Welcome to Quick Fill.
Wow, this off-season is really starting to tick away. We’re now just THIRTY days away from kicking off the 2021 GNCC Racing season and boy is it shaping up to be a great year. For me, it seems like the excitement just builds more and more each day and by the time we’re on the road to Big Buck, we just may all be busting at the seams with excitement. Of course, 30 days is still a bit of time and there are a lot of preparations still left and also some pre-season racing teasers that are coming up in the next few weeks.
As usual, the biggest teaser on the bike side will be coming up in just a couple of weeks and that’s the Sumter National Enduro, which will serve as the opening round of the National Enduro season. This is always a huge event as not only are the guys chasing points in the National Enduro series out racing, but a bunch of guys who are preparing for the GNCC season make their way out as well. This typically tends to be a Baylor Brothers signature event Steward and Grant have claimed the overall win here, well, more times than not.
Steward won Sumter in 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Grant won it in 2016. However, the last few years some guys have figured out how to beat these two as Russell Bobbitt claimed the win in 2019 and Ben Kelley topped the 2020 Sumter Enduro. But, Steward finished runner up the last two years so he’s still really, really good at Sumter. Grant was last year’s National Enduro champ and Steward finished second place with one win and seven podiums out of the eight enduros he raced. So, these guys will ultimately be two guys to keep an eye on.
Moving on to GNCC news, we did have one small change this week. If you looked at the rules that were posted for 2021 you’ll see that we had changed the double striped placards to a different design that mimicked and arrow pointing you back towards the course. Well, we actually tweaked that design and made it as easy to read as possible. So now in 2021 you’re going to see the striped placards similar to before, but the stripes are now red and white and also have an arrow on top and bottom that will point you in the direction you need to be.
If you’re behind the times a little, we changed from traditional double arrows to the double striped placards a couple of seasons ago. The previous design was yellow and black, like what you see on the sides of bridges on the road. Well, the issue arose that you may only see one of them and this means you’re note 100% sure which side of the striped placard you were supposed to stay on. The new design is pretty clear, so please mind these when you see them on the course. If the arrow is pointing you towards the left, you must stay on the left side of that placard or you might be docked! Same goes if it’s pointing right; stay on the right side.
Also, the girls are hard at work here in the office packaging and shipping 2020 banquet awards. Getting the contingency prizes lined up and packaged with them has been the hardest part as there were some backorder issues but things are coming along and they’re getting out everything they can. There are still some additional details to come on when you can expect some of your trophies and contingency prizes and we’ll share those once things are totally set in stone. Here’s to hoping we have a normal GNCC banquet again in 2021!
We have another cool episode of Behind the Bars lined up to air tonight at 7pm. This one will be the 2011 Steele Creek ATV race and man was it a great one! Rodney Tomblin, Johnny Gallagher, Griff Cotter and I break down the race and we really got into some cool discussion on the parallels between that season and what we’re heading into for 2021. Adam McGill was slated to join in, but Adam is busy getting ready for the 2021 season and had other commitments at the time we recorded the episode. So, sorry Adam, there was your chance to have a show where you actually won the race. Oh well, maybe next time! Video is embedded below, so if you happen to read this before it airs just come back at 7pm and it will be live.
Mikey Waynes has officially taken over the Tuesday Toolbox reigns and he started this week with, well, sorry to disappoint you but it was me. Mikey had Walker Fowler’s mechanic, Mark Notman, lined up for this week but Mark had a scheduling conflict and had to push Mikey back just a bit. Unfortunately it didn’t leave enough time to line up, interview and type out a whole other person right away, so Mikey and I sat back and talked a bit about the 2021 season, plus some of my social media gags and more. Don’t worry, Mikey will have some more interesting people to hear from next week, but if you want to see what I had to say you can check it out HERE.
It must have been an odd week for the ATV guys as that’s two big names on the ATV crowd that had some scheduling conflicts this week and maybe that’s actually good sign. Sure, we would have loved to have been in touch with McGill and Notman this week but for those guys to be swamped getting ready for the 2021 season leads me to think there’s some guys who have big plans for 2021 and really want to make a statement. I said the same thing a few weeks ago about Brycen Neal, who has been pretty quiet on social media, as has Walker Fowler as well.
If these guys are all just doing their own thing, laying low as they prepare for the new season we very well could have some of the most intense racing we’ve seen in a long time. There are also rumblings that Chris Borich is back aboard one of those familiar yellow ATVs, but there’s been no 100% confirmation just yet and knowing Borich, there won’t be a 100% confirmation until he rolls that thing out of his trailer at round one. Boy, this could prove to be exciting.
