GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #22: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #22: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, June 4, 2020 | 10:30 AM
Thursday, June 4, 2020 | 10:30 AM

Welcome to Quick Fill. 

What a weekend of racing! As usual, Moree’s Sportsman’s Preserve welcomed us with open arms to their beautiful facility for another running of the Camp Coker Bullet GNCC. For several years now, this event has seen good turnouts but honestly hasn’t been one of the bigger events of the year. That’s a shame because the facility itself is so cool with its numerous ponds, beautiful green fields and plentiful parking. This year ended up being the largest Camp Coker event to date, which is really great considering the unfavorable weather leading into the event. 

Coker got hit hard on Wednesday prior to the race as Tropical Storm Bertha made its way across the area. This was followed up with more rain Friday morning, which left the track crew working throughout the day to reroute parts of the course. We know, it still got pretty sloppy in some areas on Saturday and wasn’t the most ideal conditions but the total rainfall from Wednesday through Friday was somewhere close to four inches! To even be able to get everyone in, parked, and have a race after four inches of rain is pretty impressive. 

With that being said, although Saturday’s ATV race had it’s muddy spots, it still went pretty well and even though some folks fell victim to the mud, everyone I talked to was still happy just to be there. Sunday’s bike race turned out great as the track crew worked incredibly hard Saturday night to doze, reroute, and make the best possible course for Sunday. Hats off to Ryan Echols for working on the reroutes with some help from Zach Holbert, plus Jeff Russell, Bob Pierson and Mike LaFollette for running dozers. 

I actually heard from a lot of folks on Sunday that they ended up really enjoying the track. They all said it turned out better than they were expecting, and they had a blast. I know I was pretty surprised when I turned my first sweep lap on Sunday. I knew it would turn out good, but it turned out to be even better than what I was expecting as well. It was also really cool to see Hank Moree himself, who runs the Moree’s Sportsman’s Preserve with his dad, Henry, race his first GNCC in the 10AM bike race. Hank is no stranger to racing as he was once a top amateur prospect for Team Green at Loretta Lynn’s and the other big Amateur Motocross events. He was also the first rider to ever race a KX60, so for those of you who have ever raced a KX60, or 65, a lot of that machine’s success is built off of what Kawasaki learned from Hank racing it as a kid. 

Overall, we were extremely lucky to end up with a beautiful weekend with some great weather after an unfavorable forecast prior to the event. Let’s hope this trend continues through the rest of the season, because we’ve definitely had enough mud races the last few seasons to last us a while… Yeah, I know some folks love a good mud race but it’s time for everyone else to have a turn with some good conditions! 

As for what’s next, well, we’re headed to Mount Morris, PA next weekend for the High Point GNCC! This promises to be a really cool event as the last time there was a true High Point GNCC was 2002. We’ll be parking, starting and finishing over on the Mathews Farm property that hosts the Mason-Dixon GNCC, but the plan is to run the majority of the racecourse across the street to High Point Raceway. We did a little bit of this with the first Mason-Dixon event in 2018, but skipped it last year due to the extreme dust. 

For this High Point event, we’ll add in a little bit more of the High Point property than what we used at Mason-Dixon, but the final layout is yet to be determined. We’re actually hosting a Loretta Lynn’s Regional at High Point this weekend, so naturally we’ll get a game plan together a little early and we’ll have all the details next week. So stay tuned because this should be a really fun event. 

Obviously High Point is legendary in the motocross world having hosted a round of Pro Motocross every year since 1977. However, High Point is actually pretty legendary in the GNCC world as well. In 1979, High Point hosted the first-ever AMA National Hare Scramble. That event is also considered to be one of the races that helped form GNCC Racing, in addition to the legendary Blackwater 100 of course! Denny Swartz, who was a pretty well known Pro Motocross racer who even won the 500cc class at RedBud the next season, won that first-ever National Hare Scramble. 

High Point would later join the GNCC series full-time in 1987 and host an event each year through 2002. The series would simply outgrow the facility as the High Point property is around a total of 200 acres, which is less than half of what we need for a modern day GNCC event. While GNCC left the facility in 2003, High Point has of course continued to host Pro Motocross and a number of other events. Our friends with NECXC continue to host Hare Scramble events at High Point each year, and we still put the woods to use for the GP event during the Big Dave Vet Homecoming. 

However, there’s now a High Point GNCC once again and while it may ultimately feel a little more like the Mason-Dixon, it’s still High Point and it still will pay tribute to one of the most legendary racing facilities in the country. This will be cool, and I’m excited to see it all unfold. 

High Point will be an eMTB event as well, which we hope will see a big crowd as well. Morgantown, WV is just across the state line from High Point and is actually a pretty big mountain bike area, and a lot of folks are giving the eMTBs a whirl as well. We hope to eventually have a permanent eMTB trail at High Point, and this could be the start of making it happen. As for the race itself, one has to wonder if anyone can step up and challenge Charlie Mullins for the entire race. Charlie has literally won every single GNCC eMTB race, ever, EXCEPT for last year’s Snowshoe round when he suffered a mechanical issue. 

