GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Dominick Stevens

Tuesday Toolbox: Dominick Stevens

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 1:10 PM
Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 1:10 PM

Glass half full? Glass half empty? 2020 wasn’t easy on the large majority of folks. Lives were turned upside down and whether you were a student in school or an adult in the work place your schedule and daily routine were likely affected. How each of us approached our “new normal” (Side-Note, who’s ready for “old normal”) depended heavily on self-motivation. This week’s Tuesday Toolbox features one of those young men who decided to look at things from the “glass half full” perspective. Everything from balancing school, competing and finishing the season 2nd in the College B (16-21) ATV Class, starting his own business at 17 and wrapping up the season with a jump into the College A (16-21) ATV Class. Here’s a glimpse into the life of a former GNCC Schoolboy Jr. Champion and business owner at 17, Dominick Stevens.

Dominick earned two College B class wins during the 2020 season. Photo: Ken Hill
Dominick earned two College B class wins during the 2020 season. Photo: Ken Hill Dominick, thanks for joining me today, let’s get started! Tell us about you, how old are you, how long have you been riding and what got you into racing GNCC?

Dominick Stevens: Thank you for having me! I’m 17 and I’ve been riding since I can remember. Growing up, me and the other kids in the family always had four-wheelers. We actually showed up to the Tomahawk GNCC which was co-sanctioned with the NYOA Series. My brothers raced it, but I sat out the first couple years. I believe that was back in 2015. I finally jumped on board for GNCC in 2017.

So you jumped into racing GNCC in 2017. Two years later, 2019, you raced the Schoolboy Jr class and ended up taking the Championship. How did that come about?

Yeah, we had planned on only running a few GNCC’s and focusing primarily on our local series. But our local series didn’t start until April, so we decided to head down south and catch the first few rounds of GNCC to prep ourselves for the locals. Big Buck was cancelled that year, but we made it to the Georgia round, and I won. That’s all it took to motivate me. From there I wanted to be at every race. Which paid off because I ended up winning the Schoolboy Jr Championship.

Was winning the Schoolboy Jr Championship the goal after the Georgia win?

Well actually, when I created my sponsorship resume the goal was to finish in the Top 3 at the GNCC and win a championship at the local level. But after I won that Georgia round, I thought, alright, let’s keep doing this and see where it goes. Looking back I don’t think I lost very many races.

Photo: Ken Hill
Photo: Ken Hill

You moved up to the College B class last season and finished the year, respectively, in 2nd. In the season finale you raced College A. Are you planning to race College A this season and what are the expectations for yourself in that class?

I outdid my own expectations last season in the College B Class. I managed to snag a couple wins last year and only finished outside of the Top 3 twice with my worst being a 6th place in round 7.  Heading into the season I hadn’t really trained that much, and it was only my 3rd or 4th time riding the 450. It was tough, for sure. Florida, woof. Snowshoe is light-work, Florida, I wouldn’t recommend.

It’s interesting to hear the different perspectives on the tracks that GNCC has to offer. Last week Ben Fricks was praising the Florida track because of the sand. You’re from Pennsylvania and it sounds like you’d prefer the rockier terrain over the sand. You being a PA guy, what’s the learning curve going into tracks like Florida and Camp Coker in South Carolina?

It’s certainly challenging. There’s really no way to prep for it outside of going down and practicing in it. But, like most other riders, we don’t get that opportunity. So it’s fun but having to tackle the Florida sand in the second round of the season is tough. By the time we get to Camp Coker in South Carolina I’m a little more conditioned and prepared for what I’m going to be facing.

You’re still young and have all the energy in the world. Regardless it seems like everyone from youth to the Pro ranks are putting in the offseason training. What do you do to stay ahead of the curve? Obviously, it can be challenging to get seat-time when those PA winters can prevent it.

It is difficult, especially last year since I started my own business. But, I’m able to get out on the snowmobile throughout the winter and ride the quad when I can to stay conditioned.

