, abrupt and life threatening hospital stay, you realize how burdensome it becomes on your family. My poor wife was ran ragged between work, me and the farm that needs constant attention. God blessed me by having her by my side, that’s for sure and I can never repay or thank her enough unless getting back to 100% or kicking the can occurs so she can have a life free of my stress! My mom who hasn’t driven anywhere in a few years and faces her own health issues jumped in her car and drove up from Texas to be here for a week and my oldest son Cody and his wife went above and beyond helping on the homestead, as well as spending time with me which found me getting irritable and testy as sitting still is not my best quality. And a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by, dropped a message or email or called. It meant a great deal to my family and myself seeing and hearing the support come in from all over. 

The phone rang at one point early on and I quickly found myself listening to Rita as my wife chatted with her. I couldn’t get much of a coherent sentence out but I could indeed listen and broke out in tears as I heard her caring voice give me hell thru the wife! Between tears there were smiles, probably the first since I was admitted and it really made my day. That was during the ATV banquet or just prior and I did watch most of it via the RacerTV broadcast but it hurt knowing I should have been there. Early on Saturday afternoon, a knock on the door had Chuck Lemaster come in and hang out for few hours, which was helpful and his way of saying things had me smiling and even a laugh or two came out. 

In all honesty, when he left to head back for the Bike night of the weekend, I told my wife I must be bad if Chuck showed up and I figured he might have been getting in a scouting mission in case I flat-lined and he had to say something that was current instead of going off memory! Of course I am kidding but that’s the way you have to deal with things you cant control, for me anyway. Then Melissa Holbert was texting with the wife and checking on me and told Bridget to make sure I was awake and watching the banquet which I intended to do. The entire family was watching as Kaliub and many of the XC1 class wished me well in front of everyone in attendance and watching via RacerTV. Big thanks guys, it too meant a great deal and lifted my spirits during a time of darkness. 

Layne Michael is looking good as well!
Layne Michael is looking good as well! Ken Hill

I remember Sunday morning feeling really down. I had missed the banquet, I still wasn’t 100% sure on things at that point as not all the tests had been completed and started feeling dread. I cant explain it, just an out of the blue rush of emotions as I laid there realizing I could die at any minute, the immense cost of what this would truly be financially and alone even though I had plenty of family around me. It all seemed impossible, like I was sliding downhill and had no brakes. In my mind, I figured if I did make it out of there I was not sure what else I could do on my end to make things better except fight hard to stay alive. Telling many of you throughout the years to never quit and how much I admire your fortitude no matter what obstacle you are facing seemed hopeless when I tried telling it to myself. 

Again a knock on the door and I nearly sat up as Carrie Russell came through the door. At a time when I just knew my future was tanked here comes someone I admire and put a great deal of trust in. At that point I knew I was never going to make it, the big cheese was here to give me a send off! I seriously thought that but her and I chatting did wonders for my morale and gave me some hope that I might be able to slug this thing out and get through another season. Mrs. Carrie, thank you for taking time to drive down and spend a few minutes with me as you have done for so many over the years. It may have been a turning point in my mental fight knowing that some of the people I look up to the most cared and wanted to see me back out doing what I do in something we all throw our lives into. 

I am sure I missed something in all that but you’ll have to give me a pass if I did seeing how things were. So where does this leave me as the pre season starts picking up steam? Well I ran down to South Carolina last week to get the AmPro Yamaha folks shot without any major issues other than being tired and winded. I was kind of hoping the issue was from being stuck in a bed and then having to take it real easy due to the PICC line in my arm. In fact, I was on the phone with Yamaha as they removed that line! I do not think the doctor appreciated me taking the call but it is how we roll, the job gets done! 

I will be looking at a run south again to clean up anyone who is ready so that hopefully we are not forced to do a ton of shoots at the opening round so do what you can to get things completed. The complex in SC seems to be a great middle point so I may try and arrange a few days just to be there and can arrange things as you all tighten the last few bolts. As for the season itself, it is very unclear to me how it will go on my end. I do have to work within the confines of my health and try to not be completely exhausted before, during and after each round but we know how that goes. As always, I will just do the best I can with what I have, where I am at! 

I will start adding my two cents into Quick Fill now that I am feeling better and have some things to write about besides how much I loathe being sick and how much I despise hospitals! Again, thank you all for hanging in there and showing me support. None of us know what the future brings and yes, you have my permission for Rodney to yell the infamous “10 SECOONNNDDSSS! At my funeral if things go sideways! As always, be safe in all you do and may the good Lord continue to bless us all. 

Do these guys know how to put on a show or what?
Do these guys know how to put on a show or what? Ken Hill

2019 Season Recap Part Four (Jared Bolton)

Part four of our 2019 season recap will see us pick up with action with round seven of the 2019 GNCC Racing season at New York’s Tomahawk GNCC. This event had traditionally seen fairly dry and dusty conditions but the 2019 version brought in some wet and muddy conditions. Thankfully the rocky soiled prevented it from being a full-blown slopfest, but it still had it’s moments. Let’s take a look. 