This week, we have a guest columnist in the form of our old buddy John “Meltdown” Melton. If you don’t know Meltdown, he was our own Ryan Echols’ mechanic, pit man and all-around travel partner when Ryan was racing in the pro ranks. John also wrote some articles that were featured in The Racing Paper the guys at Racer X used to produce locally, and he’s kept the track crew fed for several years with the famous spicy hot dogs from Yann’s Hot Dogs out of Fairmont, WV which is somewhat of a legend in this part of West Virginia. Speaking of which, we were all really sad to hear of the passing of Mr. Russell Yann who owned the hot dog stand. Unfortunately it sounds this is the end of those infamous spicy hot dogs, but everyone who’s ever had one will have fond memories forever.
Anyway, Meltdown actually did a little interview with Hunter Hawkinberry from the Micro ranks and he shared it with us this week. He also already sent in a write up on a dual sport ride in this area back over the summer, and we’ll share that next week. Meltdown is a writing machine! That’s all I have for this week. Enjoy your week, enjoy any riding you may get to do and get ready because we’ll be going racing again before we know it.
Meet Hunter Hawkinberry (John “Meltdown” Melton)
In the last 20 years, best I can recall and I might have missed somebody, but I'm pretty sure there have only been five riders from Fairmont, West Virginia to win a GNCC championship on a bike. Those people would be Layne Michael, Ryan Echols, Brad Spevock, Cannon Kunuff, and Hunter Hawkinberry.
Hunter Hawkinberry is the 2020 MXC2 6-8 champ. I had the pleasure of interviewing MXC2 class champion, Hunter Hawkinberry today and boy is this kid fast. He definitely has a lot of potential and it’s going to be fun to watch him progress through the ranks. We chatted a little about his racing and how he was able to put together such a great 2020 season.
First question for you, Hunter. What do you think helped you win this championship?
My mom and dad were a big part of it, and I think it helps that I ride everyday.
After you won most of the local races and you started going to the GNCC's, what do you think of the races?
The tracks are longer and they’re a little tougher. I like being in the woods a lot more.
Which is your favorite GNCC track?
I like the Ohio mud but my favorite track is the Buckwheat 100.
Why do you like the Buckwheat 100?
It’s my favorite because we had to go thru mud and creeks, sand and woods. There were a lot of different obstacles and I like the tracks to be tough. It makes it a lot more fun.
You mentioned that you like the Ohio mud? If I remember correctly, that was the first time you made the overall podium, and you had started on the third row at The John Penton. After you won the championship this year 2020, in MXC2, you moved up to the front row where the riders are a year older than you. What was that like?
It was definitely a lot tougher because of the competition. I just wanted to win. I just went out and rode and tried to pass everybody I could.
Where was your first overall win?
I got my first overall win last year at High Point. I was able win from the second row, which was really cool.
Now after your first overall win, how did you feel?
I felt great. It was a really big accomplishment but I felt like I have done this and I can do it again.
Do you have any friends that you hang out with in your class?
I’m friends with everybody. I like to talk to everyone because we’re all racers and have the same interests.
Now that you've won the overall at the last three races, how does that feel and do you think more people are watching you now?
I like it. When I ride in the micro class, I really like all the factory KTM people yelling for me to win, and when I'm riding my Yamaha, all the Yamaha crew yell and support me.
Do you have any favorite riders?
My favorites are Steward Baylor, Kailub Russell and Bad Thad Duvall on bikes and Chris Borich on ATVs.
You said you ride almost every day. Who do you ride with?
I ride with my cousins a lot. But they don't like to ride as much as I do!
So you like to ride a lot?
Yeah, any day and any time. Don't matter.
If you could ride everyday, would you?
Yes! I wish I could.
I saw you ride and practice at the house and I see how much you like riding wheelies doing stoppies, log crossings, water holes. It looks like a challenge that's new and tough.
Yep. I just love riding. Doesn't matter what kind of riding it is.
I also saw that you’ve working on your motocross skills lately, why is that?
Just working on my top speed and wide open riding. It helps!
You went to Kailub Russell's place to ride once, how was that?
I really liked the woods and the tree crossings that KR had set up. It was really great and being around those guys was awesome.
Who do you want to thank the most besides your mom and dad?
I still want to thank my dad for being my mechanic. And my sister Zoey, FDSR, Outlaw Motorsports, Morgantown Honda, and Valley Auto Body.