Dominick battled throughout the season, earning second in his class. Photo: Ken Hill
Dominick battled throughout the season, earning second in his class. Photo: Ken Hill

You’re 17 and you’ve already got your own business. That’s huge! How did that come about?

COVID hit and we were out of school and we weren’t racing. I was bored and needed to find something to do. I’d always liked the idea of the drop-down grab bars. My dad and I went out one night and bent up some material to make them. Then we took it a step further and found a local guy with a CNC plasma table and got some designs put together. I was doing pretty well with that setup, but I really wanted to do everything myself. So, I found another guy that was selling a CNC plasma table and I made him an offer. Since then I’ve been able to do everything myself. Right now it’s really just a side-hustle but it has generated enough money to assist me financially with racing. Little bit of this and a little bit of that, everything helps. I’m still in school six to seven hours a day so it’s difficult to find time to make it work.

Back to the racing side of things, do you have a favorite track? I gotta think Aonia Pass is at the top given the success you’ve had there.

For sure, Aonia Pass is probably my favorite. A lot of riders I know could take it or leave it, but I like it a lot. The track setup there offers a little bit of everything. Really, I think I like them all. I don’t complain too much about terrain. The terrain is only a problem when you’re not in shape for it.

Photo: Ken Hill
Photo: Ken Hill

Not in shape for it? You mean, like me? Kidding… not really though. Getting to the races can be challenging. Between the travel, the bike setup, pitting and even finding a place to eat there are a lot of moving parts. Who helps you out in getting the job done each weekend at the races?

My dad and I travel to each of the races together along with Chris Shupp from Shupps Off-Road. Chris helps out a ton! And my dad races in the Senior B Class. Chris is obviously the mechanic and pit crew and he does a fantastic job.

Racing with your dad is such a cool experience. What’s it like racing GNCC with your dad on the track the same time as you?

It’s fun, his class always started in front of ours and I always work hard to pass him. Last year we actually ran the exact same graphics. The only difference was the numbers on the quad. That turned out to be rather challenging as different riders mistook me for my dad or my dad for me and they didn’t want to let someone they thought was in their class pass them. We fixed that for this year. No more identical graphics.

Alright, post-race, where are you eating? What’s the plan, Mexican food, steakhouse, Chinese food?

We are really big on Golden Corral. That’s my first priority when I come off the track. Find the phone and find the closest Golden Corral. Then we gotta pack everything up and get moving or we’re not going to make it in time for dinner. It was extremely challenging last year with all the COVID restrictions. It wasn’t the same.

Dominick getting a great jump off the line grabbing the holeshot and early lead. Photo: Ken Hill
Dominick getting a great jump off the line grabbing the holeshot and early lead. Photo: Ken Hill

2021 GNCC plans. Are you sticking with the College A class and what are you expectations for yourself?

Yeah, I jumped into the College A class at the last round of 2020. I was running in the top five to top seven until I blew a motor. First DNF in two seasons. So, I was running well, and I know I can do well this year. The biggest difference seems to be there really aren’t many lappers in A. In the B class if someone gets in front of you, you’re likely going to have a chance somewhere to catch up with them. But with the A class, you gotta take it and run with it. I’d like to shoot for a top three on season, realistically I feel like I can be a top five guy.

Top five in College A next season. Alright, I’ve just put the target on your back. Every College A rider reading this is going to be gunning for you now. Dominick keep grinding with your side hustle business and we’re looking forward to seeing what you can do in 2021. To wrap things up, who are the sponsors and people you’d like to thank?

First off, I would like to thank my dad for being by my side and being the biggest part of my race program and success. I would also like to send a huge thanks to Chris Shupp at Shupp’s Off-Road for never settling. There’s always something better in his eyes. Most of my engine consists of custom parts designed by him. We’ve also found some success and speed in my pit stops organized by him. Also wanted to plug my side-hustle, DSR Designs. EBC Brakes, Evans Coolant, Cometic Gasket, Daniel Crower Racing (Crower Cams), Moose Racing, Blud Lubricants, FOX Shocks, Sunstar Braking, GBC Tires, All Balls Racing, Atlas Braces, Nine2 and so many more that help me out!