GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Jared Bolton

Tuesday Toolbox: Jared Bolton

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 4:25 PM
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 4:25 PM

Yeah, we know you might not be super excited to read what our own Jared Bolton has to say since you probably read his articles frequently, but Mikey Waynes had a last minute cancellation for his first Tuesday Toolbox. So for a warm up, Mikey caught up with GNCC’s Jared Bolton to get a feel for a few things. Working with the GNCC Track Crew and in a number of other facets for a number of years, Bolt-On’s passion for the sport is pretty evident when you meet him. You may see him at the races and read Quick Fill each week, but chances are you might not truly know that much about the guy. So, we took a few minutes to catch up on his background, the 2021 season and much more. Hey Bolt-On! How’s everything going today?
Jared Bolton: It’s going pretty good! Just full swing getting prepared for the 2021 season and also working to provide some off-season entertainment for some folks. We just finished up another cool episode of Behind the Bars that will premiere later this week, which is pretty exciting.

So tell everyone a little about what you do.
Well, officially we call me one of the GNCC “Junior Trail Bosses”, alongside Ryan Echols. We come up with an overall layout for the full course, and then split up the others. I typically layout the Youth tracks, Ryan does Micro and Jeff Russell handles the eMTB. A lot of times Ryan has a layout in mind and we just head out and make sure it works. Other times we split the property up and I’ll go one way while Ryan goes the other. For example, at Big Buck I usually layout the woods from the pro pit area back to the main road. Come race weekend, I ride sweep whether I want to ride in the conditions at hand or not, and then once the weekend is over we clean it all up and get ready to do it again.

However, I always want to give more credit to the rest of the crew because I think they deserve it more than I do. Jeff Russell, Ryan Echols, and Bob “The Builder” Pierson really are the heart of the GNCC Track Crew and they’re three of the hardest working people I’ve ever met in my life. They’re not always the “interview giving” and media type of guys that I am, so I sort of like to think of myself as the spokesman for the Track Crew and these guys, and of course the entire crew, do some seriously hard work. Sometimes I feel like I get more credit than I deserve because of that spokesman role and really want everyone to know that those guys deserve a bigger pat on the back than me!

What is the biggest challenge as a Junior Trail Boss?
The biggest thing is laying out a course that can handle everyone from beginner riders to Pros and eliminate as many chances for bottlenecks as possible. When Ryan and I first started doing the courses we had a little bit of a learning curve, but I feel like we’ve really refined that and Ryan really has an eye for eliminating as many issues as possible. The biggest challenge for me, personally, is riding sweep all weekend. I’m honestly not in amazing physical shape, so I have to be smart about riding a dirt bike for five plus hours per day, and having to do that for two days!

In addition to working with the crew laying out the courses and writing, Bolt-On also rides sweep on GNCC weekends. Photo: Aaron Monroe
In addition to working with the crew laying out the courses and writing, Bolt-On also rides sweep on GNCC weekends. Photo: Aaron Monroe Aaron Monroe

The 2021 season is just around the corner. How are things looking for the new season?
It’s really shaping up to be a great year. Not only are we racing at a lot of facilities that people really enjoy but there’s some big storylines to follow in the pro classes. Walker Fowler has a great program that he’s returning to and hoping to go for another title, but he’s going some serious competition because Brycen Neal came on really strong at the end of the season, plus Cole Richardson looked really fast as well.

On the bike side, those guys really have like a giant question mark surrounding them. With Kailub Russell retired from full-time competition the door is really open to anyone. Obviously Steward Baylor made the biggest statement at the end of 2020 and is going to come into the new season as a fan favorite, but man Josh Strang really just seems to be getting better the older he gets. Plus Ben Kelley is super fast, and it sort of seems to sneak up later in the race, which makes things exciting as well. Thad Duvall is back, Josh Toth is in there; there’s just a whole crop of guys who can win races.

What about the events themselves? Do you guys have any big plans for 2021?
Obviously we always try to mix things up a little bit and we want to change the tracks up even more in 2021. There are some places where the track is always going to be pretty similar, but a lot of times you can link existing sections of trail together differently enough to make it feel like a totally different facility. The biggest thing is having two races at a few venues, which some people don’t seem to be huge fans of but I’d venture to say that the second events could possibly be even more fun than the first ones.

So, backing up, how did you get involved with GNCC?
I grew up in North Carolina racing the NCHSA, Mid-East, SETRA and other events as well as some of the GNCCs down south. In 2010 a few buddies and I were involved with a website called Offroad Junkies and we travelled to all the races that year. I was actually just roaming around making some videos and eventually got asked if I’d like to shoot for the TV show, so I started with the company in the last part of 2010. In 2011 I mentioned that I’d helped out with some local races and would love to help out on the GNCC track crew. That was that! Been here ever since.

The whole GNCC track crew is really excited for the 2021 season.Photo: Aaron Monroe
The whole GNCC track crew is really excited for the 2021 season.Photo: Aaron Monroe Aaron Monroe

What’s the last GNCC you actually got to race? What class was it and and how’d you finish?
The last GNCC I got to race was Ironman in 2011. We did an Industry class that day and I rode a loaner Yamaha WR450 from Barry Hawk. I was never very fast to begin with, but I didn’t even see the bike until the morning of the race, so I just hopped on and went to the line. I was used to riding KTM 200s, so the weight and lack of speed to begin with hurt my chances from the get-go. I went out and just had a good trail ride and finished something like 7th out of 12. Pretty sure DQ won!