On the ATV side, it was the story typical of the past several seasons. Walker Fowler would lead wire to wire for the win but would be challenged throughout the entire race. Both Cole Richardson and Brycen Neal would take turns in the second place position and would do so hanging onto Fowler’s rear wheels, never completing a lap more than five seconds behind. In the end, Fowler would take the win with Richardson just two seconds back in second and Neal in third. 

Neal actually took the white flag in the second place position, just a hair over one second behind Fowler. On the last lap Neal would even make a pass for the lead but ran into some issues on the final lap and would drop to third place. While it wasn’t the finish Neal had hoped for, his ride was still impressive and made for an exciting race! Chris Borich would end the day in fourth while Jarrod McClure rounded out the top five. For Fowler, this win would also be special as it marked his 50th GNCC overall win, which is a pretty cool accomplishment for any racer! 

On the bike side it was a barnburner, as the event would see another classic back and forth race between Kailub Russell and Thad Duvall. As if the action wasn’t story enough, heavy rains began to fall as the front-runners set out on their third lap. Trevor Bollinger also split the two front-runners at one point as he worked his way into second place. However, the man on the move was Steward Baylor. He crashed on lap one and broke his throttle, then after losing time in the pits would put his head down and charge through the pack. Baylor would climb from 12th place on the opening lap, to come all the way up to third place by the end of the day. 

Kailub Russell would end up taking the overall win ahead of Thad Duvall while Steward Baylor would manage to end the day in third after a disastrous opening lap. Trevor Bollinger ended the day in fourth place while Ricky Russell rounded out the top five. In the XC2 class, Ben Kelley continued his dominating 2019 season with yet another win and even finished the day on the overall podium in third place. Craig Delong controlled the second place position from beginning to end while Mike Witkowski finished on the XC2 podium in third. Liam Draper actually held the third place spot for much of the race and looked to be on his way to a podium finished, but mechanical issues on the final lap ended his hopes for a podium. Austin Lee ended the day in fourth while New York native “Batman” Ben Bouwens rounded out the top five in XC2. 

With Tomahawk in the books, the series would then turn its attention to Snowshoe, for the toughest and most unique event of the entire season. Once again it would be Walker Fowler controlling the race from beginning to end but this time he would use the rugged terrain to his advantage and build up a comfortable lead as the race wore on. Eventually, Fowler would end the day with the win over a minute ahead of second place rider, Brycen Neal who actually worked his way all the way from seventh place on the opening lap. Chris Borich put in a great podium ride to end the day in third. Jarrod McClure would claim another top five finish in fourth while Adam McGill rounded out the top five. 

On the bike side, past Snowshoe winner Ricky Russell would lead the entire first half of the race even at one point pulling a nearly 30-second lead over Kailub Russell in second. However, the rest of the pack put on a charge and it would actually be Steward Baylor who took over the lead on lap four, which would actually be their second full loop thanks to Snowshoe’s double-sided racecourse. On lap five, Kailub Russell would work his way into the lead and hold onto it down to the finish to take the win ahead of Steward Baylor and Ricky Russell. Jordan Ashburn and Grant Baylor would also put in very solid rides of their own to round out the top five. 

In the XC2 class, Ben Kelley continued his winning ways with another class win and also landed yet another overall podium in third. Craig Delong would ride to another second place finish in the XC2 class while Liam Draper would bounce back from his tough day at the previous round to land on the XC2 podium in third. Alex Teagarden and Ryder Lafferty rounded out the top five of the XC2 class after both riders worked their way through the pack, coming from 11th and 10th on the opening lap. 

Eight rounds were down in the 2019 season at this point and things were continuing to stay exciting through each round. Only one round stood between racers and summer break at this point, and it would prove to be a welcomed relief for some of them. Check back next week as we’ll pick back up with rounds nine and ten in our 2019 season recap.

Throwback Thursday starts with this gem from the 1981 Blackwater 100!
Throwback Thursday starts with this gem from the 1981 Blackwater 100! GNCC Archive

 #ThrowbackThursday (Jared Bolton)

Throwback Thursday returns this week! No real theme this week, just some really cool throwback photos to share. Enjoy!

Here's a rider taking advice from Mud Fleas at the Blackwater 100's Route 93 River Crossing!
Here's a rider taking advice from Mud Fleas at the Blackwater 100's Route 93 River Crossing! GNCC Archive
Here's a shot of Mark Hyde working his way through the river in 1990.
Here's a shot of Mark Hyde working his way through the river in 1990. GNCC Archive
And another Blackwater classic!
And another Blackwater classic! GNCC Archive
Here's some more action from the river crossing!
Here's some more action from the river crossing! GNCC Archive
And last but not least, here's some ATV action from Blackwater's Route 93 River Crossing!
And last but not least, here's some ATV action from Blackwater's Route 93 River Crossing! GNCC Archive