Charlie has seen some early race challenges from a number of riders but he’s always able to check out in the end for the win… Remember the days of Charlie racing motorcycles and earning the nickname “Check Out Charlie”? Well, looks as if it’s no different on the eMTB front. The last eMTB round at The Bulldog saw Ben Kelley make his first-ever eMTB appearance and Ben rode incredibly well. I think he actually surprised a lot of people because we all knew he’s super fast on a dirt bike, and we’ve seen him post some cool video clips of him riding mountain bikes but we didn’t know just how fast he was on an eMTB as well. 

Ben ended up second place at that event behind Charlie, and was only around 20 seconds behind at the end of the race. Ben is still rehabbing his shoulder before racing a motorcycle again, but it will be interesting to see if he comes out to do some eMTB racing again. Of course, after that performance at The Bulldog, it has to be in the back of Ben’s mind that years down the road when he’s ready to retire from racing motorcycles, he very well may have a future racing bicycles! 

That’s going to do it for this week. Ken will have a bit on his takes from Camp Coker, so enjoy that, enjoy your weekend and check back next week, as we’ll have the low-down on what to expect from High Point. We’ll see you then!  

Congrats to Josh Strang for the Camp Coker win!
Congrats to Josh Strang for the Camp Coker win! Ken Hill

Catching Up With Ken (Ken Hill)

I am the type of person who tries like mad to listen to the little things, see the bigger picture and trust that things happen for a reason. Some believe karma or a greater force controls things and good for them because at the end of the day the world turns and we look towards a new day. Now, I’ve never been what I would consider a lucky guy and that is one reason I try not to gamble, I always seem to loose so I bet in my head or joke about it etc. So on Sunday at Camp Coker, I strolled up to the Strang crew and asked Josh’s son if his daddy was going to win today. Without hesitation he replied “yep” and we all had a good laugh. It wasn’t far from the realm of a solid possibility as Strang has been on fire this season and has found his place on the podium in 2020, the season of what the heck is going on now! So as the race wore on into its second hour, it appeared to me that Josh was starting to fade a bit as Kailub Russell seemed to be content with holding second and I even commented to someone that Kailub was going to burn him on the last lap and steal the win. It's not that I cheer for Russell or don’t want to see Strang win, it was just seeing things happening and looking back on so many races that it was a safe bet. 

That’s where things went sideways as I watched my money disappear. I couldn’t see the leader as he entered the final section before scoring however the cheers from the Kawasaki team let me know who was coming in hot. I peered through my camera expecting to see a last few turn battle as they hit the checkered flag but Kailub was no where to be found. Quickly we learned that Russell had taken a serious dirt sample and was roughed up but still on the bars and would secure second. This is where the other part of my bad luck at betting came to play as I had spoken with Kailub just before the start, wished him success and told him to be careful because we already had far to many riders on the injured list! Now thankfully Kailub wasn’t seriously injured and no news to change that has come to my attention as I write this, so some rest and what not should see him back at the upcoming rounds doing what he lives to do.

The trifecta of horse betting would be to have covered the spread of the top three in the right order and it’s a smiling wait to collect the winnings. Well, I would have been hard pressed to find a smile after completely blowing my pick for third as Grant Baylor swooped in and put himself and his Sherco team on the box! Not that Grant isn’t capable, it is just that a few other riders have shown more speed thus far and Grant would have been a wildcard of a pick. It was indeed great seeing Baylor all smiles after the race and his team was pretty stoked as success finally found them, giving some new energy to such an already exhaustive season.

The ATV side of things was just as crazy. However, Walker Fowler would find another win as most expected on a challenging course. The battle this season has been for the remaining two podium positions, as it has been for many years as Fowlers rise to dominance has stayed on the rails and has no real end in sight. The race itself was nothing but typical as the wet weather had some holes swallowing quads and some dust here and there in the wild sections, just an average race that had the front runners making short work of the track with out any huge issues. Brycen Neal would find the soil at Camp Coker to his liking and secured second with Adam McGill finally making his return to the box after a very solid effort here in South Carolina. With some news about where we will be racing in the upcoming rounds, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit of McGill doesn’t put in a few more top three races. 

Overall Camp Coker lived up to its following and continues to be a favorite venue as so much is offered. The swimming and diving platforms as well as some incredible fishing really sets the relaxed tone for this round. Saturday is inundated with racing and the micro racers were out in force. It sure appeared the turbulent weather preceding the event did not scare anyone off even if getting towed in and out became reality but that’s GNCC Racing. The challenge doesn’t start on the line! 

That’s about all from me this week as I ruck up to go cover the ATVMX at Muddy Creek. After this round I catch three races that are considerably closer to home so I am looking forward to having a touch more zip in my step. Be safe in all you do and may the good Lord continue to bless us all and we will see ya at the races!