What is your favorite GNCC track? Why?
Obviously everyone says Ironman, because, well, it’s the Ironman! Fun trails and amazing dirt make that place enjoyable. But, for me, Camp Coker comes so close that it’s almost too tough to call. I grew up about an hour and half north of Camp Coker and actually rode the motocross track when it was open back in the day. Plus, I enjoy the tighter trails there as well as that sand and black dirt mix.

A lot of folks know or at least recognize you from the GNCC races plus the other events you guys are involved with. But, let's talk about the "real" you? What do you like to do on one of the rare off-weekends you guys get?
I know this sounds weird since I ride all weekend long at the GNCCs but I like to go ride just for fun. Whether it's going to race a local event or a dual sport ride, or just going somewhere and trail riding I still really enjoy it. There's a chance I could attend enough NECXC events this season to race for points, so I may give that a shot this year!

Some of your so called "dual sport" rides look like they get a little hairy!
(Laughs) Well, yeah. To me thats part of what makes it fun. A couple weekends ago I ended up on a bridge that was blocked off on the other end and had a solid sheet of ice leading up to the concrete block. There were only a few inches on either side of it, and the ice on the bridge kept sliding me in the wrong direction to just turn around, so I had to skirt the edges of the block. Then this past weekend I think I rode like 15 miles of snow covered roads, slipping and sliding all over the place.

What is you ideal post-race weekend meal?
That’s tough. If you look at my gut you can tell I like to eat. I’m definitely a wing guy. I like trying wings at different places everywhere we go, but a properly cooked steak is always good too. Guess I should just say something with meat!

These are the kinds of places Bolt-On finds himself on an off-weekend. 
These are the kinds of places Bolt-On finds himself on an off-weekend.  Bolt-On's iPhone

Explain your new self-proclaimed role of “#1 Cowboy”?
Oh boy! For those who don’t know my wife, Kayla, is actually our Media Manager so our work schedules line up to where we’re together more than we’re apart. We visited my parents in North Carolina for Christmas and spent a few days in North Myrtle Beach. I wanted to buy a little pin-on Sheriff’s badge that said “#1 Cowboy” as a gag and she said “you don’t need that!” so of course, I got it anyway. Since then, multiple times per day I approach her wearing the badge with the intention of reminding her that I am, in fact, the #1 Cowboy and I’ve been sharing these experiences, along with her reactions, on my Instagram story for, oh, three weeks now with no end in sight.

Speaking of social media, are you and Rob Mitchell actually buddies or do you just give each other crap?
(Laughs) That’s been my other social media gag for the last month or so. Rob Mitchell makes some really cool off-road racing videos and every time he shares to Facebook I’ve been posting, in severely misspelled English, calling him “Rab Michelle Filmz” and saying that I’m his “supper fan nummer one” and “plz gib shirt”. It’s all a gag! Rob and I have been friends for probably a dozen years and he was one of my groomsman in my wedding. Actually, I only had three groomsman and the other two were my dad and brother. He and Charkie Huegel are the guys I worked with on the Offroad Junkies website. He gave me that outlet to share my writing and hauled me around to a lot of races, so I owe Rob a lot of credit for helping me to get to where I am.

That’s too cool! That just about wraps things up. Who would you like to thank.
Wow, this is hard. I really have to go back to my parents. Thanks to my dad for being a racer since the early 80s and getting me interested in it, and also my mom for being supportive along the way. Both of them are my biggest fans and when I said I was moving six hours away to West Virginia they were more than supportive of my decision. Obviously have to give a huge thanks to my wife, Kayla, for putting up with my crap and also helping me out when I get beat up on a dirt bike.

I always like to give thanks to the Russell and Coombs families for giving me the opportunity to come work for them, which has been like a dream come true. Carrie, Rita, Jeff and their entire families have always welcomed Kayla and I in like we’re part of their families as well. Tim Cotter deserves a thanks too because he’s a huge part of the management of our company and really doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

Huge, massive thanks to the entire GNCC Track Crew; Jeff Russell, Ryan Echols, Bob Pierson, Zach Holbert, DR Atwood, Ronnie Wilson, Lollipop, Hollywood, Trevor Russell, Griff Cotter, Kevin Warta, Alan Brutto, Seth Wilson, Joel Creed, Chadwick Lynn and all the other folks that may help out here and there. Also, thanks to the entire GNCC staff. From the front gate to registration, to scoring, security, RacerTV, and everywhere else, thanks everybody.

I know I’m getting long-winded here but I also want to thank some folks who help out with the sweep riding side of thing. Moose Racing supplies some great gear and hard parts that are incredibly durable and hold up to a lot of abuse. Thanks to Lance Smith with XCGear for the Mako 360 bar mount and Spurz footpegs; those definitely help make long days in the saddle as smooth as possible. Thanks to Phil Burton with ProTech Guards out of the UK for some really cool wrap around fork guards that help keep mud out and have virtually eliminated leaky fork seals for me! Thanks to Larry Mills with DP Brakes for keeping the bike stopping well.

And last but not least, thanks to the entire GNCC Racing Nation! You guys are absolutely amazing and none of this would be possible without everyone coming out and racing or just enjoying being at the races. GNCC is amazingly special and unique in so many ways, but I feel like the people are a huge, huge part of what makes it so great. We all may not always totally agree with each other, but the entire sport truly is like family and I can’t thank everyone enough who supports it.